Joint Participation

All true Christians have fellowship with each other.  We share God as our Father in heaven, Jesus as our Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit living within us.  We share a common salvation and the same eternal home that Jesus has gone to prepare for us.  When you walk in the light and I walk in the light, we have fellowship.  1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  I may be a neighbor to you or you may live a great distance from me – it doesn’t matter; we have fellowship because of the things we have in common.

Fellowship also includes joint participation.  When you work side by side with other Christians in serving God or your fellow man, you share this common work together.  When you assemble in your local congregation and sing, pray and share in the scriptures, you have fellowship together.  Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  When you share in the Lord’s Supper together, you have fellowship (communion).  1 Corinthians 10:16-17 “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?  For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.”  This joint participation is desirable and necessary as we encourage each other in our Christian walk.  Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

However, there are activities in which you may jointly participate with people of the world that are inconsistent with you being a Christian.  Some of the Corinthian Christians were apparently participating in the idolatrous feasts that were common at that time.  1 Corinthians 10:19-21 “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?  Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.”  It was totally inconsistent for the Corinthians to participate in the idolatrous practices and also participate in the Christian practices.  In the same way, as a faithful Christian today, you cannot participate in the evil practices of the world.  Ephesians 5:8-11 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”  Do not participate in the evil practices of the world; do not have fellowship with them.

2 Corinthians 6:14-15 “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” As a Christian, do not yoke or join yourself with an individual or group or activity that is inconsistent with your Christian life.  Righteousness and lawlessness don’t mix.  Light and darkness cannot exist together.  A close union between a believer and an unbeliever won’t work.  The believer lives by the truth given by Jesus Christ; an unbeliever lives by the principles of the world.  There are many possible applications of this admonition to include a marriage of a husband and wife where one does not believe or a business partnership between a believer and an unbeliever or membership in a club that has anti-Christian principles or activities.

You should not jointly participate with anyone named a brother in Christ who is practicing unrighteousness.  1 Corinthians 5:9-11 “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.  Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person.”  You want this individual to repent so you withhold your joint participation or fellowship from him.  You don’t even eat with him.

In the early church, there was a false doctrine that Jesus Christ didn’t really have a physical body.  2 John 7-11 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.  Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.  Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”  The false doctrine that Jesus did not have a physical body rejected the truth about Christ’s suffering and death on the cross.  Anyone bringing such a false doctrine must be rejected lest through your joint participation with them, you share in their evil deeds.

While true Christian fellowship is something we have because we walk in the light, fellowship is also joint participation.  I encourage you to seek frequent joint participation with other faithful Christians.  I also encourage you to reject any joint participation that is inconsistent with your faith in Jesus Christ.

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