Spiritual Friendship – Gospel in Life

Spiritual Friendship

Tim Keller |  March 1, 1998

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  • The Church (Unity, Fellowship, Leadership)
Acts 20:36-21:8
RS 89-4


The gospel of Jesus Christ creates and calls us into spiritual friendships. It sends you deeper into the heart of other brothers and sisters in Christ, giving you profundity and intimacy of relationships beyond anything you ever thought was possible with any other human being. This passage from the book of Acts appears to be a travelogue of the life of Paul, but in it we see principles of spiritual friendship: 1) Spiritual friendships are needed by all people; 2) they’re discovered through the immediate bond of the love of Jesus Christ; 3) they’re created through shared faith, prayer, possessions, feelings, and decision-making; 4) and will last forever.

Acts 20:36–21:8

The idea of renewing our commitment to God, a major theme in the Old Testament, is important for our church today. It encourages us to improve our community, not just our church. This might mean making some big changes, like developing multiple church locations and a center for city church growth. These changes would need more leadership and financial support. In the next few weeks, we’ll learn about ‘spiritual friendships’. This term means the strong and close relationships that the gospel helps us form, as we see in Acts 20-21.

1. They’re needed

Paul faced many challenges, but he also had the support of good friends. This shows us that having deep friendships is a sign of growth and health, not weakness. Wanting to have friends is part of how God made us, not a result of sin, and feeling lonely is a natural reaction to needing connection. Just like God and Jesus valued strong relationships, we should make spiritual friendships a priority. We should understand how important they are and allow ourselves to both rely on others and be someone others can rely on.

2. Spiritual friendships are discovered, not just made

When Paul met Christians he didn’t know in Tyre, it showed us that a shared faith in Jesus Christ can bring people together, no matter their differences. This shared faith can help form deep friendships, not through our own efforts, but as a gift from experiencing the grace of Christ. The real test of this grace isn’t just living with others, but truly loving even those we used to avoid. This shows us that real friendship is based on a shared love for something bigger than friendship itself – our relationship with God.

3. Spiritual friendship is made, not just discovered

Real friendships require work, purpose, and the practice of “koinonia,” a Greek word meaning “to share.” This sharing includes feelings, possessions, faith, decisions, and time. It helps form a bond based on commitment and love, not self-interest or convenience. By following these principles, we can develop deep and meaningful relationships.

4. Friendships are forever

Christianity is unique in teaching that friendships are eternal, unlike other religions that may see death as an end or as impersonal. It encourages us to fix broken relationships and let go of resentment, using the Lord’s Supper as a time for unity and making peace. The ultimate goal is to deepen our connection with God and others, turning the Lord’s Supper into a celebration of everlasting friendship.



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