Text: I John 1:5-2:6
I. Fellowship has often been the center of controversy
A. Part because the word has been misused by both denominationalists and Christians.
B. But it also has been area of trouble because we don’t always know where to draw the line.
II. What is fellowship
1. Sunētheia - A mutual custom or habit, acquaintance, friendship, fellowship.
2. Metochē - Partnership, fellowship, sharing, common interest, participation.
3. Koinōnia - Communion, association, partnership, fellowship, sharing, contribution.
B. Fellowship is a group of people who enter into an agreement and share a common goal. They work together to obtain that goal – pooling both their resources and efforts.
1. A local congregation illustrates this meaning.
2. Christians work together to accomplish the commands of God.
3. They worship together.
4. They are partners in a common effort – participating to reach a common goal.
III. Who we have fellowship with
A. God and Christ - I John 1:3
B. The Holy Spirit - II Corinthians 13:14
C. The apostles
1. I John 1:3 - Through the witness they shared with us.
2. Acts 2:42 - Through the doctrine they taught us.
D. With fellow Christians - I John 1:7
IV. How our fellowship is shown and defined
A. It is a working relationship
1. Laborers together - I Corinthians 3:9
2. The service or ministering to the saints - II Corinthians 8:3-4
a. This was a working relationship between Christians who were separated by many miles.
b. They agreed to pool their resources to accomplish their common goal of aiding needy saints in Jerusalem.
3. Here fellowship is demonstrated by the common actions taken.
B. It is a shared belief
1. Romans 1:12 - A mutual faith
2. It is a mutual faith not only between Christians, but also between each Christian and their God.
3. Fellowship is not just the things we do, but it is also our common set of beliefs, when we hold on the same truth.
C. Fellowship is not predicated simply on whether a person was baptized.
1. Baptism does add one to the Lord and the church - Acts 2:44-47
2. However, it does not imply that all baptized believers remain in that fellowship.
D. Some are too tolerant of the misbehavior of others. They reluctant to sever ties.
1. Such was the problem in Corinth - I Corinthians 5:1-2, 6-7
a. Sin was in their midst, but they were reluctant to act properly.
b. To tolerate sin is to corrupt the church.
c. They needed to sever their ties with the sinner so that he might be saved and so that their worship would remain pure.
2. Corinth was not the only church with this problem of tolerating sinners - Revelation 2:14-16
a. Here was a church with members who were teaching false doctrine.
b. Jesus demanded that they repent or lose him as an ally and face him as an enemy.
c. It is our duty to oppose those who deviate from the way, whether it is by deed (as in Corinth) or by word (as in Pergamum).
3. Here is another case - Revelation 2:20
a. The church at Thyatira was harboring an unrepentant sinner.
b. As Corinth was warned, this woman’s sin had spread to other members. An infection out of control.
4. Tolerance does not spread Christianity, it destroys it. Welcoming those who deviate from the truth ruins church.
a. Churches who fail to discipline may attract more people, but they fail to produce more Christians.
b. We must uphold truth to remain in fellowship - I John 1:6-7
V. How are the lines of fellowship drawn?
A. First, it must be extended to those who are Christians
1. This means those who have heard and believe - Hebrews 11:6
2. They must have repented of their sins - Acts 26:16-20
3. They must confess their Lord and Savior - I John 4:15
4. They must put on Christ in baptism - Galatians 3:26-27
B. It is extended to those who remain in the truth - Acts 2:42
1. Those who walk in the light - I John 1:6-7
2. Those who live in the light of God’s Word - II John 9
3. A companion of all who keep God’s precepts - Psalm 119:63
C. It is withheld from those who refuse to remain in the truth
1. The ties of fellowship can be broken.
2. The man in Corinth was turned over to Satan - I Corinthian 5:5
3. Some shipwrecked their faith - I Timothy 1:19-20
4. Some fall away and are restored - James 5:19-20
5. Some fall away never to be rescued - Hebrews 6:3-6
D. Fellowship also does not exist with those who remain in the world
1. There is no common ground - II Corinthians 6:14-18
2. Some here have mentioned that what once was unnoticed has become an irritant.
a. As a Christian keeps his language pure, the foulness of those around him becomes more noticeable.
b. As a Christian learns to be sober-minded, the child-like behavior of those around him becomes difficult to ignore.
3. We cannot leave this world. We have to interact with them - I Corinthians 6:9-10. But it doesn’t mean we have to like what they do.
E. Fellowship cannot exist with false teachers - II John 9-11
1. We withdraw our fellowship from the heretic - Titus 3:10-11. A heretic is one who does not teach the truth.
2. Fellowship must not exist with those who divide the brethren - Romans 16:17-18
VI. The question sometimes comes up as to why we don’t join with some of the projects going on in this city.
A. It is a simple matter that those participating in them are not faithfully following God’s laws. What common ground to we have that we might work together?
B. An example of what happens is seen in the National Council of Churches. It was supposed to be a way for various denominations to work together. It became a body of such liberal-minded false teachers that even the Methodists have pulled their support.
C. It is also why I am reluctant to announce meetings of other churches in the area when I know that a few of their practices are not in accordance with the teachings of God.