THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 11-6-05
LESSON TITLE: "WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT FELLOWSHIP: WHAT IS FELLOWSHIP AND WHERE MUST IT BE BASED?"
Isn't it great to know God and to have the privilege of gathering together and praising His name on this wondrous Lord's Day? Thanks for joining us this today as we break together God's Living Word. And let me express how happy we are to have you this morning for this time of offering to God. How blessed we are in this country to have the freedom to assemble this day and to give this time to our Creator. It is my hope and prayer that we will each do our part to make this time of worship acceptable in God's sight and according to His Will!
Now as we begin to focus our thoughts on God, will you bow with me before His throne in prayer.
As always, it is our privilege on this program to praise God together in song! So let me encourage you to join in with the congregation at this time as we lift our voices up in the first song of the morning. The name of the hymn, "Seeking The Lost!"
(FOR SONG # 1)
I would like to begin by asking this morning, "who helps you in your life?" When we are children our parents help us and make sure that we have the need care, protection and discipline which we need. As we grow older we continue to need family, but as well we have teachers, friends and even coworkers to help us along. And in all of this let's not forget one of the great sources of strength which we turn to in this life, God's Church. How wonderful it is to have Christian family and friends to help us in this life. The fact is we all need a lot of help and encouragement to be able to make it through the trials and difficulties of this life.
With this in mind we must not forget the greatest source of help in the life of a child of God. Of course we all know the answer - God Himself! The Psalmist David said, "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth," Psalm 121:2. This verse again confirms the fact that our God is the ultimate helper in our lives. However, I think it goes on to clarify why we can count on His help and why it is best. Notice again that David referred to the one "who made heavens and earth!" So why is God so mighty and able to help us in all areas of life? The answer is because He is so great and powerful, so powerful that He was able to make the heavens and earth. Thus the reasoning is, if God can make the very heavens above and earth below, how much more proof do we need that He can certainly help us with the issues in our life.
Thanks be to God for His power and wonder. May we all strive to turn to God and lean on His greatness so that we may be able to make it through our every day lives. So that we may boldly proclaim before the masses, that just as David, "My help comes for the Lord!"
Today we will begin a new series of study which affects each and every one of us as Christians. This new series is entitled, "What The Bible Teaches About Fellowship!" As far as the specific message of the day, we will be answering the question, "What Is Fellowship And Where Must It Be Based?" So please stay with us and after our next song, I will be leading us in this study from God's Word. Now let's join together in our second song of the day. The name of this hymn, "Ring Out The Message."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine, in fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers," Acts 2 and verse 42. This introduces our new topic of study in relationship to fellowship because certainly fellowship is something that began even when the church was established. We could even go back before that time and find that even from the beginning of time, fellowship is again a concept, a word and idea that still even affects us today and that still has been something that has affected man of all times and all ages.
If we consider the concept of fellowship, we'll first look at a few dictionary definitions beginning with first of all the American Heritage Dictionary. It states that "fellowship" in the English is "the condition of sharing similar interest, ideas or experiences as by reason of profession, religion or nationality." We also have another idea, "the companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms." A third idea, "a close association of friends or equals sharing similar interests." Also synonyms are given such as "friendship" or the concept of "being comrades." As we look at the concept then in the English language of the word "fellowship," we certainly see an idea of harmony, an idea of unity, an idea of being one in the same in certain things.
We also find in the Holman Bible Dictionary from a Biblical standpoint the idea of fellowship is the same. In fact, a few of the ideas that are presented here is that "fellowship is the bond of a common purpose, the devotion that binds Christians together to Christ." So the idea here from the original Hebrew concept as well as the original Greek concepts is the idea of a binding, of a commonness, a oneness, a coming together, a standing together, a joining, a friendship of unity or unison, a working together being hand in hand.
On thing I would like to say at the outset of our understanding of fellowship as well, as we have seen in both definitions is that fellowship does not only pertain to religious things. There are a lot of words in religion that we almost get the idea that somehow we can only have faith in a religious sense. Well, that's not true. We can have faith in many things on this earth or many ideas or concepts. We can refer to that as faith. Fellowship is the same. You might have even heard others use the idea before of maybe different types or social organizations that this man or this individual is involved in that fellowship, in other words that common unity of oneness and purpose, that goal of being together and unified in certain things and in a certain area. In fact, you might remember the definition that we looked at was in a profession, a religion or even a nationality. So not only the workplace or the work ideas, also religious concepts or in relationship to nationalities or cultures. So we might even say that we have fellowship as Americans because we are from the same continent and we bear many similarities. So again we find clearly that fellowship is a broad word, but as far as our understanding and our discussion this day certainly we're talking about fellowship from a religious standpoint. What is a godly fellowship? So again, I think it's well put here, "The bond of a common purpose, the devotion that binds us together as Christians for Christ." We sing songs like "A Common Love," or "A Common Joy" or "A Common Binding" or "A Common Bond" that we share, songs that speak again about our oneness or working together, our unity, our concept or desire to be really one in God. Therefore, showing forth the fellowship. You see, the Christians in the early church had fellowship from day one. It said, "They continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine," that would be the teachings of Christ, "and in fellowship they were one. They were in harmony, living together and working together and striving to accomplish the greater purpose of God in their fellowship." And part of that was prayers and worship and evangelizing. There were a lot of parts to that fellowship of that oneness, of that coming together. But in all, they had that fellowship and they shared a wondrous fellowship together. Ever since then we have seen the same concept demonstrated to us throughout scriptures.
I want us then to look now at our fellowship first of all with one another. If you'll look with me in the book of Galatians, of course Paul writing there to the church of Galatia, encouraging the brethren in fellowship and the idea here of extending one's hand to fellowship. In Galatians 2 and verse 9, the Bible says, "And when James, Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived that grace had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabus the right hand of..." what? "...fellowship, that they should go to the Gentiles and they should be circumcised." If you see here the idea once again, the fellowship, the extending of the hand to say, "I want to be one with you. I want to..." In fact, think about agreements that we make. Have we committed to something before? Have we said we'll do something? And what do we do? We shake our hands. We agree. We have that common goal, that oneness again and that fellowship to accomplish a certain task or a goal. Maybe in the workplace, maybe in religion, maybe from a cultural standpoint. The fellowship that binds us together. Here in Christ, in God, they were fellowshipping. They were coming together as one in order that they might collectively and individually accomplish the ultimate goal by doing the same things in a unified way. And so certainly again, we find the great concept of fellowship.
We find the idea, I think, of fellowship presented also in the letter to the Ephesians by Paul just a book over, and there we find in chapter 4 the idea of being unified, the idea as it speaks about there in verse 3 of chapter 4, keeping the spirit of the bond of peace, being unified as fellowship, being one working together, working toward a common goal, having the same mind. All of these things show that we are one in Christ. And there it is stated in verse 4, "There is one body, one spirit, as we are called and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, also one baptism, one God and father of all who is above all and through all and in you all." There again, these three verses show us this concept of fellowship, of oneness. You see, fellowship, brethren, friends, those who are watching this morning, is not about being different or agreeing to disagree or agreeing somehow that you do what you want and I do what I want and we have fellowship. Fellowship is based on our common ground, on our binding commitment, on our jointly familiar and similar concepts and ideas and beliefs, not on the differences.
How can we understand it to the fullness? I want you to see first of all where our fellowship begins. I think John does better than anyone else in his first writing there, that is 1 John. We know that he wrote the gospel account, but then gave us three other books of great information. But there in John 1, that is 1 John and beginning there in chapter 1, we find the ideas of fellowship. In verse 3, it talks about a fellowship that they had together. They state there that "you also may have fellowship with us,..." But notice the next statement in verse 3. "And truly our fellowship with the Father and with the son Jesus Christ." He says, "I wish that we would fellowship as we first have fellowship..." Where? "With God the Father and the son Jesus Christ." You see, where does our fellowship begin? Where does fellowship start? What is the heart? What is the foundation? God. It's not you. It's not myself. It's not some church or some religion. It's not some necessarily belief. It's God Himself.
If you're still not convinced, look in the same passage with me if you will to verse 7. In fact, we can actually look at verse 6 because it mentions the same word once again. "If we say have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness..." Guess what it says in verse 6. "We don't practice the truth." We're liars. We can't have fellowship with God and do the opposite of what God teaches. That's what the verse says. But rather what is fellowship based on then, John? Verse 7 says, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship." Notice how wonderful that is. God is the light. God is good. God is righteous. God is pure. God is holy. Everything that is good is about God. And so then it states that that's where God is. That's light. That's what illuminates. On the other hand, verse 5 tells us there that darkness is everything contrary to God. Darkness is where there is no fellowship. Well, I might also remind you there that the same verse in verse 5 tells us that "in God there is no darkness at all." Completely no darkness. So you've got God as the light. You've got darkness, that opposite of God. It states here that fellowship with God is based on what? Light.
So then what would be the obvious idea that is being presented in verse 3 as well as in verse 7? That our fellowship is based on what? Light. The same as with God. My fellowship with God is based on light, and your fellowship can be based on light, and because our fellowship first and foremost is based with God and upon God and the foundation of God and they're based on the light, then guess what we share. Fellowship. You see, that's the idea that is presented here. We share fellowship not because of what we are, who we are, not what we necessarily want or desire, but because of what we have already established with God. Because I fellowship God and you fellowship God, then we already have fellowship because our fellowship is based in the same place, the light, God. And so therefore, we are already one. We are already equals. We are already, as it says here, "those who have been bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ."
That tells us something else about fellowship. How important is fellowship? It has been purchased with the blood of Christ. In the family of God when I have fellowship with my brethren, it is not a light thing. The church isn't just some afterthought. It was purchased with the very blood of Jesus Christ. The shedding of the cross and on the cross there the blood of Christ was all about buying the church, purchasing the church and giving us the opportunity to first fellowship with God, but then what? Ourselves. Because when we fellowship first with God based on the light, where He is, then we again have fellowship with one another.
There are some other verses that I want you to consider and maybe write down because of time. First of all, we see that our fellowship is with God as we have just confirmed there in 1 John 1:3. Also, with Jesus, as the same verse says again in 1 Corinthians 1:9, "We have fellowship with Christ." You know also "we have fellowship with the spirit of God," Philippians 2, it states there in verse 1. Another thing that we have fellowship with is those who are in the light, those of like precious faith, our brethren. Why? Because they are in the light and we are in the light. We both started in the light with God. "We also have fellowship in a common suffering," Philippians chapter 3 and verse 10. "Our sufferings together for Christ gives us a fellowship. And then a fellowship in the gospel as well," Philippians chapter 1 and verse 5.
You see, fellowship is a broad concept, but a very specific idea is presented by it. It covers a lot of things in religion, but it covers only one way and based on one thing, that is God again, and God being in the light.
So when we consider our bond and our common purpose and devotion that binds us together as those who fellowship together in Christ and God, we must understand that that fellowship is based completely on God and God being in the light, righteous, pure and holy. Therefore, as us, you and I, in the light, we must be righteous, pure and holy, and when we are individually, we come together collectively as those who present the same because as we have first had fellowship with God, we then have fellowship with one another.
May I encourage you this day, if you do not have yet have fellowship with God because you have not obeyed the gospel of Christ, that you might do what God requires, that you might confess His name, repent of your sins and be buried with Him in baptism. Allow God to add you to the church so that you might begin to have fellowship first and foremost with Him and also with your brethren in the church. What a wondrous thing to all be saved in His name.
(SONG # 3 - "Did You Think To Pray!")
May I again take this opportunity to thank you for joining us today. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and thus a blessing to us all. Please remember that you are invited back to join us every first day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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How wondrous it is to know that we have fellowship with our God of light. May we always realize that true fellowship is based on God and where He is, not what we want or think!