FATHER'S FELLOWSHIP RESTORED (by permission; chp 15 from Ray Prinzings Book - Whispers of His Call)
"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." [ 1 John 1:3].
There has been much emphasis in Christendom on this "that
ye may have fellowship with us," aspect. People contact, sharing with each
other, feeling that they belong to a group, etc. People are very interested
in the horizontal outreach, and they feel that the more fellows there are in
the ship, the greater is the fellowship. However, John makes a very clear point
that only in the measure that we have "fellowship with the Father, and
with His Son," do we have any real substance to share and fellowship with
other men and women. Of FIRST PRIORITY our fellowship must be with the Father,
so that we have OF HIM to share with one another. It is to this COMMUNION WITH
THE FATHER that we have been called. All other dimensions of our calling relative
to ministry, a reaching out to bless others, must spring out of this intimate
relationship with our Father, else it is only the works of man.
We have shared our experiences, our miseries, one with another, but where is that SUBSTANCE, where is the sharing of HIS LIFE? Until we are able to say, "such as I have give I thee." [Acts 3:6], because out of "His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." [John 1:16].
How we need this deep, intimate fellowship with the Father, and then, "That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life," [1 John 1:1], that becomes the substance which we can share one with another.
Paul well spoke, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part," [1 Corinthians 13:9], as we have shared out of our limited portions. But we see the CALL is to come INTO HIM so that we are able to share OUT OF HIS FULLNESS.
The Greek word for "fellowship" is "koinonia" and means: participation, act of using a thing in common; and it has also been translated as communion.
The basis of fellowship is sharing together a common nature, to love what God loves, to hate what God hates, participating in that which is common to Him, and which He makes common to us.
Genesis 3:8-9, "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?"
By the time we pick up the record of fellowship between man and God, much of it had already been broken, only the VOICE remained. It was no more "what we have seen," nor "what we have handled," it is only the limitedness of that "which we have heard." And hearing the Voice of God walking in the garden, they sought to hide themselves from His presence. They could not face the light, so they hid themselves. They dare not handle Him, for He is too holy, and they were already tainted with their own self-will and sin. They had lost their own "holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." [Hebrews 12:14]. No longer could they participate in a free flow of fellowship with the Lord God.
Adam and Eve had ceased to handle reality, and began to handle "fig leaves," seeking to clothe themselves. Many religious men and women still prefer to sew together fig leaves of works and traditions, creed and carnal doctrines, rather than coming face to face with God, and sharing His substance. They are aware that they need something-- to be covered-- but all they have is fig leaves, leaves removed from the tree, so the life has now gone out of the leaves-- dry, empty, lifeless leaves.
"Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." [Genesis 3:23-24].
Note it clearly, here was a divine provision, an expression of His love, to enable man to still be able to partake of the tree of life. The sword was not just to keep man OUT, but to provide a SAFE WAY IN. For any man passing through the purging of the sword, would be restored to holiness, and therefore prepared and qualified to partake of the tree of life.
Significant that Jesus, Who is our PEACE, whose very name is "THE PRINCE OF PEACE," said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." [Matthew 10:34]. Yet the very angels that announced His birth, sang out, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." [Luke 2:14]. How does all of this come together? As long as there is sin and corruption in man there can never be peace within. Therefore it is essential that he be dealt with by the sword, and afterwards there is that peaceable fruit of righteousness." He is our PEACE secured through the sword. "Having made peace through the blood of HIS CROSS (sword), by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself." [Colossians 1:20].
HIS CROSS, the sword which so works in us, until it cuts away, purges out, brings death to all our self-will, carnal rebellion against the ways of the Lord. This in working brings us to the place where we pray from every avenue of our being, "Not my will, but Thine, be done," and peace is restored.
God's presence was still there in the garden, God had not removed Himself from man, but man had sought to hide himself from God, for man could no longer face the presence of God. "That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might FEEL after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being." [Acts 17:27-28].
Few yet HEAR the Voice of the Lord, and fewer still have experienced even a fragment of handling His reality. Not many have even seen Him in a dream or vision. In all of their seeking Him, it is to "FEEL AFTER HIM ." If they are touched in their feelings, they say "truly God is in this place," and if they do not FEEL something, to them God is far removed, and they know not that "in Him we live, and move, and have our being," for all of their KNOWN FELLOWSHIP is in the confines of feeling after Him. Truly God would bring us, is CALLING US to a far deeper dimension of communion with Himself.
We observe that even after God had sent man out of the garden of Eden, He still talked with man, even to Cain after he slew his brother. "And the Lord said unto Cain..." [Genesis 4:9], but there was no fellowship in that conversation.
"What we have heard" can be something over which to fellowship, UNLESS there is nothing in common in our natures, so that we can share one with another. But by now Cain was so far removed from the nature of God, and had so begun to express that other nature--"who was of the wicked one," [1 John 3:12], that he became a murderer, having slain his brother Abel. Fulfilling also that word of Jesus, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him." [John 8:44]. So while we could say that for the moment Cain was hearing God speak, he was not fellow shipping with God. There was no basis for true fellowship.
Isaiah 59:1-2, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that He cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you."
God is still able to fellowship on the basis of "that which we have handled." His hand is still stretched out, and He would impart that which we can handle-- share in common with Him. His ear is not heavy, He can still hear, and speak to us; and there can be a free flow back and forth. The whole difficulty is on man's part --our sins and iniquities have obscured His face from shining upon us. Now we are not able to fellowship with Him on the basis of His HOLINESS, His righteousness, for we have forsaken that realm. And for sure, He will not fellowship with us on the basis of sin-- to become a partaker of our evil nature, for His very nature of holiness precludes such action. As a consuming fire, He purges all that He lays His hand upon, so that it is truly holy, and receivable unto Himself.
But God has CALLED US unto a fellowship with Himself. Therefore we must needs go through our child-training processes, become a partaker of His holiness, so that we SIN NOT. And as we become a partaker of HIS DIVINE NATURE, of His righteousness, then we have a common nature as the basis for our communion together.
Full well we know we once "were dead in trespasses and sins," dominated by the spirit of the age in this world system, "fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath." [Ephesians 2:1-3]. We know what it was to once share in common with the spirit of the world, to be energized by that spirit. But more and more we are BEING DRAWN AWAY FROM THE WORLD, changed, born anew from above, and no longer can we fellowship with the world.
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." [John 15:19].
"They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are OF GOD: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us." [1 John 4:5-6].
Two realms: of the world, and OF GOD. But, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other: Ye cannot serve God and mammon." [Matthew 6:24].
How clear Jesus laid it out for us-- you cannot mix the two realms. If we fellowship with one, we have cut off fellowship with the other. The more we pursue fellowship with the world, the less conscious we will be of His presence. And John, who wrote such precious truths on fellowship, declared, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." [1 John 2:15].
But with the deep in workings of HIS CROSS, "by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world," [ Galatians 6:14], then can we draw nigh unto God, and find that our fellowship with Him is restored. For we would become partakers of HIS REALM. Praise God, "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these we might be partakers of the DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." [2 Peter 1:3-4].
Christianity is not a fixing up of the old nature, it bespeaks of our becoming a NEW CREATION SPECIES IN CHRIST JESUS. A new nature, a divine nature. Some religious teachers speak of how heaven will be filled with "sinners saved by grace." While it is true, by grace are ye saved, let it be clear, we lose all identity of being sinners, of what we once were. For there will be no "saved sinners" in heaven, there will be ALL NEW CREATION SAINTS. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." [2 Corinthians 5:17].
When the "vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: he made it again ANOTHER VESSEL, as seemed good to the potter to make it." [Jeremiah 18:4]. The latter had nothing in common with the former. The marred vessel, shall we say, scarred by sin, self, etc. was utterly put to death, made conformable to His death, as the cross worked its operation, and then, there was made again anew vessel, filled with His nature, to share a rich and glorious communion with Him.
"God is faithful, by Whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." [1 Corinthians 1:9].
GOD IS THE FAITHFUL ONE, and only HE can restore this fellowship which has been broken. Being DEAD in our sins, we cannot arise to restore anything. "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died FOR US." [Romans 5:8]. He called us unto fellowship, and so Paul writes, "Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." [1 Thessalonians 5:24].
To restore this fellowship with Himself, God has come to us where we are, condescending to our low estate, sending His Son to us, to be "THE WAY; the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by Me." [John 14:6].
He came to reveal the Father's heart, and to bring us back to the Father, by degrees. As we learn to fellowship with Him in ever deepening dimensions, we find we are actually fellow shipping with the Father, for He said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father-- I am in the Father; and the Father in Me." [John 14:9, 11].
There is another point that must be made clear, there is no by-passing the Son to get to the Father, nor any forsaking of the Son once we have come to the Father. For all these words we hear from some, about "Father this, and Father that..." without a thorough fellowship with the Son, these are words without reality.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was WITH God, and the Word was God." [John 1:1]. This little word "with" is the Greek word "pros" and means: TOWARD. From this we would share two thoughts. First of all, Jesus Christ was sent to reveal the Father's heart, and everything He did, or said, or was, was toward the Father. It pointed to the Father! He directed our attention to the Father. He kept saying, "These are My Father's works, these are My Father's words," for He only did, and said, what He saw the Father do. He was an outward expression of the Father to man, pointing man back to his Father.
And the second thought: As Wuest brings out in his translation, "and the Word was FACING God." In the Word being TOWARD God, there was this direct eye to eye contact, in a continuous fellowship. Jesus never had His attention diverted from the Father. He was always in a face-to-facedness with His Father. It was out of this continuous fellowship with the Father, He was able to impart to His disciples, and to all men.
As we have often stated, you cannot be devil-conscious and God-conscious at the same time. Jesus, who was ever facing toward the Father, had a continuous consciousness of His Father. Then whenever the Father directed, He exercised His authority over the adversary, casting out devils, etc. without a long session of exorcism, but with a simple KINGDOM AUTHORITY WORD, "come out," and the spirits obeyed Him. All of this action, and still He was FACING THE FATHER, His eyes upon the Father, doing what He saw the Father do. Ever toward the Father, the will and purpose of the Father flowed through Him, and He became the Saviour of the world.
As we come to that place where all we do is "worship the Father in spirit and in truth," [John 4:23], with all of our being toward Him, as with a single eye, then shall we see His salvation manifested in the earth.
"If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." [1 John 1:6-7].
The usual line of thought concerning this scripture most preachers give is, as you walk in the light of God you can have fellowship with other Christians. But this phrase, "one with another," is not in reference to some fellowship between Christian and Christian, but between GOD AND THE BELIEVER. If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with Him who is THE LIGHT. You cannot fellowship with The Light unless you are daily walking in His light, for "what communion hath light with darkness." [2 Corinthians 6:14].
The Greek word used here is a reciprocal pronoun, bespeaking of a returning to each other that mutual love, etc. It is not, He gives to me, and I then give to you. That comes later. Only as we first fellowship with our Father, receiving from Him, returning to Him, will we eventually have that life which we can impart to others, as out of our innermost being "shall flow rivers of living water." [John 7:38]. The whole context of this first chapter of First John, is that of "truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." Until that intimate fellowship is restored, we have nothing of lasting value to share with another fellow man. But out of that free flow, worship from our heart to Him, and his love into us, we shall have a wonderful and bountiful supply with which to bless all nations.
"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS, being made conformable to His death." [Philippians 3:10]. Here is a part of fellowship which cannot be by-passed nor ignored. "It is a faithful saying; For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." [2 Timothy 2:11-12].
"If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." [Romans 8:17-18].
Marvelous indeed is the purpose and plan of God that we can deepen our fellowship with Him first in the arena of suffering, before we go on to share His glory together. "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." [2 Corinthians 13:4].
It has been said that people are far more readily joined to you in your weaknesses, than they are to your strengths. It is difficult to relate to one who appears to be totally self-sufficient, strong, above all need. Difficult to relate to that, because in ourselves we know that we are so far otherwise, with our inherent weaknesses and lacks. But let one come to great need, be it sickness, financial disaster, tragic loss of loved ones, etc. and people will rally around, and fellowship with them on this COMMON GROUND OF SUFFERING.
God well knew that we could not first rise to great heights to fellowship with Him in dimensions of glory which defy description. Isaiah "saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple," and all the seraphims were crying, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts," and poor Isaiah could not fellowship with all this. He could only cry out, "Woe is me! for I am undone,. because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." [Isaiah 6:1, 3, 5]. So where did God begin the fellowship? WITH SUFFERING! Sending one of the seraphims, "having a live coal in his hand, which He had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he laid it upon my mouth..." THE PURGINGS BY FIRE! In this fellowship of suffering the changes are made in us, holiness is wrought, and then we are able to begin to share in the riches of His glory.
Paul also writes of "the unsearchable riches of Christ," and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God." [Ephesians 3:8-9]. You cannot tell another of these mysteries until first you have fellow shipped with Him, and He reveals them to you. There is no real life in a borrowed revelation, it is a letter, and "the letter killeth." It is as the Spirit of God quickens truth to us, makes it LIFE WITHIN, that we can then share of the "spirit of the Word" with another. When He personally fellowships with us of His mysteries, then do we have a LIVING MESSAGE which we can share with others who are ONE in this same Spirit of God. The treasures of wisdom and knowledge are HID IN CHRIST, and only as we together fellowship IN CHRIST can we share of these treasures, either with Him, or with fellow believers "of like precious faith."
Abraham had a very unique relationship and fellowship with God, so that "The Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" [Genesis 18:17]. They shared together of God's mysteries and divine workings!
"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant." [Psalm 25:14].
"And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh with his friend." [Exodus 33:11].
If you fellowship HIS VOICE, you have a message to share.
If you fellowship HIS LIGHT, there will be light to impart to others.
If you fellowship HIS BODY, you will be changed, and have SUBSTANCE to share with another!
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" [1 Corinthians 10:16].
Only in the measure we FELLOWSHIP HIM, can we share the same in common with our brethren. Participators together in the blood of the new covenant. Fellow shipping in both His BROKEN BODY-- fellowship of sufferings; and in His GLORIOUS BODY-- fellowship of our change and shared glory of Christ. For He shall change our body and fashion it anew like unto His glorious body.
"As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." [Psalm 17:15].
BEHOLDING HIS FACE-- in continuous fellowship. Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. The Hebrew word "presence" here is "panim" meaning: face, countenance. They could not look Him in the eye, to commune with Him. But now that fellowship shall be restored, and we shall see Him face to face. In that blessed and holy communion we shall be fully SATISFIED, for we shall be participators together of His holiness, of His nature, of His likeness. To this we have been called, and to this He is steadily leading His chosen in that high procession advancing to Zion. What a fellowship, what a joy divine, with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
I hear the call for fellowship
With God, not just with men.
That deep communion we once knew
Restored to us again.
For once the morning stars did sing,
The sons for joy did shout,
But when self-will came on the scene
Fellowship's light went out.
"Where art thou, Adam?" God did call,
For Adam from Him hid,
He was ashamed to face his Lord,
Acknowledge what he did.
Communion broken, only God
Could fellowship restore.
Salvation was an act of grace -
Grace that aboundeth more.
He is the Light for every man,
His cross the perfect cure
For all the self-will deep within,
True peace He doth assure.
To walk in light, as He's the Light,
And fellowship is thine,
From God to man, and man to God,
The flow is most sublime.
Of first priority this walk,
To worship Christ our Lord.
And then the service to all men
Will follow in accord.
To love, to worship, to adore,
To offer Him our praise,
And from this fellowship to find
His blessing fills our days.