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Christian Fellowship
"The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
"That which was from the beginning,
    • which we have heard,
    • which we have seen with our eyes,
    • which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life
[Jesus]
2 Corinthians 13:14.

1 John 1:1-3
 
the Life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the Eternal Life,
which was with the Father and was made manifest to us –
 
 
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."
 
Christian
fellowship has sometimes been confused with Christian socializing.
 
In
This is:
κοινωνία  
  fellowship
        communion
its Biblical context however, fellowship within the Christian Church is the practical expression of the shared spiritual identity of those who belong to Christ through the life of His Spirit.
"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.
Whoever does not love abides in death."
1 John 3:14
The true standard of Christian fellowship is very high!
"By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers."
1 John 3:16
Remember,
the Lord Jesus had said to His disciples –
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life
[i.e. sourced from the Holy Spirit]."
Therefore Christian fellowship can never be equated with socializing or even a sense of church-based camaraderie in which people feel safe to talk and share.
John 6:63
Christian
fellowship is functionally based on seeing each other as part of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this perspective which is essential to the appropriate celebration of Holy Communion/Eucharist/Mass.
"For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the Body [of believers] eats and drinks judgment on himself."
1 Corinthians 11:29
The
self-assessment-moment of taking the broken bread of Holy Communion is a necessary act that calls Christians back to the reality of what they are and share in through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. That the next chapter of 1 Corinthians deals with the multifaceted ministry of God's Spirit within the congregation as the Body of Christ is not coincidental! Spirit anointed ministry grows out of this fellowship in Christ. For that reason it is so often savagely attacked by the enemy of our souls to hinder the work of God's Spirit through His people.
 
The Test
Therefore, the Apostle Paul teaches that God allows these divisive situations to arise so as to mature us to bear fruit to His glory.
"But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized."
1 Corinthians 11:17-19.
 
Accordingly, the reconciliation discipline which Christ mandated for His Church in Matthew 18:15-21 is to be pressed through to its full goal.
"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
Galatians 6:1-2.
It is for
this reason that it can be said
"The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:7-8.
The
power of this true fellowship is the penetrative impact it gives Christian witness in this world. Therefore the Lord Jesus prayed thus before His Father –
"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word,
that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You,
that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one,
I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one,
so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me."
John 17:20-23.
But
we live this Christian fellowship in enemy-occupied territory, and our enemy knows the above truth better than we do. Accordingly, in the history of Christianity this truth has been linked to its two opposite extremes in order to nullify its effectiveness.
 
 
At one end of the spectrum, as a clergyman commented to me, the church is always a mixed multitude and the wheat and tares are only separated at the end. He was commenting on Christ's parable in Matthew 13, but he omitted to note that Jesus had said the field of this mixed multitude is the 'world' not the church (Matt.13:38)
 
 
At the other end of the spectrum, restoration movements in the history of the Church have often seen themselves in contrast to their time as a godly remnant. This sounds so Biblical but it is not, for its produces a withdrawal mentality which annuls the 'salt' effect of the Christian church in the society of its day.
See: Remnant Mentality
Christian
fellowship is a witness because it is visible at an interactive individual level within human society in contrast to the shallow friendships and generally self-serving camaraderie of common interest groups.
 
 
Christ's spiritual family is unique, for it is His family by participation in His Spirit as a consequence of having died in His atonement and having new life through His resurrection. Hallelujah!
 
 
At this level, Christian fellowship is more than an event. It is the demonstration of a multiple relationship in Christ which has no end, and will be demonstrated above all in its resurrection glory at His return.
 

The Christian Gospel Snake Wisdom?


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