Sermon Detail

Strength for the Journey Strength for the Journey: Fellowship (Sharing in the Common Life, Part 2)

December 17, 2023 | Buster Brown

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."  1 John 1:5-10

One of the primary means by which the believer is built up in the faith is to have Christ-centered friendships with other believers. These friendships are fueled by the understanding that we are forever justified and in right relationship with the living God by the work on the cross, and we are called to a life of joyful, broken obedience.

1. The foundational principle (v. 5).

“Knowing God is a relationship calculated to thrill a man’s heart.”  J.I. Packer

“The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question 'Do you see the same truth?' would be 'I see nothing and I don't care about the truth; I only want a Friend,' no Friendship can arise - though Affection of course may. There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travelers.”  C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

2. The application of the foundational principle (vv. 6-7).

“All gracious affections . . . are brokenhearted affections. A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is an humble, brokenhearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is an humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is an humble, brokenhearted joy, leaving the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to an universal lowliness of behavior.”  Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, p. 339

3. The (tenuous) gospel balance (vv.8-10).

“A heart aloof from God grows aloof from others. It engages in merciless comparisons and endless fault finding. Therefore, all restoration begins by going back to God first, prodigals that we are…The price we pay is to face ourselves. That is humiliating and painful. It’s why we shun the light. There are episodes in our past that we don’t want to think about — harsh words, acts of betrayal, broken promises, and worse. We shove these memories down into the darkness of our excuses and blame-shifting. We refuse to call sin 'sin.' We feel too threatened by what we have done even to admit it to ourselves, much less confess it to others. But those places of deepest shame are where the Lord Jesus loves us the most tenderly….It is so refreshing to come back out into the light of honesty again, where we first met the Lord. It is there that ex-friends can be regained by love. It is there that Jesus is glorified in the eyes of the world. Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture.”  Ray Ortlund, The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ, p.117

“There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be trust as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His 'blood and righteousness' alone that we can rest.”  B.B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield


1. What is the tenuous gospel balance in the life of a Christian? (The balance between our forever security in Christ (John 10) and “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12-13) or “make your calling and your election sure” (2 Peter 1).

2. What should compel us to pursue a relationship with the triune God with great joy?

3. What is perfectionism? Do the scriptures allow for a belief in personal perfectionism (i.e. I am now above sin or am sinless)?

4. What does this phrase mean, “We are repenting our way forward”?