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In fact, any of you who know me know I'm either the fourth or fifth generation of preachers. "Fellowship, and breaking of bread and in prayers." Fellowship. Well here we find the beautiful picture of togetherness. What they had in that church that was so bad was they had the true and the false, the believing and the unbelieving, the Godly and the godless. The basis of, listen, the basis of fellowship is salvation and the nature of fellowship is it's togetherness. I think that there are variations in pay for the pastorate.
And they used to say that I - in our church, when I grew up, we had little stickers they stuck on your head. If you were sort of average, you got a red sticker and if you were bad, you got a black sticker. I just can't get together in God's work with somebody who's not a believer and I think that's why we have to emphasize the Church is pure. The early Church was together, first of all, because they were all saved. "Many signs and wonders were done by the Apostles and all that believed were together." Boy, what a statement that is. ICorinthians1 says, "I wish you had the same mind, the same opinions, and you all spoke the same thing." You say oh, man. The Lord doesn't want to just stamp us out all the same. In Romans15 it says that "We would with one mind and one mouth glorify together the Lord Jesus Christ." I would that you had the same mind, that you had the same attitudes, the same opinions and speak the same things. They were together, and they had all things common. That meant that anything I owned was yours if you needed it more than I did. I believe that there are differences in needs in families where the children would make a difference, how many you had and what your responsibility to them was. They just had a wonderful, loving sharing response to each other."And they," continuing Verse46, "daily with one accord in the temple." Isn't that great? And if somebody had a need and you had a piece of land, you sold your land and gave them the money and said here, meet your need. And, you know, we all just kind of fall at the same level, don't we?
And I can remember growing up with stickers on my head as a little kid and spending a great portion of my life in the church. And all of those basically having to do with a commonness, a common partnership. Grace Community Church has one requisite for membership. That you love the Lord Jesus Christ and have received him as your Savior. Because you're in the fellowship and if God accepts you in His fellowship on that basis, we're not going to set any higher standard or any different one. Secondly, we find not only were they a saved Church but they were a sharing Church. I believe there are differences in what our economics are to be in the church. And you find over the fourth chapter where Barnabus sold a piece of land to meet somebody's need. They were together and it was manifest every day as they continued with one accord. They thought the same thing in the temple, and they were breaking bread from house to house. The breach which we break, is it not the fellowship of the body of Christ? We come to the table, there's no rich and there's no poor, there's no smart and no dumb, no big and no little, no black and no what, no nothing. And I really think that we need consciously and continuously to be obedient to the Lord in sharing at His Table.
And if you were to ask me out of my own background to define the term fellowship, I'm afraid what I'd come up with might not be Biblical. Fellowship is much more than that and I want you to see tonight as we examine the pages of the Word of God just precisely what the Spirit of God delineates to us as the truth about fellowship. God said, "It is not good for man to be alone." God created man to be a fellowshipping preacher. I don't think the church ever is teaching communism, where you dump it into one pot and dole it out equally. How long has it been since you had somebody from the fellowship of Grace Church over to your house and you had dinner with them and broke the bread around the Lord's table right there in your meal together? Now, you know, we have a lot of people at Grace Church but I wish we had 100,000 more that knew Jesus Christ as part of the crowd in here. Or crowded in somewhere where they could get taught. Listen, He's not just saying is it not the remembrance of it, it's the very fellowship of it. Just all sinners with nothing to offer and nothing to bring, saying before God, we have this in common. Paul Chilick, who was a well-known theologian to some, said "Fundamentalism has spelled the death of the sacraments." It's an interesting quote. And we ought to just remind ourselves that that's what started it all. Because for one thing, it debilitates you from ministering to somebody else.
Fellowship to me was a linoleum floor in the basement of the church with a shuffleboard court on it, red church punch and stale chocolate chip cookies. Now to begin with, just a definition, the word fellowship in the Greek is koinonia, a very familiar term to those of us who've been Christians for any length of time. He created man for a relationship with other men and other women for his fulfillment and, in fact, with God Himself. What it's saying is, those people, out of their togetherness, were selling possessions to give money to people when the people had the needs. And if we want Grace Church to grow, it isn't so much that we've got to go out and put up big posters and stuff and put up big sign boards, Repent or Else. If we want to just knock the world off their pins, all we've got to do is just get together. I love, I love to come to the Lord's Table better than I love to preach and that's saying a lot because I really love to preach. When you come to that table, you commune with Christ and you commune with every other believer gathered there. Fundamentalism with all of its zeal, fundamentalism with all of its evangelism, has maybe gone flying right on by the whole concept of worship, the whole concept of communing with Jesus Christ at his table. Beloved, when we have a communion service here, you ought to be here. I don't care what your plans are, you ought to be here. If you're in the family, you ought to be here, gathered with the rest of us worthless sinners, drowning in grace at the foot of the Cross. You know, when you come to the Lord's Table, it kind of visualizes the fellowship. If you're a Christian and you're in the fellowship, you can't sin without affecting the fellowship. And that's to their loss, because you're uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit to minister in a special way. But where you continue in sin without really dealing with it and repenting of it and turning from it, you put yourself in a situation where you violate the fellowship with God and you violate the fellowship with other believers. If I had some sin in my life, if I started doing something on the side that, you know, I don't know, get in some crooked business deal and I'm making money on the side and all of sudden sin starts taking over my life and I stand up here, believe me, I will not minister in the power of the Spirit of God. You can't be the family priest, dad, and minister in holiness to your family unless you live in holiness.
The word koinonia is a common word in the New Testament. And I really believe that the church has to be a fellowship. "Then they that gladly received His word," Peter's word on the Day of Pentecost, he's preaching here, "were baptized and the same day there were added to them about 3,000souls." So there was the birth of the church. And if we begin to love each other, Jesus put it this way, "By this shall all men know that you're my disciples if you have," what? You see, it's the symbol because it pictures that act which provided the basis of our fellowship. But I love to come to the Lord's Table because I just love the reality of the focus on the very emblem of our fellowship. My only regret, I suppose, is that I don't come to the Lord's Table as often as I should come. Because they had such an overwhelming love for Jesus Christ they were driven to celebrate the pouring of that love and they had such a great love for each other, they were driven to commune at the very basis of that fellowship, the Cross of Christ., "This do in remembrance of me," there was a lot more to it than that. It's in remembrance but more than just a kind of a memorial ceremony, I believe when we come to the Lord's Table we literally commune with the living, resurrected Christ. When I go to the Lord's Table, I kind of feel like one of the 12 gathered about the table at the Last Supper. Christ is the head and we're just all the family gathered there. We all take the cup; we all take the bread, because we're all the same. For another thing, you lose the joy of your salvation so you can't help to cause joy in someone else. No, all your sin is forgiven for His name's sake, it says in IJohn . So what's going to happen is all of you are going to be affected by my sin. Mom, you can't be all that you need to be to that man and those kids if your life isn't right.
It has to be more than coming in the back door, staring at the back of somebody's head for an hour and then leaving. There has to be a fellowship, not only from God's standpoint but I think from man's standpoint as well. We realize the problems of isolation and we desire to have meaningful relationships. "Love one for another."And Jesus even defined that. It was the death of Jesus Christ that provided the basis of our fellowship. I know why that early Church came to the Lord's Table every day. You know, when folks don't come to the Lord's Table I get anxious in my heart for them because you know another thing it does when you come to the Lord's Table? Because you can't study ICorinthians11 and you can't come to the Lord's Table unless you come worthily. Because if you come unworthily, you bring upon yourself crima in the Greek, which means chastening. If there's sin in your life, it's going to cripple and debilitate your ministry to them.
I was reading a book by a man named Larson who said this: "The neighborhood bar is probably the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church. You can tell people's secrets and they usually don't tell others or even want to. He said, "Love one another as I have loved you." And how had he loved them? As soon as we start bending down and washing each other's feet, the world's going to take notice of us. So the Communion which reminds us of that death becomes the symbol of our fellowship. In other words, you can't say oh, yes, I want to celebrate the Cross while you're entertaining sin in your heart because that would be a mockery. No matter what they do and no matter how sternly they're disciplined, and no matter how many times they are spanked and no matter how they violate the relationship they have with mom and dad by disobedience, they are still our what? You see that's why when a Christian sins, he's to repent. "I say the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons," to no God. You told me the nature of the fellowship is togetherness and sharing.
It's an imitation dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is a permissive, accepting and inclusive fellowship. The bar flourishes, not because most people are alcoholics but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers."Well, I think he's right. He has a deep need to be with people in a meaningful way. We desperately need to be a fellowship and as I look at Grace Church becoming larger and larger, with all of the mass of people that God has sent to us and I see the tremendous increase in the family of God at Grace, my heart cries out that we would never lose the sense of fellowship, we would never become an organization and I can see this even happening in my own life. Aristides' writing on Christianity in the second century wrote these words. "They obtain from all impurity in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world. Paul writing to the Corinthians says, "The cup of blessing, which we blessed, is it not the fellowship of the blood of Christ? How could you entertain the very sin for which He went to the Cross? Kevan in a very fine book on the subject says this. And if he doesn't repent, somebody's to go to him and them somebody else is to go to him and then the church is to go to him and then if he still doesn't repent, he's to be disciplined. In other words, he's saying, Gentile religion is not just neutral, it's demon-worship.
I think people are looking for somebody to talk to. Somebody to be loved by, even if it's only one night. The problem of trying to keep myself in a personal and close relationship with even the staff of Grace Church is a difficult thing. As for their servants or handmaids or children, they persuade them to become Christians by the love they have for them. The bread which we break, is it not the fellowship of the body of Christ? "He was absenting himself from the worship and from the Lord's Table. Because the church can't tolerate that kind of thing. You know, if a Gentile wants to worship a rock then a demon will impersonate the god he thinks is in the rock and do enough stuff to keep him stuck to the rock and that'll affect his mind. In the Corinthian church, some of them sinned so frequently and with such unrepentance that the Lord finally just took them home and got them out of the way because they were just fouling up everything.
Because the bigger the church gets, the broader the spectrum of administration, the broader the spectrum of a superficial kind of involvement. And when they become so, they call them without distinction brothers. For we being many are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread."You know what he's saying? The pastor went to see him and after they had talked over the issues involved, as they were sitting by an open fire, the pastor took the tongs from the hearth and separated the flaming coals and spread them all around the outer circumference of the open grate in the fireplace. In another few minutes, the coals lost their brightness and grew ashen and dull. So Gentile, false pagan systems of religion are demon-worship. And he says I would not that you should have fellowship with demons. Oh, the fellowship is always marred, always marred, always marred by the same thing. And in Verse30 he says, some of you have continued in sin to the point where you're weak and sickly and some of you are just dead. You see another reason, beloved, that the Lord wants you at His Table is because when you come to His Table you've got to face the issue of your sin because you're at the foot of the Cross again.
And the more well-known our church becomes and the more I am known, the more people say well, come over here and do this and come over there and do that and come over here and speak to this group, and pretty soon I begin to float away from the people I love the most and the people who mean the most to me and the people I need the most. Now you often hear people say well, Brother So‑and‑So is out of fellowship. I don't think a Christian can ever be out of fellowship. To be out of fellowship, in the New Testament use of koinonia would be to lose your salvation. Well you say well, what do you, how do you describe it when a Christian just doesn't seem to have it? "And these things," that is, all the spiritual principles of 1John, "write we unto you," not that you may stay in fellowship but that your what? They do not worship strange gods, and they walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them and they love one another. The pastor looked at his member and said, do you understand? Since God is holy and according to Habakkuk, "of pure eyes and to behold evil, cannot look upon inequity." Since God is holy, sin violates your relationship with him. You can't drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You're looking at a crucified Christ who was crucified for your sin, and you've got to deal with the reality of that. Now, we're not going to take time to develop all of these but I am going to run them by you for a moment.