A Study of Fellowship (Part 2)
What Must a Christian Do To Maintain His Fellowship with God?
In 1 John 1:5-7, the apostle John wrote, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)
The apostle John wrote, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” All Christians must acknowledge this fact and take it very seriously. That which is opposed to God cannot be in fellowship with God. The person who is opposed to God, either in thought, word, or action, cannot be in fellowship with God. A person may claim to be in fellowship with God. However, if that person is living in sin, being unwilling to repent and change, then he cannot be in fellowship with God. As a matter of fact, John stated this very truth when he wrote, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
There are many people who claim fellowship with God while living a life of sin. These people are deceiving themselves. Consider the words of Jesus when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23, NKJV)
If a Christian wants to maintain his fellowship with God, then he must walk in the light by following the word of God. John wrote, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Since God is light, it stands to reason that the person who wants to maintain fellowship with God must walk in the light. This one must respect the authority of the Lord. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 18:18) He must follow the word of the Lord in all things. He must submit to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles. (Cf. John 14:26; Matthew 28:18-20) Then, and only then, can a Christian maintain his fellowship with Jesus Christ.
In Fellowship with Brethren
At this point, we must state a very important fact regarding fellowship with other Christians. A person’s fellowship with fellow Christians is contingent upon his maintaining his fellowship with the heavenly Father. In 1 John 1:3, the apostle John wrote, “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3) The apostles taught salvation in Jesus Christ so that all who would turn to Jesus would be in fellowship with the heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as well as in fellowship with the apostles. Then in verse 7, John wrote, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) However, if a person stops living a faithful life to the Lord, choosing instead to walk in darkness, then that person is removed from fellowship with God. John wrote, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6) Once a person leaves the fellowship of God, that person is no longer in fellowship with faithful Christians.
The greatest element which Christians share is their salvation in Jesus Christ. This common bond means that they are partakers in the one body of Christ which is the one church built by Jesus Christ. All who are obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ have been baptized into the one body of Christ. (Cf. Acts 2:38, 41, 47) Without obedience to Jesus’ call to salvation, one will not be added to the church, the body of Christ.
In addition to being partakers in the body of Christ, the church, there are other areas wherein faithful Christians share or have fellowship. For instance: 1) Christians walk in the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3,4), 2) Christians are fellow citizens of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19-22), 3) Christians are partakers of God’s promise in Christ through the gospel (Ephesians 3:1-6), 4) Christians are citizens of heaven, (Philippians 3:20-21), 5) Christians are sanctified (Hebrews 2:11), 6) Christians are of one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27; Romans 15:5-7), and 7) Christians strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-6)