Firmly in fellowship

Within the last century, the term fellowship has evolved into a construct that Christians use to talk about feelings of closeness to God at a given time. It’s a framework for relating to God that, unfortunately, we tend to develop from our interpersonal relationships. If we’ve sinned against a friend, family member, or coworker, we feel that our relationship with them is strained or broken until we apologize, are forgiven, and then restored to previous communication.

In the Scriptures, fellowship with God is not described in this way. Instead, a person is either in fellowship with God and therefore saved, or out of fellowship and therefore lost.

In the ten instances of the word fellowship
in the epistles, not once is there
a moving “in and out of fellowship” with God
based on recent performance.

Of course, we still mature spiritually. And when we sin, consequences hit us. We can’t escape the laws of the land. We also can’t escape the reactions of others. If we sin against someone, we may experience difficult circumstances and our own disappointment with our choice. But we shouldn’t mistake these earthly consequences for moving out of fellowship with God.

Our fellowship is stable and certain. God’s face is always toward us. When we sin, he’s there every step of the way to help us learn from our mistake. How arrogant it is to assume that we could escape sin alone, while out of fellowship, in order to get back in!

If we buy the lie that God sits in a swivel chair, ready to rotate his face away from us when we sin, then we proclaim a God of conditional love and conditional fellowship. But this is to ignore the work of Jesus, who on the cross cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus was out of fellowship with his Father so we would never be.

–Andrew Farley
(emphasis added)

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