July 22 2021
Today, Thursday July 22
“They Went Out…”
1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
The word "us" refers, of course, to the fellowship of believers, the church. Not everyone who is part of an assembly of believers is necessarily a member of the family of God! When we, as a sinner, trust Christ as Savior, we receives eternal life and immediately becomes a member of God's family and a part of Christ's spiritual body. We should then identify himself with a local group of Christians (a church) and start serving Christ (Acts 2:41-42). But the point here is that a person can belong to a local church and not be part of the true spiritual body of Christ.
One of the evidences of true Christian life is a desire to be with the people of God. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). When people share the same divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14-16), they want to enjoy fellowship and to share with one another.
But the "counterfeit Christians" mentioned in 1 John 2 did not remain in the fellowship. They went out. This doesn't imply that "staying in the church" keeps a person saved; rather, it indicates that remaining in the fellowship is one evidence that a person is truly a Christian. In His Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23), Jesus makes it clear that only those who produce fruit are truly born again. It is possible to be close to an experience of salvation, and even to have some characteristics that would pass for "Christian," and yet not be a child of God. The people in view in 1 John 2 left the fellowship because they did not possess the true life and the love of Christ was not in their hearts.
There are many unfortunate divisions among the people of God today, but all true Christians have things in common, regardless of church affiliation. They believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus is the Son of God. They confess that men are sinners and that the only way one can be saved is through faith in Christ. They believe that Christ died as man's substitute on the cross, and that He arose again from the dead. They believe that the Holy Spirit indwells true believers. Finally, they believe that one day in the future Jesus will come again. Christians may differ on other matters—church government, for example, or modes of baptism—but they agree on the basic doctrines of the faith.
If you will investigate the history of the false cults and antichristian religious systems in today's world, you will find that in most cases their founders started out in a local church! They were "with us" but not "of us," so they went out "from us" and started their own groups.
Any group, no matter how "religious," that for doctrinal reasons separates itself from a local church which holds to the Word of God, must immediately be suspect. Often these groups follow human leaders and the books men have written, rather than Jesus Christ and God's Word. The New Testament (2 Timothy 3-4; 2 Peter 2) makes it clear that it is dangerous to depart from the fellowship.
Today, are you in a fellowship of believers that love the Word of God and care for one another?