[This is part of a series of sermons on the topic of "One Another". To access previous messages, please click here.]
Casting all our anxiety upon God is an easy thing to say. It is not as easily practiced. We all struggle with everything the world shoves at us every day, from children in school who may not perform as well as we expect, to our jobs that provide for those very family members. Many struggle with the simple answer ‘cast your cares upon God’ and say, “But it is not that easy.” The problem is that they do not trust God to care. It really is that easy. If you do everything in a day that you can do and still things happen that impact you negatively, then you have done all there is and the rest must be set at God’s feet. He may turn you over to Satan. He may not. Whatever God’s decision, if we lay it at His feet we give our anxieties to Him and we rest in His care.
Much of the problem boils down to loss of control and the possibility of loss of life – one’s own life to be exact. On the first part, it is an illusion anyway. We are not in control and never have been. In a recent article I wrote to our local newspaper, I said,
“As far as the end of life is concerned, will the humanist choose to die by undetectable aneurysm, death by drunk driver or pancreatic cancer?”[i]
There are many things in this world completely outside our control. Most of those will take your physical life. Some of them can take your spiritual life. We might consider trusting the One who can take both the physical and spiritual and make it alive. We might consider trusting the One who cared enough to send His own Son to die so we could live. We might consider trusting the One who keeps His promises. We might consider trusting the One who cares for us. Whatever His plan for our life, if we rest in Him, trusting His Son’s atonement, our spiritual life is secure for all eternity.
Today we talk of a “one another” command that is very familiar to Grace Bible. As we discuss this command though, I pray we can learn that there are a few prerequisites. There are some preliminaries involved when we are going to fellowship with one another.
Turn to 1 John 1:7 please. When we opened to this scripture in September 2008, we were studying John’s first epistle. We did not give this verse deep consideration at the time because we were considering it with the overall tone of the epistle itself. Today when we open to it, we should consider how it fits into our study of “one another” commands.
People gather for any number of reasons. People gather for weddings, family reunions, block parties and conventions. There are New Year’s celebrations, as well as Christmas tree lightings. People gather around memorials at certain times of the year and others attend political rallies. People like gathering with other people. There is often strength and comfort in numbers.
Fellowship to the world can be defined in many ways. It can indicate simply being a fellow human. Fellowship could mean a specific relationship such as a father and a son have with one another. There is a sense to fellowship of community where we have connection with our neighbors. I have seen secular definitions that mention a church fellowship as communion between members. It can simply mean friendliness.
Regardless, none of these approaches the significance of fellowship in the scriptures. Our fellowship is not just special amongst ourselves, but it is special because of where it begins and under what circumstances it exists. It is not some general relationship based upon identification, but built in a Person and through a sanctification of spirit in the individual. Our fellowship is deeper, wider and more permanently connected than we can even fathom. We do not see the “ties that bind” our fellowship; they cannot be described in our terms.
Our fellowship has conditions, prerequisites if you will. Most fellowships do. However, the prerequisites for Christian fellowship are not within man’s grasp. Man cannot achieve them, cannot meet them and cannot in his own power bring them into being.
I. Walk in the Light (7a)
The first requirement for Christian fellowship is to walk in the light. If we walk in the light, we can have fellowship. The obvious question is, what is this light? The light is not from a bulb glowing above our heads in the sanctuary. Light in verse seven is also not the light created in Genesis 1:3. This light is God.
The ‘God light’ is the true light of life. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. We have to appropriate this light. We must accept Jesus Christ for who He is, why He did what He did, and what He did for us. Our first requirement to have fellowship with each other is to be a Christian. You might say, “But pastor, many people have fellowships that are not Christians.” We are not talking about fellowship in worldly terms as we discussed above. We are talking about fellowship that is far more complicated, far more involved and by far more rewarding than anything the world has to offer.
The word for light, “fos,” is used 73 times in the New Testament. In Matthew 4 we find light used to describe the opening of Jesus ministry on Earth where He began shining the light of salvation on the world. In verse 16 we find that Christ’s light dispels the shadow of death in the world. We find in Matthew 5:14 that we can be a light for the world. When we have Christ, we can dispel the darkness with His gospel. In Matthew 17 we find how Christ was transformed before them and His face was turned bright white as the light. Wherever we find “fos” we find a pure light of the Son of God. In John’s gospel, Jesus is the light of men and this light provides life. Christ’s light is described as the true light that lights every man. Man comes from Jesus. Man’s intellect comes from Jesus. Man’s wisdom comes from Jesus. Man’s entire enlightening experience stems from our Savior. Walking with Jesus is walking with the light of life in John 8:12. The Light saves, it shines a path of righteousness, it provides for life, it illuminates and it purifies. Christ’s light keeps you from all that is darkness.
Light in the scriptures is always associated with good, righteousness, purity, announcements from Heaven and God’s blessing. We must first abide in the light of Jesus Christ. We cannot have fellowship without first seeking His salvation, having an intimate relationship with Him and trusting in His pure light. We must first be righteous in the eyes of God as we are purified with the blood of Christ and His light then shines brightly through us as a lamp unto the whole world.
The first question is, do you have this light? Do others around you know that Jesus exists in you? Do you shine the light of Christ wherever you go? Do others see Christ’s light in you? They should not see gray. There should be no shadows. Christ’s pure light dispels all darkness because there is no darkness in Him. If you have the light of Christ, no one should wonder that you are a Christian. You should be known as a Christian. The countenance of Christ should shine from you as His light lives within you. Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Walk in the light.
II. As He is in the Light (7b)
This section is probably more difficult than the first. We have to not only accept His salvation, we have to be transformed; we have to be Christlike. We do not have to be perfect. However, as Christ is perfect, so are we to be perfect in Him. As we fellowship we should understand that we fellowship through Him with one another in the light. This means we seek to emulate Him as He fellowships with others in the light of God.
The light of Christ submitted to the Father (Matt 26:39). “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Jesus gave Himself over to cruelty and crucifixion for our salvation to complete His Father’s plan. We too must submit to the Father.
We also hear our Lord and hearken unto His call (Jn 10:27). The sheep of Christ “are those who hear, believe in, follow, and obey the Saviour of the world.”[ii] Most commentators see this as a reference to teaching and followership. The Lord’s sheep will hear and follow Him. Shepherds call their sheep and their sheep come to them because the shepherd represents safety, nourishment or shelter. The shepherd is their leader and the one they look to for guidance.
It is also interesting that the next verse that discusses eternal life. Though I have not seen a commentator other than Johnson mention it[iii] there is good possibility that the reference indicates His sheep will hear Him when he calls them at His second coming (1 Thess 4:16). They are His followers. These followers will hear and obey the commandments of Christ even in the grave. These followers walk in His light to dispel the darkness that surrounds them and answer His call to come to His light of life when He returns.
We can say that we are in the light, but we can still exist in darkness (Ananias and Sapphira did this). We can speak words of light, but exist in eternal darkness (Judas did this). Jesus tells us that,
“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:”
We cannot do, perform or fellowship in truth if we lie about who we really believe in. We live a lie in front of everyone. We say we want everyone to accept our Christianity when we have never really accepted Christ, do not live with Him at the center of our lives, nor do we seek Him for the things in our life. Do you walk in the light as He walked in the light, completely given over to righteousness and forsaking all else? That is the question.
When we walk in the light as He is in the light, we can have fellowship with one another. Only then can we enjoy the powerful connections that bind Christian to Christian. Only then can we see Heaven on Earth.
III. Fellowshipping with one another in the light (7c)
Our word for fellowship (koinōnia) is rather peculiar. We find it 19 times in the New Testament. It means a gathering of individuals with close mutual relations and involvement. It was also used to discuss communal property fellowship where a sharing of possessions indicated a mutual participation and interest in advancement. It has a very intimate inference. In any case, it indicates sharing. Whether shared interest, shared properties, or both, the intimation is that there is a deep bond that focuses upon fulfilling the needs of others.
We find this used in 2 Corinthians 6:14 concerning equally yoked fellowships. Paul asks how righteousness can have fellowship with lawlessness. We find this in 2 Corinthians 8:4 where the Macedonians, though slaves themselves, gave sacrificially to support Paul’s cause. Paul told them it was too much, that what they had given was recognized as something they could not themselves afford without great discomfort. They begged Paul to take the offering so that they could take part in the relief of the saints in Jerusalem. Again describing their sacrifice in 2 Corinthians 9:13 we find the word translated “distribution.” In 13:13, we find the word translated “communion” or a oneness, togetherness. This koinōnia is with the Holy Spirit, therefore it is a far deeper fellowship than one might simply understand as “camaraderie” or some “get together.” This is not just closeness then; it is a sacrificial communion with the Spirit and Son of God that is shared with others.
Look at the first two words in this phrase in 1 John 1:7, “we have.” A more basic and literal translation of the word that this represents is “we are having.” If we walk in the light of Christ, if we walk in a likeness of Christ’s light, we are actively fellowshipping with one another through the Holy Spirit. Being spiritually quickened by Christ, we commune in that eternal life with one another. We have noted this before, there is no place closer to Heaven on Earth than when you fellowship on a deep spiritual plane with another believer.
What joy we can have as we discuss our Lord, praise His power, His majesty, His sacrifice and His sovereignty with one another. What righteousness we can enjoy as we tell of scripture that has recently grabbed our hearts. What purity we can enjoy as we share the pure love of Christ with one another. What excitement we can have as we tell one another about witnessing opportunities, ask for prayer for others and encourage one another. What joy we can experience as we bear one another’s spiritual burdens, pray for and over one another, lay hands upon one another and love one another.
If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we do not the truth. We make all our testimony, all our care, all our concern, all our fellowshipping with one another a lie. We call God a liar as He says we cannot be in the light without His Son in our hearts. What should we do then? Accept the Lord as your Savior and truly step into the light of Christ. His light will dispel all the darkness. His blood has washed away all the sins of the world; it will cleanse you too. He will be the focal point of fellowship as we fellowship.
Fellowship with other Christians is sweet. It involves a deep mutually shared submission to God and His Son for salvation. This is only possible when we walk in the light as Christ walks in the light. Christ’s light illuminates our path and dispels the darkness of the world. When we enjoy this light, we enjoy koinōnia.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is either darkness or light. There is either saved or not. Either you have eternal life or you do not. There is no in-between where you are just trying to get used to being a Christian, or you will begin being a Christian in the near future. Either you do the things a Christian does or you do not. Either you live worldly or you live as a Christian. What is the difference you might ask?
Christians love reading the scriptures. Christians love teaching their children the scriptures. Christians love telling others about Christ and what He has done to change their lives. Christians love time in deep prayer with God. Christians love fellowshipping with other Christians. Christians would love to help those who are not Christians be Christians. Christians let Christ live through them. Christians exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. Christians embody the beatitudes increasingly in their lives. Christians are Christians. They are not Christians here and just people out there. Christians are Christians that live through Christ.
They have fellowship through Christ with one another because the Holy Spirit of God lives within them. They received the cleansing of the blood of the Son of God and they rejoice over it. Christians will answer the call of Christ and go to Heaven. Christians know they have eternal life. Do you know you’re going to Heaven? Are you a Christian? Will you answer Christ when He returns? If you do not, are not, or will not, please contact our ministry on how you can be a Christian and have eternal life in Christ. The fellowship is sweet. We want you to join us in it.
[i] You can read the entire article here. http://mvbclander.com/topical-studies/god-and-his-rights/
[ii] Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Whole Bible Public Domain Derived from an electronic text from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library http://www.ccel.org Formatted and corrected by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 1.0. Search on John 10:27.
[iii] B. W. Johnson The New Testament Commentary, Volume 3: John, Public Domain Originally published by Christian Publishing Company (St. Louis, MO: 1886) Electronic text produced by Ernie Stefanik and downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library: http://ccel.wheaton.edu Formatted and Hypertexted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 1.3. Search on John 10:27.