This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “The Church”.
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Over the last few weeks in our discussion on the church we have said that the church is ultimately about relationships. Relationship with God, relationship with the people of God, and relationship with those who do not yet know Jesus. These relationships are developed in the context of worship, discipleship, fellowship, and mission. We have discussed worship and discipleship, today we are going to start talking about fellowship.
Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
1. What is fellowship?
Christian fellowship is believers in Christ coming together in unity, love and humility to mutually support and encourage one another.
The Greek word translated fellowship is Koinonia which occurs twenty times in the Bible. It literally means, fellowship, sharing in common, communion. The word first appears in Acts 2:42:
Acts 2:42 (NIV)
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
2. Our fellowship occurs within the body of Christ
Christian fellowship or Koinonia is something that believers have with the people of God. Our relationship with the future people of God is something different which we will talk about when we move into our discussions of mission.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (NIV)
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Christian fellowship or Koinonia is something that only happens in the body of Christ. We are united to one another by common beliefs, values and purposes. We are filled by the same Holy Spirit who indwells each of us and leads and guides us.
John 18:36 (NIV)
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
We look at life with a different perspective than the world around us because as believers we are citizens of the kingdom of God. We are in effect strangers in this world and our shared longing is for our true home in eternity. Our fellowship helps us to stay focused on the things of the Kingdom, redeeming the time for His glory while we wait for His return.
Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV)
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
3. Our fellowship is based in Christ
Our fellowship or koinonia with one another is based on our common fellowship or koinonia with Jesus.
1 John 1:6-7 (NIV)
6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 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, purifies us from all sin.
Life as a believer is not a solo undertaking where we work out our relationship with God in isolation from other believers. Our relationship with God is enhanced and developed in our relationship with one another.
4. Our fellowship is expressed in “one another”
We can learn a lot about fellowship or koinonia as we study the one another Bible verses.
One another is two words in English but it is only one word in the Greek, allelon. It is used 100 times in 94 New Testament verses. 47 of those verses are instruction to the followers of Jesus. Of those verses, one third are about unity in the church, another third are about how we are to love one another, and approximately fifteen percent are about the importance of humility. We are going to look at these three areas in the weeks ahead, but there are some one another verses that don’t quite fit into those three categories so I thought I would just list a few of them here to close out today:
Romans 14:13 (NIV)
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.
Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Ephesians 4:25 (NIV)
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Colossians 3:9 (NIV)
9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
James 5:16 (NIV)
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
From these verses we can see that we are to not judge one another, we are to help bear one another’s burdens, we are to speak truthfully to one another, we are to encourage one another and we are to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another. That is a pretty good list to start with so do that this week.