Lesson 6 - The First Local Church cont.

In our last lesson we saw the first church formed by the coming of the Holy Spirit. It consisted of people who had repented, were baptized, and had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. We then began to study the corporate life of this newly created body of people. We found they were a persevering people - "THEY CONTINUED STEDFASTLY."

We also considered the first of those things in which they continued - "THE APOSTLES DOCTRINE" They were people of the Word. They had believed the Word as it directed them into this life, and they continued in the Word as that which instructed them in the ways of the new order of living. We continue now our study of "THE NATURE OF THE NEW LIFE AS A CHURCH."

3. "THEY CONTINUED STEDFASTLY IN ... FELLOWSHIP"

The Greek word translated "fellowship" ('koinonia') is one of the most beautiful words in the Greek language. It describes any partnership, any fellowship, any activity or experience or relationship in which people come together. The essential meaning of the word is TOGETHERNESS, and always with the idea at the back of it that fellowship is for the mutual benefit and good in the widest sense of the term."

So once again we see Holy Spirit using a word which is rich and varied in its' natural background to describe an aspect of spiritual life. It is the common sharing not only of PRIVILEGE but of RESPONSIBILITY. The Greeks used the word to describe the MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP. "Two people take each other for partnership, for fellowship, to SHARE ALL LIFE." It was used in speaking of A BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP, "in which TWO PEOPLE POOL THEIR RESOURCES to work together for this common profit and their common good." THE SOCIAL LIFE OF THE COMMUNITY was spoken of as a fellowship, a "life which people are bound to live when they are members of the same society." To the Greeks it was also a political word, referring to the state as "a fellowship in which certain laws and obligations are accepted in order that life may be fuller and freer for all." This then is the word which Holy Spirit brings into the Christian vocabulary to describe the life of Christians in relationship to one another, and it is so used throughout the New Testament.

We have a practical demonstration of this fellowship right in the first local church itself.

Acts 2:44-45 - "And all that believed were together, and HAD ALL THINGS COMMON ('Koina') and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need."

JBP - "All the believers SHARED EVERYTHING IN COMMON; they sold their possessions and goods and divided the proceeds among the fellowship according to the individual need."

Acts 4:32,35 — "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they HAD ALL THINGS COMMON ('koina'). Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."

a. THE FOUNDATIONAL FACTORS IN FELLOWSHIP

1 John 1:1-7

1 THE APOSTOLIC WORD

1 John 1:3 - "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, THAT YE ALSO MAY HAVE FELLOWSHIP with us .... "

Amp. — "What we have seen and (ourselves) heard we are also telling you, SO THAT YOU too may realize and enjoy FELLOWSHIP AS PARTNERS AND PARTAKERS with us."

All that we know about the Lord Jesus Christ is what the Apostles "declared" or "reported." As we learned in our last study, these men were chosen to be the official "witnesses" to the world, and to all time, of the fact of Christ's Person and redemptive work. They were to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), telling them "how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15;3,4). Men who believe and obey the apostolic word are brought into "the Fellowship"., "There be gods many" (1 Cor. 8:5), and Jesus said "many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24:5). Our protection against this mass of error and deception is to "continue stedfastly in THE APOSTLES‘ DOCTRINE", and in so doing, experience the life of "THE FELLOWSHIP."

2 RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TRIUNE GOD

1 John 1:3 - "And truly OUR FELLOWSHIP is WITH THE FATHER, AND WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST."

1 Cor. 1:9 - "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SON Jesus Christ our Lord."

Amp. - "By Him you were called into COMPANSIONSHIP AND PARTICIPATION WITH HIS SON, Jesus Christ our Lord."

Wey. - "...called into PARTNERSHIP"

Phil. 2:1 - "...FELLOWSHIP OF THE SPIRIT"

Way - "...YOUR COMMON SHARE in God's SPIRIT"

Amp - "...PARTICIPATION in the HOLY SPIRIT"

2 Cor. 13:14 — "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the COMMUNION ('koinonia') OF THE HOLY GHOST, be with you all."

Amp. - "...(the communion and SHARING TOGETHER, AND PARTICIPATION IN THE HOLY SPIRIT..."

The Christian life is nothing less than a vital, living relationship with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let us put these words together — "COMPANIONSHIP, PARTICIPATION, PARTNERSHIP, COMMON SHARING!" This fellowship is not just a sharing of privilege, it is a participation in the very life of God.

2 Pet. 1:4 - "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be PARTAKERS ('koinonoi') ... OF THE DIVINE NATURE."

Wey. — "Become SHARERS IN THE VERY NATURE OF GOD."

Way - "TO SHARE IN GOD'S ESSENTIAL NATURE."

3 WALKING IN THE LIGHT

1 John 1:6,7 - "If we say that we have FELLOWSHIP with Him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 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."

Amp. — "If we say we are PARTAKERS TOGETHER AND ENJOY FELLOWSHIP with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are (both) speaking falsely and do not  
live and practice the Truth (of the Gospel). But if we (really) are living and walking in the Light as He (Himself) is in the Light, we have (true,unbroken) FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt - keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations."

It has been said that "fellowship is two fellows in one ship." This is a catchy way of inferring a partnership of intimacy, activity, and common concern. Christians are in fellowship or partnership with God and with one another. The practical success of such a partnership depends upon the proper participation of each partner. The rules of fellowship are clearly stated in the Gospel. God, who is Love and Light, has "called us unto fellowship" with Himself. In our repentance, faith, and obedience, we have acknowledged that we want to relate to Him in "the Light". This is "the agreement" of the Gospel. "Darkness" speaks of "evil" (John 3:19). "Light" speaks of the nature of God and righteousness, as manifest in Jesus Christ who is "the Light of the world" (1 John 1:5; John 1:4; 8:12; 9:5). Christians are those who have been "CALLED" out of DARKNESS into His MARVELLOUS LIGHT" (1 Pet. 2:9) and are become "the CHILDREN OF LIGHT, and the children of the day, and are not of the night, NOR OF DARKNESS" (1 Thess. 5:5). "For once YOU WERE DARKNESS, but now YOU ARE LIGHT IN THE LORD: WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT - lead the lives of those NATIVE—BORN TO THE LIGHT" (Eph. 5:8 Amp.). It is then, as we "walk in the light" (keep an unbroken relationship with God and each other) that our fellowship is realized.

b. SOME FURTHER FACTORS IN FELLOWSHIP
1 "THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS"

Phil. 3:1O — "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS, being made conformable unto His death."

1 Pet. 4:13 - "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are PARTAKERS ('koinoneo') OF CHRIST'S, SUFFERINGS; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."

'Darkness' will never love 'light'. As we "walk in the light" we shall experience "sufferings" as He the "True Light" experienced when He walked among men. Jesus said it would be so. "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the WORLD WOULD LOVE HIS OWN: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, THE SERVANT IS NOT GREATER THAN HIS LORD. If they have persecuted me, THEY WILL ALSO PERSECUTE YOU; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also" (John 15:18-20). Be sure you are suffering "for righteousness' sake", then "rejoice", for it is a token of coming glory!

2 "THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MINISTERING TO THE SAINTS"

The church in Jerusalem was in great material need. "The churches of Macedonia" even though under pressures themselves, sent aid. This is "fellowship" in a most practical form.

2 Cor. 8:4 - "Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MINISTERING TO THE SAINTS."

JBP — "In fact they simply begged us to accept their gifts and so let them SHARE the honours of supporting their brothers in Christ."

Rom. 15:26 - "It hath p1eased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution ('koinonia').for the poor saints which are at Jerusa1em."

Heb. 13:16 — "But to do good and to COMMUNICATE ('koinonia') forget not: for with such sacrifices God is we11 p1eased."

JBP — "Yet we shou1d not forget to do good and TO SHARE OUR GOOD THINGS WITH OTHERS, for these too are the sort of sacrifices God wi11 accept."

3 "FELLOWSHIP IN THE GOSPEL"

Phi1. 1:5 — "For your FELLOWSHIP IN THE GOSPEL from the first day unti1 now."

Amp. — "(I thank my God) for your FELLOWSHIP — YOUR SYMPATHETIC CO-OPERATION AND CONTRIBUTIONS AND PARTNERSHIP - in advancing the good news (the Gospel) from the first day (you heard it) until now."

It is understandab1e, that if our fellowship is sound, it wi11 extend to God's redemptive concerns and His servants who preach His Gospel. The Philippians shared with Paul in "a joint-participation in a common interest and activity."

4 THE FELLOWSHIP MEAL

1 Cor, 1O 16 - "The cup of b1essing which we b1ess, is it not the COMMUNION ('koinonia') of the b1ood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the COMMUNION of the body of Christ?"

STUDY QUESTIONS FOR LESSON #6

  1. What is the meaning of fellowship?
  2. Name two ways in which the Greeks used this word.
  3. How was it demonstrated in the first church in Jerusalem?
  4. According to 1 John 1:1-7 what is one of the foundational factors in fellowship?
  5. Is it possible to have fellowship with God and if so, give Scripture references which so indicate?
  6. According to 1 John 1:6,7 what is necessary for the continued purity of fellowship?
  7. According to point 2 what are some other aspects of fellowship?