We are learning what it takes to follow Christ, to be His disciple. We have seen that a follower of Christ must be a worshiper. We will see later that a disciple is also a learner & a witness. But for now, we need to understand that discipleship involves koinonia, authentic fellowship. Some believe that if they arrive on Sunday morning in time to hear the sermon, they have met their weekly Christian requirement. They showed up, the preacher showed up, God showed up & everyone went home happy.Those who practice this kind of Christianity fail to understand the nature of the church & of the faith they profess. Being a disciple means far more than listening to sermons or attending Bible studies.
4. ...Proclamation w/o fellowship leads to dead orthodoxy. It is truth with no life. On the other hand, fellowship w/o proclamation of the truth leads to empty sentimentalism. This is "touchy-feely" religion with nothing to touch or feel.
B. Some people say, "Our church preaches the Word." Others say, "Well, our church loves people."
1. If a church can't say it does both, it is a lopsided congregation. Fact is, when you became a part of God's family, you inherited a whole houseful of brothers & sisters.
a. If married, you know what I mean. In-laws...God's answer is koinonia biblically based, authentic fellowship.
C. 4 key ideas sum up what our fellowship consists of. These ideas are captured in the phrase "one another." (listed in your handout.)
1. I will isolate 4 of these exhortations (in bold) that embody the rest: ...fellowship is not a small thing in God's mind. It is not an afterthought, or an addendum ... Koinonia is one of the 4 necessities in following Christ. Let's examine the content of fellowship.
A. Jn 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another: By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for one another. Paul said in I Cor 13:1-3 that no matter what you do in the way of Christian service or sacrifice, even giving your life, if you don't have love everything else is a waste of time.
a. Tina Turner can sing: What's love got to do with it?
b. But if love is not your motivation, God doesn't appreciate it.
2. "Anything minus love equals nothing," says Paul.
B. Love is the Heart of Koinonia Today, love has been devalued so much that it isn't worth its face value. Use love to describe food/sports team. & there are people who say, "I just love everybody & everything."Love has lost its significance because we have emptied it of its biblical definition, which is not primarily emotion but an act of the will by which we seek the highest good for others.Love is to fellowship what chicken is to chicken noodle soup. Remove it, what you have is just flavored broth with a few noodles.
C. Love is Truth in Action
1. Biblical love is an act of the will. 3 words capture the meaning:
a. Biblical love is truth in action. Biblical love requires a body of truth. If you love what is wrong, then your love is illegitimate, no matter how good you feel about it. If it's wrong, it's not love.
c. The world can sing, If loving you is wrong, I don't wanna be right. But if it's wrong, it's not love. Even if you know what's right, & do nothing about it, that's not love.
a. If you hear the truth of God, but it doesn't change what you do, you don't understand the love that energizes fellowship.
b. Love is truth in action. John spells it out for us: We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; & we ought lo lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world's goods, & beholds his brother in need & closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed & truth.~ 1 Jn 3:16-18
c. If Forrest Gump were a preacher, he'd say, "Love is as love does." That is, you can measure love by its action.
d. John's illustration of love in v. 17 communicates powerfully. "You have the goods and you see a brother in need, but you don't do anything. How is that love?"Husbands know it's not enough just to tell the wife, "I love you, honey." She must see it acted out in order for it to be authentic.
3. James asks: If a brother or sister is without clothing & in need of daily food, & one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed & be filled," & yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (Jas 2:15- 16)
a. If your brother is hungry & needs a ham sandwich, don't just say, "I'll pray for you."
4. John writes, "If someone says, 'I love God,' & hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (l John 4:20). You know you love God by how you relate to the members of His family.Some relationships in the body aren't spiritually productive because we aren't right with a brother, & can't be right with God.
b. It takes time, energy, & inconvenience given to your brothers, a stretching of yourself to help them... If not, John says, you don't love God. No matter how many times you go to church...
D. Love is Affection Among Saints
1. Read Rom 16:1-16 & you will see the word greet over & over, ending with, "Greet one another with a holy kiss" (v. 16). This is a greeting born out of relationship, out of koinonia. Paul is talking about deep, legitimate affection among the people of God.
2. In Acts 20:37; elders from Ephesus repeatedly kissed Paul ... Love knows when we see each other, it's a family reunion.Peter admonishes us, "Fervently love one another from the heart" (1 Peter 1:22). The word fervent means to stretch yourself out &
E. Let me give you some good news about this.
1. You don't have to like the people you are commanded to love!God does not command you to like me. "Like" has to do with preferential, emotional attachments. You can't like everyone equally. You don't have to like me; you do have to love me.You say, "But you can't just turn love on & off. Really? Who told you that? That's the world's way of thinking. Biblical love can be commanded because it is controlled by your will, not by your emotions. Biblical love says, "This is the truth, & this is what I will do in light of the truth."It may take us time to like each other, but I can start loving you now!
A. Rom 12:1-8. In vs 1-2, Paul issued his call to present our bodies to Christ (loving God). In vs 4-8, he talked about ministering to Christ's body by the use of our spiritual gifts (serving others).
B. But An Inflated View of Self (gets in the way)
1. Most of us need help to keep us from being self-absorbed. Mother called me & said, "Danny boy." I knew right away she was upset with me. So I said, "What's wrong, Mom?" "You haven't called in weeks." I said, "Mom, I had this to do & that to do." She said, "Listen, son. Anytime you are so busy with all the stuff you're doing that you can't call your mother, you're too busy. When you're too busy to call your mom, something's wrong."
a. She's right.
b. And when you're too busy, important, or successful to let the love of God work thru you to serve others, something's wrong.
c. We need the spirit of humility that God demands, & that Jesus illustrated in John 13.
C. Washing One Another's Feet Relate...
1. True fellowship demands that we serve each other w/o waiting to be told. No one told Jesus to pick up the towel & wash their feet.
2. He did so because He came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45).
3. After He had finished washing their feet, Jesus told the disciples, "If I then, the Lord & the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet" (Jn 13:14).
4. Not arguing for the ritual of foot washing. But fellowship, our sharing in the life of Jesus Christ, involves selfless service.& when you wash someone else's feet, watch the temperature of the water you use.
a. Don't wash someone's feet in the cold water of callousness & indifference. "Give me your dirty feet. God told me to wash your stinking feet, and I'm going to do what God says!"
b. Don't wash someone's feet in hot water either, or you'll burn them. A spirit of criticism says, "I told you about this, & if you had listened to me, you wouldn't be in this mess so I now have to serve you. I hope you burn your feet ...."... use warm water: not too hot, not too cold. Jesus did!
A. A tough one, because it demands that we bear the burden of an erring brother in such a way that he or she is restored:Gal. 6:1-2 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, & thus fulfill the law of Christ.
B. Mending the Broken ... need restoring on a number of levels.
1. 1st, we need to restore the brother who is "caught" in a sin
a. Restore means to mend a broken net or set a broken bone.
b. The picture is of a believer caught in a sin the way a bear walks into a trap & is snared. ...wasn't planning to get caught in a trap.
c. Christians get caught in sin, too They may not have intended to sin, or they may not have realized the full effects of their actions. They are "overtaken" by sin, caught in sin's trap. And, like an animal whose bone is being crushed in the trap, they need someone to set them free & mend the broken bone.
d. Note the qualifications of the ones who can help:
1. They should be spiritual & best of motives & led by love...
2. Helpers ought to be humble. &in "a spirit of gentleness". Hurting? Need one who can bandage the wound, ...
3. The restoration should be collective. Pronouns are plural.
4. Helpers should proceed with caution. They need to keep an eye on themselves, lest they fall into the same temptation. Don't think you are better than the person who is caught, because there's a trap waiting for you around the corner.
e. When a fellow believer is caught in sin, the church that is practicing authentic fellowship rushes to the rescue. The church is not a firing squad. We are healers who mend broken bones.
C. Restoring the Carnal
1. Not only are we to restore the caught, we are to help the carnal.
2. The carnal person knows what he is doing, doesn't care, & is going to keep doing it. The apostle James says: James 5:19-20 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, & one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.If you see a believer going the wrong way intentionally, that's a carnal person. You're to go after him & turn him around.
a. Why? Because he's not turning himself around.
3. The reason we don't do this is that it is risky. It was risky for Paul.
a. In Gal 4:16, "Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?"
b. If you seek to restore one as an act of genuine love & fellowship, you risk having feelings hurt. You risk rejection. Reprisal. Damaged relationships. Misunderstanding. Why run the risk? The answer is in James 5:20: The erring believer runs the risk of death. His loss will be greater than your loss. The essence of fellowship is that we are family, & when it comes to family you don't just sit by & watch someone destroy himself. Take the risk.
A. The Job of a Comforter
1. The goal of encouragement is to build other believers up. Why? Because they're torn down. ...by Circumstances ...or Sin!
a. Your job is to encourage, to become their spiritual cheerleader.Some of the best cheers are when a team is losing. Why? Because the job of the cheerleader is to bring hope & encouragement.
b. That's what we have to do if we are going to follow Jesus in practicing authentic fellowship.
c. Children need parents who will be their cheerleaders. And members of the body of Christ need cheerleaders.
B. The Tools of a Comforter
1. To be good comforters/cheerleaders, we need to know the cheers.
2. What do Christian cheerleaders need to know? the Word of God, because it is the Word we use to comfort other believers.
a. Our comfort must be biblical to be genuine. Ignorant cheerleaders are bad cheerleaders.See, you don't learn the Word of God just for yourself. You learn it so you can use it to minister to somebody else.
b. That's the essence of discipleship,
3. Rom. 15:14 says we are to "admonish one another."
a. That has to do with counseling & guiding another Christian. A good Christian comforter is a good counselor.
b. I've seen many of you come along side another member, love them, help them, guide them, counsel them &.
c. That's what koinonia does. It saves relationships & builds lives & gives new hope when people don't think they can make it.
d. With each of us taking this responsibility seriously, hurting Christians will know the healing power that God's grace was designed to bring them thru His church.
John 13:14 Wash one another's feet
John 13:34-35; Romans 12:10 Love one another
Romans 12:16; I Thes. 5:13; 1 Peter 3:8 Live in peace with one another
Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3 Honor one another
Romans 14:13 Stop judging one another
Romans 15:7 Accept one another
Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16 Teach and admonish one another
Rom. 16:16; I Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Pet. 5:14 Greet one another with a holy kiss
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV) Agree with one another
I Corinthians 9:19; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Galatians 5:13 Serve one another
1 Corinthians 12:25 Have equal concern for one another
Galatians 5:26 Do not be conceited, provoking & envying one another
Galatians 6:1 Restore one another
Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13 Bear with one another
Ephesians 4:32; l Thessalonians 5:15 Be kind to one another
Ephesians 5:19-20 Sing to one another
Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another
Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another
1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5: 11 Comfort and encourage one another
Hebrews 10:24 Spur one another to good deeds
James 4:11 Do not slander one another
James 5:9 Do not grumble at one another
James 5:16 Confess your sins to one another
I Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another
I Peter 5:5 Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another
1 John 1:5-7 Fellowship with one another
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Sid Womack, webmaster
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