Building up believers and the New Testament church

Fellowship With God

Beginning With God

If we want to have fellowship with God we must begin with Him. This may sound like an elementary statement, but it is not, and we must carefully consider what it means or we will find ourselves wrong at the very foundation. So many today begin with themselves and then try to add God into their lives, but this we cannot do. Instead, God has made a way for us to enter into and participate in His life. His life is eternal, and perfect in every way. Our life is temporal, marred by sin and judged at the cross. Paul said it this way: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20) The reason so many of us never experience the fellowship with God that He desires and we may desire is that we have not accepted God's judgment on our life. We were born in death, separated from God by sin. God's solution is not to try to remake our life, but to give us His life. Jesus called it being born again, and He died on the cross to make this a possibility for every man. Until we enter into His life, we cannot even see the kingdom of God or participate in what God is doing. "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)

The term "born again," through overuse and erroneous definitions, has lost its meaning to most of us today. It is often used to describe an emotional experience of repentance (which is frequently no more than remorse), but this definition falls very short of the way Jesus used it. To be born again is not just adjusting my old life to different goals and principles. It is to begin a new life, the very life of God. It is a cataclysmic transformation, a transition from one kingdom into another. "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." (Col. 1:13,14)

When we begin a new life, our old life dies. In this new life, there is no more consideration of myself--what I can do, what I want, my goals and aspirations, and so on. A man who has died is not concerned about these things. His concerns are with the new realm beyond the grave. If we have not died in Christ to our old life, and if we want to enter into fellowship with God, this is the first place we must transact business with Him. There is no way around it. It is a narrow gate and a straight way, and most today are missing it. They want fellowship with God, but they also want their life to be accepted before God. God will not accept our life, and until we accept God's way, fellowship with God will escape us. Our life must end before He can give us His.

How can we die to ourselves? There is only one way, and that is to be baptized into Christ by the Spirit. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6:3,4) We cannot put ourselves to death. We cannot forsake our old life by our efforts. It must be the work of God, and that is why Christ died. We enter into His death when we are baptized into Christ by the Spirit. Not only do we enter into His death; we are raised in the newness of His life at the same time. This is the one transforming act of God by which we are born again and made alive unto God. It is the work of God, and Jesus said He would do this for any man who will come to Him. The question is, have you come? Have you been born again into His kingdom by the Spirit? If not, know that Jesus paid the price on the cross, and the door is open to "whosoever will."

If I have not entered into the kingdom of God, it is because I do not want to come under His rule. Jesus will not force us. I must come willingly, laying down my right to myself, yielding myself to God. I must open the door and invite God to take up residence in my body. Jesus said that God would give the Holy Spirit (God) to anyone who would ask (Luke 11:13). If I do not have the Holy Spirit, it is because I have not asked in faith. God is faithful and will keep His word. "Ask and receive that your joy may be full."