By James Smith
First. Fellowship supposes knowledge. There can be no fellowship with God, without a knowledge of God. The gospel brings the true knowledge of God to men, and under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we receive into our hearts the knowledge of Jehovah in Jesus--the manifester of God. Here we behold his glory, beauty, and excellency. His terror does not make us afraid, nor is his hand heavy upon us. We see justice without a frown, holiness without a thunderbolt, veracity without terror, love beaming with brightness, grace clothed in royalty, and mercy stooping to do every kind office for the vile, miserable, and unworthy. There is nothing to alarm, terrify, or dismay us; but everything to attract, invite, and draw us to our Father's feet.
Eternal love says, "Come!"
Free grace says,"Take!"
Justice says, "Fear not!"
Holiness says,"Be not terrified!"
Truth says, "Take courage!"
Mercy says, "All that Jesus has, or God can consistently give, is yours."
Each of the Divine Persons in Jehovah is revealed as at peace with us through the blood of the cross; and every covenant blessing is secured to us by the faithfulness of the Eternal Three. When this knowledge of Jesus is received into the heart, then the foundation of fellowship is laid, and the superstructure will be sure to be reared.
Second. In order to have fellowship with God--there must first be friendship. I must not only know something of Jehovah--but I must feel something toward Jehovah. The enmity of the carnal mind must be subdued. Love to the Most High God must be generated, and then friendship with Jehovah commences. Then we desire to . . .
know Him fully,
enjoy Him spiritually,
walk with Him daily,
please Him constantly,
submit to Him incessantly,
obey Him universally, and
be conformed to His will entirely.
Then we seek His company, crave His teaching, and are willing to be, to do, or to suffer anything--so that we may but be His friend!
Nothing can be compared with . . .
friendship with God,
devotedness to God, and
the enjoyment of God
in an experimental and spiritual manner.
Third. Fellowship supposes joint interest, and joint engagement. Those who have fellowship with Jehovah--are savingly interested in Jehovah. They have a saving interest in his eternal love, in his ancient covenant, in his merciful decrees, in his gracious provision, in his glorious gospel, and in his spiritual operations. They are savingly interested in all God has done, is doing, or will do--as a covenant God and gracious Father. In all he does, he has his eye on them, is concerned for them, and consults their good. O glorious mystery! O delightful information! O stupendous mercy!
But Jehovah also is interested in them! He is interested in their persons which he has formed for himself, redeemed by the blood of Immanuel, and new created by the energy of the Comforter! He is interested in their love, in their needs, troubles, trials, persecutions, temptations, afflictions and death! Yes, there is nothing belonging to a believer, but what Jehovah is interested in, and concerned about, from the tiny trifles of today--to the ponderous concerns of eternity; from the feeble flutterings of anxiousness--to the redemption of the immortal soul! All and everything that concerns them, their heavenly Father is interested in, and concerned about.
O if the Lord's family did but believe this, that the minutest thing that belongs to them, the least circumstance of their lives, and everything connected with that circumstance, is a matter of concern to Jehovah--how happy would they live, how cheerfully would they pass along the journey of life, and commit all to the keeping of their God!
"Cast all your care on Him--because He cares about you!" 1 Peter 5:7
"Cast your cares on the Lord--and He will sustain you!" Psalm 55:22
Christian, what a thought is this! A sinner savingly interested in all that a covenant God is, has, and does; and a covenant God interested in all that a sinner is, has, suffers, and does likewise. But is it true? Yes, in reference to the former, Paul declares,
"All things are for your sakes," 2 Corinthians 4:15.
"All things shall work together for your good," Romans 8:28.
"All things are yours," 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are." Hebrews 4:15
He is engaged for us by promise, oath, and blood--and we become engaged to him and for him by promise, profession, and love. He is engaged to teach, lead, supply, protect, deliver, and glorify us--and we are engaged to serve, honor, reverence, acknowledge, praise, follow, imitate, and glorify him, in our bodies and spirits, which are his. Our engagement to, and for him--springs from, and is secured by, his engagement to, and for us. His is the cause--ours the effect, and our engagement to, and for him, if hearty, is the evidence that he is engaged for us. Let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Fourth. Fellowship embraces joint communication. Jehovah communicates to the sinner his Spirit--and the sinner surrenders to Jehovah his body, soul, and spirit. The Lord communicates to the soul grace, light, and comfort--and the soul communicates to the Lord its fears, desires, and praises. The Lord communicates to the soul strength, holiness, and peace--and the soul renders to the Lord grateful acknowledgments, loving obedience, and hearty thanksgiving.
The believer brings to the Lord his sins, trials, griefs, and woes;
and the Lord bestows His pardon, riches, relief, and consolation!
The redeemed sinner sees Jehovah in Christ--and Jehovah sees the sinner in Christ.
The Lord says, "I have loved you--and therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you."
The sinner says, "I love the Lord because he has heard my voice and my supplication."
The Lord says, "You shall no more be termed forsaken; but you shall be called Hephzibah, my delight is in her."
The soul says, "I have said unto the Lord, you are my Lord, my goodness, my fortress, my deliverer, my shield, and my high tower. I will love you, O Lord, my strength."
Jehovah says of Christ, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my elect in whom my soul delights!"
And the sinner says, "My beloved is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand; his mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely!"
The Lord delights in his people--and his people delight in him.
The people are the portion of the Lord--and the Lord is the portion of the people.
The Lord is ALL to the people--and the people are ALL to the Lord. They have fellowship one with another.
Fifth. In fellowship there is sympathy experienced and manifested. Love begets love. "We love him--because he first loved us." When the soul is grieved--the Lord feels. His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel, Judges 10:16. When the Lord is dishonored--the believer grieves; when God is glorified--the Christian is made glad. The head and members mutually sympathize with each other; and real friends sympathize with each other also. The concerns of the Lord are merged in the concerns of his people, Deuteronomy 32:26, 27. Oh what wondrous grace! Jehovah sympathizes with, and feels for--sinful dust and ashes!
God calls us to fellowship with himself by his gospel; fits us for it by the new creating power of his Spirit; and brings us to the enjoyment of it to the praise of the glory of his grace.
But do I live in fellowship with God?
Have I a spiritual knowledge of him?
Am I in friendship with him?
Am I engaged to him?
Are my interests his? And are his interests mine?
Do I communicate to him my sorrows, my cares, my desires, my praises, my troubles, and my all?
Do I receive his Spirit, his grace, his comforts, his love, his word?
Do I sympathize with him? Is that grief to me, which is represented to grieve him?
Do I walk in the light as he is in the light, and find the blood of Jesus cleansing me from all sin?
If so, then assuredly I am happy and blessed! But if I know nothing of these things, Then, (O awful!) then my religion is a dream, a fancy, a delusion!
All believers are called to the fellowship of the Son of God. They have communion with the Holy Spirit, and are only happy as they can say to those who profess Jesus around them, "Have fellowship with us, for truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ!"
But perhaps some may read this paper who cannot say they have fellowship with God thus: but are you seeking it? are you thirsting for it? is it the desire of your soul? If so, remember we were all but seekers once. The time was, when the most favored saint could only say, "O that I did but know, love, and live in fellowship with Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit!"
To you I say, yet not I--but the Lord, "Seek--and you shall find; ask--and you shall receive; strive--and you shall enter; call--and you shall be answered; for I wait to be gracious." Give not way then to despondency--but look to the Lord, and you shall be lightened, and be delivered from all your fears.