THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 12-11-05

LESSON TITLE: "FELLOWSHIP: HOW DOES ONE COME IN FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD AND KEEP IT?"

WELCOME

"Oh come let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation," Psalm 95:1. Thanks be to God on this Lord's day, for this opportunity to Worship before our God and to offer praise to our Creator! What a loving God we serve who has blessed us with His wondrous grace and salvation.

Thank you for joining us today for the Living Word of God. As His followers, how blessed we are to have the freedom to assemble before our God and to do those things which are according to that which He has asked of us through His will. Are you willing to do your part this morning to make this time successful in the service of God?

Now, as we begin our offering to God, will you bow with me in prayer!

(PRAYER)

What better way to worship God than in song. So at this time let's join in our first hymn of the day. Won't you do your part and sing with the congregation at this time as we praise God together with the hymn, "His Yoke Is Easy."

(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

One of the interesting studies of the Old Testament is the requirement by God of offering sacrifices on the altar. What I find specifically significant is that God always told them exactly what they were to offer and how to offer it. Another important fact about the offering itself is that the animal had to be without "spot or blemish." That means they were to offer to God of their very best and most valuable possessions. What a great lesson we can learn from all of this!

In the New Testament, we see a lot of the same terminology's used concerning offering sacrifice and service to our God. However, we now live under a different covenant which does not require a literal animal sacrifice, but a more spiritual and emotional sacrifice. Read with me the words of Peter, where he said, "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless," 2 Peter 3:14. Notice here that our desire for self should be that we are found without spot or blameless, which means we are obeying God's will just as commanded! Striving to be pure, righteous and holy in all things, just as He is!

However, I also want you to notice that Peter here says we are "looking forward to," something. So what are we looking for? Well if you look back in the previous verses he mentions a "new heaven," and then in verse 15, he actually goes on to say, "...and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation...." Our God has offered us salvation and wants us to be saved, that we might live eternally in Heaven with Him, when He comes to take us home! So that's God's part, but again what is ours? Well we are to be diligent in the things of God, and without spot or blame.

Are you striving to live this type of holy life before God and this world? Do others see Christ in you as you look for the eternal reward and promise of Heaven? Let me encourage us all to make sure that today and every day we are doing all we can to be found acceptable in God's sight! As far as our main study of the day, we will be concluding our series on Fellowship! Our specific lesson of the day will answer the question, "How Does One Come In Fellowship With God And Keep It?" So stay with us and after our next song together, we are happy to have brother Kevin Patterson with us as our guest speaker. Brother Kevin is the minister for the South Bolivar Church of Christ and we thank him for being with us this day. So before our main study of the morning, let's join together in our second song of the day. The name of this hymn, "His Grace Reaches Me."

(SONG # 2)

LESSON

Speaker: Kevin Patterson

Good morning. It's a pleasure to be with you today and to share with you another portion from God's most Holy Word.

For the past several weeks, we have been studying and engaged in a series of study on the subject of fellowship. This morning, we are going to conclude this study by examining the question: How does one come into fellowship with God and keep it?

Before we answer that question, let us once again define this word "fellowship." Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as "a community of interest, activity, feeling or experience, an association." Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words defines fellowship as "a communion or sharing in common." Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionary defines fellowship as "partnership or a participation." It implies that there is an alignment, in essence that there are two sides, and when we look at the Bible that's exactly what we see. We see two sides. We see God's side and we see Satan's side. We see a good side and we see an evil side. We see a right side and a wrong side. If I could better help you to understand this word "fellowship," I would have you actually turn back the pages of history into our own country's experience with a two-sided event called The Civil War. We had in this war between the states a north and a south position. One of the difficult problems that arose during that time was the fact that you had some people from the north whose families were in the north but who supported the ideals of the south, and so they went and fought against their own homes, against their own families, standing for the position of the south. At the same time, you had some people who lived in the south who had always been southerners and who wanted to defend their family and their farms and their communities, but at the same time they supported the position of the north, and so as a result they fought against their own homes and against sometimes their own brothers in battle.

When we talk about fellowship with God, what we are talking about is either fighting with Him or fighting against Him. I want you to take that into consideration this morning. If you can picture for instance a battlefield where there are two positions. Which side are you on? With whom are you aligned? With whom do you have your association? With whom do you have fellowship? Do you have fellowship with God or do you have fellowship with the world?

This morning as we talk about the subject of fellowship, I want you to realize that in this illustration of a civil war, it's important for us to recognize that spiritually speaking there is also a great war that is being waged over the salvation of souls.

If you were to take a look at 1 John chapter 1 and verse 5, you would read that, "God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all." God represents one side of this great battle.

On the other hand, John also writes in John 8 and verse 44 that "the devil does not stand in truth because there is no truth in him." He represents sin. He represents the world. He represents a position that is absolutely the opposite of the position that God holds. God is absolute goodness and in Him there is nothing that is sinful at all. That is why we have to have the forgiveness of sins to even come into His presence because sin separates us from Him. On the other hand, the devil represents absolute evil and in him there is nothing good whatsoever. So you have two positions that are diametrically opposed to one another.

2 Corinthians chapter 6 beginning in verses 14-16 is a good passage where Paul helps us to understand these two opposing sides and how they have absolutely nothing in common. He writes, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness and what communion has light with darkness, and what accord has Christ with Belial, or what part has a believer with an unbeliever, and what agreement has the temple of God with idols?"

Paul goes on to say in Ephesians chapter 6 and verses 11-20, he talks to the church at Ephesus, Christians at Ephesus, about "putting on the whole armor of God." Why? Because they're in a war and the Christians at Ephesus had chosen a side. They had chosen to come out of the world and to go fight on the side of that which was right. So Paul says, "You're going to have to go into battle well-equipped so that you can stand strong and stand firm against the wiles of Satan."

He also tells Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 2 and verse 3, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."

So when we talk about fellowship, we're talking about a side, a position. Whose side are you on? To be saved, everyone needs to be in fellowship with God and fight for what is right. However, if one is not a Christian, he is fighting for the wrong side.

Romans chapter 3 and verse 23 teaches us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." That means that if we are old enough to be held accountable by God for our transgressions, then that means that we have already been separated from God in His sight and are fighting on the wrong side.

What can we do about that? Even though sin separates one from God, God still calls us into His service. But I want to remind you that God does not call us in the form of a draft. He calls us in the form of a voluntary enlistment to His side. He doesn't make us fight for Him, but He calls us over to fight with Him.

So how do we enlist in the Lord's army and fight for the right? Would anybody argue with Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 6 that reads that "without faith it is impossible to please for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Certainly faith is necessary, "a faith that is based upon the Word of God," Romans chapter 10 and verse 17. That kind of faith is necessary if one wants to enlist in the Lord's army, but is that faith alone going to put me in the battle? Just because I believe there is a battle does not mean that I am fighting in the battle. Faith alone therefore does not put me into fellowship with God.

What else is necessary? Acts chapter 3 and verse 19 reads, "Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out so that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." To enlist in the Lord's army, one must repent of his sins and turn his life around so that he may follow God and be found pleasing in His sight. But just because I start walking toward the battle does not mean that I am fighting in the battle. Repentance alone, also, does not put me into fellowship with God.

Romans chapter 10 and verses 9-10, Paul writes the church at Rome and tells them that, "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead then you will be saved, for with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Paul tells the church at Rome that faith is indeed important but there is also something else that is necessary and that is the idea of taking what you believe in your heart and confessing it with your mouth, demonstrating what you believe in yourself.

Repentance is very important. In fact, the Ethiopian Eunuch, on the road as he was talking with Philip, asked that question. He wanted to become a Christian. He wanted to fight on the side of God, and he said, "What do I need to do? What else do I need to do?" Philip said to him in Acts 8 and verse 37, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God."

To enlist in the Lord's army, one must confess his faith in the Lord Jesus. But just because I say I want to fight in the battle does not mean that I am fighting in the battle. Confession alone also does not put me into fellowship with God. So what else do I need to do in addition to hearing and believing and repenting and confessing? What else do I need to do in order to be in fellowship with God? How do I actually get into His army so that I can fight along His side, fight under His command?

In John chapter 3 and verse 3, Jesus answered and said to Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, "Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." He says also in verse 3, "Unless one is born of water in the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Can a person be in fellowship with God if he is not a part of the kingdom of God? Well certainly not. He would be a part of a different kingdom and as such would be fighting against the Lord and His.

What about Acts 22 and verse 16 where Ananias said to Saul, "Now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

Can a person be in fellowship with God if his sins have not been forgiven? Remember that we talk about our sins are what keep us from God. So can a person be in fellowship with God if he still has his sins? Absolutely not.

Galatians chapter 3 and verse 27 reads, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Another translation says that, "Because you've been baptized, you have clothed yourselves with Christ."

Can a person be in fellowship with God and be spiritually naked? Absolutely not.

1 Peter chapter 3 and verse 21 says that, "There is also an anti-type which now saves us, baptism." He says, "This baptism is not a removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

If baptism has something to do with saving us, then I ask once again this question: Can a person be in fellowship with God if he is lost? And the answer is absolutely not. To enlist in the Lord's army, one must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Only then will the Lord place him in the battle and only then will he be fighting for the side of God and the cause of Christ.

Perhaps this makes sense of 1 Corinthians chapter 1:9 when Paul said to the church at Corinth, to a group of Christians, a body of believers, people fighting on the side of what was right. He said, "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

That's how you get into the battle, but warning... just because you're in the battle and fighting for the side of God and what is right does not mean that Satan is not out there looking for defectors. Satan wants you to come back to him and he is going to work awfully hard in order to get you to do just that. That's why John wrote in 1 John chapter 1 verses 5-7, a reminder of who we are and whose we are and what we need to do as we fight for the side of that which is right. He wrote, "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth, but if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His son, cleanses us from all sin." Simply put, to come into fellowship with God means that we must obey all of His commands. Simply put, to stay in fellowship with God, one must obey all of His commands. Any other commanding officer, any other place in the world, at any other time, would expect no less of the soldiers under his charge. Why then would we think any less of our very God? God is our commanding officer.

Perhaps that is why 2 Timothy chapter 2 and verse 4 reads, "No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier."

Let us remember that we are trying to be enlisted in the Lord's army and if you are not fighting on the side of God this morning, I want to encourage you to obey the steps that we have followed this morning. And if you are a child of God, remember that you are fighting for the greatest commanding officer any army has ever known. You are fighting for God in heaven above. Therefore, obey God. Fight for the right and live in fellowship with Him forever. May God bless you.

(SONG # 3 - "Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart!")

CLOSING COMMENTS

What a blessing it has been to join together in the things of God this morning. Thank you for doing your part in making all these things to be according to His Will. As always, we invite you back every Lord's Day morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God!

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Have you done what God requires that you may be in fellowship with Him? Furthermore, have you continue to do all that is according to His Will, so that you may remain in the light with Him? Make sure you are standing on God's side today!

(Program closing)