Our Fellowship with the Father and the Son
By Al Stoner
“And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (I Jn. 1:3).
Introduction. In our day the significance of the term “fellowship” has been greatly obscured because of the word’s misuse. Men today speak of fellowship halls, fellowship banquets, fellowships of various Christian organizations, and even “fun, food, and fellowship.” But as the word itself indicates, fellowship is a close union among "fellows", whether between men and other men, between the Father and the Son, or between God and men. With regard to men's inclusion in this fellowship, it came at great price, namely the offering up the Lord Jesus Christ for us all. The fellowship of which we are speaking was purchased with the blood of God's Son. Our purpose in this article shall be to uncover the meaning of the word “fellowship” as it is used in Scripture. We shall always be the better for giving the due attention to what the Scripture is saying.
The Fellowship’s Involvements. When we speak of men having fellowship with God, we are speaking of God and men being together, and delightfully walking together, and being wonderfully and perfectly joined together “in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10). It entails God imparting His mind and thoughts to redeemed men and women, and they in turn bearing their mind and thoughts to Him through the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Fellowship involves walking in a lively awareness of sins being forgiven by Christ. Those who are in Christ are given, in measure, to enter into the fellowship that is had between the Father and the Son, as the Lord Jesus declared in His prayer in John chapter 17.
If we speak of men having fellowship with other men, we are saying that such ones are blessedly joined together in heart and mind to the extent that all the involved individuals are walking in the light (cf. I Jn. 1:7), just as John declared in his first epistle. Fellowship is not effortless on the part of men, because we are yet in the body of this death. Sin has now been put away so that the door is now opened for fellowship with God, and fellowship with believing men and women. But constant effort must be put forth by men to walk in the light, and to abide in the Father and the Son, in order for the fellowship to be realized. We are not striving to have fellowship, per se, but rather to walk and abide in the light, which is the domain where the fellowship is enjoyed. We are summoned of God to walk in the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, a light that draws attention to the blessed accomplishments of the Lord Jesus Christ in His putting away sin from before the face of God.
Another of the involvements of fellowship with the Father is that of walking before or unto Him with all the heart. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9). It is as the strange woman of Proverbs (cf. Prov. 23:27). When left unchecked, and if our affection is not set on things above, the heart will certainly wend its way to the couch and bed of other loves.
Let us, therefore, resolve daily to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength! And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus! "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2). As we go on, we shall see that these are some of the involvements of fellowship. As new creatures in Christ we have been divinely equipped to glorify God in our body and in our spirit.
Some Moral Entailments. “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Ps. 94:20). And if a throne of iniquity can have no fellowship with Him, neither can a heart of iniquity. But in the new covenant, hearts are now purified by faith (cf. Acts 15:9). We shall also affirm here that fellowship with the Father and with the Son is rooted in righteousness and true holiness. It is not unrighteous, or contrary to law, or what men call today amoral. It is not had in ignorement of God's absolute righteousness and holiness. And yet this fellowship is enjoyed by men and women and children that have obeyed the gospel, because their sins have now been put away by Christ. Let us give thanks unto the Father for the gracious provision which He has made in our behalf!
A Summons to Reason. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Is. 1:18). This same voice may still be heard in the present age. Come now, let us reason together! "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin." And, "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." And again,"If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [or make alive] your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11). As we reason together with God on such matters as these mentioned above, we are having fellowship with Him with regard to the blessed involvements of our redemption in Christ.
The Matter of Abiding. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me” (Jn.15:4). Our abiding in Christ, and Christ's abiding in us, is an essential part of fellowship. Without this abiding there is no fellowship. Abiding carries with it the thought of continuing, standing, enduring, dwelling, tarrying, remaining, and being present in Him.
As we are abiding we are present with Him, and He is present with us; we are continuing in Him, and He is continuing in us; by faith we are dwelling in Him, and He, through the Spirit, is dwelling in us; we are remaining in Him, and He is remaining in us; we are tarrying in Him, and He is tarrying in us. The abiding is real, even though unseen. Our abiding in Him is done by faith, and His abiding in us is realized by faith. The abiding is not symbolic or metaphorical. Fellowship with the Father and with the Son always results in fruit bearing. There can be no barren relationship with the living God and with the living Christ!
The Fellowship and Unity. “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” (Jn. 17:20-21). Fellowship entails union and unity, but not unity at any cost. It is not unity for unity's sake. It is unity on certain terms and under certain conditions! This is a unity that has been purchased by the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
The oneness, spoken of here by the Savior, is, as He said, "as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee." The Father and the Son are together the Supreme Archetype of acceptable union and unity that is to be had by men. The unity is to this end that, "they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me."
The Fellowhip’s Root and Fatness. “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Rom. 11:17). Fellowship with the Father and the Son, from this perspective, involves partaking, by faith, of the root and the fatness of the olive tree. And having fellowship with one another results when two or more are partaking of this root and fatness. The words “root and fatness” speak of “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Rom. 11:33). And these riches are for men to receive and freely partake of!
The Lord’s Table. “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 Cor. 10:16). The Lord's table is to be a time of fellowshipping with the Father and the Son over sins that have been forgiven and washed away. The cup commemorates a divinely appointed purging and cleansing agent. As our thoughts are drawn unto this “fruit of the vine” (Mt. 26:29) at the time of communion, we are given to taste afresh of sins that have been purged.
The bread commemorates that body of the Son of God that was broken in our behalf. Christ was bruised, His body was broken, and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. The time of the Lord's table was designed to persuade the saints anew that “One died for all” (II Cor. 5:14). That thought can get away from us. And if “One died for all, then are all dead, And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.”
Some Involved Jeopardies. “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (I Cor. 10:20). In our day the sacrifices offered to devils have simply taken a different form. Men and women today offer sacrifice to the idols that are called pleasures of this life, convenience, and covetousness. (Those who are in Christ are to use this present world, not abusing it.)
And with many today who make a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the drinking of the cup of demons and the cup of devils evidences itself in a subtle, but yet willful, conformity to this present evil world, of which Satan is prince. Wherever men and women are not offering up their bodies a living sacrifice, being transformed into Christ’s Image by the renewing of their minds (cf. Rom. 12:1-2), by default, they are being conformed to this present world, which is slated to be burned up when Jesus comes again with power and great glory.