Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 31, 1961
NUMBER 17, PAGE 2,14a

Three Persons And God

Bill Cavender, Longview, Texas

"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. If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting: for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works." (2 John 9-11, A.S.V.)

These are familiar and frequently used passages, generally applied in a condemnation of error that may be taught within and without the church. This is a proper application of the passages, and yet I believe they contain truths and lessons that we usually do not stress when we use them. By a close reading of the passages, you will see that there are three different individuals described and each of these three persons have their counterparts in the church today.


The first individual mentioned by John is the one who goes onward and does not abide in the word of God, the doctrine and teaching of Christ. John flatly says that such an one "hath not God." God is not with the person who will not be with him. Azariah told Asa, "Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you." (2 Chron. 15:1-2) Those who are with God are those who walk with God (Gen. 5:24); who walk in the light (1 John 1:7); who walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7); and who walk in truth (2 John 1-4; 3 John 1-4). Thus to abide in the doctrine of Christ is to walk in the light, the truth, the word of God, and means that we have the Father and the Son. To go beyond the word of God, to transgress it and refuse to walk in it, is to sever our connection with the only ones who can lead us safely home.

The words "goeth onward and abideth not" actually say the same thing twice, once from a positive standpoint and the other from a negative. If a man goes onward from the doctrine of Christ it is for sure that he is not abiding in it. The words "goeth onward" come from a Greek word "proago" from which we derive our English words "progress" and "progressive." The word "proago" literally means "to take the lead" or "to get out ahead." Therefore a man who goes onward and abides not in the teaching of Christ is a man who is a "progressive" (often called "digressive") and has tried to take the lead from God and get out ahead of God. It is for this reason that he no longer has God. He leads God instead of allowing God to lead him; he tells God instead of allowing God to tell him; and he walks by his own wisdom and understanding instead of walking in the wisdom and understanding of God, which is the word of God, the truth. God refuses to be thus led, and departs from this individual; and, the person is left to live and die in his disobedience. (2 Thess. 2:8-12)

Many are the examples that can be given to illustrate this principle of God's dealings with us. Adam and Eve went beyond and did not abide in the word of God, and the penalty of death came upon them. (Gen. 2 and 3; Rom. 5:12; 1 Tim. 2:13-14) A man picked up sticks on the sabbath and was stoned to death because he went beyond God's law. (Num. 15:32-36) Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord in transgressing his law and a fire came out from the Lord and burned them to death. (Lev. 10:1-7) David in disobedience built a new cart upon which to transport the ark of the covenant, and Uzzah touched the ark in disobedience to the law of the Lord. (Ex. 25:10-15; Num. 4:15; 2 Sam. 6:1-16; 1 Chron. 15:1-29) Ananias and Sapphira conspired together and lied unto men and unto God, but God struck them dead. (Acts 5:1-11) The curses of God rest upon the individual who perverts, changes, and goes beyond the word of the Lord. (Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18-19) Such ones "have not God."

This man under discussion by John in verse 9 is a brother in Christ. Yet he ceases to have God. Many brethren of our generation are going onward and are not abiding in the word of Christ, therefore they have not God. False teachings such as premillennialism, church support of human agencies such as colleges, children's homes, aged homes, etc., church sponsored recreation and social activities, the Fuqua doctrine that people can marry as many times as they desire and when they obey the gospel all the other marriages are wiped away and their lawful companion is the one that the gospel catches them with, and centralized sponsoring church cooperation, are just a few of the many that are being propagated and propounded by brethren now. Failing to condemn error, sin, worldliness, immodest dress, dancing, mixed swimming, and other ungodly activities and beliefs places such a one at variance with the teaching of Christ and thus he has not God.

The second individual mentioned by John is the brother who abides in the teaching of Christ. John flatly says that "the same hath both the Father and the Son." This person turns not to the right hand nor to the left. (John 1:5-9), and he does not add to nor take away from the word of the Lord. (Rev. 22:18-19) He remains strictly in what is written in the law of the Lord and by so doing he walks by faith (2 Cor. 5:7), for to walk by faith is to walk by the instructions of the word of God. (Rom. 10:17) The person thus doing has God as his continual companion and Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Friend; he will ultimately walk the streets of gold and drink of the water of everlasting life. (Rev. 22:1-7)

Many are the examples which prove such individuals are blessed now and for eternity, and which serve as examples of encouragement to us as we strive to walk by faith in God. Hebrews chapter eleven is written for this specific purpose and therein is recorded the names of some of those who are found in the Lamb's book of life. (Rev. 20:15); Heb. 12:23) Our only hope of eternal success is to walk in the old paths (Jer. 6:16), and to stand firm and abide in the teaching of Christ regardless of what those around us may be doing or what course they may pursue. Only those who overcome, and who fight the fight, run the race, and keep the faith are those who shall receive the crown of life and sit with our beloved Saviour in glory. (Rev. 3:21; 2 Tim. 4:6-8) Such ones, and only such ones, have both the Father and the Son. Truly we are living in a time and generation in which men's souls are tried for the sake of the word of God. Many will not bow the knee to Baal and the spirits of the martyrs are resurrected in the persons of many men and women who fear only God and not men. (Rev. 20:1-7) This is the only infallibly safe course and each of us should examine ourselves to see whether or not we be in the faith.

The third individual of whom John speaks is the one who is condemned and hath not God because he endorses and encourages the false teachings of the first individual mentioned. This third person receives the transgressor and the "progressive" into his house, condones his errors, and aids, comforts and assists him in his nefarious ways. John says he is a "partaker of his evil deeds" and becomes guilty before God. Our human civil statutes recognize as a criminal also those who harbor, conceal, aid and abet the violator of our human laws. God pronounces as a violator and accessory after the fact the one who partakes in the transgressions of another.

One may be this kind of an individual in two ways. First, he may be guilty of aiding and abetting the false teacher by actively endorsing and collaborating with this enemy of God. Balaam, who claimed to be a prophet and to have access to God but who in reality was no prophet at all, collaborated with Balak to curse the people of God. (Num. 22, 23, 24; 31:8; 2 Pet. 2:15-16; Jude 11) His name stands as one to be detested by the people of God. Judas made a covenant with the Jewish rulers and betrayed our Lord for thirty pieces of silver. He is not the last to sell the Lord out for money. He aided the enemies of Christ and he is held in dishonor by us all. (Matt. 26:14-16; Acts 1:15-20)

Secondly, one may be guilty of aiding and abetting the false teacher and transgressor by simply remaining silent. In such cases truly "silence is consent" and causes one to be guilty before God. The old prophet in Samaria knew Jeroboam was doing wrong (1 Kings 13), but he refused to open his mouth against the sins of that king. He was glad to see the prophet of Judah condemn Jeroboam and liked it so much that he lied to get this prophet to come eat with him. But all the time he had no courage to speak and to cry out against the sin and error into which God's people had fallen. He remained silent. When Deborah and Barak went out against Jabin and his army, the inhabitants of the little town of Meroz refused to come and help their brethren. (Judges 5:23) They just sat still and remained silent and refused to fight when they should have engaged in battle as the rest. A curse is pronounced upon them for they did not come to the help of the Lord when he needed them. We will suffer the same curse from God today when we sit by and silently allow error to prevail and the cause of Christ to be taken into apostasy by certain men who have crept in unawares. (Jude 3-4)

Every person in the church today is the counterpart of one of these three individuals mentioned by John. We all must continually examine ourselves and really see what our attitude toward God and his word is. Only one of the three is acceptable to God. Let us strive to be of that type. (Luke 13:24; Matt. 7:13-14)