My Great Delight in God's Word
The Experience, Growth, and Ministry of Life for the Body, Message 1
Living in the Fellowship of the Divine Life
Welcome to the first message of the new 8-message series, "The Experience, Growth, and Ministry of Life for the Body," which seems to be really practical and may be helpful for your spiritual growth. As always, the messages are so rich. I can share only some parts that I enjoyed the most.
Please note that I'm going to share the messages out of my own understanding, based on the topics in the book of Morning Revival (published by Living Stream Ministry). I'm not a theologian, and have no degree in theology at all. I'm just a God-lover who enjoys studying and sharing the Word. If you doubt anything you find in any message, please refer back to the references at the end of each message, because you will find plenty of references to the bible passages. I will try my best to quote the key verses to you, because they definitely are God's Word, the truth that can never fail. Never believe me or any imperfect man. Only believe in God's Holy Word.
I have a kind warning to you. If you don't want to experience spiritual growth, don't like to study the truth, or don't desire to be transformed by God's word, this article is not for you. You can close the page right now. (Please don't actually do it. I'm just using psychology to attract you to read it.)
Are you ready to experience the richness of the treasure hidden in the Word of God? Let's come to enjoy it together!
The first message is focusing on "fellowship," which we received from God the Holy Spirit. It consists of 2 axes, vertical and horizontal, which are inseparably interwoven. Before discussing about that, I'm going to start with one of the best-known benedictions of the apostle Paul, which appears in the last verse of 2 Corinthians. Then I'm going to move to the discussion of the 2 axes of the divine fellowship, based on some verses in 1 John chapter 1.
Trinitarian benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14
I'm quite familiar with this verse, because many pastors often use it for benediction in the dismissing of assemblies. And I love it because it tells us a lot of truth.
Firstly, it teaches us about the Triunity of our God. Yes, we have only one God. Yet there are 3 distinct Persons within the Godhead: the Father, the Son (the Lord Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. Nevertheless, all these three are One. (Don't try to fully comprehend it. It is one of the mysteries that no man can ever fully understand, because of limitation of our brain. But we will see it clearly when we will meet Him face to face.)
Secondly, it indirectly suggests the co-equality of all the three Persons in the Godhead. The apostle Paul mentions the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, even before the love of God the Father. Unless Jesus had been co-equal in authority with the Father, the apostle would have done a big mistake as blasphemy. This implies the divine co-equality of each member within the Godhead. Even though the Son willingly and humbly submits to the Father's authority, and the Holy Spirit submits to the Father and the Son, They are basically co-equal in the Divine essence, nature, attribute and authority.
Thirdly, it tells us 3 important things that the Church, as the body of Christ, needs the most. In order for the Church to grow, it needs grace, love and fellowship (communion), which we have from God in Christ through the Spirit. The Church needs all of them. Among these three, the love of God is the source of grace and fellowship. Because of God's love, He reveals His grace to us and we can have fellowship with Him. The grace of Christ is the course of the love of God, as we can clearly see God's love only through Christ. And the fellowship of the Spirit is the impartation of both the grace of Christ and the love of God, since through the Spirit, we can experience both of them and can enjoy the Triune God. All the three things come as a package. They are not separable, just as all the three Persons in the Godhead are not separable.
How can we attain these three things? It may be said that to attain these three characteristics, we need to have the Triune God Himself with us and within us as our life. We cannot achieve them by ourselves. We cannot have grace of Christ without having Christ Himself, as He is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). We cannot have God's love without having God Himself, because God is agape love (true love that is unconditional and selfless, 1 John 4:8). And we cannot have fellowship of the Spirit, without having the Spirit Himself moving within us (2 Corinthians 13:14). If we are open to the Triune God and have a close relationship with Him, we will then experience true grace, love and fellowship, and will automatically express them.
I like the way brother Witness Lee defines these three things that "the grace of Christ is Christ Himself enjoyed by us, the love of God is God Himself tasted by us, and the fellowship of the Spirit is the Spirit Himself moving within us." According to this definition of the fellowship of the Spirit, we can notice that fellowship is not a static process. It is a dynamic process. During fellowshipping, the Spirit is moving within us. (We are going to learn more about fellowship in the next section.)
From the benediction of the apostle to the Corinthian church, we have learned that the Church needs to have grace, love and fellowship from God in Christ through the Spirit. If one brother comes to visit your church, would he clearly see grace, love and fellowship, or would he rather see a lot of selfishness, hatred, and conflict instead? Would you like to be the one who builds up the Church by demonstrating true "grace, love, and fellowship" to this dark world? Would you like to fully co-ordinate and co-operate with God in His building project of His glorious Church? May we come to God and experience more grace, more love and more fellowship from Him today! Let Him shine through us by expressing more of them to the world.
The fellowship of the Spirit
In this section, we are going to decipher the truth about "fellowship." Let's start with 1 John 1:3-4.
The apostle John wrote this letter to the believers in his time (and also to us today). He wrote about our Lord Jesus as a first-hand witness. He had heard and had seen by himself. He wrote this letter so that the believers might have fellowship with him and his fellow believers. The apostle further explained that this fellowship actually is also with the Father and the Son. And through the fellowship, the their joy would be full!
We can see that there are 2 aspects of fellowship: vertical and horizontal. We need to have the vertical fellowship, the fellowship with God the Father and God the Son through God the Holy Spirit, who is in us. And we also need to have the horizontal fellowship with other saints. The two axes of fellowship are closely and inseparably interwoven. We cannot be satisfied with only one axis and ignore the other, as the apostle says that the fellowship with saints truly is the fellowship with the Father and the Son.
I think the best analogy for this is the "cross." The cross has 2 axes: vertical one and horizontal one. Only one axis cannot be a cross. The vertical one represents the reconciliation between God and us. While the horizontal one represents the reconciliation between us and others. Because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, we can have fellowship with God. And as Christ has already become the "cornerstone," joining all the believers together, particularly between Jews and Gentiles, now we can also enjoy the fellowship with others.
The apostle John continues that when we have fellowship with God, we walk in the light. And invariably, if we are walking in the light, we have fellowship with one another. Both vertical and horizontal axes are important. Neither of them is just an option.
Interestingly, the more we have fellowship with Him, the more we will have fellowship with others. And the more we have fellowship with others, the more we will also have the fellowship with God. But if one axis of the fellowship is non-functioning, the other will be affected as well.
I have met the people at both extremes. At one extreme, one may claim that he has really good fellowship with God. He reads the bible every day, and pray very often. Yet he rarely comes to have fellowship with brothers and sisters. He may appear at the church every Sunday, but he immediately leaves the church as soon as the service finishes. According to 1 John 1:6-7, his claim isn't quite logical, is it? At the other extreme, one may really enjoy the fellowship with others. He joins all the church activities. Yet he rarely has the fellowship with God. This one must be questioned if his fellowship with others is healthy, because the horizontal fellowship should have led that one to a deeper relationship with God.
I really like an analogy given by Watchman Nee. Given that we are created to be a vessel (Romans 9:21), we need to have something flowing within us. In this context, the Holy Spirit is flowing through us when we have fellowship. And a vessel has 2 openings. Likewise, we as a vessel have 2 openings, one towards God, and the other towards others. If the one towards God is blocked, the flow of the Spirit cannot come into our life. In the same way, if the one towards others is obstructed, the Spirit cannot flow in anymore because of the congestion. Therefore do not let the vessel of our life be blocked by anything. Clear the vessel each day. Contact God more so that the flow can come in more. And also let the Spirit flow out from our life by fellowshipping with others more so that the Spirit can flow into your life even more. And the result of the active flowing of the Spirit during the fellowship is that your joy will be full!
Brothers and sisters, how is your vessel status today? Is it patent with the Spirit actively flowing through? Or is it stenosed, or even completely obstructed by anything so that the Spirit cannot flow in or flow out? What is the blockage of the flow in your life today? What would you like God to remove from your life so that you can have a deeper fellowship with Him and with others? What can you do to have more fellowship, both vertically and horizontally? If God has revealed you something today, don't wait. Do according to His instruction now! And you will experience the joy that is so full!
May "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen." (2 Corinthians 13:14 NKJV)
Thirayost Nimmanon (Tony)
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