Fellowship of the Saints in Christ

1 John 1:3-4, 7

what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us;

and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another,

and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.

We cannot experience full and complete fellowship with God outside of the human connection. Adam had complete unhindered communion with God in the Garden. With God’s presence he had dominion over all God had created (naming the animals illustrates his authority). Adam interacted with God on a scale never repeated to another, except the Lord Jesus, and maybe Moses who spoke with the LORD face to face, as a man speaks to his friendEx 33:11.

There are many instances in Scripture where people have been really alone: Job, even with his three friends at his side during his misery; Moses on the mountain top alone for forty days during his encounter with God; The Apostle John exiled on the island of Patmos in a cave alone where he encountered God; Jesus feeling alone when his disciples wouldn’t even stay awake and pray with him in his darkest hour – and then the ultimate sense of aloneness for Jesus when even the creator Father left him to die alone on the cross and in anguish Jesus uttered the most alone words ever uttered – “My God, My God, was have you forsaken me”

And yet with all this wonder of encounter with God the Bible says – But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him (Gen ). And God said, “it is not good that the man should be alone”. This illustrated the social nature of God, a desire for communion with another and thus God empathized with Adam’s ‘aloneness’. [1] There was no other with which Adam could commune with on his level, someone of like kind, equal, and yet significantly different soul (Gen. 2:20). Eve’s creation was far from being designated as a slave, sex object, or mere companion for Adam. It must be noted that the association between Christ and the Church is pre-eminently relational from which one defines function!’ [2] Eve also encountered God significantly too – And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, (Gen 3:8). If Adam could have been satisfied without other human beings and solely with God alone, then why did God say, “it is not good that the man should be alone”? Even those who have been blessed with the gift singleness [3] still desire intimacy of heart and soul with others too, for we all need human contact.

There are statistics lately that reveal more and more Christians are drawing away from church; they say, “I don’t need to go to Church to worship and serve God.” I tell you without apology that you cannot please God, grow in maturity, acquire progressive intimate communion with God outside the fellowship of Saints! God never designed it to work that way and no matter how determined we are as Saints, we can never come to experience what God intends for us in Christ Jesus aside from the Communion of Saints – Never!

Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. NKJV

What of you who attend church and do ‘works of ministry’? Your spiritual giftedness given to you through the Holy Spirit at conversion is the instrument God would have you exercise to acquire intimacy with Him (see 4SpiritualGiftMessage:Quote-

Spiritual service is the means by which God has decreed His children, who practice their spiritual giftedness in love obedience, come to know Him more thoroughly. Through service we grow to know Him more intimately, this is the main purpose for service, not the saving of souls but servants increasing in the knowledge of God. Souls will be won, people will become victorious saints, and the world will be convicted of our righteousness in Christ but these are by-products of our worshipful service! But the primary goal of spiritual service is God’s way of drawing the servant into intimate communion. TK

Our service is not to do a work for God but an opportunity to discover Him and participate in His work!

Church services are where we corporately worship and hear together. We unify our hearts and souls to the one mind of pleasing God with our unified song, prayer, and teachable hearts. And this is a very important aspect of our worship as a family of God.

Eph 5:18-21 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Sunday Services are merely the menu, including the morning sermon, it not the meal. In the Church service we are not intimate with one another but focus on unified intimacy with God. Many are comfortable with this minimum interaction with one another; come to church Sunday morning but missing out on the Divine benefits of human intimacy coupled with the Holy Spirit’s presence. It is a time where we may discover who each other is. It is a place where we find resources to our growth and individuals who we are able to help grow in Christ.

The ‘meal’ is the experience of Fellowship of intimate communion with one another.

But fellowship is a deeply spiritual experience by which members of the body of Christ meet, join together, and experience God’s presence in a new way. The day-to-day, shoulder-to-shoulder contact of believers with other believers shapes us. Sometimes contact is a grinding experience where sparks fly and sharp edges torn off; other times it is more forming and fitting. Whatever the case, fellowship influences. -fellowship is one of the great mysteries of God’s work. [4]

Moses’ face shone – unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 2 Cor 3:13 Though this by implication is referring to the veil of the law and grace, but, in my opinion, it also reflects the fact that Moses’ encounter of God had a profound impression and liberty on his soul, but when coming back from the encounter he was hard pressed by human interactions that caused him to be tarnished by his own nature by dealings with other people that are not in tune with the Spirit of God.

Every one of us desires to be touched by another human soul. We desire presence with Christ, but as the small fearful child replied when told that Jesus is with her, “But I need something with flesh and bones to hold me.”

There are two rewards through Christian intimacy that cannot be duplicated or found through any other experience in life.

The oneness of being united in Spirit

Transparency with acceptance..

THE ONENESS OF UNITED IN SPIRIT.

Let’s understand one point I will mention but not dwell on here: our fellowship of the Saints should not be worshipped above loyalty to Christ. Upholding unity in fellowship above all else is anti-scriptural. There are times when we must forsake fellowship out of our loyalty to Christ. Luke says:

Luke “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother , wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

What can this mean but that our desire for unity, fellowship, friendship, acceptance, should never override our unity with Christ. There may come a time where we withdraw from a fellowship, from a denomination, or from a group.

2 John 9-11 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

So this very unique and most profound fellowship is reserved only for those who abide in Christ.

Quote 6ONE:

‘ONENESS’ is when we all are committed to a third party’s will – the Father’s. Christ’s priestly prayer in John 17 illustrates that third party being God the Father.

John 17:11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.

John 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

THIS ‘ONENESS’ DEMANDS WE DIFFER ALL OUR PERSONAL RIGHTS AND AMBITIONS TO THE CAUSE AND WILL OF GOD ALONE. There is no charter of rights with God.

John 17:21

21that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

There is a life to live that is far beyond all present feelings and circumstances. There is a life lived with Christ in which joy, and peace is had even in spite of what life may bring us. The cost? YOU must die to yourself and unto God – give up your perceived rights. Every believer who is truly saved is drawn toward their own cross.

“Some Christians have more or less given up on knowing God intimately. Christ grows increasingly distant. With each such (failure), their souls become scorched, and they succumb to the belief that only a chosen few seem to be able to overcome the barriers to walking with God.” [5]

The inheritance we have in Christ will never be clearly seen or experienced without our first becoming ‘one’ with God.

End quote:

Jer 32:38-39 They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them.

Eph 4:3-6, 11-15 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;

5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ–

TRANSPARENCY WITH ACCEPTANCE BRINGS FREEDOM.

One man I dealt with decades ago, who was very alone in his soul, when pressed by me as to the issue that was bothering him, he said, “If I told you the secrets of my heart you wouldn’t like me.” How sad that this man preferred to be safe rather than free. He was safe from any exposure of who he was really in his heart or habits. He was safe from exposure that would condemn him; he was safe but very alone. What a price for a false sense of safety. Oh, how we desire the human touch.

Now by this I do not mean transparency with approval. If there is sin in your life you are struggling with, I cannot approve of it by saying, “That’s alright, we all are sinners.” However, I can accept the reality of where you are and the desire to be victorious or free from the burden that is contrary to the freedom Christ wishes all His children to experience.

We don’t speak of people who brag of their sins like those who on talk shows expose their sinfulness with relish and for the money; or like the many who bought the Pro-Choice T-shirt with the words blaring ‘I had an abortion’ thus arrogantly snubbing their noses at all that is godly. I don’t speak of those who try and be bad enough to be accepted into gangs or a particular social group requiring compromise of character.

Rom 1:32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

1 Cor 13:6 [love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

I do speak to those of us who feel sorrow over hidden history, prisoners of a sense of guilt or failure, those who so want renewal and a new day. Is this you! Then I encourage you this week to finally bury the anchor that robs your soul. I had a woman many years ago come to my office, sat in front of me and after a long silence staring through me, finally told me of a burden she had carried for decades – she had been raped and felt dirty ever since. She never told another human being all those years. After she let it out there was a very deep sigh of relief and tears; she is now experiencing liberty in Christ to this day.

Is there something in your soul you wish you could tell someone but fight for fear of the consequences if you let it out? Don’t you wish someone knew all of you and still loved you? Of course God loves you unconditionally through Christ, but you will not be healed and will not feel freedom that is in Christ without human participation! We need each other as instruments to coming into fuller experience of God! Of course no person would ever desire transparency who loves his sin and desires it over risky intimacy with another. If you are one of these – be notified you are unlikely saved, for the ‘new creation’ Christ brings to the soul may struggle with sin but never likes himself in it.

“Confession to man: Most sin and shame can be shared and confessed to God alone, but where there is an offence against someone affected by your sin, or a besetting sin (something negative having constant dominion over you [6] ), then it is necessary to confess to one you offended, or in the case of besetting sin someone who will pray with you (Ja 5:16; [7] Gal 6:1,2). Indiscriminate or indiscreet confession is most often, though not always, inappropriate and causes harm more often than good.” (excerpt from 2Confession) James Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Acceptance means just that – accepting the reality of who and what we are struggling with – but with no condemnation and rejection; only with love and concern of sharing and working through a burden. We all want each other free. But fear and shame grips us to hide, as was Adams response. My internal struggles I can share with my wife Vivian, trusting her gentle support. I have but a few friends who know me and I know, that I may freely share my soul. These are sweet and necessary friendships – THEY ARE GOD’S GIFTS TO ME!

Gal 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Christ would have us experience the reality of His words: Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36. However, more often than not the process to this realization is through one another in Christ.

How many of us can relate to these verses?

the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Sam 18:1

Ruth 1:14-17 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”

And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

People of the world may be unified on common interests or causes, but we have the potential for a unity far deeper than that; a ‘oneness of soul and spirit’ enlivened by the pleasure of the Holy Spirit. [8]

GODLY FELLOWSHIP IS KNOWING AND BEING KNOWN THROUGH LOVE

None of us can come to this unique relationship empowered by the presence of the Spirit of Christ without passing through the first point – Transparency with acceptance. But what does this fellowship look like? The Apostle John, whom the Lord loved, was able to experience the deeper soul of Christ, which, in John’s mind, blatantly revealed Christ’s Divinity. So you can see why John’s Gospel account was ever focussed on Christ the Son of God, of Christ God incarnate.

How can I describe this fellowship of oneness that John refers to in his first epistle – what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write, so that our [mutual] joy may be made complete. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with other, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Fellowship one with another. [This] reference is to our brethren and not to God, as in 1 John 3:11,23; 4:7,12; 2 John 5. The cleansing of Christians is a consequence of walking in the light; the clause is coordinate and indicates a [bi-product] of walking in the light. 1 John 1:7-10

(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

Though there records of people in the Bible account who appeared to be loners. John the Baptist (though there is mention of the disciples of John); Elijah who seemed to be loner (yet 1 Kings 18:33 he cites his servant, also Elisha came soon to the scene); Jesus, who often went apart to be alone (and yet of the twelve He had three He was more intimate with, and of the three he had the ‘disciple whom he loved’). God desires we all have some few intimate friends. The chaplaincy work I have at the airport is a lonely ministry in many respects as all chaplains admit at our general conference each year. But I still have those rare precious times of sweet ‘oneness’ with brethren in the Lord; a particular pastor’s soul and mine are often knit together in a sweetness that cannot be adequately described some three or four times a year when we get together.

Ezra 6:22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the LORD made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. {1 Thess 1:6 with joy of the Holy Spirit; Matt 25:21 enter into the joy of the Lord; Jn 15 My joy may remain in you).

Neh 12:43

Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.

“When I experience joy, it is most often when I observe God’s working in tangible ways in another person’s life. Participating in God’s pattern causes an awareness of Divine presence of all parties concerned in a sense of ‘oneness’. So often we focus on people changes thus our eyes are on the mechanics of growth in grace instead of revelling in God’s presence, purpose, and the effect of a person’s encounter with the Living Christ. How sad is the state of the church that functions so mechanically in the hopes of attaining an undefined goal when the simplicity of Christ is our joy.” [9]

Acts 2:46, 47 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Mal 3:16-18

Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17 “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

Bow your head and listen to these words: Acknowledge we personally need others; ask God in one sentence to open the opportunity to discover His kind of fellowship; if you have been stubborn against fellowship, hiding behind masks, then ask God to forgive you; acknowledge to God you need His touch. AMEN

BENEDICTION:

2 Cor Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete . Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.


[1] It must be profoundly acknowledged that God Himself has no companion equal to Himself and thus can very significantly empathize with Adam. There is no solution to God’s circumstance but He had the power to address Adam’s. God did this, not by creating another human, but by dividing Adam – a part of Adam was relinquished to form from his bones of my bones and flesh of my flesh a significant other as closely related to his being as creatively possible.

[2] Excerpt from Book chapter on Design of Marriage abridged

[3] In Matt , Jesus made it clear that each man (and woman) must consider God’s will concerning marriage. Some people should not get married because of physical or emotional problems from birth. Others should not get married because of their responsibilities in society; they have been “made eunuchs by man.” An only child who must care for aged parents night be an example of this category. Some, like the Apostle Paul, stay single that they might better serve the Lord (1 Cor 7:7).

(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright (c) 1989 by SP Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.)

1 Cor 7:7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.

[4] Mel Lawrenz in The Dynamics of Spiritual Formation; pg 98

[5] Intimacy with the Almighty; The Evangelist; August 2000.

[6] Heb 12:1 [And the sin which doth so easily beset us] The word which is here rendered “easily beset” – euperistaton (NT:2139) – “euperistaton” – does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It properly means, “standing well around;” and hence, denotes what is near, or at hand, or readily occurring. So Chrysostom explains it. Passow defines it as meaning “easy to encircle.” Tyndale renders it “the sin that hangeth on us.”

(from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

[7] James Confess your faults one to another] This seems primarily to refer to those who were sick, since it is added, “that ye may be healed.” The fair interpretation is, that it might be supposed that such confession would contribute to a restoration to health. The case supposed all along here (see James ) is, that the sickness referred to had been brought upon the patient for his sins, apparently as a punishment for some particular transgressions. Compare the notes at 1 Cor 11:30. In such a case, it is said that if those who were sick would make confession of their sins, it would, in connection with prayer, be an important means of restoration to health.(from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

[8] FELLOWSHIP With one another (1 John 1:7). Fellowship with God consists in knowledge of his will (Job ; John 17:3); agreement in design (Amos 3:2); mutual affection (Rom ,39); enjoyment of his presence (Ps 4:6); conformity to his image (1 John 2:6; 1:6); participation of his felicity (1 John 1:3,4; Eph 3:14-21; 2 Cor 13:14). Fellowship of the saints may be considered as a fellowship of duties (Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:1; 1 Thess 5:17,18; James 5:16); of ordinances (Heb 10:24; Acts 2:46); of graces, love, joy, etc. (Heb 10:24; Mal 3:16; 2 Cor 8:4); of interest spiritual, and sometimes temporal (Rom 12:4,13; Heb 13:16); of sufferings (Rom 15:1,2; Gal 6:1,2; Rom 12:15); of eternal glory (Rev 7:9).”

(from McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

[9] Abridged quote from my letter to Colin M.

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