Fellowship with One Another (revised)
Following the Example
1 John 1:7 (KJV)
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 cleanseth us from all sin.
I’ve often heard it said by many that they believe in God, but when the conversation is pursued further there is attached to their belief some ideas that don’t seem to fully agree with scripture. Some claim God but have no problem staying away from Church, others question the Bible, accepting God, but not His Word; either whole or in part.
I have to ask the question.
On what basis do these individuals base their belief?
It stands to reason that when something is believed in there should be a basic understanding of that which they say they believe. It follows then that in order to believe in God, one should hold some understanding of His nature and will.
What I mean to say is this.
How is it possible to believe in something or someone whom you clearly go against in your practice and actions?
One clear description of a Christian is simply one who follows the way of Christ. Without the person of Jesus (Emmanuel, God with us), there is really only a few methods to gain knowledge of Him.
Proverbs 4:1 (KJV)
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
The plain truth is that we (Christians) must make a serious effort to find out all we can about the character and nature of God. We do that through the best example that we have… the example of Jesus Himself. That example comes through the “Word”, both written and spoken.
Correction - Washing Away The Faults
1 Corinthians 11:1 (KJV)
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Sometimes, the things that occur in our lives are unpleasant and when upset we tend to remove ourselves from the source of our irritation. When it comes to the things of this world, this strategy may work, but I caution you of applying the world’s standards to the things of God. The revelation given to us for the understanding of His nature dictates the need for change; at times, it may be an unpleasant change. Anyone who, after indulging in the worldly pleasure of sin, would tend to be upset by the necessary corrections; at least at first.
Colossians 2:8 (KJV)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (KJV)
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
When a person says to me that they believe in God, but in the same breath they also say that they don’t attend Church… it sets off a red flag. Now I will admit that the Holy Spirit has been known to anoint some with great wisdom and understanding, but the cases were rare and most often took place in a time when we didn’t have the tools given us by that same Spirit, and by Christ Himself.
John 13:12-17 (KJV)
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Jesus asked His disciples if they understood what He had done for them. The question needs to be asked of all of us who say we believe and follow Him. I remind you that Peter was told matter of factually that...
“…if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:8).
The Fellowship Of The Body
Here we find both the point and purpose of “Fellowship”; that is - to carry the message of the gospel, to teach the things concerning the life of Christ, and to be an example of His character to others. In other words, we are to learn from those mature in the faith, becoming ourselves a “living Epistle” of the record of Christ. Fellowship is a kind of foot washing that’s needed after we have had our body cleansed (John 13:10).
John 15:3-5 (KJV)
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
The men who were the apostles and the foundation of the Church were the first branches of a living organism… “The Body of Christ.” It is to that “Body” that we must remain connected; apart from it we can do nothing. After all, they were given the opportunity of being eye-witnesses of Jesus’ life and all the events that took place. They had the chance to feel and experience the circumstances, the wonders, the fears, and the joys that only come through living inside the drama that is “The Gospel.” One thing is certain; they were forever changed. One could only begin to understand them... and their passion... through a fellowship experience alone.
John 17: 17-21 (KJV)
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Two things take place in “The Fellowship of the Body.” First: the word of truth, “God’s Word”, is passed along. Sanctification takes place only through the reading and hearing of this… “God’s Truth.” Second: as Jesus plainly says in His prayer, non-believers are brought to faith by the word of those who believe. Here we have the phrase, “their word”, as in “testimony” or different from “The Word of God.” It is this testimony, the expression and passion of what Christ has done in the life of the individual believer that compels others to accept the faith. The “Word of God” is verified and given strength by those that have experienced it in their own lives. No one can get this outside of fellowship… it’s just not possible.
Ephesians 4:11-12 (KJV)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Each station of the “Five Fold Ministry” is office, different in scope; held by persons each having the “Word of Truth.” Yet each position is brought to life by the individual that fills the position. It’s the experience that each one has had because of that "Truth" and its changing effect on their lives; that prepares them for the stations of their calling. Not only do they have the “Word” as a tool but also as a companion to their testimony. For the truly changed believer, it really is personal. All of the attachment found in an intimately personal relationship becomes real. The person who was once a lost sinner is now transformed through Christ and is now one with both Christ and God. Through the power of “His Spirit.” No longer do they walk in the ways of darkness. Because they are now one with the Father and Son who are not of the darkness… they cannot remain in darkness. Yes they will occasionally stumble but when doing so they are convicted and sorrowful; repenting and asking for forgiveness as well as the strength to overcome.
For this person, one transformed by “The Gospel” and forever changed by the “Holy Spirit”, belief in God is not just a statement. For them, “Fellowship” is not an option… and the “Word of God” is without question. This person does not view the world as something to crave and lust after. Instead... they have now taken on a changed and very “New Lifestyle”… one with Christ as the center.
Philippians 3:7-8 (KJV)
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,