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I Believe In Fellowship

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2023 1:00 am

I Believe In Fellowship

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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May 14, 2023 1:00 am

The early church was unstoppable. Now, as we enter into fellowship with God, we learn to leave behind a life of darkness and move forward into the light. In this message from 1 John 1, we discover how the early church’s fellowship and accountability helped them grow spiritually and numerically. How did the early church turn their world upside down?

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Life in the body of Christ brings with it a wonderful element of fellowship, both with God and with other believers.

And the basis for that fellowship is spoken of by the Apostle John as, Walking in the Light. From Chicago, this is The Moody Church Hour, a weekly service of worship and teaching with Pastor Erwin Lutzer. Today we bring you the second in a four-part series of messages on the topic, I Believe in the Church.

Stay with us as Dr. Lutzer speaks on, I Believe in Fellowship. The Moody Choir opens our time of worship. Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord. Holy is the Father, holy is the Son, holy is the Spirit. Blessed be He who art in heaven, holy is the Son, holy is the Son, holy is the Son, holy is the Son. Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord. Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord. Holy, holy, holy, holy is the Son, holy is the Son, holy is the Son.

how wonderful it is for us to be able to approach God yes he is holy he dwells in a high and holy place but also with those of a contrite spirit. I want you to notice that our worship theme is God is light. We will not only be emphasizing that as we sing together and of course it's based on Psalm 27 but also during the message we will discover again from 1st John that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.

Augustine the great theologian and philosopher says light even though it passes through pollution is itself not polluted and that certainly is true of God for God exists all over God sees the evil he does not regard it in the sense that he approves of it but he sees it and he himself is pure light and we're to walk as children of light. Would you join your hearts with me please and our father today we pray that you shall take these moments of meditation of worship of praise of learning transform them make them father into a time of opportunity but a time that most assuredly glorifies you. In Jesus name.

Amen. In the name of the Lord. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. In his strength in the name of the Lord. There is power in the name of the Lord. There is hope in the name of the Lord. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. We selected two verses from Psalm 27. We'd like to look at the first one now. Did you notice the choir sang holy is the Lord and his holiness is very important because it creates for us and helps us to understand a standard. A standard that I think many are hoping America would come back to truth righteousness justice mercy and because of that David knew God in those ways his holiness was remarkable to David but because of that he said the Lord is my light he's my salvation whom shall I fear the Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid we're going to sing a song that I think many of us do not know should never do that of course but let's listen as a choir sings it and then let's join in singing a couple of times after that okay the Lord is my light shall I the strength the strength Oh of course we know David for many other things and one of those that he just love to go to the house of the Lord to worship the Lord because he meant so much to him why don't we read together Psalm 27 for and then we'll sing together him number 10 as we worship the Lord our God let us read one thing I ask of the Lord that is what I see that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple let us worship she Oh Oh Oh Oh together we say amen thank you please be seated Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh as I was listening to the choir I couldn't help but think of the words of Augustine who said he who understands the holiness of God despairs in trying to appease him holy holy is the Lord God of hosts Hosanna thanks to the choir and thanks to Stephanie and thank you for communicating to us choir something of the majesty of God as much as we can grasp it in this world of course the day will come when we'll see him face to face and for that we look forward our father we want to remind ourselves today of your your impeccable holiness and we want to thank you today Oh father that we can approach you through Jesus Christ our Lord we thank you today father that Jesus was able to fill the various water pots with water to the brim and we thank you that he can do that with our hearts as well yet some of your people struggle today because of fears we ask Oh Lord Jesus that they might be reminded of the passage that we just read today the Lord is my light whom shall I fear so we give you ourselves we give you all that we own all that we are for your honor and glory in Jesus name amen you'd like to continue by singing number 585 and then have your bulletin ready so that we can sing this one verse of we are one in the bond of love what a wonderful fellowship we have as Christian believers Oh Oh Oh we are Oh let me begin today with a question what was the secret of the early churches unstoppability I don't know if there's a word like on the stop ability I have a computer that likes to tell me right away when I've made a mistake you know it used to be that you had a computer and then when you finished writing you could hit spell check and then it would tell you now mine wants to underline with a wiggly red line the moment I've made a mistake it says I'm not gonna wait until you get to the end of the paragraph first when I got it I thought the wiggly red line meant that that it was an important word and then I realized that it was a mistake when I typed the word unstoppability into my computer it has a wiggly red line under it now maybe I just misspelled it I don't know but what was it about the early church that nothing could stop it political authorities other religions competing for the same minds and the same hearts and Christianity just marches along with tremendous strength unstoppable in the book of Acts it says that they continued and this may be the secret they continued in the Apostles teaching that was the foundation of it all in the fellowship in the breaking of bread which I take to be communion and in prayer maybe that was the secret of its unstoppable power you'll notice number two on the list and I'm not sure that the list necessarily designates order of importance but number two on the list is fellowship the great word fellowship means Koinonia it means common it means that they shared something in common it's also the word that is really at root of our word communion it means that we have something that unites us that is stronger than anything that might divide us what was it that united them was it the fact that they were all Jewish in their origin ethnically no it's in a matter of fact there were many people who were Jewish who strongly opposed the fledgling Christian Church was it because they were all of the same education no certainly not as a matter of fact Christianity had a tremendous amount of power also among the lower classes was it the vocations of people know today there are church growth leaders who tell us the churches only grow if you have homogeneity today I just feel like using some big words that means that we all look alike we all act alike we're all economically alike we're all the same color then the church will grow I want you to know today that the strength of the church it seems to me is diversity in those matters it looks a lot more like heaven to see diversity as a matter of fact Kenneth Scott Lauterat who wrote an awesome book on church history said that the strength of the early church was that all the other gods whether it was Roman gods or Greek gods they were all kind of tribal ethnic deities he says Christianity came along and and it reached out to everyone and united people on the basis of a different principle and that principle was the fellowship it was the common life that we're talking about take your Bibles and turn to first John chapter 1 first John chapter 1 now that's the letter of John one of his letters first John chapter 1 very close to the book of Revelation and you'll notice that it says in verse 1 that which was from the beginning which we have heard which we have seen and our eyes have looked at and our hands have touched this we claim concerning the word of life I'd love to comment on that but I will do so very briefly you know in those days it was believed that Jesus that God could not have come in the flesh and so there was this idea that Jesus wasn't real he only appeared to have a human body John said we touched him we touched the word of life the life appeared we have seen it and testify to it and we proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the father and has appeared to us we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard so that you may also have fellowship with us and notice it now and our fellowship is with the father and with his son Jesus Christ we write this to make your joy complete what was the common life that the early church shared what was it that gave it that sense of invincibility well first of all I want us to look at the fellowship that they had with the father and the son right out of the text there in verse 3 our fellowship is with the father and with his son Jesus Christ now left to ourselves in our natural state we have nothing in common with God because God is holy as the choir has so wondrously sung this morning God is holy and we are sinful even when we don't think we are sinful we are and therefore there is nothing in common but John says the word of life came and Jesus came and took upon himself the nature of man or at least the body of man and the nature of man though without sin and as a result now his forgiveness and his reconciliation means that we can have contact with God God's holiness has been appeased and as a result God says now you can draw near to me and you and I can have fellowship together as a matter of fact when the Bible says that we are partakers of the divine nature that word partakers in Greek is really at root Koinonia we have within us the very life of God implanted it's not something we grew up with it's not something that happened just because we went to Sunday school it's not something that came about as a result of the fact that we are good people it was implanted by God when we were born again we share the very life of God notice John says we're declaring to you this eternal life which appeared and was revealed to us so we share the life of God we also share the light of God notice in verse five this is the message we have heard from him and declare to you that God is light in him there is no darkness at all if we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness we lie and we do not live by the truth but if we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus his son purifies us it's the word from which we get catharsis it cleanses us from all sin God is life and we share it and God is light and we're to walk in it what about light light reveals reality I can't tell you the number of times and this is somewhat embarrassing to say the number of times that I've awakened in the morning and decided to say wear a black suit and of course as you know with a black suit should go black socks so I have looked in the drawer and boy they sure look black and I put them on and walk in the sunlight and I chose blue socks today I'm wearing a gray suit and I want you to know I check my socks out good and proper they are black but I could imagine somebody saying well yeah he's got black socks but look at here he's wearing a blue tie with a gray suit a simple fact is that you and I until we come into the light we don't know reality reality shows the flaws reality shows how things are light reveals John Whittier wrote our thoughts lie open to thy sight and naked to thy glance our secret sins are in the light of thy pure countenance Wow and as a result of God coming to us we recognize that that it is he then who brings reality we finally understand who we are we understand both our sinfulness but we also understand his grace light has to reveal both back in November the 11th 1951 electricity came to the farm on which I was raised you know sale how in the world you remember that well it's just one of those little things I can pull out of my mind because it was a big deal you say oh how could you remember back to 1951 well the answer is I was very very very young but I do remember it along with electricity came a yard light that was something new we as kids just kept flashing that thing on and off couldn't believe it it's all right I came from a town where if you plugged in an electric razor the streetlights used to dim but one of the things we as kids learned about the yard light is this that when you get away from it you cast a very long shadow and as you get closer the shadow gets shorter and shorter and shorter until you're standing right under it there's almost no shadow that you can see you were standing in the light now listen to me my friend if you want to know your length if you want to really know who you are you have to get close to God because that's reality standing away from God you can have a conception of yourself a measurement that is totally skewed because that's your idea listen to me when I tell you that darkness is your opinion of yourself light is God's opinion of you God is light and in him there is no darkness at all and if we say that we have fellowship with him and I've met Christians like this and they walk in darkness we lie John says and we do not do the truth let me ask you another question when I'm in fellowship with God does that mean that it's a one-sided thing where I'm in a fellowship with God and God's not having fellowship with me no no no no it's two-sided God is having fellowship with me in fact even when he says when we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship one with another if you remember what an antecedent is that's going back a long time the antecedent in the verse is actually God we have fellowship one with another God has fellowship with me and I have fellowship with God and as a result of that we have fellowship together sometimes people say you know I don't read my Bible I don't have devotions because I don't get anything out of them I want you to know that that's not really the question the question is what does God get out of them he desires our fellowship and if we walk in the light we have the opportunity of being in fellowship with him what hinders fellowship sin what brings about joy fellowship with him notice I have to comment on it verse 4 we write this to make our joy complete and we say to ourselves no it's it's in darkness that I find joy I will not give this up I will not do what I know God wants no no no that's an incomplete joy that is always twinged with that cloud there is such a thing as joy inexpressible and full of glory walking in the light what is the power of the early church why did they turn their world upside down they knew the power of fellowship with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ but secondly they also knew fellowship with one another they understood that in verse 3 it says you were to have fellowship with us the Bible says and of course also in verse 7 perhaps he is referring not only to fellowship with God but fellowship to one another as we walk in the light because darkness separates us and light unites us now listen this is just for you and me listening together here how is it possible for two Christians to walk in the light let's suppose they're married and and the man is walking in the light he claims to be walking in the light and his wife claims to be walking in the light and and yet there's no fellowship they can't get along what's going on I think there's darkness somewhere saw a cartoon this past week of a woman who was receiving counseling she and her husband received a lot of counseling and they went to their pastor and said you know we've settled all of our differences and now we have nothing in common you know the problem with some counseling and not the kind that we do here but you know there is counseling where people want to be able to get along and still walk in their darkness and the text is saying that if we walk in the light as God is in the light now I'll tell you what happened in the early church when you walk in the light and you see your sinfulness and you see God's grace and you have to see both or else you're devastated what happens is you become open so that you begin to share with other people and and soon you know your life you know you're you aren't threatened by the encroachment of intimacy because you know that the one who knows the most about you loves you the most and so it gives you a sense of security and the early church was able to share and to able to work through without having to wear all the masks that some of us sometimes put on that was one of the strengths of the early church here's a man who's about to declare bankruptcy this is a true story as a matter of fact not only bankruptcy but he's going to disappear supposedly off the face of the earth because of everything that has collapsed around him and the day before he disappears he plays 18 holes of golf with friends from his church and nobody knows what he's going through why doesn't he reveal it well maybe he thinks that it would be judgmental maybe he thinks that it would be painful I tell you he despaired himself an awful lot of pain if it would have been revealed but as a result of that you see what happens is we live these separated lives and we say only God sees who I really am and I'm not willing to walk in the light so that I can have fellowship with you because if I really walk in the light I'm going to have to be honest I'm going to have to have some transparency and I'm going to have to be able to reveal to other people who I really am and that is terrifying for many people but the early church was able to do that because of the power of the light I read a story this past week of a man who was going to raise ducks and he lived beside a river really and thought that that might be a good thing to do and so he made all these different pens because there are different kinds of ducks so one color of ducks go here and here's another kind of duck and and he made these fences out of wire and was able to keep the ducks there as long as their wings were trimmed and so forth and then a huge flood came and the water went well above all of the fences and suddenly he realized that now all of the ducks are swimming together when the Holy Spirit of God works in power in a congregation when the rain showers of blessing begin to come all of the fences disappear and the duck starts swimming together and as a result of that you see we have fellowship one with another there's a sense of authenticity there's a sense of honesty there's a sense of openness in which it's okay to be fragile and frail and hurting because suddenly we realize we are really all the same and and the fences go down and the different colored ducks and the ducks from different geographical areas all swim together John said we have fellowship with the Father and the Son and now we have fellowship those bonds with one another throughout the New Testament there are also other uses of the word fellowship and I'll comment briefly about the fellowship of sharing the fellowship of sharing when the Apostle Paul speaks in second Corinthians about giving he says that you participated in the fellowship of the Saints he's talking about the offering and it only makes sense because you see if we begin to give ourselves to one another then suddenly we will be very anxious you see to have the opportunity of giving because it's so much a part of who we are as people who love the light I want you to know today it is possible to give without love that's why some people resent giving so much is because there isn't that love but it's possible to give without love but it is impossible to love without giving you love and you will give God loved and he gave and he gave and he gave and he gave so that's why in the New Testament offerings were talked about as the fellowship of the Saints it's because that's what they had in common was that mutual sharing that mutual giving you know here at The Moody Church we've had many new members come and many of you have stayed with us and you've been here for years but we also have a lot of people who pass through this place and there are different reasons because some people move geographically maybe they move out to the suburbs or they move out of the city or whatever but one of the things we've also learned is that the people who really buy into our vision who say this is where God has called us and this is where we're going to stay are not just people who simply have found enjoyment and blessing through our worship services they are people who have bonded with other people and they have had a sense of real genuine fellowship because that's so necessary for a church to be unstoppable we can't live this life alone we need each other and we have opportunities here through ministries such as small groups we have adult Bible fellowships that meet before our worship service for some people their sense of bonding and community is the choir women's ministry has always flourished here for many many years look out because the men are gonna catch up to you we had a wonderful meeting yesterday with about 90 or a hundred men and we want to do this do this every month and and it was wonderful to see the kind of bonding and the kind of fellowship because my dear friend it is part of the gospel message that we have fellowship with God and we have fellowship with one another one day I was reading the biography of Murray McCheyne it was a great preacher and he said something that I could hardly relate to but my he said that when Sunday was over he would weep he would weep for such sadness to think that he would not see the Saints again in that setting for a whole long week wow now that is love that is community you build that into the ministry of the church by the power of the Holy Spirit and we too will have and here's the word now unstoppability whether the computer believes there's a word like that or not what am I saying today I'd like to wrap it up with two important applications number one what am I asking for today first of all a radical commitment to God radical commitment to God you know there is a parable of a cave that was down in the heart of the earth way below the surface and somebody said to the cave this is of course a fable somebody said to the cave why don't you come out in the light and see the light in the cave said I do not believe that light exists for I have seen only darkness and so the cave stayed there but once it it took up the challenge and it came into the light of the Sun I thought oh my there is light and then the story goes that the cave invited the Sun down and said why don't you come into the cave and and see what darkness is like so the Sun took up the challenge and it went into the cave and the Sun went into the cave and it said I do not see any darkness you mean darkness where is the darkness notice as God is light and in him there is no darkness at all wherever he shines the darkness must leave because darkness is just the absence of light it does not have energy it does not have power you heard me say many years ago that's why you can't go into ace hardware and say you know last time I was here I bought a flashlight but this time I'd like to buy a flash dark because sometimes the lights in my home are too bright and I'd like to just shine some darkness do you have a flash dark no no there's no flash dark you have a flashlight what I'd like to ask you to do is are you inviting God into the cave of your life to look around and dissipate the darkness yesterday I spent yesterday evening about a half an hour in the presence of God not praying not asking him for something but asking God to simply search my heart and show me what's there and it's always so painful because I see self-will I see selfishness I see all this and and it's just so so difficult I have to admit to all of these things in the presence of the light but but if you're serious about it whatever God reveals you just wait before him and you confess this and you admit to that and you admit to that and he doesn't let me buy with anything and I admit to this this this this but then it says that we are cleansed and I thought to myself I wonder if there are Christians who've been saved for years who have never spent a half an hour in God's presence and saying I know that you have searched me I know that your light is upon me now show me what you see it's not a pretty picture it's not a pretty picture but it's there that he meets you in grace and that's where you have your catharsis you say well what about the sins we can't remember listen it says if we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship one with another the blood of Jesus Christ God's Son cleanses us from all sin I interpret that to mean that if we confess the sins that God reveals to us the sins that we weren't even aware of are also cleansed so that we now today are walking in light I'm sure there are many sins I've committed that I don't even remember that I have never confessed there are probably people that I've offended and who knows what all but I want you to know today as far as I know having spent that time in God's presence yesterday evening I'm walking in the light as much as God could show me the cup of joy springs a leak because of sin and when we when we open our caves to God and say God what's in there that you want me to confess and to get rid of that's when we really have fellowship with God and God says now you and I you know we can have fellowship together this isn't just a one-sided thing so it's radical commitment to God whatever he might have you do or say secondly radical commitment to one another it flows out of that that means that we begin to sacrifice for others that means that we begin to get to know others and and bring them into the circle of our sacrifice and our joy and our prayers and how I thank God for the many many people who pray for us as a staff and and you bring them in because because you're radically committed to one another in fact the Bible says that you should be willing to lay down your life for somebody and you and I nobody's ever asked us to do that nobody's ever asked me to do that they ask a whole lot less and it becomes a burden why if you're not walking in the light when you walk in darkness every act of sacrifice is a resentful burden you walk in the light and it's a joy there was a deacon who was given an assignment and that was to find out who in the world was stealing the soap in the washrooms of the church back in the days you know when they just put a bar of soap there now I guess they've got all kinds of fancy gadgets but every time they did it I'll tell you something they turned their back the soap was gone so this guy decided to hide in a washroom maybe behind the garbage can or whatever but he was there in walks a man takes the bar of soap wraps it in a Kleenex puts it in his pocket the deacon did not see who it was because he saw only the back of the man but he shouted I saw you do that and the man turned around and instantly the deacon was looking into the eyes of a very close friend now can you imagine how that moment was transformed when he recognized who was doing it you know as long as it's somebody out there without a name as long as it's somebody out there you don't care too much but when it's somebody you know then it has a different face and this is the outcropping now a fellowship one with another and being involved in other people's lives when I came to this church many years ago there was a woman who used to walk along LaSalle Street she was an older woman who used to just curse and swear obscenities to herself as she walked along and as from time to time we would see her and she'd walk by us with with all of this this awful stuff coming out of her we just kind of ignored her I mean you know she seemed to be perhaps mentally unstable and so forth and one day when I saw her I thought what if she were my mother boy did that put a different face on it and then I began to think you know maybe she is somebody's mother and I began to think who knows the abuse that this woman endured who knows the men that have taken advantage of her who knows who knows what addiction and sin she fell into and after that whenever I saw her I tried to walk with her and I tried to talk with her and tell her about the love of Jesus now I wasn't successful this is not a success story all that I'm trying to say is that if we walk in the light as God is in the light we have fellowship one with another and as a result of that we that begins to spill over into the lives of other people who are no longer simply faces but they are real people with real needs with real desires with a real need for the warmth of the Father's home what is going to make Moody Church unstoppable I hadn't planned on saying this but I'm on a roll today it's not really going to be the preaching it's not going to be necessarily the choir and the beautiful music that we thank God for all that it is going to be walking in the light beginning to seek God in our prayer meeting which incidentally is a marvelous experience at seven o'clock on Wednesday it is going to be saying God what is there within us that must be cleansed and forgiven and taken care of so that we have fellowship with you and therefore have fellowship with one another I believe that just as the early church was unstoppable so we can be too under the good hand of our God let us pray our Father we want to thank you today for all the mercies that you've given to us that are so undeserved and we ask in the name of Jesus that the light of Jesus with all of its power may shine upon us we pray that you will give us the courage to walk in the light help us Father to be willing to go into the caverns of our own heart and say bring your light and shine it and shine it that there might not be darkness Oh God do that as a people we pray for the strength of this church in this city we think of those who have opportunities to witness to God's amazing grace in all the different vocations in all the different neighborhoods and all the different opportunities that you put upon us changes Oh Lord by your spirit we ask in Jesus name Amen let's sing together today hymn number 284 they'll know we are Christians by our love 284 you come and lead us please Jerry on today's Moody Church hour pastor Lutzer brought the second to four messages on I believe in the church we heard about walking in the light having fellowship with God and with each other everybody likes having a servant around and loving service is a key mark of true Christians next week join us as Erwin Lutzer speaks on I believe in serving Satan is alive and well deceiving believers any way he can discernment is the focus of a book by pastor Lutzer written to help all of us think clearly about false doctrines false prophets false miracles and more the book is who are you to judge and a copy is waiting for you is our way of saying thanks for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church hour just call us at one eight hundred two one five five oh oh one ask about who are you to judge when you call one eight hundred two one five five oh oh one or you can write to us at Moody Church media 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614 online go to moody offer dot-com that's moody offer dot-com join us next week for another Moody Church hour with pastor Erwin Lutzer and the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago this broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-14 02:23:40 / 2023-05-14 02:38:02 / 14

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