Stage 1


"My prayer is...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me..." John 17:20-23.
The prayer of Jesus reveals God's plan for true fellowship:

The Quality of Fellowship

"...just as you are in me and I am in you." Our fellowship together is linked to the quality of fellowship experienced by the Father and the Son. The depth of this love and unity is outworked by the Holy Spirit as we meet in regular fellowship. Christian fellowship then becomes a reflection of the fellowship of the triune Godhead.

The Basis of Fellowship

"...I in them and you in me." Christian fellowship only works because we have the same Spirit, making us one body (1 Cor. 12:14,20). This fellowship is based on:
"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body...and we were all given the one Spirit to drink" 1 Corinthians 12:12-1

Meeting Together

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching" Hebrews 10:25.
Regular fellowship between Christians is very important for it is through our fellowship that...

The believer grows in Christ

"From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" Ephesians 4:16 (read also verses 12-15).

God is glorified to the world

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" John 13:35 (see also 17:23).

Walking in the Light

"If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin" 1 John 1:6-7.
Our fellowship embraces the need to be open with one another. This is not something that is a prerequisite for fellowship. Rather it is a result of the trust that develops out of fellowship. This openness includes:

Removing the pretenses

So much of the world's fellowship is hypocritical - acting out a role. We can only know people to the extent to which they are prepared to reveal themselves. As we take off the social masks that we put up as barriers between each other, true fellowship begins to have an effect on each person. The love of Christ can then be expressed, not just in word, but from the heart.
"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart" 1 Peter 1:22 (see also 1 John 4:7,11-12).

Confessing our sins to others

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." James 5:16.
Part of our fellowship to one another is a mutual sense of responsibility. When we confess our sins to each other, this is the highest level of trust. We can then become the instruments of God's forgiveness and cleansing to one another.

Forgiving each other

For us to experience the continual flow of God's forgiveness into our lives, we must forgive one another.
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" Col.3:13.

Encouraging one another in obedience

Walking in the light means walking in obedience to the Lord (John 15:10). Fellowship has been designed by God so that each believer is continually encouraged not just to hear the word, but also to do it (James 1:21-22).
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" Hebrews 10:24.

A genuine concern for one another

No hidden motives of self gain should underlie our fellowship. Our desire should be to give, not to get.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" Philippians 2:3-4.

A laying down of one's life

"...Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" John 15:12-13.
Life involves more than physical life. It also includes our material possessions, our personal interests and preferences (James 2:15-16). This means a willingness to share one's self.
"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had" Acts 4:32 (see also 2:44-45).
This was a description of the New Testament Church. Their unity in fellowship was expressed on three levels: This is the outworking of true fellowship - not of outward rules and regulations. This depth of fellowship is a result of "walking in the light," and is the answer to the prayer of Jesus:
"...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you" John 17:21.


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