Published February 20, 2023
One of my favorite things about Desert Hills Bible Church is the joyful fellowship we have with God and with one another. This is such a precious gift to any body of believers who are striving to obey and follow our Lord Jesus Christ as they seek to love God, serve one another, and reach our fallen world with the gospel.
In 1 John 1:3-4, John writes about this two-part consequence of the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why was it that the apostles went about preaching the good news of Jesus over land and sea, into and out of prison, into and out of exile, at the cost of their lives? The answer is that we may have fellowship with the apostles, and thereby have fellowshipwith the Father and the Son; and that we may have joy.
Let’s look at the first part of the consequence: fellowship. Fellowship is a fascinating word in Greek, having the idea of sharing in common – either common interest or common mission, or both. The idea here in 1 John is certainly that of a rich, intimate, personal communion in relationship with God. This is the incredible purpose of the gospel: to bring us into relationship with God – a close, personal, intimate fellowship with God and His people.
In 1 Peter 3:18, Peter wrote that Christ died so that He might bring us to God. But we can’t have fellowship with God through the death of Christ if no one ever tells us about it, can we? That’s why the apostles were tasked with proclaiming this glorious news of the death and resurrection of Christ, so that generations of believers would be brought to God. And this is the missionary impulse that is left to every one of us who has believed and been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We tell people because we know it’s only by hearing the gospel that they will receive salvation and have fellowship with God and with us.
This concept is so important for us to understand. The gospel is not about getting you to join a church or to write a check, to give you friends, to guilt you into keeping a list of rules, or to take back our government. The gospel is about bringing you into fellowship with God and giving you a relationship with the Father and the Son and all of God’s people. This is why John and the apostles preached – because they wanted to bring sinners to reconciliation with the Father through the Son; and that reconciliation, when realized in faith in Jesus Christ, would bring fellowship between believers and God and believers with other believers.
The second part of the consequence is joy. John patterns his joy and motive for proclaiming Christ on what Jesus said in John 15:11. We see here that Jesus preached to the apostles so they would have the fullness of His joy. That’s why the apostles took that same message to the world – so that all believers throughout human history might share in this joy and have fullness of joy as well!
Honestly, there is no greater gift in life than joyful fellowship with God and His people. When we have a joyful, intimate relationship with God, we are made spiritually strong for everything that comes along, because the joy of the Lord is our strength. And when we have joyful, intimate fellowship with other believers, how we find a source of encouragement, strength, and victory in those around us! How we long to be together in fellowship around the Word of God, in prayer, in discussions about how God is at work in our lives, sharing the joys and sorrows of the Christian life in this fallen world together!
This is why I wanted to study the letters of 1, 2, and 3 John together, to see our body grow roots and become grounded in that joyful fellowship together through good times and tough times, through times of rejoicing and times of weeping, through all the ups and downs of life, for the glory of Christ and the joy of God’s people. I pray that we at Desert Hills enjoy a greater experience of the joyful fellowship in the Lord and with each other that only comes through our Savior, Jesus Christ.