Here’s the notes from last night’s study on fellowship in 1 John. We focused especially on the first 7 verses of the first chapter.
First, we notice in 1:1-4 that fellowship with other believers and with God is the Goal of the gospel proclamation. It is why John and his apostle friends were preaching. John says here that in Christ God revealed eternal life, and this is what we needed to connect with God.
1. What fellowship is:
- “…common participation in the grace of God, the salvation of Christ and the indwelling Spirit which is the spiritual birthright of all believers. It is out common possession of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which makes us One.” (Stott).
- “the experience of a common yet transcendent bond and especially the bond of trust in the crucified and resurrected Christ…which grows out of and ought to translate into a certain buoyant affection for others and praise for the Lord because of the community participation in forgiveness of sins, transformed lives, and ennobling labor to bring about kingdom ends.” (Yarbrough)
First, John means fellowship with God: Reconnection to our Creator (restored relationship) and life. This is one of the Bible’s main concepts. you could say the whole Bible is about fellowship: the fellowship of God in HImself (in the Trinity) creating humans in His image with the intent to enjoy fellowship, only to see that ruined by sin and the relationship broken in Genesis 3. This leads to “exile” out from the garden of Eden as a picture of the separation sin creates between God and Man. The rest of the Bible, then, is about God working to reconnect with humanity after we sinned ourselves into separation. We lost fellowship, but in the Bible we see how God restores it. So, this is one of the meanings of heaven, all of us, together reestored to eternal fellowship with God. The bible is about how God brings us into a state where we can be fully connected to Him, with nothing separating.
Second, John means fellowship with others who are “born of God” into His family. Fellowship with others means membership in a new family and community.
So we see that “fellowship” is one of God’s Big Goals: Us with God, together. For some illustrations of this, see John 14:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, and Revelation 7:9-17, 21:3-4.
2. What John says about it:
- It starts with being born into the family. (2:29-3:1)
It is a relationship of a child to a father. Now Once you are born again through faith in Christ, you now relate to God as a “born one” to a father. (see these verses where John talks about being “born of God”: 3:9, 4:7, 5:1,4,18)
And now too, you relate to others as brothers and sisters.
- “Walking in darkness” indicates a lack of fellowship (1:5-7) and on the other hand, “walking in the light” ensures fellowship. In other words, to have fellowship with God, we must agree with God. That is our whole being must be in a state of agreement with God. See Amos 3:3 for an explanation.
We can claim fellowship and not actually have it. (1:6) Sin breaks fellowship with God and others.
- Lack of love indicates lack of fellowship (2:9-11, 4:7) Lovelessness also breaks fellowship with God and others.
- Loving the world breaks fellowship with God. (2:15-17)
- Fellowship leads to leads to complete joy (1:4). This is a central truth of what makes the Gospel good news and Heaven a pplace we want to go. See Psalm 16:11.
3. What We Should Think and Do:
- We must know and think about what fellowship is, where it comes from, and where were all headed.
– If you’re one with God, you are now one with others.
- We must find our connections to other Christians based on the things we really have in common. Not what we usually need to enjoy relationships with others, like common age, race, interests, social class, etc… Even unbelievers can find connection based on these things. See 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 and Ephesians 4:1-6. We have one God, one faith, one future, one mission, one message, one body, one family… If we can only enjoy ourselves with other Christians who are just like us, we need to grow in this area.
- We must learn to find the joy and strength that comes from being a living part of this fellowship.
– First, with God. Do you draw joy and strength from your union with Him?
– Second, with others. Do you draw joy and strength from your union with them?
- We should actively arrange our lives so that we enjoy this fellowship with God and others.
– Do you prioritize blessing, receiving from, and working alongside of other believers?