REVEALED BY THE “EXPERIENTIAL” [JOY] ASPECT OF THE VALUE OF THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
As introduced in the discussion above, the command to love one another as Christ loves us is more than a magnificent “ideal.” It is not one among other commands. It is the very heart of “the word,” the command, given by God the Logos, Jesus Christ, to each believer. This “law of Christ” will fulfill the obligation to conform to the very nature of God. It is accomplished through a new love, working out the relation between Christ and all believers, enabled by the daily imparted grace [power] of God to the child who seeks to “keep the commandment(s)” and learn by doing the will of God.
1 Tim 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness [Gk. eusebeia, belief that forms the basis for behavior by which man is restored to godliness]: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
How supremely insufficient is the attempt made by false professing Christians who adhere to a shallow misinterpretation of God’s Word. Which is assumed to be implied in the synoptic Gospels, namely, The Sermon on the Mount. This presumption is driven and conditioned upon a man-made notion, a theory of atonement which defines the value of the death of Christ. This theory undervalues His shed blood and overlooks the power of His resurrection life shared by all believers. Taken together, the presumption and the theory support the stalwart assertion that “daily behavior” through self-effort determines the outcome of a future salvation. The self-centered and joyless “experiential” aspect of Arminian salvation is that believers can never be assured that they themselves, or their believing loved ones have become the children of the living God who will be together in heaven with Christ.
Christianity has two commands (1 John 3:23): (1) to the unsaved, to obey the gospel, to believe in the Bible’s witness and testimony to Jesus Christ which is Jesus as the preexistent Son of God who was conceived by God of a virgin and entered this world in the flesh of a newborn babe, who died for all the sins of the world, and, “this same man” rose again in glorified human flesh that all believers might share His resurrected life and “never see death,” and, (2) to those who are saved, to love fellow believers as Christ loves them.
The common ground of the 1 John profession of a false Christology and today’s Arminian profession of a false Christology is the inescapable harmony in that: (1) the assertion of a low moral ground whereby behavior does not matter (salvific sinlessness is a given by faith because of the pre-existence of Christ, Jesus came in water [incarnation at baptism] and His death [blood] is of no value for a forgiveness that is unnecessary) or, (2) the claim of the high moral ground whereby behavior is everything (salvific sinlessness is maintained by self-effort and continued faith, Jesus came by water and blood, but the blood has only a “theoretical” value for an incomplete forgiveness).
Both professions of faith, despite the human consequences of moral position, are false. Both maintain a low view of the value in the death of Christ. Therefore, true saving belief in Jesus Christ is not possible. Proven by the many clear statements of Scripture that assert without disagreement that the blood of Christ removes all sin through faith. And, secondly, reliance on the living, resurrected Christ, just as He is now, as the source of daily behavior is missing from both assertions. The secessionists of 1 John and the Arminian have failed to first obey the command incumbent upon the unsaved and, thus, lack the ability to appreciate and obey the command incumbent upon the saved (1 John 3:23).
God’s graceful truth is that only through the completed and secure infinite redemption of salvation is righteous daily behavior possible “to a thousand generations to those who love me and keep my commandments” (Ex 2:6). More than anything, the primary commandment of Jesus “to love one another as I have loved you” is not the indication, rather it is the means by which Christian behavior is perfected through love and “fulfills the law.” This is the defining argument that convicts the secessionists in I John of a false Christological profession and apostate doctrine.
The Arminian, with his “Social Gospel,” is blind to the divine imperative spoken by Jesus, “you must [Gk. dei] be born again from above [Gk. anothen]” to “see the kingdom of God” (John 3:7ff, 3ff) and, “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth [the gospel] through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet 2:22-23). In the “word,” the command from the lips of Jesus, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. … As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:3-5, 9-14).
Only by the new birth is this love for one another manifested. It is a Christian reality. Without it, one cannot abide in Jesus as the true vine and have communion (koinonia) with God and other believers “that your joy might be full.”
Copyright 2007 by David Coulon. Use with credit only.
"a having in common (koinos), partnership, fellowship" (see COMMUNICATE), denotes (a) the share which one has in anything, a participation, fellowship recognized and enjoyed; thus it is used of the common experiences and interests of Christian men, Ac. 2:42; Ga. 2:9; of participation in the knowledge of the Son of God, 1Co. 1:9; of sharing the realization of the effects of the Blood (i.e., the Death) of Christ and the Body of Christ, as set forth by the emblems in the Lord's Supper, 1Co. 10:16; of participation in what is derived from the Holy Spirit, 2Co. 13:14 (RV, "communion"); Php. 2:1; of participation in the sufferings of Christ, Php. 3:10; of sharing in the resurrection life possessed in Christ, and so of fellowship with the Father and the Son, 1Jo. 1:3,6,7; negatively, of the impossibility of "communion" between light and darkness, 2Co. 6:14; (b) fellowship manifested in acts, the practical effects of fellowship with God, wrought by the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers as the outcome of faith, Phm. 1:6, and finding expression in joint ministration to the needy, Ro. 15:26; 2Co. 8:4; 9:13; Heb. 13:16, and in the furtherance of the Gospel by gifts, Php. 1:5. See COMMUNICATION, CONTRIBUTION, DISTRIBUTION, FELLOWSHIP.
(a) "communion, fellowship, sharing in common" (from koinos, "common"), is translated "communion" in 1Co. 10:16; Phm. 1:6, RV, "fellowship," for AV, "communication;" it is most frequently translated "fellowship;" (b) "that which is the outcome of fellowship, a contribution," e.g., Ro. 15:26; 2Co. 8:4. See COMMUNION, CONTRIBUTION, etc. Note: In Eph. 3:9, some mss. have koinonia, instead of oikonomia, "dispensation," RV.
II. Fellowship as Experienced.
From the very beginning the early Christians experienced a peculiar sense of unity. Christ is at once the center of this unity and the origin of every expression of fellowship. Sometimes the fellowship is essentially an experience and as such it is scarcely susceptible of definition. It may rather be regarded as a mystical union in Christ. In other instances the fellowship approaches or includes the idea of intercourse. In some passages it is represented as a participation or partnership. The terms occur most frequently in the writings of Paul with whom the idea of Christian unity was a controlling principle.
In its various relations, fellowship is represented: (1) As a communion between the Son and the Father. The gospel record represents Jesus as enjoying a unique sense of communion and intimacy with the Father. Among many such expressions those of Mt 11:25-27 (compare Lk 10:21,22) and Jn 14 through 15 are especially important. (2) As our communion with God, either with the Father or the Son or with the Father through the Son or the Holy Spirit. "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn 1:3; compare also Jn 14:6,23,16). (3) As our communion one with another. "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another" (1 Jn 1:7). Sometimes the idea of communion occurs in relation with abstract ideas or experiences: "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" (Eph 5:11); "the fellowship of his sufferings" (Phil 3:10); "the fellowship of thy faith" (Philem 1:6). In three passages the relation of the fellowship is not entirely clear: the "fellowship of the Spirit" (Phil 2:1); "the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Cor 13:14); and "the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1:9). The fellowship is probably to be understood as that prevailing among Christians by virtue of the grace of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
It is not to be inferred that the idea of fellowship is limited to the passages in which the specific words for communion are used. Some of the clearest and richest expressions of unity and fellowship are found in the Gospels, though, these words do not occur in them. In fact, perhaps, the most familiar and forcible expressions of the idea are those in which they are represented symbolically, as in the parable of the Vine and the Branches (Jn 15:1 ff) or in the figure of the Body and its Members (Mt 5:29 ff; Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12).
Russell Benjamin Miller
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great article. I do believe that in todays culture things are becoming more and more "not as important." many people believe that you should go to church and then party on the weekends. Many say they are christians but are not. Thanks for letting this message become known.