In This Issue...
ARE YOU READY FOR
"THE NEXT CHURCH?"
Tired of the same cereal every morning? There are plenty of
choices on grocery store shelves. Feeling adventuresome?
Disregard those shampoo directions, "Lather, rinse, repeat," and
just soap your hair one time. You rebel, you! If you don't like
your American-made car, you can always opt for a sporty model with
a foreign heritage. Tired of "two songs and a prayer?" Do you
long for religious excitement? I mean, do you ever feel like
"book, chapter, and verse" is too archaic, too monotonous, entirely
too tame? Eureka! Like the grizzled prospector who finds the
mother-lode, you are living in an age of the religious smorgasbord!
The Atlantic Monthly carried an article
title, "The Next Church," which documents and describes
the " megachurch" phenomena sweeping the nation. It is marked by
large congregations (thousands of members in number) that are
seeking to attract the "unchurched," particularly those of the 40
years and under group who are tired of the main stream
denominational affiliation. Additionally, these "megachurches"
appeal to the masses because they: 1) emphasize unity amidst
diversity in doctrine, 2) offer "exciting" worship services that
resemble Broadway productions, 3) provide a "ministry" to every
family member (every agenda is answered) even (and especially) the
secular. Now, this does not surprise astute observers of religious
error. But as I read the article, I began to have that "sinking
feeling" as it occurred to me that "The Next Church" might be
prophetic of where many congregations of the Lord's church will be
in a decade or so. Many are headed in that direction, and some are
"I like it; therefore, it must be sweet in
God's sight as well" is the mistake of men,
past and present.
Leaving the "ancient landmarks" (Prov. 22:28) is the express
goal of many "change agents" whose vision of nobility and heroism
includes leading the poor ol' uneducated Christian from the dark
confines of narrow-minded religious bigotry, down the
yellow-bricked road of sweeping change to a bright, new, shining
community where the church of Christ is just one of many
denominations -- buildings swelling with religiously diverse
crowds, everybody holding hands with his denominational neighbor.
This liberal movement envisions a place and time where doctrine is
insignificant, unity at all costs is paramount, and perpetual
smiles are the order of the day. It is this vision that clamors
for a lowering of the sword, and a shift in emphasis. In this
dream of the spiritual mavericks, no longer would you be concerned
with "trivial matters" like instrumental music in worship, women
teachers and preachers, the day and frequency of partaking of the
Lord's supper, elements of worship, the purpose or even the
necessity of baptism, the distinctive nature of the church,
ascertaining Bible authority, or a myriad of other topics that have
been outgrown by liberated church-goers. Now, you have arrived in
the land of the "social church." Here, the emphasis squarely
shifts from doctrinal distinction to self-gratification. "I like
it; therefore, it must be sweet in God's sight as well" is the
mistake of men, past and present.
"In those days there was no king in Israel: every man
did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways
my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the
earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than
your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Our feature article informs us that, "Even the most
stubbornly traditional churches, if they have any critical mass at
all, are putting children's education, child care, and teen
activities up there with music as essential ingredients to attract
This new religious scene is tailor-made for the change-agent
and his disciples. They view the church of Christ, in the main, as
a group of people who "have become fixed in the tracks of
dogmatism," "twisted and misapplied Scriptures to support our
contentions," and "limited the liberties of others."2
Randy Mayeux, former preacher for the
Preston Road Church of Christ in Dallas, informed
listeners of the changes on the horizon when he spoke in 1989 of
"receiving letters from two of our women," one of which complained,
"I am so sick and tired of being able to do nothing." Further,
Mayeux predicted that doctrinal differences would "increase instead
of decrease" and that "because our people are reading [Charles]
Swindoll's books and listening to Swindoll's messages, they are
going to end up thinking more and more liked Swindoll."3
Rubel Shelly pleads, "We must find a way
the rancor and quarreling about our denominational
Max Lucado trumpets that "there are fresh winds
in the church of Christ denomination" and he recently received an
award from Southern Baptists.5
Now, if you sympathize with Cecil Hook, Randy
Rubel Shelly, Max Lucado and others of their stripe in
you can always head off in search of "The Next Church" -- a place
where there is "no biblical-gobble-dy-gook. No prayerly rote. No
fire, no brimstone...no dreary eighteeenth-century hymns. No forced
solemnity. No Sunday finery. No collection plates."6
Elders and preachers, renew your vigilance
and inform the church.
These "megachurches" are to be the rave of the near and
distant future as they "diversify almost infinitely in order to
develop new 'product lines' that meet the congregation's
needs..."7 One of these "shopping-mall churches" houses
people at four services each weekend. Inside, "an orchestra played
upbeat soft rock...the dress was California casual. Children
scurried everywhere. A cappuccino cart with parasol stood to one
side, dispensing the secular sacrament."8 Here they
offer parenting seminars, alcohol and drug recovery meetings, a
class for "homebuilders, something called `Bunko Night,' a baseball
league, drama, and dance, and "seven days a week of kid-oriented
activity -- a lot of it."9 The music in these services
by a "sextet of male and female singers...a twelve-piece orchestra
of saxophones, synthesizers, guitars and drums" and all the songs
were new-composed since 1990, and most importantly, "all of them
were of club quality."10
"By taking on roles as various as those of the Welcome
Wagon, the USO, the Rotary, the quilting bee, the book club, the
coffee shop, and school, they have become much more than
traditional churches that many Americans grew up in and have long
A leader of this "next church" provides his strategy: "We
give them what they want."12 The church services here
"multi-media affairs."13 Testimonials, dramatic actors,
message from the "pastor," and communion services on "special
rather than regular occasions" round-out these assemblies. And
while the author of this magazine report centers in on this change
that's rolling through the denominational world, you will sadly
note that the church of Christ figured into the article: "I met the
young pastor of a Church of Christ congregation who was lamenting
that his denomination still forbids the use of any musical
instruments in its worship services."14
This is not the picture of a church "just for people who are
already Christian" but rather a "church of options" with a
"chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry" "worship menu."15
In Irving, Texas, the "Fellowship Of Las Colinas" uses
direct-mailings to "target" zip codes with advertisements of a
well-received Saturday evening service. And, "Sports are a big deal
at Las Colinas. The church organizes a thirty-eight-team basketball
league, starting with children of both sexes in grades one through
six. It has sponsored a baseball clinic led by the new York
Yankees. To anticipate the objections of just about every male
Texan, services conclude in time for watching parties for the
Dallas Cowboys football games -- which are on view on a big screen
outside the sanctuary for church attendees to take in as part of
their post-worship fellowship. For those for whom Sundays are truly
sacred, Las Colinas offers the Saturday-night
Here, women can be in leadership roles. The "Church Of The
Open Door" engages in 40 minutes of sustained singing at a service
in which the "outstanding lead vocalist carried the energy of her
praise to the limits of modesty."17 Of course,
Mayeux chided the Lord's church some seven years ago for
intolerance, and refers to professional singer Amy Grant,
an artist in the field of (as Mayeux calls it) "contemporary
Christian music." Mayeux said, "...Amy Grant who grew up in a
church of Christ. And we didn't have a way to let her be in the
church of Christ, and so we've lost her...I don't want to keep
losing the people that God raises up in this fellowship, whose
roots are deep and who understand us and then drive them away
because there's no outlet for their gift."18 He told
same meeting of ministers (hosted by Lubbock Christian
), "In one youth group represented by somebody sitting in
section, there is a woman, a teenager in that youth group that
wants to be able to preach in some fashion to men and women when
she gets older. You want to kick her out?...The bottom line is
that in the 1990s, diversity is the only game in town,
Some may charge me with being an alarmist but I say as
kindly as I can, "Where have you been? Wake up and see the
handwriting on the wall!" The drift toward denominationalism,
starting decades ago, has turned into a tidal wave, and has not yet
run its course.
Several years ago, the Cahaba Valley church of
Christ in Birmingham, Alabama, through its elders, sent
a letter to the membership which stated:
"For the year 1990, during Sunday morning assembly
for worship, we will continue to ask that men be in
the leadership role. This is because our need as a
group to respect the fact that there are differences
of opinion and conviction...We simply need time to
allow our church to continue to think and pray about
the role of women at CV as change comes...For the
years 1991-1994, we, the elders, will initiate
gradual change in the Sunday morning worship assembly
for worship. Each year we will increase the freedom
of women to participate in worship...We will continue
this process until by 1994, women are given freedom
to volunteer, if they so choose, to participate in
the activities that are currently restricted to the
men during the worship assembly."20
Those "activities" to be opened to women are further specified as
"Reading Scripture, Serving Communion, Leading Prayer, Presiding At
Table, Speaking To The Assembly in Sermon, Leading Singing." Now,
that was years ago, and maybe Cahaba Valley church of Christ has
changed, you might think. You would be absolutely right. A quick
phone call to Cahaba Valley on March 6, 1997, was answered by one
of the ministers, Katie Hayes, who along with her husband, Lance
Pape, share the ministerial duties at their self-styled "ecumenical
church." Ms. Hayes was frank in her assessment that Cahaba Valley
church of Christ is a denomination, and she further stated that
they accept into "full fellowship" those adults who have not been
immersed. Hayes stated that the issues dividing churches of Christ
were very "petty and small" and that attention needs to be given by
Christians to problems like hunger, poverty, racism, and illiteracy
-- without regard to the background of other "Christians" helping
to correct these socials ills, whether they be "Episcopal, Baptist,
or church of Christ." The candlestick is surely gone out at Cahaba
The Southern Hills church of Christ in Tulsa,
in a bulletin article published some seven years ago, set
forth "A Southern Hills Hermeneutic For The 90s" in
Gary Tandy lists, as an implication of their
"hermeneutic," that Southern Hills will provide "more roles for
women, singles, and children in worship and recognize ministry
opportunities in cultural concerns," but cautions that "...we are
a people of many viewpoints. We have a responsibility to love,
respect, and defend our brother's and sister's right to their
viewpoints..." and "...we all have difficulty with change. It is
important to proceed at a sensitive pace."22
Today, a phone call reveals that it is no longer the
Southern Hills church of Christ but rather the "Southern
Fellowship Of Christ," where the "critical issues of
are no longer place, time, nor ritual..." and worship assemblies
are "...an experience of deliberate focus on God for the purpose of
an encounter with him..." and "...relevant to the unsaved and
unchurched community." It is here that "Southern Hills women
participate in leadership and support roles of public worship,
communion, Bible studies, small groups, and other functions
necessary to effect the church's mission."23
Katie Hayes, minister for "Cahaba Valley Church of
Christ--an Ecumenical Church," was offended at the thought of being
lumped in with the megachurch mentality since they had decreased in
number to about 100 members because they had stepped out of the
mainstream. But then, by her own admission she pictured Cahaba
Valley as a place for those who had grown "tired of the rigors of
legalism" and "tired of religion in the U.S.," and were looking for
religion that was "real" (whatever that means-L.P.) rather than
"fake." Well dear reader, the typical "megachurch" may be larger
in number than the Cahaba Valley/Southern Hills type, but the
mindset is quite similar, if not identical: de-emphasize doctrine,
practice unity-in-diversity, make worship services more
"politically correct." Too, do you see how that in less than a
decade religious error has worked like a gangrene to spread in
these congregations and engulf them completely?
Chris Seay, 24 year-old "pastor" of the
member University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas
unique nature of his congregation: He said it offered the best rock
music by the best rock musicians in Waco. He talked about their
"sound" -- "a cross between Pearl Jam and Hootie and the Blowfish."
Seay says of his worship services, "We don't know what's going to
happen next, or we make it seem like we don't know what's going to
happen next."24 That couldn't happen in churches of
or could it? Rubel Shelly and Randy
quoted in their book, The Second Incarnation, as
demanding that the "tired, uninspiring event called worship...must
give way to an exhilarating experience of God," and they further
claim that worship assemblies in the Lord's church are "boring" and
"irrelevant."25 Shelly and Harris want "spontaneity"
The "Next Church," is a "new, large, independent church"
that is enjoying more success than mainline denominations in living
with "intense divisions in their flock over abortion and
homosexuality."27 Michael Foss,
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Minneapolis is labeled
"fiercely agnostic," and states, "I'm convinced you can be a
Christian on either side of those [homosexuality and abortion --
L.P.] issues." Foss goes on to state, "One of the tragedies of the
culture is the tendency to draw lines where they needn't be drawn.
Christians ought to quit throwing rocks at Christians. We
don't have to agree on everything. And, these are side
[emphasis mine--L.P.]. What we're about is spiritual
renewal."28 Hmmm, now where have we heard that before?
How long before
those more liberal than the "mainstream" at Cahaba Valley and
Southern Hills demand that unity-in-diversity embrace abortion and
homosexuality? The mindset of the religious left in the church,
marked by disdain for law and rule, and tolerance for only those
who are tolerant of every doctrine, has no end. It, like an oil
spill, encompasses and slimes more and more until nothing is wrong,
and every matter is a gray area of personal liberty and opinion.
Randy Mayeux went on from his heretical
in 1989 to leave the Preston Road church of Christ.
"main aim was to start a new church," and his model would be the
"Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., which is
considered a model for mega-churches." It uses the megachurch type
approach to worship with a band and contemporary music. Mayeux
lauds, "this is a church that wants to have fun--it's substantive,
Nine years ago, the Ft. Worth Star Telegram ran a feature
article on the Richland Hills Church of Christ,
"Church mission is meeting needs of hurt people." Bill
Vincent, Richland Hills member, is quoted as saying,
"The philosophy of the church has changed -- the
church is more interested in meeting the needs of the
people. It used to be the type of church that
preached hell, fire and brimstone, and a lot of other
things that didn't really relate to how you get along
in life. Today, it's one of the most responsive
churches in the area to the needs of people...Members
of the Church of Christ used to have a reputation of
feeling like they were the only ones going to heaven.
But that's changed in Churches of Christ by and
large, and it's certainly not true in this church.
The church welcomes you with open arms no matter
where you come from."30
Why not? Why not go for the biggest church that has the most
to offer? After all, brethren are doing this daily when they by-
pass small sound congregations for large liberal ones that have
more offerings to appease the kids and a less demanding message
from the pulpit and leadership. This, we are told, is the future of
religion in America. People will "drive right by small churches in
their neighborhood to get to attend a larger one that offers more
in the way of services or programs...It's Wal-Mart versus the
corner grocery. It ain't a fair fight."31
No, I do not consider myself to be a prophet, but then
history is an unusually fine prognosticator of trends. The liberals
among us may swell in number. They are doing this in many
instances. But then, I remember Matthew 7:13-14, the few and the
many, the saved and the damned.
This "religious cafeteria" concept has a charm and appeal,
especially to the young folks but then both the blind leaders and
their followers can find their way into the ditch (Matt. 15:14).
The presumptuous and self-willed souls in the church may
revel in their ecumenical stance that is just so loving,
broad-minded, and comfortable, and they may look with longing eyes
at the megachurches as success stories. Their worship services will
become more theatrical, more entertaining, and more appealing to
the less spiritual mind but John 4:24 remains unchanged. Their
work will center on erasing physical hunger rather than providing
spiritual food (John 6:26-27) and removing physical poverty rather
than providing clean spiritual garments (Rev. 3:18). After all, why
bother anyone about the steps to salvation if you do not believe
The megachurch proponent in America says, "Give them what
they want." The same mindset has been stewing for a while in
Shelly, Mayeux, Lucado and others.
Be ready. Arm your children. Elders and preachers, renew
your vigilance and inform the church. Don't think it cannot happen
where you live. Wake up, and smell the cappuccino!
5784 Sapp Rd.
1 Charles Trueheart, "The Next Church,"
Atlantic Monthly, August, 1996, p.46.
2 Cecil Hook, Free In Christ, p.8.
3 Randy Mayeux, in a speech at Lubbock, Texas in
1989, to conference of Ministers hosted by Lubbock
4 Rubel Shelly, as quoted by Curtis Cates in his
book, The Second Incarnation -- Pattern For Apostasy
(Memphis, TN: Cates Publications, 1992) p.41.
5 As published in the Tulsa World,
March 12, 1989,
p.C.26, Lucado referred to a the Lord's church as a denomination.
The San Antonio Express-News, Sept. 17, 1996
article under the headline, "Texas Baptists Extend Award To
S.A. Pastor-Author Lucado." Lucado received the "Texas
Baptist Communications Award" and Baptist Pastor Buckner
Fanning commented that Lucado and he have exchanged pulpits over
the last two years.
6 Next Church, p.37
7 Next Church, p.38
8 Next Church, p.39
9 Next Church, p.39
10 Next Church, p.39
11 Next Church, p.40
12 Next Church, p.40
13 Next Church, p.42
14 Next Church, p.44
15 Next Church, p.47
16 Next Church, p.47
17 Next Church, p.50
18 Randy Mayeux, Lubbock speech.
19 Randy Mayeux, Lubbock speech.
20 Undated letter from Elders to members of
Cahaba Valley church of Christ.
21 Ms. Hayes went on further to state that she
husband prepared for their work by educating at Abilene
Christian University, The Institute for Christian
(in Austin, TX), and Yale Divinity School.
she would not agree that either Abilene Christian University or The
Institute for Christian Studies, as an institution, would support
the stand of Cahaba Valley, Ms. Hayes did state that there were
individuals on the faculties of both institutions who would.
22 Gary Tandy, Southern Hills church of Christ
23 Identity Statement of the Southern Hills
24 Next Church, p.50
25 Rubel Shelly and Randy Harris, p.47, as quoted
Cates in The Second Incarnation, p.47
27 Next Church, p.52
28 Next Church, p.52
29 As published in the Dallas Morning
12, 1992, p.38A, under the caption, "Preacher Follows His Own
Conscience, Starts Church."
30 As quoted in the Ft. Worth Star
5, 1988, pp.1-2, under the caption, "Church Mission Is Meeting
Needs Of Hurt People."
31 Next Church, p.47
Return to Table of Contents
"Change Agents" #2
Garland M. Robinson
Change agents seek to destroy the Biblical limits of
fellowship and openly embrace those who are not children of God.
Notice the following comments from some who are
desperately seeking to change from God's Way.
"I agree with the brother who wrote that
disagreements over instruments should not prevent us
from enjoying a common Lord's table. I can commune
anywhere if it is in honor of our Lord and in a
matter fitting with His will. Maybe if all of us who
are divided over the instrument communed together
more we would see the importance of our unity and
work "harder at maintaining it." (Calvin
Warpula, A Rejoinder to Letters in Response
to 'Can We Have Unity With the Christian Church'?"
One Body, Fall, 1993, 10:4, p.19).
Promise Keepers rallys as well as
Jesus are two denominational programs which provide a
for the "Change Agents" to spread their doctrine and openly
fellowship those in denominationalism. Faithful Christians cannot
engage in either of these activities and meet with God's approval.
"Do I consider 'our brotherhood' (non-
instrumental Churches of Christ) a denomination? Yes.
...Well, do you embrace denominationalism? No. Oh no.
I embrace Jesus. And brothers and sisters in Jesus
scattered throughout most denominations"
(Lynn Anderson, "Big, Sick, Denomination:
Revisited," Wineskins, Vol. 2, No.
"There are sincere, knowledgeable, and devout
Christians scattered among the various denominations"
(Rubel Shelly, I Just Want to be a
Christian, 1984, p.132).
"Brothers and sisters, we do not have to live in
estrangement and isolation from those who honestly
differ with us inside or outside our fellowship. We
don't have to agree with them on every point nor do
we have to convince them to agree with us on every
issue. All we have to do is look to our left, to
those who have felt the sting of our rejection, and
everywhere we see one who has committed his or her
heart and life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ we may
rejoice that we have found a brother or sister. And
we may extend to that child of God the same inviting
hand of grace and acceptance which we ourselves have
received from the Lord Jesus." (Mark
Henderson, People Need the Unity-Committed
Church, 1997 ACU Lectures).
The Bible does not allow fellowship with those who are not
Christians or even those who have left their "first love." Notice
"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of
these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of
disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them"
(Eph. 5:6-7). "And have no fellowship
unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove
(Eph. 5:11). We are not to be partakers with them in their
deeds. We are to have NO fellowship with them. "No" fellowship
does not mean "some" fellowship or "limited" fellowship. And, it
is simply not enough to have no fellowship with them, this verse
also demands that we actively oppose them. Our mission is to
"reprove" them. The word reprove means to: convict,
refute, show someone his fault or error, show something up for what
it is, prove guilty, condemn, to bring to light, to expose, to
reprehend severly, chide, admonish. We cannot be quiet when error
is involved! To refuse to expose error and instead, embrace it and
extend an open hand of fellowship to it and those promoting it, is
complete apostasy from the "one faith." Those not faithful to the
doctrine of Christ are enemies of Christ (cf. Phil. 3:18). Shall
we support the enemy of Christ? No, a thousands time no! It
matters not whether the evil doer is an erring Christian or one who
has never obeyed the gospel, the end result is the same.
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause
divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have
learned; and avoid them" (Rom. 16:17). This verse commands
that we "mark" those who teach contrary to sound doctrine. The
word mark means: to look at, observe, contemplate, fix
one's eyes upon, direct one's attention to, be concerned about,
watch out for, be careful. The reason we focus our attention upon
these individuals is that we may "avoid" them so as to have no
fellowship with them in their evil deeds. Such persons
"...serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by
good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple"
(Rom. 16:18). By no stretch of the imagination could we support
those who teach contrary to sound doctrine and cause division in
the Lord's body (whether they were members of the Lord's church or
not). No faithful Christian, preacher, eldership or congregation,
can remain silent and lend support to those who teach and practice
things contrary to the doctrine of Christ. God counts those who do
so just as guilty as those who commit such evil deeds themselves (2
"But I say, that the things which the Gentiles
sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and
would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye
cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot
be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils"
(1 Cor. 10:20-21). The Lord's people cannot hold onto God with one
hand and those who are in league with the devil with the other. No
matter how "sweet spirited" some seem, no matter how sincere they
appear, when they are not in fellowship with God (by obeying his
commands), then neither can we fellowship them lest we be out of
fellowship with God. When anyone does not "walk in the light"
(live and abide in the truth), he does not have fellowship with God
(1 John 1:7). How can we fellowship those whom God does not
fellowship? We cannot!
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the
doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine
of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there
any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into
your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that
God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 1:9-11).
Those who do not hold to the doctrine of Christ are not to be
"received." The word receive means to "associate one's
self as companion, attendant, to receive a person, give him access
to one's self." We are commanded to not bid them God speed. We
are not to do anything that would give such persons comfort or aid
that would assist them in their deed. We cannot lend help to or
send them along their way with our blessing. We cannot wish them
well or pray for their success. We must not allow them to believe
we are in fellowship with them, but on the contray, we must oppose
them (Eph. 5:11). If we do anything that aids them in their evil
work, we are counted just as guilty as if we had done the evil
ourself. This is guilt by association. When we associate with
those guilty of false doctrine, we are counted guilty of false
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every
that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition
which he received of us" (2 Thess. 3:6). The word "walketh"
has to do with one's behavior or conduct. The word "disorderly"
means "out of ranks (often so of soldiers), deviating from the
prescribed order or rule." This is speaking particularly of
withdrawing fellowship from a fellow-member of a local congregation
of which we are also members. However, its application (in
principle) would also include that we must not extend fellowship to
all who "walk disorderly," even though such persons are not members
of the local congregation of which we are members. To withdraw
fellowship means that we must not associate with one so as to aid,
comfort, support, condone or assist him in his teaching and/or
practice. When one's conduct is contrary to the inspired,
established "tradition" of the apostles, we must not help or aid
them in their belief and practice.
"And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note
that man, and have no company with him, that he
ashamed" (2 Thess. 3:14). The words "company with" here
means: to mix up together, to keep company with, be intimate with.
There is simply no scriptural (Biblically justified) way to have
company with such persons so as to aid and support those who do not
follow the Lord's Way. One of the purposes of our refusing to
"company with" them is that such would cause them to be ashamed of
their teaching and conduct and move them to repentance.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with
unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with
unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And
what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that
believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of
God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God
hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be
their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out
from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and
not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father
unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord
Almighty" (2 Cor. 6:14-18). The words "unequally yoked
together" are from the same word in the Greek. The word means "to
have fellowship with one who is not an equal." Those who have
never obeyed the gospel or who have strayed from the "old paths" of
"the way," are not our equal. They do not stand in the right and
proper relationship with God. They are not our faithful brethren
in the Lord. Those who have strayed away are as the prodigal that
must return home (Luke 15:17-20) or Simon that had to repent and
pray (Acts 8:22). Until they do, the faithful cannot fellowship
Return to Table of Contents
2 JOHN 9,
WHAT IS THE MEANING
Robert R. Taylor, Jr.
This valiant verse and the tremendous truth embedded therein
reads, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the
doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine
of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." The ASV
renders the verse in this fine fashion, "Whosoever goeth
onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he
that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the
Son." This message was addressed to the elect lady and her
children (vs. 1,4,5,13).
HOW ARE THE TRANSGRESSORS IDENTIFIED?
This verse is in the context of verses 7,8. Therein John
depicted a deceiver, i.e., one who went about spreading dangerous
delusions and poisonous practices. The world was full of them in
John's day. They were Docetic Gnostics who refused to confess that
Jesus had come in the flesh. They said he only appeared to have a
body but was just a phantom. They were antichrist -- those opposed
to Christ and totally hostile to his divine claims. They were the
sort of people that, if heard and heeded, could make the elect lady
and her children lose their heavenly rewards. They are the ones
who go onward or take the lead. "Transgresseth," "goeth onward" or
"taketh the lead" derive from the word proago in the
Greek text and from which we derive such terms as progress,
progressive and progression. However, this progress is AWAY from,
rather than TOWARD the Christ. As such it becomes daring, defiant
digression. It becomes reckless retrogression. It is a rebellious
refusal to stay with what Christ and apostolic authority taught.
The transgressors refuse to abide in the doctrine of Christ. It is
too straight-laced for them; it is too old-fashioned for them; it
is too much lacking in modernistic progression for them. The
Christian church in their digressive dives into the missionary
society, mechanical music in worship and literally dozens of other
digressive practices view themselves as progressives. They did
this a century ago; there has been no appreciable change in them in
modern times. They did and do depict their opponents (churches of
Christ) as non-progressives, moss backs, lacking in toleration and
non-possessors of that irenic spirit in which they take pompous
ABIDETH NOT AND ABIDETH CONTRASTED
"Transgresseth" or "goeth onward" and
"abideth not in the doctrine of Christ" describe the
atrocious act. One is a positive description; the other delineates
a negative description. To abide not is a refusal to remain
adamantly in apostolic doctrine. It is a digression from such; it
is a departure from truth into error -- fatal error, damnable
falsehood. Such people do in the noxious name of religious
progression what is unauthorized by Holy Writ. They do what they
want to do; this is the all pervading principle behind their
religious beliefs and practices. They do what Cain did in Genesis
4, what Nadab and Abihu did in Leviticus 10, what Saul and the
people did in 1 Samuel 15 in saving alive the finest of the
livestock for self-appointed and self-satisfying sacrificial
purposes, what David and the people did with the new ox cart in
transporting the ark of the covenant in 2 Samuel 6, what Jeroboam
did in the new religion he devised for the newly formed Northern
Kingdom in 1 Kings 12, what arrogant Uzziah, king of Judah, did
relative to incense burning in 2 Chronicles 26, and the worship
devised by human will that constituted part of the Colossian heresy
in Colossians 2 -- whatever pleases the human heart. Some years
back I had a frank conversation with a college student of mine when
I taught Bible for college credit in the University of Tennessee at
Martin. She was a member of the Christian Church. We talked
freely and frankly about their usage of mechanical music in worship
and our refusal to use such. Quite candidly she said, "I realize
there is no New Testament authority for its use; my brethren and I
use it BECAUSE WE LIKE IT." That is the real WHY of its usage
among all religious devotees of the same, though few will be as
frank and honest as this young lady was.
The one who abides is the person who remains with the
doctrine of Christ minus addition, subtraction, modification,
alteration or any sort of substitution. To abide in truth means to
give it a warm welcome, to provide a home for it and to allow it a
permanent residence in attitude and action, in motive and mission,
in language and life.
WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST?
It is not the doctrine about Christ but the
doctrine he taught personally or that which he taught
through apostolic agency. Here are what some outstanding Greek
scholars have said relative to this verse, A. T. Robertson in his
Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol. 6, p.254, Not
the teaching about Christ, but that of Christ which is the standard
of Christian teaching as the walk of Christ is the standard for the
christian's walk (1 John 2:6). J. R. W. Stott in his commentary on
John's epistles, about the "Usage Of The N.T."
Crooke) requires that the genitive be interpreted not as objective,
"the teaching about Christ," but as subjective, "Christ's
teaching." This no doubt includes what Christ continued to teach
through the apostles. Henry Alford in Alford's Greek
Testament, not abiding in the doctrine of Christ (i.e.,) in
Christ's doctrine, -- that truth which Christ himself taught.
Joseph Henry Thayer in his Greek-English Lexicon, The doctrine
which has God, Christ, the Lord, for its author and supporter.
In his superb commentary on the epistles of Peter, John and
Jude brother Guy N. Woods says, "The 'teaching of Christ' here is
not teaching about Christ, or teaching which is Christian in
substance or nature; it is the teaching which Christ did personally
and through those whom he inspired. It is the teaching of Christ,
because he is, in the final analysis, its author, and from him it
issued. It is thus an infallible standard, and no deviation from
it is possible without apostasy."
The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 16 is
the doctrine they taught -- not what was taught about them. The
doctrines and commandments of men in Mark 7 and Matthew 15 are what
they taught -- not what others taught about them. The doctrine of
Balaam and the Nicolaitans in Revelation 2 is what they taught --
not what others taught about them.
Some wish to make the doctrine
of Christ equal just to an
expressed belief that Jesus is God's Son and thus the only ground
or condition of fellowship with him regardless of what else he
believes or does not believe. The doctrine of Christ is
entire Gospel which God's Son taught personally and continued to
teach by apostolic agency when he went back to the Palace of the
Universe on heavenly high.
HOW DOES ONE HAVE BOTH THE FATHER AND SON?
By abiding adamantly and remaining permanently in the doctrine
or teaching of Jesus Christ, i.e., the Gospel of God's only
begotten Son. We have the Father when we have the Son; we have the
Son when we have the Father. We have both when we hear and heed
their doctrine, the glorious gospel of God the Father, God the Son
and God the Spirit. No other has the Timeless Trinity.
P.O. Box 464
Ripley, TN 38063
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