The Gospel: Fellowship
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The state of being a companion, or fellow; association; communion (Union together/with); friendly intercourse.
The good news is that we can have fellowship with God.
1 Cor 1:9
God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, is faithful.”
This shows the relational aspect of fellowship. When you are a companion you have a relationship. This is just what God wants with us. If we look throughout the whole of the Bible, we can see the relationship God has with man. It starts with Adam. Man is the one, who has soured that relationship, and throughout the Old Testament we see how God needed to bring the people back into relationship over and over again, but through the cross we can now enjoy that relationship again. We still need to keep renewing that relationship regularly.
God wants us to have an intimacy with Him. He wants us to know Him and to know us. We see in the New Testament that Jesus showed us the example of spending time with His Father. We need to spend time alone with Him too.
Remember, God has called us into fellowship with Him. He was the one to initiate the calling. We made the response.
We may not feel worthy of this relationship with Him, but if we remember what Brian said a few weeks ago about forgiveness, God has made it possible for us to have that fellowship through the selfless giving of Jesus on the cross.
In 2 Cor 13:14 we read, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
Again this is a relational thing. The Holy Spirit is with us all the time. When we allow Him to work in our lives we are in relationship with Him.
In Hebrews 10:19 – 25 we read,
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
This shows our relationship as two way. We have a relationship with God and a relationship with man.
Some of you know that Brian, Pete, Liz and I went away on holiday together recently. One of the things we wanted to do was to climb Snowdon. Liz knew her limitations and stayed back at base, but I wanted to achieve this one hurdle. If I didn’t do it now, I never would. So we started off. It was not easy. In fact it was a hard uphill struggle. Brian plodded on slowly ahead, for which I was truly grateful. I didn’t want to spoil his climb. He needed the strength to get himself up there. Pete, however, stayed behind me all the way up, encouraging me along the way. We turned one corner and I saw how much further we had to go. I was ready to give up, but Pete encouraged me to keep going. We got to the top, two men and a whingeing wimp with a bad knee. The climb down was even worse. My knee creaked and groaned under the strain and I did my fair share of moaning and groaning. At one point they prayed for me and I spent my time declaring that it was in God’s strength I was getting down. At times they had to help me, almost dragging me down the mountainside. Pete kept saying, “All for one and one for all.” We made it back, and are here to tell the tale. God healed my knee and in a few days all the pain and swelling had gone and I suffered no ill effects. Pete gave up a lot that day to climb with us, but he was prepared to sacrifice his normal climbing abilities to see me achieve my goal. Thanks Pete.
This is an example of fellowship.
We are on a climb together. Some will find it easier than others. Some may moan all the way. Are we prepared to be Petes and help others along? The Bible says we must spur one another on and encourage one another. I would have not achieved my goal without the encouragement of the other two. I know that sometimes we can get very frustrated with others, but we must keep on encouraging them, especially if we want them to reach their goals.
So what is fellowship?
We’ve seen the dictionary definition, but let’s look further.
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he 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 favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
2. They kept up the communion of saints. They continued in fellowship (v. 42), and continued daily with one accord in the temple, v. 46. They not only had a mutual affection to each other, but a great deal of mutual conversation with each other; they were much together. When they withdrew from the untoward generation, they did not turn hermits, but were very intimate with one another, and took all occasions to meet; wherever you saw one disciple, you would see more, like birds of a feather. See how these Christians love one another. They were concerned for one another, sympathized with one another, and heartily espoused one another's interests. They had fellowship with one another in religious worship. They met in the temple: there was their rendezvous; for joint-fellowship with God is the best fellowship we can have with one another, 1 John 1:3. Observe,
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
koinonia – communion, fellowship, sharing in common (from koinos, common)
From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
Fellowship or communion.
Com means with, so communion is union with. We are united with those who love the Lord. We share things in common.
In his book, “Just walk across the room” Bill Hybels talks about the three D’s when getting to know people
Develop a relationship – spend time with them. You can’t get to know someone unless you spend time together
Discover their interests – some you may share, others you may just need to try and learn about them. It may take sacrifice on your part.
Discern their needs – where can you help them? (Expand e.g. decorating, preparing a meal, babysitting)
These are good practices for us as we fellowship with one another.
We need to develop relationships. You may think you have nothing in common with others, but you share a common faith, and unless you fellowship with them you will never know. You belong to the same family. God has put us together as a family.
John 3:1 says
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
If we are children of God, then we are all part of the same family.
Glenis: that makes you my sister. Chris: that makes you my brother. Give other examples.
We have the close family here at Living Word and then there is the wider family. We are part of the Lifelink family. We have opportunities to share with others in the family through the weekend at Oak Hall, or for the ladies through Girl Talk. It’s good to get to know our wider family. Sometimes it takes sacrifice to make the effort to go, but it is worthwhile.
You have probably heard me say before but for those who do not know me well I will repeat it. When I married Brian I left my family (the part of the Church to which I belonged) and became a part of a new family. You are now my close family, but New Life will always be my family too. When I see them it’s like going home to visit. You see, I fellowshipped with them for many years and got to know them really well. We had all things in common.
When I first came to the church I found it hard to settle. I was Brian’s second wife. You had all known and loved Eileen. You did not know me, and I did not know you, except for Pat, Peter and Christina and, of course, Brian. You were friendly, but it was hard for me. I could easily have said that I would go back to Wickford and be with my family, but I knew that would not be right. Those first few months were tough. I stood on the sidelines and watched.
But then we went to Swansea. We went away together as a church. I spent the next week getting to know people, sharing life with them. I now would always advocate going away with the church family. You bond together well. It’s a way of getting to know one another. You learn to give and take. It’s not about getting your own way, but working together, sharing all things in common.
The early church shared all things in common.
Are we too possessive today of our own area? Before I met Brian, I wondered how I would cope with someone invading my space. I did not need to worry, because I found I wanted to share with him. God brought us together in a special way.
God has brought us together for a purpose. We are not here by accident. It is part of His divine plan.
So, how do we view our homes, our cars, our time, our money?
Is it ours or is it on loan from God?
What can you do to bless another?
You may need to spend time with someone you have never spent time with before.
Don’t try to go it alone
Being isolationist is not good for any of us. Look what happens in the animal world if one animal strays from the pack. It is in danger of attack by a predator.
Peter warns us in 1 Peter 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Danger is real. We cannot take lightly the effects of isolation.
Over the years I have seen Christians believe that they can worship alone and I have seen the results of that, broken marriages, going astray, falling back into old ways. We need each other to encourage, support and challenge us. Satan loves to get at those who are on the sidelines, they are easy prey. You might think, “It can’t happen to me.” It can.
Don’t forget, iron sharpens iron .We grow when we are in fellowship. Sometimes we have to learn to live alongside those with whom we feel we would rather not be alongside, but as we learn to live alongside them, we grow. Ask God to help you move forward on this. If you need someone to pray with you over a situation then ask. Don’t leave today without seeking help.
We are all in new small groups. Some of us may be with those we have been with before, others may be going into new groups, having to face new relationships, and not looking forward to it. None of us like change, but one of the things we are looking for with the new groups is the fellowshipping together, sharing life, meals, experiences. It is daunting, but exciting. Remember, we are all in it together, and you are not alone, because God is there with you. As you fellowship with each other you are fellowshipping with the body of Christ.