The Fellowship of God’s Son
J. T. Mawson
(1 Corinthians 1:9)
There is a great deal of exercise as to Christian fellowship, and surely it is much to be desired, for we have all been called into one fellowship, and that fellowship is the fellowship of God’s Son. The epistle that brings it before us is the second of Paul’s epistles as given to us in the Word. In Romans we are set right with God, and following on that there should come this exercise as to Christian fellowship, in which we are set right with one another. First, the basis of everything laid in righteousness that is Roman’s, and then each one of us brought upon that righteous basis to be together in holy, happy fellowship, according to the truth. It is well for us to consider this very full verse at the opening of this epistle which speaks to us of Christian fellowship. We are told it is the fellowship of God’s Son. We cannot understand its character unless we consider and understand Him, for it takes it character from Him, God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. This fellowship could not be in those Old Testament days, for God’s Son had not been revealed, and men, even men of God, broke down and failed, there were none of them who could found a fellowship according to God’s mind. We often turn back and think of them, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon—all of them broke down somewhere. God could form no fellowship out of what they were. But when God’s Son came there was a Person here who was altogether for God, who never broke down.
There has been one Person here who entered His life of responsibility in dependence upon God, and in absolute obedience to him. He never turned aside one hair’s breadth from the will of God, and always, in every word He spoke, in every thought He thought, and in every act He did He was delightful to the heart of God, His Father. Blessed for us, indeed, to contemplate Him, who was found in absolute and full concert with the Father’s heart. Communion between Himself and His Father was continuous. He was fragrant in all His ways. He was always in harmony with heaven. As we consider Him, the path of light He trod, how blessed, how wonderful it is to us! We are conscious of failure and break-down, but what a comfort, what a joy, to turn back and contemplate Him and be able to say, The Father has found His fullest delight in a Man, here on earth. I know He was more than Man. That is not the side I am speaking of today. He was here as the full revelation of God, and He could not have been that if He had not been God. He came forth as the Son to make manifest in the darkness what God is. That was one side: it is the other side I would dwell upon. He was here as a Man before God, fulfilling the will of God in all His ways. In Him the Father’s will was done on earth, and if we would know what man is according to the thought of God, if we would see what God’s intention for man is, we must look at that blessed Man and study Him, and as we study Him, we know what pleases God.
But our Lord was alone on this earth. He said. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone. In His lifetime He trod a solitary path. Nobody walked that path with Him—He had to tread it alone. Nobody shared His delight in His Father’s will. There was no one to enter into His feelings. Nor could there be, unless He imparted His own life to them. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” He went into death that we might live in His life, and that God might call us into His fellowship, that He might put us together before Him, where His Son that we might be brought into concert with Him where He is in heaven, and might tread the path that He trod where He is not now. He died and rose again that He might gather together in one the children of God that are scattered abroad, and found a fellowship, the life and power and principles of which, are heavenly and not of the world. What could be greater than this? It is usual for men to desire to rise into some sphere or circle above that in which they were born, and if a man is made a peer of the realm he thinks it a great honour; if he is invited to Court, or called into fellowship with royalty, he is elated. But what is this into which we are called? It is not the fellowship of the noble, or the fellowship with royalty. We are lifted above men as we know them, and above angels also, up into the fellowship of God’s Son. And the fellowship will not be understood unless we understand Him.
We cannot enter into it in its power and blessedness unless we come under His influence. So often do we make it ecclesiastical and thereby spoil it, and hedge it round with our rules and regulations, and limit it to our poor notions of what it is. It is not our fellowship, but the fellowship of God’s Son, and in that, the first thought is of relationship. We are brought into that blessed relationship He stands in, and the first thought in that relationship is love. The Father loveth the Son, and the Son responds to the love without reserve. That we should all most readily accept. But is there not another thought in it? You get it illustrated in the way Paul speaks of Timothy. He spoke of Timothy as “my son, Timothy,” and then you remember he said of him, “As a son with a father he has laboured with me in the Gospel.” Timothy was in full accord with Paul, there was oneness of mind and thought. It is a great day in a man’s life when he can change the style of his business. Up to a certain point it has been David Carter.[name changed, eds.].Then the day arrives when he describes the firm as “David Carter & Son.” He has some one of one mind with himself, some one in concert with himself. Some one who will take counsel with himself, who will carry out his thoughts and rightly-represent him when he is absent, not as a servant, but as a son. It seems to me the thought comes in in connection with God’s Son. Such He was when here upon earth, and it is God’s purpose that that should be continued here, and He has called us to be in the continuation of that, so that here on earth now, there should be something in full accord with the mind of God. Grace has wrought in us with this end in view, and we have been sanctified in Christ Jesus. But we must come under subjection to Him. He must direct us, and He is Jesus Christ, our Lord, unless we are subject to Him, of course, we are going our own way—each doing what he thinks right, and there will be no unity or fellowship, but if we know what it is to be subject to the Lord, each one of us, then everything becomes simple. It is instructive, in this epistle to the Corinthians, to see how the Lordship of Christ is pressed. We have the Lord’s table in chapter 10, we have the Lord’s Supper in chapter 11, we have the Lord as the one Administrator in the twelfth, and the fourteenth closes with words something like this, “It any man among you thinketh himself to be spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things we write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” We must all own His Lordship. But how may we know where and how He will direct its? We get it in the Word, the things written therein are the commandments of the Lord. We have also spiritual sensibilities. It is a very blessed thing that, having received the Spirit and the divine nature, we have spiritual sensibilities, and these are developed by the Spirit who dwells in us, and they answer to the Word of the Lord, and when we hear the Word these spiritual sensibilities, if we are in a good spiritual state, and not carnal like the Corinthians, answer to the Word, and blessed indeed it is, when we find ourselves desiring, not only to hear the Word, but to do it. But we must be subject to the Lord Christ, as the One raised up from the dead and exalted, and now the great Administrator, the One in the place of authority, the One to whom we have bowed, the One whom we own as our Lord, and from whom we may draw all the grace and guidance we need in this fellowship which is His.
These first three chapters of 1 Corinthians are helpful. In chapter 1 towards the end, we get the basis upon which we stand and are kept in this blessed fellowship to which God has called us. You get the cross of Christ brought before us. The cross of Christ in that character of it that removes all that that cannot be built in and fitted in to this fellowship The cross is the condemnation and removal of the material that won’t do for God. So we find no flesh should glory in His presence. Flesh brings in discord, for its root principle is self-exaltation, it glories in its own distinction and powers, every man against another. It does not give glory to God, it wants it all for itself. But we are to glory in the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ is that in which we see the power and wisdom of God, and by the cross God has brought to an end the wisdom of the wise and everything in which men can boast. One way in which the flesh showed itself at Corinth was in the formation of parties and the boasting in leaders, and this is a subtle snare, more destructive to fellowship than what is flagrant and gross.
We must glory in the Lord, then, with one heart and voice, we show what fellowship is. And that we might glory in Him, we are told what He is made unto us God has made Him to be to us who are in and are of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Everything we need is in Christ. Blessed things these are, they cover everything we need as before God. The cross of Christ is the basis of it all. It brings us together onto common ground. Suppose the most learned man in the land comes into this fellowship, he comes in in the same way as the most illiterate man, and the cross is the end of all he can boast in as of the flesh. And he gets something better than he could bring. We are now in something greater and better and more glorious than the best man has got. It is the fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, and He is the Administrator to us of what God is as well as the pattern to us as to what the fellowship is.
Then the power comes out in chapter 2. The Spirit has been given, and in connection with the Spirit of God we have the subject matter of our fellowship—the Spirit of God has come to show unto us the things of God, these things are not understood by the natural man. The natural man understandeth not the things of God. He cannot enter into this fellowship. That is why we have so much Modernism today. It is the natural man boastfully claiming that he can find out the things of God. Man thinks he can by searching find out God. He won’t receive God’s revelation to him. He won’t take the place of a little child: He won’t acknowledge that if he is to know God, God must reveal Himself.
It is not here man’s mind investigating, he has his own sphere in which he may pursue his investigations, but in the sphere of God’s things there must be revelation, and the Spirit of God reveals to us what eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and what has never entered into the heart of man. But these things, the things that God hath prepared for those that love Him, He reveals them to us by His Spirit, for “the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” And the power of the fellowship, and the intelligence by which we understand the substance of it, is in the Spirit of God, the cross of Christ is the basis of it—the death of that blessed Person, the Son of God, who laid down His life for us, that is the basis, the intelligence and the power of it is the Holy Spirit
When we come to chapter 3 we find it is all for God. Ye are God’s building, ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s temple. Ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. What a blessed thing to know the Son of God was here and He was all for God! What joy, what delight, what wealth for God in that blessed life! And the devil was determined to get rid of it, and he worked upon men, until in a frenzy of passion they took that blessed Person and put Him to shame and crucified Him, and at last He lay in the silent tomb. Did the devil think he had got rid of what pleased God, and that He would never again have anything of that sort on earth? Did the devil think he had banished from this world everything for God? 1 Corinthians 3 shows us there is a continuation of that blessed life in which everything was for God, now, and you and I, beloved saints of God, are brought into this fellowship that God might have His delight in us. Ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. In His wisdom, God having baffled all the force of the devil, and all the subtlety and the wisdom of the devil, has something on earth in which He can find His delight—the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. A spiritual condition is necessary on our part if we are to live and act together in fellowship, as partners together in the things of God. He would put us in concert one with another, but we cannot be in concert one with another unless we are in concert with God, and we cannot be in concert with God unless we are subject to the Lord. His mind must control us. As we are put into concert with the Lord we shall be in concert one with another, and not only will God’s heart be delighted, but we shall know the power and the blessedness and the joy of the fellowship into which we have been called.
We look on Christendom and see numberless fellowships and much failure, and we are apt to get discouraged, to have the heart taken out of us, and say, Well, is it any use any longer seeking to walk in fellowship according to the truth? But we have this for our confidence and encouragement that God is faithful. We may have failed; we may have broken down, and with shame of face we have to confess that breakdown is everywhere, but God is faithful, and, beloved saints of God, the God of Pentecost, the God that Paul knew, the God of the Ephesian epistle, is the God who abides today in His mighty resources, and those resources are in Jesus Christ, our Lord Himself, and we may turn to Him and find His resources to be enough for us. He has not abandoned His present purpose for us, and we should not abandon it either.
The Lord grant that we may be content to learn of Him, God’s Son, and be subject to Him, Jesus Christ our Lord, and then we shall walk together in happy fellowship.
Extracted from “Ministry for the Church of God”