The same guy who wrote the Gospel of John also gave us this powerful teaching about the fellowship of the disciples with God and with one another.

Central in this text is the reality of the foundation of every genuine fellowship.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands …

Jesus is not an idea. Jesus is not a philosophy. Jesus is not a religious teaching.

Jesus is the God-man who was heard, seen, and touched.

This letter is from an eye witness of this Jesus.

I want to draw your attention to the logic in the second half of this passage.

  1. John again reminds the reader that he is strongly grounded in the reality of what he himself has seen and heard.
  2. He then tells us that he continues to proclaim this Jesus because he wants the reader to have fellowship with himself and the others who proclaim Jesus.
  3. He clarifies that he is not just inviting us into a social club between men and women. This fellowship into which we are invited with the gospel witnesses is a fellowship into which they themselves have been invited with the Father and the Son.
  4. The joy of the disciples in their fellowship with Christ is incomplete without all the number of those who are called by His name.

This is an astounding passage and has massive implications that flow directly from the logic outlined above.

  1. Our fellowship is not laid on the foundation of mutual commitment or any human effort or affiliation. Our fellowship has as its ground the very person and work of Jesus Christ. Any other foundation for our fellowship is an unholy brood.
  2. Our fellowship is extended through proclamation. We don’t woo people into the kingdom. We don’t impress them into the kingdom with fancy worship services. We extend our fellowship by the sharing of the truth of the person and the work of Christ; that is, we share the gospel.
  3. The fellowship that we enter into and into which we invite others is a preexistent fellowship. We don’t have one fellowship with God individually and then a separate fellowship with each other. We have one fellowship: God with man! We invite others to join not into fellowship with each other but into our fellowship that we have together with God in Christ.
  4. The joy that we have in our fellowship with God is inherently missional. It is joy on a mission. It is joy that increases as more of the elect, who are called by His name, are added to make our fellowship together in Christ complete.

Fellowship with God and One Another

1 John is a short letter that opens by answering the question, how do we enter into this fellowship together with the Father and the Son?

The foundation of our love for God and for one another is the Gospel. Our entrance into this fellowship is through the confession that we have no basis in ourselves by which we can enter into fellowship with God. Our entrance into fellowship with God begins with a confession that we have no right to enter.

In God there is no darkness. In us there is no light. If we claim that we can have fellowship with God in this state we are liars. We must begin with confession of our lostness. We must repent of the darkness which consumes us. Verse 9 helps us to see how this works and moves us from repentance to belief. Not only do we confess that we are not holy as God is holy, we also believe that in Christ we have forgiveness of sin.

It is not as we suddenly walk in perfection that we gain fellowship with God and with one another. It is as we are cleansed and forgiven by the perfection of Christ that we gain entrance into this new fellowship.

Now, I want you to remember John’s gospel where we hear the words of Jesus,

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

We bear witness to the genuineness of our confession before a watching world as we display the fellowship that we have together with God in Christ. We love each other because we have entered into the perfect love and fellowship between the Father and the Son.

In John’s letter he proclaims the Gospel to us that we might have fellowship together with the Father and the Son. It is this fellowship, this love for one another, that validates our proclamation and makes our joy complete.

Love for One Another

I want to close with one last thought. What does this love for one another, this fellowship, look like? There are a tremendous number of places in scripture to look: Romans 12, Hebrews 13, John 13-15, etc. But consider what Jesus said about love for a friend.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

When we are talking about the love of one disciple of another we cannot forget the love of our Master for His disciples. He gave life on a cross so that we might have fellowship with Him. He tells us to take up our cross so that we might have fellowship with one another.

The bottom line is that this discipleship and fellowship stuff isn’t easy. If we are truly loving one another it isn’t going to be roses, it is going to be crosses. It is going to feel like suffering because it is suffering. But it is the sort of suffering into which our Lord entered. It is suffering that leads to glory.