Friday, March 08, 2024

The Vision (3.8.24): They went out from us, but they were not of us


Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on  1 John 2:18-23.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us (1 John 2:19a).

The church addressed by the apostle in 1 John had likely suffered serious conflict over Christology, with some denying that Christ has come “in the flesh,” that is, denying his true humanity (see 4:1-3; cf. 1:1).

John goes so far as to call such persons “antichrists” (1 John 2:18; cf. 4:3).

As a result, this church had suffered schism, as these false teachers and others, perhaps even innocent ones (“they were not all of us”), were caught up in the fray and departed.

There are several things to learn here:

First, not all conflicts in the church are bad. Often churches have conflict for bad reasons, like inter-personal conflicts or the color of the carpet. But sometimes there is good reason to have conflict, if it means opposing false teaching.

Second, it is not always bad for persons to leave a church, if they hold views that oppose the teaching of Christ and are not willing to repent and learn the way that is right and Biblical.

We do not believe in peace at all costs. Obedience to Christ is paramount. Just as surgery, though painful, is sometimes needed to remove what brings harm to the body, it must be done. If the pain of surgery is avoided the end result might be something far worse, even death itself.

There is yet a third lesson. In this case, the “orthodox” camp apparently held the majority and prevailed. The antichrists departed. But it does not always happen that way. Sometimes it is the orthodox who must depart as the majority wrongly sides with error.

John addressed a situation like this in 3 John 9-10 where he makes mention of an antichrist teacher named Diotrophes who cast out faithful brothers from a church.

Luther and Calvin and thousands of other “Protest-ants” had to come out of the Medieval Roman church during the time of the Reformation.

I recently read a book written by a man named D. A. Thompson who in the early twentieth century had to come out from the Church of England due to compromise in that body.

We do not desire to be schismatic and fractious in spirit. But we must hold fast to Christ above all. We want no schism with Christ!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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