HOW DOES THE BELIEVER HAVE TRUE FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD?
John's opening remarks introduces us to the reality of one having a full abundant life in Jesus Christ. (1 John 1-4)
The purpose of the letter is to assure the professing Christians that they have eternal life and for those not living a godly life to examine themselves in light of the "Word of Life" (verse 1) to see if their profession was genuine. A genuine relationship with Christ will produce fellowship with the Lord and other believers.
John states this purpose in verse 3, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
This fellowship is NOT:
John is revealing that a believer's life in Christ can be a deep full, abundant, satisfying and productive life. In fact it is the only true purposeful life a person can have. That is not to say that there are not many other ways a man can live his life and find enjoyment and personal fulfillment. But no matter how successful in the world a man may be, if it is lived apart from having Christ in our lives we a failure and will end in eternal separation from God in Hell. Living God's will produces eternal life, reward and benefit.
Fellowship is often presented as being a form of entertainment, but biblical fellowship is being in harmony with God our Creator and living under His protective hand and blessings. In other words we have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
The following any many other verses teach this truth:
Romans 5:10 "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
2 Corinthians 5:18 "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation."
Colossians 1:21 "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled."
2. Many seek for a more abundant life and never find it because they look in the wrong places. Some seek it from the world. Folks a full abundant life is not available on this earth.apart from knowing Jesus Christ as one's personal Savior and living a life filled with the Spirit of God. Those who reject God, reject the very reason for their existence and purpose. We are God's creation made to please Him.
ILLUS: I once saw a TV documentary about a lady whose husband left her a tremendous fortune. She began building a great mansion. All of her life she hired a crews of carpenters who daily worked adding to the house. There were great stairs and doors that lead nowhere. She spend millions on the house and when she died all she left was a great monstrosity of a house. Today is only a curiosity and no one lives in it. What a waste to dedicate one's life to such a worthless endeavor.
I once knew a man who lived his life amassing money. He used other people every way he could to get it. His whole life was devoted to getting riches and he was never satisfied. But as all men do, He died....and what had he gained by all his labors and accumulated wealth? What did his life accomplish? He took nothing with him into the grave. There was nothing eternal gained in all his life and he wasted the life God gave him getting material things that do not last. The great tragedy of his life was that he traded temporal material things for God's wonderful gift of salvation.
There are so many who have given their lives to building businesses, working for a house, cars, boats and seeking all kinds of pleasure. But in the end, and this is the point, it is only what we did for Christ that counts. All men will stand before God and give an account. The man who lives his life rejecting God will stand at the Great White Throne judgment of Rev. 20:11-15 and be cast into the Eternal Lake of Fire.
The believer who lives his life out of God's will, will suffer great lost at the BEMA judgment of 1 Cor. 3:10. On the other hand the man who lives his life in fellowship with God seeking God's will, will reap eternal reward, as well living a purposeful and satisfying life. (For a message titled "The Account We Must Give" Click this line)
Some seek it in religion...that too is the wrong place and will fail you. Religion comes from man's imagination. There are lots of religious people in Hell at this very hour. There is much religion on earth and it comes in every flavor man can imagine. However, it in time will always fail because there is no truth or substance in false religion. The substance that is missing...it GOD!
Religion is man made and not of God, Webster says religion is belief in a divine power or powers to be obeyed and worshiped. Lots of folks believe in a god, and yet do not know the ONLY TRUE God. Paul in Acts 17 on Mt. Olympus, said truly the Athenians worshiped many gods, yet the real God they did not know, and Paul introduced them to Him. Only a few believed. The rest are presently at this very moment in Hades awaiting God's final judgment.
Webster further says religion is the expression of belief in conduct and ritual. That's the heart of religion: Conduct and ritual which is a works based religion trying to earn or merit God's favor. You cannot merit, work for, or earn salvation as Ephesians 2:8-9, proclaims "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Folks John is not telling us about religion, but of truth life changing salvation! Lets look at the things he does say...!
The question we must ask is: "How can a person really truly know and have fellowship with God?"
John says the believer can in three ways.
I. WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THE FELLOWSHIP IS POSSIBLE!
A. 1 John 1:3.."Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
B. So the basis having this fellowship is in first knowing it is truly possible and obtainable.
1. How..through trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as one's Savior. . . then fellowship is established.
2. Romans 10:9-10, "If thou shall confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus and believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead...thou shall be saved"
3. 1 Corinthians 1:9 say, "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
4. Salvation is not some impersonal ritual that the many of the false Christian religions make it to be. It is not doing some act like joining a church, being baptized, or doing good works or deeds. It is a personal surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ in by faith accepting Him as one's personal Savior.
5. It is impossible to be truly saved and not have fellowship with the Savior? The mark of the person who professes to know Jesus Christ as their Savior, but who if fact is a counterfeit is they have no relationship with the Savior. He is a only a concept to many and not one's personal Redeemer. It is apparent in their lives, because they do not live for the Lord, but live for themselves. Christ is not their Lord and they ignore Him in their everyday living.
II. THE BIBLE SAYS WE CAN HAVE FELLOWSHIP, AFTER TRUSTING IN CHRIST, BY WALKING IN THE LIGHT. Verses 3-7
A. 1 John 1:3. Fellowship: (Greek word) "koinonia" means having something in common or sharing with. "A joint participation with someone else in things common to both"
1. It means: Coming in line with God's plans.
2. Our prayer should be "THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN."
3. Basis of fellowship is being in a joint venture together.
ILLUS: Years ago, in the town I lived everyone seemed to wanted a CB Club....Everybody talked about it. We ought to do this, or ought to do the other. Boy, from all the enthusiasm, it looked really good. The club was formed and everyone said this thing going to fly, wow! BUT, shortly, folks begin not to show up for meetings and events, and soon the club died. The basis of fellowship of the members was a supposed common desire to talk on the radio and to get together and do community projects, however when it came time to do them and put in the time and effort. they, they had other things that were more important.
What do you think was the real problem? The answer is simple, they never really got going with the program because they really were not committed to the goals or purpose of the club.
Many professing Christians the same way. They say, "I love Christ, I want a strong evangelist church, I want a Christian school, I want our children really taught in Sunday School, I want a programs for our children, I want good fellowships and socials, I want a good choir and singing, I want to see souls saved......on and on it goes."
Yet, many folks by their actions are saying something else. I want all these things, but I want the preacher to do them, or someone else, and I will help if I can work it in my schedule, I want it if I don't have to do it! In other words they have no real commitment to see the Lord's work done. Am I right? If they were truly committed to the Lord. . . their lives would reflect that. God's goals would be their goals and being committed the the Lord they would be actively going about the Lord's work.
B. True fellowship begins when one becomes dedicated to the program...God's pure and perfect program.
1. It begins with a person being faithful to the program God set up.
2. That program is the LOCAL CHURCH. Who was it that setup the local church? Do you think some professing Christians got together sometime in the past and said, "Hey, we ought to get together and form an assembly to carry on God's work and so we will have a place to worship, be taught and fellowship together." NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH.
a. The "ekklesia" which is the biblical word for an assembly of believers was conceived, instituted and empowered by Jesus Christ Himself. It is His idea and His plan for believers.
b. How was your church formed. Was it your preacher or others who saw a need for a Bible believing assembly in your area? Those who plant churches if they are doing so biblically form a church in obedience to the Lord because they know it is God's plan. Jesus is its Head and Founder.
b. A true church is founded by Christ. (Read Ephesians 5:22-30) This passage says that Christ is the Head of the local assembly of believers and that Jesus died for the local church, He founded it by his death, burial and resurrection. That is how important it is to Him. (Ephesians 5:30) We are members of his body, the Christ is the body of Christ, his physical representatives on Earth. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says...We are ambassadors for Christ!
c. This means what a church believes and what it practices is not up to the membership to decide on, but a matter of obedience to the the Founder and Head of the local church.
Then the verse says, be reconciled to God! In other words: Get on God's bandwagon, start becoming an active part of God's program.
2 Corinthians 6:1. . . We then, as workers together with Christ, beseech you also that ye receive not the Grace of God in vain! (V3) Giving no offense in any thing...Read Verse 4...We are "ministers of God." Our ministry is not "our" ministry, but the ministry of God Himself and He is the boss!
B. How is fellowship established, and how do we know we are in fellowship?
When we are "Walking in the Light," then and only then, when we are taking an active part in the things of God, in the local church which is his program. A church is not to be turned into social club, yet it has an important social element. It should be a place of fellowship, learning and service to others. Walking is the Light, means walking in the path God has lit up!
C. Note Verse 6. "If we say (meaning if we profess) that we have fellowship with Christ and walk in darkness . . . we lie, and do not the truth."
1. Dr. Hoyle Bowman, one of my college professors, said this is a family book, addressed to the God's family, because in 1 John 2:1 John addresses this letter to "My little children."
2. When family has a talk...it for the good of the family....for its benefit and for the benefit of its individual members. When we love the brethren, meaning brothers and sisters in Christ we will want to serve them. We do not have to prodded, but willing want to serve.
3. 1 John 1:7. "If we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Lets say it another way; If the professing a Christian, is an active part of God's program in his or her's local church, they are living faithful to Lord in their personal lives and are in truth being lead of the Spirit. They are truly in fellowship with God, because they have been cleansed from sin by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the common bond in their fellowship with other believers.
You answer the question for yourself. Does your actions, your faithfulness show you are apart of God's program or does it show that you are outside of it looking on? For you is worshipping the Lord a matter of service to others and obeying Him. This what honors Him and gives us our purpose.
Jesus says if you are an onlooker. . .then you are not in fellowship with the Lord.
Over the years I have met many people who say they love God, but they do not live for Him or let Him direct their lives. They profess to have salvation, but there is no evidence of Christ's influence in their lives. Clearly they have not considered the Lord in the choices they make in their lives. They are not living for God, and are often in sin, yet the the chasten hand of God is also not in their lives. God says he chastens his children, yet many who profess to be in the family of God live disobedient sinful lives and are not chasten. God says in Hebrews 12:8, that He does not chasten the Devil's children. We will save that subject for another message when we preach on 1 John 5.
God says in Verse 6, this person's profession is a lie, and not true.
Would you right now in the privacy of you own mind and heart examine your life? Do you honestly have fellowship with the Lord? It never hurts to test our faith. James tells us that only faith that is tested is proven to be true. When it is tested by the Word of God it is proven to be true of false. If true, the we can have full assurance of being a child of God, and if not then we can repent of our sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Once saved then we can have the fellowship that John is speaking of.
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