Have you ever considered the difference between being a friend to someone and having fellowship with them? Or, have you ever asked the Lord how He wants us to choose our friends. What does the Word teach us about reaching out to those who need to know Him, being part of their lives without participating in the many activities that could take us away from the Holiness of God? Yes, we are very much in the world, but not of it Jn. 17: 15-16.
As we walk through life, we make decisions almost daily about who we choose to socialize with. Lord, what kind of friendships do you want me to have, do you want me to fellowship with believers who are resistant to having a closer walk with You? Father, I once was lost and someone cared enough to pray for me, to give me the gospel-how much time and energy to You want me to spend outside the fellowship of the church with those who need Your Light?
Ephesians 2:12-13 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, …without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Eph. 5:8
Most of us who attend church have heard numerous sermons on our relationship with the Lord, but have rarely been show from the Word how the Lord works ‘within’ His body- what is called ‘The Fellowship of Believers’.
From this ‘Fellowship’ of believers –the Body of Christ becomes a living radiant church that changes the World Eph. 5:27, Acts 2:1-21.
His fellowship of believers will do great miracles
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
They will light up the world with the Glory of God
Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
They will grow from a small remnant church to the greatest revival church in history
Mark 4:31-32 (The kingdom of God-the true kingdom church) is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: 32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.
The fellowship of believers will join with His holy angels to initiate Christ final judgments-the total defeat of satans empire Eph. 1:20-23. After 2 thousand years, the devils illegitimate kingdom is finally forced into full retreat Rev. 12:7-11, Matt. 11:12. See Day of Lord Rapture, Rev. 3:10.
Let’s make participating with the fellowship of believers our united quest-one that pleases the Lord.
Lord, I simply want to know how do I grow-stay connected to You-while reaching out to those in and out of the Body of Christ. Show me how to make Your truth shine in me, as we join others who desire the same living light. Only with Your glory shining within us can we be effective in a world that desperately needs Your heavenly Presence.
John 3:21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
Comparing the Difference Between Friendship and Fellowship
Friendship-Sharing Our Lives
Would it be fair to say is many ways the term friendship is synonymous with the word relationship?
Like friendship, when we have a relationship with someone-it is to ‘RELA’ or relay our lives to one to another, separate paths-lives becoming one. A relay switch or relay station takes one current-recharges this current to make one whole usable connection. Two (or more) individual points becoming one-making the process whole-useable. A RELAY race has the same goal, separate runners ‘connecting’ to make one complete race-individuals working together to become one.
Most of us would agree, friendship works in same way. We could simply say individuals coming together, sharing in each other’s lives-and together they are made more complete, whole. Individually we are incomplete, but together we can pursue a fullness-a unity in life.
Any healthy individual would agree, having friends in our lives is a wonderful blessing.
Sharing Something ‘Outside’ the Friendship
While a friendship connects individual lives, a fellowship shares something outside of the relationship and ‘brings it into’ the friendship. Before we look at what the Bible says about fellowship, let’s go back in history and see how we used this word in our culture.
To have a ‘fellowship’ in a college is to either work or excel in a certain field. Collectively, several individuals work together to take on a unified pursuit-to excel in their purpose-their ‘fellowship’. The task and focus is not about themselves, but working together for a greater purpose.
The reasoning is ‘fellows’ (ladies included 🙂 ) working together for something greater than themselves. Over the centuries, the concepts of clubs, charities, associations, guilds and lodges all have shared this same thought- there is a higher purpose that is superior to what we can share among ourselves.
Fellowship-The Biblical Perspective
It’s always so cool to look the Bible for His ‘Divine Point of View’-nothing can match His way of living
Fellowship as used in the New Testament
It is interesting to note that the concept ‘fellowship’ (koinōnia-greek) amongst saints does not occur until after Pentecost. In the Old Testament, there was not a call to this unique type of fellowship that the new Pentecostal church experienced. Jesus sets a high standard for this unity of believers
John 17:22-23 I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they (the church) may be one as We (Jesus and the Father) are one—and the glory that you gave Me I have given them (Gods glory given to believers)
Note: It is important to understand when the unity (divine fellowship) with God is also applied between believers, His glory will also ‘flow’ among Christians-explained in detail later.
For individuals to be even remotely capable of achieving this holy oneness, we are going to need a Divine Supernatural intervention. We are going to have to ‘fellowship’ (bring something greater than ourselves) into the relationship. Yes, it has to be God-being woven into a relationship between believers in order for them to be one-as the Divine Family –Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one-above verse Jn. 17:22-23. It truly is astonishing how Jesus is offering the same fellowship He has with the Father to us.
Divine Fellowship Begins with Our Individual Relationship with God
1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
When we sincerely ask Jesus into our lives, we are believing He took our sins and placed them on Himself-becoming our sacrifice for us. Heb. 7:24-26. Please see scriptures for receiving the fellowship of the Lord in our lives Fellowship with Jesus.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they stepped out of fellowship with the Lord and it had to be restored 1 Cor. 15:22, Rm. 5:12. The Father covered them with animal skin to represent the coming Messiah who would die to take away sins Gen. 3:21, Isa. 53. See Understanding God.
Thus, the foundation for any friendship or fellowship starts with establishing our relationship with our Creator-so simple and so true.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
When we arrive to our heaven home, I personally believe the reality of this scripture will eternally amaze us. This verse explains what we all seek after, completeness in self worth and fulfillment. It is teaching us- when we are finally joined with the Lord-face to face-our entire personality will be completed-fully known-and experience Gods infinite love for us as Jesus and the Father loved one another Jn. 17:22. In other words, -as far a humanly possible- we will fully know the Living Jehovah. It also teaches that WE WILL fully know our entire soul, mind and spirit as He knows us-I will know fully even as I am fully know. Incredibly, we will know every aspect of ‘our personality’, in the light of the Lord glorious love for us. The curse of sin will be no more, there will be no more shame, doubt, guilt etc. Rev. 22:3. We will never devalue ourselves again, for our entire being-each and every unknown-darkened corner of our soul-spirit will now be completely transformed and fully manifested into a glorious special child of God. We will know every personality trait within us and it will be illuminated with Gods eternal love for us. We will have the Lords eternal ‘glow’ literally coming from within us. Every connection to depression will cease and His radiant love will forever abide within us… Praise God! Rev. 22:3, 21:4
Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
We can see then, the number one priority in life is restoring and strengthening our fellowship with God. Through obedience and sanctification-our communion with the Lord increases while we live on earth Mk. 12: 30-31, Matt. 6:33. Realizing that fellowship and communion (koinōnia greek) are used interchangeable in the New Teastament, increases the understanding of how holy our relationship with the Lord truly is.
The most meaningful friendship for all of us therefore starts not with people but with Jesus. We were never meant to experience life’s journey apart from Him. Only a Divine love can fulfill our hearts, for that has been His intention from the beginning Jer. 32:38, Lk. 1:17. This is why we develop a relationship with Him first, Love the Lord with all they heart, mind and soul…before we ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ Mk. 12:30-31.
The line for the popular country song can indeed be applied to the Lord, if we avoid entering a relationship with God- becoming His child, we are looking for love in all the wrong places.
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit and Believers
Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, Eph. 3:6-9
As mentioned in the great commandment above Mk. 12:30-31, fellowship (bringing something greater to our lives) starts with our relationship with God-vertical-and works outward-horizontal-to believers and then to the lost. Love the Lord with all our heart…love they neighbor as thyself.
Phil. 2:1 –above- teaches we have fellowship with the Spirit. This fellowship with Him is our ‘deposit’ from God, our Teacher and the One who unites us into a spiritual unity Eph. 1:14, Jn. 14:26, Gal. 3:26-28. The Holy Spirit is the One who takes the Lords individual vertical love and brings the horizontal unity among the congregation. When we praise God, follow His instruction in obedience, surrender ‘our ways’ the Holy Spirit will take the divine presence of God and share this with one another in the fellowship. The Lords Spirit will flow between believers-each having the Lords kingdom within them Lk. 17:21, Acts 2:1-21, Acts 5:12-16
One Pastors Testimony
Let’s look at a pastors real life experience…and the only verse in scripture where fellowship is used twice-once for God another for the saints.
1 John 1:3-4 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
Years ago I listened to a series preached by a pastor whose life and ministry was changed by this verse. Similar to most of us, when he became a Christian he was ‘high’ for months. After a while, he began to understand the life’s problems did not completely go away and struggles continued. In his search to maintain his joy, he thought –I need to get married, then after marriage-I need a ministry. The wife and church will complete my joy (some of you are smiling 🙂 ). Later, after receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit-he finally thought he reached the pentacle of his Christian walk. See Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Without devaluing the important blessings from the Lord mentioned above, this pastor still felt something was missing in His walk with the Lord-it was not complete. His ‘epiphany moment’ came when the Lord revealed 1 Jn. 1:3-4. The English translations seem to conceal some of its divine impact meant for us.
There are two fellowships mentioned in verse 3. One fellowship (bringing something greater into our lives) is between us (the saints) and God-the Father and His Son. We have seen from the greatest commandment-the most important relationship for life starts with restoring our fellowship with the Lord Mk. 12:30-31.
John is saying, we as Apostles have verified the Lords coming (what we have seen and heard) so you can trust us as an eye witness to the truth.
As suggested earlier, those of us attending evangelical churches have been well versed in this area-Gods vertical fellowship. It’s the power of the horizontal fellowship that was missing in this pastors life. He was literally stunned by a spiritual lightning bolt when the Lord spoke to Him and said
To make your joy complete vs. 4, you (along with the church) must take My Divine love (fellowship with God vs. 3) and have it grow outward- the Holy Spirits love from believer to believer (fellowship with us). Heavenly joy is only complete when it is expressed in this way.
The truth of needing ‘both types of love’ flowing in our lives cannot be understated. This pastor realized that all his life he was not earnestly working on the fellowship from the Holy Spirit between and amongst believers. His approached to the Lord was flawed, not complete. This verse is literally saying, You can search for the Lord ‘and still be incomplete’. Searching for God is essential, vital-but to make your walk and joy complete vs 4- you have to also fellowship with us-activating the Holy Spirits anointing into the relationship of believers, sharing Jehovah God within themselves amongst each other (always remember the direction-having the vertical fellowship turn horizontal 🙂 )
Luke 17:21 because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Acts 2:1-21.
See illustration below
It is the Holy Spirit flowing between believers lives, in and outside the assembly walls that finalizes our joy in our Christian walk. If this scripture is true, and it most certainly is, without a genuine, consistent -Holy Spirit moving amongst believers- our joy will never be complete and there will be something drastically missing in our lives. I won’t speak for all America, but will say we desperately need Gods true fellowship of believers restored in our congregations. There is a joy inexpressible that we need to share, which in turn will overflow into the world. This combination of Gods love flowing down to man- and then amplified between believers is the Lords answer to bringing His glorious kingdom to earth. See First 4 Articles on Kingdom of God
Biblical Steps to Receive His Complete Joy
1) The saints individually fellow-shipping with the Lord
After we are born into Gods kingdom, we set our course to become Christ like Eph. 5:1-2, 1Jn. 2:6, Jn. 3:21.
Rm. 7 teaches the Lord has given us victory over sin, but until we are ‘face to face’ with Him, we still fight the war with flesh that can battle within us. As we become Christ like however- constantly seeking the will of God as we live out our new nature, the Lords fellowship-His presence will increase in our lives.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2) Our Fellowship with Believers.
The Word has given us the true meaning of the fellowship of believers-simply sharing God with one another through the Holy Spirit.
For this to work however, we have to be ‘receptive’ to the Holy Spirit, and individually make our lives holy before God. A few verses after the Apostle John explains the ‘double fellowship’ with God and saints he explains
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
We must ‘walk in the light’ , become truthful with the Lord-sanctified living for the Holy Spirit to manifest- in order for us to have fellowship with one another. The only reason a congregation does not have the anointing of the Spirits fellowship among themselves is because they have not truly been purified by the blood of Jesus-they have not gotten serious about loving the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul Mt. 12:30-31.
Galatians 5:13-26 rather, serve one another humbly in love.
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”… So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. …But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, … gentleness and self-control
What Fellowship is Not
Hopefully we have seen, fellowship is not potluck dinner, social events, fishing with believers etc. There is nothing wrong with these gatherings (I majored in recreation-they can be wonderful)…they just can never replace the glory of God amongst believers. Sadly, many congregations are so far removed from a holy move of the glory of God-they have lost sight of the true meaning of the Holy Spirits fellowship with the saints. Nothing can replace the His Spirit when it comes to removing darkness from the world. Unless the Holy Spirit is powerfully moving among the believers, we are not truly having Divine fellowship as explained in His Word.
1 Corinthians 14:25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
As always, we have to be truthful and identify the problem before we start to fix it. This fix however changes lives eternally.
Zechariah 4:6 This is the word of Jehovah unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts.
Scripture indicate Jesus was closer to some of His disciples-even among the apostles Jn. 21:20, Lk. 9:28. He chose these friendships however ‘after’ establishing genuine Holy Spirit fellowship with them Jn. 6:67, Lk. 6:12-15.
Luke 9:28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.
If we look throughout the New Testament, it shows men and women of God committing to significant relationships between believers- between those who they could have an anointed fellowship with 2 Tim. 1:4-5, Phil. 4:1-2, 1 Cor. 4:17.
Growing into a friendship within this fellowship-as mentioned with Jesus above, is a true blessing. Friendships can differ from fellowship in that friends can share common interest, may have similar personality traits, their maturity may be on the same level so they can lean on each other when problems in life arise. People may become friends by sharing an undefined ‘chemistry’…and quite frankly, the Lord can put friends together as a gift from Him Ps. 84:11. While fellowship with Christians is the common goal for all, friendship is more selective as the above scriptures point out.
What about pursuing a friendship when ‘fellowship’-sharing the Holy Spirit- is not a priority in a Christians life?
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
If two believers are seeking ‘first’ the kingdom of God, the earthly priorities fall into the correct perspective. Recreation, social events, entertainment and all our activates become secondary in light of eternal truths Heb. 11:16 , Jm. 4:14. When I am with brothers who lives are devoted to the Lords eternal kingdom, our recreation is enhanced not only because of more ‘fellowship’ joy in our lives by the Holy Spirit, but because the Lord is pleased-and blesses the recreation (all these things given to you as well-above). Many of you can testify to this.
It’s when we ‘reverse’ the recreation and put it first is when we have difficulties. Earthly things then become a priority-and there is drifting away from Gods glory and joy.
The balance between encouraging other believers to maintain a genuine fellowship with the Lord and not being drawn back into the world is usually resolved by setting your course on the Gods narrow road-and pursuing the Kingdom of God with all ‘our heart’ Matt. 7:13-14, Matt. 6:33. Through prayer, if our priorities are in line with the Word, the Lord will show who He wants us to have as friends.
Reaching out to those that need the Lord
As Ephesians states, we all once were without the Lord until somebody prayed and reached out to us Eph. 2:12-13.
We have to be cautious though-and not dim our ‘fellowship’ with God and other believers to the point of being ‘pulled’ into the things of the world
1 John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
As we have seen, there is no mention in the Word were we have ‘fellowship’ from God with those that have not received Him. The Lord died for all of us, they are valuable in His eyes, we just need to realize our ties-our Divine connections are with the saints ‘in glory’ Eph. 5:8-11, 2 Cor. 6:14.
When we become strong with those we have fellowship with, then we can reach out to the ones who need His love-eternal life. Jesus gave us the example of reaching out in numbers Mk. 6:7, Lk. 10:1. While it is always wise to be have more caution than being over confident in our own strength, we do not need to be timid about challenges we may encounter with the lost. We are under His covering as we walk with Him Ps. 23.
1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
I’m not sure we need to argue semantics- if we say we have friends who are not Christians, let’s just say our ultimate desire is to have fellowship with them…to see Christ love shining from within them-sharing His Holy Spirit with them.
John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
Note for Pastors
The Lord has put in on our hearts with the men I pray with…the absolute need for the Spirit to move in our lives. He is teaching us, excel at the greatest and first commandments, before you attempt anything else.
The Greatest Commandment
Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The First Commandment
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
As we apply the greatest commandment to our lives, we become sanctified in Him-thus we can start to ‘walk into the light’ with those-in the light Jn. 3:21, 1 Jn. 1:7. The result of this walk will bring down the Kingdom of God in it’s glory-to our lives, to the congregation and to the world-which summarizes the purpose of the church. See First 4 Articles on Kingdom of God.
As I am reminded by brothers in the Lord…it is painful to walk in truth-being honest with ourselves-but a cultivated broken ground is the only way to produce a ‘good crop’ Matt. 13:8. If the Spirit in not moving within the congregation-we simply have to sincerely and honestly examine why. If we whole heartily seek the greatest and first commandment, I believe the Lord will intervene and restore the anointing-His Holy Spirit fellowship amongst us 1 Jn. 1:9, Jer. 29:11-13 See Our Road with God P 1, P 2.
The Lord is continually making the complicated simple, for us-this means taking what is most important to Him and being victorious with these two commandments. When I see a brother or sister excel in this area-the Lords anointing-fellowship is soon to follow.
Thank you for taking the time and work to read through this post. It is my hearts desire to see the church unite in His holy Fellowship. The most exciting experiences in my life is seeing His glory in display-in most instances on you His body See Living Water, The Way
I believe many of you would agree…we need to strive for this move of God-His fellowship overflowing from God to believers.
May the Lord bless you as you pursue His truth 🙂