Fellowship: The Experience of Fellowship

We learned from the first article in this series that the spiritual application of the term “fellowship” can be described as unity among believers, based on a shared communion with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. So, we can understand from this statement that fellowship is associated with unity.

Unity can be described as “living and working together in perfect harmony and agreement, with love being the element that binds us together.” While the theme of unity is found throughout the Scriptures, the word itself is found only three times in all the Word of God.1

The psalmist wrote of unity, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psa 133:1-3).2

The psalmist described unity and emphasized dwelling together as being “good and pleasant.” The word “good” describes the character of God. The word “pleasant” describes the blessed result when the character of God is exhibited among His people as they walk in fellowship together.

Unity is compared to the holy anointing oil (Exo 29:7; 30:23-25) which was poured upon the head of Aaron, the high priest. The holy anointing oil was used to consecrate Aaron, to set him apart to serve the Lord. It ran down from his head to his beard, to the skirts, or hem, of his garments. This seems to indicate a person wholly consecrated to God, from head to feet, and would picture for us the Lord Jesus, who was wholly devoted to His God. It might also indicate the body of the Church, dwelling together in unity, producing a precious, fragrant aroma.

The psalmist also compared unity to the dew of Mount Hermon. Just as the dew from Mount Hermon provided refreshing and renewal for the thirsty ground, so brethren dwelling together in unity brings renewal and revival and allows the Lord to command blessing. Without unity, there can be no blessing from the Lord. Interestingly, the Lord said, “I will be as the dew unto Israel,” promising fruitfulness and fragrance (Hos 14:5-7).

Twice in Ephesians chapter 4 Paul referred to unity. In verse 3, he expressed the thought of “endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The thought of unity is further strengthened by the expressions used in the verses that follow: “one body, and one Spirit … one hope … one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (vv4-6). It was ever God’s intention that all believers dwell together, united by the Holy Spirit, in the bond of peace, or the bond of perfection, thus promoting holy fellowship.

In verse 13, he tells us that unity and maturity in Christ are some of the desired results of spiritual gifts in the Church: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Once again, fellowship is promoted through the unity of the faith, where all believers grow into spiritual maturity and conformity to the person of the Lord Jesus. This is God’s grand design for all who have been redeemed by sovereign electing grace (Rom 8:29).

When a person places their faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross and His precious blood shed as the only means of forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God, they are born into the family of God and enter and experience a new fellowship. John wrote, “But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (Joh 1:12).

Paul wrote in the book of Galatians that we have been redeemed, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Gal 4:5). In the book of Romans, he reminds us of the grand truth that the moment we are saved, the Holy Spirit witnesses with our own spirit that we are the children of God.

This experience of fellowship with God through Christ and with other believers is seen in the early Christians, who gladly received the Word of God. It is written of them that “they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Act 2:42). Fellowship here is a sharing in partnership and harmony with a community of believers, gathered in the name of the Lord Jesus.

We also learn from this verse that fellowship is associated with the apostles’ doctrine, or teaching. The apostles’ doctrine would be spiritual teaching they received from the Lord Himself or by divine revelation, now preserved in the New Testament epistles for believers today.

Our fellowship with one another is based on a mutual understanding, appreciation, enjoyment and obedience of the doctrines or teachings of the Holy Scriptures. The Lord, through the prophet Amos, asked the question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amo 3:3).

John’s desire was for fellowship with one another as believers and with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. But in order for that fellowship to be experienced and enjoyed, certain spiritual conditions must be realized. John wrote, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” (1Jn 1:7). Walking in the light is walking in the truth of the Word of God and in fellowship and communion with Him. John declared, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (v5).

John also expressed, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3Jn 4). As we walk in the light and in the truth of God’s Word, we experience and enjoy fellowship with other believers and with the Lord Himself.  We also enjoy all the spiritual benefits and blessings of those who have been brought into the fellowship of the family of God, expressed by Paul as “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3).

1 In the KJV.

2 Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV.