THE CONCEPT OF FELLOWSHIP --Dan Lightfoot 1501
Acts 2:42 -- "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
A. The first sermon had been preached… 1st souls saved… & added to the church. This verse gives some of the essentials of being a Christian/ Disciple. Teaching & modeling Christ-likeness are important aspects of being a disciple. But what does it mean to be like Christ?
B. Jesus gathered 12 men & allowed them to follow & learn as He taught, healed, & lived everyday life.
1. Paul taught the Corinthians by his e.g., but he was quick to say, "Follow me as I follow Christ."
2. "Following" is the essence of being like Christ.
a. A new believer learns how to follow Christ by being part of a church of Christ's followers. ...as a child his parents… etc.
b. Each of us is responsible for following Christ & modeling Him ...
3. Following Christ demands action. Not passivity.
a. Mt. 4:19-- "Follow me, & I will make you fishers of men."
b. Christ's travels took him to a sinful woman by a well, the gravesite of a friend dead 4 days, & a quiet garden soon to be overrun by Roman soldiers. & His disciples followed Him, learned from Him, ministered with Him.
C. Acts 2:42 shows us 4 things that matter most.
1. Worship 2. Fellowship 3. Education 4. Outreach
5. Making disciples involves all 4.
6. We looked at Worship in January. Today begins Fellowship.
D. The early disciples "were continually devoting themselves . . . to fellowship, to the breaking of bread" (v. 42).
1. Then v. 46 tells us they had daily fellowship, "breaking bread from house to house"
& "taking their meals together with gladness & sincerity of heart."
2. Fellowship is important because when a church stops being a fellowship, it becomes an organization. It may be known for its programs, ... or some unique feature, but it ceases to be known for the quality of its relationships. God designed the church to be not an organization, but an organism; a pulsating, breathing, dynamic, living fellowship.
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF FELLOWSHIP
A. definition: koinonia. --"that which is common."
1. The NT is written in Koine Greek, the common language of the day.
2. Something that is common is something shared.
3. So the NT uses this term to refer to our sharing together; our communion or participation, in the body of Christ.
4. A definition of fellowship, could be this: Fellowship is the intimate sharing of Christians in the uniqueness of the life of Christ because of their common faith in Him."
B. A misconception of this concept of fellowship -- social activity.
1. Food & fun are not the fellowship, but the result of it.
2. Acts 2:42 lists "Teaching & fellowship, breaking of bread & prayers."
C. Principle 1 -- Fellowship & Joy -- Read I John 1:1-4
1. There is a direct correlation between the depth of your fellowship & the extent of your joy as a Christian. The completeness of your joy is dependent on the richness of your fellowship.
a. If you feel like a part-time saint with part-time joy, one of the missing ingredients in your life may be fellowship.
b. There are too many "Lone Ranger" Christians in the body of Christ today. They come to church with their masks on. When they leave, people are apt to say, "Who was that masked man?"
c. Nobody really knows, because they never enter the fellowship.
2. I'm not putting other people down, because I am affected by this tendency too. What we've done is trade togetherness for other things.
a. ...television for relationships.
??Husbands don't talk to wives, etc.
? At church we pass with a nod & a handshake & Fellowship, Relationship, Communion get lost.
b. Or we're unequally yoked with an unbeliever & that makes our fellowship difficult ...because, in effect, we have another master.
D. Principle 2 -- Union & Communion: 2 aspects.
1. Union: a formal relationship with Christ. We are connected to God thru His Son by virtue of our faith in Him. Salvation brings us into union with Christ, the way a marriage ceremony formally unites a man & a woman in marriage.
2. Communion: an energetic partnering with each other. Communion union by adding the element of intimacy, closeness, & oneness. If you have union without communion, something will be missing, as many married couples can readily testify.
3. So, the gospel is never about ME & God; but WE and God.
4. This connectedness, the experiential sharing of two lives, should be the result of the formal union of marriage and/or discipleship. When you have union tied to communion, you have fellowship.
5. If all you have is the union, you have a group of people who belong to the same church & have a common faith, but no communion.
a. But if they are not experiencing communion with Christ & each other where life touches life, heart touches heart, & there is mutual care, then the union won't be what it should be.
b. The joy that should be part of being members of that local body won't be there as fully as it could be, with the result that their spiritual development is stunted.
II.THE PROCESS OF FELLOWSHIP
A. The process has both a vertical & a horizontal dimension. John speaks to these in l John 1:3 when he says, "What we have seen & heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; & indeed our fellowship is with the Father; & with His Son Jesus Christ."
B. Fellowship Begins with Christ. That's the vertical dimension.
1.John is saying, "If you want to have fellowship with the apostles, then you have to have fellowship with God, because that's who we have fellowship with."
2.Dynamic fellowship with other believers starts with our dynamic fellowship with Christ. This must be the foundation, the thing that determines the legitimacy of fellowship.
a.People often get together on purely human or cultural terms...
b.& that's fine for the world, but when it comes to the church of Jesus Christ, He is the starting point of our fellowship.
3. If you are committed to Christ & I am committed to Christ, let's hang out with each other. Our commitment to Christ becomes the catalyst for this principle of fellowship (see l Cor l :9-- "God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."). Trying to build fellowship on any other basis is starting in the wrong place.
4. That's why churches that are building on "the middle class" or "cultural similarities" or "style of music" -- are building great clubs, but are far from being churches.
5.That's why the Bible tells a Christian not to marry a non-Christian or enter into any close relationship that binds a believer & unbeliever together (2 Cor. 6:14).
a.Light & darkness have nothing in common. There is no fellowship between them.
Fellowship must begin with Jesus Christ.
6.Peter writes, "For by these He has granted to us His precious & magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust" (2 Pet 1:4).
a."Partakers" is from the same root as koinonia. Peter says we have become "fellowshipers" in the life of Christ thru the salvation He has granted us.
C. Fellowship then Flows to Others
1.Our horizontal fellowship is an overflow of our vertical fellowship.
2.This means that if your relationship with God does not overflow into caring about God's people, you are not as close to God as you think.
3.If your union with God has not produced a communion with God that overflows to the benefit of other believers, you are not as spiritual as you thought you were.
III. THE IMPEDIMENT TO FELLOWSHIP
A. According to John, there is something that breaks our fellowship with God & with others. Read I John 1:5-6
B. Sin breaks fellowship with God. And you can bank on the fact that if sin breaks fellowship with God, it will break fellowship with others. The way for a believer to avoid sin is to walk in the light of God. God's light gives us the standard by which we can settle conflicts & maintain or restore fellowship with one another.
C. Light and Darkness
1. E.g., if you & I are having an argument, we need somebody to shine light on the situation. You have your view, I have my view. But when God's light is allowed to shine on the issue, what is right & what is wrong become evident.
2. There can be no fellowship when God's light is not allowed to shine on the situation. If we persist in following sin into the darkness, we lose the light of God. And when we lose the light of God, we lose the benefit of communion with Him.
D. Genuine Fellowship
1. If a church is going to be a great church, biblically speaking, it will be because of the relationships formed in the pew & continued on Monday morning. ...because there is a group of people who care for one another & love one another based on their community in Christ.
2. Rom 12:15 --Rejoice with those who rejoice, & weep with those who weep.
In other words, don't let any saint laugh alone or cry alone. Make sure the family of God is there, good times or bad.
IV. THE PRODUCT OF FELLOWSHIP
A. Needs are Met. Read Acts 2:44-45...
1. Note: together & common. Believers took commonality seriously.
3. 4:32 -- "& the congregation of those who believed were of one heart & soul;"
4. The point? Needs Are Met -- fellowship met the needs of the body. There was no welfare; no government grants in Jerusalem,...
B. Unity Is Developed
1. When the body is at work, when every member sees that he or she is part of something bigger, when the saints understand that the church is a gathering of believers who are knitted together, something dynamic happens.
2. According to Eph 4:12-13, the saints are equipped to do the work of the ministry for "the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith." That is, we are all going in the same direction, believing the same thing about the essentials of the faith.
4. The result of this unity is maturity, according to Paul. Instead of being tossed around like children (v. 14), we will "grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ" (v. 15).
5. This takes the operation of the "whole body" (v. l 6).
V. TIME FOR KOINONIA
l Cor l :9-- "God is faithful, thru whom you were called into fellowship with His Son"
"What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life-- 2 & the life was manifested, & we have seen & testify & proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father & was manifested to us-- 3 what we have seen & heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; & indeed our fellowship is with the Father, & with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete." -- I John 1:1-4
"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;" -- I Jn. 1:5-6
Acts 2:44-45 -- And all those who had believed were together, & had all things in common; & they began selling their property & possessions, 7 were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need."
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