Can We Trust the Gospels?

Recent Posts

Past Posts Archived by Date

Search this site


Search this site


« Intimate Fellowship Encompasses Four Common Ideas of the Christian Life | Home | Hiking in Montana »

Intimate Fellowship Encompasses Four Common Ideas of the Christian Life (Section 2)

By Mark D. Roberts | Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Part 11 of series: What is the Christian Life?
Permalink for this post / Permalink for this series

In my last post in this series I began to examine several common ideas of the Christian life and their relationship to intimate fellowship. These ideas included:

1. The Christian life is being in heaven after death.
2. The Christian life is feeling joy and peace in the Lord.
3. The Christian life is believing the right things about God and Jesus.
4. The Christian life is doing what God commands in his Word.

I showed that intimate fellowship includes the first and second ideas in this list. Today I’ll consider the third and fourth notions of the Christian life.

3. The Christian Life as Believing the Right Things?

Proponents of Idea #3 highlight the content of faith. For them, the Christian life is believing the right things about God. From John’s perspective, right belief leads to genuine koinonia, but is not equivalent to it. He declares the “Word of life,” the message of God’s life in Christ, so that we may live in fellowship with God and God’s people (1 John 1:1-3). Koinonia is not some squishy, subjective relationship with a god of our own formulation. It is a substantive, spiritual relationship with the one God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and who is known through the declaration of “the Word of life.”

Yet, the Christian life is not the same thing as right belief. Rather, it is the relational result of right belief. We know God in truth, but our knowledge of God is not merely intellectual. We don’t just know about God. We also know God, personally, intimately. To the extent that we know God truly, our relationship with God will be deeper and more authentic. So right belief leads to deeper relationship. But right belief is not the essence of the Christian life so much as an essential component and facilitator of it.

Once again, we should not that relationship with God is quite a bit like a marriage. The more I know about my wife – her tastes, her beliefs, her fears, her history, her passions – the more I am able to have intimate fellowship with her. But knowing these facts is not the same as the relationship. So it is with right theology. It can lead us into deeper fellowship with God, but is not the same as that fellowship. (For the record, I do know a bit more about my wife than when this photo was taken 25 plus years ago.)

4. The Christian Life as Doing What God Commands

To be sure, Christian living includes doing what God commands. True fellowship with God, as we have seen, impacts our whole life. Our way of walking – our daily behavior – will reflect our relationship with God. We will do what God commands as a result of our intimacy with him.

A lifestyle of perpetual disobedience proves the lack of such intimacy. Yet because the Christian life is not exactly the same as obedience, individual acts of disobedience do not kill that life. If we “live in the light,” if we do what God commands, not only do “we have fellowship with each other,” but also “the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin” (1 John 1:7). Because our relationship with God depends upon his grace in Christ and not upon our acts of obedience, occasional sin is more like a bad flu than a terminal illness. Koinonia with God not only heals our sickness, but it also vaccinates us from the virus of sin.

Often, Christians have a hard time figuring out how doing what God commands fits with intimate fellowship with God. Some Christians fall into the pit of legalism, turning the Christian life into a list of dos and don’ts. They promise intimacy with God only on the basis of our actions. Other Christians, however, completely disconnect intimate fellowship with God from obedience. They buy into a false notion that our actions are basically irrelevant when it comes to our relationship with God.

In fact, doing good works that glorify God is part and parcel of the Christian life. But it comes in the context of a grace-based relationship with God. No text of Scripture makes this clearer than Ephesians 2:8-10:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

By grace we are brought into relationship with God through faith. As we live in this intimate fellowship with God, we live our lives for his glory, doing the good works that he has prepared for us. The works are a result of grace, an outgrowth of our relationship with God.

When we begin to live the authentic Christian life, when we experience each day as intimate fellowship with God and his people, our lives become richer and more joyful. I’ll say more about this in my next post in this series.

Topics: Christian Life |

2 Responses to “Intimate Fellowship Encompasses Four Common Ideas of the Christian Life (Section 2)”

  1. J Falconer Says:
    August 19th, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Rev Mark Roberts & Mrs.Mark (Linda) Roberts, Thanks for sharing your day of happiness as Mr & Mrs!! The people with strong faith appreciate your faith & prayers! California is still remaining extremely challenging (economic & other cultural issues) Hawaii & Arizona appear more peaceful & possibly more affordable for some. Affordable housing, job security & taxes are extreme challenges for a lot of californians. Maybe if persons could put a website picture of Hawaii, Caribbean & Tahiti on their work, or personal phone computer–it would provide a brief time out. I enjoy reading konaweb for island perspective with their situations & challenges,too. ( A little less traffic than the mainland) Thanks Again for sharing recent photos & studies via the web (very convenient) for persons with health challenges, etc. Also thanks for the archives. j PS Imagine Nathan & Kara maybe not looking forward to school after an exciting summer! Peace & thanks for the JUne 14th 2009 ps 45 bible reading Thanks Again & continue praying for your readers situations

  2. Karen Cote Says:
    August 27th, 2009 at 5:28 am


    My husband shares your passion for nature. We haven’t been to Montana yet but your pictures have increased our already strong desire to do so.

    In the Christian life, do you feel it’s disobedient to God to question government? I don’t mean in a radical way. I’m very active in watching some of the decisions being made and are uncomfortable with some. What’s my Christian duty? Scripture has been interpreted to suggest we submit to the government. Can you give me some thoughts? Obeying God is my priority and I want to do this to the fullest. I just need a second opinion as this is something I’m struggling with. I don’t want my peaceful protests of something I don’t believe in to be an act of disobedience against what scripture is telling us to do. I suppose if I’m to live as Jesus did, resisting government’s decisions wasn’t really on His agenda. Can you provide insight for me on this topic? I’ve come to trust your centered love for Jesus and your teaching from the pulpit of your heart has on more than one occasion helped me to see the clearer picture. Thank you.


Thanks for your willingness to make a comment. Note: I do not moderate comments before they are posted, though they are automatically screened for profanities, spam, etc., and sometimes the screening program holds comments for moderation even though they're not offensive. I encourage open dialogue and serious disagreement, and am always willing to learn from my mistakes. I will not delete comments unless they are extraordinarily rude or irrelevant to the topic at hand. You do need to login in order to make a comment, because this cuts down on spam. You are free to use a nickname if you wish. Finally, I will eventually read all comments, but I don't have the time to respond to them on a consistent basis because I've got a few other demands on my time, like my "day job," my family, sleep, etc.

You must be logged in to post a comment.