They Went Out from Us

by Terry Wane Benton

Sometimes it is a hidden blessing to the local church when we lose some people and numbers. John spoke of some who ceased in heart to be “of us” (I John 2:18f). They “went out” because, in heart, they had been secretly drifting away from the truth being preached and could no longer “endure sound doctrine” and as a result lost commonality with the local group.

They went out to manifest that the disconnect had already been brewing in them for some time and discussing with knowledgeable leaders their issue was not an option for them since they knew they could not defend their attitudes or issues on a sound scriptural basis.

As their attitude and disconnect continued they were not a good influence on the church or for the church. It was better for the local church to lose that number than to try to cater to them just to appease them and keep the number. A little leaven of that kind would not be good for the church. So, it was a cancer, a drag on the church. It was better if they could not or would not repent, for them to leave than remain a drag on the church.

While ideally, we want people to be of one mind (I Corinthians 1:10), we find the reality to be that divisions must occur to reveal the truth (I Corinthians 11:19) that some members are not really dedicating themselves to God's word. That is unfortunate, but a reality we must acknowledge in local churches from time to time, which means we must all diligently examine ourselves regularly whether we are in the faith (II Corinthians 13:4) and truly abiding in Christ (John 15:4).

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