Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 3, 1963

Having Fellowship With Error

Robert H. West

The word "fellowship," as used frequently in the New Testament, means "joint participation, partaking of, communion with." In addition to "fellowship," the words and phrases, "be partakers of," "communicate," "communion," "partaker," "partner," and "companion," all come from the same or similar original words. This gives us a further insight to the true meaning of "fellowship."

While the Bible instructs that we have fellowship with God and with one another in His work, It also teaches that we are to avoid having fellowship with that which is wrong. The Lord has given us precise Information as to how we may be guilty of "having fellowship with error" which we wish to notice in the following lines.

Actual Participation

After reminding the Ephesians of the punishment awaiting the "children of disobedience," Paul exhorts them, "Be not ye therefore partakers with them." (Eph. 5:7) Obviously, when one commits the overt act of sin, he is partaking or having fellowship with it and will reap the condemnation for it except he repent. Thus, Christians must be constantly on guard against committing the act of sin.

Lending Our Influence To Sin

Paul warned the young evangelist not to be "partaker of other men's sins" (1 71m. 5:22) Apparently one can have fellowship with sin when the transgression is on the part of another. How this may be is seen clearly in 2 John 10-11: "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." In this passage we come to see something of the abhorrence that the God of Light has for the darkness of sin. He regards it with such hatred that He holds responsible even those who aid, abet, and lend their influence to the evil worker!

This is a lesson that a great many of our brethren need to learn and apply. Many have the attitude that even though something is wrong in the congregation of which they are members, as long as they do not commit the wrong themselves, God is still well-pleased with them. But please let them read again the statement of John. When brethren have their membership with a congregation which is engaged in unscriptural practices, such as support of human institutions, in contributing there, lending their talent and influence to the work there are they not "bidding them God speed"? Of course! But the Apostle tells us that to do so is to have fellowship with or be a partaker of the evil deeds.

Faithful children of God, therefore, should exercise more care as to where they worship and with whom they have fellowship, lest they be guilty of the sins they themselves would not think of committing.

Refusing To Oppose Error

One of the faults of the church at Thyatira was their toleration of false teaching among them, (Rev. 2:20) There are too many brethren today with the "head-in-the-sand" attitude of the Thyatirans. These are the ones who sit back on their stool of do-nothing and whittle on their stick of do-less and let the proponents of error make grievous inroads in the church of our Lord. But, as we see above, God will hold them accountable for such toleration of error.

In Obadiah 10, 11, we read of God's condemnation of the Edomites. What was one cause of God's wrath against them? Notice it was because they had not opposed the enemies of Israel when they had an opportunity to do so. God said, "....even thou was as one of them"! Do you see the force of that statement? Although the Edomites did not war against Israel themselves, they were, in God's sight, just as guilty as the enemies because they "stood on the other side" — raised not a finger against the foes! Now, where does this place those members of the church who claim they know "their congregation" is engaged in error, but who won't raise their voice in objection to it? Can you not see that they are as guilty as those who have introduced the error?

Right in this area we have seen the sad spectacle of an unbelieving, gambling-hall executive allowed to teach a class of Christians in one of the congregations. Further, in the same congregation brethren tolerate the compromising antics of the preacher as he permits young people to dance in his home in his presence. Many of the brethren in the church in question do not agree with such. But they allow it to happen — raise not one word against the practice, and thus are guilty of fellowship with the error!

A Two-Fold Duty

"Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Eph. 5:11)

In the above passage we see that the Christian is not to have fellowship with error, whether it be by actual participation, bidding God-speed, or by toleration. But his duty does not end by merely separating himself from the error. Paul says, "but rather reprove them." The word "reprove" means, "To bring to light or expose by conviction." This is what we must do if we are to carry out the will of our God. Slinking silently away from error and letting it remain undisturbed, unreproved, is the coward's part and certainly has no place in the life of the child of God. Rest assured that when we do reprove error we shall be accused of meddling in the affairs of others, of being a trouble-maker and have cast in our teeth a handful of choice epithets designed to create prejudice against us. However, such is merely to "have fellowship with the sufferings of Christ." (Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 4:13) Doing the will of God contains no guarantee of making us popular. But it does guarantee us eternal salvation in which we shall enjoy the 'fellowship of God and His saints forever.

— 2424 McCarran St., Las Vegas, Nevada