[b] The Importance of Fellowship[/b]
[i]by Zac Poonen[/i]
The word 'fellowship' is a new covenant word. The fellowship spoken of
in the new covenant is patterned after the fellowship that Jesus and
the Father had with each other during Jesus' earthly days. Jesus' prayer
was that the fellowship among His disciples would be of the same order.
Under the old covenant, although people could rise to great heights of
holiness, yet they could not come into fellowship with each other.
There were godly men under the old covenant - Moses, Elijah, Daniel
and John the Baptist, to name but a few. These men had a holiness that
exceeded the holiness of most of today's believers. But that is because
most of today's believers have not entered into the new covenant.
The new covenant leads the disciples of Jesus into an inward
sanctification, that in turn leads to fellowship one with another.
When we read of the great men of faith in Heb. 11, we see that they
were all lonely individuals. This is how it was in Old Testament times.
But as soon as we turn to the New Testament, we find Jesus sending
out His disciples two by two. This was something new. Jesus came
not only to lead us to an inward sanctification but also to fellowship.
If a believer comes to a life of victory over sin inwardly, and yet
does not come into fellowship with others, there is something
drastically lacking in his sanctification. Sanctification without
fellowship is a deception. Many are travelling around the world today,
preaching holiness; but they themselves are lonely individuals like
those in Old Testament times. Such preachers are still under the old
covenant. Invariably it will be seen that they have not built any
fellowship in the place that they reside.
But it was not so with the apostles in the first century. Soon after
the day of Pentecost, we read of Peter and John going out together.
Peter told the lame man in the temple to look at both John and himself
(Acts 3:4). Peter and John worked as a team. On the day of Pentecost,
even though it was Peter who preached, yet we read that he stood up
with the eleven (Acts 2:14). Fellowship is the one thing that stands
out when we read Acts chapters 2 to 4.
Peter and John were not men of similar temperament. They were vastly
different as human beings. Peter was the quick and active type - quick
to boast that he would never deny the Lord, quick to jump into the sea
of Galilee, as soon as he saw the Lord by the shore (Jn. 21), etc.,
John, on the other hand, was the quiet meditative type who loved to be
alone and to see visions of heavenly things (as at Patmos). God always
brings together people who are dissimilar (humanly speaking), in the
church - so that He can demonstrate a unity in diversity that is far
more glorious than the unity of two similar people becoming one.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon