Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 4, 1949

The Fellowship Question

Thomas Allen Robertson, Woodward, Oklahoma

The Bible speaks of three different classes of people besides the faithful children of God. It tells of the relation of God's children to each of these classes. The three classes are (1) unbelievers, (2) false teachers, and (3) disobedient children of God.

The Unbelievers

"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 touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." (II Cor, 6:14)

The allusion in this reference is to Leviticus 19:19, and the unequal yoking is any connection that involves intimacy or close fellowship. As Christ has nothing in common with Satan, how can any believer in him have a close intimacy with one who is still under the dominion of Satan? Since we are in the world, we cannot escape daily contact with it; but our association must be such that the world will always know we are not of the world. (John 17:15, 16) James said, "Friendship with the world is enmity with God."

The False Teachers

"If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (II John 10:11) Any welcoming of a false teacher is an endorsement of his doctrine. For this cause we cannot even show the same cordiality to the false teacher that we would show to an unbeliever. The false teacher is not to be fellowshipped; he is not to be encouraged in his work of destruction. He is not to be received into one's house. The Bible has a wonderful way of saying just what it means. And the injunction concerning the false teacher is clear and explicit.

The Disobedient Children Of God

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which ye received of us." (II Thess. 3:6) This command is definite: the class dealt with here must be withdrawn from. The Bible tells us exactly when to do the withdrawing. "A factious man after a first and second admonition, refuse, knowing that such an one is perverted, and sinneth." (Tit. 3:10)

Not only does the Bible tell when to withdraw, it also tells how to withdraw. "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my Spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (I Cor. 5:4,5)

Having told when to withdraw, and how to withdraw, the Bible tells further how to treat the man once he has been withdrawn from. "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." (I Cor. 5:11) Paul also tells the reason for such treatment. "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." (II Thess 3:14) These injunctions were but a reaffirmation by Paul of the principle laid down by the Lord himself, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, ' go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." (Matt. 18:15-17)

Concerning Love

Today many people have a mistaken idea of what the word "love" means as used in the Bible. Much is said in the Book about love; love is a command. But what is love?

Is it love that prompts a man to let his, brother die and go to hell in error and sin for fear of hurting his feelings should he tell him of his sin? Is it love that you value a man's friendship more than you value his soul? Is it love that causes you to desire a man's friendship for a few years when the cost of that friendship is that the man shall be damned eternally in hell?

The Bible tells us to love; it also tells us to hate. It tells us what to love and what to hate. When we preach "love" we need to know what love is; we need to practice what we preach. It is a perversion of love for a man to love his fellowmen so much that he refuses to warn them of danger or plead with them to turn from the path of destruction.

We love men because they are God's creatures, because their souls are eternal, and because we want to save their souls from death. But at the same time we hate the condition they are in; we hate the sin that holds them; we hate the evil deeds of which they are guilty. Because we hate their sin, we try to help them see the awfulness of it and turn from it. In the final day of judgment the only evidence that we can have that we have loved our fellows will be our ability to show that we tried to turn them from the error of their ways, x—0—x Faith affirms many things respecting which the senses are silent, but nothing which they deny. It is superior to their testimony, but never opposed to it, x—0—x The reason a lot of people cannot find opportunity is that it goes around disguised as hard work.


The preachers business is to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable.