Another new hymn for me on this glorious Wednesday. May He alone be exalted and glorified in all things. This is from Sovereign Grace Music.
Another new hymn for me on this glorious Wednesday. May He alone be exalted and glorified in all things. This is from Sovereign Grace Music.
“Be ye separate” – 2 Cor. 6:17
The Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world. He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life. To him, “to live”, should be “Christ”. Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God’s glory. You may lay up treasure; but lay it up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, where thieves break not through nor steal. You may strive to be rich; but be it your ambition to be “rich in faith”, and good works. You may have pleasure; but when you are merry, sing psalms and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. In your spirit, as well as in your aim, you should differ from the world. Waiting humbly before God, always conscious of His presence, delighting in communion with Him, and seeking to know His will, you will prove that you are of the heavenly race. And you should be separate from the world in your actions. If a thing be right, though you lose by it, it must be done; if it be wrong, though you would gain by it, you must scorn the sin for your Master’s sake. You must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity. Remember, O Christian, that thou are a son of the King of kings. Therefore, keep thyself unspotted from the world. Soil not the fingers which are soon to sweep celestial strings; let not these eyes become the windows of lust which are soon to see the King in His beauty – let not those feet be defiled in miry places, which are soon to walk the golden streets – let not those hearts to be filled with pride and bitterness which are ere long to be filled with heaven, and to overflow with ecstatic joy.
“All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.” – Numbers 6:4
Nazarites had taken, among other vows, one which debarred them from the use of wine. In order that they might not violate the obligation, they were forbidden to drink vinegar of wine or strong liquors, and to make the rule still more clear, they were not to touch the unfermented juice of grapes, nor even to eat the fruit either fresh or dried. In order, altogether, to secure the integrity of the vow, they were not even allowed anything that had to do with the vine; they were, in fact, to avoid the appearance of evil. Surely this is a lesson to the Lord’s separated ones, teaching them to come away from sin in every form, to avoid not merely its grosser shapes, but even its spirit and similitude. Strict walking is much despised in these days, but rest assured, dear reader, it is both the safest and the happiest. He who yields a point or two to the world is in fearful peril; he who eats the grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little crevice in the sea-bank in Holland lets in the sea, and gap speedily swells till a province is drowned. Worldly conformity, in any degree, is a snare to the soul, and makes it more and more liable to presumptuous sins. Moreover, as the Nazarite who drank grape juice could not be quite sure whether it might not have endured a degree of fermentation, and consequently could not be clear in heart that his vow was intact, so the yielding, temporizing Christian cannot wear a conscience void of offence, but must feel the inward monitor is in doubt of him. Things doubtful we need not doubt about; they are wrong to us. Things tempting we must not dally with, but flee from them with speed. Better to be sneered at as a Puritan than be despised as a hypocrite. Careful walking may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures of its own which are more than a sufficient recompense.
In light of certain ministers signing The Manhattan Declaration, there are several questions that arise. Is discipline necessary in such a case? How does discipline play a vital part in the integrity of the local church? How do we maintain our roles as pastors in a world that accepts just about everything simply because the name evangelical has been slapped on as a label? How do we instruct our people in the matter of discipline while recognizing that such discipline is for the purpose of restoration? And finally, does discipline really matter when the majority of evangelical believers will either deliberately ignore the matter of discipline or they will fall for the lies of the evil one who was the first to question, “Has God REALLY said such and such?”
It is not my intention to rehash the first three parts of this series, but I want to reiterate one point. The bottom line is this in regards to judgment – NO JUDGMENT = NO HOLINESS. NO HOLINESS = NO PURITY. NO PURITY = NO CHURCH. NO CHURCH = NO LIFE. NO LIFE = NO CHRIST!
When it comes to discipline in the local church, we must remember that the Bible teaches that each local assembly is to be autonomous. They are to govern themselves. There is no Scriptural mandates for a denominational hierarchy that is to set the standards for the church and then ensure those are obeyed otherwise discipline against the pastor and church will be enacted. Simply put, I do not believe there is any Scriptural command that permits one local church to discipline a member of another local church. Therefore, for those who believe that ministers like Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan should be disciplined, I would urge caution because this would be a matter for his own local church to enact against their pastor if they believe that he has crossed the line of doctrinal integrity.
However, I am convinced that the Bible not only teaches independence and self-governance, I am as strongly convinced that the New Testament makes it clear that the early churches were inter-dependent. They made their own decisions, but did not have the liberty to enact decisions which would reflect on a sister church or the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. With that in mind, how does one local church respond to a sister church that is descending a slippery slope into heresy, false teaching, or even going down the road towards an all-embracing gospel? How do 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 play a part in the way we deal with others?
We who are true believers are required to follow the commands of Scripture such as found in 2 Cor. 6:14-17, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”
The admonition is clear. We are not, cannot, must not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. In the matter of TMD, regardless of what Mohler, Duncan and others say, this was drafted to be a theological document. Thus, in signing their names to this, they have broken the commands to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. We are called to be separate in every aspect of our lives. We are in the world, but not to be of it. Thus, the remaining problem is how do we respond when evangelicals we respect choose to break the commands of Scripture.
2 Thess. 3:14-15, “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.“
This post is not intended to question whether Mohler or Duncan are true believers. The issue is how to respond in a biblical fashion to those who are brothers, yet failing to follow the “word in this epistle.” The Scriptures are clear that we cannot be yoked with those who are of the world, and it is just as clear that we have a responsibility not to keep company with those brethren who would act and teach contrary to the commands of God’s Word.
Therefore, in the matter of church discipline which is local church specific, the commands in 2 Thessalonians 3 show that we still have a responsibility to perform. It is with the purpose in mind of restoration at all times, not with ostracizing a brother or trying to throw him under the bus. My prayer is that Mohler, Duncan and others will repent of their desire to link up with the enemy and repent of such. My prayer is that they will seek forgiveness from those they are leading astray as men called to shepherd their flocks. If they do not and continue on their current path, then other evangelical leaders/pastors/believers have a responsibility to disassociate with them until they do.
The problem with evangelicalism is that we do not take biblical separation seriously. We will condemn those who cross certain lines, but it is only verbal. Rarely is further action involved. Evangelicals talk a good talk, but that is where it seems to stop. They will continue to endorse one another’s books, invite each other to conferences, share pulpits, and do everything that was done before the offending brother crossed the line. If we are going to be serious about our positions, we are going to have to show to the world that refusing to keep company with a brother is vital to the integrity of each local church. If we are going to seek purity in our churches, we cannot continue to endorse IN ANY WAY those who fail to heed the commands of Scripture. Pastors are called to a high office and to be servants of the Most High God. It is for the sake of the gospel that we stand firm, no matter what the cost to us or our ministry for in the end we will give account before God, NOT to each other.
I challenge my fellow pastors that if we are going to verbally call into question men like Driscoll for his vulgarity, like Piper for his saying that Wilson and Wright do not preach a false gospel, like Mohler and Duncan for signing The Manhattan Declaration, etc., then we must back up what we say publicly. We must refuse to endorse their materials, must admonish our people when they blindly follow these men, must stop inviting them to conferences and sharing pulpits with them, and MUST ABOVE ALL continue to seek full restoration with each other as part of the Body of Christ for whom Christ died. If we do not, then we are being hypocrites. If they are wrong, then they are wrong and pacifying the masses may be good for future book sales or endorsements, but it does not bode well for the future of true evangelical Christianity.
What we underhandedly endorse today will only become the new standards for tomorrow, and the false teachings and ecumenicalism of tomorrow will become the stepping stones towards a greater liberalism than we see today! May God give us strength to stand firm in the face of ALL opposition. May He grant us mercy and keep our feet strong so that we do not waver from the faith once delivered to the saints!
For the sake of the Gospel,
The Desert Pastor
Some of God’s dear people may suppose that it would be presumptuous to set themselves up as judges of what they hear or read—but that is a serious mistake, being both a false humility, and a shirking of duty. The Apostle rebuked the Hebrews because their senses (spiritual faculties) were not developed so as to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:13).
It is often a long time before God’s children are able to account for this. They blame themselves; they are exceedingly loath to say, “This message is not of God.” They are afraid to act in the spiritual, as they do in the natural, and condemn and discard that which is worthless.
“Take heed what you hear” and read! More than forty years ago the saintly Adolph Saphir wrote, “I think the fewer books we read—the better. It is like times of cholera, when we should only drink filtered water.” What would he say if he were on earth today and glanced over the deadly poison sent forth by the heterodox, and the lifeless rubbish put out by the orthodox? Christian reader, if you value the health of your soul, cease hearing and quit reading all that is lifeless, unctionless, powerless, no matter what prominent or popular name be attached thereto. Life is too short to waste valuable time on that which does not profit. Ninety-nine out of every hundred of the religious books, booklets, and magazines now being published, are not worth the paper on which they are printed!
To turn away from the lifeless preachers and publishers of the day—may involve a real cross. Your motives will be misconstrued, your words perverted, and your actions misinterpreted. The sharp arrows of false report will be directed against you. You will be called proud and self-righteous, because you refuse to fellowship empty professors. You will be termed censorious and bitter—if you condemn in plain speech—the subtle delusions of Satan. You will be dubbed narrow-minded and uncharitable, because you refuse to join in singing the praises of the “great” and “popular” men of the day. More and more, you will be made to painfully realize—that the path which leads unto eternal life is “narrow” and that FEW there are who find it. May the Lord be pleased to grant unto each of us—the hearing ear and obedient heart! “Take heed what you hear” and read!
– A.W. Pink (1886 ~ 1952)
“Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp” – Hebrews 13:13
Jesus, bearing His cross, went forth to suffer without the gate. The Christian’s reason for leaving the camp of the world’s sin and religion is not because he loves to be singular, but because Jesus did so; and the disciple must follow his Master. Christ was “not of the world”: His life and His testimony were a constant protest against conformity with the world. Never was such overflowing affection for men as you find in Him; but still He was separate from sinners. In like manner Christ’s people must “go forth unto Him”. They must take their position “without the camp”, as witness-bearers for the truth. They must be prepared to tread the straight and narrow path. They must have bold, unflinching, lion-like hearts, loving Christ first, and His truth next, and Christ and His truth beyond all the world. Jesus would have His people “go forth without the camp” for their own sanctification. You cannot grow in grace to any high degree while you are conformed to the world. The life of separation may be a path of sorrow, but it is the highway of safety; and though the separated life may cost you many pangs, and make every day a battle, yet it is a happy life after all. No joy can excel that of the soldier of Christ: Jesus reveals Himself so graciously, and gives such sweet refreshment, that the warrior feels more calm and peace in his daily strife than others in their hours of rest. The highway of holiness is the highway of communion. It is thus we shall hope to win the crown if we are enabled by divine grace faithfully to follow Christ “without the camp”. The crown of glory will follow the cross of separation. A moment’s shame will be well recompensed by eternal honor; a little while of witness-bearing will seem nothing when we are “forever with the Lord”.
– C.H. Spurgeon
1834 – 1892