A Fellowshipping Church
Acts 2:42b, 44, 46
Intro: We have already looked at several important characteristics of the early church.
1. They were a Receptive Church – vs. 41
2. They were a Doctrinal Church – vs. 42a
3. They were a Fellowshipping Church – vs. 42b
QUOTE: People go wrong in their fellowships before they go wrong in their doctrine. – John R. Rice
I. The Emphasis on Fellowship
I found it interesting that this portion of the series came at a time when social distancing has become the new wave.
QUOTE: Satan always hates Christian fellowship; it is his policy to keep Christians apart. Anything which can divide saints from one another he delights in. He attaches far more importance to godly intercourse than we do. Since union is strength, he does his best to promote separation. – Charles Spurgeon
He went on to say: Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude; but believers are not compared to bears, or lions, or other animals that wander alone; but those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect, that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.
ILLUSTRATION: When we were missionaries in South Africa, we did not have a church family right away. After being so involved in our home church and traveling the roads on deputation, we missed fellowship! We have always been right in the thick of everything pertaining to church. Grace and I both grew up in pastor’s homes where our kitchen table was always surrounded by church people, missionaries, evangelists, and other believers. One of the hardest things that we struggled with on the field was the lack of fellowship. We were starving to be with other Christians. I have a hard time understanding how some Christians willingly and voluntarily deprive themselves of the blessing of fellowship with other believers.
QUOTE: When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles, When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devils shouts for joy. – Corrie Ten Boom
The first church was A FELLOWSHIPPING CHURCH.
Of all the characteristics that we will study in this series, fellowship is mentioned at least three times.
SEE Acts 2:42b, 44, 46
- 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread,
- 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
- 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Notice the passage – “…they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship…”
Let’s examine that word as well as this characteristic of the early church.
If it weren’t important, God wouldn’t have put it in there.
GOD’S PROTOTYPE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH involved an unprecedented level of interaction and intimacy.
The benefits and blessings of fellowship are almost too numerous to list this morning.
The sign of a healthy church is a church were the members enjoy being in each other’s company.
They enjoy spending quality time together as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
We could spend an hour this morning looking at a number of places where the Lord Jesus Christ as well as many of the early church leaders were found spending time with one another and fellowshipping with one another.
Here are just a few examples:
- Luke 19:5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
- Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Luke 24 – on the road to Emmaus (Jesus had just spent 3 days away from them…)
- 13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
- 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
- 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
- 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
- 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
- 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
- 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
- 27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
- 28 And there they abode long time with the disciples.
- Acts 20:11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.
- Acts 21: 4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.
- 3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
- 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
- 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
II. The Essentials of Fellowship
• FELLOWSHIP: fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation
GREEK: koinonia (Koy-no-nee’ya)
Root word – koinos – meaning a partner, associate, companion; a sharer
All that believed were together…
This is a key fact – their common bond was their belief system.
The predominant element was the fact that they were believers.
Their doctrine was the binding element.
QUOTE: There is a brotherhood within the body of believers, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the common denominator. Friendship and fellowship are the legal tender among believers. – J. Vernon McGee
Their faith in Jesus Christ is what brought them together, and what held them together.
Biblical fellowship is based on a common faith; a common bond; a common belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
- 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
The Old Testament prophet Amos asked this question:
- Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
We should understand the biblical parameters for fellowship. Paul the Apostle said:
- Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Notice Paul’s teachings in II Corinthians 6 –
- 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
- 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
- 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
- 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
III. The Expression of Fellowship
Biblical fellowship speaks volumes – both to the church as well as the world.
- 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
- 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
QUOTE: Our love to God is measured by our everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays. – Andrew Murray
- 14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.
- 15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.
I Peter 4
- 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
- 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.