Fellowship with God – an Evidence of the New Birth
1John 1:1-10 click here for audio
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 2Cor 13:5-6
We are called upon to do a SELF EXAMINATION as to whether or not we ARE IN THE FAITH. A person can claim much faith, but if there’s no works supporting a person’s faith, then according to the book of James, it’s dead faith. So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17)
Jesus spoke often of the deception of false faith and false conversions. Jesus said 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23
Jesus warned his disciples that along with the sheep there will also be sheep in wolves clothing. Jesus said when the wheat is sown; there will also be tares along with the wheat. There will be wise virgins and foolish virgins. There will be those who build on the solid rock and others who build on sinking sand. When the gospel goes out, there’s the warning of another gospel, one that is false and is to be condemned. Wherever there are the prophets of the Lord, there’s the warning to beware of false prophets.
Have we believed the devil’s lie that all is well with our soul? Yet, there’s an emptiness which means we are not truly saved. An emptiness of fruit… emptiness of joy, peace, love, An emptiness of love for God and His truth. Many believe they are saved because they point to an event where they made a public stand for Christ. They responded to an invitation, walked forward, repeated a prayer and was baptized, yet they do not have evidence of the new birth.
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
Nothing in the Bible tells a person…. To look back at some past event to determine the validity of one’s salvation experience. What the Bible does do…. Look at the evidence of salvation in your life right now.
Jonathan Edwards, preacher, theologian, president of Princeton lived between 1703 til 1758. During that time the American colonies experienced great religious awakenings. Along with genuine conversions there were many false conversions, and Edwards wrote a book entitled “Religious Affections”addressing the evidences for true conversions. Many people claimed to be saved because of emotional experiences; and Edwards pointed out that there must be holy desires; a love for God; a change of behavior because so many false converts showed no change in their attitude and behavior.
We have the same challenge today. Many profess to know Christ only because of some religious ceremony, or some religious hoops they jumped through; yet there is no evidence they love Christ and His Word.
In 1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
That’s the purpose for his writings. You can know that you have eternal life. There are series of test you can check for yourself to see if you are in the faith.
This morning, I want us to look primarily, at one of these which is Fellowship with our Lord… Is there fellowship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it real?
2 main parts – vv.1-4 What is Real Fellowship with God? Vv.5-10 How to Have Real Fellowship with God?
- REAL fellowship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ?
John speaks of a personal relationship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s not the one he had while Jesus was on earth, but a present, ongoing relationship that’s real. This involves the triune God – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
2. Fellowship with the Trinity –
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2Cor. 13:14 Phil 2:1 “fellowship of the Spirit”
Our salvation involved the Trinity….one verse puts the Trinity together…1Peter 1:2
1 Peter 1:2 says, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied.” In one verse, we see that the Holy Trinity works together for salvation. Like Adrian Rodgers has put it… God the Father thought it. God the Spirit wrought it. And God the Son bought it.
3. Fellowship of Love
In 1John 5:1 he speaks of loving the Father. It’s a love relationship. A fellowship whereby God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to God by prayer, and in worship we express adoration and praise.
1John 5:1 – we love the Father…
1John 4:19 – we love because he first loved us….. God took the first step to elect us… there’s God’s electing love… “For God so loved the world that He gave…”
Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love.
4. Fellowship of Grace
We did NOT become a part of this fellowship with God by our own doing. It was because of God’s grace that we are in the fellowship with God.
God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1Cor. 1:9 (NOTE: It’s not our Faithfulness… rather.. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship…..)
5. Fellowship that’s REAL
This is not a fellowship we’ve imagine only in our minds. It’s a real fellowship that we’ve been called into by God, our Heavenly Father. Words are exchanged. There’s a conversation. There’s the expressing of love, the expressing of thanks, of joy, and there are request for assistance.
If this is NOT a real fellowship, prayer is useless. Were only praying to a dead, lifeless, bunch of nothing. But that’s not what we have…. We have a God who is real. Who is personal. If God was ONLY up in Heaven; and if Christ was ONLY at the right hand of God the Father; and the IF the Holy Spirit was NOT Here in us to make it REAL….then this fellowship would be greatly lacking something…. It would be INCOMPLETE…
v.4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete
It’s a joy to know that God loves us.
It’s a joy to know that in Christ we are forgiven.
It’s a joy to know that eternal life is for all who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
But our Joy would be INCOMPLETE, if there was no fellowship with God the Father, and with the Lord Jesus.
Jesus said – I didn’t just come to give you life… but abundant life! John 10:10
You don’t have to wait until you get to Heaven to experience this God!
You don’t have to wait unto you get to Heaven to experience His blessings and power in your life!
Our God is a God of all comfort. 2Cor. 1:3 That would be impossible if there’s not a relationship…a real fellowship whereby comfort is given, and comfort is received.
Our God is a God of all grace. 1Peter 5:10 That would be impossible if there’s not a relationship to give grace, and for us to receive grace.
Our God is a God who supplies all our needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus Phil. 4:19. But that would be impossible if there’s not a relationship to receive riches from the hand of Christ; and a God who is on the supply side sending rich supplies from his vast storehouse of grace.
We are invited to pray. But apart from a real fellowship, prayer would be pointless. Who are you praying to? Who are you speaking with?
Here’s the question… Do we pray? Do we worship God? Do we have regular times of fellowship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ?
Is there a heart cry as described in Romans 8:15-16
you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Is there a fellowship with God the Holy Spirit that bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God?
The first evidence of the New Birth – Is there a REAL Relationship with God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ? Is there a REAL Fellowship with the God of our Salvation?
II. HOW TO HAVE REAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD 1John 1:5
V.4 we are writing…. So that our JOY may be complete….. Joy can be incomplete when we sin….when we get out of fellowship with the Lord…… This is NOT losing our salvation… but the disruption of our fellowship with the Lord.
King David got out of fellowship with the Lord because of his sins. He repented of his sins and asked God to restore to him the joy of salvation.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
To have REAL Fellowship…. Notice where John begins…. And it’s not what people think…
v.5 light… God is light… no darkness at all
You would think… for God to tell people how to have fellowship… that he would begin with the love of God…. God loves you so much, and he wants to have fellowship with you…
JOHN does NOT begin with the Love of God… he begins with the HOLINESS of God.
God is light… He reveals himself…as to Who He is…. And the most outstanding feature about God…is His HOLINESS.. God is HOLY! In him is NO darkness at all!
JOHN does NOT begin with— to have fellowship with God…you need to know that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life… that is man-centered…. Self-centered thinking…. People are at the center of God’s Radar… God has only one focus and that is for your benefit…for your good…. NO !!!!
At the very center is the Holiness of God…..
Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes this point (Fellowship With God [Crossway Books], p. 100), that we must always start with God. He argues that our main problem is our self-centeredness, and so we come to the Christian faith looking to have our needs met. I’m not happy; can God make me happy? I’m looking for something that I don’t have; can God give it to me? How can Christianity help me with my problems and needs? But to approach the Christian faith in that manner is to cater to our main problem, which is self! He says (p. 101), “The first answer of the gospel can always, in effect, be put in this way: ‘Forget yourself and contemplate God.’” He adds (p. 102), “The way to be delivered from self-centeredness is to stand in the presence of God.”
There are those who say to grow a church… you must start with people…and find out what people want in a church… do a survey and ask questions ….
What would you like in a church? What would cause you to come back and try church again?
We’d like a church that is a happy, upbeat place. We don’t want to hear about sin or a holy God who threatens sinners with His wrath. We want help on how to have happy families, how to be successful in reaching our full potential, and how to recover from divorce, drug addiction, and sexual addictions. We don’t want sermons that make us uncomfortable. Give us more drama and less preaching. In fact, don’t preach at us;
share with us. Tell more stories and jokes. Don’t bring up controversial issues. Make it positive.”
So… church growth gurus have redesign and repackage church to suit what people want…. The failure is this— people fail to come face to face with the holiness of God.
God is Holy! That doesn’t sell! It doesn’t have market appeal! It’s not user-friendly!
Why start with the holiness of God when presenting the message as to how to have fellowship with God???????
Martin Lloyd Jones gives these reasons:
First, if you don’t begin with God’s holiness, you will never understand God’s plan of salvation through the cross of Christ. If God is only love, then the cross is unnecessary and meaningless. Second, if we start with God’s holiness, it exposes all false claims of fellowship with God. In our day, as in John’s, many claim to have fellowship with God, but often this is an empty claim based on their own imagination with a false god that they have made up. True fellowship is with the holy God, not with a good buddy god.
Third, starting with God’s holiness saves us from the danger of blaming God in times of trouble. We’re all prone to ask, “Why is God allowing this? I didn’t deserve this!” But if we start with God’s absolute holiness, we will see that we deserve nothing but His wrath, and we won’t challenge and criticize God when trials come.
Lastly, Lloyd-Jones points out that starting with God’s holiness is the only way to true joy. It’s easy to have a false peace if you have a “user-friendly” god. If you bring God down to man’s level, then you can enjoy peace with God without dealing with your sins. But, it’s a false peace that will not hold up in the day of judgment. True peace and joy come from being truly reconciled to the holy God through the blood of His Son Jesus (1:7).
To have FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD— must not walk in darkness v.6,8,10 “if we say”
False claims — v.6 we have fellowship….same time…lie…do not practice the truth… they say one thing………their life says another…
False claim – v.8 we do not sin…..reach a point that sin is something we no longer do
v.10 saying “we have not sinned” making God out to be a liar…and his word is not in us…
TODAY… sin is no longer sin… … no one takes responsibility for sin…. It’s now making poor choices……. It’s not sin…it’s the way I am… and you must accept me for who I am…
The promotion of SELF…. Not self-denial, but self-esteem….. making much of me….
It’s all about me….
We create a “god” who accepts me for what I am…
We design a church that accepts people for who they are…..and to do that means forsaking the preaching of sin….. stay away from anything in the bible that makes people uncomfortable…
We want people to feel good about themselves….
But to have REAL FELLOWSHIP with God…. We must come to the Light… be exposed to the darkness in our hearts….be confronted with our sins… and see that God is holy….yes, he loves sinners, but foremost…. GOD IS HOLY!
To have fellowship with God we must walk in the light as He is in the light. Vv.7,9
Believers…. Walk in the light….
Unbelievers……walk in the darkness
Some surveys and research is out there claiming that you can’t tell the difference between Christians and Non Christians…… but here’s the problem… they are calling many who profess to be Christians –to be Christian……
There is a difference…. Just as different as NIGHT and DAY…
Believers – Walk in light
Unbelievers — walk in darknesss
What does it mean for Believers to Walk in the light?
- To live honestly before a holy God…and the desire is to seek holiness and hate all sin in one’s life (read v.7) (read 2:6)
To walk in the light…. Does NOT MEAN… you no longer sin…. You are experiencing a continual cleansing (IN THE PRESENT) ….FROM all sin by the Blood of Christ.
- Confess our sins v.9
A Believer does NOT deny his sin…. Does NOT Blame others… but accepts responsibility for one’s sin….
To confess… to agree with God that Sin is SIN…
v.9 forgive us…… cleanse us….
Forgiveness….relates to the guilt of sin being pardoned…..no longer fear judgment….
Cleansing ….points to the defilement of sin being removed……can draw near to worship
This forgiveness/ cleansing…. is a completed action of God in the past…. But the confessing of the sinner….is an ongoing action…. ..we will also be confessing our sins…
Repentance is an ongoing activity of the true believer…
- Walking in the Light — results in fellowship with one another v.7
Our fellowship with one another is connected with our fellowship with God. V.3
If someone can’t get along with other believers, he may not be in true fellowship with God.