Week 2

Week 2 - The Fellowship of Life

1 John 1:2-3 (And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us);  3   That which we have seen and heard we report also to you that you also may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

2 Cor. 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Phil. 2:1-2  If there is therefore any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of spirit, if any tenderheartedness and compassions, 2   Make my joy full, that you think the same thing, having the same love, joined in soul, thinking the one thing,

Acts 2:42  And they continued steadfastly in the teaching and the fellowship of the apostles, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.

THE VERTICAL ASPECT OF THE DIVINE FELLOWSHIP BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

The divine fellowship has two aspects: the vertical aspect between God and us and the horizontal aspect among the believers. The horizontal aspect of the divine fellowship is by the human spirit. The vertical aspect of the divine fellowship is by the divine Spirit, the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14; 2 Tim. 4:22). The word by is actually not strong enough to express what we mean. The Spirit is not merely involved, wrapped up, or mingled with the fellowship. The Spirit Himself is the fellowship because the fellowship is the flow, the current, of the Spirit. This is like saying that the current of electricity is just the electricity itself. The current of electricity is electricity in motion. When the electricity stops, the current of electricity also stops. In the same way the fellowship of the Holy Spirit mentioned in 2 Corinthians 13:14 is the Spirit moving. The grace of Christ is Christ Himself enjoyed by us, the love of God is God Himself tasted by us, and the fellowship of the Spirit is the Spirit Himself moving within us. The divine fellowship is the Holy Spirit Himself.

Without the divine Spirit there is no fellowship. The Spirit is the very element of the fellowship. When a stand is made of wood, wood is the element of the stand. Likewise, if a stand is made of steel, steel is the element of the stand. If you take away the element, the stand ceases to exist. It is the same with the divine fellowship. If you take away the Spirit, the divine fellowship disappears.

THE HORIZONTAL ASPECT OF THE DIVINE FELLOWSHIP BY THE HUMAN SPIRIT

We need to enter into the horizontal aspect of the divine fellowship by the human spirit (Phil. 2:1; Rev. 1:10). If we are going to have real fellowship horizontally with one another, we need to exercise our spirit. If we exercise our spirit, we will never talk in a worldly manner or speak negatively about the saints or the churches. A local church can be severely damaged if many of the saints in that locality spend time speaking negative things about other saints and other churches. Such discussions spread gossip and death among the saints. This kind of contact between the saints is not the fellowship of spirit that Paul speaks about in Philippians 2. In Philippians 2:1-2 Paul says, “If there is therefore any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of spirit, if any tenderheartedness and compassions, make my joy full.” Paul seems to be saying, “Brothers, if you have any fellowship with me in spirit, your fellowship will be my encouragement and consolation. Then you will make my joy full.”

The two aspects of the divine fellowship require us to be in the two spirits, the Holy Spirit and the human spirit. These two spirits eventually become one (Rom. 8:16; 1 Cor. 6:17). When Paul charges us to walk according to the spirit in Romans 8:4, he is speaking of the mingled spirit—the divine Spirit mingled with our human spirit. When we exercise our spirit to carry out the divine fellowship, we are fully sanctified, rescued, and saved from everything other than Christ. To be victorious, overcoming, sanctified, and transformed, we must exercise our spirit to carry out the two aspects of the divine fellowship.

THE INTERWOVEN FELLOWSHIP INCLUDING THE VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL ASPECTS

The horizontal and vertical aspects of the divine fellowship are very closely related. We can see this from our experience. Sometimes we may talk about other saints under the pretense of having fellowship about their situation, but our conversation is actually gossip. Afterward, we often cannot pray because our praying spirit is quenched by our gossip. But when we fellowship in a genuine way by exercising our spirit, we are eager to pray and contact the Lord. This shows how close the relationship is between the vertical and horizontal aspects of fellowship. The horizontal fellowship ushers us into the vertical fellowship. If two brothers exercise their spirit to have genuine, proper, horizontal fellowship, they will eventually be ushered into a very honest and sincere intercession. When they pray together, the two aspects of the divine fellowship are interwoven. The horizontal fellowship is interwoven with the vertical fellowship. This interwoven fellowship is the real fellowship.

Fellowship cannot have just one aspect alone. You cannot have the vertical fellowship without the horizontal fellowship. If you have a good time with the Lord in vertical fellowship, you will be eager to see the other saints in order to have fellowship with them. Once you have fellowship with the saints through prayer, you are brought into vertical fellowship with the Lord again. Your horizontal fellowship with the saints brings you into vertical fellowship with the Lord. Then your fellowship with the Lord brings you into horizontal fellowship with the saints. Thus, these two aspects are always interwoven; that is, they are always criss crossing each other.

When we have the proper view of the divine fellowship with its two aspects, we will thank the Lord that we have the opportunity to fellowship with other saints. Every day as we fellowship with the Lord, we are ushered into fellowship with other saints. The more we have this kind of fellowship, the more we will sing and praise the Lord together. There is not much singing and praising among us because we are short of the divine fellowship. 

THE DIVINE FELLOWSHIP BEING EVERYTHING IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Just as the current of electricity is the electricity itself, the fellowship of the divine life, the flow of the divine life, is the divine life itself. We can say that electrical appliances live an “electrical life,” a life of the current of electricity. Similarly, our Christian life is a life of the fellowship of the divine life. The New Testament reveals that the Christian meeting, the Christian married life, and the Christian work are just the divine fellowship. The divine fellowship is everything in the Christian life. Those who were saved in Acts 2 were brought into and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ fellowship (v. 42). Later in the New Testament, the divine fellowship is called the fellowship of the Father and of His Son (1 John 1:3), the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14), and the fellowship of spirit (Phil. 2:1).

In John’s first Epistle, he speaks of the divine fellowship. First John 1:2-3 says, “(And the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us); that which we have seen and heard we report also to you that you also may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” The apostles wanted to have fellowship with the believers; this is horizontal fellowship. Then the apostles stated that their fellowship was with the Triune God; this is vertical fellowship. The vertical fellowship brings us into the horizontal fellowship. The horizontal fellowship then brings us into the vertical fellowship on a larger scale. This larger scale of fellowship is the meetings….Eventually, in this divine fellowship God is interwoven with us. This interweaving is the mingling of God with man. All the meetings should be an interwoven fellowship with both the vertical and horizontal aspects. 

We must realize that when fellowship disappears, God also disappears. God comes as the fellowship….The divine fellowship is everything in the Christian life. The apostle Paul lived in this fellowship. When we live in the divine fellowship, our Christian life becomes very living, active, and full of impact. We need to fully enter into the experience of the divine fellowship in its two aspects by the two spirits. (The Triune God to Be Life to the Tripartite Man, Chp. 18)

Discussion questions:

  1. What physical examples can be used to illustrate the experience of fellowship of life?  
  2. What is vertical fellowship? What is horizontal fellowship?  How are they related?