What is True Biblical Fellowship?
by Cooper P Abrams III
INTRODUCTION:   Some times familiar words lose their intended meaning. Such a word is "Fellowship" We use it a lot, but most times not in its biblical meaning.
In our day the word is used to describe gathering ranging from coffee and donuts to worship services. Most times it is associated with gathering where there is eating.
Now, there is nothing wrong with calling these fellowships. They are important and give us opportunity to be with one another to better get to know our church family. They are design to promote fellowship with each other.
What I want to do today is look at the biblical use of the word and its use in Scripture and let it teach us what is true fellowship that God would have us to experience.
The word used in Early Church, went far beyond occasional or regular gatherings, even though they met because of their common bond in Christ, and met at the same place and time, for a unified purpose.
We learn in God's word that fellowship is a HEART issue, something to be felt and expressed, and something very important to be a part of. It should occur apart from any program, schedule, or activity. It is to be a way of life for believers in Jesus Christ to want to be in each other's company, to share things together and to help and support each other both physically and spiritually. If one of the members hurt we share that burden.
Lets look at what fellowship meant to the early church. It is recorded in the New Testament to set an example for us today.
I. THE FIVE ACTIVITIES OF THE BEGINNING CHURCH. ACTS 2:44-47
2. Yet, these believers had to be close due their uniqueness as believers in Christ Jesus. The church (the assembling of believers) was the source of strength. They had at this time only the Old Testament and they were all Jews.
Hebrews 10:19-25 "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
The Lord combines church attendance with holding fast the profession of one's faith. Further assembling together was for the purpose of exhort one another...which means to lift up and encourage.
1. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, the point is that the church is a unit, a body, with no part being more important than another part, meaning every part is vital and important to the whole.
V25 That there should be no schism (division) in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
2. Every person is important in a church. In V27-28 Paul explains that Gods gives the gifts as it pleases Him. V18 Each person has a gift, an ability to do a job in the church that needs doing.
Everyone does not have the same gift. Different gifts are given so that all the jobs will be filled.
(Over the years in working in four churches as member and as pastor, when it comes time to elect positions of service many are mentioned and recognized as having the ability, yet they do not regularly attend. Their talents are wasted, their God given gift is not used as God would have it)
2. Acts 1:14, States they prayed and continued together in "one accord". Note again the word "all".
Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
I am not talking about success as the world sees it, but as God does. I am talking about reward in heaven, because we lived our lives in faith, trusting the Lord.
In the cover of my Bible there is a poem I copied many years ago which expresses the point very well.
"He is no fool he gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose, Only one life, which soon with past, only what's done for Christ will last."
The problem is that many professing Christians know the words and the meaning of these passages...but can't seem to believe them. If they believed them they would practice them. Many will let anything interfere with their faithfulness to the Lord.
B. 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
B. The Greek word is "koinonia." It means "communion" fellowship, sharing in common, something widespread, familiar and ordinary. It comes from the word "common" which is the heart meaning of the word.
A sister term is "koin o inos" , meaning a partnership, an associate. It has as its root the acts of sharing in something. (See 1 Cor. 10:20)
C. One commentator defines it, "the expression of genuine Christianity among the members of God's family"
D. What does fellowship Include.
3. Biblical Fellowship is a Family relationship: You become a part of the Family of God on Earth.
4. Fellowship requires having concern and a spirit of restoration one to the other. Galatians 6:1-2 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
5. Fellowship requires confession and forgiveness.
In order that confession and forgiveness to able to be effective, there must be freedom in the church and atmosphere that will allow it.
Gossiping, bitterness, back bitting, criticizing, hinders the spirit of freedom for forgiveness and confession and will kill the spirit in the church and be like throwing cold water on the freedom to fellowship with each other.
So does being judgmental, or condemning, or feeling oneself better that the other person. One also must have the courage to be frank to share a failure or personal need. We each must recognize our own failures, faults and prejudices. We must as Jesus said, "Get the beam out of our own eye before we try to get the mote out of someone's eye."
We are to consider how we spur one another on to love and good deeds. We are faithfully meet together, exhorting (building one another up or encouraging one another.
It means having a freedom in our fellowship, and not let ritual and ceremony rule it. V14-16
We should not let not ritual rule or tradition rule our fellowship, but experiencing our common bond the to God. We should let our fellowship and praise to God be in actual doing the will of God, sharing and helping one another for this is what pleases the Lord.
With God first, and because of that fellowship one with the other.
Are you in fellowship with God? Trusting in Christ. Are we in fellowship with one another.
Are we forgiving? Are we judgmental or considerate and sensitive to one another's feelings?
Do we see ourselves as a vital part of this church, EACH ONE OF US, equally important and vital to seeing the work of the Lord done here?