A Study On True Fellowship; "The Entering In"; (Koinonia)
October 1, 2010

C. R. Oliver

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October 1, 2010

A Study On True Fellowship; "The Entering In"; (Koinonia)

Last month, I lunched with two of God's dignitaries, both from Cambodia, both whose hearts had endured great sorrow and grief because of tremendous personal loss. I looked into their eyes and could not give them the standard "religious counseling" advice, that being "grief is not from God and therefore must be dealt with by thus and so"…it didn't seem appropriate.

Barnabus and Savann began telling me of their plan for the Cambodian churches (see missions report) in Houston to have a memorial service in April, 2011, to commemorate those who had lost their lives in the "Killing Fields" of Cambodia. (Barnabus is to return to the U.S. at this time to minister at the special gathering.) They spoke in somber tones when mentioning the memorial.

Communism's great atrocity over Cambodia was in killing millions of its citizens; it was an atrocity which could never be chronicled with enough words to do justice to the sorrow of losing family and friends to senseless genocide. What did it mean for them to lose wives, children and most of their extended family to a governmental pogrom? Dazed bewilderment and displacement accompanied their fellowmen as the evil one's plots brought increased darkness to their scene. It forever scarred their lives, even with the healing of time. But God!

Since I had just finished writing, Consumed By His Fire, it seemed natural to comment: "You both move in beautiful harmony as you work together; I believe it is because you constitute a 'fellowship of the flame.' You have been brought to the place beyond communion to the grace of companionship. When you look into the eyes of each other, or for that matter some others who have experienced the same kinds of things you have passed through, you know without words they belong to your camp." They agreed.

There really is a fellowship on a deeper level than that which is being experienced in most Christian circles. No, I do not mean having someone in one's group who can give a testimony of some cruel experience or make some confession of addiction. Neither am I speaking of box suppers, senior outings or church rummage sales. Communion is deeper than all these.

I believe, for instance, those who appeared in the transfiguration had something more in common than fame. The life experiences of Moses and Elijah gave them tremendous camaraderie with Jesus, a common thread beyond the fact they might represent the Law and the Prophets. Their fellowship was definitely on a higher level than the disciples had experienced for themselves. Soon, however, the disciples would join their band. Time would give them life experiences which would approximate the three.

Scripture Text:
          Isaiah prophesied with accuracy about Jesus and His sharing in the suffering of others. It was His destiny to surround himself with those with whom He identified. One does not have to read far in Isaiah to comprehend the phrases, "Man of sorrows" and "acquainted with grief."
Isaiah 53:3-6
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted* with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
*Etymology of the OT: 3045: "acquainted:" yada` (yaw-dah'); a primitive root; to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively, instruction, designation, punishment, etc.)

Acquainted (as used in the KJV of the Bible): acknowledge, acquaintance (-ted with), advise, answer, appoint, assuredly, be aware, [un-] awares, can [-not], certainly, comprehend, consider, could they, cunning, declare, be diligent, (can, cause to) discern, discover, endued with, familiar friend, famous, feel, can have, be [ig-] norant, instruct, kinsfolk, kinsman, (cause to let, make) know, (come to give, have, take) knowledge, have [knowledge], (be, make, make to be, makeself) known, be learned, lie by man, mark, perceive, privy to, prognosticator, regard, have respect, skilful, shew, can (man of) skill, be sure, of a surety, teach, (can) tell, understand, have [understanding], will be, wist, wit, wot. (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
Jesus was/is able to fellowship on a level of understanding with those in deepest of sorrow and in the most pungent depths of grief. He was and is well acquainted with all the aspects of the variations found in grief and sorrow. He is acquainted with every human reaction to them. He fully comprehended the depths and breadths of such a state of being. He was "endued with" every quantitative and qualitative fiber of experience with grief and sorrow-nothing escaped him-he contained them. Having the full measure of understanding of what those two traits can do to a person, their psyche, their physical health and emotions, He alone could /can say, "I know what you are experiencing."

He it is, who knows the meaning of "fellowship," "companionship" and "friend," as well. Without words, He knows and comprehends. The Scripture says, He "bore our griefs and carried our sorrows." He is well qualified to stand with any group which has puddles of tears surrounding them and minister healing.

During the time of the early church, there was this kind of fellowship, not the easily acquired interaction which characterizes today's definitions. It is impossible to have real fellowship with no involvement, no "entering into" the life of another. The exchange is the range of true koinonia.
Acts 2:40-42
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The Jesus kind was the apostles' kind of fellowship (koinonia): it involved the Simon Peter in jail kind, the stoning death of Stephen kind, and the persecuted by Saul of Tarsus kind. Oh! Get very familiar with this word, for it will be one of the primary ingredients for your daily life.
NT: 2842 koinonia (koy-nohn-ee'-ah); from NT: 2844; partnership, i.e. (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction: KJV - (to) communicate (-ation), communion, (contri-) distribution, fellowship.
These definitions of koinonia do not do it justice. Looking into the eyes of two men who shared prisons and had undergone persecution to a depth unknown to this observer rendered my words mute. Yet, through Jesus, there is understanding. He who lives on the inside of me knows what is inside of them, without words, and translates His own understanding to my spirit.. That is what makes those hugs, when departing, mean more than they do to the world. There is a spiritual exchange, an impartation of a difficult to define living substance which is bread and water to the spirit of man. It is this Bread that supplies "the Bread of Life," to the true church. Such is also "living water" that comes forth from the inner man.

One needs to listen to the disciples, in their descriptions, to glean just a glimpse of the deepness in the word, koinonia. Let me assure the reader it is more than sending an offering or subscribing to a newsletter. It is more than aisle walking or standing up to rehearse a "prayer of faith." It involves more than baptismal identification or a perfect attendance record for all the services of the church. Koinonia eclipses almost every modern expression of the term "fellowship." Glean from those who knew Jesus in the flesh and note their interaction (fellowship). The early disciples projected a far different set of descriptors than those used by Biblical translators. Living something is different than reading about something. Hear Paul in the following passage:
1 Corinthians 1:9-10
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Fellowship begins with Jesus. The individual who has no personal fellowship with God's Son has no basis for fellowship in the body of saints. If I were to describe one common factor for Christian Fellowship, it would be that every person with whom the saint is to be joined must be "called" into the same kind of fellowship that Jesus had with His Disciples. Such calling settles most all of the "other" considerations that might arise from interaction with others. To seek "fellowship" on any other basis is a misuse of the word and a tragic substitution of what the Biblical meaning holds.

Paul knew the impact of redefining "fellowship." He had witnessed the Jews redefine almost every aspect of the Law and Prophets. There came a time when Paul could not enter synagogues or the Temple without an uproar. He found himself progressively a persona non grata. The same is true of those who follow the Spirit today. For Christians to attend services filled with homosexual members (whether attendees or in the role of leadership) or with people of disbelief and unsound (not the Apostles) doctrine is for them to be outside the will of God.

There are groups assembling today with whom the saint must not be a part or take communion. The matter is more than idols and pagan worship, but it certainly involves those facets. A Roman Catholic service with images of Mary and the sacred heart is a good example. Pagan worship (Idolatry) might be as diffuse as an Orthodox iconoclastic cathedral or an Islamic prayer activity. Religious fellowship is never an "interfaith" enterprise. Never! Even to be yoked maritally with those of the description given below (2 Cor. 6) makes for an impossible relationship as far as koinonia is concerned.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

"I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people."

17 Therefore

"Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you."
18 "I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty."
Koinonia is a family thing. Just as the fellowship of the Father with the Son, so is our fellowship in the family of God. Verse eighteen declares the sacred family aspect of true koinonia. Given the break down of the modern family unit, many have lost the meaning of Biblical fellowship and its comparison to it. Family interaction, secrets and plans are a part of it. Security and mutual support on every level is a part of it. History and trait perpetuity is a part of it. Identity is a part of it. Role is a part of it (children have a different role than the parents). The better the family relationships, both nuclear and extended, the better the understanding of what is said in this 2 Corinthian passage. God says this! "Says the Lord Almighty" is as strong as it gets.
For some who read this message, there will arise an urgent need to disassociate with some church or secular connections. The Spirit will prompt you what to do. Better to do something now than to invoke the disfavor of God and experience the travesties that await when the pressures of the coming persecutions arise. (In the military, one must trust his associates with his life. The same is now true with the saints.)

A further Look:
1 Corinthians 10:18-22
18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles (Heathen) sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?
When Paul urged his followers to "observe Israel after the flesh," he was addressing "a participation factor with what was going on at the Temple altar." In other words, it was not just the High Priest offering at the altar; it was every one of them coming to offer through him. He represented each person who "amen'd" or "condoned" and "willingly entered into the fellowship of those who agreed to the sacrifice."

Paul hurried to say that sacrificing to idols was not the issue-idols were nothing. The issue was the "entering in" with their offering. Listen! It matters where you worship. It matters who speaks for you. It matters what goes on in the peripheral arenas of your religious activity. It matters who speaks over you. It matters what is done with the money. It matters about the minutest theology. It matters about compromises you might condone. No, the heathen little knew they were sacrificing to demons, but they were. To be ignorant was no excuse, "at one time God winked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent."
Verse 21 sums up the issue.
Fellowshipping with demons is a serious matter. Unfortunately, the writings of II Peter and Jude portray a picture of demonic activity within the church. Sad to say, they were talking about the last days. Sad to say, Paul could not have been more on the mark about today's religious scene. Someone is going to have to stand up and shut the temple doors in order to preserve the holy and make a difference to the people.
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons, you cannot Partake of the Lord's Table and of the table of demons.
Yet, thousands are trying to partake of both tables.

A Further Step:
Ephesians 5:8-14

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:

"Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light."
What koinonia can there be with "unfruitful works of darkness?" Saints cannot participate nor accept membership in any organization, affiliation or labor that produces "unfruitful works of darkness." The Spirit will provide any saint with leadership and discernment in every enterprise of man.

Acceptable Fellowship

Paul again steps forward in Philippians to proclaim true koinonia. Those who were "partakers with him" had the Jesus type of fellowship. First let us survey his words:
Philippians 1:3-11

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Beginning at the end verse, work back and see how true fellowship develops. Instead of unfruitful works, these are filled with the "fruits of righteousness." Righteousness expands, grows and develops in the tender company of other saints---edification can do its work with those who walk in Him. The prayer surrounding those in koinonia is wrapped in love and desires knowledge and discernment be made available in all things. To be a partaker with the work of every other person in fellowship with you is an interesting aspect of sowing and reaping. It is not just participation in offerings and gifts for ministry. This is a matter of fellowship on a level of involvement in which identity is born…"as they are, so are we." Doing the good works of Christ is the starting point of this kind of fellowship. Prayer, support, increased attention, Spirit led intercession are some of the traits of this kind of koinonia.

Yet, there is more
Philippians 2:1-5

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus
Oh, the humility in this passage. The loving care and tenderness that pervades this fellowship is worthy; it is worthy of the saints. Beginning with verse one, there really is a "fellowship in the Spirit." I tell you today, THAT is what I continually long for. To be drawn into fellowship with another of God's elect and to know the Spirit introduced us to them, sought us out and put us together… THAT is supernatural fellowship. It is koinonia of a different kind. Over and over, no matter whether there is total agreement on every subject or not, there is the overriding knowledge that the Spirit engendered the companionship. Here, the same love, same mind and accord grows in depth and field. There is nothing stopping it. The one encourages the other. If verse 4 could course the veins of God's children, there would be such provision for one another that never a word of want could be heard in the kingdom. I tell you truthfully this must be the trend among the saints if there is to be a "glorious bride" for a "wonderful Jesus."

Deeper Still
There is a place of fellowship with Christ that few seek today. It is the fellowship in His suffering. Reverting to the initial verses of this study, He who was acquainted with grief and bore our sorrows offers a fellowship greater than that of Barnabus and Savann. Hear Paul's appeal:
Philippians 3:8-12
I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Beloved, there is a fellowship by which we are more than just identified with Him; it is a fellowship wherein we choose to "enter in" to the fellowship of His sufferings. The flesh may cringe at those words…let it cringe. Determine in your heart of hearts that you will know Him to the point that no words can express. The "fellowship of His suffering" is what the Song of Solomon is all about.

"Come away with Me, my love" is not an invitation to eternal bliss, as much as it is an invitation to share with Him in all that He delights and in all the endeavors which make for His kingdom. Oh, "to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me" is more than casual bible reading or swift prayer. It is to be in koinonia with Him. This is an intimacy beyond verbalization. To look into His face and be satisfied that He knows, and to have Him look into your face and know that YOU KNOW, is koinonia!

How can this be?
1 John 1:6-7
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all si
n. The way we arrive at THAT place with Him, that place of mutual interaction, is by walking in the light. The fire which burns in the heart of God and which burned in Jesus now burns in us. Jesus walked in the light of the Holy Spirit. We are to walk in that same light. The light of the word, which guided His path, must light ours and ever increase our revelation. Because of this light in us, we are able to "fellowship with the light" found in one another. The Blood that covers one covers the other. No need to explain one's position to a fellow light. They are family. They are the kind of friends that will willingly lay down their life for you. Fellowship in the light is different!
1 John 1:3-4
3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
The door was left wide open for koinonia fellowship by the disciples. The basis of such fellowship is to know the same things the disciples knew. Their witness gave them a communion which was expandable. By incorporating others who believed and walked as they walked, their heritage was passed on. They left behind those who constituted greater numbers than their initial fellowship. They left thousand who were just like them. (The koinonia they engendered is not the "fellowship" of today.)

The Baptist evangelist Vance Havner was correct when he said to the Baptists of the 1950's, "The disciples would have to backslide severely to be in fellowship with you!" If he were alive today, he would have to expand this to larger groups and assail them for being further away from the will of God today than then.

Now is the time to correct these issues. Deep within my heart there is a longing for true fellowship and it must be satisfied, not by compromising and joining with the status quo, nay, but seeking through the Holy Ghost for that which is the real body of the Bride. When Paul wrote the following verses, he called it a mystery. It still is. He called such fellowship the glorifying quality that makes the church the CHURCH.
Ephesians 3:8-13

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles (heathen) the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
To fellowship in the Mystery was to have been open to all, but alas, in modern preachment there are few who "see." It is this fellowship by which saints readily identify one another and a natural exclusion takes place-the exclusion of those who have not that mystery revelation within them. It is this identity which speaks to principalities and powers in heavenly places. Koinonia in the mystery was examined in a different manner by Jesus.

Jesus said it another way:
Matthew 8:11-12
And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (In light of this study, Jesus' words take on a new significance.)

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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