What on earth are we here for? (2)
As we continue in our series today asking the question – What on Earth Are We Here For?
I would tell you that the Bible says that we are here for Christian fellowship.
So as I asked last week concerning worship, I again ask you –
If we are here for fellowship – can we say that we truly understand what fellowship is, and what it means, and how it is to look in the day in which we live?
Consider for a moment, in your own mind, what you believe fellowship is.
Fellowship is the thing that happens as we experience the overflow of Gods life in us.
Now follow me if you will to and we will see a picture of fellowship from the Scriptures.
This word fellowship is used over and over in Scripture, and it is known in the Greek as the word “Koinonia.”
And let me begin today by telling you that not everyone can have this fellowship. Not everyone can be a part of this gathering as we see it happening in the book of Acts.
And let me tell you why.
The word Koinonia is defined as: being common, or to share. It is used for the words of participating in – or partaking of. The most succinct way I can define the word is to tell you that it is “to share in common.”
So we must first understand that we cannot all be in Christian fellowship – because we must first have something in common to share!
What would that be you ask?
Jesus. I answer.
And how does one come to the place where they have Jesus, and can thereby share in His life? I am glad you asked.
Look at and go back to verse 29.
Peter has been filled with the Holy Spirit and he begins to preach the Gospel – the Good news – to the very people who just days before, stood and hollered that Jesus should be crucified and the murderer Barabbas should be set free, and they are now heckling and accusing the believers of being drunk at 9 o’clock in the morning.
And Peter says:
Read v 29-36
And the power of God falls on these people, and they are cut to the heart, and they cry out – What must I do?
These men and women have seen the sin in their lives, and they know that every one of them is under the judgment of God, and they are filled with fear and awe, and they stand crying and asking the Lord to save them.
And they repent - that is – they turn from their lives of sin and self. The life of living only for their own wants and needs and desires – and they seek the face of God and the Hand of God.
And the Bible says that 3,000 of them were added to the number of those in the church. Those who were living their lives in one accord and seeking the presence of God among men.
Listen closely –
If you have never came to the place in your life that you have seen the ugliness of your sin, and the reality of the wrath of God that was once upon your souls, and if you have never begged the God of heaven and earth to save you because His mercy has called you into His light – then you cannot have any part in this life of fellowship as it is lived out in the church.
You cannot have this fellowship because you have absolutely nothing in common in which to share with those who are adopted into the family of God and who are alive in Christ as the brother of Jesus.
Because those who have fallen on their face and have surrendered their life to God, and confessed their sins, are no longer of this world. They are no longer children of the devil. They are no longer walking in darkness, and living a life of death.
Because the Bible says that those who have come to trust in Christ are residents of heaven and this world is not their home – they are only aliens passing through. Their Father is in heaven and He is their light, and They walk in the light. They are no longer what they were, but they are a new creation and the life they live they now live in Christ Jesus. And the sufferings they face are only light and momentary, and that they are not yet what they will fully be!
They are in the world, but they are not of the world.
And it is this act of being in fellowship, or sharing life with others who have new life, that is a way we can examine our lives and KNOW that we are of God.
So, turn in your Bible with me to 1 John and let’s see what this man who was part of Jesus’s inner circle has to teach us concerning fellowship.
Let’s begin at Chapter one and verse one.
See here what the Apostle John is saying:
He is telling the believers that he wants them to know about the first hand experiences that were lived with Jesus. John and the those who were with Jesus, and walked with Jesus, and slept with Jesus, and ate with Jesus – they want the rest of the peoples to know that Jesus was here. Jesus was seen – He was touched – and they want the believers to know this so that the believers will be in fellowship with them - so that – see this in vs 3 – so that by having fellowship (Koinonia) with them, they may also have fellowship with the Father and the Son – and verse 4 tells us everything we need to know about why we should desire fellowship – because it makes our joy complete.
Here it is – here is the heart of fellowship, the heart of the word Koinonia – This is what we have and are sharing in common when we come together! We are sharing the life of Gods Son – Jesus the Christ!
If you continue in 1 John Chapter 1 you will see that John says if we claim to have fellowship with Jesus and yet we walk in the darkness, we lie, and we do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as Jesus is in the light – then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.
Let me ask you.
Do you know someone that claims to be a Christian and yet they never go to church? They never spend time with others whose lives have been radically changed because the Blood of Jesus has cleansed them from sin. They never spend time in prayer, or worship, or reading and learning about the things of God with others?
Consider this – not only for others - but for yourself. The Bible says that the believers are of one body.
Have you ever seen what happens to a piece of the body that gets cutoff or injured and the blood flow is removed?
What happens to that piece of the Body?
It is either attached again to the body, and the blood flow is restored – or – it is dead. It doesn’t take very long before that piece begins to die, and it becomes cold - and covered in gang green and disease. It doesn’t take long and that piece of body begins to stink and it decays – and it rots into nothingness.
That is the way it is with the body of Christ!
We need one another – because in spending time with, and investing in one another, we are literally spending time, and sharing our life In Christ!
Whatever you said about fellowship earlier – I want you to consider how that stacks up in light of these words:
Fellowship (Koinonia) is the overflow of Gods life in us.
Fellowship is not a matter of just sitting around with who ever discussing any sort of whatever.
So then, when we understand this Biblical Truth that fellowship is the overflow of Gods life in us and that Jesus is the fountain head – that Jesus is the source of fellowship between believers - because He is that thing that we have in common. Then we see that it is Jesus that we share!
It is in Jesus that we can share in His divine nature
It is in Jesus that we can share in the blessing of the Gospel
It is in Jesus that we share in God’s grace Phi 1:7
It is in Jesus that we share a common faith
It is in Jesus that we share a common calling
It is in Jesus that we share a common hope
And it is in Jesus that we share in sanctification (MAKE HANDOUT)
You see when we realize what we have in common – what we share – what we experience together because of Jesus – then we can truly enjoy fellowship and live as the church is called to be fulfilled with joy!
Matthew Henry sums it up well when he writes “Joint fellowship with God is the best fellowship we can have with one another.” That is the heart of fellowship.
And it is these who have been born again – of the Spirit of God – that are now not only able to be in fellowship - but are commanded to be in fellowship!
Look at 1 John Chapter 2 we will begin at verse 3
We are to walk as Jesus walked.
Have you considered what this means in the context that John sets before his readers?
Go home and read that again and you will find that Jesus’s walk was one of obedience. Jesus perfectly completed the will of the Father – by being completely obedient!
Now think about that as I share with you what the Bible says to followers of Christ, and as we see that fellowship is grounded in the commandment to love as Christ loved.
Turn with me to John chapter 13.
Jesus tells His disciples in versus 33 and 34
34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Fellowship is sharing what Christ has given us – remember – fellowship is the overflow of Gods life in us!
And here we are commanded to love as Christ has loved.
We need to see the setting that Jesus makes this statement in. And know that God has all the power in heaven and earth to accomplish all that He commands.
Jesus is sitting at the Last supper with those who have walked closest with Him for the last three years. And They haven’t learned still what He has been teaching them all along. We know this because it is Jesus who has to come in and wash the disciple’s feet – they were still to proud to serve one another with the less than remedial jobs around the house.
And we see that only 6 verses earlier Judas – one of those who has been with Jesus – departs from the dinner table so that he can go cash in his longtime friendship of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
And we know, that in 2 more versus, Jesus has to warn Peter and the boys that before the sun comes up – they will deny they even knew Him!
It is under these conditions that Jesus says these words:
As I have loved you – so you must love one another.
Understand this love. This love is unending. This love is never failing. This love is immeasurable. This love is unconditional.
Jesus has said – there is no greater love than this – than a man lay down his life for another!
Jesus has given us His love and we have that in common as believers. We have that kind of love and we are to share it – one with another. That is fellowship.
In and 2 we are told:
1Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Walk in love. That is the way we are to be in our daily conduct. That is our fellowship with one another. And you see here that to do such a thing implies an act of Worship that God delights in.
In we are told:
16From him (that is Jesus) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Here we see that as the church is in true fellowship – it grows, and it is built up. As the fellowship of those in the body increases – as people do and be what Jesus has given them the power to do and be, and as the life of God overflows from within us – there is a building that is maturing us.
Think about this. One author stated that fellowship is the testing and proving grounds of love.
I would say that fellowship is the testing and proving grounds of faith.
If Jesus has commanded, and Jesus has given us the ability to love another – because they are in His family and He loves them – and yet we refuse to love them – or worse yet we hate them.
Is it not the fact that we should examine what we believe - and know that we are told in 1 John chapter 2 that
“A man who doesn’t love the brother who he can see – cannot love the Lord who they have not seen” and it goes on further to say that “Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness; he does not know where he is going because he is blind () and that anyone who does not know love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life.” ().
Is it possible that we can profess to have a lifesaving, soul cleansing faith in Christ, and deny love to those who He has died to save – the same as us?
If fellowship is the overflow of God’s life in us – if it is us sharing what Christ has done for us – then we need to recognize that Christ has befriended us.
In John chapter 15 we read that Jesus says to the disciples -
15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
I want us to consider this.
Do you remember what you were when Jesus called you friend?
I remember quite clearly – and I sometimes wish I could forget. That’s how foolish of a man I was when I heard the voice of God call me friend.
I remember the mouth I had and the meanness that was still alive and well in the flesh.
I remember the selfish attitude I had and the holier than thou attitude.
I remember the gossiping tongue I had and how quick I was to use it to cut another deep out of jealousy.
And it was then – as I was learning to love - and learning to be in fellowship – as Gods life slowly began to overflow out of me - that Jesus called me friend.
And if you are any student of the Word of God at all – it is clear that Jesus calls you friend – even though you are not yet what you will be – but that He looks at you and knows what is coming – and as we live with that principle in mind – as we fellowship and as the life of God overflows from us – we ought to be about the Fathers work, and making friends with people, just as they are – because we have the inside scoop that they too will one day be perfected.
And as I share what I have received – I have the hope of knowing that the person who I am investing time in now as a friend – will someday sing in wonderful and perfect harmony as we praise God together for all of eternity. Amen.
The next thing we can learn from Scripture about what Jesus has given us – so we can share it and have the life of God overflow from us is that Jesus gave. Extravagantly.
And as Jesus gave to us we ought to be willing to give to others in our act of fellowship.
The Bible says that the Good shepherd gave His life.
In we read:
17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
And in : we are told of the churches in Macedonia and are given a picture of giving true fellowship when we read:
1And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
Fellowship – the life of God overflowing from within us is not stingy – it has no place for greed. Fellowship seeks to know the needs of those in the brother hood and goes to work to meet those needs.
We have already seen in Acts two where the people sold their possessions and gave as was needed. And three weeks ago we covered this in some depth as we learned that we are stewards of everything.
Fellowship is us investing in others by supplying their needs – by giving of our time. And Jesus has given greatly so that we may give of what we have.
We have seen that fellowship is sharing Christs love. It is sharing Christs friendship. It is sharing Christs giving.
And now we see that fellowship is sharing in Christs lowliness.
It is in humility that the fellowship of the saint’s blossoms!
See what we know of Christ and what He shared with us, and what He did to show us the way in which we are to live our lives in Philippians Chapter 2 so that we share in fellowship as the overflow of Gods life in us pours out:
Philippians Chapter 2 and beginning at verse 1:
“1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature a God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature b of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
**Now stop there and consider these words of the apostle. Here we have Paul – this man who at one time was respected and looked up to by the elites – a man of great intellect and a man who was known as a Pharisee among Pharisees. And now – in Christ - He writes to a man named Philemon about a nobody slave named Onesimus. Here what Paul says as he tells the master of what he feels for this slave who once ran away from him after stealing or robbing rom him – but desires to return after meeting Paul and coming to the end of himself to be a follower of Christ. You find this in Philemon verses 9-12 -
“It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, b who became my son while I was in chains. 11Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. ()
Here is the example we have had set before us. No matter who we are or what we think we possess – If we are going to be in fellowship – if the overflow of God in our lives is going to be real – then we must be humble. We must think of others as being higher and more important than oureslf.
In Paul exhorts those in the gatherings and he writes:
1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
And Paul goes on to lay out the necessity of being united in the oneness that we are to have.
Let me say this and then take us to the closing point of it all.
Humility is emphasized time and time again for those who are in Christs family. Because nothing will destroy fellowship like pride. Pride will consume fellowship because pride is easily offended. Pride is always looking for someone to blame and pride is always seeking the fault of others. Pride is the very thing that waged war in heaven! And pride will always chase people away.
Pride demands its place on top of everything and everyone. All the time.
There is no place for pride among those in the family – because as we have seen already – we all have entered the family of God at the exact same place in the exact same way.
We can take no credit for the Cross that Jesus carried - and we can never point to Calvary as if we somehow won the victory in and of our own selves.
We were all dead in sin and were all shackled to our sins – but now in Christ we have fellowship with God and fellowship with one another. Because we came to the end of our self and we each had to cry out –
What must I do!
So let me close with three passages to point to the reasons why you and I should do everything we can to be in fellowship and have the overflow of God seen pouring out of our lives.
If you don’t mind – just close your Bible - and close your eyes - and think about the multitudes of people you love who are on a fast bound train headed for hell - because they have no fellowship – no Jesus in common – no Savior to share in their life.
Now listen to what happened among the heathens in Jerusalem when the church lived a life that overflowed the life of God as the believers lived in fellowship, one believer to another.
46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
If that is not reason enough to be deliberate in fellowship – then listen to the prayer of Jesus as He spoke to the Father in Heaven and He said:
20“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
And one final Word from the Bible to you and I today:
In we are told everything we need to know about why this fellowship matters:
10This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
You and I are the vehicle God has chosen to show the lost and dying world who He is and what He can do.
The reason we are here on earth is to be seen in fellowship with one another, so that God may be seen by the world.
Bill lead last song.