Pastoral 2014

Expressions of Christian Fellowship

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 22 June 2014

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Christian fellowship is one of the greatest blessings that will emerge from knowing Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of our life. There is nothing like it on earth as far as close and affectionate relationships are concerned. We all enter into relationships whether by affinity or consanguinity, but when such relationships are not based on Jesus Christ and His truth, they tend to have great problems. Only the fellowship that comes out of the gospel of salvation carries a very special blessing.

Christian fellowship is filled with the splendour of heavenly realities and experiences. In a sense, it is really an “out-of-the-earth” experience reserved by God only for His children. It is a God-given and God-sustained fellowship designed to prepare believers for the fuller heavenly joys that await them beyond this life on earth.

It cannot be denied that some may have had encountered unpleasant experiences in pursuit of Christian fellowship. Nevertheless, a blessed Christian fellowship is something possible and workable, which Christians should desire and exercise. Thus believers should know it, experience it, and never be a cause for its hindrance.

Since Christian fellowship is a relationship that God has begun with us, how then is it to be expressed in the believers’ relationships with one another? Biblically, Christian fellowship is characterized by three important expressions. Several passages from the New Testament offer us invaluable insights.

Togetherness, unity and cooperation: Those who are knit together in the bond of the Spirit as members of one body, under one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, must express these qualities. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:1-2). Here, believers are encouraged by the apostle Paul to express their togetherness in fellowship through “likemindedness”, “love”, “one accord” and “one mind”.

If fellowship is to flourish, there must be unity and harmony among believers. So the apostle wrote about the secrets of unity and harmony in Christian fellowship, namely self-renunciation, humility and mutual respect. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

A wonderful personal testimony of the beauty and blessing of unity and co-operation in Christian fellowship is narrated by Paul in Galatians 2:9, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” As soon as the early apostles recognized the grace of God that converted the apostle Paul, they immediately extended their hands of fellowship to him and Barnabas, that they may be united in Christ and for the cause of the Gospel. Thus, Christian fellowship is characterized here by a welcoming spirit of togetherness and cooperation. So, by the maintenance of brotherly esteem and love, and by provoking fellow brethren to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), Christian fellowship is best demonstrated.

Participation in doctrine, prayer and sacraments: Christian fellowship was maintained in the early church in Jerusalem by the saints gathering together often for instruction, prayer and sacraments. “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

The early Christians, having heard the Gospel through the preaching of the apostle Peter, received the word, were baptized, and immediately participated in the doctrine of the apostles. They did not dispute or criticise the apostles’ teachings, but accepted and learned from them. Together, they observed the sacraments and joined their hearts in prayer. With joy and gladness, they declared these doctrines to others.

These are the biblical prescriptions for Christian fellowship: the coming together for worship, partaking of the Lord’s Supper, prayer, Bible study and visitations. When it comes to these activities of the church, let us take heed to the exhortation in Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

...to be continued next week

 

Daily Vacation Bible School 2014 - Testimonies

I thank God that I could come for this year’s DVBS. I have learnt a lot concerning “speaking a word for Jesus”. I would like to praise God for good weather and safety throughout this DVBS and a blessed time together. Thank God also for the many mothers who came, the youth helpers, the guitarists and especially the 4 teachers: Uncle Andrew, Aunty Carolyn, Uncle Kenneth and Aunty Lynn. Thank God for Uncle Andrew who taught us many meaningful Bible lessons. I would like to share a few things which I have learnt during these 3 days.

Firstly, I learnt about how Paul and Silas were imprisoned because Paul had healed a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination. Even though Paul and Silas were in prison, they prayed and sang songs and the other prisoners heard them (Acts 16:16-32). This account teaches me that Christians must always “speak a Word for Jesus” joyfully, even in difficult situations. Secondly, I also learnt about Peter and John healing a man who was lame from birth. God used Peter to heal the lame man and to share the Gospel to him (Acts 3:1-10). Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee.” This story impresses upon me that I must know Jesus first before I can share with others about Him. Thirdly, I learnt that I must pray for a “door of utterance” (Colossians 4:3). Christians must pray for opportunities to speak a word for Jesus.

May we all be able to apply these lessons in our life, even after the DVBS. To God be the glory!

Hannah Wong

 

I am in Primary 5, and I have been coming for DVBS since I was in Primary 1. I have learned about who Jesus is and how to be an effective witness for Him. I thank God that I have believed in Jesus Christ.

However, my parents are still not believers yet. I hope that I will bear a good testimony for Christ, so that my parents will believe that Jesus Christ is the only living and true God.

I thank God for all the aunties and uncles who have prepared refreshments, designed art and craft materials, and organised games for us.

Jolyne Tan

 

I came for DVBS through Auntie Annie’s invitation. During the three days of DVBS, Uncle Andrew taught us the need to believe in Jesus Christ. Besides that, I have learnt many Bible stories and was taught to do different art and craft work. I am a new believer but my parents are not. I pray that through my good testimony, I can become an effective witness for Christ.

Lim Xin Yi