We are orthodox, that is that we teach only and all God’s Word with no admixture of error and with no deletions from the sacred Word. There is an ever present danger for us who would be confessional in that when we speak of ‘fellowship’ we think only of the separation and withdrawal aspect to preserving the truth of the Word among us. We must remember that fellowship is positive as we shall clearly see in the following. The severance of a fellowship relationship (or rather the expression of it) is called for when there is no longer the unity and agreement on what God’s Word teaches. In this following study of ‘koinonia’ or fellowship, the word, as it is used in context in Scripture let us see the splendidly positive aspects.
First we shall consider how fellowship is the common union of God with man in what we call the church. Our fellowship is first vertical, that is we by the power of the Spirit believe in God. Through the Word we learn that Jesus is our Redeemer. He has atoned for all our sin and makes us one with God through His sacrificial death and merit. It is then also that our fellowship is horizontal. We are part of the earthly bride of Christ, His church on earth.
Secondly, our fellowship finds its very intimate expression in the sacrament of the altar. In considering Paul’s words to the Corinthians on their fellowship in communion, we see that there is a clear separation from idolatry involved and a very special mysterious intimacy with God.
Thirdly, fellowship is not merely a fine sounding word for doctrinal presentations. It is something of the heart that expresses itself in activity. Fellowship means ‘sharing.’
Lastly, fellowship among us means a very personal relationship, a ‘partnership’ in the Gospel, a ‘participation’ in the Spirit.
May our gracious God reinforce through His Word that blessed fellowship we have with Him and with one another in the church. May He also preserve us in this fellowship until the last day.
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
The Vertical and the Horizontal of Fellowship
The word ‘koinonia’ is found in noun form in the New Testament some nineteen times. It is variously translated as: fellowship, communion, partnership, participation, share, contribution, taking part in. (All RSV translations except for ‘communion.’) We take up our study of this word to better know how we are to be in our Christian congregations awaiting our Lord’s return.
You may remember that an apt description of the church at Jerusalem was recorded by Luke in Acts 2:42. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Here we see first of all that fellowship is an activity. Fellowship is not merely having one’s name ‘on the books’ of a Christian congregation. We remove names from our membership because individuals no longer practice fellowship with us. To be a member of a Christian congregation in name only is a shallow thing. Fellowship with God and His Son and His children on earth is serious business. The fellowship we are to have is not over coffee but over His Word. The people in the church in Jerusalem continued steadfastly, devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, that is the Word of God. To not hear the Word means a dwindling faith. To not study the Word means a puny faith. To not read the Word means a tenuous faith. Our faith grows as we search the Scriptures and our fellowship with Him and His children is likewise reinforced.
Very many enter into fellowship with God through the Word in baptism. I Corinthians l:9 “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” “The Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; In like manner as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.” The most important aspect of this fellowship is our being called into fellowship with His Son. He is the cornerstone of our faith. Upon Him our whole salvation depends. Were it not for Jesus, there would be no church, no faith, no hope. The personal relationship we have with Him is paramount. First we look up.
John writes about the vertical and the horizontal fellowship together. I John l:3 “…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Very beautifully the vertical and the horizontal make the cross. That which is the symbol of our holy religion is a picture of the common union we have in Christ. John says, “we proclaim to you.” It is just through this proclamation of the Gospel that the union is formed by the Holy Spirit.
And once we have fellowship with Him our lives simply change. Our relationship to people also changes. “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sins.” I John l:5-7 In other words, can you murder your son and be in fellowship with God? Can you visit a prostitute and visit the communion table? If a sin is rebuked, but not repented, of then fellowship is called into question. How can one want fellowship with the Savior from sin, if sin is not acknowledged and repented of? Impenitence makes Jesus of no effect in one’s life and cancels the fellowship with God and His church. Either we are in the light or we walk in darkness. It is the blood of Jesus Christ alone that cleanses us from all sins. But we can reject the cleansing. We can cast aside His forgiveness, as we prefer to do those evil deeds in darkness.
A very important part of our fellowship is the open confession of sin to God and to one another. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” I John 1:8-10 To have fellowship with the Lord and His people sin simply must be confessed. True confession is not ‘if I have sinned’ or ‘if I have done wrong.’ There are no ’if’s about it. It is properly ‘because I have sinned…’ and ‘since I have sinned…’ We must admit how we have sinned and also acknowledge what we rightly deserve for our sin.
And how do we know that we have sinned? We come back to the Word. As Jesus is the Light of the world to shine into our hearts through the Word, so also His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path to expose our missteps. When we measure our lives by the holy Ten Commandments we must cringe. It is by deed, by word, by thought that I sin. Against the holiness of God I see clearly my black nature. It is only then that we can truly treasure Jesus, whose blood cleanses us from all sin. Against my hating there is His loving. Against my weakness there is His strength. Against my wickedness there is His righteousness.
Knowing the power of the Gospel in our lives brings us to one last point here. Being called by the Word into fellowship with Him means suffering. As they treated Him, so they will treat you. You are not above the Master. Philippians 3:10 “…know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” To be in the fellowship means to suffer. As Jesus was mocked, so we should be expecting mockery for our holding to the Word.As Jesus was laughed at when He would raise a child from the dead, so we should expect deriding scorn for our firm conviction in the Word. We can meet any and all comers because we are in fellowship with Him. As He overcame, so we overcome and have already overcome in Him. We even welcome suffering, as it draws us closer to Him. “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims, are one,
Our comforts and our cares.
II. To celebrate Communion involves a clear separation from idolatry and a special intimacy with Him and His.
Fellowship means activity. So far we have seen how the activity of pouring over His Word is directly related to our fellowship with Him. Here we see that our fellowship involves the partaking at the Lord’s table. If we are to follow the Christ, a clear separation from idols of this world is called for. Jesus Himself said that we cannot serve God and mammon. And again “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” Matthew 6:30 If we are in fellowship with Jesus, then we should not be worshipping idols. A clear demarcation is laid out by our Lord. It cannot before the Christian a playing of both ends against the middle. Paul masterly and repeatedly sets this out. II Corinthians 6:14-18 “Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship (koinonia) has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. There come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’” We are in the light, Jesus the Light of the world. Because we have that union with Him by faith and the grace of God we are God’s children. What a blessed relationship with God we have such that He calls us His sons and daughters! That is that fellowship which we treasure. And as in any family in which the relationship exists with the parent, so also with siblings. So it is in the church. As in the familial relationship there is devotion and loyalty to the family, so it is in the church. To be loyal and devoted to our Father and His Son means not to acknowledge any rival or usurper as the head of our family, the church. What does Christ have in common with the devil and his demons who are behind the dumb idols of this world? No commonality, no more than truth has anything in common with lies, or righteousness with iniquity. Whether at the communion table or in our fellowship in general there is a clear separation from idolatry involved and there is a special intimacy involved, as in a family, so in this case – the family of God.
This is not the first warning to the Corinthians about idolatry. Paul had in his first letter the tenth chapter warned them, v. 6 “Now these things are warnings for us…”, v. 14 “Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols.” Israel of old was a prime example of playing both ends against the middle, of trying to have it both ways. At Sinai while God was giving the Commandments to Moses, the people in the camp were going after an idol, the golden calf. Over and over again in the next forty years the see-saw struggle continued. Indeed it continued through Israel’s history. And it has been recorded as a warning to us. There are still the common gods of the people all around us. They may not take the form of a statue covered with gold, rather gold itself is a god. They may not be called by the old names like Baal, but the idols are still among us. Pleasure is an idol when it supplants the worship of God. Luxury is a god when it so occupies our efforts to have it that we neglect His Kingdom work. Pride is an idol when we get so wrapped up in our innate gifts that we forget who gave them to us.
And let us not think that we are so strong that it cannot happen to us. Remember how ‘strong’ Peter thought he was, even so strong as to say, “I’ll never deny you Lord.” Yet but a few hours later, he denied Him three times over and even with an oath. And this man was the leader of the apostolic band. He had walked with Jesus for those years. He had heard and seen. “Therefore let any one who things that he stands take heed lest he fall.” I Corinthians 10:12 David, the man after God’s own heart also fell.
Let us come then being warned to put away our idols. Come not grumbling like the children of Israel. Rather, come confessing and admitting sin. True confession is not ‘I’m sorry I got caught’ but ‘I’m sorry I did it.’ To be truly sorry means that you see it was wrong and want not to do it again. We should come to communion in the same frame of mind as the tax collector had. “God be merciful to me a sinner.” His repentance was a sincere thing of the heart.
With this attitude we then come to our koinonia with God in communion. We do not come as if we are doing God a favor, like the Pharisee in the temple. We come to receive His undeserved love and His unmerited favor. In communion we are united with our God.
What an intimacy is here! “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” I Corinthians 10:16 In a mysterious way we are united with our Lord and receive Him. What special comfort there is for those who are close to Him, who repent of all their sins and discern what is present in the sacrament of communion! What great intimacy and what great favor to partake of His own body and blood for he remission of sins.
And as the intimacy is great and the favor is great, so the danger is great to hearts not united to Him by repentance and faith. After explaining the separation from idols necessary for proper communion observance in chapter ten of I Corinthians, Paul then explains in chapter eleven after giving the words of institution how serious is this business of coming to communion examining yourselves. “Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” I Corinthians 11:28-30 Those who repent of their sins and come with humble dependence on the Lord for the assurance of their forgiveness in Him should by all means approach the communion table. Come in your weakness knowing that then you will be strong in Him. Come to receive that very positive assurance that nothing stands between you and eternal life through Jesus. And as you come and partake recognize also in our communion that we stand and kneel together. “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” I Corinthians 10:17We are united in Him so in communion we see both the horizontal and the vertical fellowship. And notice here again as we have seen before, and as we will see again, that fellowship means activity.Repentance, confession, approaching the table. How sad that over the years we do not see some at communion. How sad that among the younger we do not see the regularity that we see among the older. Can it be a case of thinking one is strong and not so in need? If that is the case then idols of pride, self-assurance and physical strength may be crowding into one’s life. Cast those idols aside and see yourself in all your weakness and need. Repent and approach to renew that special mysterious intimacy with your Lord.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
III. Koinonia means Sharing.
Of the church in Jerusalem they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayers. This showed that they had a splendid unity in Christ. The common denominator among them was Jesus, their unifying, sharing factor. They showed this also in how they very dramatically shared their physical possessions with one another. “And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts…” Acts 2:44-46 “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need.” Acts 4:34-35 This sharing with one another is part of koinonia. Is it still for us today?
One of the four references we deal with here deals with a spiritual sharing and yet it has implications of a physical sharing. The other three deal with the very material collection for the saints in Jerusalem who were facing more difficult times than that described by Luke in Acts. While we in our day do think of sharing spiritually in our fellowship, the sharing of material possessions is less often thought of as part of koinonia.
“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may promote the knowledge of all the good that is ours in Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Philemon vv.4-6 This slavemaster was evidently a good witness of Him. Perhaps he talked openly and casually about his Master and how he was His slave. His faith certainly showed in his love of the brethren. In the epistle Paul refers to how he should treat Onesimus. Paul expresses his confidence in Philemon with the words, v. 21”Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” Paul writes this not to butter Philemon up so he will in false pride do what Paul says. It is rather the case that Paul knows of the love and faith of Philemon and is sure it will show in how he treats the runaway slave who has now returned. Philemon evidently knows what fellowship is all about – sharing.
Are we like Philemon? Do we share our faith so as to bolster each other? We should share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear, and often for each other should flow the sympathizing tear. We who know Him so well need to hear from each other the Word for our faith to grow. We must present to each other the Scriptural optimism of Romans 8:28and not be ashamed to go out on a limb to speak this in the face of even disaster. We truly want the sharing of our faith to promote the knowledge of all the good that is ours in Christ. Let us each encourage each other by word and deed to put our confidence in the unseen Lord, to keep our hope riveted on our unobservable home in heaven, to not flinch when what we see seems to go awry. Faith afterall is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews ll:l Faith is assurance and conviction. To be in fellowship means to share this all important commodity in a world that has it in all too scarce a quantity.
II Corinthians 8:1-5 “We want you to know, brethren, about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.”
The first thing to remember in these three references is that the contribution spoken of was not regular church offerings. This was the collection made for the brethren in Jerusalem when they suffered physical deprivation. We may use these references or parts of them to teach on offerings for the Lord’s work in His kingdom. That is a proper application. But it must be remembered that the original context was for the material, physical relief of the saints. This, perhaps surprisingly to some, is also part of our koinonia. “Taking part” is how koinonia is translated above. It is beautiful to see this picture unfold of the poor saints inJerusalem being helped by the poor saints in Macedonia. But of course it should be since they were brethren. Macedonia could hardly have been expected to give to the poor in Jerusalem because the hill country of Macedonia was itself impoverished. You can imagine that perhaps there were those who spoke of how they could not give since it was needed at home just as much or more and afterall really we don’t know them over there in Jerusalem. We cannot deny ourselves, can we, for the sake of those we will never even lay eyes on? If there were those few who said this, the evidence is incontrovertible that they were silenced quickly and conclusively. The witness is “their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality”, “they gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.” Why we just must help them in Jerusalem, they are our brothers in the faith! So they took part, knowing full well what koinoniameans.
It is simple to see how we today can so easily trip over our selfishness into satan’s trap of not helping the brethren. We could say that of the orphan work inIndia, that it is really not for us to do. They are so far away. We shall never see them. Don’t we have poor here to help? But, we are brethren with them united by the sacrament of the one baptism. “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” Romans 6:4-5 Those children in India in the care of our brethren are one with us. Why, we must help them, they are our brothers and sisters in faith. “How can we saddle ourselves down to help someone we don’t even know?” was not the question from meeting place to meeting place in the poor hill country. The question was, “How can we help?”
“The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver…You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God. Under the test of this service, you glorify God by your obedience in acknowledging the Gospel of Christ, and by the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others. “ IICorinthians 9:6-13 There is no question about it, as you sow, so shall you reap. The Jerusalem congregation, fully aware of what koinonia meant, saw to the care of those in need in their midst. They had sowed bountifully by having all things in common. From that common treasury they had dispensed to any as they had need. And now the Jerusalem church would reap bountifully from the brethren in Macedonia, Achaia and Rome. There were some wet blankets in Jerusalemwho thought it not wise to sow quite so bountifully. Ananias and Sapphira were two such people. Time proves one right. The bread cast upon the water was now being found again from an unexpected quarter. The promise is now made to the Corinthians, “you will be enriched in every way for great generosity.”
What if within our midst we had one in dire need of our help? Would we extend our hand upon the basis that we are one in Christ? The flesh says, ‘Let somebody else help out.’ We assume that social security or disability payments or welfare assistance will come from government. But if we are one in the Lord, shouldn’t we want to help?
Paul wrote to Rome about this expression of koinonia in Romans 15:25-28. “At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem with aid for the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem; they were pleased to do it, and indeed they are in debt to them, for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been raised, I shall go on by way of you to Spain.” If at times you wonder if this should be part of what God’s people do, this sharing of one’s earthly goods with the brethren, this collection for the saints, then look at who was involved in it. The apostle and missionary Paul was carrying the collection to Jerusalem. Paul was busy in labors in the spread of His rule, and yet he takes the offering to Jerusalem. Paul includes mention of it and encourages giving to this collection in his epistles. This is part and parcel of our fellowship in the church.
Again we have seen that fellowship is a living, active, moving thing. It’s not a dead letter, because it springs of the Gospel and the Gospel is living, active, moving. Fellowship is not static, but dynamic, because the love of Christ is a dynamic force in the Christian’s life. We believe in Him and confess our sin, pray for the saints, partake of communion and share our faith and our goods with one another.
This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way,
While each in expectation lives
And longs to see the day.
IV. Partnership – Our fellowship should be a very personal relationship.
Remember the sharing, the communion, the one in Christ? Who is in the hospital, and we do not remember to pray for him? Who does not have joy in his heart over a brother who undergoes successful surgery? Who does not sin and we feel the hurt? Remember Matthew chapter 18. We are not islands unto ourselves in this sea of humanity. We are partners one with another in the Gospel. Fellowship is partnership. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:3-5
We do not know if every congregation sent offerings to Paul to help him in his travels for the Lord through Asia Minor and Greece. It is unlikely that they all did. But there was one in particular that kept him in their prayers and supported him with their offerings. They were partners with Paul. We know of course that Paul’s base of operations was Antioch in Syria. It was from Antioch that Paul and Barnabas went forth on the first trip sent out by the Holy Spirit. The other congregation which took every seriously their fellowship with Paul was the church at Philippi. The church began there with the wealthy woman and her family and the jailer and his family. Paul first came to Philippi on his second journey drawn there by the vision of the man in Macedonia beckoning him to come over. It was a compelling vision for Paul. And the congregation which became the first fruit in Macedonia was compelled too. They supported Paul whether he was in the midst or not. They supported him time and again in the partnership they had with him in the Gospel. Philippians 4:14-18 What joy to be one with God by the blood of the Christ, and to be united in fellowship in the church under His gracious hand!
Today we also are partners. We are brethren to those so many miles away in our sister churches. Like Philippi we have sent support and we are sending support. We as partners work together. We all have within our heart and hands His Word to use to convince, reprove, rebuke, comfort and counsel. We should each be asking ourselves if we are full partners, half partners or maybe silent partners in the fellowship of our church.
To be members of the congregation, partners in His work, we do not buy stock as in a company. We are members in the fellowship of our congregation and synod by the power of the Spirit converting us. “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2 It is only the Spirit of God who could work the miracle of fellowship in our midst. He converts us and by the Word makes us of one mind. Think of the Christian churches where discord is the order of the day instead of harmony. Think of how in so many churches a variety of teaching and a latitude in doctrine is allowed contrary to the pure standard as set forth in the Word. Think of how so many fellowship over the coffee cup instead of at the communion table, where it is primarily social instead of religious. How blessed we are to not be torn apart by jealousy, strife, backbiting! How blessed we are that those who study the Word in our midst and quote it are not called fanatics and too strict or liberals and too loose. Only the Spirit could work what we have. He is working and continues to work to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:1-7 Are we eager to maintain this unity? Ourkoinonia means that we work together. We work to build up and not to tear down. The variety of gifts and abilities that the Lord has given are to be used for the common good. Paul uses the example of a human body in describing to the Ephesians how the church is to be. Our body works with all of its parts coordinated in their activities for the common good of the body. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuildsitself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 When we survey the religious scene around us, it is truly amazing grace that we continue in the unity of the Word as partners.
There is one thing we have neglected though in our study. We have in one area not given credit where credit is due. While it is the Spirit who unites, it is the devil who divides. The devil must be given his due. He it is who drives the wedge in to separate us from one another and from the Lord. He sows the seed of error and discord. He is the reason why visible Christendom is divided. His techniques may vary, but are always dangerous. He may rant and rave, howl and cajole, whisper and entice to have you defect from our koinonia. He may try to have you be a silent partner. That of course is no partner at all. He who confesses Christ before men will be confessed before the Father in heaven. It is only by clutching the word, by pouring over it in study that we can maintain our faith and fellowship with God and His saints. Then we are able to repel and blunt the devil’s vicious attacks.
We have seen in our study how koinonia/fellowship is an activity. It is first of all a union between holy God and sinful man, worked by God Himself, through faith in the Son of God. This vertical relationship has joined to it the horizontal. Our common faith means that we are also united with those who believe as we do. We have that special intimacy in the sacrament of the altar with our God, showing also our unity with one another as we sand and kneel together. Forsaking idols we approach and partake. Being one in Christ we share our faith with each other by speaking the Word to help each other. Our help in the fellowship is not limited to works though. We also take part in assisting each other materially. We contribute toward the needs of the saints. Working together as partners in the Gospel we live and speak and act, knowing of course that the Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. II Corinthians 13:14
From sorrow, toil, and pain,
And sin we shall be free
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.
Blest Be the Tie that Binds. Amen