And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
(Acts 2:42-45 NKJV)
When we first started our church in 1979 I found myself stuck on this passage for today’s devotion. I was mesmerized by the supernatural community that formed after that initial outpouring on the day of Pentecost. It amazed me that people from all the different countries mentioned in this chapter as being effected by the Pentecostal outpouring were able to become such a close knit spiritual family so quickly. It wasn’t their nation they were from or their age or even their gender, even their Jewishness did not come into play. The bond of love that they shared is seen in this passage. If I had to boil it down to one word I would say it was the word fellowship. In the greek New Testament it says koinenea. Koinenea is at the heart of the true union found in a truly spiritual congregation. This union is not based on being poor or rich, young or old, or even black or white. Let’s look at this word koinenea and discover their secret. This is how Dick Mills describes this word.
“fellowship, koinōnia: Sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society, a communion, a fellowship, contributory help, the brotherhood. Koinōnia is a unity brought about by the Holy Spirit. In koinonia the individual shares in common an intimate bond of fellowship with the rest of the Christian society. Koinōnia cements the believers to the Lord Jesus and to each other.”
This union that is at the very heart of the New Testament community is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our love for the Lord birthed in us by our conversion is what we share in common. The fruit of this is called fellowship. We love the same things now; things like the Bible, worship, sharing our faith, and the preaching of the Word of God. Our former relationships were shaped around natural or cultural things. Our fellowship was controlled by the things we loved then; things like certain types of music and alcoholic beverages. Often times our relationships came out of interests such as fishing, motorcycles, cars, or and endless list of other interests. Today all of that has changed. We have been born again, we have been captured by the love of God. Our love for Him is what produces this incredible koinenea in our community.
Ps.110:1 – The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
David saw some incredible things by the Spirit. This verse seems like an intrusion on the holiest ground. David is describing a conversation between the Father and the Son. It’s kind of hard to talk about past and future when talking about the Lord. After all, He lives outside of space and time. But for our purposes David actually heard a conversation between the Father and the Son a thousand years before it happened. This is the Father placing His Son, after the resurrection, as a man on the right hand of the throne of power. The beauty of this is not only the substance but the glimpse into this fellowship that the deity has enjoyed from eternity. This is the fellowship we have been called into. Incredible! This is how Spurgeon talks about this mystery fellowship.
“Jehovah said unto my Adonai: David in spirit heard the solemn voice of Jehovah speaking to the Messiah from of old. What wonderful intercourse there has been between the Father and the Son! From this secret and intimate communion springs the covenant of grace and all its marvelous arrangements. All the great acts of grace are brought into actual being by the word of God; had he not spoken, there had been no manifestation of Deity to us; but in the beginning was the Word, and from of old there was mysterious fellowship between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ concerning his people and the great contest on their behalf between himself and the powers of evil. How condescending on Jehovah’s part to permit a mortal ear to hear, and a human pen to record his secret converse with his coequal Son! How greatly should we prize the revelation of his private and solemn discourse with the Son, herein made public for the refreshing of his people! Lord, what is man that thou shouldest thus impart thy secrets unto him!”
It’s hard to grasp but this is why Jesus came. He purchased us from our sins so that we could be brought into this supernatural fellowship. This is our hope and this is why we preach Christ. John the Apostle said it best,
1 Jn.1:3 – “what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
Eph.3:21- to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Recently I ministered in the Philippines at Cathedral of Praise and attended a conference in Seoul, Korea. I have been struck again by the diversity and supernatural nature of His Church. In the Philippines I was blessed by the passion and pageantry of the worship at Cathedral of Praise. Dancers, musicians, singers, and congregation caught up in the supernatural flow of the Holy Spirit Who is the very breath of His congregation. In Korea, I was again amazed at the militant fervency of the Korean Church when they pray in their corporate worship. They have to be stopped by the ringing of a bell. The conference was made up of His Church from Africa, USA, India, Malaysia, Australia, and too many places to mention. The diversity is striking but even more striking is the common thread that makes us all one church; the testimony of Jesus. This is our bond of unity and makes the diversity even more beautiful. Here is J.C. Ryle describing the diversity and unity of the Body of Christ.
“It is a Church of which all the members have the same marks. They are all born again of the Spirit; they all possess “repentance towards God, faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,” and holiness of life and conversation. They all hate sin, and they all love Christ. They worship differently, and after various fashions; some worship with a form of prayer, and some with none; some worship kneeling, and some standing; but they all worship with one heart. They are all led by one Spirit; they all build upon one foundation; they all draw their religion from one single book — that is the Bible. They are all joined to one great centre — that is Jesus Christ. They all even now can say with one heart, “Hallelujah;” and they can all respond with one heart and voice, Amen and Amen.”
As I write this blog I find myself thinking about our church in New Orleans and missing the uniqueness of the expression of Christ in our local church. I love the worship in the Philippines, and the prayers of the Korean Christians. I love the joy of the African church and fellowship with Christian friends from around the world. I still have to say that there is no place like home; I am sure looking forward to church next week!
1John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
John had tasted something so profound he couldn’t keep it to himself. He had to tell others, it was impossible not to. Recently I had an experience that reminded me that we have no choice but to tell others the good news. My dad taught me to play golf as a small child. He built a golf green in our back yard when I was five years old and made a sawed off 5 iron and taught me how to use it. I have played golf most all of my life. All of those years of playing golf I had never captured that elusive prize; the hole in one. Several weeks ago Parris and I went on a vacation and I was playing golf; BY MYSELF !!! You guessed it, I scored my first hole in one. Here is where the funny part comes in. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I posted it on Facebook, I told the lady in the pro shop, I told the young pro, and the cart guys; I even told the lady at the concession stand. Good news is hard to keep to yourself. That brings us back to today’s scripture. John had seen some stuff. He saw Jesus walk on water, heal the blind, the deaf and the lame. He had seen Him feed thousands with a boy’s lunch. He saw Him die, witnessed the empty tomb, and saw Him several times after He had been raised from the dead. How could he keep his mouth shut, he had to tell everybody about Jesus. Here is how Murray describes this phenomenon.
“Fellowship with God is the preacher’s only source of power. If fellowship with God is the blessing of the gospel and the burden of the pastor’s preaching, then it follows that the preacher must show in his own life the possibility and blessing of such a walk with God. Experiencing it himself, he will be able to tell others about its wonder and joy, and will win them to the same happy fellowship with God. What God can do for me He can do for you. May fellowship with the Father and the Son be our daily experience—in our quiet times, in our daily work, and in our witness to others so that they, too, may share in the same glorious salvation.”
John had also been in the upper room; you know, tongues of fire and the rushing mighty wind. He had entered into life or fellowship with God. His passion in life was to share this life with the world.
MERRY MONDAY- BY PARRIS BAILEY
“All that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 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, praising God, and having favour with all the people.” Acts 4:32
There is something special about living through seasons of revival. Yes, I said revival. No, I wasn’t born in the 1700’s during the Great Awakening, nor lived during Azusa, and I could go on about the Healing revivals and many others. I got saved during the Jesus Movement/Charismatic movement down at the lakefront of New Orleans and went onto California to a Bible School/Commune. Little did I realize when I received the Lord there were literally thousands of hippie folks just like me getting a hold of Jesus and changing the whole structure of church. God came down and took me by surprise. The city of New Orleans would be a epicenter of the Catholic Charismatic move for years. When we came back to New Orleans in 1979 our church and many others encountered explosive growth due to the Catholic’s wanting more.
I can still feel the move of God in my heart when I was at bible school, I can still see us worshipping together for hours in the open air. Singing songs and reading our Bibles fervently . We believed everything and lived on nothing. It was the song of heavenly fellowship. “Wherever there is inward vigor of life there will be outward growth; and the Church which is pure, earnest, living will be a Church which spreads and increases.” (Maclaren) God came down and met us in that simple little place called Kerman. That would be my first taste of revival and there have been others. The last revival which I believe still continues started in 1994 and has only gotten deeper. The scary thing is many are clueless that God is at work today in our generation. Sometimes we have an opinion about how revival will look or not look and we end up missing out.
“God has prepared for Himself one great song of praise throughout eternity, and those who enter the community of God join in this song. It is the song that the “morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at the creation of the world. (Job 38:7). It is the victory song of the children of Israel after passing through the Red Sea, the Magnificat of Mary after the annunciation, the song of Paul and Silas in the night of prison, the song of the singers on the sea of glass after their rescue, the “song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3) It is the song of the heavenly fellowship.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together