They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)
Why are fellowship, discipleship and evangelism so important?
God’s truthful word to us teaches us that these three things are needed if His church is going to grow here on earth, therefore God expects all Christians to engage with them. I hope that over the last few weeks you have seen that all that I have said has its foundations in Scripture. Without the truth of Scripture, we would not be here today, and Christianity would have died out with the first Disciples.
So what have I learnt about fellowship?
I was reminded of the New Testament Greek word for fellowship: koinonia (koy-no-nee-uh). This expresses the idea of being together for mutual benefit. So it’s all about relationships.
Hebrews 10:24-25 shares this idea, saying,
And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The natural result of koinonia is that there is no fellowship without action. Hence, we believe that RBR Connections will result in deeper practical pastoral support as well as greater spiritual support.
Fellowship enables us to see that the local church is a community with real names, with real faces, with real joys and with real pain and sorrow. This is another purpose of RBR Connections. Through this shared life as a community, we become a visible manifestation of the Gospel we are all called to proclaim.
Fellowship originates from the Holy Spirit, expressed succinctly by Paul; May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14) Thus fellowship results in a relationship with God the Trinity, and with one another.
We 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. (1 John. 1:3).
Fellowship means living and sharing life together. So it is to be a priority; one of the objectives for gathering together.
Godly fellowship then is about sharing and communicating Gospel truths together, which in turn will build us up. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thess 5:11; see also Rom. 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:2; Philem. 6)
What have I learnt about Discipleship?
Being a Christian is about willingly submitting the whole of yourself to God.
The Greek word translated “disciple” means follower, someone who invests their life and time learning from someone else, and then spreading that person’s teachings to others. This is in-line with the great commission of Matthew 28 in which Jesus commands us to go and make disciples by telling others the way of Jesus.
Yes, some are gifted in teaching, but all believers are called to share with others what they know about Jesus, in accordance with the faith God has proportioned to them, (see Romans 12).
Isn’t that great? We act in proportion to the faith God has given us, and as our faith grows so does what we share.
To tell others about Jesus we need to get to know God and His Son in a deeper and personal way. This involves not only learning the truths of the Gospel, but showing them to others in a loving, caring and compassionate way. Truths such as
- Jesus is God incarnate;
- His death and resurrection was a sacrifice that we could never make as an atonement for our sin;
- His sacrificial death abolishes the power of death to separate us from God.
All of which means we are saved fromthe penalty of sin, the power of sin, and sin’s presence.
As a disciple of Jesus Christ we move from living under the power of sin, shifting instead to living in the hope of His coming, His second Advent. All of which assures us of eternal salvation.
What have I learnt about evangelism?
This is the tricky one. In sharing Jesus, we must share the truth of Jesus, a truth based on the need for all people to repent.
Matthew 4:17 tells us that Jesus challenged people with the words,v“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near”. This means explaining three realities:
- the inherent sinful nature of mankind,
- the holiness of God,
- the existence of heaven and hell.
The only means to escape the punishment of sin is faith in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. While many Christians begin their evangelistic efforts with God’s love, that is really the second half the story, because the message of God’s love is lost on unbelievers unless they first come to grips with sin, judgement, and punishment.
There is no doubt that God is a loving God. But He is also holy and righteous, thus hating sin. However, because God’s nature is full of love and mercy He provided the only acceptable sacrifice for our sin – His Son!
Ephesians 2:8–9 explains why.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
We’re saved not because we deserve it or can earn it, but by God’s grace!
Only those whose natures have been changed to be in line with God’s can escape His wrath, and thus experience His transforming nature expressed through His love and grace. If we believe these things, we will live eternally with Him in the joy of heaven. If we do not, our eternal destiny is hell.
Jesus was God on earth. We can say this with confidence because in John 5:19-20 Jesus, in His own words, tells us that He only did what He saw His Heavenly Father doing in heaven. God, through the person of Jesus, was revealing His transforming power to the world. This transforming power moves us from an earthy perspective to a supernatural heavenly one, so that we too can do what we see our heavenly Father doing in heaven.
And Jesus unashamedly acknowledges that He “can do nothing by Himself”.
This is the most radical statement to be found in the whole of Scripture as it indicates that any effort made to use God’s power for our own benefit will leave us feeling hollow and empty; it will never achieve anything and our life will be insipid and of no use to God.
Because Jesus is confessing that as “the Son (he) can do nothing by Himself” we can have confidence in our core being that the words of Jesus are utterly dependable, truthful and worthy for all to hear.
So in sharing the Gospel we must have confidence that Jesus’ words have spoken powerfully to us personally, transforming us into His likeness, and that through us He can speak powerfully to others, transforming them too, because that is what He has done us!
Fellowship, Discipleship and Evangelism are things we need to work on in our daily lives if we want to see God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.