The nature of fellowship
1 John 1:3
Life Together Under the Word
We say at TRCC that the Radical Life is a John 15 life. Radical Life is abiding in Jesus, the vine, remaining in him and growing in how and enjoying the fruit that the life-giving vine produces.
Acts records for us the production of Radical Life fruit. As Jesus’ followers obeyed and remained in him they were fully and finally empowered with the Spirit and this communion with God then produced community with each other. They were together and shared and met publicly and in homes. This community of people who were in communion with God began to collide with culture and transformation took place.
We are going to talk about the nature of fellowship. We are going to come out of Acts 2:42-47. We will dive more into that text next week, but today we are going to focus on the first part of this Radical Life that makes Acts 2:42-47 community with each other and collision with culture possible, and that is communion with God.
1. Radical Life
A. Communion with God
1. Union with Christ / “in Christ”
a. 1 John 1:3
“…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
(1 John 1:3 ESV)
b. Acts 2:42-47
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
(Acts 2:42-47 ESV)
Community with each other will never happen unless we get Communion with God.
Fellowship with each other is predicated on fellowship with God (Father, Son and Spirit)
One of the New Testament’s favorite ways of talking about our communion with God is with the phrase “in Christ”. I counted (in the Greek text) 181 (I kind of lost count around 181 with just a few to go…dyslexia got the best of me at that point….just confessing) references (in him, etc.) or outright statements of Christians being “in Christ” (“with Christ”).
a. We are in Christ
1. John 14:16-17; 19-20
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
(John 14:16-17 ESV)
Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
(John 14:19-20 ESV)
2. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
3. Ephesians 1:4; 2:4-7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
(Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
(Ephesians 2:4-7 ESV)
4. Philippians 2:5-11
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)
5. Colossians 2:11-12
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
(Colossians 2:11-12 ESV)
6. 2 Timothy 1:8-9
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
(2 Timothy 1:8-9 ESV)
b. Christ is in us
1. Colossians 1:27-28
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
(Colossians 1:27-28 ESV)
2. Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)
c. We are to be like Christ (imitators)
1. Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
(Ephesians 5:25-30 ESV)
2. Colossians 3:12-13
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)
3. 2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)
And then Jesus comes along and says to abide in him!
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:4; John 15:5 ESV)
We are to abide in him that we may grow into him and Spirit’s job is to lead us to him and remind us of what he said so that we may know him, hear him and grow into him.
The fact that we have been redeemed to have communion with God is mind-blowing and it’s our reality to be enjoyed.
How do we enjoy our union with Christ and, therefore, communion with God so that we can can then enjoy fellowship with one another?
First, there is an innate danger here of providing you a list of things to do so that you can check them off and declare yourself to be in Christ because you have done the work.
Second, there is an innate danger here of thinking that if you do these things there must be some fantastic explosion of a super-natural “champagne” super nova “in the sky” that becomes the landmark event of your life. Maybe not.
Third and finally, and more importantly, this is a natural and normative function of a transformed heart.
Illustration: It’s like a needle of a compass. Compass needles point north because that is just what they do. They don’t have to work through a check list, they don’t point north in some fantastic way. They just point north because no matter how they are jostled or shaken or moved they just point north.
When a heart is transformed it just moves / gravitates / delights in / wants / pursues being in Christ and seeks all good and necessary means to get there.
With Holy Spirit as the pointer and helper, and guide, Scripture as our manual and all things holy as our tool box we just go to Jesus!
So, how can we practice communion with God?
How can we abide in Jesus so that we can have fellowship with each other?
1. Know your story, then watch for the Lord’s activity
You need to take account of how the Lord saved you by making himself known to you. How did he communicate with you?
We are all individuals and he saves us for and into community but he saves individuals. How did he save you?
This can be a good indicator of how you can continue to speak with and know the thick presence of the Lord.
Acts 9 and Saul’s encounter with the risen Jesus…Saul didn’t ask Jesus into his heart….Saul didn’t pray to receive Christ….Saul didn’t pray the sinner’s prayer…Jesus knocked the murderer down, opened his eyes, showed him who he was and sent him to the Gentiles….
I can’t tell you your story…only you know this…but you knew it was the Lord, right? So much practicing communion with God is you and I doing some of the nuances of Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Since the body has many parts and no part is less vital than another part then your encounter with the Lord is not less than another person’s encounter with the Lord. It’s just different. Could be the same. Just know if you have met the Lord and he has saved you…
You are going to have to trust that what the manual says about your union with Christ is real and that you are truly in s spiritual battle and emptiness and distance are not realities rather illusions that may be demonic in nature….. “Take the shield of faith…”
A. Some saints wrestled their entire lives with no tangible internal “feel good”
moments, such as William Cowper, but these saints knew the Lord and walked
with him whether they realized it or not in emotively “rich” ways…
3. Armor up!
A. Be strong in the Lord
B. Remember the war is not against people
C. Put on truth
D. Put on righteousness
E. Put on readiness
F. Put on faith
G. Put on Salvation
H. Take up the Word
1. Put all the armor on in prayer
4. Obey holy urges
A. Don’t fret divine interruptions during the day, just obey
5. Try to be consciously aware of the Lord’s presence all day
Set trip wires for yourself, such as calendar reminders, to stop, pray, read a Psalm or Proverb and listen.
B. Continual through the day
C. End of day
6. Pro-actively interact with other Christians who you are in fellowship with daily
7. When tempted, take the way of escape
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV)
8. Roll with the providences of the day
Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap but its every decision is from the Lord.”