Table of Contents / Overview
- Unity of Mind
- The "Breaking of Bread"
- Broken Fellowship
- Withdrawal of our Fellowship
- Privileges of Fellowship
- Perfect Fellowship
You should now have a complete knowledge of the basic teaching of God's Word, understanding His purpose and knowing what He requires of you. You know what you have to do personally in believing and obeying God. But you are not alone in having this knowledge. You share it with many others in various parts of the world. If you obey God in baptism then, even though you may be alone in your part of the world, you will in fact become part of a community of men and women who all believe the same thing, who try to follow the same way of life and who share the same hope. This is what is meant by "fellowship", a word which simply means "sharing" or "having in common". It is recorded of the first century believers:- "They continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers".
What this means and how it operates in practice in our day will be made clear in this lesson.
Previous lessons have emphasized the necessity for the servants of God to separate themselves from their former associations and way of life.
|Lesson 9||Abraham to leave his homeland.|
|Lesson 10||Israel came out of Egypt and were subject to the Law of Moses.|
|Lesson 16||Christians in the first century obeyed the Gospel message and kept the commandments of Jesus.|
|Lesson 17||Baptism emphasizes the new way of life likened by Paul to a change of master.|
- Romans 6 v 15-18
|Lessons 19 and 20||Personal standards different from those of the world around us.|
All this builds up to the separation enjoined by the Apostle Paul. Those who are thus separated are often referred to in the New Testament as "saints", a word meaning "called out" or "separated".
- II Corinthians 6 v 14-18
- Romans 1 v 1,6 & 7
- I Corinthians 1 v 2
It is clear from Paul's words that such separation from the world leads to association with those of like mind. This is what is meant by "fellowship". Our fellowship with each other depends on fellowship with the Father and the Son. We cannot have such fellowship unless we walk in the "light". By "light" we mean the wisdom, knowledge and understanding which is derived from God who is light. This light is in God's word, the Bible. Walking in the light of God's word involves believing ALL that is in the Bible, being obedient in baptism and keeping the commandments.
- I John 1 v 3-7
- Psalm 119 v 105 & 130
- II Timothy 3 v 16-17
Those who believe and obey become of "one mind" and, therefore, have fellowship with each other. This was the basis for the formation of the first century ecclesias.
- Philippians 1 v 27
- Acts 2 v 41-42
Because the Word of God comes through men moved by the Holy Spirit, those who have this unity of mind may be said to enjoy "the fellowship of the spirit". (The word "communion" in the original Greek text is the same as is elsewhere translated "fellowship").
- II Peter 1 v 21
- Philippians 2 v 1-5
- II Corinthians 13 v 11 & 14
This fellowship is brought closest to believers when they take part in "the breaking of Bread". Paul speaks of this as the "communion" (fellowship) of the body and blood of Christ. This is the occasion when believers closely associate themselves with Jesus and his sacrifice. Only those who are completely of one mind can share this "communion" of the body and blood of Christ.
- I Corinthians 10 v 16-17
- I Corinthians 1 v 10
- I Corinthians 11 v 23-29
If our lives are directed aright by the light of God's words we enjoy this fellowship. But such fellowship can be broken by disobedience to Divine commands or believing things not in harmony with God's word. The only way for the breach to be repaired is by repentance and returning to right ways. When a brother or sister falls in this way it is the duty of the other members of the brotherhood to try to win him back. If he still persists in wrong ways we have to discontinue our fellowship.
- I John 1 v 9
- James 5 v 19-20
- Galatians 6 v 1
If all efforts are unavailing we have to withdraw (or separate) from such. The New Testament gives us clear guidance on this matter.
- Romans 16 v 17
- I Corinthians 5 v 13
- II Thessalonians 3 v 6 & 14
- I Timothy 6 v 5
- II John v 9-11
The "Statement of the one Faith" which was introduced with Lesson 21 includes a list of wrong doctrines. Some of these have caused division in the Christadelphian community during the past century and withdrawal has been necessary from those not of one mind with us. Thus it is possible to come across some called Christadelphians who are not of one mind with us and whom we cannot fellowship.
Relationship with Almighty God as our Heavenly Father.
Relationship with the Lord Jesus as our Elder Brother, our Saviour and our Mediator.
- Luke 11 v 2
- I Corinthians 1 v 9-10
- Hebrews 10 v 22-23
We can pray to God and be heard by him through Jesus.
- Matthew 6 v 9
- I Timothy 2 v 5-8
Relationship with other believers as brethren and sisters of Christ.
- Mark 3 v 34-35
- Hebrews 2 v 11-12
The glorious hope of attaining to the Divine nature if faithful.
- Philippians 3 v 21
- I Peter 5 v 1
This will only be attained when, if worthy, we are given Divine nature in the Kingdom of God. We shall then be completely at one with the Father and his Son and with the resurrected and perfected saints of all ages. Christ looked forward to this perfect unity and fellowship in his prayer.
- John 17 v 19-24
"AND FOR THEIR SAKES I SANCTIFY MYSELF THAT THEY ALSO MIGHT BE SANCTIFIED THROUGH THE TRUTH, NEITHER PRAY I FOR THESE ALONE BUT FOR THEM ALSO WHICH SHALL BELIEVE ON ME THROUGH THEIR WORD: THAT THEY ALL MAY BE ONE: AS THOU, FATHER ART IN ME AND I IN THEE, THAT THEY ALSO MAY BE ONE IN US: THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE THAT THOU HAST SENT ME."
Using references where possible to support your reply, answer the following:
- In what way does the call of the Gospel separate a follower of Jesus from former associates?
- What do you understand by "fellowship of the Spirit"?
- Why is it necessary for followers of Jesus to be of the same mind on all matters of doctrine and practice?
- "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the
blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the
body of Christ?" (I Corinthians 10 v 16).
Explain what you understand by this statement.
- What are believers commanded to do if one departs from the faith?
- When and how will perfect unity and fellowship be attained?