1 John 1:3
That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us…
The knowledge of Christ is the basis of fellowship. If, like the apostle Paul, we can say, "It hath pleased God to reveal His Son in me," we will, after his example, "assay to join ourselves to the disciples."
I. IT IS THE BELIEVER'S PRIVILEGE TO HAVE "FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER." He has been enabled to behold God in the light of a Father, and to cherish towards Him the feelings of a child. And herein consists the essence of the fellowship which he maintains with Him. As a child has near access to his father, so has he to God. This privilege, and the grounds of it, are set forth with peculiar richness in the Divine word (Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 10:19-22). These gracious words and powerful arguments are put into our mouth by God Himself, that we may approach Him with all the confidence of children. As a child enjoys the assurance of his father's favour, so has the believer that of God. He knows he is sinful and unworthy, but he believes that in Christ "he has redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." As a child cherishes the love which he bears to his father, so does the believer toward God. He feels the force of that irresistible appeal (2 Corinthians 5:20, 21). He must say, "We love Him because He first loved us." In a word, the believer is exhorted, "delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." And this is the height of the fellowship to which he should aspire — to be able to say, "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Let it not be forgotten, too, that it is a duty as well as a privilege to maintain it, and there are many ways in which it may be done. We should have fellowship with God in His works. So had David when he said (Psalm 8:3, 4). How blessed to look on all the works of nature, and say, "My Father made them all." We should more particularly seek to hold fellowship with God in His Word. His will is more plainly revealed there, as well as His character and government. We may have similar fellowship in the ordinances of grace. In them we may pray (Psalm 106:4, 5). It would be alike our duty and wisdom to say with the Psalmist (Psalm 27:4). So also should we see and hear Him in the dispensations of His providence. Whatever they may be, joyous or sorrowful, we should recognise their author and learn their lessons.
II. THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE BELIEVER "WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST." In the text this is pointedly distinguished from that which has been already considered. Nor is it difficult to perceive the reason of the distinction. Fellowship with the Father can be held only through Christ. He has said expressly, "I am the Way — no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." On the other hand fellowship with the Son is direct. The reason is that He has taken our nature, and converses with us in it. He was in the beginning with the Father. He is therefore possessed of all Divine perfections. His wisdom is unerring, His power almighty, and His love infinite. This is the Being who came to us in the capacity of a Saviour. Again He is described in His humanity. He was seen, heard, and handled. He assumed that humanity for the very purpose of qualifying Him to be the Saviour of men. He has felt all that man can feel. He has the sympathy of a brother. Especially He endured all the sorrows of humanity. He suffered from poverty, neglect, reproach, injustice, and cruelty. He agonised under mental grief, as well as bodily tortures. He was tried by temptations the most harassing and powerful. Well, therefore, does He understand our trials. Not merely, however, is He described in His deity to encourage our confidence, and in His humanity to assure us of His sympathy, but in His office also as "the Word of Life," He has "eternal life" as the Saviour of men. It is His to dispense it to sinners. He says to all who believe in Him, "Because I live ye shall live also." Surely if we are encouraged to have fellowship with the Father, we may be specially encouraged to maintain it with His Son Jesus Christ. There is everything in Him to invite us to cultivate it.
III. THE FELLOWSHIP OF BELIEVERS WITH ONE ANOTHER. If we have fellowship with the Father, then we are His children, and are animated by their spirit. If we have fellowship with Jesus Christ, then we are His redeemed ones, and the subjects of His grace. It follows, therefore, as a necessary consequence, that wherever there is fellowship with the Father and the Son, there must also be fellowship with those who believe in them. What, then, is the fellowship of believers? Let the apostle Paul reply (Ephesians 4:4-6). The communion arising out of such unity must be universal, and pervading throughout all who are bound by it. They are one in Christ Jesus, and we just name some of the forms in which their fellowship will appear.
1. They have a community of nature. They are all "partakers of the Divine nature," and obey its impulses. Their tastes and habits are therefore alike heavenly.
2. They have a community of views. They can all say, "To them that believe Christ is precious," "the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely."
3. They have communion in feelings. Loving Christ, they love one another (1 John 5:1).
4. They have communion in joy and sorrow (1 Corinthians 12:26). As it is with the members of the body, so it is in the church.
5. They have communion in the kind offices of brotherly love (1 Corinthians 12:21).
6. They have fellowship in the progress of true religion.
7. They have fellowship in the prospects of heaven and eternity (1 Peter 1:3).It ought to be the aim of believers to cultivate such fellowship as this. There are many reasons to enforce it.
1. One is their own good (Psalm 133).
2. Another is the advancement of religion on the earth. Jesus prayed (John 17:21).
3. And to these let it be added, that it is vain to speak of fellowship with the Father and the Son if we have not fellowship with one another. Wherever one of these is they must all be. They are inseparable. They will all be found, too, in an equal measure.
(James Morgan, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.