I am back again today to tackle more Scriptural support regarding the issue of fellowship and salvation. In the last two posts, I have argued that the Scriptures themselves do not divide fellowship and salvation: that is, they do not support the idea that one can lose fellowship without losing salvation. In the same way, the Scriptures do not support salvation without the idea of fellowship. One cannot be saved and lack fellowship with God.
Today’s text, 1 John 1, provides what I call the indubitable proof against a separation of fellowship and salvation; that is, 1 John teaches that those who have fellowship with God are saved...and those who are saved have fellowship with God. Let’s now approach the text.
1 John 1 begins in verse 1 with a testimony that Christ appeared on earth: “that which was from the beginning (referring to Christ, who was “in the beginning,” see John 1:1-2), which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life” (1 John 1:1, NKJV).
The physical observations of John demonstrate that Christ really came to earth “in the flesh.” This will prove important throughout all of 1 John, particularly chapter 5.
Verse 2 confirms that which John wrote in verse 1. John declares the truth to those to which he is writing (v. 3), and states that the goal of this declaration is “that you may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” The goal of declaring the truth of Christ to the believers is not “just” so the believers can have fellowship with John and the other saints; it is also done for the express purpose of granting them fellowship with God and His Son Jesus.
In verses 6-7, we see fellowship extended a bit to more than just communion with the saints and Christ: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Notice that “fellowship” (v.6) and “walk in darkness” (v.6) cannot coexist together: that is, someone cannot claim to have “fellowship” (communion) with Christ and do the opposite of what Christ does. If “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (v.5), and yet someone walks in darkness, then that person cannot be a Christ follower. If someone has communion with Christ, and Christ is light, then they have communion with the light and do not partake of that which is darkness. To walk in the darkness is to live as though one does not have fellowship with Christ.
But verse 7 is the lynchpin of my argument:
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (NKJV).
If we walk in the light, seeing that Christ is the light, we have “fellowship” and “the blood of Jesus Christ...cleanses us from all sin.” Fellowship (communion) is tied here to cleansing of sins by the blood of Christ. Fellowship and salvation are united here. Those who are saved are those who experience communion with God as well as His forgiveness of sins and cleansing.
What do we do with the information presented in these last three posts? We take it and live. Nowhere in Scripture do we find that fellowship and salvation are divided. You cannot lose fellowship with God and still be saved. Rather, you may lose fellowship with the church---but this does not necessitate that a person has lost fellowship with God. Whether or not that person has forever abandoned the faith is only something the individual and God can know.
So the grand question is, “Can someone lose fellowship with God and still have salvation?” The answer is “No.” That person can lose fellowship with the church, but they cannot lose fellowship with God Himself. Losing fellowship with the church and losing fellowship with God are two different things; as in Martin Luther’s day, he was excommunicated because he stood for truth...and even as he lost fellowship with the Catholic church, he had not lost fellowship with God. Prayerfully, in the future, we can find more biblical terminology to address those who live in a time of continued sin.