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I Believe In Fellowship Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
April 13, 2023 1:00 am

I Believe In Fellowship Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 13, 2023 1:00 am

To be vulnerable requires mutual trust over time. 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, we discover the power of fellowship with the Father and His Son, Jesus. How did the early church turn their world upside down?

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Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Moody Church Hour
Pastor Phillip Miller
Moody Church Hour
Pastor Phillip Miller

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

There's a certain vulnerability in opening up to someone else. You need mutual trust, and that develops through fellowship over time. Once we have fellowship with God, we learn to leave the darkness behind and move with others into the light. Stay with us for teaching from the Book of 1 John. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we can feel some sense of fellowship in a large audience, but don't you think real fellowship takes hold best when we gather in small groups?

Dave, I'm going to answer your question by saying I think we need both. You know, there's nothing like singing together, giving God praise as a congregation. But the Bible also exhorts us that we should bear one another's burdens, and I think that that can only happen in a small group where there is friendship, where people know us, know our struggles, know our joys, and are committed to one another.

I believe that we're living at a time when it is so important for us to lay down individualism and begin to recognize that we are a part of a larger company. I've written a book entitled Holy Living in an Unholy World. I think it will help all of us think through various issues, and after this message is over, I'm going to ask a question as to whether or not you have ever heard a sermon on the topic of worldliness.

But for now, let's listen to God's Word. 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 are 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 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 yet there's no fellowship, they can't get along.

What's going on there? 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 soon you know your life, you know, 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 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'll tell you, he despaired himself in 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 deceives 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 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 ducks start 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 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 2 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. The women's ministry has always flourished here for many, many years.

Look out, because the men are going to catch up to you. We had a wonderful meeting yesterday with about 90 or 100 men, and we want to do this every month. 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, who was a great preacher, and he said something that I could hardly relate to, but 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? And 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 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 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 it's just so, so difficult. I have to admit to all of these things in the presence of the light, 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 by 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, not a pretty picture, but it is 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 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 at 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 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 bring them into the circle of our sacrifice and our joy and our prayers and how I think God for the many, many people who pray for us as a staff and you bring them in 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 all of 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 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, 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, though 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, in all the different opportunities that you put upon us. Change us, O Lord, by your spirit. We ask in Jesus' name.

Amen. Well, this is Pastor Lutzer. I'm going to ask you two questions, actually.

The first is this. Does your church continue to have a prayer meeting? Do you meet together under the good hand of God, seeking his face, praying for one another, praying for your community?

The second question is this. When is the last time that you heard a sermon on worldliness? When I was growing up, we used to hear many sermons on worldliness. The question is, were those sermons biblically accurate?

Well, these are the kinds of questions I answer in a book I've written entitled, Holy Living in an Unholy World, where I discuss the matter of rules and where they fit into the Christian life. It's a subject that needs to be heard, certainly today. For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to give you that contact info again, but I also want to thank you in advance for helping us. Running to Win is a ministry that touches the world with the gospel, and we appreciate your help. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for holy living in an unholy world. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life.

A listener named Eva writes from New Mexico with this concern. Today on a radio program, a pastor spoke about not associating with Christians in sinful lifestyles who choose to not repent. My grief over this truth is that I have adult children who committed to Christ when young, but who are living very destructive and sinful lifestyles now. I associate and disassociate with them over and over again. I'm the one positive constant in their lives.

I also want to impact people they associate with. So, do I have latitude in this scriptural teaching? Yes, my friend, I think that you do have some latitude here. I suspect that the pastor who mentioned that we should not associate with Christians who are in a sinful lifestyle and refuse to repent, I tend to think that what he meant, based on what the Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians, is that we should not associate with people, the Bible says, who claim to be Christians and then deny it really by their lifestyle. Because we are kind of, what shall we say, in our associations, we could be giving the impression that we agree with them. However, you as a mother, that's an entirely different relationship. I think it's only proper that you associate and then disassociate yourself with your children and with others, especially because your children may not even be Christians for one thing.

I know that they accepted Christ when they were young, but oftentimes that is not a real conversion, a separate story that we won't go into right now. So, I don't think that you're doing anything wrong. If I were a parent and my children were not walking with God, I'd associate with them as well and with their friends, hopefully to bring both to saving faith in Christ and a life of righteousness. So, God bless you. God bless you.

Continue to be a good witness wherever he has planted you. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for those words of counsel. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Jesus wanted his followers to know that the way to greatness was through the pathway of service, and service is our lifetime calling as followers of Christ. Next time on Running to Win, why the example of Jesus washing the disciples' feet is a lesson for all of us. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-13 02:36:04 / 2023-04-13 02:45:21 / 9

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