Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

How the Gospel Works in Practice


1 John 1:2–4 (ESV)

…the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

The keys to this passage are the two purpose constructs in verses three and four. The purpose for what we declare to you is that you also may have fellowship with us. The purpose for why we are writing these things is so that our joy may be complete.

Notice how these two purposes connect.  This is so that you too may have fellowship with us … so that our joy may be complete.

The fellowship of the body of Christ, and the joy that goes with it, is how the gospel works in practice. It isn’t some fringe benefit to make being a Christian more enjoyable; it’s essential.

The Greek word translated as fellowship is κοινωνία (koi-no-nee-ah). This is more than just being pals; it’s about deep friendship. It’s rooted in the verb κοινωνεω (koi-no-neh-oh), which means to partner or share. Friends notice things that we don’t notice about ourselves. When they act on what they’ve noticed, we grow in Christ. Iron sharpens iron.

And the middle part between those two purpose constructs is how this works— our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. From hearing what the apostles proclaim, we join in fellowship with them and with God.

That’s what koinonia is all about. Without it, the church stagnates.

This is not to say that koinonia isn’t fun; it is. In fact, one of the signs of a healthy church is people having fun together. This leads to an interesting point—church should be enjoyable.

Obviously, this can be taken too far. Entertainment is not the ultimate objective, but things like meals and baby showers and other fun activities are a good thing. Koinonia is an essential part of what the church is. You can teach the gospel with good food, good music, and even humor.

One of the slogans of Young Life is, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.” Leaders evangelize through having good clean fun. The Young Life camps are crazy fun, and hundreds of kids make first time confessions of faith there every year. I know pastors who first came to Christ at a Young Life camp.

But Paul’s point in this passage goes beyond the simple benefits of entertainment. Fellowship does more than just make things fun enough that folks stick around and listen to the message. It deepens friendships, which fosters growth in Christ. These deep friendships are the body of Christ firing on all eight cylinders.

Indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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