What Is Fellowship...
PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 28 AUGUST 2022
On the evening of January 25, 1978, most of the Mid-Western United States was hit with what has been described as the worst blizzard of the century. Total snowfall ranged from 18 inches to more than 3 feet in some places. Drifts grew to more than 15 feet high. The great blizzard of 1978 brought the heartland of America to s complete standstill.
An article appeared in the South Bend Tribune the next week. It said that even amid all the tragedy, misfortune, and inconveniences of the blizzard, there were also some benefits. According to the writer of the article, one positive by-product of the great storm was the “feeling of compassion – an extra effort to help each other, and a sense that ‘we are all in this together."
This spontaneous “togetherness” brought about a fellowship and a unity that has seldom, if ever, been seen before. The article was summed up like this: “Perhaps we are all a little bit better citizen, and the community a little tighter knit, as a result of what we have endured.
In the same issue of that newspaper, a story was told of a man trapped in his truck – alone. For him, the blizzard brought no positive results because he was totally alone. He experienced none of that togetherness. He experienced a living nightmare.
The need for people to be together is nothing new. Since God created Man, He realized that man needed someone to be with – to be in company with. Just as God knew that man should not be alone physically, He determined that mankind should not be alone spiritually either.
Both as an individual and as a Christian, togetherness is life.
We need the encouragement, support, spiritual blessing, and love that only Christian fellowship can provide.
We need to once again become the true EKKLESIA – the “called out ones,”
We need, more than anything else, to be the Church,
The word “fellowship” is mentioned 9 times in the Bible. Eight of those mentions are found in the New Testament and one is in the Old Testament in Leviticus 6:2. In that mention in the Old Testament, it refers to the making of an agreement by a shaking of hands. In a sense, joining hands in a venture together.
The references to fellowship in the New Testament are identified by the terms “communion” and “partnership.”
Using what one person has, in common, with one another.
Fellowship, then, in the Christian life, is a partnership, joint participation, and sharing with the community of Christ.
The community of Christ is, of course, the His Church.
It is only through fellowship with Christ that this fellowship with the brethren is even possible.
We will later be looking further into fellowship and how it exists in the Church.
As an introduction to fellowship and what it should mean to us and how it should be exercised today, we will take a look at some of the Scriptures which describe fellowship in the early church.
One of the tenants the leaders of the Restoration Movement strived to “restore” was the prominence Fellowship should have in the life of the church. And it is important to note here that their aim, their goal, was not to imitate the church as described in the New Testament, but their aim was to restore it to its rightful place in the church.
Let’s look first at 1 John 1:5-7: “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His, Son, purifies us from all sin.”
That which destroys fellowship cannot be true. Truth is the creator of fellowship. John is saying, “If you really know what the sacrifice of Christ has done and are really experiencing its power, day by day you will be adding holiness to your life and becoming more prepared to come into the presence of God.”
Along with this power and holiness, we become closer to our fellow Christians – creating fellowship – we can never have one without the other. In other words, the sacrifice of Christ and our holiness must exist together – not one without the other.
Now let’s look at 1 John 1:3: -
“We Proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.”
It is through the sharing of God’s Word and the witness of Jesus that we are able to have fellowship with one another and with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
Go now to Acts 2:42-47:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
The Scripture says, “They had all things in common. This is one way by which they carried out true fellowship. Their needs in the church were met because they wanted to be a part of one another.
Look at 2 Corinthians 8:1-5: Here we see the example that the Church in Macedonia set before the Lord.
“And, now brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God, also to us.”
Out of their poverty, they gave liberally. And in doing so, created fellowship with one another.
Paul writes to the Church at Galatia and says this in Chapter 2, verse 9: “James, Cephas, and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles and they themselves to the circumcised.”
The right hand of fellowship was extended because they were so united that what belongs to one also belongs to the other. Like elements can be united. Unlike elements cannot be united.
Next, let’s look at the Church at Philippi. Philippians 2:1-5.
“Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
People are said to be in fellowship when they are so united that what belongs to one belongs to all. What is true of one is true of the other. Again, unlike elements cannot be united.
Christians are partakers in common of the same mind as God, the same mind as Christ, and the same mind with the Holy Spirit.
We will later further look at fellowship and those who are in fellowship. A study of fellowship requires that there be a lot of “one another’s” spoken.
God desires that every believer be a functioning member of a local church – a local Body or Family of believers. These believers mutually care for one another. They minister to one another. They consequently build up one another in Christ.
The first step in becoming a part of the fellowship is to become a child of God, that is to become a Christian – a follower of Jesus Christ.
You have the opportunity today to make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior, so that you may begin your walk with Him and become a part of His fellowshipping body.