Fellowship: An Introduction


1. Fellowship is supernatural

The Scriptures assume the reality of the supernatural. Angels, demons, heaven, hell and resurrection all dot the landscape of the biblical metanarrative. So, when we come to fellowship why should we assume it is a physical issue alone in nature (such as physically gathering). Fellowship is not merely physical. Fellowship is supernatural and a product of the indwelling Holy Spirit then life experiences and location etc. can play a role in the further growth of fellowship.
2. Fellowship as a biblical doctrine

You might not think that fellowship is a doctrine, but it is. It’s a clear teaching of Scripture. Fellowship is not neatly defined in single verse in a single chapter, however, fellowship is spoken about all over the metanarrative of the Gospel. Fellowship flows out of Trinity as a reality of the created order for those redeemed by the gospel.

3. Fellowship is casually used but seldom “unpacked”

Fellowship is a word that’s been thrown around the church as long as I can remember. I always heard the word “fellowship”. Nearly every church I was ever in had a place called Fellowship Hall. I assumed that whatever happened in that place was fellowship because that was Fellowship Hall. And my definition of fellowship had to do with flower shaped butter cookies, cool-aid, Dr. Pepper, home-made lemonade, all day singing, homecoming and the smell of Morrison’s coffee because that seemed to be what went on in that place.

But there’s much more to the biblical doctrine of fellowship. It is indeed a very, very rich reality.

4. Fellowship has many images given in the bible leading to one truth: Unity of life together under the good rule of God by the gospel

All of these metaphors are important because they work us toward getting a grasp on unity. This helps us to define fellowship. Unity

A. The Body
1 Corinthians 12:12
1. Whole, yet multiple and unique in it multiplicity
2. Parts more visible, yet less visible parts are equally vital
3. Unified, yet diverse
4. Many parts, yet inextricably linked
5. Independent, yet dependant (interdependent)
6. Separate, yet interconnected

B. The People of God as “wife” and God as “husband” (Remember he is
speaking about many but refers to them in the singular)
Ezekiel and Hosea

C. The People of God as a “vineyard”
Isaiah 5

D. The People of God as “sheep”
Psalm 23; Psalm 95

In the New Testament Jesus transitions these metaphors from Israel to the church global.

E. The Church as the “Bride of Christ” and Christ as the “bridegroom”
Ephesians 5:22-32

F. The Church as the “branches” receiving life from Christ, the “vine”
John 15

G. The Church as the “sheep” and Christ as the “Good Shepherd”
John 10

H. The Church as a “kingdom” and Jesus Christ as “King”
Colossians 1:13-18

I. The Church as the “household of God” and Jesus as the “cornerstone” and
“builder” of this house
Ephesians 2:19-22 (the passive voice of verse 22 points to the builder being
Jesus… “in him”…)

That’s a lot of imagery and those images each convey an aspect of our life as the church.

1. We are Jesus’ church
a. Jesus is the head of the church
1. Jesus thinks for the church
2. Jesus commands the church
3. Jesus mobilizes and sends the church

2. We are one bride with one bridegroom, one wife with one husband

3. We are one set of branches all drawing life from one vine

4. We are one flock with one shepherd

5. We are one Kingdom with one King, one family with one Father, one building with one foundation

All of those convey aspects of life in the church.

J. Defining Fellowship
John 17
1. Unity is that word that describes these metaphors for the church and
it is the foundation for understanding fellowship.

2. Jesus, in John 17, points out the nature of fellowship in this unity
between the members of the Trinity and resulting unity between members
of the body…
a. Verse 11, 20-21, 22-23

As Father and Son are one in essence, life, will, purpose, and mutual love Jesus’ prayer is that we would share oneness in life, will, purpose and love. Shared life, shared will, shared purpose and shared love. That is fellowship!

Fellowship is the sharing of the reality of spiritual and physical life and all of the implications of life together. It is the life purchased by the word of the Gospel witnessed to us in the word of Scripture. The church is a “creature of the word” and our life together is “Life together under the word.”

Life together under the word.

3. 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

Fellowship, life together under the word, is so rich and thick and exclusive to the creature of the word that there is no fellowship available between those who are not creatures of the word.

4. Conclusion

A. We desperately need to understand and do fellowship

B. Fellowship is not getting along all the time.
1. We may not have proper attitudes all the time.
2. We may not be one in demonstrable affection.
3. But we are one in life together under the word.
4. We have to retreat back to understanding fellowship in order to get everything else in line.

C. Fellowship belongs to those united to Christ and therefore united
to each other, life together under the word

Over the next weeks we will talk about:

The basis of fellowship, 1 John 1:1-4

The nature of fellowship, Acts 2:42-47
Life Together Under the Word

The symbol of fellowship, 1 Corinthians 10
The Lord’s Supper

The danger to fellowship, 1 Corinthians 5

The responsibility in fellowship, Romans 12:5-21
The ministry of serving
The ministry of holding one’s tongue
The ministry of meekness
The ministry of listening
The ministry of helping
The ministry of bearing with each other
The ministry of proclaiming

5. Invitation to Respond
This response time is just a weekly reminder to begin now and respond to the Lord all week in life together under the word.

Do this all week-long until we come together again to be renewed and refreshed as a full body as we scatter to do the work of the Gospel.

We are going to practice life together under the word.

A. Sing to the Lord
B. Minister to one another:
1. Prayer for another
2. Prayer with another
3. Confession of sin: in general or specifically against another
4. Encouragement

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