The Fellowship of the SpiritPosted: June 10, 2010
Philippians 2:1-2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
The fellowship that the Spirit gives the believer is the communion that exists between the Father and the Son, and is like nothing else that man could ever imagine. Boasting in the fellowship given by the Spirit gives God the glory He deserves, as it provides a way for sinners to come and enjoy the fellowship of the Triune God.
Paul’s benediction in his second letter to the Corinthians ends with the best way of showing exactly what this fellowship of the Sprit means to the believer. There is no better way to end any letter than giving the over-arching plan of redemption contained in one sentence. As Charles Hodge puts it, this single verse gives “first, the grace, or favor, of our Lord Jesus Christ, secondly, the love of God, and thirdly the communion of the Holy Ghost.”22 For it is by Christ’s great grace and God’s love that the believer can enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit. The reason that the believer can enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit is because of the death of Christ. It is the cross of Christ that has given the Spirit the ability to now allow sinners to enter fellowship with God, and even boast in God in great measure. That is why Paul could say in Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree—’ so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” It is this Spirit that the believer is fully secured in – in the covenant of redemption – and brought into fellowship with God, because of the death of Christ. The believer enjoys the gospel as he sees the Trinity at work not only in this verse, but in his life; and as he sees that the gospel works itself out for the glory of God. The believer, when coming into the fellowship of the Spirit, then enjoys the grace of Christ and love of God, and he is able to boast in the Triune God at work in giving the gospel to sinners.
One of the many aspects that this fellowship is lived out through boasting is by the way we approach God. Doing so in fellowship with Him brings light to the gospel, and gives the believer the means of communion with God. All of the teachings and all of the learning that the believer sees and hears from the Word of God, comes from the Spirit. It is through the fellowship of the Spirit that the believer is able to learn, see, and enjoy the gospel. From the moment of justification everything that the believer has learned and will learn, is through the fellowship of the Spirit. All of the growth in the believer’s life comes from the fellowship of the Spirit of God that moulds and shapes the believer to be more like Christ. Possessing the Spirit who has fellowship with believers, and bringing about communion with the Father and Son, is what fills the heart of the believer with warmth and the joy to boast in the gospel. This is done by examining the countless blessings that the gospel has given the believer by the indwelling of the Spirit. This is not done by grieving, resisting, blaspheming, insulting, or quenching the Spirit, but only by boasting in the Spirit to bring glory to God. All power and authority in this fellowship has been given to the sinner by the Spirit so that they can increasingly live for the gospel rather than themselves.
While this is a simple truth of the gospel to boast in, the believer often needs to be reminded of it. The fellowship of the Spirit brings the believer into communion with God the Father and Christ the Son, it lets the believer learn, see, know, and understand theology, it lets the believer understand who God is and what Christ did, and most of all, it lets them see the gospel! Everything that the believer has ever come to know from God’s Word about Him is because the Spirit gave them fellowship to learn and know about God. Without the Spirit of fellowship, no man and no believer today could have ever come into a right relationship with God, nor could the church know as much about God as it does. The Spirit fellowshipping with the believer is what allows for boasting, and brings glory to Christ. Bruce Ware says, “so long as we make clear that the Spirit seeks always and only to point away from himself to the Son and, through him, to the Father, we can honor the Spirit in a way that also honors the focus of his own Person and work.”23 When the believer boasts in the fellowship that the Spirit brings to him, they are boasting in the gospel, glorifying Christ and God above all things. The believer is to boast in the fellowship, simply because there is no greater fellowship than that of the Father and Son – the God and the Christ. That truth alone will call the believer to find all enjoyment in itself about the gospel.