Fellowship in the Spirit
( 2 Cor. 13:14, Rom. 8:5-11)
We had written concerning prophecy and it caused me to think of fellowship and what we refer to as prophetic. We use that word “prophetic” to describe conferences and ministries. We want to belong to the right group. We want to identify with some movement that makes us feel valuable. True identity and value comes from one source. God gave His uniquely born Son and sacrificed that Son of Man as the Lamb of God to redeem you and restore you to Himself. While our value is fixed on the cost God paid for us, that value is strengthened through relationship with other believers. We often hear the phrase, iron sharpens iron. More important I think is that the life of Christ might flow by the Spirit from each member of His body to other members. This is that life which every joint supplies. Read Eph. 4.
True fellowship is based on seeing another believer by the Spirit. True evangelism happens when we see another person the same way. Speak to a person’s spirit to awaken that one to Christ. No formula exists here. If we look at Jesus’ life, we do not find Him repeating some script to different individuals. The apostle Paul told his story of meeting Jesus repeatedly. He was “testifying” of Jesus Christ according to real experiential knowledge. Paul had met Jesus in profound fashion. Whatever level of experience we have had, ought to be the basis of our words of evangelism. Simply talking about truth has no power. A demonstration of the Spirit is necessary to have an impact. I don’t think that means only a visible miracle although we are encouraged to earnestly pursue such. See 1 Cor. 14:1ff. Our words can be the very arrows of the Lord to pierce a heart.
A man who was a Jew, Arthur Katz, shared this as his story. He shared a meal with a believer who had become a friend. As they sat and ate, that believer said, “What we need to do is wash one another’s feet.” I may not have the quote exactly correct. That word pierced Art Katz’s heart. He became a strong disciple of Christ and had a true ministry. His story caused me to see the value of those who had the teachings from God through the law and prophets, and then met the Savior, the Lord. This is the necessary basis for true fellowship. We must know the Lord for ourselves. As we truly grow in spirit, that fellowship can increase. Yet we grow unevenly. We go through ups and downs, mountaintops and valleys, well-watered and dry places. We must learn to bear with one another’s weaknesses. And we ought be ready to speak truth to one another with grace. Love does not seek its own but the other’s growth. We also must be ready to receive from others. Listen and receive with grace, and speak the truth with grace.
I often remember Jesus words to those gathered when Lazarus came out of his tomb. He was in graveclothes. He was wrapped. It was probably very ghastly, like a mummy. Yet it was not frightening, I don’t think. Jesus did this, it was amazing and wonderful! He called Lazarus out of his grave, his place of death. Jesus told them standing by to take off the graveclothes. Without minimizing the magnitude of the miracle, it speaks to us of spiritual resurrection. When we meet believers, those who responded to the Lord, and we find graveclothes on them, we ought to remove them. Speak life to their spirits. Strengthen them in their inner man. Listen for the Spirit to give you wants needed. Sometimes it is for us simply to pray. Too many times, in the church, we have locked people into their graveclothes, their old patterns.
True fellowship in the Spirit will bring true liberty. To be sure, correction is part of that. As we grow in fellowship, refining will come. The closer the human relationship, the greater the human friction. Marriage is a prime example. It is a place we learn grace. It should be so among the Lord’s people, preferring one another. This is not a catering to one another, or enabling, but allowing room for growth. We learn the difference between what we can offer and do to serve, and what needs to be between the Lord and another. True discernment and discretion are important qualities the Lord will develop in us all. May we cooperate with Him.
True fellowship in the Spirit will also bring ministry. That will be ministry that is initiated by God. The world has always needed that brand, that sort of work. That which is born, which is impregnated, of the Spirit is Spirit, that which is born of the flesh, of human stuff, is flesh. When many mature and gifted believers, prophets and teachers, came together in Antioch, it’s written that they ministered unto the Lord. They had a focus not on what they do but upon the Lord Himself. And I am sure they shared wonderful fellowship. Read the account in Acts. For over a year it was a gathering of believers and a thriving church. Out of that place of fellowship with the Lord and one another, the Holy Spirit spoke and sent out Saul and Barnabas. We have fellowship wit the Father, with the Son, and with one another by the Spirit.