It is quite a common thing to say that such and such a Christian is “in fellowship.” The thought is that they belong to a certain Assembly of saints, and are “breaking bread” with them. But is this all that “fellowship” really implies? By no means. It is fellowship as far as it goes, but it falls far short of the full import of the truth.
Fellowship is partnership, the sharing of things in common; that is, there is a sharing in common of all that pertains to an Assembly—its privileges, its testimony, and its responsibilities. And this is a far different thing to the prevalent but inadequate idea of the Scriptural conception of fellowship.
To be welcomed among a company of saints who gather in the Lord’s Name alone, owning the Lordship of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, having no creed or constitution but the Word of God; this is a wonderful privilege and should never be lightly esteemed. Fellowship embraces all the Assembly stands for. We are helpers together of one another in maintaining and strengthening all that we have been taught of God, and hold dear. There is a fellowship on the Lord’s day morning in the “breaking of bread” in loving remembrance of the Lord’s death, till He comes; a fellowship in the evening in the Assembly’s Gospel testimony; a fellowship in the weekly prayer-meeting, and in the weekly Bible-reading or gathering for ministry; a fellowship in all the Assembly’s activities, its gifts and expenses.
Do we merely “break bread,” or are we really “in fellowship”? Do we realise both our privilege and responsibility concerning the Assembly in all its bearings? Look where we will, we can find nothing better and more in accord with New Testament principles than what we hold; and this is true even in the face of confessed weakness and failure in giving expression to Divine truths. “To whom shall we go?” (John 6:68).
There is a serious leakage in Assemblies: young life that ought to be present is drifting elsewhere. This drift might be stemmed by teachers and elders themselves holding more firmly to the truths we have learned; in giving more of their presence, time and help in the meetings, in the building up of the believers in their “most holy faith,” feeding the flock with food convenient.
Let us do all we can to maintain a collective testimony for our Lord, in a day when much of His will is rejected, distorted, or neglected; to be “watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die”; and in view of His coming quickly, to “hold fast that which we have, that no man take our crown” (Rev. 3:2, 8, 11).