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Failures in Fellowship

Introduction: Historically, the word fellow means to lay money; as to lay money down. A fellow was one who financially supported a business deal with someone else; a business partner. Originally, a fellow was one who shares with another in possession, official dignity, or in the performance of any work; a partner, co-worker. Also, one united with another in a covenant for common ends.

Fellowship then is to be united together in covenant for a common purpose. That is, the word is stronger in the Bible than is commonly used today. Today, a fellow is just a casual friend or a companion and fellowship means a good time together. In the Bible, it meant more. Paul called one man his “true yokefellow” (Philippians 4:3). This indicated those who were tied together with strong bonds.

We also see the importance placed on our fellowship in the compound words used with fellow. They all show a common purpose and bond. In the Bible, we see:

  • Fellowdisciples (John 11:16)
  • Fellowservants (Matthew 18:28, 29, 31, 33; Matthew 24:49; Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:7; Revelation 6:11; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:9) 10 times
  • Fellowhelpers (2 Corinthians 8:23; 3 John 1:8)
  • Fellowlaborers (Philippians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Philemon 1:1, 24
  • Fellowworkers (Colossians 4:11)
  • Fellowsoldiers (Philippians 2:25; Philemon 1:2)
  • Fellowprisoners (Romans 16:7; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:23)
  • Fellowcitizens (Ephesians 2:19)
  • Fellowheirs (Ephesians 3:6)

The fellowship of the saints is a very serious business in the Bible. It is the “fellowship of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:9). We “fellowship in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5). We take upon us “the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:4) and “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). But our true fellowship with one another is “with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). In salvation, we “were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).

As such, we are to guard against false fellowship. We are not to fellowship with “the throne of iniquity” (Psalm 94:20), “with devils” (1 Corinthians 10:20), “with unrighteousness” (2 Corinthians 6:14), or “with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). And, we are not to be false in our fellowship to others. Our passage in Leviticus 6:1-7 refers to the breaking of the trust of fellowship. It is a serious charge that requires a serious response. We will look at how the law of Moses dealt with this sin and then apply this teaching to our own lives.

  1. THE TRESPASS (Leviticus 6:1-3)
    1. The Breaking of Fellowship is a Sin
    2. The Breaking of Fellowship is a Sin Akin to Lying or Stealing
    3.  The Breaking of Fellowship is a Sin Against God (Philippians 2:1-5; 1 John 1:3; 1 John 4:20)
  2. THE RESTORATION (Leviticus 6:4-5)
    1. Fellowship Lost Was to be Restored (1 Corinthians 1:10-11; 1 Corinthians 12:25; Philippians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:13)
    2. The One Who Wronged Was to Give Restoration
    3. The Restoration Cost More Than the Original Loss
    4. The New Testament Changed the Responsibility of Initiating Restoration (Matthew 18:15-18)
  3. THE FORGIVENESS (Leviticus 6:6-7)
    1. The Sin Required the Forgiveness of God
    2. The One Wronged is to Forgive the Other
    3. The Basis for Forgiveness is the Forgiveness of Christ (Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-15)

Conclusion: What broken fellowship needs to be restored today?