Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
How can we have fellowship with God? We know that we’re called to fellowship and that it’s spiritual in nature, but how do we arrive at that kind of relationship with God? There are two major means by which we can really fellowship with Him. One is His way of speaking to us and the the other is our way of speaking to Him.
God chose to reveal Himself to us through Jesus, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). His Word became flesh in the person of Christ (John 1:14) and since we don’t live in the time when Jesus walked the earth, what we have is the written Word of God. This is the inspired, God-breathed, revelation of the Lord to mankind. He speaks to us by means of the Scriptures. If we want to hear from Him, we don’t need to look for signs or perform rituals. We need to read.
Contained within the 66 books of the Bible are God’s answers to life’s questions, His outpouring of love, His story of redemption, His offer of forgiveness, His character and His will. Searching with the intent of knowing God more intimately will lead to deeper fellowship with Him as we hear Him.
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.
What is fellowship? We often use this word in our Christian culture to speak of potluck dinners or home get-togethers, but what sets these things apart from any other gathering? What makes them Christian fellowship rather than just hanging out? The answer lies in one word: spiritual.
Whereas many people have social time and events where they interact with others, Christians are a part of fellowship because fellowship is spiritual. We connect with one another on a different level than those who just gather to have fun. We have a purpose behind our relationships and interactions with people that equate to fellowship.
In 1 John we read that those who had witnessed the earthly ministry of Christ were sharing their testimonies with others and therefore entering into fellowship with them. It’s through a relationship with Christ that this fellowship is able to happen. He is the center of it all, the core of our fellowship with God and with other people. It all hinges on Him and what He’s done. When we share Christ with others, we have fellowship, not just social time.
1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We were called into fellowship with God. That is, God has initiated a relationship with us that is much deeper than we may expect. He’s not interested in a surface-level, once-a-week interaction with us. He wants more of us. He wants all of us.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the religion of it all and forget that God wants to connect with us on a spiritual level. He’s far less interested in whether or not we perform religious rituals than He is in whether or not our hearts are connected with His. He wants an intimacy with us that extends so far beyond the rituals.
How deep are you willing to go? How much of an effort are you willing to make? He initiated the fellowship, now we have to make a move to complete the transaction. We have to reach our hand out to His outstretched hand and grab on. But intimacy requires trust and honesty. God already knows what’s on our hearts, but true fellowship requires that we declare it to Him in total submission. It requires absolute faith, and for His part God is always faithful.
Luke 2:47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Even at a very young age, Jesus had a way about Him that amazed those with whom He had interactions. There was just something about Him. One can only guess what it would have been like to live around Him when He was only a child, but the Word tells us that even back then He was something else.
As Jesus visited the temple as a child, He asked questions of the experts and discussed heavy theological matters with them. The people in that temple probably would have been impressed with an adult that had the knowledge and wisdom that Jesus displayed, but for it to be coming from a child… They’d never seen such a thing! There they were discussing God with God face-to-face, and they didn’t even know it.
To experience Jesus is to be amazed by Him. It’s impossible to encounter Him and keep going along without any change, without even blinking. It’s impossible. To be with Jesus elicits awe and amazement. It makes one want to worship Him, not just carry on as usual. He’s the manifestation of God, the Lord’s revelation of Himself to man. How can we not be amazed when we see Him?
1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we 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 his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
One of the things that can most negatively affect our relationship with God and with other people is unconfessed sin. If we hold onto the idea that we’ve done nothing wrong when in reality we’ve offended God with our thoughts and actions, we’re putting a barrier between Him and ourselves. The same is true when we act as though we’ve not wronged others. We can’t have true fellowship when we’re walking in a lie.
But if we confess our sins to the Lord, He’s not standing by waiting to strike us down with lightning; He’s ready to forgive us and to cleanse us. When we’ve been cleansed by God, we’re then enabled to walk in the light. If we have fellowship with God, we can’t be in the darkness, so it’s also fair to say that if we’re walking in darkness we’re not in fellowship with God.
Where are you right now? Are you walking in the light? Are your relationships reflective of God’s work in you? Or are you in broken relationships with other people and a broken fellowship with God? The good news is that at any time we can turn to Him and admit our sins. He’ll wash us clean with the blood of Christ, just like He took a big eraser and wiped out all of our wrongdoing to give us a fresh start. He wants to do that for us. The Good News is for believers too.
1 John 1:1-4 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— 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. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
The natural response to the joy we receive in Christ is to share it. How could we, knowing that we have experienced new life in the Son of God, keep that to ourselves? We should be overflowing with joy, ready to burst if we don’t share it.
John was among the apostles who walked with Jesus while He was here on this earth. He writes in his first letter to the churches in Asia Minor that he wants them to share in the fellowship he and others have with God through Christ. He proclaims all he witnessed with his own eyes, all he heard with his own ears, so that the joy of others might be made full. He’s not willing to keep it all to himself. What he was sharing was life.
Jesus is the Word of life and He made Himself known to mankind. John was there when Jesus was present in the flesh, God incarnate sharing life with other people. John knew that real life is in Jesus and in this he found his joy. He also knew that his joy would be made all the more complete if he told others about the Word. Notice his motive explained in verse 4, that “our” joy may be made complete.
Jesus is life. If you’ve experience new life in Him, share it with everyone around you, so that they will have joy AND so that your joy would be made more complete. If you haven’t experienced the life-giver, why not seek Him out? Find out what this life is that others are talking about. Ask God to reveal Jesus to you and make Him real to you. He will.
1 John 2:1-6 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
If we claim to be Christians, there ought to be something to show for it. If we aren’t walking a true Christian walk, obeying God, growing to be more like Christ, loving others; then we aren’t fooling anyone. If we love God, we’ll follow Him in everything we do.
All that said, we can try to obey in all things, but we will fail at times. We can’t be perfect, even though we should try to walk as closely to God as possible, with the help of the Holy Spirit. We’ll fail, but the true test is whether or not we admit to wrongdoing and ask forgiveness. If we say we don’t sin, again no one is fooled. We have to have a heart that’s humble enough to confess that we’ve sinned. This is what we’re called to as followers of Christ.
The best part is that we, as Christians, don’t receive God’s wrath for our sins, but we get forgiveness. Jesus already died in our place, He already took on our sins so that we don’t have to suffer the consequences. He made a way so that we have no reason to hold onto our sins as a secret and not admit to them. If we’ll just confess them, He’s faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9). Jesus stands in the gap, advocating on our behalf, making our case. This isn’t just a message for seekers of truth; the gospel is for Christians too.
Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
We, the adopted children of God, are now officially sons and daughters of the King of Kings. And what does this mean beyond the fact that we are forgiven of our sins and brought into fellowship with God as part of His family? It means we get everything.
Everything? Yes, if we are children of God then we are heirs, just as Jesus Christ is the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2). What’s His is ours. That’s…the glory and the suffering.
We’re called to more than just living a good life here and now on this earth when we enter into God’s family. We are given incredible gifts from the Father, but there is more to this life than what we receive. We have the privilege now of sharing with Christ in His sufferings.
Because we’re children of God, those who aren’t may take offense to our disposition and seek to harm us, whether physically or just emotionally and spiritually. We may not always be happy all the time because in this world there is evil and injustice that will not be eradicated until Christ returns. Oh, but when He does, we get to share in His glory. When that time comes, everything in this life will have been worth it.
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
What is the greatest news you’ve ever been given? Think really hard about it and give an honest answer to that question. Now think about why it is that this was such great news. Now, turn your attention for one moment to news that’s even better than the best news you can think of.
Because God loved the world He had created, He sent Jesus Christ (God in the flesh) to live a perfect, sinless life and to die a sinner’s death in our place. We deserved to be treated with the cruelty He receive. We earned the penalty that He paid. He took on our sin and gave us instead His own righteousness, granting us access to God. What news is this!
Not only are we forgiven by a just God, which is wonderful, but we are now His own children, adopted into His family. Not only is He our Father, but the language used in this text is so intensely beautiful as the writer describes God as our “Abba,” which means “daddy.” God isn’t a harsh, demanding father who is waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us. We’re not under Him as slaves, but as His children. He’s our Daddy who loves us and cares about us. We can approach Him without fearing His response. What a perfect way to understand our relationship to our Creator and Redeemer.
Romans 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
As Christians, it’s no longer our duty to live up to the Law. The commands given to those under the old covenant are no longer our marching orders. What then; do we throw away all of the commands as if they don’t matter? No, we fulfill the Law by obeying our new command.
Jesus did not tell those under the new covenant to try and keep up the old. Instead He gave a new command: to love. (Romans 13:8-10)
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
It’s really as simple as that. You want to obey God? Love. You want to please Him? Love. You want to do what’s right? Love. Freedom from the Law is freedom to walk in love, and in doing so to fulfill the Law.