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“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).

THE GNOSTICS IN THE FIRST CENTURY, WHO DENIED THAT JESUS WAS GOD IN THE FLESH, PRESENTED THEIR TEACHING AS BEING MORE ADVANCED. But John was emphatic: if we leave the teaching of Christ, we do not go forward; we go backward. In fact, we separate ourselves from God. As John worded it, we do “not have God.”

The “teaching of Christ” is a teaching we must “abide in” if we hope to be saved from our sins. And whatever else the teaching of Christ may include, it certainly includes the fact that He was God in the flesh. This was the principal point of dispute between the Gnostics and the apostles of Christ. The apostles were the authoritative bearers of Christ’s teaching (John 14:25,26; 15:26,27; 16:12–15), and as one of those apostles, John did not back down. Either we adhere to the teaching of Christ and His apostles concerning the miracle of His Incarnation or we have departed from God.

If there is one constant in human history it is that human beings always make things more complex as time goes along. So with regard to the gospel, it should be no surprise that very soon after it began to be preached, it began to be corrupted by those who wanted to make it more advanced — supplementing it with layers of increased complexity and making it more appealing to those who would be turned off by its original message. In this world, nothing stays in its original condition for very long. The tendency to “go beyond” seems almost irresistible. But to return to our point, John, along with all of the apostles, warned that to go beyond the teaching of Christ is not to improve the gospel; it is to degrade it.

“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God.” That is one of the starkest warnings in the Scriptures. Elsewhere, John wrote, “If we reject the Son, we reject the Father” (1 John 2:23 CEV). But on the other side of this warning is a hope that is the very heart of the gospel. If we have Christ, and hold on to the truth about Him, then God is not only His Father but ours as well. It is amazing what doors truth opens.

Whoever stumbles upon Christ (who is a granite stone)
Lies shattered; but grasp him and be led securely home.
(Angelus Silesius)

Gary Henry — +

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