After pastor Aeron Morgan passed away, almost seven years ago (Friday May 3, 2013) I was presented by his dear wife, who we affectionately know as Aunty Dinah, some of pastor Aeron’s study notes.
These have been such a treasure trove of comfort, richness and theological beauty to me. Many I have still yet to read, but thumbing through the years of pastor Aeron delivering God’s Word, there have been times that the message is so current and applicable it speaks across the sound waves of God’s eternal truth and heralds again the essential call to a serious faith.
I thought that throughout this time of isolation I will share some words of encouragement, reflection and hopefully some devotional moments you can be uplifted with and then pass on to your loved ones as you gather.
I pray you will be blessed with this two-part message by pastor Aeron Morgan entitled, “The Glory of Communion with God”.
Jeff Pitman - pastor
by: Aeron Morgan
1John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—
1John 1:2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—
1John 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
An outstanding servant of Jesus Christ, William F.P. Burton,(pictured below) a true, modern day apostle to the Congo, once asked me a question:
“What is the greatest thing that God created?”
As a“rookie” preacher, I was somewhat hesitant in replying to this godly, wise, and well-seasoned missionary.
To my relief, before I could venture on some personal response, he simply said:
I pondered that many times and I agree with him.
This text spells it out in the profoundest of terms that “truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”.
In these opening verses of this profound but practical letter, we are furnished with a revelation of the ground – and the only ground – of ourfellowship, and observe it to be an important doctrinal matter, for we discover it to be a theological ground: it’s the revelation of the Person ofChrist.
This is SO vitally important – and for at least three reasons:
Can you see, that to assert doctrine does not matter, that Christian fellowship is solely on a basis of love, is simply not true? And this does not only apply to the personal fellowship a believer knows with God, but the fellowship that we have with other churches of fellowships. As you well know, Ecumenism is a hot topic, particularly among the ‘evangelical purists’; for the movement for world-wide unity(and it seems that the desire now extends even to non-Christian religions), and the cooperation among all Christian churches sees its goal as one that demands compromise and tolerance in respect of all and any doctrinal positions. It appears many believe that power lies in the union of things similar, and nothing must be allowed to prevent it. But surely, THIS is what must not be tolerated by the Church, however appealing if seems, and whatever the professed benefits. J.C. Ryle was right when he said that, “(we) should no more tolerate false doctrine than (we) would tolerate sin”.[i] He also said, “Unity without truth is useless”.[ii]
Many years ago, two words were indelibly etched onto my heart. A dear and choice servant of God in England(Aaron Linford) penned them in the preface to one of his books. They were these: “TRUTH MATTERS!” O for a trumpet voice to proclaim that in this day of controversy, concession, convenience, and compromise. Truth has not only“fallen in the streets” of the nation (Isaiah 59:14); it has suffereda calamitous tumble in the aisles of the Church! 2 Peter 2:2, Peter predicted the rise of false teachers with their damnable heresies, saying many shall follow their destructive ways, “by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of”. (2 Timothy 4:1-4.) The solemn reality is that where there is no “love of the Truth” people become open to an effectual working of “delusion”(2 Thessalonians 2 :10-11). Solomon urges us to “buy the truth and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23). He also said, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge” (19:27).See, it’s absolutely right – truth matters! And John has much to say about it in his letters.
Well,what does he have to say about – not only the ground of our fellowship but also the glory of it? Keep in mind that John is laying a firm foundation here in relation to the fellowship Christians mutually enjoy with the Father and the Son. There is no mistaking this – the highest point of our Divine relationship is this direct communion of the soul with the Father and the Son in love. And it is upon this premise alone rests our mutual and joyous fellowship with each other as believers. IF there is NO fellowship with God the Father and with His Son, there can exist NO Christian fellowship. Congregating is purely a social event! So let’s observe four things that constitute theglory of this wonderful truth of “fellowship” that God has created:
What a joy,yet an awesome privilege, to know the reality of fellowship with GOD. Over against the folly and blindness of atheism and agnosticism, the Bible gives us a foundation for strong faith in the fact that “God IS, and that He is are warder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). The Gospel reveals how God created us for Himself, though we must not think of such a purpose as deriving form some selfish or illicit motive. The God revealed to us in Scripture, and by His Son, is the epitome of absolute goodness and perfect love. He made us for fellowship with Himself. That is evident in Genesis. Paul says, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord”.[iii]
Whilst John does not treat the work of the Holy Spirit in this letter in any thorough way,of all the evangelists he conveys in his Gospel a glorious revelation of the Holy Spirit. In this epistle he reveals the activity of the Holy Spirit as ‘Witness’(3:24. 4:13. 5:65-8). However, Paul makes reference to “the communion of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:14). Our fellowship is with the Triune God! What a glory!
Verse 3: …”in order that ye also may have fellowship”. A back of all that we now enjoy is this gigantic revelation: “…the Word of life was manifested”. The Incarnation of God in the complete form of man was His entering upon the master plan of redemption. That plan exhibits His infinite wisdom, power, and grace. Paul testified (in Ephesians 3:8-10):
Unto me, who am less that the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, (ie. Fellowship in respect of the Gospel of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ – a conscious participation of its truth and power and blessedness) which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Angels stand in awe as they contemplate the wisdom of God in human redemption; itis a phenomenon above anything the universe contains of that God has otherwise displayed. See 1 Peter 1:12.
In a great hymn Charles Wesley expresses it like this:
"‘Tis myst’ry all! The Immortal dies!
Who can explore this strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries, tosound the depth of love divine!
‘Tis mercy all! Let earth adore; letangel-minds inquire no more."
Ah, Salvation is no simple, cheap thing! It is profound, and costly.The problem of human sin is gigantic, beyond resolving by human wisdom. Man tries hard to reverse his situation, but miserable fails. It took God of infinite knowledge, wisdom and power to design such a scheme. How dare man try to modify this Gospel! To proffer anything other than what is clearly unfolded in the New Testament is a gross insult to Infinite intelligence. 1Corinthians 15:1-2. Galatians 1:6-8.
Our fellowship with God, then, has been secured for us IN CHRIST, “the Word of life”. THAT life – that ‘Eternal Life’ – WAS manifested. See, words are active. They are communications. Thoughts are latent words; words are active thoughts. “The Word of life…was manifested”. Salvation is the activity of God. Ephesians 2:10, 13. Salvation is NEVER our activity! Romans 1:17. Works never saved us – works can never keep us! We are “kept by the power of God through FAITH” (1 Peter 1:5). There is acceptance for salvation by works; there is no assurance of salvation in works. God has excluded ALL works as a ground for justification and union with Himself in holy, joyous fellowship. Romans3:24-28. Salvation is GOD’S powerful activity.
How can we comprehend this? To know that God came to us in His Son Jesus Christ, not merely to show us His glory but that in and through the Son we might share His glory. Cf. John 17:4, 6, 22-23. 1 Peter 5:1. Yes, our fellowship with God has been secured for us IN CHRIST. ALL Christian fulfilment is IN HIM. HE is the centre and circumference of all God’s glorious plan. Jesus Christ has thus become the Mediator of all blessings comprehended in this fellowship. John 14:6. Romans 5:2. Ephesians 2:18. 1 Timothy 2:5. If no one is NOT “in Christ” there are NO blessings – you cannot have fellowship with the Father apart from fellowship with the Son. 1 John 2:23. O what a wonder – this fellowship with God, which He has secured by Himself in His goodness!
Now, this is no ordinary, mundane fellowship. The word koinonia means ‘sharing in common; the act of partaking; active cooperation; companionship’.Also, note how the word is variously translated in our New Testament: Philemon 6, “communication”; Romans 16:15, “contribution”; 2 Corinthians13:14, “communion”. ALL this is captured and combined in the New Testament word “fellowship”.
So then, since this fellowship is with the Father, IF we see what kind of Father He is, we can then appreciate both the character and the benefits of that fellowship, to be encouraged in what to anticipate in our fellowship with Him. Well, what kind of a Father is God to us? There is no need for conjectureor opinionating on this matter, for in this Epistle alone we have some thirteen references to the Father, which are a disclosure of His glorious nature: He is Gracious(1:3); He is Merciful (2:1); He is Jealous (2:15-16); He is Immanent(2:23-24b); He is Loving (3:1); He is Holy (3:9); He is Truthful(5:7).
If you took time to dwell upon these things, concerning the character of our Heavenly Father, it would bring tremendous meaning to such fellowship we have with Him. Note verse 2: that “Word of Life”, that “Eternal Life”,who is Jesus Christ, is of such a nature as to have been eternally in fellowship with the Father; and that fellowship is to be known by us! Can we take it in?
“…that ye also may have fellowship WITH US”. In Philippians 1:5 Paul expresses thanks to God “for (their) fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now”. There is now a fellowship we enjoy with one another –with all those who have a common Father and faith, a common Lord and hope, a common salvation and destiny. Of the early church it says, “they continued steadfastly…in (the) fellowship” (Acts 2:42). This is a particular fellowship, a spiritual fellowship, and empathetic fellowship, a purposeful fellowship. In Galatians 2:9 it speaks of apostles receiving “the right hand of fellowship”, which indicates a definite recognition of true faith and being acknowledged as part of a practically related and responsible fellowship or partnership. Note: it was given ONLY upon evidence of a Divine work of grace, and it carried with it deep implications. What would they be?
In concluding I must express a solemn matter: for the discipline of “excommunication” from the fellowship of the local church is the severest form of discipline, the provision and procedure for such being clearly taught in the Scriptures. It is implemented by local Church members, through the spiritual oversight of pastor and elders, so that righteousness is seen to characterise such judgment. And what a judgment! It means that the disciplined person, by reason of unrepentance, is put outside of the protection of the local Christian fellowship.
Christian fellowship is a creation of God, with untold blessings and benefits – not just for time, but also for eternity. It is primarily fellowship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, by whose reconciling love and regenerating power we are brought into union with Him. But it is also a glorious fellowship of those of “like precious faith”, with tremendous richness and reward – and responsibility. Do not lightly esteem it; and do all you can to preserve and promote it.
This glorious ‘creation’of God is not just for time – IT IS FOR ETERNITY! AMEN!
[i] J.C.Ryle, Warnings to the Churches [Edinburgh: Banner pf Truth Trust,reprinted 1992], 105.
[iii] 1Corinthians 1:9 (KJV)