Fellowship is powerful. It builds our faith, it builds our character, and it builds the church. Through fellowship, we learn to love, to encourage, to bless and to be blessed by others. Last week, we had dinner with some friends. At the end of our time together, one friend offered to pray. He mentioned this verse in Acts, and encouraged us all with it.
[Acts 2:42] – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
This is a well-known passage, and one which I have often prayed and declared for the church. Verses 46-47 reveal the outcome of a church so united in love:
[Acts 2:46-47] – “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
I love fellowship in Christ. I love that we can stand together, work to build God’s kingdom, love and help one another to grow in Christ. These passages in Acts give us a clear picture of how God sees fellowship, and how it impacts life, faith, and the kingdom of God. In them, I see the following aspects of fellowship explained – Doctrine, Meeting, Prayer, Joy and Salvation.
Earlier that night, while sitting at the dinner table, I remember feeling like I should ask a question to the group – “Has anyone read an interesting verse or passage in the Bible recently?” It sparked much discussion and I was glad to spend time sharing testimony and thoughts with my family in Christ. Acts mentions that the disciples “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…” One important aspect of fellowship is a dedication to sound doctrine, a desire and a passion for the truth that is found in Christ. Nowadays, there are so many sources of information around, so many suggestions and philosophical ideas. Do we know what is truth? How do we test what is true? Titus 2:1 exhorts us to “… speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine.” So, how do we do this?
Firstly, I believe that the truth of God’s word does not change. It is not affected by customs, or tradition, or a changing society. His truth is truth, and His word endures forever [Isaiah 40:8]. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,
“All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
We have a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, NOT because He is stubborn or old-fashioned, but because He is God. Real truth is not relative, it is truth according to God who made the heavens and the earth, and who gave each created thing life and purpose. How can we propose a truth different from God’s when He IS the truth?
Secondly, we need the spirit of God to show us the truth. 2 Thessalonians tells us not to quench the spirit, but to “test all things; hold fast to what is good.” John 16:13 says, “the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth…” The Spirit of God living in us reveals to us the truth of the Father. So, we need to pray and ask the Spirit to help us see more of God’s truth.
Finally, fellowship helps us to test what is right. God works through fellowship to sharpen our faith, to challenge us and to help us grow in His truth. We share what we are learning from God’s word, or how we are living out our faith. We encourage each other, and we also help one another to work through uncertainties and difficult situations. We discuss the word of God, pray together, and commit ourselves to seeking His truth. While we may not have an answer for everything, we know that the Bible is the infallible word of God, and we grow to know more about His character. As we seek God’s truth, He reveals it, and He helps us to walk in all His ways.
Fellowship is grounded in a love for God and a desire to walk in His ways. It requires a desire to seek out His truth and to help others to find it.
Acts makes multiple mentions of the disciples meeting together, eating together, and going from house to house. Reading this, there is a real sense of friendship, and a commitment to building relationship. Hebrews 10:24-25 gives us this instruction:
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is in the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
How can we grow together if we spend no time together? I once had a conversation with some friends about why people seemed to catch up over meals, or with food. We figured that perhaps it is because everyone needs to eat, so regardless of how busy we are, meal-time is rarely forgone. Perhaps it is also the enjoyment of food, something we can all enjoy together. Whatever the reason, eating together seems to be a part of building relationship. It also makes we think of what we do when we eat together. We might share meals, talk about the food, and also feel well nourished.
Fellowship requires relationship. We eat together, see each other’s homes, and spend time getting to know others more. When we commit ourselves to fellowship, we commit to building relationship with others. In doing this, we invest in the lives of others, getting to know more about their passions and desires. We each have different gifts, different opportunities and different times when we might encourage, challenge and grow another believer. We have times when we ourselves need encouragement, or a challenge from someone else. We share life with one another, taste God’s goodness together, and are nourished in spirit. As we do this, we find that we need fellowship, we need relationship, and we need this time to grow together. God is relational, and He has made us to be relational. It gives us joy, and encourages us to worship God more.
Ephesians 6:18 exhorts us to be “praying always with all prayer and supplications in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” Acts also mentions prayer as a central aspect to the fellowship of God’s disciples. Why should we pray when we fellowship?
I believe prayer help us see as God sees. It gives us vision to see His desires and His plans. It helps us see others as God sees them, and it allows us to work with Him to build His kingdom. When we pray together, we grow in our understanding of God’s love. We work as fellow workers in His field and fellow soldiers with Him on the spiritual battlefield. When we pray for each other, we practice love. We learn to walk through valleys, and over mountains with each other. We help to carry burdens, and we rejoice together. There is a power when we are united in prayer. It reveals the Spirit of God at work in us, binding us together in Him as One; and it reveals the power of God as He answers prayer and is glorified through our worship. Acts 2 also tells of how “… many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.” We can see the same miracles and testimony today as we fellowship together in prayer.
—————JOY AND SALVATION—————
What happens when we fellowship in God’s truth, building relationship with one another, and praying for God’s kingdom? Acts 2:26-27 tells us the following things resulted from their fellowship:
- Simplicity of heart
- Praising God
- Favour with all people
- More people coming to salvation
When I look at these rewards of fellowship, I feel greatly encouraged. Gladness and joy come from fellowship; simplicity of heart, or an “unhindered” heart when you look at the original Greek word; worship being cultivated; the favour of God being clearly seen by the world; and salvation. Fellowship grows our own faith – it cultivates joy, worship, testimony and a coming before God. However, it also grows the seed of salvation in others. John 13:35 says,
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Fellowship also shows the world God’s love, and through this, can bring many to Christ.
Let us not give up meeting together, but let us be committed to loving one another, praying, and praising God now and forevermore. Let His Spirit shine through His church!