Fellowship With the Father and With the Son

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The subject of John’s first epistle is the communication of divine life. In the Gospels we have the exhibition of it in the person and character of Jesus Christ, but in the epistles we have the communication of it. The first four verses of 1 John 1 exhibit the beauty of eternal life outside of us — first as manifested in the Son Jesus Christ, and afterward as communicated through Him from God. From the fifth verse to the end, it is fellowship with God. We also have tests of divine life, for divine life in fellowship with God exhibits sin in us, and the question arises as to how we can have fellowship with God. These tests are given to assure us of the possession of life, as “hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:33And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. (John 2:3)).
The Communication of New Life
Fellowship with God is necessary to our being happy in His presence. If we seek to walk with Christ without having fellowship with Him, we shall be miserable. But how can ones such as we have fellowship with the Father and with the Son? By the communication of an entirely new life —something we never had before. Christ became man, and as man He manifested the divine life here on earth in a way that it never could have been manifested, but for sin. It could not have been displayed in heaven in this way. The light shone in darkness. The natural man (the first Adam) saw no beauty in Him —nothing to admire. But blessed be God, the patience of grace was greater than sin.
Divine life was adapted to our needs by being in the Son Jesus Christ. In Him, the heart to which life has been communicated can see the perfection of divine life. It was for man as a sinner that divine life was manifested, and thus we see love adapting itself to us in the person of the Son Jesus Christ. John says, “We know Him and have seen Him.” They heard Him every day, and what was it they saw? Eternal life. You may ask many a Christian what eternal life is, and he cannot tell you, though he has it within him. Christ is eternal life. John says that the “life was manifested, and we have seen it”; they saw and heard Christ, and He was eternal life.
Eternal Life Perfectly Manifested, Then Communicated
Eternal life was first manifested, then communicated; as is said farther on, “This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:1111He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. (John 5:11)). If I do not have Christ, I have no life in me, but there is immense joy in the fact that the life I have is in Christ, not in myself. Divine life was perfectly manifested in Christ: We have the treasure in earthen vessels; therefore it is exhibited feebly in us.
The communication of life, by giving us a new nature, makes it natural to us to love what Christ loves and to do as Christ does. Obedience is necessary, for obedience to God is the essence of doing right, but more than this, Christ has set Himself apart as the perfect and glorified Man, to attract my heart’s affections to Himself. My desires must flow according to the new nature which He has imparted. If I receive His Word, I receive Christ, and He is eternal life. Henceforth I hate sin, and the Son of God is my life. If Christ is my life, that is fellowship. My walk should not be the result of obedience merely, but of the same feelings as Christ’s. So the Spirit by John says, “Walk in the light,” not according to the light, which would be obedience, but in the light, which is fellowship.
Divine life has been manifested; divine life has been communicated, “and these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” Is Jesus the Father’s delight? So is He mine; my affections may be feeble, but in measure they flow in the same direction as the thoughts of the Father. This is communion with the Father. And, then, is the Father the Son’s delight, and His confidence and joy? So is He mine, and this is fellowship with the Son. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
Here, for the moment, sin is left out, because the new life has nothing to do, so to speak, with sin (though we have to deal with it). The new life is in the last Adam; this life and joy is the blessedness of heaven. But down here we are responsible. Eternal life has been manifested, and now the message to us is that God is light, and there is no darkness in Him, so that if we say we are in fellowship with Him while we are walking in darkness (the Apostle uses great plainness of speech) we lie. If I talk of having fellowship with God, I must be able to bear and to enjoy His presence. It is not that I am good, but that God has cleansed me. It does not depend on my filthiness, but on His power to cleanse. When I have washed something, I do not keep thinking whether it was very dirty or a little dirty, but that now it is clean. And so with saints, but “now ye are clean,” and God delights to look on me, because He has washed me. It does not depend on my great or little sins, but on the good washing, on the value of the blood. So I read, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:77The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. (John 1:7)). You have fellowship with God and with His Son Jesus Christ.
In verse 9 we read, “If we confess our sins,” not sin merely, but sins. We have an evil nature, but we have an evil conduct also when we do not keep down the evil nature.
There are the two distinct things, forgiveness of sins committed (evil conduct), and cleansing from sin in the abstract (the evil nature). I cannot come into God’s presence at all except through Christ, and coming through Him I come spotless, absolutely clean. Then there is my daily weakness. I am reconciled as a matter of fact, but I am weak. So the details of such a one’s course are now given. He who seeks to walk in the light often fails, but never excuses himself. He cannot say, “I could not help it,” because God has said, “My grace is sufficient for thee. .   .   . My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). I often fail, but that does not alter the ground of my righteousness before God. Christ is my righteousness; I have no other. His agony and death secured my righteousness. I change; I fail; He is unchangeable, infallible. Can He allow my guilt? No. He is my advocate as well as my propitiation; I apply to God, and He forgives.
J. N. Darby, selected