“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord”. The following meditation concerns this fellowship, the grace which calls persons into it, and the privileges and responsibilities attached to it in a world contrary to its objectives and interests.
Paul reminds the church of God at Corinth of their standing before God in Christ Jesus, according to God’s grace. Each one had received Christ by faith, and the Holy Spirit confirms that “as many as received him, to them gave he power (the right) to become the sons (children) of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”, John 1. 12-13. To the churches of Galatia, Paul writes, “for ye are all the children (sons) of God by faith in Christ Jesus”, Gai. 3. 26, and further, “because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father”, 4. 6. The expression “God’s family” is used rather loosely, but Scripture teaches that the way into God’s family is through repentance towards God and faith in Christ Jesus. The consciousness of being in that family comes only by the Spirit of God’s Son in the heart. Natural parents may legally adopt a child, but cannot make the child physically one of their own. God adopts, and makes us His own family by giving us “the Spirit of adoption”, Rom. 8. 15, whereby we are “partakers of the divine nature”, 2 Pet. 1. 4, not just monuments of grace, but His children, His sons, His family, having His Spirit, and perfectly at home, feeling neither strange nor strangers.
As His children, we are santified in Christ Jesus before God, and we are saints by divine calling according to God’s grace. We like to think of the “riches” of God’s grace coming to our side in the provision of forgiveness of sins and redemption, and the “glory” of God’s grace taking us to His side and accepting us in the Beloved, Eph. 1. 6, 7. What wonderful grace, to those with no original title to it! Nevertheless, in Christ this is every believer’s standing before God, and it is solely grace upon grace. However, what we are in our individual state of soul, in testimony before the world, or in interrelationships in assembly life, can sometimes be incompatible with the dignity of our calling. But God supplies the grace and the enrichment of knowledge and gift to help us so to walk, Eph. 4. 1, 2, and to be intelligent and intelligible in making known God’s mind. Moreover, Paul directs the minds of the Corinthians, not only to the elevated thoughts of their calling, but also to the day of our Lord Jesus Christ in which they would have part, 1 Cor. 1. 7-8. In the meantime, there is testimony for Christ during His absence; this is the concern of the fellowship with the power of the Holy Spirit.
With the Saviour’s hands outstretched to bless, God calls in grace. The call is universal, and the responsibility to respond lies with the individual. For eighteen months, Paul evangelized Corinth, a prosperous but profligate city, preaching that Jesus, who had been crucified, rose from the dead, ascended, and was glorified at God’s right hand. Some believed, and were gathered out in that city to form a local church of God; Paul now teaches that it was God who had called them into the fellowship of His Son. Yet Satan was very active.
Within three years of Paul’s visit, they were divided amongst themselves; evil remained unjudged, and the resurrection was being denied. Paul himself (who unwittingly as Saul of Tarsus had been an effective agent for the enemy) had been subjected to ferocious persecution when he changed sides, to show full allegiance to Christ Jesus, 2 Cor. 11. 23-33. This is one kind of attack and suffering that those in the fellowship of God’s Son may be called upon to endure, since no one in it escapes the attention of the enemies of the cross of Christ, experiencing reproach and testing in various degrees. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and following in the Christian way, is not an easy pathway, but the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon them.
Being in this fellowship involves:
The spirit that should be manifested, both in individual testimony and in assembly life, is the spirit of Jesus Christ. The humility, meekness, lowliness, obedience to God, hatred of lawlessness and love of righteousness, which characterized Jesus when here, is that which should be seen increasingly in us as we grow in grace, being evidenced in testimony by those in a fellowship which bears His Name, “his Son Jesus Christ our Lord”. It is in marked contrast to the spirit of man, so stamped with arrogance, pride and disobedience to God. It is of little profit to have an academic knowledge of the historical Jesus if Christ is not dwelling in the heart by faith, Eph. 3. 17, with His spirit manifest in our walk. Our exercise may lead to a deeper desire to have more of “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”, which Paul knew, with prayer, would turn to his salvation in Rome where he was then being held by that world power, Phil. 1. 19.
This dispensation is drawing to its close. Our Lord’s word to each of us is, “hold fast till I come”, Rev. 2. 25. In anticipation of His coming, the redeemed cry in unison, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”, 22. 20.
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