Summary: The apex of the Christian life is to enjoy fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.
THE JOY OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
Study Text: 1 John 1:3-7
- The apex of the Christian life is to enjoy fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. As Christians, rebels against God but saved by grace, we are unworthy of this fellowship. Yet God, in all of His goodness, has paved the way for us to fellowship with Him, sharing all things in common.
- Fellowship comes from the Greek word, KOINONIA, which means “to share in common.” Christian fellowship is more than attending Church — it is “assimilating” into the body of believers, becoming “one” in worshiping, loving, caring and sharing.
- According to the scripture, fellowship is not an optional matter for believers. It says, “if we walk in the light [in fellowship with God]... this causes us to have fellowship with one another.” And from the outcome of this fellowship, “the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
- Perfect knowledge of God is good, but unless it leads to fellowship with Him—loving all things about His word and striving to please Him through Christ—it is just knowledge.
- For there to be true fellowship with people, there can be no barriers between them—no suspicions, distrust, grudges, anger, or resentment. Just as these problems interfere with our fellowship with others, they also interfere with our fellowship with God.
- Before fellowship with God can be realized, Christians must be like God by having the mind of God—by knowing God! If not, God cannot fellowship with His people, for what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14).
- Jesus commissioned His disciples to make other disciples by sharing the gospel, but He also exhorted them to teach those disciples everything that He had commanded (Matt. 28:19-20).
- Thus, Christians are to know Christ and His teachings, and they are to grow in their knowledge of Him in order that they might share the same fellowship that the apostles had with Christ and the same joy they experienced.
- True fellowship with one another and with God is the basis for true joy. We shall discuss the topic under three subheadings:
1. The Basis of Christian Fellowship
2. The Benefit of Christian Fellowship
3. The Breakdown of Christian Fellowship
1. The Basis of Christian Fellowship
- The basis of Christian fellowship includes:
i. To Sustain our Faith
- If we sever fellowship with His body, we risk cutting off from the faith. Keep in mind, salvation is based on “faith,” and is not earned by performing “works” such as attending Church (Eph. 2:8-9).
- But fellowship with Christ’s body, the church, is critical in helping to sustain your faith by providing ministry, encouragement, and an atmosphere of spiritual “cleansing” and growth.
ii. To Make our Worship Acceptable
- Our relationship with Jesus Christ is obviously the basis for the forgiveness of our sins, but the Bible indicates that we cannot have a proper relationship with Christ without a proper relationship with His body.
- For instance, the scriptures indicate that our worship to God is unacceptable unless we make things right with our brethren (Matt. 5:23-24).
iii. To Demonstrate our Love
- Not only does the Bible say that “fellowship” is the evidence of walking in the light (1 John 1:7), but it also says that “loving the brethren” is evidence of that walk. “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10).
- This shows that there is a strong, inseparable relationship between “fellowship” and “loving the brethren.”
- Consequently, it appears that fellowship is intended to be the practice of loving the brethren, which helps keep us in a right relationship with Christ.
- In essence, we need brethren to have a right relationship with God. We are able to see our relationship with God from the reflection of our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. “...for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
iv. To grow spiritually and Develop Godly Character
- It is God’s great classroom for the development of Christian character. We are benefited by both, the strengths and weaknesses of the fellowship.
- The mature ones help to strengthen and encourage us, while the weaknesses in the less mature give us the opportunity to practice — to test our spiritual growth in such characteristics as patience, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, etc.
- At some time you may meet a few rude, offensive, immature believers in the body. They need someone to show them love and patience, so that they will grow up.
v. To have Opportunity for Christian Service
- It is essential for every believer to be an active part of a Christian fellowship. Wilful rejection of fellowship is evidence of not walking in the light, and will give no room for faithful and acceptable Christian Service. 1Tim 4:10