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The cruelty of compromise

Compromise in the Christian life and in the Christian church is simply departure from the clearly revealed demands of God’s word. The demands of God’s word for holiness, separation from the world, separation on a corporate and ecclesiastical level from apostasy and disobedient brethren, etc. are set aside by compromise. Sadly, this process of setting aside is often made-over as a spirit of loving concern to reach out to others. That which is evil and deadly is therefore often masqueraded as good and desirable.

Yet there is a savage cruelty about compromise. Departure from the standards of God’s word causes division (Romans 16:17); tears apart close friendships and causes untold suffering to the individual believer or the organisation that desires to be true to the call of Christ.

The implications of the Saviour’s words
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27 AV)

These are words that are very pertinent to this issue. The Saviour speaks of taking up the cross and following Him. As in His case, so in the disciple’s case, bearing the cross will indicate a voluntary desire to please God at any price. However, we must never forget that the cross was also imposed upon the Saviour by the opposition of His enemies. The pain and anguish of body and soul that He suffered on the cross was in one sense caused directly by the refusal of men to obey God’s revealed word. Those who desire to follow Him faithfully will discover that they are opposed in that desire by friends and family as detailed in this passage. The consequence of determining to be faithful to Christ will mean that those friendships have to be broken and the pain of that is symbolized in the cross that has to be carried. The anguish of heart and soul that severing such friendships involves, is directly caused by the opposition of those people to a faithful pursuit of Christ.

Close relationships and dear friendships are torn apart by compromise. The Saviour speaks of father, mother, wife and children being involved. Of course He also includes the working of the disobedient desires of the flesh within which also has to be crucified. These relations are not put second to obeying Christ without deep anguish of soul on the part of the disciple who desires to follow Christ faithfully. Resisting the pressure to compromise on obeying the clearly revealed commands of Christ involves the pain of crucifixion. In a remarkable sense, those whose agenda is one of compromise and disobedience, actually occasion this pain to the faithful disciple.

Compromise introduces the destructive influences of Satan and sin among God’s people.
Often under the guise of godliness and Christian love, compromise opens a door to the ruinous effects of sin. We can see this in various Biblical pictures associated with the work of false teachers in the church.

The wolf in sheep’s clothing is perhaps the most familiar. The blood-thirsty, cunning cruelty of the wolf lies beneath the masquerade of a servant of Christ. In the name of serving the Saviour disobedience and a sinful agenda is adopted and promoted. But all this leads to the destruction of the flock of God as certainly as the wolf destroys sheep. The Saviour describes the work of such men in the church as thieves and robbers (John 10:8). Elsewhere in the Scriptures the work of such men are described in similar terms. Cp Ezekiel 13:18, 20, Micah 3:1-3, Zephaniah 3:3. Compromise with sin opens the door to such blood-thirsty predators of the sheep.

God’s servants are called to serve as watchmen in the Church of Christ and warn against sin and the encroachments of the enemies of God. When they fail in this duty they become complicit to some degree in the advance of the enemy’s attempts to destroy the work of God. This is compromise at work! The horrors of a city being overrun and plundered result from the failure of the watchman. This ought to alarm every true servant of God to vigilance and to blow the trumpet of alarm in the ears of God’s people.

The Bible gives multiple pictures of Satan’s destructive nature and his agenda for the people of God. He is the savage lion prowling to devour (1 Peter 5:8); he is the biting serpent that lurks unseen by the unwary; he is the blood-stained dragon waiting to devour (Revelation 12:3-4). Allowing his entrance to any degree into the Church is fatal to its safety and health.

Yet, like Peter (Matthew 16:23) many a servant of God is persuaded that there is a better, easier course to follow and so end up doing the work of Satan – the ‘adversary’ of the Church. Peter’s folly on this occasion was to propose a kinder alternative to the cross. His words to Christ literally were “Be kind to thyself”. The proposal of a less rigourous path of Christian service adopts the same spirit. A diminution of the Biblical standards because they are deemed too severe, too harsh is to follow in Peter’s steps and to warrant the same rebuke from Christ. Unwittingly Peter had introduced the cruel work of the devil among the sheep by his proposal.

To ignore the savage implications of departure from God’s word and the accommodation of compromise, is to  act in the cruelest and most hard-hearted fashion. There are many who adopt the attitude of the ostrich about these matters and hide their heads in the sand. The ostrich “… leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust, And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones, as though [they were] not hers: her labour is in vain without fear;” (Job 39:14-16 AV)

Matthew 18 and the public rebuke of sin

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (Matthew 18:15-17 AV)

Very often the first response to any public witness against sin, or the public censure of a Christian who has sinned publicly, is an accusation that to make such a public denunciation is contrary to the Saviour’s teaching in this passage. Usually it is asserted that there cannot be a public censure of sin until private overtures have been made to the offender. This has the effect of diverting attention from the original error and focuses attention on the one trying to protest against it. But what does this passage teach? Is it addressing the matter of public sin at all?

There is a number of important observations to be made about this text:

  1. This is an instance of a private offense. A brother has sinned against a fellow-believer. There is sin involved but it is seen to be of the nature of a private offense or hurt. In the area of personal interaction wrong has been done. Though an individual may feel offended by a fellow Christian’s defiance of God in the public arena, and be stirred to speak out against it, this is far from being merely a matter of private offence. Offence is taken for the Lord’s sake, for the sake of His cause, for His truth’s sake.
  2. The two individuals in view are under the same oversight in a local congregation. The church here is a reference – according the synagogue model – to the local eldership/oversight of the congregation. Both the offender and the offended party are under the same disciplinary structure. It is part of proper order and procedure in the Church to work within the established governmental structures in such cases.
  3. In such a case private overtures by the offended party to the offender must precede any public action. The various levels of private response detailed in v15-16 must be followed before their is an elevation of this matter to official church involvement. To by-pass this initial private response to private sin is to disobey God.
  4. Clearly, this passage does not address the procedure to be followed in a case of departure from God’s word in the public realm. The rebuke of a Christian who has acted unScripturally in a public way is not in view here at all! When a man has sinned before all, that sin warrants a rebuke before all. This is especially necessary where a public example of disobedience is being set and is in danger of being followed by others in the Church.
  5. It may be that in certain instances of public sin private overtures may be helpful initially. Yet it is patently not true to say that they are required by God in advance of any public rebuke of sin.

It is also clear from God’s word that public defiance of God’s word by a professing Christian merits a public rebuke without the necessity of first following this ‘private approach’ protocol. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” (1Timothy 5:20 AV) Here Paul is addressing the sin of elders in the Church.

Several examples of this public rebuke of sin may be cited:

  • Matthew 16:23 – The Saviour denounced Peter immediately and publicly for his foolish words. It was important for the other disciples to see immediately that what Peter was suggesting was of the devil! The Saviour acted quickly and publicly because of the serious danger that lay in the attitude that had spoken these words.
  • 1 Corinthians 5:3 – Paul denounced the notorious offending believer in Corinth, even instructing the elders of that congregation to hand the man over to the devil for the destruction of the flesh. This was a very high level and public censure by the Church. Yet Paul was not even present when he wrote these words. There was no private approach followed by Paul nor did he instruct the elders to take such an approach. Public sin required immediate public action.
  • Galatians 2:14ff – Paul denounced Peter publicly and immediately for his hypocrisy and folly. Barnabas and others were caught up in this foolishness that was instigated by those who came as the emissaries of the Apostle James. These were ‘high powered’ offenders! Two Apostles were directly or indirectly involved in this sin. Yet although all were within the same Presbytery structure and although Paul recognized the purview of the court of the Apostles and elders (Acts 15:2) in deciding such questions, he immediately and publicly rebukes Peter. Clearly, he does so to prevent the spread of this erroneous practice which was a threat to the very basis of the gospel – though Peter obviously did not see it that way initially. 
  • 2 Chronicles 19:2 – Jehu the prophet sternly and bluntly addresses King Jehoshaphat in a public rebuke of his sinful alliance and fellowship with the wicked King Ahab. There is no private approach, no sparing the feelings and sensibilities of the godly Jehoshaphat. He had done wrong publicly and because he was an influential leader of the people of God, in danger now of leading them deeper into fellowship with apostasy, he must be rebuked openly by God’s man.

It is not wrong to rebuke the public sin of a Christian without recourse to the private approach first protocol. When there is public defiance of God’s order by an elder, a minister, etc then public rebuke is in order and necessary for the sake of defending the cause of God from harmful influence.

Some objections to Biblical separation answered

A brief overview of what the Scripture teaches.

God’s people are to separate from apostasy and the uncleanness of the world. This is the standard of personal holiness that Scripture demands. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (2Corinthians 6:17 AV)

Those who refuse to separate from apostacy and worldliness become spiritually unclean. They become contaminate with the apostasy they refuse to separate from and are held guilty of the same sins in those they associate with. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2John 1:10-11 AV)

The brother who will not separate from apostasy and error must himself be separated from and be treated as an heathen man and a publican, Matthew 18:17.

Some objections that may be raised to this view

#1: If I practice this kind of separation then I will be obliged to separate from men such as A, B, or C. Surely this cannot be right since these are good men.

It is important to remember that no such personal considerations are to interfere with an objective application of the commands of God. This is best illustrated in the words of the Lord Jesus as He outlined what faithful following of Him meant. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26 AV) Many have wrongly argued that separation to Christ that demands such a price cannot be right!

It is also important to think carefully about the description of a man as good, or godly. These terms are relative. No man is without sin! Good men are capable of great sin and their past record of service for God cannot be used as a reason to ignore present sin. The man who is a useful preacher of God’s word is to be separated from if he acts in a way that supports apostasy and error. Nathan may well have argued that David’s previous service record meant that he could avoid denouncing his sin with Bathsheb, 2Samuel 12:7, but did not. Paul could have argued in a similar fashion concerning Peter and Barnabas in Galatians 2:11ff, but did not.

The vital thing here is to establish what Scripture teaches and act in simple obedience no matter who it means aving to leave – even father or mother – in order to be faithful to Christ.

#2: Separation causes division and Christ has called His people to be united.

Certainly separation brings division to the surface and makes it visible. Yet the Biblical reality is that it is the entrance of error that causes the division – not the faithful, obedient response of separating from it. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Romans 16:17 AV) It was the false teacher who initiated the division.

Undoubtedly Christ has called His people to unity. Yet the basis of that unity must ever be the truth itself. The Lord Jesus does not command unity for unity’s sake. The application of the doctrine of separation is a vital part of this. “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Hebrews 13:13 AV) Christ is the focus of all true unity. The advance of that unity requires separation from the camp. In this instance as the Apostle wrote to the Hebrews, the camp represented those who insisted on an erroneous methodology in the worship of God – i.e. those who insisted on the continuing relevance of Levitical practice.

#3: All of us are disobedient in some degree. To be consistent if I separate from a disobedient brother I am required also to separate from myself which is clearly illogical.

Certainly, no Christian is without sin. Yet each of us has a duty to strive after perfection in this life. We have a duty to obey God. Even knowing that our obedience will always be imperfect in this life does not negate the duty. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12 AV) This rather foolish objection would destroy the basis of all Church discipline. It would destroy the basis of all preaching and denounciation of sin – since such a thing should only be done by the perfect.

This objection ignores a crucial fact. Denunciation of sin, and the required action against it, proceeds on the objective authority of God’s truth which is perfect and not on the basis of personal holiness. When a Christian speaks against sin and their life does not support such censuring of another that person is a hypocrite and they undermine any criticism they make of sin in another because they lack moral authority. Yet, such failure on the part of the critic of sin does not undo the legitimacy of the condemnation if the criticism is valid in the light of Scripture.

The Christian has a duty to apply the teaching of Christ in Matthew 7:3-5 – “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” The duty is seen to be two-fold:

a. first cast out the beam out of thine own eye if it exists, then;

b. cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Every Christian must approach the matter of denouncing sin with the spirit of humility, grace and a real consciousness of personal liability to sin. This is evident in Paul’s words in Galatians 6:1-2. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” In the context (Gal 2:11ff) he has recorded how he denounced Peter’s folly and error. No doubt this is how Paul had dealt with that matter in Peter’s life as he had withstood him to his face.

Biblical Separation and “Platform fellowship”

“Platform fellowship’ is a phrase coined to describe the artificial distinction some see in the relationship, or fellowship, experienced among participants in a conference situation. Sometimes this conference scenario primarily involves preaching, while in others it is primarily academic in nature. However, when a conference is theological or involves handling the truth of God in any form, it cannot simply be regarded as academic, whether it involves preachers or seminarians.

The concept of ‘platform fellowship’, as defined by many conservative evangelicals, allows them to justify in their own minds the freedom to associate with, worship with, preach with and lecture with those that, on a strictly Biblical basis, they should distance themselves from. It is in many ways an attempt to find a way for men to bring together what God has put asunder!

Often this ‘platform fellowship’ involves participating in an event with those who are in the apostasy or professing Christians who are disobediently compromised with apostasy. While association on a platform does not necessarily mean a personal agreement with every speaker in every non-fundamental issue of the faith, it must at a minimum, entail the recognition of any differences as being within the pale of Biblical orthodoxy and that nothing prohibiting a joint exercise in worship exists.

An act of worship

It has to be stated that it is not possible to deal with any aspect of Biblical truth, in any scenario, without an act of worship taking place, at least on the part of the one faithfully presenting the truth of God. Does a presentation of truth not involve an exhortation to submit to and worship the God who is its source? Biblical truth can never simply be an academic matter, nor can the truth of God be reduced to spiritually-neutral academic jargon. The faithful servant of God will want the help of the Holy Ghost to glorify Christ in presenting the truth of God’s word regardless of the type of conference in view. To preach at a conference, to read a paper at an academic gathering or a theological society, and deal with some aspect of the word of God cannot fail to involve worship and service of God – both as a speaker and a hearer. Every time I handle the truth of God in any context I must do it with reverence and with godly fear, which the essence of acceptable worship. To do otherwise is, for the moment at least, to handle Scripture as the Pharisees and Sadducees did – they made the commandment of God of none effect, Matthew 15:6.

The speaking participant in a conference must actually be seen as a leader in the activity of that conference. He is there to lead the thoughts of his hearers in a certain direction. He is therefore a leader in any worship activity that is inherent in the handling of Divine truth. Far from being an insignificant thing, this is a position of prominence and leadership with reference to all in attendance. Yet, by engaging with others involved in that conference, he becomes a joint-leader of worship with them, yoked together in common purpose for that time. So often there is an instance of the forbidden unequal yoke because his fellow conference speakers are such as to be separated from, rather than joined with in a leadership role in joint worship activity.

Every act of worship must be regulated by Scripture. It is never left to the individual to define what is acceptable or not in terms of the worship of God. Aaron learned that God will not be worshipped by altered means when he made the golden calf but retained the use of the name of Jehovah, Exodus 32:5; Nadab and Abihu his sons learned this to their destruction, Leviticus 10:3. To engage in that worship with those who are directly involved with apostasy or those who support it by compromised associations with it, is sin. It is a pollution that destroys worship that must be in spirit and sincerely according to truth if it is to be accepted by God.

Is the concept of platform fellowship Biblical?

Is it possible for a servant of God to participate on equal terms in a conference with an apostate, a modernist, a Bible-denier, a preacher with compromised associations? Is he obeying God by doing so? The fact is that Scripture does not justify such fellowship but emphatically forbids it.

The practice of the Christian in every area of life is to be regulated by the word of God. Especially in the area of worship, there must be a clear Biblical precedent or command to justify such fellowship. The fact is that there is no such command or precedent to justify fellowship in a conference setting with those ordinarily prohibited from joint-worship activity. There is no command in Scripture that warrants the relaxation of the Biblical standards of separation that are to govern the life and worship of the Christian simply because of a conference situation. There are no exemptions to the Biblical rules on separation of life and worship for the Christian given to conference preachers, seminarians, or academics.

The ministry of the Lord Jesus affords numerous examples of how He dealt with religious ‘academics’ with whom He had a great deal in common. “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” (Matthew 23:1-3 AV) The Saviour and these scribes had the entire body of Moses’ revelation in common but the perversions of the Law introduced by the scribes, and especially their practice of the Law, was such that the Saviour rarely lost an opportunity to preach against them. He certainly never engaged in ‘platform fellowship’ to address spiritual matters.

The Apostles also practiced separation of this kind. Paul, when he met with the philosophers in Athens, did not fellowship with them – though a brilliant academic himself – but preached against their devilish superstitions and empty worship. His attitude to fellow-believers who erred and fell into sin is also striking. The incident of Galatians 2:11ff is a case in point. Peter allowed himself to be influenced by some who came from James in the church at Jerusalem – an apostolic delegation who were advocating wrong Christian practice. Barnabas and others were caught up in the hypocrisy. Yet Paul stood against their error in an open, forthright, public fashion. He did not and could not continue to preach with Peter, though both were Apostles; or Barnabas, though he had preached with him many times previously; while this error remained. Peter at this point was acting contrary to Paul, building up what they through the gospel had sought to tear down, v18. Fellowship between them was ruptured for a time till this matter was dealt with.

An earlier incident is also recorded in Galatians 2:5 when false brethren had come into the church in Antioch. At least initially they had appeared as brethren but their doctrine had quickly proved this to be a false claim. Paul did not tolerate their doctrine which was a perversion of the gospel – no, not for an hour. It is interesting that he specifically says that he did not give them place by subjection. In other words he did not sit in the attitude of a listener being taught by them. Yet many conservative evangelicals sit in this very subjection at conferences listening to that which is presented by a perverter of the precept and practice of God’s truth.

Biblical separation

The doctrine of Scripture on this subject is remarkably simple. It is a doctrine that is seen everywhere in Scripture. In the Old Testament, Levitical regulation emphasized the necessity of maintaining a vigilant state of separated purity unto the Lord. It is against the background of these regulations that Paul writes as he does in 2 Corinthians 6:17. Touch not is one of the summary statements of the Levitical legislation used in Col 2:21. The spiritual application of the Levitical laws of cleanness and purity is made to Gentile believers in Corinth.

1. Touch not the unclean thing. There is no agreement between Christ and Belial; no spiritual harmony or joint-activity between light and darkness and the Christian by his behaviour is not to give the impression that there is! The Corinthians were guilty of doing so by their attendance at the heathen temple on social grounds.

By using the words touch not Paul indicates that there is to be a care taken to avoid the least contact with that which is defiling. This Divine ordinance rules out joint conference activity between a believer and one involved in apostasy. It is not possible for a servant of God to appear on the same conference bill as a priest of Rome, for example, and do so in obedience to God. The command of God to touch not the unclean thing does not provide for exception to embrace such at a conference.

2. Those who touch the unclean thing become unclean. Those believers who disobey God’s injunction to separate from the unclean make themselves unclean by contact with them. That which is holy is always defiled by contact with the unclean, rather than the reverse. Cp Haggai 2:11-13. Evangelicals who endorse Rome as Christian such as those who signed the Manhattan Declaration or the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) documents, make themselves as unclean as Rome! The unforeseen implication of the activity Paul was rebuking in Corinth was that those believers were in fact drinking the cup of devils – there was an unavoidable spiritual/sacramental link to devilish apostasy, even though they sought to distinguish themselves from it by claiming liberty to act as they did. Their distinctions were artificial and utterly wrong no matter how loudly they may have been insisted upon! By engaging in this behaviour they ruled themselves out from drinking the Lord’s cup in a worthy fashion. That is, they lost fellowship with God.

A measure of the contracted uncleanness is seen in that Scripture teaches very clearly that the persistently disobedient believer is in fact to be treated as an unbeliever – an heathen man and a publican in the words of Matthew 18:17. While acknowledging that they are not in fact an unbeliever or an enemy (2Thess 3:15), they are dealt with as if they were because of their sin. This is simply because by refusing to separate from, and by maintaining fellowship with the wicked, they are held to be guilty of the sin of that wicked associate. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2John 1:10-11 AV)

The Christian who enters fellowship with the spiritually unclean has become a willing accessory to, and proponent of their wickedness. Those who are contaminated by apostasy contaminate all who associate with them in spiritual activity. The conference floor or platform does not sanitize this pollution, render a man immune to the transfer of this uncleanness, or prevent its spread.

3. A brother who has made himself unclean is to be separated from. God says: Withdraw from him. There is no exception clause given in the case of a conference! The servant of God who participates in a conference with a brother who maintains compromised associations is disobeying the clear command of God to withdraw from such a disorderly brother. By doing so he is only encouraging defiance of God and refusing God’s command to discipline sin. This has the additional effect of also making him complicit in the original offence. By preaching with, lecturing with, a brother who is worthy of discipline by the command of God, he supports that brother’s sin. There is no getting away from this.

The supposed meaningless nature or negligible effect of platform fellowship is often used as an argument to avoid bearing the cross which is involved in separating from error and all who support it. It is a specious distinction without Biblical basis. God’s laws on the separation of His people apply in every context.

Inter-church musical event in Penticton

Yesterday (Aug 1) I received a call from a Mr. D. S*****, representing a local Pentecostal Church, and inviting me to an inter-church musical event in a local park. He informed me that he had 21 or 22 local churches already signed up to participate in this event. My response was to refuse because I knew that to have so many churches from Penticton involved required many compromised organisations to be involved. A few sentences later in the conversation it became clear that top of the list of those involved were local Roman Catholic churches as well as the Anglican church.

I was asked if I wanted to state a reason for refusal to participate in such an event. I attempted to explain that it was wrong to engage in an act of worship or evangelistic activity while including those who denied the gospel. As the conversation proceeded it became clear that Mr. S***** had little idea of the issues involved in this matter. The conversation ended with him recommending me to the mercy of God and he hung up. It is because his tragic, hackneyed responses and the points he made to justify his inter-church event are commonly used today that I felt prompted to write this post. 

Jesus’ example. It is common to hear it stated that since the Lord Jesus went about dealing with sinners, it is proper to include those who do not accept the gospel in evangelistic efforts like this inter-church event. It is very clear that the Saviour did NOT include among His disciples those who openly and deliberately opposed His doctrine! He preached the truth to sinners but did NOT allow such to join with Him to lead others in worship, or to present His message with Him as an equal particpant. The distinction was always maintained between Himself/His true followers and all who rejected His word. If Mr. S*****’s logic were Scriptural would we not find joint services between Christ and the Pharisees, for example?? This did not happen! Rather the Saviour denounced those who opposed His teaching in the strongest terms.

The reality is that the Jesus cited by ecumenists is in fact a false Christ (2Cor 11:4) – one of their own imagination whom they can use to justify blatant disobedience of Scripture and avoid separating from sin and error.

No perfect Church or pastor. I was pointedly told that I must be without sin to denounce sin in others! This is a pet objection used by ecumenists. IF this was true then it would never have been possible for a prophet/preacher since the dawn of time to say anything!! Every Christian must certainly do their utmost to practice what they preach or else their witness has no credibility, but a lack of perfection is not to silence God’s people as they witness against sin. Rather, they deal with it first in their own lives and witness by word and practice to others. It is to be noted that this consideration of a lack of perfection never seems to stop the likes of Mr. S***** telling me that I am wrong! Perhaps he has found what has eluded me.

No judging!!! How wearying it is to hear the words of Matthew 7:1 used in this context – Judge not, that ye be not judged. The Saviour is not forbidding judgement but insisting that we will be judged by the same standard we judge others by. Clearly, in the context of this passage the Saviour requires us to make a judgement between what is righteous and what is wicked. As I told Mr. S*****, when I proclaim the condemnation of God on sin, I have the authority of God behind the words. My private judgement on any matter is no better or worse than any other private individual, but when any Christian states for example: “adultery is wrong and all who engage in it are sinning against God” they are in agreement with the teaching of Scripture, and they have authority to do so. This in not because of any personal merit but because of the authority of God’s book and His Law. Sadly, the reality is that it is because Mr. S***** and multitudes like him do NOT exercise judgement according to Scripture that they involve themselves with that which God has forbidden.

There is a sobering commentary on this matter of ‘not judging’ found in the words of Paul: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Romans 1:28 AV) The word reprobate is literally ‘void of judgement’. A lack of Biblical discernment/judgement is in fact the mark of the unregenerate! How strange that modern ‘christians’ have made what is an evidence of a sinner into an evidence of what they call a ‘christian’!!

 

A sinner might be saved.This statement was used to me to justify the event. ‘It will all be worthwhile if God uses it to save just one sinner’. This is very wrong! To justify activity that Scripture condemns on the grounds that a sinner may be converted is perverse disobedience. Salvation is of the Lord and it is true that He has saved sinners in extraordinary circumstances. However, Mr. S*****’s logic justifies the murder of the Lord Jesus by Jewish and Roman authorities, since He saved the dying thief as He was on the cross. Since Peter very clearly speaks of the wicked hands that crucified Christ, the fact that a sinner was saved does not justify doing what was wrong. The logic employed here is perilously close to that which Paul denounces: “And not [rather], (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.” (Romans 3:8 AV) To reason that potential good justfies behaviour that disobeys the commands of Scripture is – to use Paul’s terms – an evil, a slander upon the truth, and in fact is ‘damnable’ thinking. These are strong terms, but they indicate the mind of God in response to the reasoning employed by Mr. S*****!

In this context it is appropriate to ask, What will that potential convert be converted to? Mr. S***** cited the hymn Amazing grace and John 3:16, impressing me that it was entirely possible that a sinner could partake of the saving grace of God whether that hymn was sung by a Roman Catholic or not. He seemed oblivious the fact that the ‘Amazing grace’ a representative of the Church of Rome might sing gustily about is NOT the saving grace of God. Roman Catholicism defines grace as the favour of God as it is mediated and dispensed by the Church of Rome. In Rome’s eyes, the ‘grace’ of baptismal regeneration; the ‘grace’ of consuming Christ in the blasphemy of the Mass; or the ‘grace’ of having sin forgiven through confession to a priest and performing penance; is all amazing! A sinner may be converted to Rome’s view of Amazing grace and be more firmly on the road to Hell than ever before. Sadly, in such an event, Mr. S***** would be congratulating himself on the success of his inter-church venture.

It is not the message of a hymn that saves but the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is revealed in Scripture. It is wrong to promote a false gospel in the hope that it might be used to convert a sinner.

The Bible is clear.

“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2Jo 1:10-11 AV) 

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1Ti 6:3-5 AV)

The word of God is very clear on how God’s people are to withdraw/separate from everything that is a compromise of the gospel of Christ. The apostate Church of Rome and its Protestant counterpart in the Church of England, are touchstones of unbiblical error. Any event which involves them may be dismissed by the Bible believer as involving a disobedient association. These churches – and many like them – are not churches of Christ but as the Scripture puts it, synagogues of Satan. The doctrine taught in these churches is foreign to the Bible and while it may be a form of religion is decidedly not the doctrine and practice of the Bible.

By incorporating the false teachings of the Church of Rome and the modern Anglican church, as well as other unbiblical errors, into this inter-church event Mr. S***** and others like him are found by God to be partakers in their evil deeds and doctrine. As such, he brings the censure of God upon his own head.

 

Equipped to stand

Recently I did a series of Bible studies in the gospel armour spoken of by Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20. They formed the basis of messages I preached at the youth camp sponsored by our Western Canadian congregations this year.

You can read the notes and download a PDF copy by clicking on the image to the left.

Studies in the Tabernacle, Pt6

The Laver

Scripture: Exodus 30:17-21

The message of the outer court was a call to be clean in order to meet God. First there was the brazen altar and its symbolism of redemption. Then there was the brazen laver. The great theme set forth by the brazen laver was cleansing in order to communion with and service of God. Its significance relates to the redeemed sinner. Those who are saved must be clean if they are to enjoy the fellowship with God that shed blood has purchased for them. This truth is demonstrated by its position. The laver stood between the brazen altar and ‘the tent of meeting’ where intimate fellowship with God was the experience of the priests. The laver represents the cleansing work of Christ in the sanctification of His people.

When God’s word is offensive

A recent online edition of Christianity Today contained an article on a controversy over how to translate the biblical phrase the Son of God in Bibles used in Islamic nations. The problem is that the Koran actually pronounces a curse on the use of such a title and many Christian missionaries have found the use of this title a positive hindrance to their evangelism. Some have adopted a compromised position of shifting away from the language of Scripture in order to avoid a hostile reaction.

Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth

Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth are two things that must always be kept separate in our thinking!

However, this has become impossible for many Christians in this age because of the impression created by the erroneous but long-established traditions of men that Christmas IS all about Christ’s birth. It is the common misapprehension among God’s people today that Christmas is about Christ’s birth and that the world has hijacked this sacred festival for its own evil ends. Nothing could be further from the truth. For many modern Christians it is almost sacrilegious to suggest that Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Sadly, that only reflects the reality that today the minds of God’s people at large are not under the strict discipline of Scripture as they ought to be.

The friends of Christ

Based on a transcript of a message preached by Rev. Foster in Penticton Free Presbyterian Church on Lord’s Day November 21st, 2010.

You can listen to the audio of this message here.

John 15 verses 13 and 14 is my text this morning. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:13-14 AV)

Our subject is: the friends of Christ. Here is an exclusive group indeed! What a blessing and a privilege it is, a rare thing to be among those that are described as the friends of Jesus Christ. Sadly like many other human experiences our notion of friendship has been degraded and devalued in these times. If, for example, we were to base our ideas of what this text means upon the definition of “friend” as used by facebook or some of these other online social networking sites, we would not think very much of what the Savior has to say! In those environments it is possible to have friends that you’ve never seen, know nothing, about care little for; and really they are not friends in the true sense or in the biblical sense of the word as it is used here.

Evaporating holiness

Based on the transcript of a message preached by Rev. Andy Foster on November 14th, 2010 in Penticton Free Presbyterian Church.

I would like to concentrate on the words of Hosea 6:4: “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness [is] as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.”

The prophecy of Hosea has as one of its notable features a number of illustrations. Simple, natural pictures that are used by the prophet to convey profound spiritual truth. We have one of those pictures in two parts set before us in the words of our text. Your goodness is (1) as the morning cloud and (2) as the early dew it goeth away. Two natural illustrations are brought together to impress upon his hearers spiritual truth that they needed to pay attention to.

Our need for the power of the Holy Ghost

Below is the substance of a message I delivered recently to the ministers of our Presbytery during our Fall week of Prayer held in Barrie FPC, Barrie, ON. I believe that the experience of Micah recorded in Micah 3:8 is the real need of the Church of Christ today.

“But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” (Micah 3:8 AV)

The term ‘distinctive’ is a part of the FPC dictionary. This church has historically proclaimed and practiced distinctives, not just to be different but to be like Christ who is distinct from the world.

This statement by the prophet begins with a strong adversative—but truly. It is clear from the context that he is insisting upon a sharp contrast between himself and the greedy, grasping, self-serving, and ultimately blind and unclean false prophets of his day.

The gospel is no longer enough

This thinking pervades much of modern Christianity. It has infected and poisoned the thinking of evangelical, fundamentalist Churches and preachers. It is this concept that lies behind the widespread use of gimmickry to lure an audience to hear the gospel. The idea is to use ‘bait and switch’ tactics to appeal to the worldly and the ungodly by using activities or music that appeals to them and then while they are not aware, slip in ‘the gospel’ and hope they won’t notice! ‘Christian’ personalities, rock music, a casual or party atmosphere created for worship, are all bait used to catch the unsuspecting and supposedly reach them for Christ with the truth.

Such an approach to the gospel of Jesus Christ is worldly, sinful, a slander on Christ, and a gross disservice to the souls of men!

Bible reading

I have just read an article that highlights the gross ignorance of Scripture that prevails among professing Christians today. The following is a quotation from the article:

  • “ Americans love their Bibles. So much so that they keep them in pristine, unopened condition. Or, as George Gallup Jr. and Jim Castelli said in a widely quoted survey finding, ‘Americans revere the Bible but, by and large, they don’t read it.’ Anecdotes abound. Time magazine observed in a 2007 cover story that only half of U.S. adults could name one of the four Gospels. Fewer than half could identify Genesis as the Bible’s first book.” [Christianity Today]

Why the Church has no power

Text: Matthew 17:14-21

Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?” (Matthew 17:19 AV)

These are words that highlight the devastating lack of spiritual power experienced by the disciples on this occasion. It is a question I believe must be asked by the people of God everywhere today.

There could hardly be a greater contrast than that seen in this passage between the experience of Christ and His disciples on the mountain and those who were in the valley below awaiting His return. On the mountain the power and glory of God was seen reflected in the person of Christ; the voice of God was heard; while below strife, defeat and devilish power is rampant. One scene is an illustration of how we could, and ought to live and, praise God, one day will live in glory with Christ—while the other is a reflection of what is so often, and tragically, the reality of our spiritual experience.