Jim M Walkinshaw

Philippians 2: 1-5

Genesis 26: 1 (from ‘And Isaac’) - 6, 12, 14, 15, 18-24 (to ‘fear not’),    25 (to ‘Jehovah’), 26-28 (to ‘and thee’), 31-33

John 16: 13-15

2 Corinthians 13: 14

         I seek grace to say a word in relation to the “fellowship of the Spirit”.  There is not much said directly in the Scriptures in relation to the “fellowship of the Spirit”.  In fact I think the two verses that we have read are the two references that there are in the Scriptures directly to the “fellowship of the Spirit”, and there is not much by way of elaboration even then.  So I feel limited in speaking of it and yet I feel that in the light of what we enjoyed earlier that we should get some impression in relation to it.  I think the “fellowship of the Spirit” would cause us to feel our responsibility, and would give us a concern practically to know what it is to enjoy the fellowship of which we have been speaking.  The fellowship itself, of course, is the same fellowship.  There is only one fellowship, “the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord”, 1 Cor 1: 9.  The Spirit is the power, I believe, whereby that fellowship, and the enjoyment of it, are maintained at the present time.  Indeed, without that, speaking carefully and reverently, it would fall apart.  I think we get that impression from the scriptures we have read in Philippians and Corinthians.  The apostle puts these things together in chapter 2, and he says, “If then ...”.  I do not think that is an ‘if’ of doubt; I think it is an ‘if’ of consequence and certainty, and what is evidently implied is that it is something that we need to go in for because he says, “that ye may think the same thing, having the same love, joined in soul, thinking one thing”. As I have said, there is one fellowship and that fellowship is marked by unity.  In Ephesians, another scripture that is often linked with it, the apostle speaks of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all” (Eph 4: 5, 6) and in the same section he speaks of “one Spirit”, v 4.  So you see unity in relation to what we are saying.  What comes in here is an impetus, you might say, in relation to  our affections because he goes on to speak of “this mind … which was also in Christ Jesus”, and I think the fellowship of the Spirit in that sense would link us with and encourage us to be of that mind.  Much could be said about this section had I read on, speaking about the way the Lord Jesus went, One who in His Person is God and yet had the mind to go down.  He “emptied himself” (v 7) and was “found in figure as a man”, v 8.  What a mind that was!  So that mind, that character, is to be in us, and I believe that the Holy Spirit would cause that to be so; and the result is that we will know the joy and the enjoyment of the fellowship in relation to the “fellowship of the Spirit”.  We will know what it is for the Spirit’s power to hold these things together.  It will hold them together in relation to those who form part of it, but also hold them together in relation to what is for God.  Think of what comes out at the end of this section.  It speaks of “God the Father‘s glory”, v 11.  Well, I suppose that is in mind in all these things, that God’s glory should be secured.

         Now, I read in Genesis 26.  I make no apology for reading quite a bit of this scripture because it is good to keep the context of it in mind, but I just wanted, with the Spirit’s help, to take the young ones and all of us through a journey.  Men speak, do they not, of the journey of life?  I just want to speak of that in relation to the fellowship.  I want our hearts to see what the divine end is, what the result is.  At the start of the chapter it was a difficult time and, dear young persons, we are in difficult times at present.  We are in difficult times in the history of the world at large.  We are in difficult times in relation to Christendom, the breakdown that has come in, and almost more than that, the signs of the seeds of apostasy, in the way in which persons who profess to take the name of the Lord Jesus, who profess to be even in His service, go on not only with what is against the Scriptures and His word, but also with what is potentially blasphemous.

         Well, Isaac was in a difficult time here and it appeared that he was looking towards the world.  He was looking in another direction.  It says here - and I want us all to note that - “Jehovah appeared to him and said, Go not down to Egypt”.  I believe God would have a particular word for the young ones and all of us at the present time.  However difficult things may appear, “Go not down to Egypt”.  Do not look towards the world.  You will find nothing there to satisfy your soul.  On the other hand, God says, “I will be with thee and bless thee”.  What a wonderful promise that is!  We have spoken of the faithfulness of God and I would reiterate those three words at the beginning of the ninth verse of 1 Corinthians 1: “God is faithful”.  God said to Isaac, “I will be with thee and bless thee”.  I do not go into the detail of what He said although that is also very interesting.  It is very interesting to trace through the Scriptures the way in which God was true to that, the way in which God’s faithfulness could be identified in relation to Isaac; but God would say, “Go not down to Egypt … and I will be with thee and bless thee” . He said, “I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father … because that Abraham hearkened to my voice”.  

         That is another detail that I wanted to draw attention to.  Isaac had a good father, and I would say that most of us can say that we have had a good father: that needs to be respected.  “Because”, God says, “that Abraham hearkened to my voice, and kept my charge”.  How thankful we are for our fathers!  How thankful we are if God has given us a good father!  That is God’s love to you, and that is to be noticed.  I am sure those who are fathers would say that they have not always done everything as they should have done.  How we lack in many ways!  And yet I believe, in the principle of it, God would say, “I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father … because that Abraham hearkened to my voice”.  Speaking of fathers - and in a natural way I would include mothers - most of the young ones here have been set in a household, set in relation to the fellowship, in relation to the testimony, in relation to the Lord Jesus and His things.  I would say, value that, because God will bless it.  God will bless you in committing yourself to it.

         As the chapter goes on, you see how that works out.  It says, “And Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year a hundredfold; and Jehovah blessed him”.  Some of us can say in humility we know something of that.  I am not speaking now of worldly riches; I am not speaking now of things that men would value; but I am thinking of what God brings in by way of blessing, and He gives us things that we can enjoy.  He gives us relationships and associations in relation to the Lord Jesus and the fellowship that we can enjoy, that we can find our lives in; perhaps we do not do so as much as we should, but God, I believe, nevertheless blesses us!  As it says here, “And Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year a hundredfold; and Jehovah blessed him”.  How good God is!  As we have made reference already, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ”, Eph 1: 3.  That is what God has in His heart and mind for you, dear young person, and dear older one. 

         You will find there is opposition to it.  The enemy will come in.  That is what comes in here. “The Philistines envied him”.  You will find that in the world.  If you are here in relation to the Lord Jesus, if you have settled peace in your heart, there will be a testimony.  Whether you say anything or whether you do not, there will be a testimony to what you are enjoying.  You will find that will be envied by the world and you will find that the enemy, the devil, Satan, will attack you, and the way in which he will attack is to seek to cut off your refreshment.  That is what comes in here: the Philistines stopped the wells of water and filled them with earth.  That is what the enemy would do.  He would cut off your refreshment, cut off your enjoyment in relation to the things of the Lord Jesus.  He would seek to get in the way of your enjoyment amongst the brethren, your enjoyment in relation to the things of the Lord Jesus.  As you come to meetings like this, as you come to meetings on the Lord’s day, he would seek to cut off your enjoyment of it.  He would fill it with earth; he would seek to occupy you with earthly things.  You will find that is the way of famine.

         And what happens here is that Isaac and his servants dug again and they found a well of water.  Have you found that your appetite for divine things has lessened?  Have you found that the enemy has come in?   I would say, ’Dig again!’.  You will find that the Spirit will give you power to dig again, and you will find a well of water.  It happens again, does it not?  You might think, ’Well, I have tried’.  I have tried to do what is pleasing to the Lord Jesus.  I have tried to be a testimony here, but the enemy comes in again, and he claims, “The water is ours”.  But then it says, “And he removed thence and dug another well; and they did not strive for that”.  I believe if you continue in relation to the things of the Lord Jesus, you will find refreshment will come in and the enemy can have nothing to say to it.  Think of those blessings which God has in His heart, and you will find something in your soul which is impregnable to the enemy’s attacks.  “And he called the name of it Rehoboth,” - meaning ‘Broadways’ - “and said, For now Jehovah has made room for us”.  You find in your own experience the way that God has come in and made room for you, maybe found a way through amongst the children at school, maybe found a way through in the office when you thought the time was coming when you might be tempted to deny the name of the Lord Jesus.  Think of that, God will find a way through for you, and you could say, “They did not strive for that … Jehovah has made room for us”.  

         There is much to bring out in this section.  The next thing I want to show is that God appears to him again and gives him added encouragement.  He says, “fear not, for I am with thee”.  What happens then?  The attack of the world comes in.  This time you will find it is a nicer and more friendly approach.  Abimelech, and Ahuzzath his friend, and Phichol the captain of his host come along now.  They might try and impress you; the captain of the host would show perhaps the strength and power that there is in the world.  What does Isaac say?  “Why are ye come to me, seeing ye hate me, and have driven me away from you?”  I would say to you, young person, the world hates you.  It may appear otherwise.  This man Abimelech, a great king, came along with his friend.  There is friendship here and outwardly the world may appear friendly.  Outwardly the world may appear to have resource.  This Phicol, the captain of his host, would appear to have resource.  Have a judgment of the world.  Isaac said, “Why are ye come to me, seeing ye hate me, and have driven me away from you?”  I say again, dear young soul, and to everyone here, the world hates you, however it may appear.  The world hates you because you are a lover of the Lord Jesus, and the world hates Him.  Indeed, He says that to His own in the gospels.  He says, “If the world hate you, know that it has hated me before you”, John 15: 18.  The world hates you.  It has rejected your Saviour and mine, rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, nailed Him to a cross, crucified Him, cast Him out, and the world at the present time rejects Christ.  It hates Him, and because of that, if you love the Lord Jesus, the world hates you.

         I move on quickly because Isaac sent them away.  There is an oath between them.  It is not that we are here in any sense to harm the world.  We would leave that side of things with God.  God knows. “The Lord knows those that are his”, 2 Tim 2: 19.  We would leave that with Him.  It says here, “that thou wilt do us no wrong”. It is not that we are here exactly to do the world wrong, but we send them away because they hate us.

         And the point I am coming on to is: “And it came to pass the same day” - the day that Isaac made the decision to send them away - “that Isaac’s servants came, and ... said to him, We have found water”.  The day that you determine in your heart to have nothing more to do in relation to this world that has crucified your Lord, you will find water.  You will find the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  That is what I am coming on to suggest.  The fellowship of the Holy Spirit exists.  I believe the way to experience it is to come to a recognition in your soul that the world hates you.  There is nothing there for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He sent them away, and the same day that you do that you will come to it that you have found water.  What refreshment there is in that!  I am not speaking, of course, to make it clear, in relation to the way in which we have to work and go about our daily lives in this world to fulfil righteousness.  What I am talking about is the reality of things in our souls.  He sent them away, and that same day he found water.  Just remember that!  Just remember that, young person, that the day will come when you need to make a decision.  I say to you again, the world hates you.  Send them away, and you will find water.

          I just touch on John.  I think we get an impression there in relation to the water.  “When he is come”, this is the Lord Jesus speaking.  There is much that could be said from this section in relation to the testimony that there is to the world in the Spirit here.  Much could be said as to the way in which the Spirit is here and is standing over against the great tide of evil that is sweeping across this world, but in relation to the believer, the Lord Jesus is speaking to His own and says, “But when he is come, the Spirit of truth, he shall guide you into all the truth”.  What refreshment there is in that!  I believe we have had some impression of that today.  What refreshment there is  in considering the truth, the truth as it is in Jesus.  It goes on to say: “for he shall not speak from himself; but whatsoever he shall hear he shall speak; and he will announce to you what is coming.  He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and shall announce it to you”.  What refreshment there is in the “fellowship of the Spirit”.  That is the Spirit’s service, to glorify the Lord Jesus.  We have sung of it, have we not?

        All things of Jesus Thou dost know,

        Their glorious greatness to us show;

        By Thee, blest Spirit, now adored,

        We contemplate the Christ, our Lord.

                     (Hymn 412)

What better refreshment could there be than that, to know the inward power of One who is able to take the things of our Lord Jesus and announce them to you?  Wonderful matter, as I have said, in resisting the advances of the world, in sending it away, to find water, to find the refreshment, the “fellowship of the Spirit”, that is able to attract our hearts in relation to the greatness and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Is that not what every lover of the Lord Jesus wants, that He should be magnified in our hearts?  God will see to it that that will be so.  The time is coming when it says, “every eye shall see him”, Rev 1: 7.  Think of that day when the Lord Jesus will come out to be publicly vindicated!  What a wonderful thing that will be for those who love Him, those who trust Him, those who look on to that day!  In the meantime there is the Spirit’s power and the Spirit’s work that would glorify Him.

         Well, I just close with a reference to Corinthians because I believe this is a seal as to what we can enjoy in relation to “the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord”, and in relation to the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion” (or ‘fellowship’) “of the Holy Spirit, be with you all”.  That is God’s heart towards you.  That was Paul’s desire in relation to the Corinthians.  He went through much, as we know, by way of exercise in relation to this locality and I believe we can see from this second epistle and what works out in it that the result of the apostle’s work was blessing, blessing in relation to His people and glory and praise too secured for God.  I believe that is what God would have in His heart and mind for every one at the present time: that every one of us from the youngest to the oldest might know what it is to be living in the enjoyment of “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit”. 

         May we know more of it in a practical way!  May we get a sense in our hearts of the reality of these things of which we speak.  It is not that we can point to them physically, but as entering into the joy of them, we know the reality and the truth of them in our own souls and in our own experience.  May we learn, as Isaac did, that God’s will is supreme.  God would have us come into blessing.  The way of blessing is to reject the world and all its apparent outward attractions.  Commit yourself to the way in which the Lord Jesus has set you and be thankful if He has set you in a household where His name is loved and His rights are honoured.  Be thankful for a good father and a good mother!  Commit yourself to that in the will of God!  Reject the advances of the world!  Then you will find water, find refreshment in the power of the Holy Spirit, pointing you to the Lord Jesus where He is in glory and attracting you to Him.  Then you will know the enjoyment of “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit”. 

         May that be the portion of everyone for His Name’s sake and God‘s glory!   


27th February 2010