|Volume 20 Number 4 April 2018||
Attending a Funeral
with a False Teacher
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Sometimes good and godly people try too hard to do the right thing—to a fault, one might say. While little harm occurs when one unnecessarily restricts himself, harm occurs when one’s personal opinion, which he binds upon himself, he also binds religiously on others (Romans 14:1-2). Consider a remarkable example from antiquity whereupon honest efforts to do the right thing were exaggerated to the point of being ridiculous. “If pure water in a pure vessel is poured into an [ceremonially] impure vessel, the water in the impure vessel certainly becomes impure; but does the impurity travel up the poured stream of water so that the remaining water in the pure vessel also becomes impure (along with the formerly pure vessel)?” (Magen).
Yes, 2 John 9-11 restricts normal social interaction with false teachers. ”Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (NKJV). The relationship is under consideration in the text, not necessarily the location or the occasion for being in a public location.
Can a faithful Christian attend a funeral at which in attendance are also erring brethren, non-Christians, sinners in general and even false teachers? If the place and the occasion require Christians to abstain from participation in an event (e.g., a funeral), what are the ramifications of such a position? Can the child of God eat in the same restaurant in which, for instance, a false teacher is eating? Can the Christian and the false teacher buy groceries in the same market at the same time? Who’s drawing the jurisdictional lines? Can the faithful child of God and a false teacher reside in the same community? Just how big or how small is the circle regarding the safe distance from a false teacher—if the place and the occasion determine the application of Scripture such as 2 John 9-11?
It is neither the place nor the occasion but the relationship between individuals that Scripture regulates with respect to false teachers. Similar instruction pertains to interaction with erring brethren (1 Thessalonians 3:14-15). “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:11).
Yitzhak Magen, “Ancient Israel’s Stone Age: Purity in Second Temple Times,” Biblical Archaeology Review, Washington, D.C., Vol. 24, No. 5, September-October 1998, p. 46-52.
Can a Christian Sin and Be Lost?
Someone asks, “Can a Christian sin and be lost?” Writing to Christians, the apostle Paul said, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV). “Fall,” here, refers to a spiritually fallen condition—or becoming lost. The same word in Greek and in English appears also in Revelation 2:5. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” Clearly, in this case, a congregation of Christians were at risk of being lost unless they repented. The apostle Peter declared the certainty of Christians who turn from the practice of Christianity returning to a worse condition of being lost.
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:20-22)
Receiving the forgiveness of one’s past sins is conditional upon obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16). Not obeying the Gospel of our Lord leaves non-Christians in their sins, and they remain lost (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). When a child of God sins, his prayerful penitence is the condition by which those sins are forgiven—to keep him from being lost to a devil’s hell (Acts 8:20-22). Yes, clearly, a child of God can sin so as to be lost.
What Is Meant by Being
Judged by Idle Words?
“What is meant by being judged by idle words?” a reader ponders. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37 NKJV). Both the words “idle” and “word” in this text have negative connotations. Jesus was not talking about utterances that are either positive or neutral, but rather He spoke about negative or evil speech. See that there are only two categories under consideration—words that justify or words that condemn. Compare Matthew 12:36-37 with Ephesians 5:4, which reads, “neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” Once more, there are two categories of words—words that justify or words that condemn.