Fellowship With Christ.
THE beloved disciple in his Epistle, and what is also the keynote to it, says: “These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” This joy is the fruit of fellowship with the Father and the Son. John had proved it for himself; he knew its sweetness, it satisfied and delighted his heart, and therefore he longed to lead others into it.
“That which was from the beginning.” That which had always been true of Christ, but which we only enjoy as we learn to know Him. It is not enough to hear about Him; we need to see Him with the eye of faith—to fix our earnest gaze upon Him, to read His way, His heart, His feelings, as shown to us in His life down here. Still more, we need, with humble, reverent hands, to handle Him, to make Him our own, and lay hold of Him for ourselves, and enjoy Him. We have heard of His love to us; we have seen it in His death for us; but how much have we gazed upon Him in all that His sufferings and death involved to Him on our behalf; how much of it have we and are we daily handling and taking into our own hearts? How much of His Divine tenderness, His fondness, His fulness? Hearing will make us glad for a season, but it will not satisfy nor make us strong, unless we lay hold of the truth concerning Him and hide it in our hearts.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.” We need not wait for full experience of any truth before we tell it to others, but may speak of that which we have heard and know to be verily true. “We preach not ourselves” nor our own experiences, “but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Cor. iv. 5).
“That ye also may have fellowship with us.” John desires to share all his good things with us. We may consider fellowship in two ways:—
1. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. i. 9). The fellowship here spoken of is partnership. When we were converted, God put us into partnership with the Lord Jesus—an eternal partnership----in which He has made us sharers in all Christ’s treasures; to share and share alike with Him in everything He has. He has made us divinely rich, for “He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus” (Eph. i. 3), and He now wants us to try and live up to and fully enjoy all our spiritual income----in a word, to know His beloved Son in all He is to us and we are in and to Him. The only limit is, how much can we use? We may draw and draw; we cannot exhaust His resources. If we want anything, we need only ask, “Has Jesus got it?” and at once go and draw it from Him. His promise to us is, “My God shall supply all your need” (Phil. iv. 19). “The Lord will give grace and glory” (Ps. lxxxiv. 11). The measure of the supply is not according to our faith or obedience, but according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
We should think a person very foolish who was partner in a large firm, and entitled to £2,000 a year, if he only drew 10s. a week and lived in comparative poverty. And, oh, how foolish are we, who are in partnership with the Son of God, if we do not draw out of His fulness, according to our need. His Divine treasures of wisdom, knowledge, strength, grace, and love, are all for us. We have only to go and draw. We need not lack anything. We may dwell in the secret place of the Most High (Ps. xci. 1). We may be beautifully clothed with the fruit of the Spirit (Col. iii. 12-14). We may be richly fed with the goodness of His house (Ps. lxv. 4). We may be strengthened with might according to His glorious power (Col. i. 21). We may ride upon the the high places (Deut. xxxii. 13). And enter into His presence triumphantly, rejoicing and glorying in Him (Isaiah xxv. 10). Oh, for the living fervent faith, which will rest with nothing short of full and present possession and enjoyment of all our treasures in Him.
2. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son.” The fellowship here spoken of implies “companionship.” It is possible to enjoy partnership without companionship; to use some of the riches of Christ without having much of His company. But the Lord desires our company. He wants to see our face and to hear our voice (Sol. Song ii. 14), to have us with Him and near Him. He not only welcomes us into His presence, and delights to see us feasting there, but is also ready to come forth with us wherever we go, and help us in everything we do (Sol. Song vii. 11, 12). But Christ can only have fellowship with us in proportion as our thoughts and feelings are brought into unison with His. The natural thoughts of our hearts are only evil continually (Gen. vi. 5), and they all need correcting. We must go into His presence and sit down quietly there, before we can enjoy this constant companionship with Christ. We must read His Word at His feet, looking up in His face, and desiring to know what He says about our daily duties, cares, sorrows, pleasures, relations, and friends; our work for Him; our expectations, hopes, and longings. And, ah, when He speaks, let us take care that we answer not again. He would have us at ease in His presence, and then we shall prove the transforming power of intercourse with Him. He will not deal roughly with us—ah, no!----but, with His own gentle persuasive grace, will gradually teach us His mind and will, and enable us to think and feel about everything as He does. We shall then be “agreed” with Him (Amos iii. 3), and wherever we go, we can take Him with us; whatever we do, we can have His help—we can lean upon Him (Sol. Song viii. 5), and draw from His fulness, and prove that His grace is sufficient for us. Oh! the joy of such fellowship with Christ. Truly all things are but dross compared to it. Well may we give up everything for a little more companionship with Christ. But, better still, our Lord Himself desires it. He loved to go to Bethany—He enjoyed His welcome there; and now it is a real joy to Him when He can find a humble, loving heart that cleaves to Him. Oh, let us keep our hearts as a shelter meet for Him (John xiv. 21, 23; Isaiah lvii. 15, lxvi. 2; Zeph. iii. 17).
Eternal security and full forgiveness are the portion of every child of God; but companionship with Christ depends upon obedience, and if we seek this companionship, He will lead us on into fuller fellowship with all His ways and purposes, and we shall become true fellow labourers with Him.
“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” All is bright and sunlight with Him. There is no cloud or darkness. The clouds are all earth-born, not heaven-born. They go up from the earth, and do not come down from Heaven. So is it spiritually. If a cloud comes over the soul upon any point, we may be sure that we have not His thoughts upon that point; and we should go into His presence, and quietly sit down before Him and talk with Him about it. It is our privilege to have fellowship with Him about everything, and in His light to see light. Clouds are the fruit of unbelief, self-will, or unconfessed sin. Unbelief makes us anxious; self-will blinds our eyes; and unconfessed sin keeps us at a distance from Christ.
But why should we distrust Him? He loves us tenderly; so much so that He says, “He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye” (Zech. ii. 8). He has all power, and does what He pleases in the heavens, in the earth, and in the sea (Ps. cxxxv. 6). He is perfect in wisdom (Job xxxvi. 4), and His grace is very abundant (1 Tim i. 14).
And see the folly of self-will. Our wise and loving, gracious God has undertaken to gratify all the desires of our hearts, as far as they are for His glory and our good. He knows the best and most gentle way to do it; and when we are rebellious and self-willed, we cause ourselves much pain as well as grieve Him.
Unconfessed sin is still more foolish; for “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Unconfessed sin lies like a heavy weight upon the heart; it saddens and weakens us; it holds back the Lord’s grace to us and hinders the fond expression of love.
Thus, we need not walk in darkness. The sunlight of His love and presence can disperse every cloud, and we may “walk in the light. as He is in the light." True, there will still be sin in us, and increased fellowship with Christ will make us quick to detect it, but then the blood----His precious blood----it cleanseth us from all sin; and, walking with Him, we shall continually realize and rejoice in its cleansing power.
Oh, what a joyous gladsome path; walking on daily with our beloved Lord; leaning upon Him; feeding on Him; enjoying Him; learning of Him; receiving of His Divine fulness; and little, by little, growing more like Him.
"Footsteps of Truth" 1886