THE BENEFITS OF BEING A CHRISTIAN # 3
A NEW FELLOWSHIP: COMMUNION WITH GOD AND HIS PEOPLE
A. Man is a “personal” being, and he thrives in the enjoyment of relationships with “persons” which correspond to him.
1. Man is a personal being because he is created in the image of God, who Himself is a personal Being… Genesis 1:26-27
2. The creation of a companion to whom Adam could relate followed God’s judgment that it was “not good that man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18-22).
B. The sin which alienated man from His Creator also produced enmity among men themselves, and it soon bore terrible fruit: frustration, violence, fear, despair, and anguish.
1. By Noah’s day, the divisive results of sin entering the world had reached such an extent that even God could not tolerate it – He would destroy mankind (Gen. 6:11-13).
2. Many of the sins described by Paul as resulting from man’s rejection of God involve discord and enmity… Ephesians 4:17-19
C. The gospel of Christ addresses this problem of sin which breaks up the personal relationships that we need
D. Let us contemplate the importance and joy of various aspects of the fellowship and communion which are possible through Jesus Christ, and through Him alone.
A. FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
1. When we enjoy fellowship with God we have Peace with God.
a. It has been said that sin is a refusal to accept God’s love
b. Man’s sin prevents God from extending Himself to man in the relationship He originally intended
1) This is seen in the Garden of Eden and in Noah’s day
2) Isaiah 59:1-2
3) Romans 1:18
c. In sin, man declares himself the “enemy” of God, and fear displaces love
1) Genesis 3:8-10
2) Romans 8:7
d. Through the forgiveness of sin in Jesus Christ, the cause of mans alienation from God is done away
1) Romans 5:1-2, 10-11
2) 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
2. When we enjoy fellowship with God we have access to God
a. Hebrews 10:19-22
b. Ephesians 2:18
3. When we enjoy fellowship with God we have continued forgiveness by God… 1 John 1:7-2:1
4. When we enjoy fellowship with God we have knowledge of God
a. The Christian enjoys a living, personal relationship with God
1) “He knows” God
a) Jeremiah 9:23-24
b) Philippians 3:8-10
2) Knowing God (not just knowing about God) involves study, prayer, worship, and meditation – all aimed at the cultivation of genuine love for God… Matthew 22:37
3) What glorious eternal fellowship awaits those who have come to know the Lord, and who are unashamed of their acquaintance with Him
4) On the other hand, what an eternal tragedy not to know Him or be known by Him… 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
b. We need to be careful not to neglect or undervalue the personal nature of our relationship to God
1) Spiritual life involves personal fellowship with God
a) John 17:3
b) 2 John 9
2) “Morality is conformity to an abstract law of right, while religion is essentially a relation to a person, from whom the soul receives blessing and to whom it surrenders itself in love and obedience…Religion in its essential idea is a life in God, a life lived in recognition of God, and under control of God” (A. H. Strong).
3) The “nearness” of God to us is one of our most precious spiritual blessings in Christ
a) Matthew 28:20
b) Hebrews 13:5
4) Our songs rightly emphasize our need for a vibrant personal fellowship with God.
a) My God and I: “This earth will pass, and with it common trifles, but God and I will go unendingly”
b) Be With Me, Lord: “No other gift or blessing thou couldst bestow could with this one compare – a constant sense of Thy abiding presence, where’er I am, to feel that Thou art near”
5) The invitation of Christ is an invitation to fellowship with God… Revelation 3:20
B. FELLOWSHIP WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD
1. Peace with God makes possible true fellowship with others… 1 John 1:3
a. God’s people in Christ enjoy a unique relationship as:
1) God’s “own special people” … 1 Peter 2:9-10
2) The “family” of God … Galatians 3:26-29
3) The “body” of Christ … Romans 12:4-5
b. This unique relationship binds together those who otherwise would be alienated (Gal. 3:26-29)
c. This relationship entails unique responsibilities … John 13:34-35
2. Christians’ common relationship to God is the basis of a common life together
a. Acts 2:42-47
b. Our spiritual “kinship” transcends physical ties… Mark 3:31-35
c. The mutual benefits and values of the relationship are important… Romans 1:12
1) Friendship, companionship, help, encouragement
2) Knowledge, correction, comfort, prayers
c. We need to recover a sense of the “community” aspect of Christianity… Romans 12:5
d. Nothing in this life surpasses the joy of Christians together worshiping, praying, studying, helping, teaching, and enjoying one another’s company
e. “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above”
f. Those of “like precious faith” (2 Pt. 1:1) are our “glory and joy” (1 The. 2:19-20).
A. Each of us is bound for one of two destinies:
1. Eternal fellowship with God (Phil. 1:23; 1 The. 4:16-18).
2. Eternal alienation from God (Lk. 16:19-31; 2 The. 1:8-10)
B. The choice is ours to make, while opportunity lasts
1. Hebrews 5:9
2. Revelation 22:17
C. There is even now no treasure we ought to cherish more dearly or guard more carefully than our fellowship with God and His people – it is the missing dimension we need so desperately.
1. It is in the gospel that God has purposed to “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10; kjv) … Colossians 1:19-23.
2. To “taste” what it means to have fellowship with God and with others is a powerful experience.
D. Can we imagine life without God and His people? Dare we “take one step alone”?