Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Line in the Sand

Where do you draw your line Brother?
In essentials unity. 
In non-essentials liberty. 
In all things charity. 

Biblical Separation goes beyond just being sanctified (separated from the rest of the world) to the Lord; it often means separating from other Brethren who are disorderly or for whatever reason are preaching against some essentials of the Christian faith, making them false teachers. Victims of false teaching are not to be quickly separated from, because they are victims and may be able to be returned to good order through fellowship. Paul fellowshipped with and corrected the Corinthians who were taught to reject the resurrection, but he did not fellowship with those spreading the heresy.

Last year I learned a thing or two about practicing Biblical Separation; it is not easy to do gracefully, it costs you dearly and in many ways, people resist it in many diverse ways, people don't tend to think they are the ones that need to be separated from. Here is something I have learned - HOW you separate is every bit as important as the reasons for the need to separate. You must be clear, graceful and decisive.

I wasn't as graceful as I could have been last year when I separated from an organization I had poured my life into. I could have been more gentle, and as recently as last week it was brought up that I caused hurt in doing it the way I did. It hurts me to think about causing pain for people I love. Here's the thing though, separation is a ministry of warning to people you love - it is, and always will be painful. It never feels good to be shown, clearly, what error you are spreading.

This week, I had to repeat the process somewhat. I still owned an asset of the organization (for several complicated reasons). I should have shut the asset down so that it could not benefit the proliferation of heresy, but I did not because I couldn't bring myself to cause more pain. I was wrong not to shut it down, I pretty well knew it at the time, but I was - frankly - too chicken to do what I knew to be right. (again... sigh) The result? The person I was separating from feels justified in their views... thinks it isn't as serious as I told him it was... The issue was fidelity to the Gospel in accordance with the Scriptures - it doesn't get more serious than that.

When separation occurs everyone thinks they are at least mostly right, and they think it should be OK to continue fellowshipping. This week I was told that because other organizations of somewhat similar views to mine work with organizations which preach the Lordship Salvation heresy that it should be OK for me to as well.  Apparently it is unreasonable for me to expect people to simply stick to what the Bible teaches about the Gospel or consider them accursed. Gal 1:6-9 This is just how people act... I was told that it had actually been ME that changed my views on the Gospel and drifted away from what had previously been preached - however, those who go looking for a statement of faith at the organization's website will no longer find the previous exhaustive statement; now there is only a very generic statement.  Of course you will see the all important statement:
We believe that all are justified solely on the ground of faith in the shed blood of Christ, and that only by God's grace through faith alone are we saved.  
It's a shame that these words are so seldom tested when they are spoken by teachers. They are, so often, a false letter of commendation 2Cor 3:1-3 that false teachers use to get their feet in the door. Unfortunately when this statement is made a huge "but" follows it. But you have to define "faith" or "belief" in a special way.  The "faith alone" that is spoken of here is about "forsaking sins and turning to serve a living God" not trusting that Christ died for your sins, was buried and rose again the third day all in accordance with the Scriptures. No not faith, but service.... "but" they don't preach works salvation as their Pastor explains.

So what is to be done? I spent months developing a statement of faith with that old organization, each person had to sign it stating full agreement, each person's Pastor had to acknowledge it.... that was not enough. Brethren, the solution is only clear, graceful and decisive separation from those who preach and practice error on the essentials of the faith; anything that affects the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here are a number of passages that ought to help you draw your line in the sand. I pray you will read these, they will convict you and you will be faithful to stand on the truthful side of the line with only those who will faithfully stand there with you.

2Jn 1:9-11
9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
Acts 20:26-32
26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Rom 16:17-19 
17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.
Mat 7:13-23    
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Gal 1:6-11 
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. 
Gal 5:7-12 
7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.
11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. 12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! 
2Pet 2:1-3 
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
2Tim 4:3-4 
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
2Thes 3:6 
6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 
1Cor 15:1-11 
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
2Thes 3:13-15 
13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 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. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2Tim 3:10-15 
10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 
These are just a few passages which are relevant to separation on the subject of the Gospel. Scripture doesn't make it a minor issue at all - do you? 


Look up said...

When all things are properly considered, you will find that exercising proper biblical separation in these times will leave you nowhere to go but up.

ALL, and I repeat ALL, seminaries and educational institutions that churn out pastors have long since left Jesus Christ behind. If you have a pastor with letters behind his name, unless he is old enough to have forgotten what he was taught or zealous enough to have held up his disregard for it (in which case he might not have graduated), he will have drank the end-times kool-aid, and be propogating that which needs to be separated from.

Look up said...

Sad but true commentary, I have more faith in the average used car salesmen to give me the true goods on a car, than I do a pastor to give me the true goods on Christ.