True Christian Fellowship: Part 1 (Philippians 1:1–11)

Philippians 1.6“How about coming over to the house for some fellowship?”

“What a golf game! Man, did we have great fellowship!”

“The fellowship at the retreat was just terrific!”

That word “fellowship” seems to mean many things to many different people. Like a worn coin, it’s losing its true impression, so we had better take some steps to rescue it. After all, a good Bible word like fellowship needs to stay in circulation as long as possible.

True Christian fellowship is much deeper than sharing coffee and pie, or even enjoying a golf game together. Too often what we think is “fellowship” is really only acquaintanceship or friendship. Christian fellowship is much more than having a name on a church roll or being present at a meeting. For it is possible to be close to people physically and miles away from them spiritually.

The word fellowship simply means “to have in common.” We have a tendency to use the word very loosely these days. Any gathering of Christians in which there is a feeling of happiness and camaraderie is called fellowship. We have almost made the word synonymous with good food and a few laughs. But that, of course, makes Christian fellowship no different from what unbelievers often enjoy.

We cannot have fellowship with someone unless we have something in common; and for Christian fellowship, this means the possessing of eternal life within the heart. Unless a person has trusted Christ as his Savior, he knows nothing of “the fellowship of the Gospel.”

Paul’s fellowship with the Philippians was more than merely enjoying each other’s company. It was a partnership. People who by nature had nothing in common found a common life in Christ. Think again of Paul’s ministry in Philippi. Lydia the slave girl and the jailer had nothing in common until they come to Christ (Acts 16). The gospel of Christ made them partakers of the same life and partners in the same cause. One of the sources of Christian joy is the fellowship believers have in Jesus Christ. Paul was in Rome and his friends were miles away in Philippi, but their spiritual fellowship was real and satisfying. In Philippians 1:1–11, he describes true Christian fellowship in three ways.

I have you in my mind (1:3–6). Paul’s relationship with the church at Philippi was a good one and the tone of his letter to them expresses the warmth of his love and the depth of their fellowship in the gospel. Paul could not think of the Philippians without giving thanks to God for their fellowship. Isn’t it remarkable that Paul is thinking of others and not of himself? As he awaits his trial in Rome, Paul’s mind goes back to the believers in Philippi and every recollection he has brings him joy. Read Acts 16 and you will discover some things happened to Paul at Philippi that would have produced sorrow in most people. He was illegally arrested and beaten, was placed in the stocks, and was humiliated before the people. But even those memories brought joy to Paul because it was through his suffering that the jailer found Christ! Paul recalled Lydia and her household, the poor slave girl who had been demon-possessed, and the other dear Christians at Philippi; and each recollection was a source of joy. (It is worth asking, “Am I the kind of Christian who brings joy to my pastor’s mind when he thinks of me?”)

As the apostle gave thanks for their participation in the work of the gospel, he wrote, “He [God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6). Paul was very good at slipping little nuggets of breathtakingly glorious truth into the portions of his letters. This verse is one of those nuggets and tells us:

1. Salvation is God’s work. The Philippians did not begin the work of salvation in themselves only to have God come along and add a little to it. It was entirely His work. God provided the way of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, and He even enabled the Philippians to receive that salvation.

2. Salvation is a good work. Salvation lifts the sinner from eternal condemnation and ruin and makes that person part of God’s family, and a partaker of God’s eternal glory. Who would dare say this is not a good thing?

3. Salvation is a sure work. God does not begin it and then abandon it somewhere along the way. He does not pull His people from the flames of destruction only to allow them to slip back and be consumed. God completes the work of salvation. We know what it is to plan a work and undertake a work only to see it fail. But it is not so with God. We must not picture God the Father looking over the redeemed multitude in eternity and saying, “I did fairly well. Eighty per cent of the saved finally made it home.” God will not have to say such a thing because all His people will make it home. Not one will be missing! The faithful God will faithfully complete His work!

We will not go astray if we apply these verses to the work of salvation and Christian living. We are not saved by our good works (Eph. 2:8–9). Salvation is the good work God does in us when we trust His Son. This work will continue until we see Christ and then the work will be fulfilled: “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2).

It was a source of joy to Paul to know God was still working in the lives of his fellow-believers at Philippi. After all, this is the real basis for joyful Christian fellowship, to have God at work in our lives day by day.

“There seems to be friction in our home,” a concerned wife said to a marriage counselor. “I really don’t know what the trouble is.”

“Friction is caused by one of two things,” said the counselor and to illustrate he picked up two blocks of wood from his desk. “If one block is moving and one is standing still, there’s friction. Or, if both are moving, but in opposite directions there’s friction. Now, which is it?”

“I’ve been going backward in my Christian life and Frank has really been growing,” the wife admitted. “What I need is to get back to fellowship with the Lord.”

In Part 2, we will look at two more ways Paul describes true Christian fellowship.

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About Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

Pastor Joe has been serving in Christian ministry for 15 years. He desires to nurture and disciple believers, helping them experience a deeper level of commitment and faith in the Lord. He is the author of "Back to the Basics: A Guide for Christian Living." Through a commitment to servant leadership, he proclaims relevant Bible truth, equips the saints for effective ministry, and builds up the body of Christ. Married eleven years, Pastor Joe and his wife live in New Jersey and have two children.
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11 Responses to True Christian Fellowship: Part 1 (Philippians 1:1–11)

  1. vincent says:

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging and commented:
    There’s a lot that can be reflected on with this study. Love the touching point of what true fellowship really should/needs to be in Christ.

  2. “Friction is caused by one of two things,” said the counselor and to illustrate he picked up two blocks of wood from his desk. “If one block is moving and one is standing still, there’s friction. Or, if both are moving, but in opposite directions there’s friction. Now, which is it?”
    Answer: open to debate and therefore unimportant, can only create more “friction”.
    Solution: “GLUE”
    Source: “Holy Spirit”
    Highly Recommended by JESUS.
    Cannot be found at The Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowes, Sherwin Williams etc.
    Must be sought after in earnest to be found.
    “Seek Ye’ first…”
    Must be asked for to be “given” but in some cases “Given” before asking (Mercy and Grace).
    Knock on the door and it shall be opened.
    Wood left untreated…”termites”
    God Bless,
    Anthony/Oneagleswings

  3. Pingback: True Christian Fellowship (Philippians 1:1–11) | A disciple's study

  4. Pingback: True Christian Fellowship: Part 2 (Philippians 1:1–11) | Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

  5. Truth2Freedom says:

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  6. Pingback: True Christian Fellowship: Part 2 (Philippians 1:1–11) | A disciple's study

  7. I agree with you 100% Pastor Joe we cannot earn our Salvation but we will show we have it and not just when we die but now on earth. When we are Born again and perfected in Love we can be no other way, we have God’s seed, His Nature and we are to aim for the Crown of Righteousness and there is only one way.

    Do we have Christ Living in us…….

    Galatians 2: 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who Loved me, and gave Himself for me.(KJV)

    Ephesians 3:16-18 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in Love, May be able to comprehend with all Saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;(KJV)

    Galatians 3:26-28 For ye are all the Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.(KJV)

    2 Corinthians 13:4-6 For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him, by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.(KJV)

    2 Corinthians 5:16-18 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation(KJV)

    1 Corinthians 1:29-31That no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:That, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.(KJV)

    Christian Love in our Unity in Christ Jesus -Anne.

  8. Pingback: Living in the Future Tense (Philippians 3:17–21) | Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

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