Sermon #3 1 John Series
Title: Fellowship with
the Father and the Son
Text: 1 John 1:3
Subject: The Believer’s Fellowship with God
Date: Sunday Evening — December 4, 2011
Tape # 1 John #3
Readings: David Burge and Rex Bartley
Let’s open our Bibles to the book of 1st John. Our text will be verse 3. This general epistle was written by the beloved John, the son of Zebedee. John was the youngest of the Apostles, but he outlived them all. Let’s read verses 1-3 together.
(1 John 1:1-3) “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen [it], and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1-3)
John’s subject in this text is — Fellowship with the Father andd the Son. Who better than John could write to us about this subject — Fellowship with the Father andd the Son?
The word “fellowship” is a word full of suggestiveness. It is pregnant with meaning. John tells us that we who trust Christ have fellowship with the Father and the Son. This word “fellowship” suggests the deepest, most sublime, and most tender aspects of our relationship to the sacred Trinity. The word is so meaningful that it is almost impossible to give it a full and complete translation. In fact, our King James translators have given us a great variety of translations in our English Bibles. In the New Testament the word that John uses here is translated “contribution,” “distribution,” “communication,” “communion,” and “fellowship.”
When John says, “our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ,” his meaning is that we are partakers, partners, and companions of the eternal God through the mediation of His Son Jesus Christ! We often speak of the fellowship of the brethren, fellowship with one another, and fellowship as a Church. We know something about this blessed gift of grace, having fellowship with one another (Colossians 3:13-14). We have enjoyed it in this place for 32 years! To have fellowship is…
“And above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Colossians 3:14-15)
Our fellowship with each other arises from, and depends on our fellowship with God.
“Fellowship is a specifically Christian word and denotes that common participation in the grace of God, the salvation of Christ, and the indwelling of the Spirit which is the spiritual birthright of all Christian believers.”
— John R. W. Stott
In the Garden
Fellowship with God was the richest blessing our father Adam enjoyed in the Garden before the fall. We can hardly imagine it, but Adam walked with God and talked with God as a man walks and talks with a friend!
(Genesis 2:18-20) “And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof. 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18-20)
Then sin entered into the Garden! Sin entered into the Paradise God had made for man, and that wonderful fellowship was broken. One day the Lord God came into the Garden and found Adam and Eve hiding from Him. — Friends don’t hide from each other! The fellowship was broken!
(Genesis 3:23-24) “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:23-24)
(Isaiah 59:2) “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear.”
(Romans 8:7-8) “7 Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Man knows that the fellowship is broken. Ever since God drove man out of the Garden man has been trying to repair and restore the fellowship. But all the attempts of men to restore fellowship with God are refuges of lies that create a false fellowship (Isaiah 28:14-20).
(Isaiah 28:14-15) “Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which [is] in Jerusalem. 15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:” (Isaiah 28:14-15)
(Isaiah 28:17-20) “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. 19 From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only [to] understand the report. 20 For the bed is shorter than that [a man] can stretch himself [on it]: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself [in it].” (Isaiah 28:17-20)
(Isaiah 28:16) “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner [stone], a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:16)
Your refuge of lies will crumble. Your covenant with death shall be disannulled. But God says…
Now, back to our text. — 1 John 1:3. John tells us that being built on this Foundation, Jesus Christ crucified, washed in His blood and robed in His righteousness, united to Him, wed to Him, in union with Him, “we have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ!”
The Lord Jesus Christ has brought fallen sinners into blessed fellowship with God. He has restored that which He took not away!
(1 John 1:1-2) “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen [it], and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.)”
(2 Timothy 1:9-10) “Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
(1 John 1:3) “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
Be sure you do not miss this: — John was inspired by God the Holy Spirit to write this blessed epistle…
That which John teaches us here is a profound, stupendous, and amazing fact of God’s free grace in Christ. But, amazing and mysterious as it is, it is nonetheless true.
Proposition: The Apostle is telling us that as believers we have all things in common with God almighty in Christ Jesus!
“We have turned everyone to his own way.” — We all went astray. By nature, our hearts are enmity against God. By nature, we are children of wrath even as others. And in holy justice, the Most High turned His face from our fallen race, proclaiming, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Men by nature hate God. And God is angry with the wicked every day.
But it was the purpose of our Lord Jesus Christ in coming into the world to undo the fall and restore His people to that fellowship which we lost in Adam. It was the great object of His substitutionary sacrifice to reconcile God to us and us to God. He came to bring us back into fellowship with God.
We who believe are no longer “strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God.” That which we lost by the fall of the first Adam, we have regained by the obedience and death of Christ, the last Adam. Paradise was lost by a representative man, Adam. Paradise is regained by the Representative God-man, Christ.
Divisions: Speaking to you about Fellowship with the Father and the Son, I want to call your attention to three things of which John speaks in our text.
An Indescribable Blessing
I will reverse the order of my text and begin with John’s last phrase, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Here John tells us about an indescribable blessing of grace. This is a blessing of grace enjoyed by every believing sinner. Every blood bought soul in the common faith of our Lord Jesus Christ has reason to confidently declare, — “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Our Lord Jesus said, — “If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him” (John 14:23). It is to this fellowship which we have been called in salvation. — “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).
Yes, without the least presumption, every true believer can say, “We have fellowship with the Father.” — “Truly, our fellowship is with the Father.” Are we washed in the blood of Christ? Are we regenerated by the Holy Spirit? Has God Himself implanted within us a new heart and given us a new nature? Do we live by faith in Christ? Do we trust God’s Son? If so, then we have fellowship with the Father. But what is this fellowship? — This is no idle dream! — This is not a meaningless religious profession! — This is not some imaginary presumption! — “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ!” — We walk together with God and His Son, in communion, in agreement, and in love. — “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”
In order to have fellowship with someone there must be an agreement of heart. — Hear the Word of the Lord by His prophet Amos, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (3:3). At the very foundation of fellowship there must be a likeness. We must have like wishes, like desires. We must be resolved upon like ends. Our spirits must be united for the same cause. — If our fellowship is with the Father, we see things as He sees them and we desire what He desires, not in perfection, but in sincerity. Our prayer, and desire, and motivation of heart is, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name — Thy will be done.” Let me show you what I mean.
His Purposes — We feel a sweet agreement of heart with God in His eternal purpose of grace. — As I read the Book of God, I find that from all eternity, He has ordained Christ to be the Head of His Church, the Mediator of the Covenant, the Representative of a chosen race, and the Substitute of His people. I find that God has graciously chosen to Himself an innumerable company of fallen sinners. It is revealed in the Bible that God is a God of distinguishing mercy and discriminating grace.
It is written, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Again we read that God will bring many sons to glory “to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”
Now, in the sight of the all-knowing God, we can say that our hearts are in full agreement with His purposes. We love them. We delight in them. The decrees of God are satisfying to our souls. If it were possible for us to alter the book of His intentions, we would make no change whatever. In our heart of hearts we feel that whatever God has ordained is right. God’s election and distinguishing love are subjects of great delight to us. Let the ungodly rebel if they will. We will say with our Lord, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for it seemed good in Thy sight.”
His Glory — And we have fellowship with God in the object for which all things are ordained of Him — His own glory. The highest aspiration of our hearts is that in all things He may be glorified. Our prayer is “Father, glorify Thy name.” With David, we say, “Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee: and let such as love Thy salvation say continually, let God be magnified.”
Substitution — Again, our hearts are in complete agreement with the Father in the plan by which He accomplishes His purpose. God has chosen to save sinners by the sacrifice of His own dear Son in their place. Looking at God’s plan of redemption by Christ from beginning to end we see that it is the wisest, most gracious, most glorious scheme that could ever be devised.
Oh the love that drew salvation’s plan,
Oh the grace that brought it down to man,
Oh the mighty gulf that God did span,
“Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid.” — “The Stone that the builders refused” God has chosen. And unto us that believe He is precious. It pleased God to send His Son, “in the fullness of time, made of a woman, made under the law to redeem them that were under the law.”
I might add that our hearts do fully agree with God’s display of His own glorious attributes in the salvation of sinners by Christ. There was no way possible for God to save sinners and still be Himself except by sacrificing His darling Son in our place on the cross. But, by the substitutionary work of Christ, both His justice and His mercy are plainly revealed.
Š We see His grace in forgiving the sinner; but we see his holiness in avenging sin upon the Substitute.
Š We see the truth of His law by no means clearing the guilty. And we see the truth of His promise “passing by transgressing, iniquity, and sin.”
Even in order to save our souls, we would not have God to alter His holiness. We would not want Him to be unjust. If He did not fulfill His threat in the law, we would have no assurance of His promise in the Gospel. But, in as much as He made Christ sin for us, we are assured that He has made us the righteousness of God in Him.
The People of His Choice — Not only do we have an agreement of heart with God in all His purposes, we also have fellowship with the Father in the objects of His love. When two people love the same thing, their affection becomes a bond between them. A man and a woman may love each other dearly, but when children are born in their home, the children become bonds of love. Each of the parents gives their hearts to the child. Yet, the child seems to increase their love for one another. Such is our fellowship with the Father.
Communion — Again, if our fellowship is with the Father, there is a mutual, intimate communion and communication between us. We have not seen the Lord; we have not heard him; nor have we touched Him in a physical way. But, I am persuaded that, if you and I know the Lord God, there is a mutual, intimate communication between our souls and the Father.
Moreover, if we are partakers of the Divine nature, so that our fellowship is with the Father, then we delight in that which pleases Him. If I have fellowship with God, I love what He loves and hate what He hates.
If I have fellowship with God, my greatest misery is our sin. My sin is my affliction. My sin my bondman.
As God loves Christ, delights in Christ, and gives glory to Christ, even so, if we have fellowship with God Jesus Christ is our love, our delight, and our glory.
“And with His Son” — Every true believer has fellowship with Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. All who have fellowship with the Father have fellowship with the Son, for the Father and the Son are one. Yet, they are two distinct Persons.
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7)
Blessed be God, we know that we love Christ. — “We love Him because He first loved us!” We do not love Him as we desire. We do not love Him as we should. We do not love Him as we soon shall. But we can say, “Lord, thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee.” Christ has brought us into His banqueting house. His banner over us is love. We have seen Him! We have heard Him! We have handled Him! There have been those blessed seasons when we have had to say, “Stay me with flagons of wine, for I am sick of love. His left hand was under my head. With His right hand He did embrace me. Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth; for His love is better than wine!”
Yes, “We love Him because He first loved us!” In all things He is first.
We have been made partakers of Christ’s sufferings. We have been with Him in the garden, weeping over sin. We have been with Him at the cross, dying daily. Having been crucified with Christ, we are crucified to the world and the world to us.
We have fellowship with Christ in the power of His resurrection. By that power, we are justified. By that power we have risen to the newness of life. By that power we are sanctified. By that power we live in hope of the resurrection.
We have fellowship with Christ in His intercession. As kings and priests, we have free access unto the most holy place. We go in and out without fear, because Christ has opened for us a new and living way.
A Heartfelt Desire
Intentionally, I have spent the bulk of our time upon this glorious thought, “Truly, our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” I hope that you know what that fellowship is. But now, briefly, I want you to see another thing in our text. — All who enjoy this fellowship ought to share John’s holy and affectionate desire — “That ye also may have fellowship with us.” This is my heart’s desire for you who hear my voice. — “That ye also may have fellowship with us.”
Having found the honey, we cannot eat it alone. Having tasted that the Lord is gracious, it is one of the first desires of a newborn soul to bring others to enjoy the goodness of salvation by Christ. Oh, I would to God that every man, woman, and child to whom I preach should be altogether as I am, except with these bonds of sin. Like Paul, we can say, “I would to God that ye were not only almost, but altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”
Oh, my soul, I wish you knew the fellowship of God, the riches of grace in Christ, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
A Wondrous Declaration
Now, brethren, let us take appropriate action to bring sinners into our fellowship. Not just any action will do. John tells us what we must do — “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.” Let me tell you what I have seen, and heard, and known, “that ye also may have fellowship with us.”
Would you be clean? You must wash in Christ’s blood. — Would you be justified and pardoned? You must trust the merits of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. — Would you be righteous? You must put on Christ’s righteousness. — Would you be set free from the curse of the law and the bondage of sin? You must call upon Christ, the Mighty Deliverer. — Would you be sheltered from the storm of Divine wrath? You must flee to Christ the Refuge. — Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Head of the Covenant and the Covenant itself. He is the promise of the Gospel and the Gospel itself. All the grace of God is in Christ. Be sure, my friend, that you do not miss Christ.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)
Who can contemplate the unspeakable blessedness of this fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, but with the most heartfelt joy! By reason of our union with Christ, we have communion with God in Christ. Because we have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, we have all things common with the Father and the Son on Christ our Mediator because of our union with Him! We are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ!”
(1 John 1:1-4) “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen [it], and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:1-4)
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