Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Test of Fellowship (Part 2)


SERIES:        Christian Living in a World of Chaos & Contradiction

SCRIPTURE:         1 John 1:7

SUBJ:       Fellowship with God

SUBTITLE:       The Test of Fellowship (Part 2)

SUMMARY:       The Christian life is viewed as a life of fellowship

SCHEME:       To desire to fellowship with fellow believers


1B Fellowship is tested on practical grounds (1:5-2:11)

1C Practical grounds of moral like-ness (1:5-7)

2C Practical grounds of confession of sin (1:8-2:2)

3C Practical grounds of obedience (2:3-6)

4C Practical grounds of love for God (2:7-11)

2B Fellowship is tested on relational grounds (2:12-17)

1C The Positive Relationship (2:12-14)
2C The Negative Relationship (2:15-17)

3B Fellowship is tested on Christological grounds (2:18-28)

1C The Contrast (2:18-21)
2C The Christological (2:22-23)
3C The Centrality (2:24-28)



Last week we began a section of John’s letter that seems to run from 1:5 through 2:28. This seems to be a single unit of thought. That unit of thought is that the Christian life is viewed as a life of fellowship.

This life of fellowship includes with other believes, with God, and with His Son, Jesus Christ. (1:3)

Since “fellowship” is first, extremely important, and second, very ambiguous to many people, we see in verses 5-2:28 that the claim and reality of fellowship can be tested. As a matter of fact it can be tested in at least three (3) ways:

  • Tested by practical grounds
  • Tested by relational grounds
  • Tested by Christological grounds

So, last week we began this first section, that fellowship can be tested on practical grounds. We said that this test on practical grounds was validated by at least four (4) things.

We began last week by looking at the practical grounds of moral like-ness. We were able to determine that the first test that is based on practical grounds is that of our moral liken-ness to Jesus Christ. Verses 5-7 contain at least three insights about the moral likeness to Jesus Christ that we are required to have.

God is the standard for moral likeness

This principle is clearly laid down. The only ones who can have fellowship with God are those who are like Him. Only those who live in or walk in the light can have fellowship with God.

God is light. God is absolutely pure and holy. There is not a speck of darkness, evil or sin within God. Therefore we must be the same if we are to enjoy fellowship with God.

The standard for moral likeness is absolute

God never changes. He is always pure and holy. Therefore anyone who desires to fellowship with God must have a habitual practice of being in the light. There must be a constant practice of holiness or righteousness to the standards of God.

Let me remind you that our theme is Christianity is a life of fellowship

This is a good reminder for us all that there are no lone rangers in the family of God. We need fellowship with God and with each other to maintain a practice of righteousness worthy of the Standard.

So, let’s now move to the third insight that helps us understand the required moral likeness to God in order to fellowship with God.

Truth for Today


Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising candor in television, Marghanita Laski, one of our best-known secular humanists and novelists, said, "What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me."

John Stott in The Contemporary Christian.

[Let’s move to…]

The third insight or truth about this moral likeness is that:

3C The Standard produces assurance (Vs. 7)

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Assurance is one of the greatest comforts and anchors of the Christian life. This is not a guess so/hope so program.
Christianity is not a guessing game or a game of suspense where we have to wait until “game over” to see if we “made it or not.”

Verse seven is a wonderful statement of assurance that provides great comfort to a true believer.

I want you to see three things about the assurance offered to you in verse seven.

[First of all, notice…]

                                      1D The Platform that assurance is built upon

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7a, NKJV)

The platform that our assurance is built on is “walking in the light” not dates, altar calls, prayers, or etc.

What does it mean to walk in the light?

Albert Brookes says that “it is the conscious and sustained endeavor to live a life in conformity with the revelation of God.”

He goes on to say, “Especially as that revelation has been made finally and completely in Jesus Christ.”   In other words, walking in the light is living in obedience to the information revealed to us by God in the Scriptures.

This is the necessary condition for fellowship with God!

When this condition is met – then fellowship with God is real

To claim it [if we walk & don’t meet the condition] makes our claim is a lie

This goes back to verse 6 where it says, if we claim fellowship with God, and our life-style doesn’t comply with God’s revelation, we are liars.

This is very serious. It cannot be taken lightly.

First, let me say, John is talking about a habitual pattern of life. To walk in the light is to live in the sphere/realm that is characterized by truth and holiness that comes from God and is God-like.

Second, John assumes that a believer will make a profession of faith, but the reality of that profession of faith is not in the confession but the reality is in a consistent daily walk or life-style that is conformed to the revelation of God in the Scriptures.

--when we walk in the light, everyone around us will recognize that fact and a loud public claim does not need to be made!

--living in the light is a conscious and sustained effort to live in conformity with the revealed truth of God

[Well, let’s stop here a minute and see…]

What benefits are produced by walking in the light?

Let’s look at…
2D The Privileges advanced to us

“…we have fellowship with one another…”

Albert Brookes also commented, “Fellowship among Christians shows the reality of that larger spiritual life in God…”

His point is this:  as believers enter into further fellowship with each other, the more fully they come to live in the life of God into which they have actually been born into.

Fellowshipping with other believers is a means, a tool by which God utilizes to conform us to the image of His Son. Fellowship with other Christians makes us more Christ-like.

“Fellowship among Christians “shows the reality of that larger spiritual life which is life in God. (Westcott)

As Christians enter into fuller fellowship with each other, the more fully they come to live the life in God into which they have been born again.”

Remember, fellowship means something held in common. There must be a community experience to have genuine fellowship.

Bonsirven noted:  “The fellowship with saints is a “gauge and a sign” of the divine fellowship we have with God.”

Fellowship with believers implies fellowship with God. You cannot reject fellowship with believers and claim to have fellowship with God.

Our text offers two means to prove this point:

There is an intentional parallelism between verses 6 & 7

If we live in the light we will fellowship with other believers, if we fellowship with other believers we will walk in the light!

The description of fellowship in verse 3 shows fellowship being with both God and man.
The pronoun is used seven times in both 1 and 2 John. Each time that it is used it expresses human relationships

What does this mean?

I have already said it, but let me say it again:

--fellowship with believers is the visible sign of fellowship with God!

D. Edmond Hiebert makes this statement:  “He who consistently has trouble maintaining fellowship with others walking in the light should examine his own claim of fellowship with God.”

Remember – John wrote that walking in the light brings believers into fellowship with each other

Remember – that the false teachers said that they had the true or real fellowship with God and yet they refused fellowship with John and the believers

John makes it clear: You cannot have fellowship with God unless you have fellowship with other believers.

For the record, I am not talking about a Sunday or two when you are sick, on vacation, traveling, working, or even just don’t feel like it a time or two.

People who cut themselves off from constant and prolonged fellowship with other Christians cannot and are not having fellowship with God.

If a real believer is willing to live by God’s light, and by His revelation, they will come into fellowship with other believes and with God.

What a tremendous privilege we have. The privilege of fellowshipping with other believers in the body of Christ. This privilege is built on the platform that we are walking in the light as God is in the light and a revealer of the light.

There is a second privilege that we both gain and experience when we are walking in the light and that is…

                         3D We have the forgiveness of sin

“…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

When we “walk in the light” the removal of sin, which hinders or prevents our fellowship with God is possible because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

The blood is significant, especially to John as a Jew and to his Jewish readers. The Jews know that the blood atones through the life which is in the blood.

The power of Jesus’ life, which he freely offered to God throughout his life and by his death if effective for the removal of sin in the ones who are in union with Him.

Think back on the ritualistic cleansings that were used to make an approach to God. Blood of Christ cleans men so that they can both serve God and approach God in fellowship.

The present tense of the verb may point to the idea that as we live in this dark world filled with sin we need frequent cleansings.

The habit of continually walking in the light is accompanied by a continual cleansing from sin.

This concept can be confusing for some believers.

In 1 Corinthians 6:11, Paul writes, “But you were washed but you were sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:11, NKJV)

The verbs there are aorist or past tense verbs they picture an action that took place once and for all in the past. When these Corinthians were made Christians they were washed squeaky clean by the blood of Christ, in a one time for all time action.
Now, in addition to being sanctified, or set apart, and made holy, we also experience sanctification and cleansing on a regular and on-going basis as sin is being purged or removed from our lives.

John knows that sin is an active power. Sin presents itself in many different forms and ways. He is not talking about a specific sin, such as murder or anger.

Sin is power, it is deceptive, and it is subtle.

John says, “…from all sin.” The emphasis is on sin in whatsoever form it takes, we are cleansed from it by the blood if we walk in the light.

Henry Alford says, “That John views the blood of Christ as providing victory over sin, being a purifying medium, whereby we gradually, being justified, become pure and clean from all sin.”

This application of Jesus blood is made by the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

The idea is that an emphasis is made on the personal and moral cleanness of an individual who is walking in the light and is in fellowship with God and fellow believers.

Again, it is any sin that occurs. The comfort and encourage that brings to us is the knowledge that there is no sin that is beyond the cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb of God. There is no sin that a believer can commit that God and Christ cannot and does not forgive.

So the very principal of sin and the very acts of sin are washed clean by the blood of Christ.
Please get the order of events here:

The habitual walk in the light
Results in fellowship with fellow believers
Enabling God to show us our continual need for personal cleansing

So, walking in the light does not produce the cleansing, walking in the light fellowshipping with other believers makes us constantly aware of our deep need for cleansing.

Plummer wrote in his commentary, “One who lives in the light knows his own frailty and is continually availing himself of the purifying power of Christ’s sacrificial death.”

What is sin?

This is the first time John uses the word sin, the idea or the concept has been in his mind. He used the word “darkness” in verse 5 as an equivalent. Sin means “the missing of the mark.” It is the falling short of God’s perfect standard. The New Testament makes it clear that sin is a deliberate rebellion, willful treason against God.

Let’s pull it all together this way:

John leads us into his first main topic by giving to us the true nature of Christian living. John exhorts his readers to not only see the fact that God is light but that they also are to live in the light.

John refutes the false teachers who claim to have the true fellowship with God but live a life of sinful behavior, or what John calls darkness. John demonstrates what it means to walk in the light. God’s character is absolute holiness and anyone who fellowships with God must be as holy as he is.

Of course the problem that we face is sin. Sin is not holy it is darkness. Sin attacks and attaches itself to us regularly. We have been bathed in the blood and declared to be clean, but everyday living in this dark world causes sin to splash up on us. Jesus Christ removes sin that gets us dirty.


That Fellowship is tested by John on what I call practical grounds (1:5-2:11)

The very first test of these practical grounds is that of moral likeness. We must have a moral like-ness to God through Jesus Christ or we do and cannot have fellowship with God or with one another.

Our theme has been The Christian life is viewed as a life of fellowship.

This is a good reminder for us all that there are no lone rangers in the family of God. We need fellowship with God and with each other to maintain a practice of righteousness worthy of the Standard

Let’s wrap this up:


As we tread the narrow way,
together sing, together pray,
what is sweeter here below
than the fellowship we know?
Comfort for the hearts that bleed,
Sympathy in hours of need,
Kindly things that others say,
Brighten up the dreary day.
Friendship, fellowship, and love,
Blessed gifts from Heaven above.
Glad am I that in God's plan
There was fellowship for man!—Selected.


Larri said...

Bookmarking to read in depth, but must say, 'AMEN!'

We absolutely need fellowship. As someone who had to spend a couple of years having church at home, I reflect on the lonely time. I'm grateful to be back in a church studying/discussing His word & praising corporately. We are most definitely not meant to be alone.

Happy Sunday, Gregg!

Gregg Metcalf said...

@ Larri - thank you, hope you enjoy but more so hope you are blessed!