On the Day of Pentecost the Church of Jesus Christ was born. As the Holy Spirit was poured out on the first born-again people, who made up the Church a crowd gathered and Peter began to preach the Gospel and said:
"...'Save yourselves from this untoward generation.' Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:40, KJV)
3,000 people responded to the Gospel Message that Peter preached and received Christ. Thus adding 3,000 believers to the 120 who were already assembled in one accord. These 3,120 believers were the very first born-again believers, who made up the Church and they continued steadfastly in...
- The Apostles' Doctrine (teachings)
- The Breaking of Bread
Likewise Today, we too, need to be saved from this untoward (perverse) generation. The early Church set the standard and laid out for us, the Church, a biblical path for us to journey on.
When you are born-again God puts you on a path, a path of spiritual maturity and formation. While we all enter the Kingdom of God as a babe. God's plan is that we all mature in Him. God desires for each of us to grow in our relationship with Him.
God has a specific path for us to mature on. Our goal here at LightHouse Discipleship Center is to enable those who want to mature to get and stay on this path. I pray everything we do here at LightHouse Discipleship Center is helping others to get on this path.
If it was good enough for the early Church. It is good enough for us.
This path that the early Church trail-blazed for us consisted of (4) things as their spiritual food group. It is one path working in balance together to help produce balanced growth.
We believe, if you will partake of these (4) things in balance, this continual diet will bring balanced growth in your life. We believe, anyone and any church who will get on this path will without fail grow and mature in Christ.
Naturally speaking, there is more to having children than just having children. You have to raise them, feed them, school them, discipline them and more, including changing their diapers.
Likewise, being saved is not enough. Being born-again is not enough. There is more to getting saved. Just as we must be deliberate in raising healthy children we need to be deliberate in growing the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you," (Gal. 4:19)
Good parents desire to raise healthy and well-disciplined children. They will feed their children, a well-balanced and healthy diet. They will school them with a good education. They want their children to be functional, effective and prosperous in life.
Throughout their formative years they will help vet proper friendships. No good parent will just open the door and allow their children to be friends with anyone. Wise parents understand that if their immature children are exposed to the wrong things too early, it could damage their development.
"Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." (1 Cor. 15:33)
We learned last week during our teaching on the Apostles' Doctrine:
"But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." (2 Tim. 3:13)
Ultimately, as their children grow and become adults themselves. Good parents pray that their children become mature, making good life-choices and become a functional part of society: taking care of themselves, their own families responsibly and contributing to society.
We praise God for our children. But those who do not get on a healthy path of maturity, will not grow. They will not mature and flourish.
The same principle applies spiritually. Praise God for our new birth in Christ. But just like the early Church we need to continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42).
The Apostles' Doctrine
Everything starts with teaching, teaching the Word of God.
His Word effects you in ways that are supernatural!
"I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name." (Ps. 138:2)
We need to feed on His Word, the Apostles' Doctrine on regular basis in order to mature. We need the Word of God desperately and His Word will have a profound effect on our lives.
When Jesus is real and alive in our lives, there is a synergy that takes place when we partner together.
When I am in fellowship (koinonia) with other believers. The life of Christ that is in them begins to bring the life of Christ out of me and visa versa.
Now, the Greek word for fellowship is koinonia and it has the following definitions:
When you think of fellowship, think of 2 fellows in a ship. We are not island to ourselves (Rom. 14:7).
2. Sharing in the gift of life
Your story needs to be told.
3. Social Intimacy
It is literally defined as "social intercourse." I am not trying to be crude or paint a improper image in your minds. But the fellowship of the Church is different and deeper than the world's fellowship. The world has clubs, bars, groups and getaways of various kinds.
But in the faith our love for each other is pure. We really love each other. We really desire to encourage, esteem and edify one another. Our level of fellowship is on a different and deeper level than the world and sometimes even our own natural families.
In fellowship we are giving away something to someone else.
"But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." (Eph. 4:15-16)
Selah (think and mediate on this).
Now, there is nothing wrong with just attending church. But fellowship is a partnership. It is okay and sometimes healthy to attend church and not connect. Let me explain.
Sometimes people have been damaged and broken and previous churches. They need healing. Sometimes based on their background for a number of different reasons they are uncomfortable to fellowshiping at the level we are teaching here.
Sometimes people's doctrines have been so messed up by wrong teaching. Their perception of God is all wrong. They need to just sit under the Apostles' Doctrine and get their thinking straightened.
However, there is a time when we all need to engage and connect at some level of fellowship.
I believe good a good church culture helps facilitate a loving environment where we engage and connect better.
We all need to develop fellowship at some level. We need to share this new life in Christ, together as the Body of Christ. God has something powerful and miraculous in our hearts and lives. We were all in a sinking ship. Whether that was accompanied by addiction, gossip, abused, doubt, unbelief, religion,. etc.
Many of us have a tendency of not wanting to help others who are sinking in the same ship. We are just overjoyed that we are free! We are saved! Amen. Praise God.
Don't misunderstand me, there is valuable wisdom in becoming mature in the faith for ourselves first before we are strong enough to help others in the areas we once had a weakness.
For instance if we were an addict. We need to become mature and strong in the faith before we attempt to minister to other addicts on our own. We do not want to be tempted to return to the sinking ship we just got out of.
Do we really care about others in their hurting lives?
Some of us tend to want to fellowship with those we have a level of common ground with. For instance some people will only fellowship with people of the same race or the same economic status.
Beloved friends, our fellowship is on the basis of the cross. We have equality in Jesus. There is a place in our faith, where our faith transcends our cultural background. There is a depth of fellowship that God wants to do in our hearts and lives.
"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, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 Jn. 1:1-3)
John said that they (the Apostles) saw the Word of God (Jesus) made flesh. The Apostles had an incredible experience that we did not have. They physically saw, Jesus the Word of God in the flesh. They saw Him, they touched Him, etc.
What is more, John said that he is writing this, "...that you also may have fellowship with us..." (1 Jn. 1:3). John is inviting us to have fellowship with the who? The Apostles!
He goes on to say:
"And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." (1 Jn. 1:4)
There is nothing wrong with enjoying other things God has blessed us with. However, we must beware because many of those things want to take away our joy when they break, are lost or stolen. God has blessed us with them, but they are temporal.
The joy of our salvation, the joy of the Kingdom is eternal.
John says, if we embrace these things that the Apostles' are teaching us, our joy will be full. This joy is eternal, meaning it does not vacillate, it does
not fade. This joy is constant. Our joy will be full.
"This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice 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 Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 Jn. 1:5-7)
The Apostles' teaching informs us that God desires us to have fellowship with one another not just God.
If we say we have fellowship with God while we are in darkness. We lie and know not the Truth.
Now, if God stops fellowshipping with us, as many teach. Based on which sin? The big ten? None of us is perfect, in the flesh.
No, if I choose to live and walk in darkness. God doe U condone it, saying, "It doesn't matter." When I walk in darkness God is not fellowshipping with me in that (specific) act of darkness.
When I walk in darkness. I hear God very clearly. He usually says something like, "What's up with this?" or "What were you thinking?" I hear Him very clearly speak to my heart saying, "This is not My plan for your life. That's not what I saved you for....that's what I saved you from."
Yes, He chastens me by His mercies that new every morning . Yes, He corrects me. Yes, He convicts me. To get me back on the right path.
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another..." (1 Jn. 1:7)
God will never leave me or forsake me, no matter what I do. His love is unconditional. God never changes.
But when I sin, when I walk in darkness (out of the light), like Adam, my fellowship with God changes. And my fellowship with you is broken.
I am amazed at our church culture at large today. I am amazed that many people refuse in their political correctness acknowledge, "that is wrong" or "that is right." Friends, if we don't know what sin and darkness is how are we going to avoid walking in it?
We are called to walk in the path of the just (Pr. 4:18; Is. 26:7).
Beloved friends, Jesus already resolved the issue of sin between man and God. God loves you unconditionally. Jesus has bore our penalty (the wrath of God) for all of our sins. The issue of sin is forever resolved between us and God.
Our issue with sin is us loving God and us loving people.
Sin hurts people!
You cannot name me one sin that does not hurt others. Sin will destroy your life and it will destroy your fellowship.
Sin endangers fellowship. Sin breaks fellowship.
Duane Sheriff once helped a pastor who was sleeping around with people in his church. This pastor once confronted was only concerned with God loving him.
Therefore, Pastor Duane had to shake this pastor and say, "Listen! This has nothing to do with God's love for you. It has everything to do with your love for God. Your love for your wife. Your love for your kids. Your love for your congregation. You are hurting people!"
Sin hurts people!
When steal, kill, commit adultery, lie, cheat, etc. we are hurting people. We are hurting our fellowship. The entire Law is hinged on loving God and loving one another. Sin damages fellowship.
Beloved friends, we do not understand the power and importance of fellowship. Sin damages fellowship. We not only need to get things right with God (through Jesus). We also need to get things right with one another.
When we walk in the Light we have fellowship. When we walk in darkness we can damage every relationship.
God did not save us just for our fellowship with Him. God saved us for intimate fellowship with Him so that we by and through Him can have fellowship with one another.
"I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." (Philemon 4-6, KJV)
Paul commended Philemon's love and faith which he had towards Jesus AND TOWARDS ALL THE SAINTS. Everything in darkness hurts the saints. Sexual perversion hurts the entire family.
Many people have broken the hearts of their parents, their spouses, and/or their kids through sexual perversion (sin). Churches and friendships have been divided and destroyed due to sin.
Now the word communication in Philemon 6 is the Greek word koinonia (fellowship).
Therefore, our love for Jesus and all of the saints enables the communication (fellowship) of our faith to become effectual. Why? When we are in fellowship with God and one another we are acknowledging every good thing that is in us in Christ Jesus (Philemon 5-6).
"For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother." (Philemon 7, KJV)
When the communication (fellowship) of our faith is effectual it will refresh the saints.
Bowels is speaking of our inner man, our feelings and emotions.
How do we fellowship at this new level? By communicating our faith (koinonia): acknowledging every good thing that is in me in Christ. Koinonia is sharing your story: What is Jesus doing in your life? What is Jesus saying to you? What miracle has He done in your life? This koinonia, communication of your faith allows your faith to be effectual in refreshing the bowels of the saints.
Scientifically, when you have a healthy body, your cells multiply.
Spiritually, a healthy body is continuing in the Apostles' Doctrine, yes. A healthy body is being fed the Word of God on a regular and consistent basis. But somewhere we need to multiply. We have to care about other people and not just ourselves.
We need the Apostles' doctrine, we need fellowship.
We need to be systematically taught the Word (in the Temple) and we need fellowship (from house to house) (Acts 2:46). Fellowship at some level refreshes the saints.
Yes, there may be a season, again, where you just need to receive. You need to be ministered to. But there is a point where you need to begin to fellowship at some level and in some place. You need to walk and work it out with others. Communicating (koinonia) the good that is in you in Christ Jesus.
"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Phi. 3:8-11)
The "fellowship of His sufferings" can be confusing to many people. Some people don't want to suffer anything. Some people seem to want to suffer everything.
Christ has already suffered many things for us. Jesus already suffered the penalty of sin: death, for us. We fellowship Today in His sufferings.
What is more, Christ is still suffering as our example. No, He is not still suffering physical death. No. He is not suffering from sickness, poverty or limitations. But Christ is still suffering rejection. He is still suffering hatred and persecution. How? In us.
Suffering has a way of bonding you in fellowship. Have you ever noticed how war veterans bond together? On the battlefield they fellowshipped in their sufferings. They were there for each other. Even after several years and decades of being in battle and even if they have never met most war veteran's have an instantaneous special, unique bond that is very special and intimate.
As the Body of Christ we need to be involved in one anothers lives at some level. Where we suffer when one another suffers. We weep with those who weep and we rejoice with those who rejoice.
When we fellowship and bond together as the family of God something miraculous happens.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
Our God comforts us in our tribulations. So that, we might be able to comfort others in their trouble with the same comfort we were comforted by God.
"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ." (2 Cor. 1:5)
Please note: Christ's suffering is abounding. Meanwhile our consolation is also abounding by Christ.
"Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation." (2 Cor. 1:6-7)
Notice again, as we are partakers of His sufferings, we also partake of the consolation.
"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life." (2 Cor. 1:5-8)
Paul didn't want us to be ignorant of his trouble. He was despaired of even life. Why? Because Paul stood for the Truth in a dark culture, he was persecuted. They tried to kill him many times. He was rejected, hated and persecuted.
But Paul says, "I'm fellowshipping with God. He is comforting us so we can comfort you."
Everything you are going through has redemptive value. Some of you are going through some horrible things. It is from the devil. It is not right. But it has redemptive value. If you have fellowship with God in it. He will comfort you in it. He will put you with some of us, so we can comfort you through it.
You can be such a blessing to so many people throughout your life.
I have learned to fellowship with God in my sufferings. I have also learned to fellowship with His Church in my sufferings. I have gone through some things. Where I needed someone to talk to.
Sometimes we all need a hug.
Fellowship with God and the Body of Christ is a beautiful thing God has ordained. Everything we do in this church is to lead you to the Apostle's teaching, fellowship with other, the breaking of bread and to prayers (Acts 2:42).
God has fearfully and wonderfully joined and knit together His Body (Ps. 139:14) "...by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself." (Eph. 4:16)
Before, He died for our sins, Jesus prayed for us: "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." (Jn. 17:21)
However in contrast, throughout the years we have witnessed the horror of various devout 'Christians' devour and mistreat one another, grieving the Spirit of God (Eph. 4:29-31).
Like a bully we have seen devout 'Christians' praise God wholeheartedly with their tongues while condemning other members of His very Own Body with all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking (Eph. 4:31) with the same tongue (James 3:1-10)
We have witnessed those who boast in their love for God and His amazing grace as they themselves full of envy and strife turn their back on fellow believers, ostracizing them, rejecting them and refusing any manner of fellowship with them.
Any parent cannot expect their child who is being bullied to overcome such evil hatred without the consolation of good wholesome fellowship. Any good parent should be mindful to protect their children from such barbaric abuse.
Likewise, through the Apostles' teachings, Paul, James, John, Peter and others constantly address how the Body of Christ is designed by God to edify itself in love. We love because He first loved us. Therefore, anyone who treats his fellowman with such wickedness, like the prodigal's brother, has yet to learn and receive their Father's love. Instead they have reject not only their brother but their Father as well.
"...My brethren, these things ought not to be so...But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:10, 17-18)