Today’s selected reading is found in the second and third epistles written by the apostle John. More specifically today’s passage is found in the sole chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle John and the sole chapter of the third epistle written by the apostle John. “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also they that have known the truth; for the truth’s sake, whined h dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. Grace be with you,k mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ , hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that bidders him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 1-11).
“Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen” (2 John 12-13).
“The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkedst in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth” (3 John 1-8).
“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbid death them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true” (3 John 9-12).
“I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: but I trust I shall see thee, and we shall speak face to face Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name” (3 John 13-14).
When you come to these two epistles you will find two shorter epistles which were written by the apostle John. The first epistle which was written by the apostle John was indeed the longest epistle of the three he wrote and contained incredibly powerful themes within it. If you take the time to read the first epistle written by the apostle John you will find him speaking a great deal about the Son—and not only the eternal and only begotten Son but also the eternal Father who is seated upon the throne in the heavens. Within and throughout the epistle the apostle John writes and speaks about love and the imperative to love one another according to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle John and not encounter and not come face to face with the incredibly awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the clarion call, the necessity and the imperative of love. In all reality this makes complete and total sense for the apostle John was one of the original twelve disciples who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus. The apostle John together with his brother James were called by the Lord Jesus while they were mending their nets together with their father Zebedee at the Sea of Galilee. The apostle John and his brother James would indeed leave, forsake and abandon everything they knew—including their father—that they might walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the reality that having been one of the original disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ the apostle John would have heard all the words He taught concerning the kingdom of heaven.
The more you read the words which are found within the epistles written by the apostle John the more you will get the sense that his writings were largely based on that which he heard—and not only that which he heard but also that which he understood from the words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything you find within the epistles and writings of the epistles written by the apostle John must needs be carefully considered and understood in light of those three and a half years he walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the words which are found within these epistles written by the apostle John and not come face to face with a man who was indeed writing unto the saints of God based on the time he had spent walking with and following the Lord, based on hearing the words which He taught and spoke and even based on his experience after receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Not only did the apostle John walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ for those three and a half years while He was present upon the earth but he was also one of those in the upper room who received the promise of the Holy Spirit. The apostle John was one of those who on the day of Pentecost would indeed receive the promise of the Holy Spirit, would indeed experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit and with fire and would speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave him utterance. Moreover the apostle John would experience the persecution, the resistance, the rejection and the opposition of the religious leaders during those early days of the church as he and the other apostles would experience imprisonment, threats and would even be beaten by the religious leaders of that day.
As I read the words which are found within these epistles I can’t help but find at the very heart and center of it the truth and manifestation of the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father. Throughout these epistles are an incredibly wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the apostle John’s time spent walking with and following the Lord—and not only the time he spent walking with and following the Lord but also the time he spent walking with and following the other disciples who were themselves called by the Lord Jesus. It’s important to recognize and understand that the apostle John—when he made the decision to abandon and forsake everything to follow Jesus—didn’t merely make the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ but he also made the decision to walk with and fellowship together with others. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding what it looks like to walk together with Christ in this life. There would be those who would like to think that making the decision to walk with Christ simply means walking with and following Him alone and nothing else matters nor is important. I am absolutely convinced that nothing could be further from the truth for walking with and following the Lord Jesus is also a conscious and deliberate decision to walk with and fellowship together with those who are also walking with and following the Lord Jesus. It is with this being said I would like to call and draw your attention to the following words which describe the call of the apostle John and what it looked like when Jesus met them at the Sea of Galilee and called them to follow Him:
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him” (Matthew 4:18-22).
“And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little father from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went after Him” (Mark 1:16-20).
Consider the following passage which is found in the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke which describes an additional experience at the Sea of Galilee and the call to follow the Lord Jesus:
“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When he had stopped to speaking, He said to Simon, Launch out into the deep and let down you nets for a catch. But Simon answered and said to Him, Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing: nevertheless at your word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord! For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men. So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him” (Luke 5:1-11).
Each of these passages highlights and underscores Jesus’ clarion call to the brothers Simon and Andrew as well as the brothers James and John to walk with and follow Him. The apostle Matthew and John Mark each highlight and underscore the incredible reality of the Lord Jesus finding the brothers Simon called Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee and calling them to walk with and follow Him. Also there at the Sea of Galilee the Lord Jesus would also call the brothers James and John—sons of Zebedee—to come after and follow Him. Each of these brothers—each of these four men—would indeed depart, abandon, forsake and leave everything they knew and had behind that they might walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes this all the more interesting when you take the time to think about it is that when Jesus called these men to walk with and follow Him He did not provide them with any revelation concerning what doing so would mean for their lives. When the Lord Jesus called the disciples to walk with and follow Him He provided them with no revelation concerning anything they would face and experience as His disciples. We know that Jesus emphatically declared unto Simon and his brother Andrew that they would be fisher’s of men but there was absolutely nothing else that would reveal what walking with and following Him would be like.
When you read the opening chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle John you will find the basis, the grounds and the foundation for the epistle itself. Within the opening verses of the first chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle John you will find him writing concerning that which he had personally experienced as a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the epistles written by the apostle John and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth that they were written by one who had faithfully walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John would indeed walk with and follow the Lord Jesus faithfully for three and a half years hearing every word he would teach and preach and hearing everything he would speak unto the crowds and the multitudes. The apostle John would hear the Lord Jesus Christ pray and would even hear Jesus’ teaching on prayer throughout those three and a half years. The apostle John would hear the words Jesus spoke concerning forgiveness, concerning love, concerning judging and some of those core principles within the lives of men and women who would profess themselves to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss nor lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding those things the apostle John would have heard while he walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John together with the other disciples would have heard all those words the Lord Jesus Christ taught and spoke unto the crowds and the multitudes. What’s more is the apostle John would have been present during those personal and intimate settings when it was just Jesus together with His disciples as He would teach and speak unto them. The sole basis and foundation for the epistles—and even the gospel which was written by the apostle—were written based on his personal experience walking with and following the Lord Jesus:
“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. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:1-4).
Please pay close attention to the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the foundation for the words which the apostle John would write in these epistles. The apostle John would indeed write these epistles based on that which was from the beginning which they heard, which they saw with their eyes, which they had looked upon and which their hands had handled concerning the Word of life. The apostle John would go on to write how the life was manifested and they had seen and bore witness and declared to them that eternal life was with the Father and was manifested unto them.Moreover the apostle John would go on to write concerning that which they had seen and heard they declared unto them that they might also have fellowship with them—fellowship that is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely important it is when reading these words for they bring us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth at the very center of everything the apostle John would write. The apostle John would indeed write these epistles—not based on words which he heard from others but based on his own personal experience(s) together with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John would indeed have at the very heart and center of these epistles the tremendous truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and His being manifested in the earth and their walking with and following Him. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the first and third chapters of the New Testament gospel which were written by the same author:
“IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through. Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:1-18).
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).
“After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judaea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold. He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him! John answered and said, A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but, IO have been sent before Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this Hoyt of min is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from heaven is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:22-36).
It is absolutely necessary to recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the manifestation of the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father. When the apostle John wrote of those things which they heard, those things which they saw, those things which they handled with their own hands it must be understood and recognized concerning those three and a half years he walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. There must be absolutely no mistaking this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful reality concerning the Lord Jesus Christ being manifested unto and among them. He who was born Emmanuel which translated means “God with us” was indeed manifested unto them and they beheld His glory—the glory as of the only begotten of the Father which was in heaven. Oh there is a great need for us to acknowledge this when reading the epistles written by the apostle John for they bring us face to face with a man who had indeed walked with and followed the Lord Jesus. It was the apostle John who together with his brother, together with Simon and Andrew, together with Matthew and together with the others would indeed walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ for three and a half years. With this being said it is imperative we recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in this epistle for the apostle John wrote a great deal concerning love for the brethren, love for one’s neighbor and even having fellowship one with another. One of the most important and dominant themes which is found within the epistles and writings of the apostle John was indeed fellowship one with another—fellowship together with the saints of God.
What adds even more weight to this particular concept of walking with and having fellowship together with each other are the words which the apostle John wrote and recorded in the gospel which he himself wrote. If you turn and direct your attention to chapters thirteen through seventeen you will find Jesus teaching and speaking a great deal to them concerning His departure from this world and return unto the Father. What’s more is that not only did Jesus speak unto them concerning His departure from this world and return unto the Father but Jesus would also speak unto them concerning their abiding and remaining within the earth. You cannot read these chapters without recognizing and understanding the beautiful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and His instructions unto them concerning His departure. The Lord Jesus would indeed prepare them for his departure from this world and subsequent return unto the Father which was in heaven, however, in doing so He would also prepare them for their remaining upon the earth. Jesus knew that He was Himself leaving and departing from this world and was returning unto the Father and that His disciples would indeed remain and abide upon the earth. With this knowledge He would prepare and make them ready for His departure and prepare them to remain upon the earth with each other. Although the Lord Jesus would indeed depart from this world and return unto the Father—not only would He not leave the orphans and would come unto them but He would also not leave them abandoned nor alone for they would indeed have each other. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding the night on which the Lord was betrayed is the tremendous truth surrounding fellowship one with another. These five chapters must be understood through the lens of Jesus and His disciples having an intimate setting with each other and their being prepared to remain and abide upon the earth.
In order to help illustrate this all the more I find it imperative to begin with the words which are recorded in the seventeenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John. It is in the seventeenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the fellowship which the disciples of the Lord would have after His departure. For three and a half years the disciples would walk with and fellowship one with another and this would not change after the departure of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the greatest truths that is found within the New Testament gospels—and not only the New Testament gospels but also the New Testament book of Acts—is that even after the Lord Jesus departed from this world the disciples and the brethren would have each other and their fellowship one with another. Jesus did in fact promise them that He would come unto them and that he would send them the promise of the Father, however, the disciples and the brethren would also have each other as the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that each day the Lord would add unto the church such as should be saved which means the fellowship would continue to grow and expand with each and every passing day. ON the first day on which the church was itself born and established three thousand souls would be added unto their number and at one point Luke would write of there being upwards of five thousand souls which were a part of that early church. Oh this is something we must needs recognize and understand for Jesus would indeed pray for His disciples and His followers that they would be one even as He and the Father were one. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John beginning with the first and opening verse:
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you, as you have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which you have given me to do. And now, O Father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was” (John 17:1-5).
“I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world. They were yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they have known that all things which you have given me are from you. For I have given to them the words which you have given me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. And all mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your name those whom you have given me, that they may be one as we are. While I was with them in them world, I kept them in your name. Those whom you gave me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:6-19).
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word: 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. And the glory which you gave me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one: I in them, and you in me: that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved the as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also whom you gave me may be with me where I am, that that may behold my glory which you have given me; fro you loved me from before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known you, but I have known you; and these have known that you sent me. And I have declared to them your name, and will declare it, that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and in in them” (John 17:20-26).
We must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the understanding that although the Lord Jesus was indeed preparing to depart from this world and return unto the Father which was in heaven He would leave behind within and upon the earth His twelve disciples. Not only would Jesus leave behind His twelve disciples but He would also leave behind together with them many of those who had walked with and followed Him during those three and a half years. Think about the fact that in the first and opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts there were about one hundred and twenty souls who were present in the upper room together with the apostles. This number would include those women who ministered unto the needs of the Lord Jesus while He was present upon the earth, as well as Jesus’ mother and brethren. There were roughly one-hundred and twenty souls who were present in the upper room as recorded in the first and opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts which demonstrates the tremendous truth surrounding fellowship between these disciples and followers of Him. Jesus would indeed depart from this world and would return unto the Father which was in heaven that he might take up the glory He had with the Father form the beginning, however, those whom He had called unto Himself while present in the flesh upon the earth would indeed have fellowship together one with another. Jesus would indeed leave the earth with a fellowship of disciples and those who had not only walked with and followed Him but also those who had walked with and fellowshipped one with another. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the fellowship which would be manifested in the earth—a fellowship one with another based on a fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
For three and a half years the disciples and others would walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ and yet after His departure from the earth they would no longer walk with and fellowship with Him in the flesh and in person. What the disciples and those who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus would indeed be left with after Jesus’ departure would be fellowship one with another. What we must needs recognize and understand concerning this fellowship one with another is that it was to be governed by love and saturated with the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. You cannot read the words which are found within this section of Scripture and not encounter the tremendous foundation of their fellowship one with another—a fellowship that would begin as walking with and following the Lord Jesus and would continue in walking with and fellowshipping together with each other. Oh there is something truly unique and powerful this when you take the time to truly think about it for there is something beautiful and wonderful about the fellowship that would take place in the midst of the earth after the Lord Jesus would depart from the earth. Even though Jesus would depart from the earth and would return unto the Father He would not leave the as orphans or alone but would come unto them and would send the promise of the Holy Spirit. The disciples and followers of Jesus would be able to continue to have fellowship with the Father and with the Son through the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. What’s more is the Holy Spirit would be the very foundation of their fellowship one with each other as it would be the Holy Spirit who would knit them together and unite their hearts, their minds and spirits one with each other. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second and fourth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts as well as the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints, the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippian saints as well as the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints:
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were witting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:40-47).
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need” (Acts 4:32-35).
“Now concerning spiritual gifts brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one. Individually as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made do drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).
“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. (Now this, He ascended—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the statures of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 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” (Ephesians 4:7-16).
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection a nd mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservants, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).
We must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of the fellowship of the spiritual body of Christ that is and has been manifested in the earth since the time of Christ’s departure from the earth and return to the Father. From the days of the early church until now there has been a fellowship of the saints of God and a fellowship of those who have walked and are continuing to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something which warrants a strong consideration on our part for it brings us face to face with the reality that when the apostle John wrote his epistles unto the saints during those days he was writing unto those who would have enjoyed and experienced fellowship together with each other. The apostle John wrote these epistles unto saints that they might indeed experience fellowship together with each other having heard Jesus’ prayer for His disciples and followers on the night in which He was was betrayed. What’s more is the apostle John was present in the upper room on the night of the Last Supper as Jesus laid aside His garments, took up a towel and filled a basin with water that He might wash the feet of the disciples. The apostle John was indeed present in the upper room and not only had his own feet washed by Jesus but also received the instruction from Jesus to wash the feet of others. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John beginning with the first verse:
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then he came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, Lord, are you washing my feet? Jesus answered and said to him, What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this. Peter said to Him, You shall never wash my feet! Jesus answered him, if I do not wash you, you have no part with m e. Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head! Jesus aid to him, He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, You are not all clean. So when he had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, he said to them, Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for I am. IF I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives me; and he who receives me receives Him who sent me” (John 13:1-20).
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these verses of within it we find the Lord Jesus Christ laying aside His garments that He might take up the towel and wash the feet of the disciples. There in the upper room Jesus would wash the feet of the disciples and would lower Himself as a servant—even though He was both Teacher and Master. What’s more is the sole purpose of this intimate encounter was not merely that Jesus might wash the feet of the disciples but that they might have an example whereby they would wash the feet of others. It was Jesus Himself who declared that He had given them an example that they should do as he had done unto them. Jesus would go on to declare unto them that a servant is not greater than his master nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. Oh we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in these verses for they highlight and underscore the incredible truth of our being called into fellowship together one with another and with our learning how to live in community with each other. There is a great need for us as the saints of God to recognize that we have indeed been called to be those who can and will learn to live in fellowship and community with each other for this is what we have indeed and have in fact been called to. We as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ have indeed been called to be those who recognize and understand the incredible importance of walking in fellowship together with the saints and those who are walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great need for us to acknowledge and pay close attention to the fact that we have indeed and have in fact been called into fellowship with each other as those who have made the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you continue reading the words which are found in the epistles and writings of the apostle John you will find the clarion call to fellowship together with each other. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in these epistles and not encounter the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the need for fellowship one with another in the bond of peace and the spirit of unity. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the reality that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who recognize the need for fellowship together with the saints of God and those who call upon the name of the Lord. What’s more is this is more than simply gathering together on a Sunday morning each week and worshipping in the house of the Lord. In fact I would dare say there are a number of men and women among us within our churches and houses of worship who have absolutely no idea nor any understanding of what it means nor what it looks like to walk with and walk in fellowship together with the believers and saints. There are countless men and women who come to church on Sunday mornings week after week and simply do their duty and responsibility of coming to church and yet they have absolutely no idea or understanding that we have not been called to go to church but have been called to be the church. We have never been nor will we ever be called to come to church but rather we have been called to be those who actually do church and those who are the church. The church is not a state of doing but rather a state of being and we must recognize and knowledge that we have indeed been called to be the church—be those who recognize our need to love one another even as we have in fact been the recipients of love from the eternal Father. Consider the following words which are found in both the gospel narrative written by the apostle John as well as the words which are found in the epistles written by the same author and how we have indeed been called to be those who love one another even as we ourselves have received love from the eternal Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ:
“A New commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples. As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:7-11).
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:12-17).
“IN this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:10-15).
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is his commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (1 John 3:16-23).
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His. Love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because he first loved us” (1 John 4:7-19).
“If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21).
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:1-5).
“I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received a commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning you should walk in it” (2 John 4-6).