Fellowship 1 – Fellowship with God

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See full series: closer-to-god-2022

Fellowship 1 – Fellowship with God

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: 1 John 1:1-7


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As we continue our study of drawing closer to God, we have been addressing our need to pursue holiness.  In our last lesson we talked about the importance of the local church as we seek to draw closer to Him.  Today I would like to begin addressing the subject of fellowship.  Understanding fellowship has a direct bearing on our relationship with God AND with others who are like minded.  We need to consider this subject as it relates to us as individuals and as a local church, AND how we relate to other congregations and professed believers.   Today, we want to look at what fellowship is.


  1. What is fellowship?
    1. The American Heritage dictionary defines the word as[1], 1) The companionship or individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms. B. Friendship, comradeship. C. A close association of friends or equals sharing similar interests.
    2. NT definition – Lexicons give similar definitions of meaning of κοινωνία (koinōnia).
      BDAG – association, communion, association, partnership; Bullinger – to have a thing in common, have a share, to partake of or with; Thayer – the share which one has in anything, participation; 2. … intimacy – that indicates a close sharing.
    3. Both English and Greek indicate a closeness that results in sharing or joint participation. BUT, when it comes to its use in the New Testament, the term is far more limited in its application.  We often hear people talk about our fellowship with one another in social settings or the relationship we have with one another.  While that is ok from the standpoint of the English language, sometimes the usage in our language is CONFUSED with the limitations put upon that word in the Bible.
    4. In this lesson, we want to determine how the word is used in the Bible. And with that in mind, I want to encourage us to be careful how we use the word in Biblical settings.
  2. The spiritual application of “fellowship” in the New Testament.
    1. The Greek word is found some 20 times in the NT, 15 being translated “fellowship”. There is also another form of the word that is found about 10 times and most often translated, “partaker” or partner” (1 Corinthians 10:20, 2 Corinthians 8:23 – partner, etc.)
    2. Acts 2:42 – first usage, “they continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayer.” Clearly this text was addressing worship which would mean the fellowship they shared was associated with their worshipping together.
    3. 1 Corinthians 1:9 – speaks of being called into fellowship with Jesus (His Son).
    4. Galatians 2:9 – speaks of Paul and Barnabas having fellowship with James, Peter and John in Jerusalem
    5. Ephesians 3:9 – Paul spoke of all seeing “what is the fellowship of the mystery” – a reference to God’s plans that would include Gentiles.
    6. Philippians 2:1 – Paul spoke of “fellowship of the Spirit” which would result in unity
    7. Philippians 3:9 speaks of Paul and the “fellowship of His sufferings” which referenced Paul partaking in sufferings even as Jesus did
    8. Romans 15:26contribution, fellowship. Also associated with brethren helping other needy brethren in other places – 2 Corinthians 8:4, 9:13
    9. Philippians 1:5 – Paul spoke of how they had fellowship with him in the gospel. In Philippians 4:15 Paul associates this with the church in Philippi supporting him as he preached the gospel in other places.
    10. 1 Corinthians 10:16 – the word “communion” used twice speaks of our fellowship with Christ as we partake of the Lord’s Supper.
    11. Hebrews 13:16 – do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
    12. Notice that Bible fellowship is always related to spiritual matters.
      1. It is NOT associated with social activities and entertainment. The term in scripture was not used to describe their daily gathering together to enjoy meals and engage in social activities.
      2. While we do find the term used to describe relationship between brethren as they helped each other with their needs, it was NEVER used to describe social purposes.
      3. When we, as individuals, have social gatherings sometimes we use the term “fellowship”. While that is good intentioned, and an acceptable usage in our English vernacular, we ought to be careful to NOT confuse such with its Biblical use.  Do we understand the difference and do all who are present understand that difference?
      4. Much of the denominational world, and some brethren, use the term socially and as a result that is what much of the world has come to expect from the word. That IS a concern!
      5. And that is why I typically steer away from the word on social occasions, to prevent misunderstanding. There are other words we can use at such times.
  3. Fellowship with God
    1. How does this relate to drawing closer to God? Our closeness to God is based upon relationship, and relationship exists because we have fellowship with Him.
    2. 1 John 1:1-7 – John is writing this letter “that you may also have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1:3) Fellowship with Him is again mentioned in vs. 6-7, noting that we are in fellowship with Him when we walk in the light, even as He is in the light.
    3. What is Fellowship with God is based upon?
      1. Jesus Christ
        1. 1 John 1:3that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. What they had seen and heard was Jesus – who He was and what He did, and HOW that gives us access to God the Father.  As John concludes this letter we read in 1 John 5:10-12, He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
        2. 1 John 2:1-2Jesus is our advocate when we sin. He is the propitiation for our sins – meaning He paid the price that appeased God’s wrath and made reconciliation possible.
        3. 1 John 3:5He was manifested to take away our sins. It is because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we have access to God.  He purified us by His blood.  Ephesians 2:18, For through Him we both (Jews and Gentiles – TT) have access by One Spirit to the FatherJohn 14:6 – He is the only access to the Father.
        4. Without the sacrifice of Jesus there would be no fellowship with Him1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.
        5. 2 John 9 – Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
      2. Following the example of Jesus – 1 John 2:6 – abiding in Him means that we walk even as He walked.
      3. We must confess Jesus – we cannot deny Jesus and have access to God. 1 John 2:22-23, Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.   Jesus said this Himself in Matthew 10:32-33.
      4. Obedience – 1 John 2:3-5 – how do we know God? By keeping His commandments. This is how we KNOW that we are in Him.  1 John 2:29 – everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.  1 John 3:24 – He who keeps His commandments abides in Him. 1 John 5:2-3 – this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.
      5. Loving God – 1 John 4:7-8 – as God loved us, we love Him and one another (our brethren). 1 John 4:16, And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
      6. Loving each other – 1 John 4:19-21 – tells us that if we love God we will love our brothers and sisters in Him. (cf. 1 John 2:7-11, 3:14-15)  Recall how we have continually emphasized that we need each other.  We can help each other draw closer to God.  We will address this in our next lesson as we talk about fellowship with one another.
      7. We cannot keep sinning1 John 3:6-9 – we do not persist in sin.
        1. Fellowship with God hinges on our understanding that we have put to death the old man of sin (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 3:9 – we have to death the old man with his (sinful) deeds, etc.)
        2. Recall how Jesus said we cannot serve 2 masters – Matthew 6:24. Because these are total opposites – God vs. mammon.
      8. Walking in the light – 1 John 1:5-7.
        1. The scriptural usage of light usually means that which is from God. 1 John 1:5 – God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
        2. His word is the source of our light – Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:130, The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
        3. 2 Peter 1:19 speaks of the prophetic word that we ought to heed as a light that shines in a dark place. We have emphasized how His word leads us to Him.
        4. Ephesians 5:8-14 – calls for us to walk as children of light. In so doing we will have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.
        5. Also be reminded that this is our daily walk – a perpetual way that we live (present tense)
      9. We purify ourselves even as He is pure
        1. 1 John 3:2-3 – what steps are we taking to ensure that we are living a pure and holy life? 1 Peter 1:14-15 – we are to be holy, even as He is holy.  Holiness is living pure.
        2. Matthew 5:8 – the pure in heart will see God.
        3. By taking care of our sins – 1 John 1:9 – we confess our sins (along with repentance and prayer – Acts 8:22).

Truly, we need fellowship with God.  That is what drawing closer to Him is about.  But there is another aspect of this fellowship that we need to consider – fellowship with one another.  The Bible is clear that it has a bearing on our fellowship with Him.  In our next lesson we will address that.  Meanwhile, are you in fellowship with the Father?  If not, do what you need to do about that right now.  It has a bearing on your eternity.  Think about it.

[1] For the American Heritage Dictionary definition:

fellowship. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved December 7 2022 from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/fellowship