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Fellowship with Us

[1 John 1:4]  I want to talk about fellowship and read the first two verses.

[1 John 1:1-2]  John is being a witness not only to those to whom he is writing the epistle, but he is being a witness to us today.  John says, “That which was [simply was, not created; imperfect] from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen [heard and seen are perfect; results of the action continue to exist] with our eyes, which we have looked upon [beheld; aorist; historical, not abiding effect], and our hands have handled, of [concerning] the Word of [THE] life”.  John never mentions the resurrection; he assumes a certain knowledge of historical facts among his readers.  “We are going to tell you about these things so that you can have fellowship with us.”  He continues to define who they were having fellowship with.  They were having fellowship with the Father and with His Son.  It is essential for us to have the information that God is trying to present to us in 1 John, that we can have fellowship with each other, and that we can fellowship with the Father and with the Son.

How are we to know these things?  [Acts 1:8]  John was a witness and all of us should be witnesses.  Witnessing is not just for the preacher or for the missionary, but it is given to all of us to be witnesses.  Witnessing will help the lost to be saved and witnessing will help the saved to know who you are so that you can share your life with them.  I’ve done quite a bit of traveling, and I can’t tell you the joy from experiences I had having fellowship with other believers.  The Lord allowed me to find those who loved him in places like Kingdom City, MO, in a little church that was being held in a hotel, a little church in the back of an 18 wheeler…  all sorts of places.  [It wasn’t always like that…]  Because of their relationship with the Lord, the bond of being part of the body of Christ was already established.  The level of fellowship that I had with these believers was that of being a part of the family.  We need to understand and appreciate that there are some essentials that we need to have for real fellowship.  What John is doing in these first three verses is laying out that doctrine that is needed for real fellowship.  Doctrine is essential in fellowship.

[Acts 2:32]  [Acts 2:42]   We have to be steadfast in our fellowship.  Luke lists four things that the early church continued doing; they were doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers.  Notice that doctrine is first in the list, then fellowship.  Fellowship is before breaking of bread and prayers.  The order of these practices is significant.  They are listed in order of importance, and doctrine was first then fellowship.  Fellowship is essential for successful Christian living.  If you do not have fellowship and you isolate yourself, you are preparing yourself for ruin and shipwreck.

You cannot isolate yourself and be healthy in the Lord.  Here in Acts 2:42 I think he is saying they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine so they could have fellowship.  Revelation 3:20 says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  This is fellowship.  This is not salvation.  Jesus is not knocking on the door of your heart so He can enter and you will be saved.  This message in Revelation 3:20 is to a church who had lost their vision of having fellowship with the Lord. 

The only way to have fellowship with the Lord is through the Word of God.  The church at Laodicea was lukewarm, self-sufficient and in need of nothing.  The spiritual condition of this church made it hard for the Lord to get in where it counted to have any meaningful fellowship with them.  In Revelation 3:20 the Lord is inviting anyone who will hear Him to respond to this invitation to have fellowship with him.  Fellowship had to do with eating and talking about things of common interest.  Notice the phrase “will sup with him.”  For the Lord to sup with anyone in the church of Laodicea would mean that there had to be preparation by those who were in the church behind the door.

Personal fellowship seems to require preparation for that fellowship.  He cannot sup with you if you do not have something prepared for Him.  It takes time away from other things to have fellowship.  [1 Corinthians 10:16]  The word ‘communion’ is the same Greek word as fellowship in 1 John 1.  The Greek word is ‘koinonia’.  It is communion one with another.  This type of communion is reflection on things in the past as well as hopes for the future.  When we break bread, it is time of remembering His death in the past and reflecting on the hope of glory in His coming kingdom through His shed blood. 

[2 Corinthians 6:14]  Unequally yoked is a word found only here in the New Testament.  It’s not found in classical Greek, nor in the Septuagint, though a kindred adjective (of a diverse kind), occurs in Leviticus 19:19.  [Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender (copulate) with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.]  Unequally gives an ambiguous sense.  It is not inequality, but difference in kind, as is shown by the succeeding words.  The suggestion was doubtless due to the prohibition in Deuteronomy 22:9, against yoking together two different animals.  [Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.]  The reference is general, covering all forms of intimacy with the heathen, and not limited to marriage or to idol feasts.  The different shades of fellowship expressed by five different words in this and the two following verses are to be noted.

[re-read:  2 Corinthians 6:14]  The word “fellowship” (partnership) in this verse carries the thought of participation where the word “communion” is the word that we are studying.  If you are in the light you can have fellowship with those who are in the light.  If you are in darkness you can fellowship with those who are in darkness.  If you are in the light there can be no real fellowship with those who are in darkness.  [1 John 1:6-7] "If we say that we have fellowship [koinonia] with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship [koinonia] one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." [Galatians 2:9]  Before fellowship was enjoyed, the pillars of the church perceived the grace that was given to Paul and Barnabas.  Fellowship begins with a reaching out to each other.  Have you ever reached out to shake someone’s hand where they refused to reach out to you?  This behavior destroys the opportunity for fellowship.  The extending of the right hand was so they could touch and so that they wanted to be close to them.  The perception that they had grace was on the basis of doctrine, in my opinion.  [2 Peter 1:2]

In Acts 13:1 & 2, they were teaching the Word, and in verse two, they were ministering to the Lord.  It says, “As they ministered to the Lord…”  From this principle of ministry, we can draw another principle and that is in the area of fellowship.  As we have fellowship with others that are in the light we are having fellowship with the Lord as well.

[Malachi 3:16]  Fellowship promotes thinking about the Lord and the Lord wants to remember this fellowship, so He writes this down in a book of remembrance.  Doctrine promotes the fear of the Lord, which in turn encourages us to think upon the Lord’s name.  Fellowship demonstrates acceptance, which encourages anyone.  Paul and Barnabas felt acceptance even though there were those there that had doctrinal differences with Paul.

The word ‘koinonia’ is also translated ‘common.’  The word ‘koinonia’ is translated ‘common’ in [Jude 1:3].  Jude 1:3 "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common [koinonia] salvation, ..."  There are some things we have in common.  This salvation is the salvation that all in the body of Christ can have fellowship in.  This salvation is the birth from above in John 3:3.  The fellowship of this salvation is what Paul, Silas and the Philippian jailor enjoyed when be believed.  Paul and Silas were refreshed in his home and doctrine was evident because baptism followed.

[Titus 1:4]  "To Titus, mine own son after the common [koinonia] faith: ..."  Titus 1:4 introduces to us the fellowship in faith.  This is beyond salvation and has to do with pleasing God as found in Hebrews 11:6, which says, “Without faith it is impossible to please him…”  Paul was pleasing God and so was Titus and there was fellowship in this lifestyle.  This fellowship of faith was for those who had not made shipwreck or departed from the faith.  Acts 2:44 says, "And all that believed were together, and had all things common [koinonia];"  The first idea presented in this verse is being together.  Another point of fellowship is that of sharing with those who are in need.  Being together will help us to share in each other’s needs.  People were not holding on to their possessions very tightly, but were willing to give them up for the benefit of others.

We can have fellowship through giving.  [Romans 15:26] "For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution [koinonia] for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."  In this passage in Romans 15 the emphasis is on the fellowship of giving.  The word ‘contribution’ is the Greek word “koinonia.”

[2 Corinthians 8:4]  "Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship [koinonia] of the ministering to the saints."  This verse re-emphasizes the giving ministry to the saints in Jerusalem.  We have fellowship with our missionaries by ministering to them financially.

[Galatians 6:6]  "Let him that is taught in the word communicate [koinonia] (contribute) unto him that teacheth in all good things."  The word ‘communicate’ comes from the Greek word ‘koinonia.’ We are to minister materially by giving to those who teach us the Word of God.  Hebrews 13:16 tells us, "But to do good and to communicate [koinonia] forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."  Much of giving today is not sacrificial.  Sacrificial giving is well pleasing to God.  Fellowship through giving is not to be forgotten.  This aspect of our fellowship is that of giving of our financial means so that others do not suffer.

Philippians 1:5 says, (He’s thanking God) "For your fellowship (contribution) in the gospel from the first day until now."  This is a further example of fellowship with a church that ministered to Paul financially as mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4.

There’s also fellowship in ministering to others.  [2 Corinthians 8:23] "Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner [koinonos] and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ."  The word “partner” comes from the same root word, as does ‘koinonia.’   There is to be a fellowship among those who are working in the ministry of the distribution of the truths of the Word of God.

Philemon 1:17, talking about Onesimus, says, "If thou count me therefore a partner [koinonia], receive him as myself."  This passage carries the same thought as that of 2 Corinthians 8:23; that as being co-laborers in the ministry.  “As partners in the ministry, forgive and restore Onesimus your servant.”

[Philippians 3:10]  "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"  We are to have fellowship in suffering.  The word of God is very clear on the matter of suffering.  If you live godly you are going to suffer.  [Philippians 1:29] says, "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe [present active] on him, but also to suffer for his sake;" This is not easy, but needful.  If a brother in the Lord is suffering for any reason, we are to enter into our brother’s suffering even if causes us to suffer also.  The way, it seems to me, that we enter into Christ’ suffering is to participate in the suffering of others.

[2 Corinthians 1:7] "And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers [fellowship] of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation [paraklesis, exhortation]."  Fellowship in suffering allows us to be exhorted to continue in the faith and not quit.  If we are alone, and not in fellowship, then we can become discouraged.  The counsel of Solomon is good counsel.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow:  but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."  This is the reason that fellowship is so important.  We need the encouragement of others.

How important is doctrine?  [1 John 1:1-3] "That WHICH [nominative singular] was from the beginning, [that] WHICH we have heard, [that] WHICH we have seen with our eyes, [that] WHICH we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, [concerning] OF the Word of [the] life; 2. (For the life [nominative singular] was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you THAT eternal life [the life the agelasting], which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3. That WHICH we have seen and heard DECLARE WE UNTO YOU (doctrine:  that which is taught), that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."  The Greek word that is translated ‘that which’ is nominative singular.  All of the verbs in verses one and two are in the plural.  The gender of the nominative singular ‘that which’ is neuter.  The use of the gender in the Greek does not try to describe whether it is male or female or no gender at all, but it helps us to tie words together in a sentence.  Words that are male in gender will tend to modify or be related to other words that are also male in gender.  This applies to the feminine and neuter gender as well.  The words “that which” is nominative singular and so is “the life” in verse 2.  What John is talking about in verse 1 is to be associated with the life in verse two.  This life is later defined in this verse as “that life the agelasting” in the Greek text.  He makes reference to having seen it.

John continues in verse two telling them that we bear witness to that life because we have seen it.  This reference to seeing this life is because they had eyes to see the mystery of this life which is agelasting life. 

[1 John 1:6-7]  If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we are liars.  The only way that we can maintain our fellowship with him is by confession of sin.  Our salvation does not take care of unconfessed sin.  You have to confess an unconfessed sin if you expect to maintain fellowship with the Lord.  In verse 7 it speaks of walking in the light as he is in the light so that we have fellowship with him.  The cleansing by the blood in this verse deals with sins that are unknown to us or sins we have forgotten about.  1 John 1:9 still comes into play when we know of sin in our lives we must confess it.  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

[Philippians 2:1-2]  "If there be therefore any consolation [EXHORTATION, paraklesis] in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be LIKEMINDED, [DOCTRINE DOES THIS] having the same love, being of one accord, of ONE MIND."  If there is to be exhortation, comfort, and mercies there needs to be doctrine.  Doctrine produces like-mindedness among believers and this encourages fellowship.  Can you fellowship with someone who has vastly different doctrines?  Included in the list is that of “fellowship of the spirit”.  Just because the word “spirit” is capitalized does not mean that it is the Holy Spirit.  Putting a capital ‘S’ on spirit is interpretation and not translation.  Some Greek manuscripts have all capital letters.  This spirit of fellowship is that of love, of being of one accord as brought out in verse 2.

[Romans 12:15-16]  "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.   Be OF THE SAME MIND one toward another.  MIND NOT HIGH THINGS, but CONDESCEND to men of low estate.  Be not wise in your own conceits."  Is rejoicing with them that rejoice and weeping with those who weep fellowship?  Absolutely!  That is fellowship.  We need to come alongside a brother that has a heavy heart, and is shedding tears.  When you have fellowship with those who are rejoicing, let it rub off on you and you will go away rejoicing.  Proverbs 15:15 says, "All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast."  If you have a merry heart, invite someone to your banquet.

Fellowship is being blind to ones status in life.  We should treat every one the same when it comes to fellowship.  You may be high in society and well off financially, but that should not affect your fellowship with those who are poor and of little esteem.

But, we’re to esteem doctrine.  [John 14:21] "He that hath [ESTEEM] my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."  This word “hath” could be better translated “esteemeth”.  The word “hath” is a present active participle.  Because doctrine is essential for fellowship, we need to have a high esteem for his commandments, which is His word.  If we will have a high esteem for his Word and demonstrate our love to the Father and His Son by guarding them, Jesus will manifest himself to us.  Our esteem for his commandments will provide a way for the Father and the Son to disclose themselves to us.

[John 14:23]  "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."  In the context of esteeming and keeping the Word of God in verse 21 we find the word “keep” again in this verse.  Love for the word of God and doctrine will open the way for the Father and the Son to make their abode with us.  What does it mean to abide with someone?  I think from Revelation 3:20, which says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."  We can see fellowship.  Abiding.

[1 John 2:28]  "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and NOT BE ASHAMED before him at his coming."  This verse encourages fellowship with Him in the Word and doctrine.  This means esteeming, guarding, and being obedient to the Word of God.  If we do not have the esteem for doctrine found in His word, we will not have the fellowship that we need to stand confident and without shame in his presence.

In 1 John the apostle John was having fellowship with the Father and with His son and he was inviting those to whom he was writing to have fellowship with him so that you could learn to have fellowship the with the Father and His Son.

We need to go out of here tonight, determining within our hearts to esteem the Word of God; to guard it and to be obedient to it.  We need to do these things, and to esteem doctrine, in order to have fellowship with one another and to have fellowship with God.  We need to have this fellowship and to esteem life for the age to come.