Making disciples who love God, love people, and serve the world!
Crescent City Church of Christ
485 9th Street, PO BOX 752, Crescent City, CA 95531
Office Phone: Monday - Thursday, 10 AM - 2 PM: (707) 464-6312

What is Christian Fellowship?

Fellowship is something that is shared by all faithful Christians.  The word "fellowship" comes from the Greek word koinonia, meaning, "fellowship, association, community, communion, or joint participation".  The King James Version calls it communion (1 Cor. 10:16; 2 Cor. 13:14); communicate (Heb. 13:16); or contribution (Rom. 15:26).  It is an intimate bond that unites all Christians together. 

True Christian fellowship is not just potluck dinners, youth activities and other gatherings.  Although, some very meaningful times of fellowship can occur during these activities.  True fellowship goes beyond mere social activity.  True fellowship is found in unity of the heart, spirit and understanding which can only come from a mutual acceptance of Biblical authority and a mutual love for the truth.  Christian fellowship is not a weapon to be utilized in order to bend others to our will, as some attempt to misuse it by "withholding" it from those who differ from them in things that are strictly matters of opinion.

Fellowship with other Christians is an outcome of our fellowship with God.  Our fellowship is not so much with each other as it is with God.  1 John 1:3, "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."

That fellowship with the Father and the Son is conditioned upon our continued faithful obedience to the gospel –i.e. "walking in the light."  1 John 1:6-7, "If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."  If we do not walk in the light we have no fellowship with God.  If we have no fellowship with God, then we have none with those who walk in the light!

If we are in sin, we can have no fellowship with God.  Isa. 59:1-2, "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
Hab. 1:13, "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?"

Since it is impossible for God to be in fellowship those who are in sin, it would stand to reason that a Christian also could not possibly be in true fellowship with those who are in sin.  When an individual or even an entire congregation commits sin the chain of fellowship with God and with faithful Christians is broken.  Eph. 5:11, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.2 Cor. 6:14-17, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' Therefore, 'Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'"  This does not mean that we cannot have friendships or any interactions with non-Christians, but that we cannot partner with them in the participation of their sinful lifestyle.  However, this does not mean that fellowship cannot be restored, but there must first be repentance on the part of the transgressor.

The question remains as to how we determine who we are to "fellowship."  We have already seen that we cannot be in fellowship with the works of darkness or unrighteousness.  So, in determining fellowship we need to begin by differentiating between darkness and light and between righteousness and unrighteousness.  The Bible clearly defines righteousness and godliness.  2 Pet. 1:3, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."  The secret to understanding where lines of fellowship are drawn is discovered by a diligent study of God’s Word.  2 Tim. 2:15 KJV, "Study [give diligence -ASV] to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

Discovering lines of fellowship requires careful study and righteous judgment on our part.  1 Thess. 5:21-22, "Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil."  We must be very careful not to give the impression that we "fellowship" with error or that we "fellowship" with those who practice error.  True Christian fellowship is a wonderful blessing, but as with all of God’s blessings, it rests upon us to remain faithful.  Only then will we be able to share in God’s fellowship throughout eternity.