1Jn 1:1-4 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 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. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”
Just as Peter wrote to us about the faith we have in common with the apostles (2Pe 1:1), so now John begins to write to us about a fellowship that we have in common. Our faith in, and love of, Jesus Christ is something we have been blessed to share with God’s people since the beginning. In the beginning was the Word (Joh 1:1). We have heard Him speak, not only through the pages of the Bible, but more personally in our hearts. While we have not seen the person of Jesus in the manner that the apostles did, yet we have seen Him. We have seen Him through our faith. We have seen Him in the changes He has worked in our lives. We still see Him today in the love and kindness that is in the world in spite of the wickedness of men.
How wonderful it should be to us that we have heard Him say “Come follow me.” What miracle of grace that He has told us “I love you.” What wonder that He has made us accepted in the beloved! The life was made apparent, and by His grace we have seen it. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we bear witness to that life which was from the beginning. We have handled with our hands the truth of the Word of life. This life is in us and has made us one with Him and given us peace with God. Being witnesses of this life, we are given the power through the Holy Spirit to show this eternal life to others who have experienced the grace of God in their own lives. We do not create life or get it for ourselves, nor can we show life to those who do not have life. Having a common source of life, we are able to show what has been manifested unto us so that others who have experienced the grace of God may have fellowship with us.
The mistake we have often made concerning fellowship is to take the attitude that this is something we control. As long as you see and do everything just like I see and do it, then we can have fellowship. When you cease to see it and do it just like I do, then we don’t have fellowship anymore. We serve the Living God! He is the only one who can show us that which was from the beginning. He is the only one that can make the life manifest to and in us. He is the only one who can give us understanding. He is the only one who can unravel for us a measure of the great mystery of godliness (1Tim 3:16). If we do not understand that our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, then we do not truly understand fellowship.
There was an amazing fellowship that took place between Phillip and the eunuch. Here were two men who had nothing visible in common. One was an Ethiopian in service to his queen, who had just been up to Jerusalem to worship. By law, as a eunuch (according to Strong’s “a castrated person”), he could not enter into the congregation of the Lord even if he were by lineage a Jew (Deu 23:1). The other was recently set apart by the Jews as one of the seven chosen to see to the Grecian widows. He was preaching in Samaria and performing miracles before the Lord. The Holy Spirit moved Phillip to go to join himself to the chariot and these two disparate men found fellowship in the Father and His Son Jesus. The eunuch was reading from Isaiah, and he was moved with questions about whom Isaiah was speaking. The Spirit gave Phillip utterance, and he preached Jesus to the eunuch.
Hearing the wonderful gospel, the eunuch was moved with a desire to be baptized. It is not likely that the eunuch understood the depths of all the wonderful truth of God. I certainly did not understand it when I was baptized, nor do I understand the depths of it now. The fellowship between these two men of God was in what they did understand together; “I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God.” I have many precious brothers and sisters who do not yet have the full understanding of what it means to serve the Sovereign God. They do not fully understand the saving power of Jesus Christ. But they do believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and we have wonderful fellowship in that. That fellowship gives me the opportunity to share with them, in love, the wonderful grace of Jesus. If I bar them from my fellowship because of some lack in their understanding (or maybe my own…), then I have lost the opportunity to share with them in our journey to know more about Him.
I have not affected their fellowship with the Father or His son, but I have robbed myself of the opportunity to give God glory before His people. This is what our fellowship being with the Father and the Son is all about. It is this fellowship that allows us the grace to manifest what we have heard, what we have seen, what we have handled of the Word of life! It is this fellowship that allows us to give Him all the praise and glory. It is this fellowship that makes our joy full. For myself, there is no greater joy than to share the Truth with all of God’s family and to see the impact that He makes in their lives.
May we see clearly that true fellowship with each other is anchored only in our fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ!