This has to be one of the most life-changing messages that the believer can ever encounter. Understanding the difference between the concepts of Relationship and Fellowship is key to developing a world overcoming walk as a part of the body of Christ, in the Earth. Developing FAITH in your relationship with God will change every area of your life and your expectations for that life.
Christians who do not grasp the difference between these two aspects of our life in Christ are prone to attack in every area of their lives. They are always trying to second guess themselves and more likely to be manipulated by the enemy who wants nothing more than to see the individual crushed and unable to wield the very weapons of our warfare provided to us at salvation.
Previously I spoke of the importance of an intimate relationship with God. The very essence of the word Abba implies that there is not just acquaintance with, but a direct relationship to God, as our Father; but not just “Father”, rather it is that child-like relationship with “Daddy”. There are those who would say that the word “Relationship” or ‘schési’, in the greek, does not appear in the New Testament and the fact is that they are correct; it doesn’t. Mind you, the bible doesn’t include words for aeroplanes or automobiles either; pedantry can be a curse that robs and in this matter, a person who believes that they don’t have a relationship with God is seriously at a loss.
The implication of a relationship that is closer than acquaintanceship implied through the prayers and teaching of Jesus; as well as the further writings of both the Apostle John and Paul. In all three cases, the word “Know” or “Knowledge” having its root in the greek word ‘gnosis’ describes an intimacy far from the remote, or distant role of simple friendship; it implies a deep form of unity that is only possible through relationship. Jesus explains our relationship as that of a Father and Son and even prays in John 17:21 that we should have the same relationship that he and the Father have. We are referred to as “Family”, “Dear Children”, “Beloved”, “Cherished” if these words are insufficient there is a surfeit of evidence to support the notion that we are called to have a living relationship with God, through Jesus and Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit vs “The Holy Spirit”
By now you will have noticed the use of Holy Spirit vs the phrase “The Holy Spirit”, as you read. Up until a couple of years ago, I was a stickler for what I had been indoctrinated into as being the correct use of “The Holy Spirit” to refer to the third person of the Trinity. Books, tapes, messages, posters all referred to the paracletos (gr.) using this terminology. Yet, when singing, or in public prayer, we would refer to Him as “Holy Spirit”. You may well be asking yourself: “Well, what’s the difference?” As it turns out there is a difference and once I was made aware of it, as I believe you will become aware of it, you will also begin to make the change.
You see “Holy Spirit” isn’t just his title. It is also his name. The difference between the two is quantum, minuscule. But, the change to the level of intimacy and understanding is immense. I remember being told, a number of years ago, that: “A person’s name is the most important possession that they have. So you need to use it properly and with the respect that it deserves.” Suffice to say I have always believed that he came to dwell within me, at the new birth. But, imagine for one moment, what it would be like to have a roommate for a long time, knowing them by what was ostensibly their ‘nickname’ only to discover their real name. How do you think that would change the depth of that relationship? Now consider that the third person of the trinity has come to live deep within you and you have just learned his true name; how does that affect you and how you speak about him?
I linger on this point intentionally. Because it is the familial relationship, with God, through Jesus and Holy Spirit, that drives us to seek a deeper life in the Spirit. The concept of relationship goes much further than simple friendship and helps to greater contemplate the strength of the bond that has been created through the eternal covenant relationship that Christ’s sacrifice has provided. The fact that much of the church is ignorant of the importance of understanding the primaeval role of blood covenants in human history can be seen to play out in world affairs, such as in the middle-east conflict.
Fellowship or koinonia in the greek refers to a broader interaction than intimate fellowship. It denotes Communion with, which is where we get the concept of community from; partnership, to work alongside with; fellowship; friendship; association with; all of which we are called to have with God, through the work of Holy Spirit.
Fellowship also refers to the interaction that we have with the other members of the body of Christ and denotes the kind of “working together” towards the same goal; striving for the overall success of the mission, in opposition to the world’s struggle for individual success and glory; wealth; position and power. We are called to understand that when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt when one part of the body rejoices we all rejoice. This is the centralised concept of the truth behind the teaching that we are all part of the same body, each having its own part to play. But, even further, it is a reminder that we are supposed to look out for one another and regard our treatment of one another, in the same manner we would like to be treated.
Getting back to the subject of our relationship with God is the essential first step to becoming effective in the work that we are called to do, personally, in the world at our fingertips. Not every person in the church is called to public office. But, all are called to do the work of the ministry.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: Ephesians 4:11-12 KJV
All of us are called to do the work of the ministry, which involves the sharing of the gospel, laying hands on the sick and giving to the poor. The greatest weapon in our arsenal against the enemy is our personal testimony, about the things that God has done for us, personally. What he has done, through us, personally and what he can, therefore do for those with whom you are sharing that testimony. You may be able to get by using someone else’s testimony, for a while. But, eventually, it is what God has done, for you and to you, that is essential for the persuasion of others; particularly those who think they know you.
The marked difference between what people know about you and what they think they know about you is, essentially, determined by the relationship you have with the Father. Jesus had to bring people back to this essential truth on many occasions. He would say things like: “Why do you call Me good? There is no-one good, but the Father in Heaven.” Or, ” the works that you see me do, I do because I see the Father do them!” and “The words that I speak, I speak because I hear the Father say them!” It was his relationship with the Father that enabled him to have the confidence in what he was called to do.
You might be saying “But, Brother Graham, that was Jesus, he was God!” and on one level you could be right. But, the truth is that Jesus did NOT walk as God when he was in his earthly ministry. If he had he cold not have said that “these things you see me do, you shall do and greater things than these shall you do!” Those words would have been unjust and Jesus would have been a liar for saying them. WE are told that Jesus, the Son of God, laid aside all of the attributes, all of the privileges, that made him God and took upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh, Philippians 2:7. This is the reason why he had to be baptised, he had to go through all that was required so that he could walk as a prophet, anointed with the Holy Spirit, to destroy the works of the devil. There are both Legal and Vital aspects to understanding the mission of Jesus. Suffice to say: “He became as we were, to make us like he was and is.”
Our relationship gives us certain rights and privileges in the Kingdom of God. Our righteousness has been replaced with HIS Righteousness and HIS Right-standing with the Father. Through his substitutionary work at Calvary, in Hell and in Death, he has paid the price for our REDEMPTION. These are not just religious terms or biblical theology. When you enter into that relationship with the Father in a vital way that’s when you experience changes to the world around you and the theology moves off the page and into physical existence and ALL of this is by FAITH.
You cannot just fall in and out of relationship with God. However, you can fall in and out of fellowship. This essential point will save a lot of heartache, a lot of belly-aching, hopefully, some of the squabbling and most importantly the condemnation you have heaped upon yourself, because of sin. 1John 2:1 is very clear, that “If we sin, we have an advocate, with the Father…”; someone who stands up, on our behalf, to take our place and take up our cause; to restore our fellowship. John has previous to this instructed us that “If we confess our sins to the Father, he is faithful and just, to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9 This demonstrates that our relationship was intact, our rightstanding was intact; but our fellowship had some barriers, namely the sins that were blocking our line of communication.
Once we get this concept of relationship vs fellowship established in our hearts and minds we will see a completely different outcome to our interaction with the world both towards and around us. the shift in our thinking helps us to respond, rather than react and that response sets the devil running, instead of rejoicing.
IT’S STOMPING TIME!!!
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