"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A STUDY in ACTS TWO: 42 - 2nd of 4 FACETS in the FUNCTION of the CHURCH –



Introduction: Have you ever felt that something is missing or something is wrong in your walk with the LORD? Is going to Church to study God’s Word enough? How about prayer and evangelism? And worship; are all of these enough?
As a believer all of these are essential necessities, and there is another part of our Christian life that is also an essential: fellowship!

1 JOHN 1:1-3
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 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.

*Why did the apostle John direct us to “the beginning”, and to Christ Who is from eternity and then in vs. 3 the apostle John mentions “fellowship” – what is the connection?

Fellowship - Koinonia in the Greek: speaks of having a unity, a oneness shared with others, a communion with each other. Its contact and connection, it’s sharing ourselves with others.

The Bible does not describe the Church as an organization, or corporation, or anything else but an organism; a single Body (See ROM 7:4; 12:5; 1 COR 10:16; 12:12,27; EPH 3:6; 4:12; 5:23). It is living and vital and functions as it receives instruction from the Head of the Body, Jesus Christ.

We saints are like single cells in the huge body of Christ, whether in the feet, hands, or heart. We are working as the body of Christ to get God’s will done in this world.
Things flow together perfectly when believers are active in His Word, prayer, and in witnessing, worshiping and of course fellowshiping. That’s what keeps us spiritually active and fit. (It’s getting the Word out to unbelievers with the Gospel and believers in discipleship in the Scriptures).

This fellowship is manifested in 2 areas with our lives: fellowship with others and also fellowship with the Father and Christ Jesus. Let’s look at this fellowship we may have one with another, and we will examine our fellowship with the LORD God a bit later.

1 JOHN 1:3a
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us
. . .

* Fellowship with other believers: sometimes we forget what this means.

This does not mean having coffee and donuts after service. Some Church’s have fellowship halls; just entering into it does not mean you are fellowshiping. It’s not sitting and having a meal with others. (That is far from what the Bible talks about!)

Fellowship speaks of having a Commonality, a unity with each other, a singularity with one another. There needs to be a commonality, a connection.

Some examples in the natural are:

In Wisconsin everyone is a Packers fan, getting married to Bethany, the family asked me one question, who is your football team? There is a shared commonality: the Packers team.
If somebody drives next to you with the same radio station playing, and the same fish logo as yours. There is a commonality in shared musical taste and identity.
Married people seem to stick with married people; there is just an understanding among them. There is a commonality in experiencing the same kind of relationship with a significant other.
These are ways in which we find our comfort and identity in relating with others.

But what happens when you put on a different Jersey? Or listen to a different radio station? Or hang out with single people? People treat you differently.
As believers this is the change that happens in people’s relationship to us. We take on a different look, a different attitude, different goals, different convictions, a very different identity that reflects the godliness and Christ-likeness of our LORD – and this is why others separate themselves from our company (LUKE 6:22).

For believers such carnal, worldly forms of unity will not do; there has to be a bond that is stronger than these, an eternal bond, not something that changes with the tide and circumstances of this world. A bond that is unbreakable, that ONLY GOD can create in us through the Person of Jesus Christ.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others

We all share the same truth in our lives as believers: that we could not live life on our own; we needed Jesus to save us and change us from our own sinful ways.
People can listen to music for hours, but can you listen to the Word? People can talk about heavy things to people at work, but can you speak of the Word with them?

The marriage relationship can be based on any commonality, but what of that commonality that is founded upon Christ when the “two shall become one flesh” being one with another. This speaks of marital spiritual unity which is of such highest quality and strength that it can only result from the LORD’s work in two Christians lives who love the Him more than anyone else, even each other!

When we have entered into this relationship with Christ, we enter into this oneness with other believers that are so close knit that it’s greater than even our relationships with our own family members or close friends. That’s the kind of fellowship John the apostle is talking about here!
There is consolation in Christ (PHIL 2:1-3) that brings the comfort of love, fellowship in the Spirit, and mercies abound among the saints as we become “likeminded” and lowly of mind, esteeming others higher than ourselves.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

Jesus is our Comforter (JOHN 14:18); like wrapping a blanket around you when it’s freezing outside; God died for us, when we were in sin (JOHN 3:16-18; ACTS 20:28). He loved you then when you were in sin, how much more now in being a child of God (ROM 5:8-9)? That is how we should treat those around us, good or bad, and love them according to the same grace that God has demonstrated towards us.

1 JOHN 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin

True Fellowship with others cannot happen unless you begin fellowship with Jesus. Isolating yourself and ‘doing your own thing’, staying away from others and growing on your own is dangerous; you become weird, and start developing your own beliefs and theology.

People who commit suicide usually don’t have strong fellowship with others, a lot of police reports say people that commit suicide usually are not found for days and when they are, they are isolated in their homes. Isolation is the very opposite of fellowship, and this is how the enemy seeks to defeat us (the “divide and conquer” tactic where he separates a single saint from the body, and begins to work condemnation and deception on them, driving them into guilt and despair). We need fellowship with the members of the body of Christ to maintain our spiritual health!

Where was the Christian that could have invited them to Bible study that day? It’s not about meeting your needs but (as Christ as our example) the needs of others. You have everything you need in Christ, so look after the interest of others now (Phil. 2), the LORD will take care of yours (MATT 6:33).

Fellowship is a must! Again, why is this fellowship so important? Another reason is that Jesus said in JOHN 17:21 it’s so that the world may believe that God the Father truly has sent the Son.
This is how you will be known: for your love for one another; the same quality of love that the LORD has for us (JOHN 13:34-35); not how theologically smart or how educated you are, but the depth of our fellowship. Our Church will never be known as The Church but just a Church until we have this kind of true fellowship!

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

People want to know how our church (The House of Truth fellowship) is, and I let them know that we are no different than the early church. We follow the same practice:

ACTS 2:42
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Fellowship is hanging out but in a spiritual sense (JOHN 15:1-15); it’s like eating together – you learn people’s likes and dislikes, ask questions of those around you. Don’t forget about PEOPLE for whom Christ died! Brothers and sisters in the faith who have the same Spirit of Christ living in them that you have!

We are going to be with these saintly PEOPLE for all eternity! Take down those boundaries around you . . . don’t be number One, be third (God first, others second, yourself third).

Being excited to tell others about yourself robs you from hearing from them. You burst out about you, and can ruin conversation about how you can encourage or bring comfort to others in the Name of Christ!

We can shine for Jesus in Fellowship -

ROMANS 15:25-26
But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.

Paul was giving a gift from the Gentiles, to the church in Jerusalem. He was moved to the point of compassion, he saw the need and met it. We read constantly how our own LORD was “moved with compassion” on the multitudes. Compassion is sympathy in action!

And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick

Remember being sick and not feeling like making yourself food? We need fellowship with others. Find someone who is sick, and make them some soup.
Imagine losing someone in your life, and having nobody to come over and comfort you? You can understand why you need friends that care for you. Become that friend as a believer in the lives of both believers and unbelievers, for whom you can be the hands and heart of the LORD JESUS CHRIST.

* Fellowship with the Father and Christ Jesus: How often do we get alone, apart from the world and even other believers, and spend time fellowshipping with God our Abba?

1 JOHN 1:3b
3 . . . and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ

I am surprised GOD WANTS FELLOWSHIP WITH US! That should be one of the most amazing and humbling thoughts we could ever have. The eternal God greatly desires to enter into fellowship with us, His beloved children!

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord

Paul goes on to say some call themselves followers of Paul or Cephas or Apollo’s (1 COR 1:12; 3:22). Talking about divisions in the Church! This is the first time we see denominationalism!
People may hear that you go to a Church that speaks in tongues, or that you got baptized a certain way, or that you go to a traditional Church; those are not important things - they are minor, we are not to separate ourselves when we hear other believers don’t believe as we do (preferring certain customs or traditions that are not unbiblical in themselves).

We are the church of Jesus Christ, not a denomination. That means there should be no walls of separation from those who belong to the church as we do; that means real conversation can happen, now the needs can be met, you now have the opportunity to reach out and minister.

As you open up your heart to receive this fellowship in Christ (by way of the spiritual rebirth) with God, something great happens – you receive the Holy Spirit within your heart, to live with you, that oneness with you, enabling you to obey God. See ROM 8:11; ACTS 5:32; 1 COR 3:16.

He is the ‘electricity’ within us; He empowers us and makes us what we are. Like anything that takes a battery source, it’s worthless without the power (ZECH 4:6; MATT 28:18; LUKE 24:49; ACTS 1:8; 4:33; PHIL 3:10).

Even when we make mistakes and run to Jesus to ask Him for forgiveness, He loves it so much!
Last night I turned on a foot massager that frightened Amariah, the first thing she did is turn around and look at Mommy and Daddy, and crawl as fast as she could to us. The joy that filled my heart to know she trusts us, to protect her, and hold her, and comfort her. This just a glimpse of what God feels when we come to Him in repentance of our sins or even just calling out to Him for help in time of need.

Fellowship with the LORD: this is the church’s purity, this is the church’s unity. If you were living in the days of the Aposotle’s, you ought to be in fellowship with them, not at variance with them, because of any denominational difference’s.
We are to come together and maintain our fellowship in the Spirit as the body (organism) of Christ; not gather together as merely a
n organized group of people!

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