Sermons & Sunday Schools

The Four-Fold Purpose of the Church: Christian Fellowship (Part 1)

In this sermon, Pastor Babij continues teaching on the purpose of the Church by discussing the importance of genuine Christian fellowship. Pastor Babij explains that, in participating in true fellowship with one another, Christians ought to be devoting themselves to shared relationships, partnering with other Christians to glorify God, and agreeing on the revealed truth of God’s Word. Such real Christian fellowship also ought to work itself out practically as Christians wake up thinking about Jesus and seek out others to talk to about Jesus.

Full Transcript:

This morning we are looking at what I’m calling the four-fold purpose of the church, which I have not gotten to yet. I’m looking at an introduction to that. And so this morning I’d like you to take your Bibles and turn to Acts chapter 2. Also we’ll be looking at other passages in 1 John and other places like Song of Solomon. That is in the Bible. You probably maybe have read through it, but it’s not a book that’s used or heard of much. I will be heading there, so you may want to start looking for that now.

This morning we are looking at Acts 2:42. It says:

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Let’s pray. Father, this morning as we look at the Word of God, I pray that You would impress upon our heart the same things you impressed upon the hearts of the people who first were part of the beginning of the birth of the church. Lord, nothing’s changed really since then. Only that You’re just continuing to add to Your church. And so, Lord, if people are here today and know Christ as their Lord and Savior, they’re part of that addition. So Lord, what’s being said here is just as important for us today as it was for them back then. And so I pray we would continue on and grow in our knowledge and wisdom of the things that we ought to know concerning being a Christian and the church. And I pray this in Your name. Amen.

Now we have been looking at what it means to be a Christian, what it means to live the Christian life after initial conversion. We have seen that to be a Christian means that a person becomes new and they undergo a complete change. That change is taking place in their thinking, in their mind. Your mind is is being transformed. Your actions are changing. Your words are changing. The direction of your life is changing. Your will is being actually overcome by the truth of Scripture. Now with this change, these first believers were also removed from what they had been and where they had been and are now joined to the church. They are now constantly found together with all who have believed the same message about Jesus Christ. Simply put, these first Christians had become a gathering together type of people, as all true Christians have done since. A real indication of new divine life is a drawing together of people who have that life in common.

The first thing these new believers wanted, in verse 42, is the apostles’ teaching. They wanted the fuller revelation that was coming out of the Old Testament, now given to the apostles. The apostles were now explaining some of what the prophecies were in the Old Testament and how it all pointed to the Messiah coming, to Jesus Christ coming in the flesh, into the world, to die in the cross, and to then give the Holy Spirit of God once He went back to heaven. The promise of the Father came, which is the Holy Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit filled those who are believing. The apostles’ teaching is what all true Christians want.

There’s a second thing found in our passage that these new believers desired, and therefore devoted themselves to it. And what is it? In verse 42, they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship. The article before the word is really “the” fellowship, the gathering together of believers. They wanted that. So the church was founded upon the revelation of God alone. The visible church on earth is a society of believing and holy persons whom God, by the gospel, has called from among mankind out of darkness into light to fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ.

Then the church, as a society, is set apart as an institution that is altogether different than any other earthly institution. There is nothing like the true church. It is unique and it has several distinguishing characteristics. First of all, the Bible says it’s holy, a group of people meeting together that has been set apart to God. Secondly, it’s spiritual. It was formed by the Holy Spirit through and for services of a spiritual nature, of people from all different tribes and nations made spiritual, blessed with spiritual blessings, living on spiritual provisions, and built up as a spiritual house of God. It was also independent. It’s independent from all human wisdom and authority. It is solely God’s plan, not man’s. It is also orderly. God does not call people into a gathering for confusion. He calls it for order, like it says in Corinthians:

But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

So the church is to be wholly regulated by the measuring reed and the line of the Word of God. That’s where we get our pointers from on how to do it. Also, the church is visible. All kinds of people are being received into the visible church fellowship when they profess their faith in Christ, give obedience to Him, and obviously after that, they are walking a holy life. Not a perfect life, but a holy life. That’s the direction of their life. So entering into church fellowship is called, in other passages, a joining to the Lord and a being added to the church. Like it says in verse 47 at the end:

And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Notice the Lord was adding that number, and the Lord is still adding that number. He’s adding that number today. So here’s a very important unique part of Christ’s church. It is this: the variety, the diversity, the multi-ethnicity of groups of people the Lord calls to Himself. The message of the gospel is a message for all kinds of people from all walks of life from all regions of the planet. So the Holy Spirit in every age revealed God’s truth to men, but at Pentecost, the day that the church was born, something special was happening. The holy spirit was allowing all kinds of people to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s plan of salvation in their own language. Many kinds of people were getting saved and called into the fellowship of believers, and that group of people was called the church.

Now if you take your Bibles and turn back to Acts chapter 2, you’ll find all those groups of people. To me, this is the miracle of the church. Notice what it says in Acts chapter 2, beginning in verse 8. Notice the eclectic groups of people that the Holy Spirit through the preaching of gospel was making clear to those listening. Verse 8 of chapter 2 it says:

And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?

And then Luke begins to list the groups of people. Parthian – they lived in what we know as modern Iran. They, of course, were never conquered by the Romans, so they remain remain bitter enemies to most people. Even today they seem to be that way. The Medes are the next one, partners in the empire of the Persians. You’ve heard of the Medes and the Persians from Daniel’s time. They were there in Jerusalem. They were hearing the gospel in their own language. The Elamites lived in southwestern Iran, part of the Parthian empire, the residence of Mesopotamia. They live between what was called the two great rivers. Of course Mesopotamia itself means “between the rivers”. So these people in great numbers were Israelites that were dragged in there during the Syrian and the Babylonian captivities. And so these people were now in Jerusalem and they were hearing the message in their own language. Remember, people being pulled out during this time, they weren’t speaking Hebrew anymore. They were speaking Assyrian. They were speaking Babylonian. And they were hearing the gospel and yet they were Jews. All kinds of things were happening.

Then the next one is Judea, Hebrew speaking Jews from Judea were also listening and hearing. And then Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia – all these regions of Asia minor had different groups of people living there and now also different Jewish populations were living there. And then districts of Libya and Cyrene – that was west of Egypt, the African continent of the Mediterranean Sea. Those people were there speaking African and of course whatever other dialects came out of that place. And then Jews in Rome were there as well as gentile proselytes. These were probably Greek speaking Jews. And then notice Cretans were there. They were from the island of Crete off the coast of Greece. Now remember what Titus said about the Cretans, right? They were liars and evil beasts and lazy gluttons. And they were there. And then of course the tenth group that was there was Arabs. Arabs were there, the Nabataean Arabs. Now some believe that the Nabateans were the ones who actually carved out Petra in the south, or at least the part of Jordan that is the interesting part to visit.

But just imagine all these groups of people were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, heard the word of God the gospel, and many of them believed. And these are the ones who were being added to the church. Could you imagine the obstacles that had to be overcome in order for them to meet together in the same place? You got religious obstacles. You got cultural obstacles. You have ethnic obstacles. You have dietary differences. You have customs that were completely foreign to the other groups of people. Then on top of all that, some of these groups of people had very bad history. And some of them were outright enemies. And the Spirit of God brought these people together, saved them, and they were eating meals together. They were worshipping God together with gladness. They weren’t arguing and fighting with each other. They were praising God together. That is the miracle the church. That’s why even today God brings together all kinds of cultures and all kinds of people with all kinds of Jews and Gentiles and bound and free and rich and poor and pagan and barbarian and people with red skin and yellow skin and black skin and brown skin and white. When He brings them together in one group and He begins to, by the doctrine of the apostles and the Word of God, drive out all the prejudices and all the baggage we bring into our Christian life and then brings them together to worship God because of Christ, that is a miracle. The world can’t do that. God can do that. When you have a church with a melting pot of multi-cultures, that brings glory to God. That’s what we ought to be doing. Some of these people of course had bad history with each other. Yet the miracle 3,000 people were saved by the Holy Spirit and came together, forming the church.

And what were they doing? well, if you look back to chapter 2 verse 42, there’s just some things I want the highlights specifically this morning – that of fellowship. It says:

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe;

And then verse 44:

And all those who had believed were together and had things in common; and they began selling their property…

And verse 46:

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.

That is a miracle. That is a miracle. That’s why you can go anywhere in the world, doesn’t matter where it is, and if people believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, are truly converted, have the Holy Spirit of God, it feels like you know them. All those barriers just kind of like wash away and you just have fellowship with them. That cannot happen, you understand? That cannot happen. That’s why we have wars, because of the things I mentioned and all little other things that are so insignificant, people have wars about. Someday, there will be no wars.

So these people became study buddies together. The apostles doctrine, they studied a specific thing. Then they shared spiritually and emotionally together, and that’s called fellowship. So real Christians desire true fellowship. Acts is actually giving the true picture of what God intended for His church. That is for people, once they become believers, to meet together, to hear the teaching from the Word of God, to enter into spiritual fellowship.

So this term fellowship has been described in ways that actually misrepresent the true meaning of it. Sometimes fellowship has pretty much been stripped of its biblical understanding. If you asked people: what is Christian fellowship, what would they tell you? Well, it’s a time of food and fun. It’s a time we’re meeting together for coffee and tea and some pastry item. Right? It’s chatting with each other about the past week. Or meeting in each other’s homes to play board games or playing games and sports together, and so on and so forth. You get these kind of answers. Now, these activities are not wrong and sometimes they’re included in fellowship, but they do not add up to what the Bible means by fellowship.

True biblical fellowship encompasses something vital. When we we become Christians, we become one. We enter into a new community that is united by certain bonds and that community now becomes permanent. See, they were devoted to fellowship. So Christian fellowship is much deeper and sweeter than secular fellowship. Bible fellowship means spiritual communion, a joint partnership, a joint sharing with others. So today I really want to consider six biblical observation surrounding the term Christian fellowship, which I’ll probably only get to three and then pick up the other three next week.

And the first observation is that by way of what is the definition of Christian fellowship? Koinonia is the Greek word. You’ve heard that word. I’m sure that’s a popular word. It includes actually three things. Every other place it’s not always translated as fellowship. Sometimes it’s translated with another word, but it’s the same Greek word. The first thing that we see in this definition is that it includes a relationship, a sharing together in a relationship. In Acts chapter 2, the first Christians were not devoting themselves to social activities. They were devoting themselves to a relationship, a common life shared with other believers, a sharing of the very life of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Now take your Bibles and turn the 1 John 1:3 from a minute. Of course, there’s two things in that verse that become important to us when we consider this, but it really does focus in on what is the main definition of Christian fellowship, especially in relationship to the relational part of fellowship. So the common life share with other believers is a sharing of the life of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit. 1 John 1:3 says this:

what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

If you noticed in that passage of Scripture, we’re talking about having fellowship with each other in a relational way and with the Father and the Son, a relationship with Them. Now that also means it pushes out any idea we have of religion. We’re not brought into a religious system when we become Christians. We’re brought into a relationship with God. That’s completely different. So it’s not about the building. The building is not the church. You’re the church. So wherever you go, you’re the church. Wherever you and I go, you are the church. So fellowship starts when we have a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And something unites us in a common faith based on the proclamation concerning the historical Jesus and His divine and human nature as Lord of salvation and in His Messianic identification. So that means that fellowship is the body life of the church. It is a sense of people belonging to the true and living God and to one another because we have received the gospel message about the biblical Jesus.

Just consider for a moment that christians are all born of the same Father. They’re all bought by the same price – the blood of Christ. They are all members of the same body. They’re all taught by the same Spirit and He uses the same book – the Word of God, the Bible. Christians are all walking on the same path. What path is that? The path of faith. Until we have sight, Christians are all serving the same Master. They’re all heirs of the same inheritance. And they are all heading in the same direction. We’re heading home. While we’re heading home, we’re looking for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. That means that for us to fellowship with God is the essence of what it means by this word the Scripture uses.

There’s a second thing that’s included with the definition of this word, and it’s the word partnership – sharing together in a partnership. Actually the word is used in Philemon 1:17, where it says:

If then you regard me as a partner,

there’s that word “koinonia” that Paul uses. Accept him as you would me. So Christians are in a partnership with each other to obtain an objective. We all have an objective. And what is that objective? The objective is to glorify God. Therefore, biblical fellowship includes the idea of an active partnership in the promotion of the gospel and of the building up of believers. So when we say: let’s have some fellowship together, it has to include focus on the Lord Himself, His word, and His works. It’s just like what it says in Philippians, where Paul said to the church of the Philippians:

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, and with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

That becomes the motivation and the goal and the objective that we have as Christians when we become believers. That’s what the church does. It is first a sharing with our fellow believers the things that God has made known to us about Himself, in hope that we made thus help them to know Him better and enrich their fellowship with Him. So first of all fellowship is a relationship. Secondly, it’s a partnership. When you get a partnership with somebody else, there’s a closer bond than just friendship. There’s other ties that bring you in to that relationship and that’s the same with believers.

Then a third thing that’s included in that is: you are part of a distribution ship. That means you are sharing material possessions with those in need. And I read that in already in Acts chapter 2 where it says:

All those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property…

Now, why were they selling their property and possessions? Because a lot of the Jews that became christians had no synagogue to go back to, and they probably had no job that day because they lost their job. Many times their family would throw them out of the family structure of the home because they’ve came to Christ, so they had nothing. So others who were wealthier in the body would get together and they would say: we need to help these people and we need to share what we have with them and get them on their feet because God is going to provide for His people through His people. That’s what He does. This is not the only place this word is actually used. “Koinonia” is the word sharing here. So Romans 12:13 says:

contributing to the needs of the saints…

The word “contributing” is the word “koinonia”. And then 2 Corinthians 9:13:

Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,

“Contribution” – the word “koinonia” is used there. And then Hebrews says:

And do not neglect doing good and sharing,

There’s the word “koinonia”.

So we have this sense that fellowship is a relationship. It includes a partnership with that person and then it includes a community of distributors, a sharing community. A willingness to share our possessions with one another is a very important aspect of true biblical fellowship. The fellowship of sharing our possessions with the body is a tangible recognition that we are in a community relationship with one another and have partnership with each other for the goal to glorify God. When one member of the community is needy, we desire to meet that need. The spirit of God is doing that in all our hearts. In other words, we’re not so stingy anymore. We are freed up. Our view of money and wealth changes when we come to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our tent pegs are loosened a little bit on this earth and we’re not so ready to hold on to our possessions as something that somebody has to pry their fingers off them to get ahold of them.

In fact, it was an interesting thing. This past week, I was visiting my mom. My mom’s going to be 89 in a month. She’s been bugging me and my wife to clean out her garage. Now this is a massive project. I looked at it and I wanted to leave. Anyways, she says: I can’t believe one day I thought all these things were so important, but now I just want to give them away and throw them out. See, she’s at the end of her life. She realized she doesn’t need any of this stuff anymore. We need to get that now, not at the end of our life. It’s not about possessions. Possessions can be taken away from you like that. We can lose all our money and all our 401k and 403b and all our stuff in an instant in this world we live in. What are we going to do if that happens? You know what the church’s going to do? Nothing. Well, in the sense that we’re going to pray a lot more, I bet. And we are going to meet each other’s needs. If they take everything away, we’ll meet under the oak tree. We’ll meet in the basement. We’ll meet somewhere. See, it doesn’t affect the church in the sense of it may change what we do. It may put a burden on us we never had before, but it’s not going to change. Hell will fight against the church, but it will not eradicate the church.

So that brings me to another observation. It’s this: what’s the basis for Christian fellowship? Well, the basis, number one, has to be a detection of new life. John 1:12 says:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

All through church history, you have little groups of people meeting together, believing the same truth, knowing the same Lord, having their lives changed in the same fashion, holding to and growing in the same teaching, and praying together because they met Jesus Christ. Big group, small group – that doesn’t matter. That’s still the church. So you and I before conversion, we were dead. We had no spiritual hunger. We had no desire for the bread of life or a river of the water of life. We had no craving for the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We had no thirst for righteousness. Everything in regard to God’s grace and all spiritual things were dead. We were spiritually unresponsive until the Spirit of God brought the Word of God to us, quickened us, and made us alive, gave us the gift of faith and repentance. And what happened? We were born again into God’s family. We were quickened by the Spirit, made alive to the things of God, and to a relationship with God that we never had before. So there was spiritual movement, which was proof of spiritual life. Is there still spiritual movement in your life? That the Spirit of God is stirring your soul? That you’re still alive spiritually? You still desire what God would want you to desire?

If you’re right there still in 1 John, if you look at 3:14, the proof of spiritual life is this: we know something.I love that word in 1 John. Here’s a bunch of christians and now the things they didn’t know, now they know. What do they know? Look at verse 14 of chapter 3. It says:

We know that we have passed out of death into life,

Did you know that? I hope you are here today and you know that. And then what’s the proof?

Because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.

So the basis of Christian fellowship – there’s got to be new life. You just don’t walk into a church, and you don’t just get up one day and you’re a believer. The Spirit of God has to work on you. The Father has to draw you. You have to be convicted of your sin.

On my vacation, I was recently at a baptism service. People were coming and giving very short testimonies. Nobody out of the three or four people that were being baptized ever said that they were saved from their sin and trusted in Christ. Matter of fact, Christ and sin were never mentioned. Then I would say: why are you get baptized? So you can follow God? That’s very generic when you say: I want to follow God. No, you want to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Jesus Christ, who gives you His spirit and brings you into the family of God miraculously and makes you new. That’s why you get baptized. You don’t get baptized because you want to join a church or you want to do what’s right. Turn over a new leaf. That’s not what the Bible says. There’s an understanding that you are no longer under God’s condemnation. You have an understanding that you have entered into a new state of being as a Christian. You’ve gone from a place of merely talking about God to knowing Him. You’ve gone from a place of merely speaking about Christ to living for Christ. You have an understanding of this life-guarantee of eternal life. You understand and you have experienced that yourself is depreciating. The more you grow in Christ-likeness, our person itself is passing away. There begins the process of great reduction of self when you become a believer. Or we could never have partnership with each other. We could never have a relationship with each other. We can never share with each other if that’s not the case. So we can have fellowship with those who possess the same life.

Of course, a second thing under the basis of Christian fellowship is that there’s got to be an agreement of biblical truth. What is that? The apostles’ doctrine. We already covered that. Then there’s the condition that is part of the basis about Christian fellowship. Now if you’re still there in 1 John, look at chapter 1 verse 7. And what’s the condition? The condition is this: walking in the light. Before you walked in darkness. When you become a Christian, you are now walking in the light. You know the difference between operating room light and soft light, right? Soft light is like a yellow light. Operating room light is like white white white. But when you go into an operating room, you see everything. That’s the point. The doctors need to have the light to be able to see what they’re doing and see everything going on. Well, the spirit of God’s light on your sinful life is even brighter than that. It’s exposing you. Look at what it says in 1 John 1:7:

but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,

There’s that word. So there’s a condition here for me to fellowship with God. I do want to say something though. When we become believers, our relationship with God can never be broken, but our fellowship can. And it can be broken by sinfulness, by not walking in the light. Wanting to get back into the darkness so nobody knows what you’re doing. Let’s hide everything. You don’t want to be an open book. Christians, you should want to be an open book, right? This is my life. This is who I am. I’m like this in private. I’m like this in public. This is who I am. That’s the way it ought to be, because that’s what the Spirit of God is doing on you. And why? Because God walks in the light. He’s in the light. He’s in His blazing light. As we walk with Him, He exposes our darkness. He exposes the remaining sin in our heart. And what do we do with it? If we continue to read in 1 John 1:9, it says this:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The blood application in this passage of Scripture is not automatic. Yes, positionally before God, when you get saved, you are perfect in heaven. But He left you here. So practical righteousness means I need to confess my sin. When you confess your sin, do you think God’s surprised? He already knows it. You’re agreeing with God in confession about something He already knows about you. So I want to confess my sin. And when I do that, notice what it says, it says that His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness. That means that anything else is going on in my life when I regularly confess my sins, He’s keeping me clean. He’s keeping Christians clean so they can be used by the Spirit of God to use their gifts and build up the body.

This Christian fellowship is not only conditioned by walking in the light, but it’s maintained by repentance and confession of sins. And we do that on a regular basis as Christians. We do want to confess our sin. We can’t live with habitual pattern of sin. It drives Christians crazy. We have to be clean. We have to cleanse ourself by confession. Thank the Lord that the power of the blood is efficacious today and tomorrow, until we get to heaven. It’s powerful. it will cleanse you from everything. There’s nothing more powerful than the blood of Christ. Remember, it’s not just the blood that was shed on the cross two thousand some years ago. It’s the power of the blood today to cleanse me of my sin. When I get up from confessing, I know that God is faithful. He is faithful to keep His promises to me. Are you faithful to keep His promises to Him by not going back to that sin? That’s what happens with a believer. See, we’re different. Everything is different about us. And so that’s very important for Christian fellowship.

And then the last thing this morning is this: the privileges of Christian fellowship. I’ll do the first part of it, because it is a privilege to be a Christian. It is a privilege to be a Christian. But it answers the question: with whom do I have fellowship? With whom do I have fellowship? If you’re still there in 1 John, look at chapter 1 verse 3. It says this:

what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His son Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:9 says this in the same way:

God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

He is talking to all believers. We’re called into fellowship with God, a relationship with God. In other words, when Christ takes His church to Himself, that is the day of His marriage, because the church is His bride. The church is His wife. The fellowship Christ has with His saints is like that which a loving husband and wife have with each other. That’s how God views it. In this relationship, there are some things that are common both to Christ and to the saints.

The first thing is this: (just think of it in the marriage relationship) there’s a mutual committal of each other in the marriage union. I’m committing myself to this person alone. I’m committing myself to be faithful to them, to be of one mind with them, to be of the same spirit with them.That’s what I am doing. That’s what I want to do in my marriage relationship. It is the same in the relationship that we have with Christ. A second thing is a mutual love. There’s a mutual love for each other, rising out of our union with the other person in a marriage bond. On Christ’s part in that relationship, He loves His church. He desires to enjoy fellowship with His spouse. Christ gives Himself freely to us to be our Christ, to be our beloved. To fulfill all the purposes of His love, of His mercy, of His grace, of His glory to you and I. He’s promised to do that all over the place in Scripture. But on the part of the saints in that relationship, all that is required is their free willing agreement to receive, embrace, and submit to the Lord Jesus as a husband, to abide with Him, and then to subject our souls to Him as the ruler of our life. That’s what’s required of us. Lord, take me and use me. I want to follow you.

Now, one of the things that I discovered along the way is that we don’t always get that. What I mean by that is that we don’t really realize how much God loves His children. We really don’t. And that’s why I’d like you to take your Bible and turn to Song of Solomon. Now I’ll give you some time to find it. Some say that this book is about God’s love for His people and His people’s love for Him. If you ever read through the Song of Solomon, you’ll find that it’s a very intimate book. It does not pull any punches about intimacy, sexual intimacy too, with a husband and his beloved. But in that book, it is demonstrating to us as believers that this is a picture of how God loves us. He loves us with this kind of love. Just a few passages, look at Song of Solomon 2:16. The first part of that verse says:

My beloved is mine, and I am his;

Then it describes this relationship that a believer or one of God’s people has with Him as a delicious banquet. This fellowship with God, with Christ, as believers is like a delicious banquet. Now just imagine when you go to a banquet. A banquet is not just a party. A banquet is you lay out everything. Everything is usually good. There’s an abundance of things. There’s food. There’s celebration. It is a festival. And it usually is not a short event. It’s usually a long event. It’s usually focused in to celebrate someone. Now if you look at Song of Solomon 2:4, it says this talking about the beloved:

He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.

So what is the celebration at the banquet in Song of Solomon? The banner, the whole theme of the banquet is that He loves me, and I want everybody to know that he loves me. That’s what this banquets about, that He loves me. Well, if you remember back in Revelation 3:20, remember this verse. I know you know this verse. It says:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

There it is. It’s that picture of entering into a relationship with someone, sitting down with them at a meal, giving the picture of what? I’m at peace with you. I have a relationship with you. I’m going to enjoy this meal with you. And it’s going to be a good meal. It’s going to be a delightful meal. It’s going to be a meal that brings our relationship closer together.

If you go through the New Testament, you’ll find that the banquet comes up here and there in Scripture. It’s giving the same thing. People are invited to it. They sit down. They are going to be served by the One who loves them. In this case, it is God Himself who loves us. He loves us. We have to be reminded of that every day.

Now if you look at Song of Solomon 2:5, it says this:

Sustain me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, because I am lovesick.

That’s biblical language. I’m lovesick. The soul is lovesick and overcome with the mighty power of God’s love. What are we learning when we study the Word of God? We’re learning that believers are actually honored by Christ. Believers are actually a great delight to the Lord. Sometimes we look at ourselves only in our sin, as these vile creatures that need to be cleaned up all the time, right? But when you look at Scripture, you find that that’s not how God looks at His children. He looks at His children in an honoring and delightful way. He actually delights in us. If our minds were changed and we were thinking about that more, how we do things and how we live our everyday life would change. Just take a wife who has a husband that really loves her. There’s something about that day that changes when there’s real love, because there’s real trust that goes with that. Along with that there is a joy that I’m going to go back and I’m going to see my beloved again, and we’re going to talk about the day, and we’re going to have a relationship and a partnership together. See, that is what it is to be a Christian and know that God loves you.

I’m using these the human and allegories because that’s all we have sometimes to describe this, but nonetheless you find passages of Scripture like this in Zephaniah 3:17. It says this:

the Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, he will be quiet in His love, he will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Can you think of God seeing you and exulting over you with shouts of joy because you have been bought by the blood of Christ. You have been brought into the family of Jesus Christ. You are His possession and His love is upon you. The banner over us is: He loves me. He loves me. And that is never going to change. Even when we were yet to confess our sins, it has not and will not change the love of God towards us. Even when we’re in the middle of our sin as a believer, it does not move or change the love of God. What it does is that the love of God moves us to see our sin and hate it and to confess it. Why? We don’t want the fellowship with God to be messed up. I don’t want to live a secret double life as a Christian. I want to be an open book. Why? Because God sees everything. And I begin to think that. And I begin to live with that mindset.

One more passage of Scripture I want you to turn to in this respect – John 14:18-24. Of course in this passage of Scripture, this is right before Jesus is going to go back to heaven. And He’s telling His disciples: if I go back to heaven, I’m sending you another helper. I’m sending you another comforter, one just like Me. Look how he says it to His disciples:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, You will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.

Let’s go down to verse 23:

Jesus answered and said to him, “if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word what you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

Now just look at that language there, that I will come and I will disclose Myself to you. I’ll let you know who I am. I’ll let you know what I’m doing. I’ll let you know what my plan is. I’ll let you know about you and about the enemy and about the world. I’ll let you know about everything so you can live with that understanding, knowing that this world is not the end. But the kingdom of God is going to be the place we’re looking forward to. And then He says: then I will come and make My abode with you. I’ll move into your heart. Of course, He’s talking about the Holy Spirit because the next passage of Scripture talks about the Spirit. That’s why when a Christian becomes a Christian, who moves in? The Holy Spirit moves in, the permanent dwelling of the Holy Spirit of God. When that takes place, then we’ll finally learn how to love God, but we’ll also learn that God loves us. That God loves us. As I said before: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” is the deep end of the pool.

How practically does our fellowship with God work out on a day by day basis? When we walk with Him, when we talk with Him, when we think on Him. It could be just that we are having our quiet time. That we’re like the psalmist, who says: in the morning, o Lord, you will hear my voice. I get up thinking about God. I get up thinking about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He’s done and how He’s working in my life. And I want to pray to him. So that’s part of my fellowship with Him. I’m fellowshipping. Then of course when I pray, like the psalmist says, delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. So I am delighting myself in God. Some people want the desires of their heart without delighting in God. Can’t have that. You have to delight in God and God gives you what you really desire, what you really should have. That’s the point. When I’m delighting in Him, I’m thinking of Him. And then of course in Psalm 25, it says:

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day.

There’s this continual meditation upon what you’re learning, what God is teaching you, what God has done for you, who God is, how much God loves you, and all the things that go with that. Then there is this sharing with others what God has done for you. You’re talking about God to others, about the Lord Jesus Christ to others. Like the psalmist says in Psalm 63:

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise you.

Notice what’s better than life – His love towards us. It’s better than life. Why is it better than life? Because God’s love towards us abolishes death. It’s nothing but life. So worship Him for who He is. Thank Him for what He has done. Give God your love through your obedience. Humbly confess your sins to Him in order to maintain an ongoing fellowship with God.

A vertical aspect of fellowshipping provides the foundation of a horizontal aspect of fellowshipping amongst other believers. Remember, our fellowship is first with God and then with others. I’ll look at that next week.

Let’s pray. Lord, thank you this morning for Scriptures that illuminate our mind, that show us who we are, and who You are that free us. As You said, Lord, the truth shall make us free. It does make us free. It frees us from all kinds of wrong thinking, all kinds of wrong philosophies, all kinds of taboos, all kinds of prejudices. It levels the ground before You so we can, once we come to Christ, fellowship with You. Then, Lord, I pray that our fellowship would spill over into our fellowship with each other. And I pray, Lord, that as the world looks on, we will be known by our love. First the love You have for us and continue to have for us. And then the love we have for each other and for You. And I pray this this morning in Christ’s name. Amen.