Partnership with God
“And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
1. The words fellowship, communion, co-participation, and partnership mean the same.
2. The believer in the Lord Jesus does not only obtain forgiveness of all his sins (as he does through the shedding of the blood of Jesus, by faith in His name), does not only become a righteous one before God (through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, by faith in His name), is not only begotten again, born of God, and partaker of the divine nature, and therefore a child of God and an heir of God—but he is also in fellowship or partnership with God. Now, so far as regards God and our standing in the Lord Jesus, we have this blessing once for all; nor does it allow of either an increase or a decrease. Just as God’s love to us believers, His children, is unalterably the same (whatever may be the manifestations of that love), and as His peace with us is the same (however much our peace may be disturbed), so it is also with regard to our being in fellowship or partnership with Him: it remains unalterably the same, so far as God is concerned.
3. But then there is an experimental fellowship, or partnership, with the Father and with His Son, which consists in this: that all which we possess in God, as being the partners with God, is brought down into our daily life, is enjoyed, experienced, and used. This experimental fellowship, or partnership, allows of an increase or a decrease in the measure in which faith is in exercise, and in which we are entering into what we have received in the Lord Jesus. The measure in which we enjoy this experimental fellowship with the Father and with the Son is without limit; for without limit we may make use of our partnership with the Father and with the Son, and draw by prayer and faith out of the inexhaustible fullness that there is in God.
Let us take a few instances in order to see the practical working of this experimental partnership with the Father and with the Son. Suppose there are two believing parents who were not brought to the knowledge of the truth until some years after the Lord had given them several children. Their children were brought up in sinful, evil ways whilst the parents did not know the Lord. Now the parents reap as they sowed. They suffer from having set an evil example before their children; for their children are unruly and behave most improperly. What is now to be done? Need such parents despair? No! The first thing they have to do is to make confession of their sins to God, with regard to neglecting their children whilst they were themselves living in sin; and then to remember that they are in partnership with God, and therefore to be of good courage though they are in themselves still utterly insufficient for the task of managing their children. They have in themselves neither the wisdom, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love, decision and firmness, nor anything else that may be needful in dealing with their children aright. But their Heavenly Father has all this. The Lord Jesus possesses all this. And they are in partnership with the Father and the Son, and therefore they can obtain by prayer and faith all they need out of the fullness of God. I say “by prayer and faith,” for we have to make known our need to God in prayer, ask His help, and then we have to believe that He will give us what we need. Prayer alone is not enough. We may pray never so much, yet if we do not believe that God will give us what we need, we have no reason to expect that we shall receive what we have asked for. So then these parents would need to ask God to give them the needful wisdom, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love, decision, firmness, and whatever else they may judge they need. They may in humble boldness remind their Heavenly Father that His Word assures them that they are in partnership with Him, and as they themselves are lacking in these particulars, ask Him to supply their need—and then they have to believe that God will do it, and they will receive according to their need.
Another instance: Suppose I am so situated in my business that day by day such difficulties arise that I continually find that I take wrong steps, by reason of these great difficulties. How may the case be altered for the better? In myself I see no remedy for the difficulties. In looking at myself I can expect nothing but to make still further mistakes, and therefore trial upon trial seems to be before me. And yet I need not despair. The living God is my partner; I have not sufficient wisdom to meet these difficulties so as to be able to know what steps to take, but He is able to direct me. What I have, therefore, to do is this: in simplicity to spread my case before my Heavenly Father and my Lord Jesus. The Father and the Son are my partners. I have to tell out my heart to God, and to ask Him that, as He is my partner, and I have no wisdom in myself to meet all the many difficulties which continually occur in my business, He would be pleased to guide and direct me, and to supply me with the needful wisdom. And then I have to believe that God will do so, and go with good courage to my business, and expect help from Him in the next difficulty that may come before me. I have to look out for guidance, I have to expect counsel from the Lord; and, as assuredly as I do so, I shall have it. I shall find that I am not nominally, but really in partnership with the Father and with the Son.
Another instance: There are two believing parents with seven small children. The father works in a factory but cannot earn more than ten shillings per week. The mother cannot earn anything. These ten shillings are too little for the supply of nourishing and wholesome food for seven growing children and their parents, and for providing them with the other necessaries of life. What is to be done in such a case? Surely not to find fault with the manufacturer, who may not be able to afford more wages, and much less to murmur against God. But the parents have in simplicity to tell God, their partner, that the wages of ten shillings a week are not sufficient in England to provide nine persons with all they need, that their health may not be injured. They have to remind God that He is not a hard master, not an unkind being, but a most loving Father, Who has abundantly proved the love of His heart in the gift of His only begotten Son. And they have in childlike simplicity to ask Him, that either He would order it so that the manufacturer may be able to allow more wages, or that the Lord would find them another place where the father would be able to earn more, or that He would be pleased somehow or other, as it may seem good to Him, to supply them with more means. They have to ask the Lord in childlike simplicity again and again for it, if He does not answer their request at once; and they have to believe that God, their Father and partner, will give them the desire of their hearts. They have to expect an answer to their prayers; day by day they have to look out for it, and to repeat their request till God grants it. As assuredly as they believe that God will grant them their request, so assuredly it shall be granted.
Again, suppose I desire more power over my besetting sins; suppose I desire more power against certain temptations; suppose I desire more wisdom, or grace, or anything else that I may need in my service among the saints, or in my service towards the unconverted; what have I to do, but to make use of my being in fellowship with the Father and with the Son? Just as, for instance, an old faithful clerk—who is this day taken into partnership by an immensely rich firm, though himself altogether without property—would not be discouraged by reason of a large payment having to be made by the firm within three days, though he himself has no money at all of his own, but would comfort himself with the immense riches possessed by those who so generously have just taken him into partnership. So should we, the children of God and servants of Jesus Christ, comfort ourselves by being in fellowship, or partnership, with the Father and the Son—though we have no power of our own against our besetting sins, though we cannot withstand temptations which are before us in our own strength, and though we have neither sufficient grace nor wisdom for our service among the saints or towards the unconverted. All we have to do is to draw upon our partner, the living God. By prayer and faith we may obtain all needful temporal and spiritual help and blessings.
In all simplicity we have to tell out our heart before God, and then we have to believe that He will give to us according to our need. But if we do not believe that God will help us, could we be at peace? The clerk, taken into the firm as partner, believes that the firm will meet the payment though so large, and though in three days it is to be made—and it is this that keeps his heart quiet, though altogether poor himself. We have to believe that our infinitely rich partner, the living God, will help us in our need, and we shall not only be in peace, but we shall actually find that the help we need will be granted to us.
Let not the consciousness of your entire unworthiness keep you, dear reader, from believing what God has said concerning you. If you are indeed a believer in the Lord Jesus, then this precious privilege, being in partnership with the Father and the Son, is yours, though you and I are entirely unworthy of it. If the consciousness of our unworthiness were to keep us from believing what God has said concerning those who depend upon and trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation, then we should find that there is not one single blessing with which we have been blessed in the Lord Jesus from which, on account of our unworthiness, we could derive any settled comfort or peace.