Friday, January 28, 2011

The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit

(2 Cor. 13:14)
Years ago I heard The Rev. Dr. Terry Fullam, an itinerate teacher in the church, teach on 2 Corinthians 13:14.   I recently listened to that tape once again and thought I would share it with all of you.  2 Cor. 13:14 is, “ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  

One of the great truths revealed in the Gospel is the utter uniqueness of Christian fellowship compared to other concepts of fellowship the world may offer us.  This is reflected in the Apostle Paul’s phrase, “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”  “Fellowship” in the original Greek is Koinonia.  Its root, koinos, means “common,” such as “our common salvation” (Jude 3), “the faith we have in common” (Titus 1:4), or the common “fellowship we have with Christ” (1 Cor. 1:9).   Paul tells us the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is not a product of ourselves or of this world; it is a fellowship made possible through Christ and into which we are called by God’s Holy Spirit.  Paul writes elsewhere, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13).

Note that our commonality, the only commonality that matters in the Body of Christ, is the one Spirit that binds us all together. We are diverse otherwise, but those diversities do not count for anything for those who are in the fellowship of God’s Spirit.  That is why Paul can write,As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:27).  The Gospel truth is that the Church, then and now, is the only institution where these things do not matter.  All other institutions erect barriers and define their commonality accordingly.  For instance, in the patriarchal society of Paul’s time, it had to amaze the recipients of Paul’s letters to hear him say that gender does not matter.  This is a prime reason I cannot speak against women’s ordination which is so hotly debated in the Church today.  How would I deal with this divine revelation about the true nature of Christian fellowship?

What does this mean to this local fellowship, The Church of the Holy Trinity?  It tells us we can erect no barriers.  People can erect their own barriers of sin and sad choices, but there is no one this fellowship can decide to do without.  This is not our fellowship, it is God’s fellowship… it is “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”

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