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Grace Notes

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SEPARATION: RECEIVE NOT, DO NOT GREET
by Philip Owen

             We must not be deceived by the Siren call for unity, for it is worth noting that most of the calls for unity today (calls that make sense to the rational mind) come from the unregenerate world.  Satan has always offered the false hope of unity.  At the Tower of Babel, Satan “united” but God separated.  In the secular realm, the various world empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome were misguided attempts to unify the world—all of which God brought to naught.  The defunct League of Nations and its equally futile successor, the United Nations, represent man’s abortive attempt to bring unity to the world.  So long as sin prevails, there will be no unity.  In the ecclesiastical realm, the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches represent man’s unscriptural efforts to bring about religious unity through doctrinal compromise.  But so long as sin prevails, there will be no unity.  The Word of God is adamant regarding the sanctity of sound doctrine—particularly as related to the Person and work of Christ.  John, sometimes called “the disciple of love,” has this to say:  “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:  For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (II John 9-11).

            The nature and identity of promoters of false doctrine.  The crux of sound doctrine rests in the doctrine of Christ:  His deity, His virgin birth, and His substitutionary death as the sole means of salvation accepted by God.  To vary from these doctrines is to commit an egregious and damning “transgression,” or to “go beyond” the limits of sound doctrine.  Regardless of how much religion he professes or how much Bible he quotes, such a teacher “hath not God.”  He is a hypocrite, a charlatan, “a deceiver and an antichrist” (v. 7).  No amount of religious activity nor volume of religious words will substitute for “the doctrine of Christ” in the eyes of the only one who matters:  God our Righteous Judge.

            The nature and identity of teachers of the truth.  “He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ,” writes John, “hath both the Father and the Son.”  One who is truly born again “abides” in Christ.  Christ is his home, so to speak.  He does not use the Word of God or the name of Jesus as a launching pad for his own views or his personal advantage.  Rather, he preaches “Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (I Cor. 1:23).  He does not adjust his message in order to gain popularity and increase his audience (or income).  Regardless of the personal cost, he remains faithful to the doctrines set forth in the Word of God.  Such a man, John writes, “hath both the Father and the Son.”  To abide in Christ as revealed in the Word is to have God.  Any variation from the truth thus set forth leaves a man, regardless of his profession, bereft of God.

            How to deal with false teachers.  During a time when many people housed travelers in their homes and when many churches met in private homes, John warned that false teachers were not to be admitted.  So pernicious is false doctrine and so destructive to the eternal wellbeing of men and women that John said that those identified as such should not even be greeted, or bid “God speed.”  They are deceivers who can turn even casual conversation to their own advantage and to the spiritual destruction of their listeners.

            Why this way of dealing is necessary.  To have any association with men intent upon destroying the very foundation of Christian truth, John explains, is to be a “partaker of his evil deeds.”  False teachers are so dangerous that God will not countenance any association with them, any relationship that gives them the color of respectability, suggests concurrence in or acceptance of their error.  God hates “damnable heresies,” and so must every true child of God.  God has spelled out the doctrines, practices, and people from whom His children must separate.  We fail to do so to our own destruction.  But God will bless and protect those who honor him by humbling themselves and obeying His requirements.   Every faithful believer will find it necessary to practice scriptural separation throughout his life. 

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