Tests of Fellowship
Often the phrase test of fellowship is used to indicate differences between two groups of Christians which prevent them from working and worshiping together. While Scriptural judgments of others are necessary (see John 7:24), the real test of fellowship should begin personally and internally (see 2 Corinthians 13:5). Fellowship between Christians is dependent on each one’s relationship with the Lord, and while communion with God is subject to several principles, the first letter from the apostle John provides several practical “tests.” If we are concerned about our relationships with the Lord, we should ask ourselves the following questions:
The Truth Test: Am I believing and practicing the truth?
God is Light, and to have fellowship with him, we must walk in the light. Those who say they are righteous yet walk in darkness are liars and do not practice the truth. But, Christians who walk in the Light are being cleansed by the blood of Christ (1 John 1:5–7). If we transgress God’s law and walk in darkness, we have the devil as our father (see 1 John 3:4–10). But, if we keep the Lord’s commandments (His word) and walk in the same manner He walked, “the love of God is truly perfected in us” (1 John 2:3–6).
The Sin Test: Am I acknowledging and confessing my sins?
The unsaved first come to God in baptism to contact the blood of Christ (see Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5), but we who are Christians are washed clean by the saving blood when we walk in the Light and acknowledge and confess our sins (1 John 1:9). To claim sinlessness is to implicate God as a liar and show the absence of his word in our hearts (1 John 1:8, 10). We must, like the sin-struck Simon the Sorcerer, repent and pray for forgiveness (see Acts 8:22). When we acknowledge our transgressions, prayer to God asking for him to cleanse us, and continue to examine ourselves, the Lord “is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9; see Psalm 19:12).
The Love Test: Am I loving my brothers and sisters in Christ?
John says that those who claim to walk in the Light yet do not love their brothers and sisters in Christ are still in darkness (1 John 2:9, 11). This is a recurring theme in John. He writes, “Little children, let us not love with word and with tongue, but in deed and truth” (2:18). “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.... Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.... If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (4:8, 11, 20–21). Fellowship with God is dependent on our love for his children.
No doubt, we all want to be in—and stay in—fellowship with God and be ready for the Judgment? We must, therefore, make sure we are passing these tests of fellowship—“The Truth Test,” “The Sin Test,” and “The Love Test.” Our eternal destiny depends on it!