THE RIGHT HANDS OF FELLOWSHIP

By

Shelby G. Floyd

 

And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. -Galatians 2:9 KJV

 

THE RIGHT HANDS OF FELLOWSHIP

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART ONE

FELLOWSHIP WITH THE DIVINE NATURE

Lesson One: Fellowship with God
Lesson Two: Fellowship with Christ
Lesson Three: Fellowship with the Holy Spirit

PART TWO

FELLOWSHIP WITH THE DEVIL

Lesson Four: Fellowship with Sin
Lesson Five: Fellowship with Darkness

PART THREE

FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRISTIANS

Lesson Six: Fellowship with Christians

PART FOUR

FELLOWSHIP WITH SPIRITUAL THINGS

Lesson Seven: Fellowship with the Body of Christ
Lesson Eight: Fellowship with Faith and Grace
Lesson Nine: Fellowship with the Heavenly Calling
—The Olive Tree—The Gospel
Lesson Ten: Fellowship with the Lord’s Supper

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THE RIGHT HANDS OF FELLOWSHIP

PART ONE

FELLOWSHIP WITH THE DIVINE NATURE

LESSON ONE

FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

Christian fellowship is a subject about which there has been much misunderstanding; yet, it is a subject taught and explained in the New Testament, and capable of being understood by those who love the truth and will take the time to investigate what God has said. It is our aim in dealing with this subject to speak of fellowship generically, and then define that fellowship in more particular terms; that is, we shall outline fellowship as a state or relationship of Christians, one with another, and with the divine Godhead, and then specify the acts necessary to put one into that state and to maintain that relationship.

Our attention must first be focused upon the fellowship of the divine nature. It is obvious, if one does not have fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one certainly cannot have fellowship with God’s children. Concerning the fellowship with the divine nature, the apostle Peter said,

“According as his divine Power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and. virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1: 3-4).

According to this statement, Christians are partakers of the divine nature when they receive and practice the things pertaining to life and godliness, given to them by the divine power, and received by them through the knowledge of the scriptures.

The word partakers as used above, is from a word, which means to be a partaker or a sharer in a thing. Christians then have a fellowship of the divine nature because they partake or share in the divine nature of God Almighty. To be more particular, one has fellowship with the divine nature by having fellowship with the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, which compose the Godhead (Cf. Acts 17: 29; Colossians 2: 9). For instance, late in his life, the apostle John said,

“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.”
(I John 1: 3).

The word fellowship is found twice in this verse in connection with our relationship to the Father and his Son Jesus Christ; it is from a word which means association, community, communion, joint participation, and points to the very close relationship that should exist between the Father and Son and his spiritual children. In commenting upon the use of the word fellowship in this verse, one has said,

“…of the fellowship of Christians with God and Christ. (Which fellowship, according to John’s teaching, consists in the fact that Christians are partakers in common of the same mind as God and Christ, and of the blessings arising there from)” (Thayer, p. 352).

A Christian then has fellowship with God and his Son Jesus Christ when he is of the same mind as the Father and the Son, and when he has partaken of the spiritual blessings, which are in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1: 3). This fellowship with the Father and the Son is a conditional fellowship. It is both conditional as to entering into that state, and it is conditional in maintaining that relationship. How, and upon what conditions does one enter into a relationship with the Father and the Son? In the great commission Jesus supplies the answer: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28: 19). Fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is contingent upon baptism and its antecedent actions of faith, repentance and confession.

Having entered into fellowship with the divine nature, there are certain conditions to maintain that fellowship.

“This then is the message which we have heard of him,
and declare unto 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 the truth.”
(1 John 1: 5-6).

Light often figuratively stands for truth and righteousness while darkness stands for error and unrighteousness. Since God is truth and righteousness, one cannot be walking in error and unrighteousness and maintain fellowship with the Father. If one avows that he is in fellowship with the Father while at the same time walking in error and evil, he lies and speaks not the truth; therefore, one can only maintain his fellowship with the Father and the Son by continuing to live a life of truth and righteousness.

Our fellowship with the Father and the Son is further maintained by abiding in the doctrine of Christ. John said,

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (2 John 9-11 NKJV).

One who progresses and goes beyond the doctrine of Christ does not have God. One who does not have God is not in fellowship with God; therefore, those today that are teaching that doctrine has nothing to do with fellowship are absolutely wrong. If one has fellowship with a person who is going beyond the doctrine of Christ, he has fellowship with one who is out of fellowship with God. In contrast, a person who abides and stays within the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son; that is, he maintains his fellowship with the Father and the Son by continuing to abide in the doctrine of Christ. Therefore, faithful children of God, in order to maintain their fellowship with God, cannot partake of the evil deeds of those who go beyond the doctrine of Christ or of those who bid such God speed.

QUESTIONS ON THE CHAPTER

1. State and discuss the aim of this series of lessons on fellowship.

2. How many persons are involved in the fellowship of the divine nature? Name them.

3. Discuss how Christian people have fellowship with the divine nature.

4. Define and discuss the meaning of the term “fellowship” as used in 1 John 1:3.

5. How can one partake in common of the same mind as God and Christ?

6. What are the conditions of entering into fellowship with the divine nature?

7. Discuss the conditions involved in continuing fellowship with the Father and the Son.

8. What does it mean to walk “in the light?” “In the darkness?”

9. Can one maintain fellowship with God while going beyond the doctrine of Christ?

10. Can one maintain fellowship with God while having fellowship with one who has gone beyond the doctrine of Christ?

LESSON TEXTS

2 Peter 1:2-4
3as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
NKJV

Acts 17:29
29″Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.
NKJV

Romans 1:19-20
19because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
NKJV

1 John 1:3, 5, 6
3that 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. 5This 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. 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
NKJV

2 John 9-11
9Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
NKJV

MEMORY VERSE

1 John 1:3
3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
NIV

Copyright © 2002, 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142

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