Total Depravity and Fellowship

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize just how relient we are on Christ.  It’s so apparent when something doesn’t go right, or life gets stressed beyond where we are comfortable.   This is where we find ourselves in complete depravity, needing everything from the Creator. If we look deeply in the words that Paul wrote to the Corinthians we see that he found great joy in feeling completely in need.

This week in the Basic Series, we talked about fellowship which ultimately comes down to the interpersonal relationship that we have with Jesus.  It seems counterintuitive to think that an ‘internal’ relationship is directly responsible for our external ‘fellowship’, but through the scriptures I think that we can see how it directly plays out.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for  my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Fellowship is about relationship, and relationships are built around trust.  Trust is built off of mutual vulnerability, allowing others to see and feel our depravity.  It’s incredibly scary and it causes us to pull back.  But God.  His power is made perfect in our weakness, as we see above.  He wants us to recognize that it’s not in the fellowship that we as a group are made strong, it’s in Him.  See the relationship with Jesus works different than the relationship or fellowship that you have with your friends or even with the Church.  God himself came down in human form, vulnerable to sin and capable of death.  His resurrection defeated death and sin, so we can rest him him.  There doesn’t have to be mutual vulnerability because like the song, His love never fails.  Fellowship will fail, friendship will fail, but God…. our love fails,

“For  God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not  perish but have eternal life.    For  God did not send his Son into the world  to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because  God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that  God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love,  not that we have loved God  but that he loved us and sent his Son to be  the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and  his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:8-13)

Paul can, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that  the power of Christ may rest upon me.” because he knew that God’s grace and sovereignty never fails.  His love never fails.  If we continue to breakdown how these passages lace back into our vertical relationship with Christ we see that God is love, and

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For  we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but  when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For  now we see in a mirror dimly, but  then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as  I have been fully known.  So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

The greatest gift from God is love.  The power of Christ is love.  Without the power of the Holy Spirit we cannot love even one person.  We can’t love ourselves, we can’t love our kids, we can’t love our friends, we cannot love.  You can’t have fellowship, and you definitely can’t have true communion without the power of the Holy Spirit.

The passage in James continues to reenforce this point.

Count it all joy, my brothers,  when you meet trials  of various kinds, for you know that  the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be  perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Count it all joy, my brothers (community), when you meet trials of various kinds (depravity), for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (love).  And let steadfastness (love) have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  Depravity looks ugly and it is.  We are all capable of murder, but it’s God’s grace and continuing sanctification working through us that provides us with a glimpse of what it’s like to love.  Through that insight we can start and work towards loving each other in community.  True fellowship.  It’s through his gospel that we find love, the words of his scripture and a interpretation of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

So my challenge today is that we focus on our interpersonal relationship with Jesus.  We work towards a greater communion with Him so that we can have a greater communion with His bride.

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This Weeks Teachings

Each week for The Crux Student Ministry I lay out some going deep questions for our “cell family” or small group teaching.  This week is based on the Fellowship portion of Francis Chan’s Basic series.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Acts 4:32–35

 All the believers were one in heart and mind.

This passage is loaded with Christ’s vision of the church.  All the believers were one in heart and mind… Do we as a group have a gospel centered life?  What does that look like?  How can we center our lives around Jesus and what he said.  How much easier would our life be without the drama of selfish desires?  How much weight do you put in the things of this world and how does it effect your relationship with the Church?  You know, the people we do life with…. or do we?

 

No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

This passage started out discussing Christ’s vision of the church, that all the believers were one in heart and mind.  The scripture then goes on to talk about our possessions and the things that we have.  Do you think that the scripture is pointing us to something greater than our earthly possessions?  What would you be more willing to give at this point, your TV or your talents and time?  If the Holy Spirit truly empowers us to do all, then why as a family is it so hard to share our talents?  Is it a pride issue?  Are our talents and time our most prized possessions?

 

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

The Church is suppose to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with power.  Do our daily testimonies look powerful?  Do we act out our testimonies daily?  Do people see us differently?  It’s said that the, “us against the world” mentality is the most dangerous and bonding mentality there is.  As a Church, do we say, “it’s us against the things of this world?” How do you think that would play out in our daily walk and testimonies? Isn’t that the mentality that Christ calls us too?

 

And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.

Honestly, what are your needs?  If we as a Church don’t know each others needs, than how can there be “no needy persons among them?”  How vulnerable does it make you to lay out all of your needs?  Would that force you to rely on Jesus for strength?  Would that build a more intimate relationship with the Church?  Wouldn’t that really focus our lives on the cross?  How much more real would that make the Church?

 

I’m talking real, as in, in your face, true life on life family.  You take the pretenses and the judgement and throw it out the window and trust that the people around you are walking in grace and therefore there is nothing that can’t be brought to the table.  I’m talking about family.  How do we get our fellowship to look more like that?