The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Spirit Built Church has a Passion for Fellowship

“And they continued steadfastly in . . . fellowship . . .” – Acts 2:42c

Acts 2:42 gives us four pillars of the church as well as for the individual believer. For the church and individual Christians to be spiritually healthy, these four pillars must be firmly in place. These are the posts upon which the foundation of Christ is laid (1 Cor. 3:11). The teaching of God’s word, fellowship, worship and prayer are these pillars. I believe the Spirit inspired Luke to give these pillars in a particular order. Each succeeding pillar flows from the other. The Spirit gives us a passion when He comes upon us. That passion of the Spirit leads to a passion for the teaching of God’s word. A passion for God’s word unites God’s people in fellowship. This passion for fellowship happens as we come into the presence of the Lord in worship. Worship finds its most hospitable place in prayer. Let’s proceed in our consideration of the Spirit built church and its attributes while keeping these pillars in mind.

The Spirit built church has a passion to be united in fellowship. It states, “And they continued steadfastly in . . . fellowship” (2:42c). “Fellowship” is not just hanging out, playing cards or some other game, watching TV together or doing some other thing together. “Fellowship” (from the Greek term koinonia) involves communion, communication, contribution, interacting actively.  [1] Fellowship is the gathering together of believers to edify one another spiritually by discussing the work of Jesus by the Spirit in and through them. In Hebrews it describes fellowship in the following way:  

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

Look at these inspired words. There is much to glen from them. It says, “And let us consider one another.” The first thing is that we are to put others before ourselves. This is especially true when we come to church. Most come to church looking for what they can get from the service. That is true. But we should also be looking to the Lord for what He would have us give. I’m not speaking only financially. I’m speaking about being alert to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) and encouraging others or sharing a scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17).

Specifically we are to come together, “in order to stir up love and good works.” When we come across someone who is in an unloved or unloving state of mind, insert the love of Jesus into the conversation. And the love we insert should be an active love that leads to good work and action. It is in fellowship with other believers that we see the opportunity for us to become “fellow workers” with Christ and with each other (1 Cor. 3:9-10).

We are exhorted to, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some.” Fellowship and going to church needs to be a priority. It shouldn’t be just one other activity on your calendar. It should take priority on your calendar. That means if there’s a conflict in the schedule you put church first! Even if it’s a little league game, dance practice, you have family or friends coming over and you want to prepare your home and the meal, or anything else, make sure you don’t get distracted from going to church. If ever there was an oxymoronic practice it is those who will stay home from church in order to prepare for a time of fellowship in their home! Some do this. You should not.

Instead of not fellowshipping we should come together, especially in church; “but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching.” We need to redeem the time! Time is short. Look at the signs of the times in God’s word (e.g. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) and then compare them with what is going on in the world today. These are the Last Days. Soon we will be raptured into the presence of our Lord Jesus. Then we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account. Make sure you are able to give a good report. Make sure you are able to lay your life before the Lamb who was slain and not be ashamed. Fellowship is important! We need to exhort each other to keep the main things the main things. We need to exhort one another to keep Jesus and His mission as our top priority.

The early saints were passionately dedicated to encouraging and exhorting one another to serve the Lord. Is that what you do in your times of “fellowship”?

In one of the psalms of assent (that the people would sing as they made the trip and assent up to Jerusalem), the blessing of fellowship is expressed through the inspired words:

  • Psalm 133:1-3 – “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments.3 It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.” 

In Psalm 133 we are told the gathering of brethren in unity is like anointing oil poured out on the head. Oil is a type or symbol of the Holy Spirit (cf. Zech. 4). When the Spirit comes, He unites believers! Are you united with fellow believers or living as a lone wolf Christian? Private Christianity is an oxymoron. Christians were and are created by God for fellowship with Him and with each other (see 1 John 1:7).

Jesus died to make a way to unite us with God. He also died to unite us to each other. The Spirit brings people together. When we come to fellowship with a worldly mindset that is self-centered and full of “deceitful lusts’ such as lying, mean spirited speaking, stealing, “bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking . . . malice” it grieves the Spirit and hurts the fellowship for which Christ died (cf. Eph. 4:17-31). Instead we should “be kind and tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave” us (Eph. 4:32).

That is what the Spirit built church looks like. It is filled with those who have a passion for fellowship. Too often our churches are empty because people have a passion for the thing sof this world. Our nation has a rugged individualist nature in its DNA. Christ came to build a church. The Holy Spirit draws us to Him and into fellowship with each other in the process. Don’t neglect the gathering of the fellowship. Instead, be filled with the Spirit and come together in fellowship. Come! “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”



[1]Strong, J. 1996. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship: Ontario

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