God’s clear command to Christians in II Corinthians 6:14-18 is to not be yoked together with unbelievers in doing or supporting the Lord’s work under any circumstance. We are to minister to unbelievers and preach the Gospel to them; but we are not to seek unbeliever’s help in carrying out or helping to support a Christian ministry, even though it seems the logical and reasonable thing to do. This doctrine of separation is repeatedly taught in Scriptures, such as Romans 16:17-18, Galatians 1:6-9, II Peter 2, and II John 7-11. To ignore and disobey this doctrine of separation is the sin of Balaamism, which the Bible repeatedly warns us of and of which I will deal with in the next message in this series.
From the time of Adam and Eve, Satan’s lures and temptations have always appeared to be pious and right. II Corinthians 11:13-14 teaches us that often Satan appears and appeals to us in dreams and visions as an angel of light. We are tempted to disobey God because it seems to us that we are spiritually strong and that we can accomplish more good through our disobedience. In fact, Satan convinces us that we are not disobeying God.
Early in my ministry I pastored a small rural denominational church associated with the liberal National Council of Churches. Within that church were some solid Bible believing Christians who knew and loved the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. They appreciated my biblical preaching. During the four years I was there as their pastor, many opportunities opened for me to be of blessing beyond my church doors. As a young preacher, still in my twenties, I had the opportunity to be the pastor/advisor for the denominational youth activities of the more than ten denominational churches within that Association. Furthermore, I directed the denominational camp for the Junior High youth for two summers.
One night I had a clear vision of how God could use me if I would continue within that liberal denomination for the rest of my life. It was a convincing vision which made me feel good about my unbiblical yoke with that liberal denomination. At the time I felt it was a vision from God assuring me that I was on the right track and that I should continue my course of action. Later I realized that it was Satan who had given me that vision, even though God in His wisdom and sovereignty used me to accomplish His will.
After four years with that church, I was called to a larger church in that same denomination; a church close enough to one of their denominational seminaries where I could continue graduate work and earn a graduate degree, thereby opening up more doors for my advancement to larger churches and greater opportunities.
I accepted that call and began my seminary training. It wasn’t long until I realized I was being fed the Neo Orthodoxy of Karl Barth and Emil Brunner and other theologians of that dangerous persuasion. I deal with Neo Orthodoxy a little later in this SEPARATION series of messages.
I continued with this church for about four and a half more years, preaching the Gospel and warning of the dangers I was being taught.
When I left this second church, they called a new faithful Bible preaching pastor who offered to come if they would vote themselves out of that liberal denomination. They did and he began a long fruitful pastorate of about forty years there.
Incidentally, the Christians of that earlier rural church I pastored, after vainly trying to separate from the liberal denomination; eventually separated from their church and established a solid, thriving Bible based church and Christian school for their children.
Since that time, I have enjoyed long fruitful ministries in two more Bible churches, concluding fifty-five years of pastoral ministry in 2011 at the age of 78. .
As you continue your study of this series of messages on Separation, may God open your spiritual eye-sight to the dangers of attempting to serve the Lord by compromising with those who question and deny the infallibility of the Bible. Don’t trust your visions. Trust and obey God’s Word. At the same time don’t judge Bible believing pastors serving in liberal denominations. Romans 14:1-13 They are God’s servants; not yours.
In the book, The Battle for the Bible by Harold Lindsell published in 1976 by Zondervan. Dr. Harold Ockenga, former pastor of Park Street Church in Boston and president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, describes in his Foreword to the book, how New Evangelicalism was born.
Here are his words in that Foreword.
“Neo-Evangelicalism was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory. (Emphasis mine) The ringing call for a repudiation of separatism and the summons to social involvement received a hearty response from many evangelicals.
The name caught on and many spokesmen such as Drs. Harold Lindsell, Carl F.H. Henry and Gleason Archer supported this viewpoint. We had no intention of launching a movement, but found that the emphasis attracted widespread support and exercised great influence.
Neo-Evangelicalism differed from modernism in its acceptance of the supernatural and its emphasis on the fundamental doctrines of Scripture. It differed from neo-orthodoxy in its emphasis upon the written Word as inerrant, over against the Word of God which was above and different from the Scripture, but was manifest in Scripture.
It differed from Fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and in its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day. It had a new emphasis upon the application of the gospel to the sociological,
political and economic area of life.”
The Foreword goes on for several more paragraphs, but I want to focus in one thing- the negative, embarrassed attitude of New Evangelicals to the Biblical teaching of Biblical separation. I encourage you to read through this series on Separation on this Hidden Treasure’s web site, following along with what the Bible teaches about Separation and then decide for yourself whether New Evangelicalism was in line with the Bible on this issue.
You may ask, “What does it matter? That issue was over sixty years ago. The term New Evangelicalism isn’t even used today.” I agree that term is no longer used. But other terms are being used today. The Emergent Church, for one.
Regardless of how you would describe your church, the inclusive principle of Christians joining in doing God’s work with people who deny the Bible matters. I’ll tell you why it matters. This Biblical issue of separation has affected the church ever since. It has changed and weakened the church and many Christian colleges and seminaries over the past sixty years, just as Balaamism affected God’s people in Bible times.
Let me explain Balaamism. Follow along by reading the following scriptures and see how New Evangelicalism is modern day Balaamism.
Read Numbers 22, 23:4, 30 & 31. In these passages you will learn that Balaam preached the truth, but used his influence to cause Israel to compromise with God’s enemies in order to be popular and make more money.
Read II Peter 2 to learn that Balaamism was a way.
Read Jude 11 to learn that Balaamism was an error.
Read 2:14-15 to learn that Balaamism was a doctrine which Christ hates.
I encourage you to read this series on Separation and then settle where you stand on this vital issue. It’s not going to go away. It’s only going to bring more confusion to Christians and to churches. Everyone of us as Christians MUST study the Biblical doctrine of Separation and then get on one side of the issue or the other. Your decision is of eternal consequence on you, your family and your church.
“Doctrine divides. Love unites.” You’ve probably heard that statement. It is both a true and at the same time, a confusing and dangerous statement.
FIRST, WHAT IS DOCTRINE?
Doctrine is the foundational truth, or the core beliefs and principles upon which a body of adherents is built, whether it be a church, a religious denomination, a service organization, a political party or a nation. Without core beliefs, we are like a house without a foundation. Without core beliefs, we will change daily as we are led by public opinion.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE?
The Christian’s doctrine is based on the Bible alone. The Bible, both the Old and New Testament, is God’s inspired, infallible Word and is our only and final authority for faith and lifestyle. What applies to individual Christians also applies to the church which is an organized body of Christians gathered together to worship God and use our spiritual gifts to edify the saints to carry out Christ’s Great Commission to evangelize the lost, locally, state wide, nationally and internationally.
IT IS A TRUE STATEMENT
There are many doctrines that divide true Christians, including (but not limited to) positions on church polity, prophecy, the person and work of the Holy Spirit and the essence and methods of worship.
Christians who differ in these areas, but hold to the Bible for core beliefs, can still get to know and love one another as brothers and sister in Christ and work together in certain areas to achieve common goals.
IT IS ALSO A DANGEROUS AND DEADLY STATEMENT
That statement, “Doctrine divides. Love unites” when applied to the Doctrine of Christ becomes a dangerous and deadly statement. Let me explain from God’s Word.
All Christians will agree with the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 16:22 that true Christians ought to love Jesus. There he writes, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” That is, if any man loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be cursed when Jesus returns. All true Christians love the Lord Jesus Christ, no matter how confused they may be in other doctrines of The Faith.
All true Christians can be agreed on the fact that though we Christians differ in doctrine in many areas, we are agreed that genuine Christians love Jesus and those who love Jesus will be drawn together to work for His glory. That statement is true as far as it goes.
The dangerous and deadly part of that statement is that Jesus has not been identified in the statement. It’s one thing to confess that we love Jesus. It’s another thing to define the Jesus we confess.
Paul warns in II Corinthians 11:1-4 of the danger of being deceived by Satan to follow “another Jesus” whom Paul has not preached.
John warns in II John 8-11, of the danger of being led away from the Doctrine of Christ. Listen to his warning. “Whosoever transgresses and abides not in the Doctrine of Christ, has not God. He who abides in the Doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and brings not this doctrine, do not receive him into your house, neither bid him God’s speed, for he who bids him God’s speed (or encourages him and asks God’s blessing on him) is a partaker of his evil deeds.
Paul is amazed how the Galatian Christian have so quickly been led away into false doctrine by evil men and he warns them in Galatians 1:6-9 “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him who called you into the grace of Christ into another gospel: which is not another; but there be some who trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you then that which we have preached unto you, LET HIM BE ACCURSED. As we said before, so say I now again. If any man preach another gospel unto you, than you have received, LET HIM BE ACCURSED.”
WHICH CHRIST SAVES?
The Christ of religious Liberalism does not save. They teach that Jesus was a man born to Joseph and Mary who grew up and became a wonderful teacher about God and who became known as the Son of God. He did not really perform miracles. For example, they falsely teach that the Feeding of the Five Thousand with a boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish, was accomplished as the boy shared his lunch and encouraged others to share their lunches and thus everyone was fed.
Liberalism, including Neo Orthodoxy, totally rejects the virgin birth of Jesus and His bodily resurrection and they explain away His miracles. They believe Jesus died, simply as a martyr for the things He believed and taught.
In short, Liberals do not believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, Creator of Heaven and earth. They deny the biblical Doctrine of Christ and must be recognized as false teachers under God’s curse.
The Christ of the Cults do not save for the same reasons. Each cult has their own doctrine of Christ which is not in harmony with the Bible.
SO, WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST?
We can learn that by reading our Bibles. What does the Bible teach us about Jesus?
1. Jesus is the eternal, only true God, without beginning or end, who has always existed. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:13-20, Hebrews 1, Revelation 4:11
2. Jesus is the Son, the second Person of the Trinity: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit; each separate and yet they are one God. I John 5:7
3. Jesus was born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14, Matt. 1:16, 18-25, Luke 1:26-38
4. Jesus was totally sinless. I Peter 2:21-22 Hebrews 7:22-27 II Corinthians 5:21
5. Jesus, the Lamb of God, shed His blood on the cross for our sins. Apart from faith in His shed blood, there is no forgiveness or cleansing from sin. Leviticus 17:11, Hebrews 9:22, Revelation 5
6. Jesus arose from the dead bodily from the tomb on the third day and He was seen by numbers of witnesses. Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21
7. Jesus ascended back to Heaven from the Mount of Olives Acts 1
8. Jesus is returning in His glorified body to raise Christians from the dead and catch up Christians into Heaven. I Corinthians 15 I Thessalonians 4
9. Jesus will return one thousand years later to raise all the lost to stand before His Judgment to be condemned to eternal Hell. Revelation 20
That, briefly, is the Doctrine of Christ. Only by believing these doctrines concerning Christ, can one truly receive Christ as Saviour. Those who reject the Doctrine of Christ, have rejected the Jesus of the Bible and such are still lost in their sins.
To teach anything contrary to the doctrine of Christ is to be cursed by God and such should be rejected by us as a false teacher.
The Bible speaks of two kinds of separation. There is a godly separation and an ungodly separation.
The godly separation begins with God. Through our faith in Christ, He separates us to Himself. This union with Christ is clearly taught in Romans 6 and Colossians 3. See my series on VICTORY for more on this union with Christ.
Ephesians 2:11-12 tells us that before salvation we were aliens without God and were totally immersed in the world system which II Corinthians 4:4 teaches is under the control of Satan. The world’s philosophy and values were our life. Our minds and our hearts were influenced and controlled by Satan and his world system.
As Christians in union with Christ, we still live in this sinful world system surrounded by unsaved people. The common problem is that when people come to Christ and are saved, they tend to become so enthralled with their fellow Christians that they begin to lose contact with unbelievers and in so doing, forfeit opportunities to be a witness to them.
Though we as Christians enjoy our fellowship with God’s people, we are not to disassociate ourselves from the lost. As we go to school with them, work with them and enjoy sports and other activities with them, we have opportunities to show them Christ. We are the only Christ they know. We are the only Bible they will read. As Jesus taught in Matthew 5:13-16 we are to reflect Christ and cause people to desire Him by the way we live our lives.
Paul encouraged the Philippians Christians and us in Philippians 2:14-16 to “Do all things without murmurings and disputings that we may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world; holding forth the Word of Life.”
The godly separation that the Bible teaches is the outcome of our union with Christ. Because we live and walk in fellowship with Christ and the unsaved live and walk in this Satan-dominated world system, we are not to pretend that no difference exists. We are commanded to not yoke together with unbelievers in attempting to do God’s work. That’s the godly separation. At the same time, obedient Christians are not to separate themselves from fellowship with other Christians over petty differences. That’s ungodly separation.
In this series, you will read of Liberals and Fundamentalists, so let’s start this series with definitions of these two terms.
The great divide in America is not red states vs blue states. It is not between Democrats and Republicans. Basically it is a conflict between liberal philosophy and conservative philosophy
The conflict between Liberals and Conservatives is more of a spiritual issue than a political issue, although it certainly has political repercussions. Liberals and Conservatives are found in both major political parties. The word liberal is a good word. The word means generous and broadminded. Proverbs 11:25 states, “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered himself.” However, the name liberal has been applied in the religious arena to those who deny the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible and the doctrine of Christ. A more accurate name for such would be heretic.
Liberals Worship Their Minds
Liberals consider themselves intellectually superior to Conservatives and they look down on those who believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible Word of God as ignorant, simplistic and inferior. Instead of allowing God’s Word to judge their minds, they judge the Bible by their own minds. They determine their own moral standards which are directly opposite from the moral standards of the Bible. That’s why when it comes to moral issues, Liberals and Conservatives are diametrically opposed to one another.
What Do Liberals Believe?
Liberals believe that the Old Testament writers had a warped understanding of God. They believe these ancient writers saw God as a capricious, vengeful, cruel despot. Liberals deny that the writers of both the Old and New Testaments were inspired of God. They believe that the erroneous thinking of the writers flawed their documents which became part of the Bible.
Liberals reject the deity of Christ, but they see Jesus as a good man who had a more enlightened view of God then the Old Testament writers. Liberals declare that because of His teachings, Jesus was rightfully called the Son of God. They deny that Jesus is the virgin born Son of God who lived a sinless life in a human body, then shed His blood on the cross as the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. Instead, they affirm that Jesus died as a martyr for the things He believed and taught.
The Liberal sees God as being so kind and loving that He overlooks sin. Liberals reject that God would ever consign anyone to eternal hell. They teach that everyone is a child of God and that eventually everyone will be in Heaven. They say that it does not matter what you believe; all roads lead to Heaven.
The religious Liberal picks and chooses what he wants to accept in the Bible. If something speaks to him it becomes the Word of God to him. If it seems contrary to human reasoning and science, then he rejects it as myth. Most Liberals would reject a universal flood in Noah’s day. They would reject the miracles of the Bible, including the virgin birth of Christ and His bodily resurrection; concluding that His corpse lies as dust in some tomb.
When Liberals speak of believing in the resurrection of Christ they mean only that Jesus’ spirit rose in the lives of His followers. It’s true that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. The Bible teaches that the slain body of Jesus literally rose again from the dead three days later in a glorified state and is in Heaven today. Jesus is returning in that body to raise us from the dead, to judge His enemies and bring in His everlasting Kingdom of righteousness and peace. All of this is rejected by Liberals.
Liberals reject the creation of man and choose to accept the evolutionary theory. They see man as an animal that has evolved to a higher level. As an animal, they reject the idea of a human being having a conscience that enables him to recognize God’s moral standards and know when he has done right or wrong.
Because Liberals declare there are no absolute moral standards, but every man has freedom to do whatever he desires; they welcome the theory of evolution as reason to ignore Almighty God, The Creator; and reject the moral standards of the Bible. They reject the fact that all of Adam’s race is born with a sinful nature. They teach that if we just fan the spark of divine goodness in every man and woman, mankind will continue to evolve and become God-like. Because of this false premise, it colors their thinking about everything in life.
Whereas the Christian’s view of tolerance is to accept others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices; the liberal’s view of tolerance is to accept the beliefs, values, lifestyles and the truth claims of all as of equal value.
Whereas the Christian’ source of truth, Christ and His Word, the Bible, are accepted as absolute and final; the liberal’s view of truth is relative. They tell us that truth is “whatever is right for you.”
Whereas the Christian’s understanding of right and wrong are determined by the Bible; the liberal claims that no one has the right to judge another’s views or behaviour as being right or wrong. Many Christians today have swallowed the liberal’s philosophy that Christians who so judge others are “judgmental”.
C.S. Lewis has this to say about such rubbish, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a good moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
How Their Liberal Beliefs Affect Their Positions
Because Liberals consider the Old Testament too harsh, they are generally opposed to the death penalty for capital offenses. They are also basically in favor of showing leniency for those who commit crimes. They are for lighter sentences. They argue that the criminal is not at fault alone. Rather, they blame society for the criminal’s behavior. To Liberals, criminals are not the problem; guns are the problem. They declare that if we remove guns from the people, that crime will decrease.
Because Liberals are convinced that man is basically good, they see no need for a strong military defense. Instead, they conclude man can bring about world peace through diplomacy alone.
Though most Conservatives care about the environment, Liberals are more incensed by environmental pollution than by moral pollution. Interestingly, the same Liberal who is opposed to the death penalty for murderers is usually for killing unwanted babies by abortion.
How do Liberals Operate?
The Liberal Intelligentsia promote class warfare. They try to convince the poor and middle class that they are victims of the rich. They see their calling in life to be Robin Hoods; stealing from the rich through excessive taxation to provide government programs for the poor. Instead of solving economic problems, they create more dependence on government. Many dependants see themselves as victims of societies inequities and gladly choose those political saviours who offer them the most money and the most security, even it if means less freedom.
Liberals promote their agenda and increase their power by teaching their religion of humanism and socialism in the public schools and secular universities where they are welcomed with open arms. Through their so called “progressive education” they have brought about the dumbing down of America in the past fifty years. Liberals desperately need to operate among naive, dependant people who will look to them as saviours.
Basically the difference in strategy between Conservatives and Liberals is that Conservatives use facts and appeal to the intellect, while Liberals appeal to emotions to make their points.
The Fairness Doctrine
The extreme Liberals are Socialists at heart, they are rabid in their desire and efforts to silence all opposition to their views. When popular conservative talk shows spring up, they are enraged and attack them furiously with what they call a “Fairness Doctrine” which is actually an attempt to stifle and control free speech.
By this so-called “Fairness Doctrine” for every hour of Conservative talk on the radio and television, they want equal time to let Liberals give their side. The foolishness about this is that they already have the freedom and opportunity to use the media as much as they wish. Who is stopping them from presenting their own side? Their problem is that few Americans want to listen to their drivel and few businesses want to support them.
Whose talking about fairness? The Liberals already have control of the public educational system from PreSchool through college. They already control the major new media. What more can they want but the silencing of Conservatism?
How did they gain that power and control? Through the spiritual blindness of Christians who allowed theological liberalism to take control of their churches over the past two centuries. Again, I assert that theological liberalism leads to political liberalism.
What is the Answer to Liberalism?
The only answer to the malaise of Liberalism is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When one finds salvation in Christ, and starts growing in his Christian faith, he is filled with hope and self-confidence as he learns to put his confidence in God. He no longer sees himself a victim, but as a victor over his circumstances. He develops a work ethic. He loves the Bible and rejoices in God’s holy standards and in his freedom in Christ. Because he has found new life and God’s solution to his problems, he desires to share the Good News with others.
If anyone ever had reason to be a liberal, I did. I was born into a poor missionary family. My father died when I was four. My mother could have taught me how poor we were and how dependent we were on others. If there had been government relief when I was a child, my mother could have opted for that relief. Instead of thinking myself a victim and looking for relief from others, I was taught the value of work and free-enterprise from childhood.
Come to think of it, I never even knew I was poor as a child. I knew nothing of scholarships or government grants. I worked my way through a Christian high school and Christian college, earning my tuition, room and board. I say all of this; not to boast, but to encourage you who have had it difficult in life. By the grace of God, I came to know Jesus from early childhood. He has given me the confidence and the enthusiasm to tackle the difficulties of life.
I thank God that Jesus is my Saviour, my Shepherd, my Provider, my Lord and my God. I thank God for the Bible, God’s Word that shows me how to live. I thank God for the high privilege of being an American citizen and for the freedom I have enjoyed all my life. I thank God for our police officers, fire fighters, and servicemen and women who are defending and protecting America with their lives. May God bless and protect them. May God continue to bless America with the freedom that comes from Him alone and may we Christians in America see our responsibility to take the Gospel of Christ to those around us and to those in other lands who are bound by Satan and his lies.
What do we mean by that word, Fundamentalist? That name has come into terrible disrepute in recent years through the misuse of the term to describe every lunatic fringe; from murderous terrorists to cults that kill their members. In the minds of many Christians a Fundamentalist is a mean-spirited, hard-nosed, judgmental legalist who dictates his standards of morality to others and is miserable to be around. Christians ought to know better, but if you hear lies and misrepresentations long enough and often enough, you tend to start believing them.
So what is a Fundamentalist? For the answer let’s go back about one hundred years to the beginning of the 20th century. Back then religious liberalism that denied the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible and denied the deity of Christ had made great inroads into the seminaries and churches of America.(I believe that political liberalism has its roots in theological liberalism. That, for example, is why liberals who do not believe the Bible to be the authoritative Word of God would be for abortion and against capital punishment.) About that time a number of leaders from various denominations: including Anglican, Baptist, Brethren, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and others began to come together in defense of the Bible. In spite of their denominational differences, they formed the beginnings of the Fundamentalist Movement. Into this Movement came pastors and their churches who determined to stand for the Bible. Some opted to stay in their denominations to try to influence them back to the Bible. Other opted to leave the liberal denominations and start new churches free of liberal denominational entanglements
One group that emerged at that time became known as The Independent Fundamental Churches of America or the IFCA. Our church, AlamedaBibleChurch, is associated in fellowship with this group. To learn more about the IFCA you can visit their web site. http://www.ifca.org.
Basically a Fundamentalist is one who understands that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and he understands that the Doctrine of Christ is the essential doctrine of The Faith. One can be wrong about a number of doctrines and still be saved and go to Heaven, but he cannot afford to be wrong concerning the Doctrine of Christ. Galatians 1:6-9; Romans 16:17-18; II Corinthians 6:14-18; II Peter 2; II John 7-11;
A classic, historic Fundamentalist proclaims and defends the essential doctrines of The Faith, such as the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible and the Doctrine of Christ; including His Deity, His virgin birth, His blood sacrifice on Calvary as the atonement for our sins and His bodily resurrection.
Belief and trust in Jesus Christ of the Bible means the difference between being saved and being lost. As Fundamentalists we hold to these essential truths while we are free to disagree with one another in many other theological issues and still be Fundamentalists. The problem in the last fifty years is that many Fundamentalists have divided from one another into many splinter groups and brought needless division and shame to the cause of Christ.
The unity, harmony and holiness of His Body is important to me. It grieves me to see members of His Body fussing with one another over inconsequential matters. An inconsequential matter is any doctrine or position that is not directly related to the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation by the grace of God alone through faith in Christ’s blood atonement.
To our shame I confess that over the years some Fundamentalists have become distracted over various issues that appear to have grown more important than salvation itself. Like the Amish who live under rules concerning the width of the brims of their hats, to the importance of women using straight pins over safety pins to fastening their dresses or like the “black bumper” Mennonites who believe that even expensive cars are not sinful as long as the chromed bumpers are painted black; so some Fundamentalists have been put under bondage by their pastors who teach them the correct length of hair and a strict dress code for both men and women. Remember this! Whenever salvation by the grace of God is taught plus man made rules of conduct, the man made rules of conduct will become more important than what God’s Word says about salvation. Eventually the distraction of the man-made rules will become the most important thing. In this way, the great truths of God’s grace have been buried by the cow manure of man’s rules.
Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day who bound heavy burdens on the people, so Fundamentalists have become known, not so much for the salvation by grace that they preach as for the rules and regulations they put upon their people. That is a terrible distraction to the message of Christ. As a classic, historic Fundamentalists, I am doing what I can to remove the shade of distraction so that the light of the Gospel can shine brightly.
In Heaven, Christ’s blood-washed saints will all be glorified and sinless and have a perfect understanding of God’s Truth. It will be wonderful to see all the man-made labels trashed and forgotten. In Heaven there will be no Calvinists, no Arminians nor Charismatics, no Fundamentalist, no Dispensationalists nor Reformed Theologians; only blood-washed saints whose only glory will be Christ Himself. How wonderful it will be to enjoy true unity, true intimacy and true holiness throughout eternity!
Over three thousand years ago God commanded His people Israel not to yoke an ox and a donkey together to attempt to work in the fields. Deuteronomy 22:10
The Apostle Paul referring to that command under the Law of Moses wrote by inspiration of God, “Be 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, and will be a Father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
II Cor. 6:14-18
Here is one of God’s clearest commands to Christians and yet in the past fifty years, it has been unpopular and ignored by Christians. Those who obey it are viewed by some who ignore it as being hateful, ignorant and obscurantists. What does this command mean? Before we answer that question, let’s settle what it does not mean.
WHAT IT DOES NOT MEAN?
God does not want us to withdraw from the world and live a monastic life in a commune avoiding all contact with the world.
He does not want us to drop all our unsaved friends and forget we ever knew them.
He does not intend for us to move out of our neighborhoods and live in Christian neighborhoods.
God is not asking us to shop only in the stores run by Christians and bank our money only in banks run by Christians.
He does not mean for us to play sports only on church teams.
Jesus wants us to be involved in the world, or He would have taken us to Heaven when He saved us. Why live in a sin cursed world when we could enjoy the glories of Heaven?
Jesus left us here with His Great Commission to take the Gospel to all the world. If we are Christians and have no interest nor involvement in fulfilling this Great Commission, we are disobeying God.
Before Jesus returned to Heaven He gathered His disciples together and explained to them, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them (His Church) out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world even as I am not of the world.”
WHAT THEN IS THE UNEQUAL YOKE WE ARE TO AVOID?
The unequal yoke basically is accepting as a Christian and attempting to enjoy Christian fellowship and working together in Christian fellowship with anyone who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ. See II John 9-11 on this and then study the introductory message to this series, The Doctrine of Christ. Anyone can confess that they are Christians, trusting in Jesus as their Saviour; but if they are not abiding in the doctrine of Christ, they are counterfeits, regardless of how nice they may appear to you.
Certainly it applies to marriage. Christians are to marry only Christians. However, if you are married to an unbeliever, you are not to divorce that person. I Corinthians 7:10-16 For a fuller treatment of this, go to my series of messages on MARRIAGE and also one on DIVORCE.
While associating and working with and befriending sinners, we are to guard from adopting their ungodly philosophy and lifestyle to the detriment of our testimonies. We are also to reject working with false teachers in evangelizing the lost and being involved with us in Christian ministry. God expressly forbids the unholy union of Christians and non Christians from working together to further the cause of Christ.
Although we gladly welcome anyone to visit our church and hear the Gospel, we would not knowingly receive an unsaved person into our membership. We would not hire a non Christian to teach in our Christian school nor would we allow an unsaved person to teach a Sunday School class in our church or to sing in the choir or to preach in our pulpit.
Although the interdenominational cooperation of Bible believing churches in citywide evangelistic meetings is a wonderful way to evangelize the lost and encourage Christians, and has been used effectively for many years; regardless of who the evangelist is, we are not to take part in a city wide evangelistic campaign in a joint sponsorship with pastors who deny the essentials of the Faith.
Those essentials of the Faith would include an acceptance of the Bible as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. It would also include faithfulness to the Doctrine of Christ: an acceptance of the truth that Jesus is God in human flesh and that He shed His blood as the sacrifice for our sins; that a Christian is one who has put his faith in that shed blood and been born again through the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is not our responsibility to judge the heart nor the motives nor the effectiveness of any evangelist or preacher; but we are clearly commanded to avoid participating in an ecumenical crusade where saved and unsaved alike are involved in the sponsorship of the crusade and where converts are directed back into false religion.
It would be disobedient to God’s command for a Christian college to hire a professor just because he has educational credentials; if he denies the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible and if he does not evidence a personal saving relationship with the Lord Jesus.
For example, if he professes to be a Christian, but denies that God brought the universe into existance in six literal days as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2 and if he rejects the miracles of the Bible, including the bodily resurreciton of Christ on the third day and if he believes that God brought the universe into existence using evolution; he is an enemy of God and has no place in a pulpit nor in a Christian college classroom teaching students.
It is wrong to support a denominational unified budget if part of the money is supporting theologically liberal missionaries or college professors who deny the inspiration of the Bible and reject salvation through faith in the shed blood of Christ. If you are giving to any religious cause, it is your responsibility to determine to the best of your ability the doctrinal position of those whom your donations support.
GOD IS CLEAR ON THE MATTER OF SEPARATION
As Jesus, we are to love sinners and associate with them. Jesus was known as a friend of sinners. Matthew 11:19 So should we.
We are not to separate from sinners, but from Christians who are knowingly walking in disobedience to God’s Word. I Cor. 5:9-13
We must discipline and remove disobedient Christians from our church membership with the ultimate goal of seeing them restored to fellowship. Thus our procedure and spirit must be right. Matthew 18:15-17 details that procedure.
Repeatedly God’s Word presses on us the need to separate from false teachers; not only the teachers from false religions, but also those teachers who call themselves Christians, but hold to and teach heresy. Read these warnings.
We are to identify and avoid false preachers and teachers. Romans 16:17-18
We are to recognize false teachers as under God’s curse. Galatians 1:8-9
We are to turn away from them as teachers. II Timothy 3:1-7.
We are to make an effort to convince them from God’s Word of their error. Titus 1:9-13
We are to warn others of their danger. II Peter 2:1-3
We are not to receive them into our homes as teachers; nor are we to ask God’s blessing on their efforts. II John 7-11
We are to earnestly contend for The Faith. Jude 3-4 That involves standing for that which is scriptural and rejecting that which is unscriptural.
We are to study God’s Word and shun false teachers whose teaching can infect our souls as gangrene infects and contaminates a body. II Timothy 2:15-19
SATAN WANTS TO JOIN YOUR CHURCH!
He may already be at work in your church or mine. We all need to stay alert and in God’s Word so we can discern what is of God and what is of Satan. Satan not only comes as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. I Peter 5:8
He also comes as an angel of light and as a master counterfeiter of Christianity. The closer the counterfeit to the real thing, the more dangerous it is. II Corinthians 11:13-15. See the series on DECEPTION on this web site.
Over the years many Christian colleges and seminaries that were once true to the faith have been infected by professors who deny the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible. A Christian student is safer in a secular college where he is on his guard, than in a so-called Christian college where he is more apt to be deceived. Thank God, there are still Christian colleges that have remained true to God’s Word where Christian students can receive an excellent liberal art’s education in a total Christian atmosphere.
HOW ABOUT THE CHURCH WHERE YOU ATTEND?
Do you always leave church feeling good about yourself?
Does your pastor never deal with your sin?
Does he only talk about the sins of society in general?
Is the worship experience, rather than the preaching, the main part of the service and does it always give you an emotional high?
If you answered yes to those questions, you are being deceived and need to seek God’s will about finding a church where you can hear the truth of God’s Word and grow.
Two thousand years ago there were seven churches pictured as lamp stands in Asia Minor (now Turkey) The Lord Jesus had some special individual messages for each of them. He warned some of them of their sins and that He would remove their lamp stands unless they repented. Read about them in the last book of the Bible. Note that some of them were struggling with the same issues then that we struggle with today.
The Church of Ephesus Rev. 2:1-7
The Church of Smyrna Rev. 2:8-11
The Church of Pergamos Rev. 2:12-17
The Church of Thyatira Rev. 2:18-29
The Church of Sardis Rev. 3:1-6
The Church of Philadelphia Rev. 3:7-13
The Church of Laodicea Rev. 3:14-22
May God teach us as Christians the delicate balance of loving sinners and working with them without being infected by sin
May He give us discernment to recognize false doctrine and not be yoked together with unbelievers as we attempt to serve God.
May every Christian young person determine now that they will never disobey God in the matter of marrying an unbeliever. Although Christians can and should have unsaved friends, it is unwise to date an unsaved person since dating can lead to marriage. Again, I encourage young people reading this to get further help on the subject of dating and marriage by going to the topic of MARRIAGE on this web site.
Holiness is all about being separated from sin and sinful influences so that we can be wholly separated unto God and to His will and plan for our lives. In II Corinthians 6:14-18 and 7:1. we are given several reasons for separation. Let’s look at them.
First, to be yoked with unbelievers in attempting to do God’s work is irrational.
It doesn’t make sense. Note the four rhetorical questions that can only be answered by NONE.
1. For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? The answer is, of course, NONE! There is no fellowship with righteousness and unrighteousness. They are at opposite poles.
2. What fellowship hath light with darkness? Light is associated with God. Darkness is associated with Satan. The Christian’s purpose in life is to turn sinners from a life of darkness to the light of the knowledge of Christ. Acts 26:16-18. That’s the purpose of this web site. When God saves a sinner, He calls him out of darkness into His marvelous light. I Peter 2:9
3. What concord (harmony) hath Christ with Belial (Satan)? If Christ cannot work in harmony with Satan, why on earth do we think that God’s servants and Satan’s dupes can work together in harmony? To do so is like someone who knows nothing about music, who hates good music and who has no ability to play an instrument and yet wants to play in a symphony orchestra. He doesn’t belong there! Nor does a heretical minister belong on the platform or on the planning or follow up committee in an evangelistic crusade of a Christian evangelist.
4. Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? Amos 3:3 asks, “Can two walk together except they be agreed? They may play ball together or work together in secular employment or socialize together, but they do not worship the same God nor serve the same Lord Jesus Christ.
These four questions show that it is totally irrational to attempt to yoke together in Christian service with an unbeliever.
Not only is it irrational, but it is sacrilegious.
What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? II Corinthians 6:16. Paul taught in I Corinthians 6:19-20 that the Christian’s body is God’s holy temple. In I Corinthians 10:14-21 he continues this thought by showing there can be no communion or fellowship between Christians and the unsaved. Such union is an abomination to God. This unholy union is illustrated in II Kings 21 in the life of Israel’s wicked King Manasseh when he built shrines to false gods in God’s holy temple in Jerusalem.
Pagans and heretics don’t mind being associated with Christians in doing the work of God. They want Christians to accept them as Christians. II Corinthians 11:13-15 teaches us how they work by infiltration. But Christians are commanded to have no fellowship with them. Ephesians 5:11.
Furthermore, joining with unsaved to do God’s work is disobedience to Christ.
We are commanded in II Corinthians 6:17 to come out from among them and be separate. That is God’s command all the way from the Ten Commandments and on through the Bible. When we disobey, it is always to our hurt. In Revelation 18:2-4 God’s people are commanded to flee from Babylon, the false ecumenical church of the end time. See Revelation 17 for a description of this church which works hand in hand with the depraved political system of the end time under the Anti-christ.
II Corinthians 6:17-18 tells us that God wants to welcome us into the intimacy of His family and bless us, but He can only do that when we obey Him in the matter of separation from evil. In God’s covenant with David, found in II Samuel 7:12-16, God promises to bless David’s posterity as long as they obey Him. Solomon, David’s son, was the wisest man who ever lived, but sad to say, he became the most stupid man who ever lived when he married 700 wives and took 300 concubines, women from heathen religions. As a result of this horrible yoke I Kings 11:1-11 tells of how these evil women turned Solomon’s heart away from God and eventually his Kingdom was divided and destroyed.
ARE YOU GRATEFUL TO GOD FOR SAVING YOU?
God has been good to us in bringing us into His family through faith in Jesus. It is the depth of ingratitude to refuse to obey God in this matter of separation.
In II Corinthians 7:1 Paul appeals to us in the light of God’s promises. He goes beyond commands. We ought to live a holy separated life from sin; not just because God has commanded it, but because we are so appreciative for all He has done for us.
In Romans 12:1-2 we have the same motivation for surrendering ourselves to Christ; not just because we are commanded, but because of gratitude for all His mercies to us.
That’s why I surrendered my life to Christ when I became a Christian at the age of nine. I was not simply attempting to obey a command. I was thankful to God for all He had done for me. When we consider all His promises to us, how can we do less, than give Him our best? Are you a Christian? If so, have you taken this step of surrender? II Peter 1:3-4
If we have come to God as guilty sinners and put our faith in the merits of the precious blood of Christ, we are Christians. The transformation took place in a moment of time when we put our faith in that blood and were justified. Our sins have been forgiven and God sees us as righteous as His own Son because our righteousness is His righteousness imputed to our account. Romans 3-5 II Corinthians 5:21
EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED
As Christians, the Holy Spirit has come to live in us and has begun a life-long process of sanctification. The old life is passing away. Everything has changed; including our beliefs, thoughts, values, standards, principles for living, motives, goals, attitudes, hopes and dreams. We live in a new and different sphere with a radically new perspective to life. For that reason, our relationship with the unsaved, whether it be a stranger or a family member, can only be superficial. Though we can have a loving relationship with the unsaved, we cannot share our hearts on the deep issues of life. The unsaved are aliens from the life of God. Ephesians 2:12 They cannot understand our hearts. They think and live in stark opposition to God. To the Christian Jesus is everything. To the unsaved, self is everything.
Although we are called to live among the unsaved and point them to Christ as the only way of salvation, the command in II Cor. 6:14-18 and 7:1 is a command to Christians to not even attempt to bind ourselves with the unsaved in fellowship or in joint ministries such as evangelism. Why not? What harm is there in joint Christian endeavors with those who have never been born again?
WE ARE CALLED TO SEPARATION
The answer to those questions is that God has always called His people to separation from sin and false religions. On the other hand, Satan has always come as an angel of light and devised false religions and movements that are in total opposition to God's Word and God's purpose and he has drawn God's people into working alliances with him.
Separation began when God created the world. Genesis 1:3-5 teaches us that the first thing God did after creating the world was to separate light from darkness. That's what He has been doing ever since.
In Genesis 12:1-5 we read of how God called Abram from Ur of the Chaldees to make him the father of God's special people, Israel. The first thing God did was to call Abram to leave his home and family and the ungodliness of his past so that He could bless Him and make him a blessing to the world. God even changed him name to Abraham, reflecting his changed life and identity
Centuries later, God called Abraham's descendants to move into the promised land of Israel where the evil Canaanites dwelt. God called Israel to separate from them. Read about this in Deuteronomy 7.
Years later it's recorded in II Chronicles 18, 19 and 20 that good King Jehoshaphat made a political alliance with evil King Ahab. God judged Jeshoshaphat for yoking with this evil king.
Separation is also taught throughout the New Testament. The following are some examples of this truth.
Romans 16:17-19 We are commanded to identify and separate from false teachers.
I Corinthians 3:16-17 We are reminded that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and we are warned not to defile our bodies with sin.
I Corinthians 10:20-21 This shows there is no communion or fellowship between Christians and non Christians.
Galatians 1:8-9 Here God shows us that false teachers are under God's curse.
Ephesians 5:1-12 Throughout this passage we are warned that as we walk in love as Christians, we are also to avoid and have no fellowship with the works of darkness.
Holiness is all about being separated from sin and sinful influences so that we can be wholly separated unto God and to His will and plan for our lives. Have you discovered the joy and freedom that comes from Biblical separation and presenting yourself as a bondslave of Jesus Christ?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this series, there is a godly, Biblical separation and there is an ungodly, sinful separation.
The Great Divide
The twentieth century can be divided into two parts illustrating these two truths. From 1900 to 1950 was the period when the church practised godly separation from apostasy. From 1950 to the end of the century, was the period when the Church practised compromise with unbelievers and ungodly separation from fellow Christians.
Who is the Church?
Before we go any further, let me define The Church. Christ's Church is composed of all who have come to God as sinners and have placed their faith in the shed blood of Christ for salvation. The Church is the spiritual Body of Christ, purchased by His shed blood.
We are ONE BODY; though it does not always appear that way. As Christians, we base our faith in God's infallible, inspired Word. Christians have always had differences of understanding on some Bible doctrines. For that reason denominations have appeared down through the centuries. In Heaven in our glorified state, we will have a perfect understanding of all Truth and we will have a perfect love for one another; but in the meantime, as we live in God's Word and allow God's Spirit to control us and lead us; we can agree to disagree in love. .
The first half of the twentieth century.
Born in 1933, I had the privilege of growing up as a child and teenager in the 30's 40's and 50's. As a missionary's son, I had the opportunity to travel and live in various parts of Canada and the USA. and experienced The Church in a variety of denominations. Everywhere I went from non-denominational churches, to Bible believing denominational churches; they were basically united in one common cause, that of evangelizing the world. The Church in the first half of the Twentieth Century had one common enemy, Satan and his liberal ecumenical church, including the false cults. The Church was united in fulfilling Christ's Great Commission. Bible Colleges and Bible Institutes were springing up everywhere and a great majority of the graduates were going into full time Christian service as pastors and missionaries and teachers.
Philadelphia and Laodicea
As I read of the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3; I see the first half of the 20th century pictured by the Philadelphian Church, rejoicing in unity and evangelizing the world. I grieve as I see the Church in the last half of the 20th century pictured by the Laodicean Church, divided, weakened and filled with carnality through compromise with false doctrine and through sinful separation from one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. .
In the following articles in this series I will deal with the tragic, needless division of Christ's Body. Christ has given us the fellowship of His Church, the unity of the Holy Spirit and His precious Word. In the last half of the Twentieth Century, Christians have allowed our misunderstanding of these very gifts to separate us and destroy fellowship within His Body.
As the Prophet Jeremiah preached with a broken heart to God's people while they were in Babylonian Captivity, I too have wept and grieved as I have observed an ungodly unity of believers with unbelievers and an ungodly division among Christians fighting over the very things that should be uniting us.
It is my prayer that in the remaining time before the return of Christ, that the Church will regain a Biblical perspective on the issues and once again mount an assault against the strongholds of Satan and once again return to a holy love for the brethren. Perhaps Christ is waiting for that to take place before He returns to take us to Heaven.
Prior to the 1950’s Bible believing churches put aside their denominational differences to unite in mission conferences and evangelistic crusades. Bible believing churches, regardless of their denominations, were united in recognizing theological liberalism with its rejection of the Bible, as enemies of Christ. Christians were separated from the evil of apostasy. Evangelist Billy Graham, as well as dozens of lesser known evangelists, held city wide crusades sponsored by Bible believing Christians. Churches were strengthened and the Church was alive and well, fulfilling the Great Commission.
At the beginning of the 50’s some well known Christian leaders got together to form a new movement. They no longer wanted to be known as Fundamentalists. They took the name New Evangelicals. In 1955 the religious periodical, Christianity Today was launched to repudiate the separatism of the Fundamentalists and to enter into dialogue with the Liberals. That is clearly revealed in Dr. Harold Lindsell’s book, The Battle for the Bible, a book that accurately traces the rise of the New Evangelical Movement written from the viewpoint of a New Evangelical.
It’s one thing to dialogue with unbelievers. It’s another thing to recognize them as brothers in Christ. That’s what New Evangelicalism did. They accepted Liberals as brothers in Christ and thus began ecumenical evangelism which continues to this day.
There is no question that city-wide evangelistic crusades are not a new phenomenon. Moody, R.A. Torrey, Billy Sunday and many lesser known evangelists have conducted city wide crusades through the past two centuries. The difference was that these crusades were not sponsored by an unholy mixture of believers and unbelievers.
It is not my place to judge any preacher or evangelist. God alone is able to judge us correctly and He will one day when we stand before Him. No evangelist or preacher is the issue. Ecumenical evangelism is the issue. No matter who the evangelist is, I will not as a pastor participate in any Christian endeavor that is sponsored by a mixture of Bible believing pastors and liberal, Bible denying pastors. I will not participate in a crusade where lines are not clearly drawn between theological truth and error and where converts may be channeled into false religion.
This influence of God’s servants to break down the walls of separation between believers and unbelievers was the sin of Balaam, described in Number 22-24, 25:1 31:16 and condemned in II Peter 2:14-17, Jude 11, Revelation 2:14 Balaam preached the truth, but used his influence to bring fellowship and intermarriage between Israel and the heathen.
I began my ministry in the mid 50’s just as New Evangelicalism was coming on the scene. At that time, it was not the Fundamentalists who separated from those who adopted the New Evangelical label. Rather, New Evangelicals separated themselves from those who loved God’s Word and stood against the enemies of Christ and His Word. They no longer wanted to associate with Fundamentalists. Though I no longer hear the label, New Evangelical today; their fateful decision made in the early 50’s has had a tsunami-sized negative impact on the state of the church and Christian colleges and seminaries over the past half century.
No sooner had New Evangelicalism set the stage of compromising Biblical truth for the goal of reaching more people for Christ, when another compromising movement appeared in the mid 60’s the Charismatic Movement.
The modern Pentecostal movement had its beginnings in Kansas City and in the Los Angeles area back at the beginning of the 20th century. Is it based on a weak understanding of the Bible, a misunderstanding of the “Baptism of the Spirit” and on a false understanding of the early church’s gift of tongues (which was actually a supernatural ability of the early Christians to speak the truths of God in foreign languages that they did not know, so that the people gathered in Jerusalem from many nations actually heard the truth of God’s Word in their own languages). This gift was temporary and disappeared after the completion of the Bible. For the most part, Pentecostals are fellow believers and are our beloved brothers and sister in Christ, even though we differ with them in these matters.
The Charismatic Movement with its Pentecostal leanings, had its beginning in California when a church reached out in love to the Hippies. Many of them had dropped out of their dead churches and were seeking reality; but they did not want to give up their rock music. The Californian church gladly took them in, taught them salvation through Christ and accepted their rock music. As a result Contemporary Christian Music with its strong rock beat exploded on the American scene. Within a few years CCM had taken the New Evangelical churches by storm. By the late 60’s most Christian radio stations had removed most of the beautiful Christian music of the past and exchanged it for CCM. Churches discarded their hymn books filled with hymns and Gospel songs of past generations and replaced them with “Praise choruses” from overhead screens.
Just a words about Praise music. Some of it is beautiful and magnifies Christ and His Word. That music is worth adding to the Christian music of the past. However, much of contemporary praise music lacks a clear Biblical message as well as a melody and musical structure.
The Charismatic Movement has its theological roots in Pentecostalism.
These movements basically believe that there are two distinct works of grace. The first is the work of salvation. The second work of grace is an experience, known as “The Baptism of the Spirit” or “The Second Blessing”. They teach that one who has had the baptism is able to speak in tongues. They are weak in Biblical understanding and make much of their experience, magnifying it over Bible doctrine. Since doctrine is not important to them, like the New Evangelicals, they gladly reach out to false, heretical religion, accepting them as brothers and sisters in Christ, if they have had a second blessing experience.
Another case of sinful separation.
When this new movement took hold in America, it swept into mainline Protestant churches as well as the Roman Catholic Church. As it took root in the Protestant churches, it divided congregations, separating people to their sensual doctrine and movement.
What is Success?
Charismatic churches proliferated everywhere. Charismatic radio and television now cover all the nations of the world. The Charismatic Movement, just as the New Evangelical Movement, are both willing to compromise doctrine in order to reach more people for Christ. This appears to be a very noble goal. If growth and size of audiences are indicators of success in God’s eyes; then my hat is off to both movements. They have been a booming success.
On the other hand, if faithfulness to God’s Word is more important than results, then both of these movements are failing. They are not producing saints who are strong in the Word of God and holy living. When one cannot distinguish a Christian from a non Christian in public, then there is a major lack in the pulpit..
In this age of religious confusion, one thing is certain. God is working out His will in this world and He is building His Church. Regardless of our lack of faithfulness Christ is going to be successful. He promised that the gates of Hell cannot stop the advance of Christ’s Church. I thank God for every soul that comes to Christ for salvation; whether it happens in an ecumenical evangelistic crusade or whether it is in a Charismatic church or whether it happens in a Bible believing Fundamental church..
My responsibility as a pastor these past fifty years has been to keep preaching the truth of God’s Word, exposing and warning of theological error and trusting God for the results.
The term "Full Gospel" used by Charismatics to describe their doctrinal position that sets them apart from all other Christians, is divisive to say the least. It also evidences spiritual pride, in that they believe they have a superior understanding of the Gospel that the rest of us lack and that they have had a second work of grace they call "The Second Blessing", an experience beyond salvation that makes them more complete and better Christians than the rest of us. It all centers around an experience they call "The Baptism of the Spirit", an emotional experience that is evidenced by what they call "speaking in tongues".
A dangerous drift
If a ship in the harbor is not anchored, it is going to drift with the wind and currents. Only if a ship is anchored, is it going to remain protected in the harbor of safety. So it is with Christians and churches. Only as they remain anchored deeply in the Word of God are they going to be protected from the ever-changing winds and currents of heresy.
The most dangerous errors of this modern Pentecostal movement that has grown in popularity over the past fifty years, is that it places experience above the Scriptures in importance. This leads to false doctrine. To them it doesn't matter what a person believes about doctrine. If a person has had the second blessing, that trumps any doctrinal error. Any one who can testify of having had a "second blessing" is considered a brother or sister in Christ. In Acts 17:11 we learn that the Berean Christians correctly tested everything they heard by comparing it with Scripture. Anyone who argues for the truth of a doctrine based on their experience rather than on God's Word, puts themselves in a dangerous position of drifting into heresy.
Another dangerous error of the movement is that it magnifies the Holy Spirit, rather than Christ. Jesus explained to His own in John 16:13-14 " Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine and shall show it unto you."
Consider two obvious heretical teachings: the experience they refer to as "the baptism of the Spirit" and the so-called "gift of tongues" which they claim always accompanies the "baptism of the Spirit".
"The Baptism of the Spirit"
It would be well for us to begin with what the Bible teaches about the work of the Holy Spirit, third Person of the Trinity. He has a major part in our salvation.
1. He convicts us of sin. John 16:8
2. He draws us to Christ. The lost resist Him. Acts 7:51
3. He regenerates us or causes us to be born again. Titus 3:5-6
4. He baptizes or unites every believer into the Body of Christ. I Corinthians 12:13
5. He bears witness with our spirit that we belong to Christ. Rom. 8:15-16
6. He teaches us the things of God by causing us to understand the Bible. John 14:26
7. He dwells in every believer. Romans 8:9
8. He directs and guides us through His Word and through inner promptings.
Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:18, Matthew 4:1, Acts 8:29
9. He comforts us, enabling us to sense the presence of Christ. John 14:16,26
10. He helps us learn to pray according to God's will. Romans 8:26-27
11. He gives spiritual gifts to every believcr; not for our own enjoyment, but for our
employment in serving and edifying other Christians. Gifts are for enabling us to
serve others; not for showing off our supposed spirituality to others. I Corinthians 12
12. He glorifies Christ. John 16:14
13. He will see to it that when Christ returns for us, we Christians will be caught up to
meet Him in the air. Romans 8:11
Note that all of these things God graciously does for us. We do not seek the Spirit nor do we seek any of these blessings. Certainly we do not need to seek for a baptism of the Holy Spirit when according to I Corinthians 12:13, He has already baptized every believer into the Body of Christ.
We have only one command, as far as our relationship with the Spirit of God is concerned. In Ephesians 5:18 we are commanded to not be filled and controlled by wine, but we are to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit. This command has nothing to do with seeking an emotional experience of "being slain in the spirit" or going into a trance or falling to the floor and laughing or weeping. Rather, we are filled with the Spirit as we surrender to the Lordship of Christ. We want to be controlled by Him. When we are controlled by Christ, we are controlled by His Holy Spirit and we never manifest self-control more than when we are fully controlled by the Holy Spirit.
What are three evidences of being filled with the Spirit? Ephesians 5:19-22. tells us.
1. God puts a song in our hearts. vs 19 A Christian is never happier than when He under
Christ's control and he is doing God's will.
2. We are thankful for everything God allows in our lives. vs. 20
3. We have a submissive heart towards God; and because of that, it is not difficult to be
submissive to one another. vs 21
Would you note that nothing is said of having an overwhelming emotional experiences or speaking in tongues when we are filled with the Spirit? Instead our daily walk will be affected as we begin to experience love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. As we daily walk with Christ, surrendered to His Lordship, we will live a life controlled by His Spirit. Galatians 5:22-26
A CAUSE OF DIVISION
In over fifty years that I have been in the ministry, I have found the modern practice of speaking in tongues to be the cause of more division and strife in churches. than almost anything else. In the mid sixties when the modern Charismatic Movement was getting underway, many churches were split as a Charismatic minority pulled people from churches to join them and in some cases, they took over the churches, making them Charismatic.
This Pentecostal movement began in the early part of the twentieth century in the Azusa Street prayer meeting in the Los Angeles area and also in Kansas City, Missouri. The Charismatic movement is simply a modern version of that.
I have been in Charismatic services and observed people seeking to speak in tongues. I’ve read books that teach how to do it. Basically, the seeker is taught to just lose control of himself and start making unintelligible sounds. As he loses control he is taught that the Holy Spirit will take control and the babbling sounds he makes will be of the Holy Spirit. He will be speaking or praying in tongues. This is supposed to bless him and make him a blessing to others.
THE INAGURATION OF GENUINE, BIBLICAL SPEAKING IN TONGUES
In Acts 1 and 2 we see the true exercise of the gift of tongues. In Acts 1 as Jesus was preparing to return to Heaven from the Mount of Olives, he explained to His disciples that He was leaving and that they were to return to Jerusalem and wait for the promised Holy Spirit who would spiritually baptize and unite them into one body and empower them to be His witnesses.
In Acts 2 we see the disciples together in one accord and in one place waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. As they waited suddenly things began to happen.
1. First they heard a sound from Heaven as the sound of a mighty rushing wind and it filled the place where they were waiting.
2. Then there appeared on their heads tongues as of fire upon each of them.
3. Then each of them began to speak supernaturally in foreign languages they had never learned. Acts 2 goes on to explain that there were devout men from all the nations of the earth and these men were amazed as they heard these ignorant disciples speaking in their languages, languages they had never learned. Verse 9-11 list the languages that were spoken. As a result each person heard the Word of God in his own language and understood and was blessed.
4. Then Peter stood up and explained that this phenomenon had been prophesied by the Old Testament Prophet Joel. Peter went on to preach God’s Word to the crowd and many were converted and joined the Jerusalem church. Thus the Church got its start on the Day of Pentecost.
THE USE OF TONGUES IN THE EARLY CHURCH.
In the early churches that Paul and other Apostles were instrumental in starting, there was a pattern in the services. That pattern is explained in I Corinthians 12 and 14. Since the complete Bible had not yet been written; the people gathered together on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ, to preach the Gospel and to edify or build up the believers.
Apostles or elders would stand up one at a time and share visions and prophecies and truths that God had taught them. Sometimes one would speak in an unknown language and another would interpret what had been spoken. The other elders would evaluate what had been shared and determine whether it was of God or not.
I Corinthians 13, placed in the midst of this teaching in chapters 12 and 14, emphasizes that regardless of the gifts God give us; they are all worthless if they are not exercised in love for the edification of the people. In chapter 13, verse 8-13 we are taught that these temporary gifts would cease after that which is perfect is come. What is perfect? The complete, inspired, infallible Word of God.
PRAYING IN THE HOLY GHOST
In Romans 8:26-27 we learn that the Holy Spirit helps us pray. There are times when our hearts are so heavy with concern that we cannot even pray with words. We simply groan in the privacy of our prayer closet. On some occasions I have been so burdened that I could only lie on the floor in utter weakness and groan. It is in those times when words fail me in expressing my concerns to God, that the Holy Spirit takes those groans and interprets my concerns to the Father and enables me to pray according to God’s will.
But let me be quick to say that I never seek emotional experiences with the Holy Spirit. That would serve no purpose, but perhaps make me feel proud and boast of an experience with the Holy Spirit.
THANK GOD FOR OUR BIBLES
Today we gather in church; not to hear of someone’s vision, or a truth some pastor has received directly from God. We do not gather to speak in foreign languages that no one understands.
If we had in our service someone from Japan who could not understand English and a Christian who does not know Japanese, should miraculously begin sharing Scriptural truth in Japanese, a language he does not know, and that visitor would be blessed, and if another should stand up and interpret what had just been said; that would be a modern day expression of genuine tongues and no one would forbid that.
But if someone should suddenly start babbling unintelligibly and disturb the preaching of the Word, that would be of Satan and we would ask the person to refrain or leave the service. That would be the work of Satan trying to hinder the Word of God and confuse the people.
Today, thank God, we have the complete Bible in our language. When we gather together in church, we gather to hear the proclamation and explanation of the Word of God. That’s the major reason we go to church. As we focus on the teaching and preaching of the Word, our hearts are stirred to love and worship God and to be a blessing to one another.
A LIFE-STYLE OF WORSHIP
It is my desire as a preacher, that the people focus on the teaching and preaching of God’s Word, the major portion of the service. If the congregation goes out from the service and mulls over the Word of God they have heard and if they go home worshipping and meditating in the Word and worshipping God throughout the day and sometimes throughout the night, then the service has been a success.
I am not against emotion. I can get quite emotional as I preach about Jesus and often times preach with tears; but I would do nothing to encourage my congregation to seek an emotional experience. If the preaching of the Word or the music that is sung produces honest emotions of love and gratitude to God, that is wonderful.
Each of us are wired differently. Some tend to be more emotional than others, but it would concern me if my preaching produced only cold, wooden soldier type Christians who have no feelings about anything.
May God give you a passion for Christ and a desire to magnify His Word above His Name (Psalm 138:2) , and may He give you discernment to recognize true worship from the counterfeit. (John 4:24)
Are we a Full Gospel church? Not in the Charismatic sense of the term. We are full Gospel only in the sense that we preach the whole counsel of God. Acts 20:27
We preach that by grace God justifies us and declares us perfectly righteous through faith in the merits of Jesus Christ who died and rose again to pay the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:20-28 Romans 5:1 II Corinthians 5:21
We preach that at the moment of salvation God begins and eventually completes a life- long work of sanctification in our lives, conforming us to the very image of Christ. We do not achieve perfection in this life. According to I John 1:8-10, those who claim perfection deceive themselves. We are complete in Christ. Colossians 2:9-10 We need no experience with the Holy Spirit to enhance our salvation or our standing before God.
We preach that at death we stand glorified and perfect in the presence of God, clothed in the spotless righteousness of Christ. We preach that because Jesus rose bodily from the grave in a glorified, resurrection body, we too will stand one day sinlessly perfect in our glorified, resurrection bodies. I John 3:1-3
We preach that because Christ died for us, we should no longer live only for our own interests and desires; but seek to live holy, pure lives set apart for His use. II Corinthians 5:15-21. II Timothy 2:19-26
We warn of the dangers of being controlled by the flesh, by being lured by the attractions of the anti-God world-system, and by the dangers of sinful compromise with Satanic false doctrine. Acts 20:28-30, Matthew 7:15-27, Rom. 16:17-18, II Corinthians 6:14-18, Galatians 1:6-9, Ephesians 5:10-12, Colossians 2:16-23, II Timothy 3 & 4. Revelation 17 and 18:1-5 We warn of the danger of losing our first love for Jesus. Revelation 2:1-4.
We preach the Gospel Paul has laid out for us in his epistles. He warns in Galatians 1:8-9 that if anyone, even an angel from Heaven, preaches any other gospel, we are to recognize him as cursed by God. May God give us discernment to hold to the truth of God’s Word and reject as error anything we hear that does not square with His Word
A third movement that is sinfully separating Christians is the modern King James Only movement. My first experience with
this radical movement was about 1984 when I was knocking on doors in Flagstaff, Arizona. The man who answered the door invited me into the house and immediately began to harangue me with reasons why the King James Version was the only true version of the Bible and that I should have nothing to do with other translations of the Bible. I had not even brought up the subject of translations.
My favorite translation
I grew up on the King James Version of the Bible. I have preached from it all my life. It’s beauty is unsurpassed. I’ve memorized many portions of it, but I do not believe that the King James Version is the only excellent translation. I do not believe that the KJV itself is inspired of God and that God chose Elizabethan vocabulary. I do not believe that those translating the Bible into other languages must use the KJV to get it right. No Fundamentalist prior to the 50’s believed that. I would have been dumbfounded to have ever heard a preacher make such a claim. To the contrary, as a boy, I often heard Fundamentalist preachers remark in their sermons that a particular verse is clearer in the Amplified. or in some other translation.
I am not a linguistic scholar.
For that reason I am not going to get involved in a discussion of the various manuscripts from which our English translations came. I’ve read the books and listened to hours of tapes on the matter- which frankly bored me! I am extremely saddened by the division of the KJV Only effort to divide Bible believing Christians. Let me give you one example.
Dr. John R. Rice
As a young pastor I was greatly influenced by Dr. Rice and his weekly paper, The Sword of the Lord which he founded and edited for many years. I heard him first at Bob Jones University when he spoke at the annual Bible conference. His life and his books were a tremendous blessing to me and helped me build a solid Biblical foundation for my life and ministry.
Let me quote what he had to say about the King James Version of the Bible in his 400 page book, The Bible, Our God-Breathed Book. This book was published by Sword of the Lord Publishers in 1969. In chapter 20 he writes about different translations. Note his position on the King James Version. On page 376 he writes, “Therefore the various translations contain together the eternal, unchangeable Word of God. But there are virtues and faults in each particular translation which we should note. A perfect translation of the Bible is humanly impossible. The words in one language do not have exactly the same color and meaning as words in another language, and human frailty and imperfection enter in. So let us say, there are no perfect translations. God does not inspire particular translations, although He may illuminate and give spiritual wisdom to the translator.”
On page 379 Rice speaks of the beauty, dignity, reverence and influence of the King James Version and then concludes “Of course the translation itself is not inspired, is not infallibly correct, but as the Holy Spirit someway led the Christian millions to a consensus of opinion on the Scriptures that should be accepted in our canon as our Bible, so surely the Holy Spirit and God’s providence have led millions to love and favor the King James Version. A preacher should refer when necessary to other versions as I do many times.”
On page 383 Rice writes, “Now there is available the new American Standard Bible New Testament, published by Moody Press. The American Standard Version of 1901, widely acclaimed for its word-for-word fidelity to the Greek, has been painstakingly revised by the Lockman Foundation in the light of the latest textual advances. Dr. Wilbur M. Smith says, “certainly the most accurate and most revealing translation of the New Testament that we now have.”
Recently I had the opportunity to read some of the recent issues of Sword of the Lord. I was extremely disappointed to see that this periodical has become a King James Version only paper. As I read it I was struck by this KJV Only emphasis throughout. Surely Dr Rice who has been in Heaven for many years, would be grieved to see this divisive emphasis in his paper. Here is a link to a letter from one of Dr. John R. Rice’s daughters, representing the Rice family, to the present editor of The Sword. It clearly reveals the departure of the current Editor from the position of Dr. Rice and historical Fundamentalism. http://www.biblicalevangelist.org/index.php?id=282&view=Guest+Editorial
It grieves me that the very gifts of Christ, the Bible and His Holy Spirit, gifts that should unite us as Christians, have been used by Satan to divide God’s family.
May God unite His people as we grasp the Scriptural truth of I Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been made to drink into one Spirit.” May God give us His wisdom and discernment to recognize those issues that should divide us from unbelievers and those issues that should unite us as fellow believers.