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IN CHRIST, AND FOR CHRIST
GODLINESS AND CLARITY
HAV FELLOWSHIP ?
Places to be and
Not to Be
When it Comes to What the Bible says
Man in Retrospect, in Prospect and in Bold Relief
which covers much in this realm)
Introduction from the word of God in both testaments
There are times when "separation" seems to spell not a word, but a series of horror ideas, as if the worst of the pugnacious thirties, the arrogant exclusivists, the know-all brigade of spiritual storm-troopers were about to set upon the peaceable churchgoer, and using unethical strong-arm tactics, to strain good relations, good sense and good form by actions both unwise and uncivil; and probably unBiblical to boot.
Is this so? Certainly there is some reason for reticence in this area - as in brain surgery. This does not mean it is to be, at all costs, avoided. The most cursory reading of Ezekiel chapters 43-44 will give an awareness of something precious to the mind of God: Purity, separation of holy from commonplace on the one hand, and conjoining on the other, both intense and immense. (Cf. Ezekiel 44:9-15,21,23-24, 43:25-26.)
It is clear:
Hebrews 12 has the same intense awareness of coming to the presence of the glorious holiness of God, to which - in view of its unapproachable light noted in I Timothy 6 - access is by privilege and pastoral presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus Hebrews is this:
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire."
Now if any book stresses the humanity and reality and accessibility of the sympathetic Saviour, it is this, Hebrews (2:17,4:15, 5:5-8,, 6:20, 7:25, 8:6-12, 9:11-12): but there is the same reality, as John also relates from the lips of Christ, "If anyone love Me, he will keep My words," "You are my friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 14:23, 15:14).
To be sure, we are delivered from the straining follies of self-working salvation; but to be 'delivered' from holiness and all the reality and emphasis of spirituality which is there, from the God who IS a Spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth, is no deliverance but simple fraud.
Such sanctity must become a beauty increasingly evident in the personality - a force evoked by Paul in I Thessalonians 5:23. To be sanctified wholly in mind, spirit and body is not some unwieldy thing for the witless, but an aspect of worship in everyday life, which overflows into the very heart and conscience, conduct and quality of life. Christ sanctified Himself for His brethren's sake (John 17:19), and we are not in a place of recumbency, but in a world for which work and witness, sanctity and spirituality are in short supply and great need.
Accordingly, the principle of separation, spiritually speaking, not ecclesiastically in mere tones of some ecclesiastical bombast, is of the utmost importance. It begins in the heart, with worship, with love, adoration, purity and hence redemption. It is seen in Ephesians 5, where the topic is NOT merely fornication and sexual licence, but no less, covetousness, being of far wide and indeed of different scope: both are mentioned, as is ALL UNCLEANNESS.
The scope, then, is from Ephesians to 5:7 and includes wrath and various spiritual criteria which can grieve the Lord. It moves from 'corrupt' or 'rotten' communication out of your mouth, to other forms of evil and impurity (cf. II Chronicles 26:16-21, where King Uzziah, presuming to alter the requirements of the word of God, or to intrude with his own will against them amid the people of God, become OUTWARDLY UNCLEAN, in that he at once became a leper, was physically cast out of the temple, and for the rest of his life had this stigma in his flesh).
Instruction concerning this ? It is both simple and clear, leaving none with any excuse whatever for lingering in the land of wandering. Having specified ALL in the domain of uncleanness, from spiritual evils to physical, Ephesians tells us one thing to do about it. It is found in Ephesians 5:10-11. Prove what is the acceptable will of the Lord and "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." NOTHING is more unfruitful than departure from His word, as with the various idolatries of mass, pope or Mariolatry, men's minds or cultural compresses (cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H). The instruction is clear. The result is determinative, as in any other combination or fellowship with vice. LEAVE IT. When ? When you hear the command. When is that ? Now!
Indeed, as to that, Isaiah 8:20 tells us categorically:
"To the law and to the testimony! If they do
not speak according to this word,
it is because there is no light in them.
will pass through it hard pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they
that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish;
and they will be driven into darkness."
How much light is present when there is NO LIGHT! How much a work of darkness is it to depart from that word which is a light to my feet ? How long does a person wait before obeying the strict injunctions of both Testaments, that where the word of God is departed from, you have NO FELLOWSHIP with those concerned. Either they are removed from the church, or if the whole become so rebellious as to fail to do this, there is simply no other option but to leave the church oneself, and go where the word of God is not subverted by darkness, or contaminated by the traditions of man (Mark 7:7ff.). It is thus made of no effect, and to follow such ways is neither serious serviceability to God whose the word is, nor permitted. It is excluded by express and repeated commandments.
HOW then is purity sought in one major route ? In what shall a young man cleanse His way ? asks the Psalmist (Psalm 119:9). "By TAKING HEED ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD!" comes the answer. The word scours, scourges and purifies, as well as strengthens, inspires, uplifts and consoles; the blood pardons. Their intimacy is unlimited (I Peter -23, Hebrews ): the one may convict, the other remit. There is then an ultimate uncleanness, to throw away the washer, with which the soap may be applied: the ignoring, defilement or rejection of the word of God. There is a darkness in which the unclean may dwell (Isaiah 8:20 - no light, cf. John 5:47, Mark 7:7, Matthew 4:4, Proverbs 30:6).
If anything is 'unclean' as you see from Ezekiel, it is this failure to separate between the fearful wonder of the things of God and unspiritual approaches, which have their OWN wisdom, and sanctity, and flavour and savour and perspective and way: like using secular psychology to select missionaries, an abomination if ever there was one. The people had 'defiled' the ways and requirements and realities of God, and NOW -
they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of
the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design
and all its ordinances, all its forms and its laws. Write it down in their
sight, so that they may keep its whole design and its ordinance and perform
them. This is the law of the temple. The whole area surrounding the mountaintop
is most holy. Behold this is the law of the temple" - Ezekiel 43:11-12 (cf.
earlier, Ezekiel 9:9-10:23, where the glory departs from the
Certainly, the forms of such things are now fulfilled in the substance of Christ, as Hebrews 8-10 is at such enormous pains to stress; but the holy things themselves, these are not deleted, or abrogated as Christ emphasised in Matthew 5:17-20.
On the contrary, what does He there teach ?
This: that the least commandment taught and done is evidence of eminence in the kingdom: spirituality is like a good epidemic - it flows on and pervades and conquers on all sides. The Lord in the heart, ruling and dominant, spiritual and prominent, realised and worshipped, gives a quality to the least things which bespeaks the condition of the whole. These things are for our instruction in righteousness, not for sallow compromise as if the realities of Christ have separated us not from sin, but from sanctity! Thus Hebrews 12 explicitly brings out just this point with fiery emphasis.
HUMILITY does NOT consist in humbling God till He must accept our ways: it is rather humbling oneself so that one accepts HIM AND HIS WAYS; and does not hold commerce of the soul and the worship and the ways divine, with those who REBEL, are unclean in the things of the Lord. (Cf. What is Poverty of Spirit ? Question 12, in Questions and Answers, the Word that Speaks.)
Separation is well shown in its fuller scope in Numbers 16. Korah, son of Levi, with Dathan and Abihu and some others, were told this (v.9):
a small thing to you that the God of
They were intensely provocative to the Lord, by failing to realise the His appointments and holiness, and by profaning the holy: that breaches what is of the essence of holiness.
Such BREACH, it may come to this: either
1) to fail to appreciate holy things in the Lord's service, like the Liberal radicals, who made humanity increasingly the criterion of deity and invented a suitable Christ, garbed with a little history, for the purpose; or
2) to make those holy things so different that you could really ignore them for practical purposes and do what you liked with your life, as in the case of the Barthian movement, where God is so wholly other that actuality for man can become a new and inventive field, spiritual things strangled with a sort of supreme contempt, redefined and reduced in practice - these are branches.
Of what? Of the impurity, the uncleanness which defiles separation
and FOR the Lord,
and brings in the flesh.
From SUCH things,
separation is always necessary. The congregation of
"So the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the congregation, saying, 'Get away from the tents of Korah...' "
Again, Moses says:
"Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs!"
Notice - "Tomorrow..." all were to be "present before the Lord." There were no decades of intolerable confusion! What a lesson for today's permissive ecclesiastical society, which apes its secular counterpart, often no more than masquerading as church. Note too : "Separate yourselves...!" - addressed to Moses and Aaron. The plea for mercy for the people, for some was met with the emphatic continuation of the divine charge:
"Speak to the congregation, saying 'Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan,
Their 'strange fire' of unauthorised pretensions was quickly removed from the people, whose 'apostolic' ministrations continued by the Lord's own strict appointment. Moses, like the apostles, was sent. The word of God was sent. The requirements and the authority and the content were sent.
Similarly in Leviticus 10 we read of literal 'strange fire', with Nadab and Abihu playing about with holy things, very much after the style of those Pentecostalists who characteristically breach the commands about what is permissible in the congregation and what is not (as in I Cor.12-14, see A Question of Gifts), so becoming vulnerable to both psychological and even spiritual penetration from other sources than the divine, all too well exhibited in its unabashed liberalities, in rollings on the floor, barking like dogs, unholy mirth, even on occasion while the Bible is being read. But all that is treated in depth in A Question of Gifts, with a key note visible in Psalm 96:1-9, 89:7, I Cor. 14:26, 14:33,37, I Cor. 3:10.
Just as those men penetrated into the area of worship according to their own sweet will, as if God were not to interfere with the worship of God, or because liberty in grace meant liberty from grace, so were they were removed by death, for falsity in the things of God, in their formal enactment as in prophecy, could bring death to the presumptuous (cf. Deuteronomy 13). Does not David seek to be kept back from presumptuous sins (Psalm )!
While it is of course true that we are no longer ruled in a particular theocracy, the Lord does not change, as He Himself swears (Malachi 3:6), and His moral tenor, principles, truth is not subject to human revisionism. Even what is fulfilled and so no longer binding, does not lack teaching in righteousness (cf. II Timothy 3:16); and the way to be taught in righteousness is to follow the thrust, not to discount it. Accordingly, the very bodies of these men were promptly removed. The fear of the Lord is clean; and though perfect love casts out fear, such as mere terror might dictate, it by no means casts out the healthy reverence and awe towards His name which is apt and appropriate; so that Jesus Himself declared, You are my friends if you do whatever I command you (John 15).
Our present point however is simply this: that separation in principle and with promptitude is here taught. If the issue be deep, difficult of comprehension, then is it not a time for teaching and ministry and understanding; but when it is a matter of doing contrary to what is taught, either BY principles, or IN the word clearly, so that it is no matter of opining but of seeing what is there, then the consequences are not different from Titus 3:10. Questions of pastoral delicacy, where explicit teaching is not involved, may be contemplated in SMR pp. 568ff., and also in a later section of this current presentation.
Separation is getting on with it without playing about, polluting, combining, synthesising... or rebellion, of which the action of Korah, Nathan and Abihu, like that of Saul in his zenith of presumption, was a prime case (I Samuel 15:22-23):
"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is an iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king."
Now as we pass from the Old to the New Testament, let us realise this. In both Testaments, the prohibition on plus and minus, adding to and subtracting from the word of God, is intense, beyond all prevarication (Deuteronomy 12:32, 4:2-9, Proverbs 30:6, Revelation 22:18-22 being some of the indexes to this fact).
In the last case, Revelation, it is the "things" given in the book, to which no man may add: the topics, doctrines - all. So is I Corinthians 14:37 in the same vein: If any man wants to vary specifications form the mouth of God, plus or minus, then
a) what is his Master
Registration No. ( I Corinthians 3:10) ? and
b) since when has be been an apostle/prophet of the first century - Ephesians -22 ? The church already at that time was built on that foundation ("having been built" is the phrase).
Future Gospel "building" varying from that ALREADY GIVEN (Galatians 1:6-9), and whether by rescinding, befouling or invading the word of God, simply meant that you became an ignoramus or rebel (I Corinthians 14:37, Titus 3:10), ready for demotion or damnation (Matthew 5:17-20, I Peter 2:8-9), as the case might be. In this case of I Peter, it is indeed the focus, that CHRIST is their problem … but in the process, it is at the "word of God" which they stumble, for they are "disobedient to the word".
c) Indeed, let us repeat with emphasis, so intense (cf. SMR Appendix D, pp. 1175ff.) is the stress on the word of God written and directive, that it humbles the greatest who break it and teach so, and raises the least who do it and teach it, to a quite extraordinary degree (Matthew 5:17-20). Indeed, to break ONE commandment and teach men so is exceedingly lowering in the judgment and counsel of Christ (Matthew ). It applies to one of the least of His commandments!
Revelation, Christ and Moses, speak the same language covenantal purity. Room
for rebellion and plus-minus innovation is zero, precisely.
THE NEW TESTAMENT
We have, to be sure, concerned ourselves with the New Testament not a little, but this is not the major thrust so far. Let us now come to see its completion of the Old Testament testimony concerning separation, always most emphatic in the Old, with more detail and further focus.
Holiness, then, is not a
strained and artificial thing; but integumental to
the Christian body, practice and procedure. Separation is not an abnormal
artificiality - though some make it so, as others deny it with equal carnality
- but essentially a spiritual requisite that depends on the commands, the clean
fear of God and need to get on with His work, His business acceptably, honourably, honestly and without argument (I Peter 2:17,
5:5-10, Psalm 19:9, II Corinthians 12:20-13:7).
1) The Simple Case
of Being Contrary to the Apostolic Teaching
WHICH the Lord Authorised (John )
Titus provides this example. If the commands the Lord has given through His apostles whom He engaged to enable, are not acceptable, then neither is the one who says so - after the first and second admonition. The "divisive" man is NOT someone who holds differently from a majority, clique or consensus. It is one who holds against the teaching of the Lord. The prophets appear most often as "divisive" because their mission was often one of reproof, qualified approval, warning or exhortation to purity; in fact, they were divisive from evil, with which the majority saw fit to hold communion.
There is here, in Titus, no protracted nonsense as if we did not know the Lord, or His ways. This is for the liberal and the super-orthodox, who KNOW so much, that it is not enough to know the word of God to determine what is right. There is 'face' and 'place' or even imagined 'special grace'; so that polemics or pussy-footing, fever of the psyche, fear of the results before such people can undoubtedly enter in. The church can be in thrall to concepts and considerations of people and committees, past performance and the like.
In fact, WHAT is written, is the criterion, and if even a SOLOMON is to be made a sort of criterion in discussion, what would have been the case with the ACTUAL Solomon when he flirted with folly after a GREAT CAREER (I Kings 11:30-36).
How is the separation carried out, then, in the case of Titus 3:10? The dissident from the word of the LORD is no more acceptable. He no more continues his aggressive revolt, probably clad in sheepskin clothing over the wolfish reality, than did the sons of Korah: after the first and second admonition. There is a cleavage, not this time of the earth; but between those who will follow the Lord in His word, and those who will not. In Biblical terms, it should be no less sure, no more ambiguous than was the 'separation' imposed on the sons of Korah.
IF people will be helped, well; if they will mislead, like false soldiers who turn from their commander and seek to turn others away, there is a monumental ineptitude in harbouring them. As Christ put it to the Pharisees: "IF you were blind, you would have not sin; but now you say,' We see.' Therefore your sin remains" - John 9:41.
Pastoral sympathy and reasonableness is the mode: this is clear. However the acceptance of scripture over the reasonable run of time, for a reasonable understanding - that is the standard in Christ. To Him, it all returns; His speech, His mouth as of the One `altogether lovely' (Song of Solomon 5:16, cf. Ezekiel 3:3), it speaks truth; and its words will be a steel-sharp divider of things, say what we will: and His words, they are not variable (Revelation 19:11-16, Hebrews 4:12, John 7:17, 12:48, Hebrews 13:8, Matthew 24:35, 7:21-27, I Thessalonians 2:13). Much is sweet, as a gift; yet bitter to earn if earned it could be. Much that is not received, cannot be induced; and the words of Christ, they are such.
Indeed, for One called the Word, who was with God and was God (John 1:1-3), the `part' that does not speak is decidedly hard to find... You don't have, by itemisation, to focus belief on every scripture, as in a muscle flexing program, to be saved: your understanding alone may have gained only so much. Salvation indeed is not by scholarship! However if you are (as a matter of fact - II Timothy 2:15-19) saved by Christ Jesus the Lord, the Lord's Christ and not man's, then you might reasonably be expected to embrace and receive the scripture and not - the crucial point - to reject it. It is the Lord who opens eyes (Matthew , John ) and such eyes see.
But let no one change his ground. If it be claimed,
'Oh but I am ignorant!'
Well, yet does a man set himself up as knowledgeable and enter into direct conflict with the word of God, because he knows himself to be ignorant ! Will a person, by nihilistic `faith', rampant irrationality and mesmeric magic, flute existential musics that sack mathematics, purge experience and put a donkey's head on scientific method, or worse, assault the integrity both of the character and of the word of God? ... and so believe organic evolution? Let it be so. It is only one more cultural blasphemy of the mind and spirit, like the abuse of the body. It is no better and has no place.
To enter then into an adversative relationship bordering on, or at the very brink of war, this is not the mark of a disciple of a Lord who is - and we revert to Colossians - Lord of all. Even temporarily, to elect to disbelieve His word is a matter for concern and then, if need be, correction. Indeed, rejection of His word, as Christ Himself indicated in terms of criteria, as a practice is not consonant with continuance. (See John 8:31, 6:66-70, 7:17, 8:44-45; and cf. SMR pp. 568ff..) Note however that in the case of chronic rebellion, it is not the Christian who 'dies', as manifest in such words as John 10:27-28,10:9, Romans 5:1 ff., ff.. Rather as taught by Christ in Matthew 13:1-9 in that great sowing parable: the `seed' of the word of God may die in the unconverted and merely touched hearts, whose nether ground was and is hard, like `rock', unbroken, untransformed, ultimately unreceptive.
Rebuke ? (Titus 1:9 is in the same letter as Titus ! cf. II Timothy 4:2) . It is indeed no small thing to pass from the feeling of II Timothy -25, to the surgery of II Timothy 4:2 or Titus 3 :10; but the same reasonableness and grace may be seen in both physician and surgeon, and though the knife cut, yet it need not lack grace. Since it is the Lord who "knows who are His", rebuke may in His graces be therapeutic. "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (11 Timothy ). Let us rely on the Lord: not human `wisdom'. `wisdom'. (Cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock p. 950.; Questions and Answers The Word that Speaks, Question 12, What is Poverty of Spirit?)
Those not corrected go their way; for "can two walk together except they be agreed" ... ? "If anyone love me," says Christ, "he will keep my words" (John -23). And if you will not ? That is war, deplorably directed; it is anomalous confusion, breach of the first commandment: that is indeed too near the end of 1 Corinthians :
"If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema" (accursed), says the apostle. "Maranatha!" ( May the Lord come ), he adds... ().
Pastorally however, there is this distinction: it is one thing to seek to understand, quite another authoritatively to teach amiss. There is the criterion ( cf. John -41). On the second admonition, what did Titus say? Reject. In the midst, there is scope for remonstration, exhortation, inculcation, dissertation: before the false teacher, rejecting all, arises in the midst of the people, and scripturally, must go to some other midst whether spiritual voyeurism, or more directly rebellion, is in vogue.
However, with this must go that humility of which Paul spoke: NOTHING which is the SLIGHTEST part in question must be so enforced. NOTHING which is not actually written, or with a certainty unchallengeable, unquestionable entailed by what is written, and in particular nothing which is merely a traditional INTERPRETATION should be so enforced. For all that, while many try to MAKE the word of God teach what they want, what it actually says is not in essence too hard to find. When the question is not this: CAN I MAKE IT TEACH MY WILL? Or the will of my pet tradition? But WHAT DOES THE WORD OF GOD, AT THE VERY LEAST, CERTAINLY TEACH? There is nothing too hard.
meat, that is hard and challenging concepts needing much scriptural background
and understanding, there is room for chewing. That is why the Westminster
Confession says so well, on the topic of predestination, that care and
circumspection should be exercised. It is easy to blunder into philosophic
pitfalls while 'carrying on' about deep things. It is better to take what is
written, assuming nothing, on the basis of philosophic assumptions; and then to
discuss for the purposes of understanding, in another category.
We have already noted the case in Ephesians 4-5. "Uncleanness" is in Leviticus and Ezekiel so strong a charge, has so many ramifications from leprosy to arrogance, that it is inexcusable to pretend that "ALL" uncleanness (Ephesians 5:3), where covetousness and fornication figure, means "NOT ALL" uncleanness. (Cf. The Biblical Workman, Ch.4 on this.)
Similarly in Ezekiel 44:23-27,6-13, it is transparently clear that scarifying concepts and rules of 'clean' and 'unclean' signify the canons of purity, truth and as a criterion, with the word of God Himself, not merely cognised, but applied; not only recognised, but appropriated. Here is the acme and criterion for all judgment (Ezekiel 44:23-24, Isaiah 6:5, Deuteronomy , Proverbs 30:5-6); to violate this is not merely unclean, but mockery of the concept. Uncircumcised hearts are the ultimate embrace of uncleanness, idols its red-light district (Ezekiel 44:9-13): ANYTHING separating from the word of God the festoons of unclean folly. False teachers and practitioners "shall not come near me" (Ezekiel 44:9), not being free to propound their evils. Purgation precedes for restoration (44:6-9,29,23) from any such chronic lapse, while separation enshrines alone, the unrepentant.
ALL "uncleanness". That is what it says. Miriam became leprous and was thus
put out of the camp in view of her failure to realise
where authority lay - not in Moses per se, but in what the LORD had seen fit to
appoint. The leprosy symbolised it as the Lord
proclaimed: "If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be
ashamed seven days!" (Numbers ).
Hence in Ephesians 4:30 we find that "no corrupt word" is to be spoken, but what gives grace to the hearers; that the Holy Spirit must not be "grieved", so that "all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking" is to be "put away" (in itself, a form of separation both TO the Lord and FROM what grieves Him), while kind and forgiving hearts are needed. He then proceeds to contrast.
Then we come to Ephesians 5:1, where Paul adds the crucial word: "THEREFORE". THIS FOLLOWS; so that the preceding, just examined, has explicit contextual force. What then does he say now? This: "Be therefore imitators of GOD, as beloved children, and walk in love, even as Christ also has loved us and has given Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling aroma." BUT, on the other hand, what is to be avoided is paralleled and distinguished: "FORNICATION AND ALL UNCLEANNESS OR COVETOUSNESS" - not even to be named. He proceeds with more, contrasting it all with "giving of thanks". The next THEREFORE follows in 5:7: "BE NOT THEREFORE PARTAKERS WITH THEM." It succeeds further analysis of the position.
Do not SEIZE people, or things, money or power for yourself: that way there is that of the "idolater", with no kingdom inheritance. The contrast continues in 5:8-10 between what is darkness, which they formerly inhabited, and "light" - with the fruit of the Spirit in "all goodness, righteousness, and truth", and this while one is "finding out what is acceptable to the Lord."
In the midst of this clean and unclean, holy and unholy, good and bad series of contrasts, starting with avoiding grieving the spirit and continuing to the fruit of the spirit, we find two injunctions on separation.
1) 5:7 - "THEREFORE DO NOT BE PARTAKERS WITH THEM".
2) 5:11 - "HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS".
If this is not clear, it is difficult to know what would be. ALL UNCLEANNESS
v means just what it says and
v in context, has the broadest parameters, just as it
did in the Old Testament base on which Paul builds, in Christ.
v What does this mean ? In practice, it requires that persistent, chronic pursuit of what is Biblically defined as unclean be a base of separation. It could be by disciplinary measures, or if the church itself is sold to it, it means leaving the church. It does not mean leaving it before the due process is done to investigate; but there is zero room for making a long story out of clear scriptures. It does not mean abandoning some poor soul who is in the grip of vice; but it does mean separating where the godly principles themselves are changed, or the steps of remedy are not followed. Actual rebellion and free flouting must not be acceptable in principle or in practice; and any extenuations are for pastoral support, not moral example, far less exhibition.
Is this practised ?
Or do we find people acting as pundits, spiritual pundits, pronouncing 'judgments', assessments which have only their judgmental 'experience' as base, unclean with arrogance or unseemliness in the midst of the Lord's people; while other things, clearly contrary to divine mandate are allowed to suffer, to slide, to slip into a meaningful oblivion, man being in precedence and the word of God in ... separation. If this be the case, what do we then have?
THIS is also separation: but it is FROM and not TO the Lord!
There WILL BE separation: it is only a question of
a) to, and
b) for, and
Let it be then to the Lord, while Christians practise humility and circumspection to one another, within the Lord, not grieving the Spirit of the Lord; and holy separation TO the Lord, not departing at all from His clear commandments, either by ADDING unprovable ideas to what God saw fit clearly to convey, nor by SUBTRACTING demonstrable reality from what is written.
LOVE, HUMILITY and HOLINESS in the life of CHRIST within, constrained, contained and yet unbelievably FREE because the Creator has this remarkable construction: it is like driving on the correct side of the road - Keep to what is given, and your freedom of art and wonder is amazing.
and you are separated in the end, from your very life.
4) THE SPECIAL CASE OF APPARENT GODLINESS
Let us adapt here an
excerpt from SMR (pp.
923ff.), in the context of a 'united
enshrining what the Council of
the Pope also having spoken of the 'one' religion it ...
Is the Reformation
and the anti-Reformation a common heritage ? Is the despatch
of corpses by burning, and the experience of being burnt, a common heritage ?
Is it so when the very Canons of Trent remain unchanged, and 'infallible' ex
cathedra popes have called to the heavens to sanctify their desire to
any who dare diverge from their pontifical, dynamic dogmatism in
Ever new, this dogma reaches to the very heavens, where last century they installed Mary complete with a sinless life, having loaded her with blasphemous titles such as redemptrix (i. e. female redeemer, versus Acts 4:12, Hebrews 9:12-28, 10:26-29, Luke 2:23-24 with Leviticus 12:8 and Hebrews 9:15; Psalm 49:6-7,15, Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8-9, Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 42:8, 43:11, 44:6,23-24, 49:7, 45:18-22, 53:10-12, Psalm 89:6, Philippians 2:1-11), queen of heaven and sundry pagan insults to the very name of God and indeed to Mary (Jeremiah 7:18 and 44:15-30) who did nothing to earn this abuse of her name.
the name of the Lord is vain is not commended (Exodus 20:7, Acts 4:11-12) and
inserting another into its wonder, splendour and
prerogatives is desolation and disaster (Isaiah 26:13, 1 Timothy 2:5-6,
Ephesians 1:10, Hebrews 10:20,29, Matthew 12:46-50, 7:21-27, 23:8-12, I Peter
1:18-23, II Corinthians 11:1-4,13-15). The category of redeemer of the soul of
man is in these places, by the word of God, shown to be exclusive to God, to a
non-sinner, and once again
It is untruth so profound that greater error is not thinkable. It is INFINITELY astray in confusing creature and Creator in the very face of divine condemnation of just such things, reiterated many times. God's name is God's; God's word is God's; God's redemption is God's; Christ's blood is Christ's, not something ecclesiastically manufacturable. He shed it in history, not in inner rooms (Matthew 24:24-26). We are in fact WARNED of this precise error by Christ Himself, in the context of false Christs. What IS a false Christ but someone who acts as if he were Christ, or uses His nomenclature - such as "God Almighty on earth" (Roman Catholic New York Catechism), when he is sinful man in need of redemption.
Is then political
pragmatism and religious innovation (versus Galatians 1:6-9 which damns it) in
Do we cast the beauty of freedom from the threefold papal crown with all its political assertions and worldly, carnal pretensions (versus Philippians 2:8; 2:20-22; Matthew 5:5; 18:1-5, 20:24,27-28, 23:11 Ezekiel 31:10-18, II Corinthians 10:5, Isaiah 2:10-11, 1 John 2:27, Luke 22:26, John 13:14-15!) into one common pot with rule of the this pseudo-`spiritual' pomp OVER the temporal, of Pope over prince (verses John 18:36): as the accepted tradition of ALL!
This rugged, and all but comic craze, sent Europe almost reeling for centuries as Emperor and Pope pursued their unseemly quest for dominance, with grandiose papal bulls scouring the heavens for further means of higher exaltation of that name which is not "above every name": since it was never that of Jesus (Acts 4:11-12, Philippians 2:9); and has not been so elevated, since no pope did ever, leaving the form of God, take the form of a man, a servant, to the point of becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-9), the cited Biblical preliminary for such exaltation of Him who alone will be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:10-11).
It is this same Jesus, who sinless, unlike every pope (1 Peter 2:22-25) or invention of the pope, or of his dogmas, did not need to first pay for His own sins (Hebrews 7:27), as do all sinners, who must be redeemed, men and women (Romans 3:23), all other members of the human race whatsoever: but by the body of His flesh through death redeemed all sinners who are His, those wholly dependent on His unblemished act (Colossians 1:22-23, Romans 5:1-10, 8:32, John 10:26, 8:24). That act depends, as Colossians there shows, on His unique post as co-Creator of all that was created, and His having all the fulness of the Godhead dwell in Him (Colossians 1:19-23, 2:9).
Indeed, He "in all things has the pre-eminence" (Philippians -11, Colossians -18) - who? He who "is before all things", the One "by whom all things consist".
Why THE PRE-EMINENCE? The reason is here scripturally stated in Colossians 1: Because it so pleased the Father that this Person, with His plenary place before and with God, should so humble Himself and so act, in life and in death on earth. His is no meretricious exaltation: He was God, and HE humbled Himself to become a servant. He did not exalt Himself to become a Lord, from the status of a creature; but, quite the reverse. As God, He assumed the status of man, so that He might bring us back to God, from whom He came (John 6:62, , 17:1-3, -23, ).
This in its magnificence of uncreated humility, a common heritage with pope and emperor challenging and humiliating each other, in the way so famous from the medieval era, so `infallibly' enshrined within the Roman church's structure of power and concept and Trent itself: is this `common' to all! Is this wonder of poverty of spirit to be enmeshed with unquenchable self-exaltation! Is black white, is yes, no; is infinite, finitude!
Will unity then come
Where there is room for
such an example of illusory European `unity', there is room for a further, a
more developed illustration of the unity resolution. Any makeshift mischief may
be `found' to be mandatory and obvious, to bring
Where `ideals' for this
Common Market are formulated in high-sounding words, where in fact there is such
a morass of contrariety and divergence, from a history of such still unresolved
terror and evil,
not formally repented of... what would the REPARATIONS BE, for the countless
slain of the INQUISITION ?... such ideals can still be
`interpreted' as may seem best for the great objectives. (See SMR pp. 950-959, 1033-1041.) Interpretation will increasingly be
updated, till even
If scripture is now almost routinely, rankly interpreted by contradiction, how much more are mere historical facts alone and vulnerable, without Him! Where God is not in explicit rule, then man, with such dominion as the Common Market countries envisage (and with first increasing, but then decreasing resistance from Britain as 1992 approached), can invent any form of control, as if it were the very criterion of freedom.
Indeed, such activity has long since ceased to be merely comic and tragic in Russia, where religious freedom `of course' had to abide by the `required'... criteria of the glory of the State and the necessity of Communism. For a time such corruption can seem to prevail, before God countervails; but the lesson on temporary obliteration of truth in the interests of convenience, suppression and distortion remains. This propaganda may now be aided by misplaced quasi-morals about `ancient hatreds', so that repentance of those who have misused Christ can be made in effect, near to illegal to call for!
Miscalling unchanged facts is no substitute for repentance, nor political fantasy an obliteration of historical reality. Solidarity with sin of any kind may indeed be forgiven - if repented of; but refusal to face such things, backed by law, written or unwritten, this challenges all weakness to one thing: SUBMIT and BE SILENT! Such `guidance' of official corruption, however, must never be accepted, lest the muscle of its temporary might should grow into the moral void it would leave, and find no apparent bounds! (Cf. Revelation 12:11, Isaiah 56:10, Exodus 20:5-6.)
Its delusive force is even
more shown in its failure to stand, its turning elsewhere in
A comic caricaturist of its pretensions either of liberty or purity, granted its impurity even in theory, where individuals decree that individuals do not matter, and tell others what they OUGHT to do, while morals are pilloried: it is mere work of imagination, itself made slave of witless conformity. It is one more machined version of power-seeking, man-domineering, Christ-betraying delusion. (See SMR Index - Communism.) Its "messiah" is a "christ" now called the people, whose sufferings are real enough, but whose purity is not; its redemption is their deliverance to tyrants freakish in absolutism even in the raging torments to be found in earlier history, and its liberty is that of being ruled by a "lord" with special privileges by sea-side, in food and in power to do what it will. With Romanism, it is one more perversion of the teaching of Christ, using this and changing that, till novelty bursts like a slum from better hopes.
As religion, all these
things are power-deluded, from
Let us hear :
"God has made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions."
That last word, "inventions", could be and has been rendered: "SCHEMES", or "DEVICES". Adverse to creation, averse to the command and post and gift of the Creator is the thrust of it; just as in the verse, the term appears as the adversative, flaring up as contrary to the "upright". UPRIGHT ... BUT!
Without the return to the Lord, this is the way of the world. It is not however the way of His Church, and those who are His belong in this grand structure of Spirit, faith and salvation in Jesus Christ, not in some alien body, adapting for survival, strength or lust (II Corinthians 11:1-13, Ephesians 2:20-22, 5:1-7, Galatians 1:6-9, Revelation 18:4, Romans 16:17). From such they are instructed - Turn away!
As for the details on Roman
religion, these appear in Chapter 10, pp. 1032-1088H, 911 ff., and elsewhere as shown in SMR
We find here II Timothy 3:1-5 which includes:
"This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves... having a form of godliness, but denying its power: from such turn away."
Hollow godlessness masquerading as substantial godliness is excluded. You leave it. You separate. "From such, turn away!" (II Timothy 3:5), is not a suggestion but a command.
I Timothy 6:3, dealing with one topic, announces a principle which is of broader application:
"IF ANYONE TEACHES OTHERWISE, AND DOES NOT CONSENT TO WHOLESOME WORDS, EVEN THE WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH ACCORDS WITH GODLINESS - he is proud, knowing nothing" - and indeed in a class of those "depraved, and deprived of the truth".
The standard of reference is the point here, and the application in this case may have certain particulars, but the base of the negation of fellowship is the aspect crucial to our task.
Ø WHAT DO YOU DO ?
Ø From such turn away.
II Timothy 3:5 declares for the Christian what is to be done: "From such withdraw yourself."
What would you expect? The principle is clear: the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, these are the criterion. What do you do when men teach otherwise ? Withdraw yourself. Do you do this by taking communion with them ? Nothing could be further from the truth, nor a more comic caricature of it.
Again, do sheep need to be told to turn away from wolves: and such in sheep's clothing being forecast, it takes no great astuteness to make one's spiritual abode in... other arms, or paws (Matthew with 24:24, Acts ).
Of immediate confirmation is II John 9-10, which excludes those who "do not abide in the doctrine of Christ". This is a simple case of not ABIDING in and not HAVING the doctrine of Christ. This includes the word of God (I John ), the abiding of which (John ) is distinctive of a disciple; and the departure from which is destructive of companionship and contrary to love (John -24). Christ declares the necessity of keeping His words, the actuality it for those who love Him, and as I John makes so clear of the doctrine of Christ: "Whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him" - I John 2:4-5.
As to him who does NOT love, this person "does not know God": I John 4:8. Similarly, "We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." This then is the doctrine of Christ. Departure from it spells departure of His people from those who depart, in whichever way it is enacted - through discipline within the church, or departure from what was one, or lapses into rebellion as a body.
Our God is real, sovereign, plans, programs, does; dies, has risen bodily in human form; will return; has spoken for thousands of years in a book now complete (Revelation 22); and needs no-one to re-define, re-enact or do anything for Him. He needs you to capitulate and to come to Him in repentance, ready to obey. Not in mindless oblivion, but on the contrary with a deep conviction and comprehension which comes only when your Creator and you are at peace, and His word is your guide voluntarily, as His word is the programming direction that makes your body even able to live.
Again, II Thessalonians 2:15 tells the church to stand fast in all the apostle and his peers have given; but in the next chapter, verse 6, we are told what to do about those of different persuasion: "But we command you brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw form every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us." Again, we are in a practical situation in which a particular variety of the disease, departure form the commanded ways, is in view. This time it goes to those walking in a sort of hyped up supersensitive expectation of Christ's return, which does not take account of the fact that there is much to occur first, and that responsibility and presumption are quite different things.
The point however is this: they are COMMANDED to keep to the teaching, and TOLD what to do when it is contravened; and indeed the case in view is slight, so that it is MERE withdrawal of fellowship in hope, rather than a higher severance. Yet it is BASED on this: departure from what has been commanded. In such a case, the word used is "withdraw"! It may in some other particular instance be covered by other and more severe sanctions found elsewhere in the Bible, but EVEN in this relatively mild one of confusion and failure to heed wisely a personal discipline in life, there is this, withdraw - in love, but IN FACT! It has therapeutic intentions; but the therapy is AS PRESCRIBED. Truth is not dispensable and love does not toy, but seeks return.
What would you, again, expect when Isaiah says quite categorically. as we have seen:
v "To the law and the prophets. If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no truth in them."
"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the
companion of fools will be destroyed"
- Proverbs 13:20.
Even more stringent is this principle:
v "GO FROM the presence of a foolish man, when you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge" … Proverbs 14:7.
As for wisdom, "the fear of the
Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom" (Proverbs ). " A good understanding
have those who keep His commandments" - DO THEM! - adds Psalm 111:10. Proverbs 24:21 in context
of 22:20-21, 19:31, 14:6, 8:8-9, 9:10, 7:23 and Psalm 111:10, shows the
essential nature of wisdom, commandment keeping, the readiness and availability
to understanding of the words of divine wisdom, the ineluctable necessity, the
ineludible requirement of the law of God, and to our present point (cf. The
Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Appendix D),
(or those who are given to change, 24:21).
Don't meddle with them ? Therefore don't worship and walk and have fellowship with them, for theirs is the wrong way and to be no subject for commingling. Can two walk together except they be agreed! comes the divine expostulation (Amos 3:3, cf. 3:7).
Indeed, more: we are to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, Thayer's Greek Dictionary), dealing with dividers, acting to confute and separate as the context shows in its reference to the rebellion of Korah (Jude 11, cf. Titus 1:9, 3:10, ); and to strive together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27, and op.cit.), for the DEFENCE of which, the apostle as example, is SET (Philippians 1:7,17), yes even amidst tricksters, false brethren, 'changers': knowing that the Lord, even Jesus Christ, bound the whole word of God with extraordinary emphasis and the strongest possible exhortation (Matthew 5:17-20, John 14:26, II Timothy 3:16, II Peter 3:16, I Corinthians 2:9-13, 14;27, Matthew 7:21-27).
Titus shows the extent of the association with those of divergent teaching from the word of God! and indeed, would anyone using even a minor portion of scriptural prudence associate lambs with wolves - let alone those in sheep's clothing! ( who are nevertheless quite discernible for all that - Matthew 7:13-19).
The word of God is full of such exhortations, general, specific, general principles applied to specific cases, exclusions: rather like good hygiene. If you grasp the point in the first, it is always easier to see it at all point along the way. It is then no real burden, but more like common sense. SEEING the sense of it, however, depends on BEING in the kingdom where you SEE these things (John 3 - as Christ told Nicodemus). CHURCHES meanwhile should simply both see and obey.
In the Old Testament also there are numerous examples of people who should have known better NOT heeding the call of a prophet. An awful example is that of young Joash, rescued as a child from death through the man whose son, a prophet, he later killed after coming to power - the case referred to by Jesus Christ in Matthew 23, in terms of the coming judgment of God. Again, strong kings were sometimes too strong in their own views, rather than carefully watching the word of God (like Amaziah, Uzziah), even though they were on the whole good kings.
As to these last two, the former - because he used soldiers from apostasising Israel, though it referred by NAME to God, and its people were by no means ignorant of the long established word, was direly challenged by the prophet for this act. With what words was he thus confronted ? It was with these (II Chronicles 25:5ff.) : "But if you go, be gone! Be strong in battle! Even so, God shall make you fall before the enemy; for God has power to help and to overthrow."
The latter interfered in the authorised
We who are kings and
priests (Revelation 1) to God, do well therefore both to do those things which
are so often and so vigorously commanded, and to ensure that in our churches,
the clean fear of the Lord keeps out the rank and rampant infections which are
so common, corruptive and corrosive, as well as contrary to divine command as
companions of the saints of God.
C) HOW DOES THIS AFFECT
EVANGELISM ? IN
1) It means that we carefully distinguish between
A) believers and
B) those who DO NOT know the Lord, and whom we are seeking.
As to the latter: We do NOT acknowledge fellowship with them, or CO-OPERATE in spiritual things with them; but we do OPERATE, and we love them and seek their good, as a good doctor might seek it for a cancer patient, with similar, or greater care and insight into what is needed in such cases.
2) It means also that we make our own church doctrine so modestly scriptural, neither adding nor subtracting, that it is easily recognisable, with sharp lines of demarcation from the world and contrary witness: this implying non-confusion. Confusion can readily occur when the world gets into a church, and the church gets supinely and slackly into the world, picking it up: so that we come to wonder where in the world is the church!
3) It means that that into which we are inviting the unbeliever who is playing with the 'bait', is distinct and contradistinct, gracious and merciful but not polluted. The pure and exact word of God is provided, not some amalgam plus or removal minus, so that the word of God is made "of none effect" as Christ put it in this case (Mark 7:7ff.).
Thus there is kept
for this person, the enquirer, everything in its category; and he sees it
without an added confusion or distortion, that of compromise which is like dirt
in a hospital. As to godliness of doctrine and life: not merely its mental
categories but its spiritual impact is ... different, discernible, constantly
'preaching without words', while words also do what they should.
Yes. You find such a case for separation in I Corinthians 5:9-13.
Here it a question of those who though CALLED Christian, are:
a) sexually immoral
d) revilers, traders in abusive fulminations
You see here the value of the old concept of godly living, church discipline and the like. Laxity and slackness that carries the person away like a flood: this is no way to reside in the Lord. If the party claims to be Christian, then this becomes the result: separation.
What are you COMMANDED to do in any such case: It is this (I Corinthians 5:11-2).
"But now I have written to you not to keep company if any man who is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one, no, not to eat."
What then is the exclusion?
It is NOT OF EVERY ONE WHO SINS, for who then could be saved; but those who
CLAIM to be CHRISTIANS, and who yet act in such manner as to be CHARACTERISABLE in these ways, making this a way of life,
settling into this groove. Again, it is NOT EVERYONE WHO FALLS, but those who
live as fallen are in view. Otherwise David could never have been forgiven for
Nor is it a question of a trend, or temptation: it is a case of life-warped yielding without repentance. But it IS for all that, clear: SEPARATE IF they are called Christian, and so occupy themselves.
That at once rules out
Ø the idol ? a piece of bread which, broken at the last Supper, was not a suicidal Christ, but a piece of bread: worshipped, and
its endless reviling in curses those who follow the Bible instead, as at
the council of
It means that if any church is sharing theological education with Romanism, or has fellowship with it, this is in defiance of the word of God. You then can either join in the rebellion and so inherit its results, or separate. The command is to separate. False brethren are not 'on'; and how far this is necessary is readily seen in II Corinthians 11, where those with their own variants from apostolic teaching were found to be inventors of "another christ", "another gospel" and to have "another spirit", indeed to be messengers of Satan.
When indeed any church does such things, either it is immediately or quickly corrected by rebuke and exhortation, or it is defending such action, and SO continues. In that case, obviously, it is TEACHING this, and so is just as rebellious in the end, as those who idolatry or other failure to follow the word of God, is the initial blight. Romans 16:17, to which we shortly come, also thus applies, with its command to have no fellowship in such cases. Let us then return to I Corinthians 5.
It removes from fellowship equally, the philanderers, adulterous or other; and the perverted; and the libertines and drunkards. (Revelation 21:8 is useful here, but we come to this later - except to notice the exclusion from heaven of the 'sorcerers'; and this, in modern sorcery, would include pagan mind controlling activities taken at the religious level for inducing spirituality).)
It means more generally, that the fear of the Lord is clean and He has no fixation on just one sin: godly living is for godly people, and God's children are godly. They err: they repent. They err in teaching: they repent and restore what they took away, as able. The line is straight; the path is narrow.
Otherwise ? Leave them alone. They go or you go: either way, you separate.
Immediately we note Liberation Theology which it forwarded, and which replaces spiritual categories with gross social 'equivalents'; the presence of Roman Catholics in its Faith and Doctrine Committee; its use of animists in addresses to the people; to the people; its failure and refusal to make moral Biblical categories binding in matters of murder, where it serves a preferred purpose, in terms of cultural categories.
It is not a church, perhaps, but it is a declarative body of religious people, and hence it abundantly qualifies in this category under idolatry: its permission and provided areas of practice; the worship of another god, various gods, mixed up gods, God and gods - they have such a variety of idolatrous confections. Any of this is sufficient to make SOMETHING not God to be treated as God. You "DO NOT KEEP COMPANY" with such (I Corinthians ). The case is superabundantly covered also in our preceding section.
What does this mean for
participating denominations: for Anglicans, then, and for the
Change is a characteristic of much in the twentieth century; and one element of it is this, that the Anglican establishment*1, once a Reformation Church which was intense, coherent and consistent in exposing the unbiblical impostures of Rome, is now in a body concerned to incorporate that same Trent-affirming Rome; and is on record as seeking with that religion, a form of Union. The WCC is at once an indictment and a measure. Such radical change affects the fruits, as roots always tend to do. (Cf. Anglicanism and Rome: SMR pp. 726, *14; 688; A Question of Gifts, pp. 65ff.) Again, what was in the ascendant for liberty and truth, Biblically defined, has now passed like a spent wave, bearing little resemblance, except the historical memory, to the former structure.
Whoever or whatever may be involved, however, individual membership in what is enmembered as a church in the WCC, is in the area of what is forbidden by the word of God. One either gets it out of it, or gets out of it. The alternative? Anti-Biblical living.
It may be
added here that the Billy Graham body which has in extraordinary ways joined
functionally with Rome, sending "converts" thither in many cases,
with Graham himself receiving an honorary doctoral degree from
Roman Catholic Belmont College, and even asserting, by report,
the Gospel which founded that College to be the one he himself was preaching:
this has, by such affinities and actions, placed itself in no different position
from that of the Church of England, as to the Biblical outcome and practical result which must be faced. God rules all alike. (See Questions and Answers 8.)
How broadly does Romans apply, and what is the situation with Pentecostalism, for separation from it?
i) APOSTOLIC REQUIREMENT OF THE WORD OF GOD
We note that Paul does not ONLY address the Corinthians in I Cor. 1:2, but equally "all who in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours" - 1:2. He gives fundamental principles and gives reasons in his exposition of the will of God, the mind of Christ, for HIS body. Bodies unconformable to the will of the head, what are these ? Really, the body of someone else.
Paul speaks not of A body, but THE body of Christ; and it is THIS body in which He has set apostles (I Cor.12:27-28). Accordingly, where He demands as a principle what the apostle relates both for this church and for ALL in the churches (I Cor.14:33), abhorring confusion, but blessing order and edification and the peace that Paul prescribes in His name, this is what goes as "the commandments of the Lord". And those ? Breaking them, whether on the part of many pentecostals or others, in this or in that: it is always a messy business.
Further, giving with the word "for" (v.33) the link between the principles enunciated in Christ's name, and the performances just required, he doubly binds it in "all the churches of the saints." SINCE God is not the author of confusion, but of peace as in all the churches of the saints, THEREFORE, says Paul, there is subjection of prophets to prophets in this New Testament setting, AND it is one at a time; and it is tongues by one or two, and one at a time.
This is the policy; this is the principle; it is founded on the name and nature of God; it is promulgated with apostolic authority. Maybe other churches using the name of some other founder could do it differently: maybe those of some godlet or other, some idol could manage another effort. But as for the churches of the saints, so it is, and it is to them all he addresses his letter.
Indeed, at the end of this chapter, he rehearses some of these features,
In this following chapter, the famous definitive chapter for the church, Ch.13, he again sets the practice and principles for all the churches, for the ONE body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4), in perspective :
a) with love and
b) with the distant time when Christ re-appears,
for the application of the word of the master-builder in that period, which of course is our own. That is his topic; of this he gives applications. He does not minister for a spiritual hydra, or to spiritual careerists; but to the body of Christ, explicitly, didactically, emphatically, exegetically, principially, till He comes and we who are Christians know as we are known (I Corinthians 13:12).
NOW is the time for obedience (Matthew 28:20, I Cor.14:37, 3:10, II Peter 3:16). Another body may be spastic through severe disorders; THIS one is His! These are for it principles and procedures till that day. These cover the nature of God, the resurrection and look forward to the great end.
ALL of this is written to ALL the church, to ALL the body (Ephesians 4:4); for it is ONE body with ONE head with ONE set of principles which Paul reveals as the commandments of the Lord, just as He exposes the very character of the body of Christ, one Lord, one Head, over all the church, "which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all." Variable christs are antichrists; but this one is not merely ONE but the SAME and unchanged, yesterday, today, forever (Hebrews 13:8). Those who have some other rules and order for the body corporate of Christ, have some other head to which they are yielding submission. (See A Question of Gifts, pp. 36ff., *9.)
What have you , asks Paul, that you did not receive ? (I Cor.4:7). So why glory in such things. Glory not in tongues, in being slain, in multiple gabble as expressly forbidden in I Corinthians 14:19, 23, 27ff., 37; 12:29-30; 14:1. (See the Appendix to this volume, Question and Answer on the Cross - but not cross purposes with Christ, pp. 231ff.infra.)
It is well to heed the apostle, not only ethically but in recognition of the Lord's direction.
ii) PARTICULAR REQUIREMENT
Indeed, Paul, master builder (I Cor.3:10) wrote all these chapters to one and to all, concerning the gifts, the tongues, the principles of order, edification, relative merit of gifts, modes: for he explicitly expands with the preface "for" linking the principles to the performance in I Cor.14:33: "As in all the churches of the saints".
Moreover, he proceeds to categorise and to characterise these utterances as "the commandments of the Lord" (I Cor. 14:37 cf. I Cor. 2:9-13, the latter showing the precision of the gift of the word of God, to which Proverbs 8:8, I John 2:27 also relate).
This means, in I Corinthians 14, 2 or 3 tongue speakers at maximum, always interpreted, without panache, with a preference for 5 words spoken with the mind to 10000 without it, NOT all speaking with tongues as a criterion, either at a meeting or elsewhere, NEVER seeking to speak with tongues and so on. It is set forth in detail in my book, A QUESTION OF GIFTS *2 . (For convenience, see below, pp. 131ff..)
Such temperance is very rarely met in the tongues field. Their absence is very acceptable; but their restraint is imperative if ever present. Hence in all such cases fellowship is not appropriate; separation is Biblically required. The alternative ?
Breaking the Lord's commandments is never to be recommended. It is however the only alternative. Yet He proclaims and exhorts to the contrary. "Why do you call Me Lord, Lord," He queries, "and NOT DO the things that I say!" - Luke 6:46. But let us rehearse one point still further.
First, to whom is he speaking ? I Cor. 1:2 - reveals it is not only to the Corinthians but to "All who in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." Of course: there is ONE body (Ephesians 4:4), "the fulness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:23), which is under His sovereign direction, who is called Lord; and a head which directs it differently, orders the "all" otherwise, is one belonging to someone else, for this Jesus Christ, is the same "yesterday, today, for ever" (Hebrews 13:8).
He has built His church solidly on the foundation of the prophets and the apostles ... nay, indeed, in Eph.2:20, we learn the church to be one "having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ the chief corner stone". It is done. And as to the self-proclaimed 'prophets' who are unsubjectible to the correction of the commanded prophets of the Lord who gave the scriptures, or who pronounce contrary to the Scriptures ? this: Isaiah 8:20, 44:25-26, and Jeremiah 23:28-32, I Corinthians 14:37, 14:29-32, II Peter 3:16.
This word IS THE CRITERION of doctrinal assessment, and the Lord WILL PERFORM and CONFIRM it (Isaiah 44:25-26, 45:18-25). Contrary to it ? there is no light. That is what it says. What is so mysterious about the word of God, that it MUST NOT be done! Such is ever the way of rebellion.
It is precisely similar in the book of Romans. PAUL, there is "called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God" (1:1), and has "received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name: among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ." Can he declare it ? Yes. Is it to all ? yes.
Can people alter this by qualifying it ? - or by giving 'liberty of opinion' where God commands and expresses actual abhorrence ? (Cf. Chapter 3, p. 41 supra.) Yes, if they care to fiddle and tamper with the word of God (II Corinthians 4:12, I Corinthians 2:9-13), expressly given with plenary inspiration that covers both the substance and its expression, rebuilding the church from its foundations with other words. That however is to build someone else's structure, and it is better not to call it "church" because of the confusion involved in talking of two quite contrary constructions with the same word.
The practice is popular but polluted since Babel (II Corinthians 11:3-4,13-15), and there are no marks for enterprise when it comes to stealing God's words (Jeremiah 23:21.29-32). The only thing Christians can be inspired to do with the text and construction of the commanded word of God these days (Revelation 22:17-21) is to endorse it.
What then is Paul's place?
Apostle...(Church HAS BEEN built on apostles &
prophets as FOUNDATION, Christ the corner stone - Ephesians 1:22, 2:20. Moving
foundations is... dangerous to a building.) His stress ?
faith" (Romans 1:5). Those to hear him in his role?
"all nations" - v.5. Why ?
"For His name". When ?
till we know God as we are known (I Corinthians
13;10,12). How spiritual can you be in contradicting these words
? Not at all
(I Corinthians 14:37).
v How does the apostle address them,
with this international authority?
v IN THIS WAY:
"Now I BESEECH YOU brethren
MARK THOSE WHO CAUSE DIVISIONS AND OFFENCES
CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH YOU HAVE LEARNED;
AND AVOID THEM."
"Avoid" causers of variants from this faith so presented, with its obedience requirement. Is there qualification or limit stated? No. Is he a master builder (I Cor.3:10), and a wise one appointed? Yes.
Are we licensed to defect? No. What did Christ say in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20): "Teaching them to obey all things whatever I have commanded you." Do we then assume that He could not possibly MEAN what He says, or that the characterisation (Romans 16:18 in terms of self-will, self-gratification) of those who simply rebel against His word is somehow less because we know them or have heard of them! Are not rebels often, if not indeed almost characteristically self-assured (as for example seen in Numbers 16:3, 9, 12-16) ?
It may be remedied, such dissidence, or departure from the word, at times with relatively minor travail as seen in Numbers 12; but that requires repentance. (Cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock pp. 568ff., for the pastoral aspect.) The word of the Lord is not transgressed casually, let alone in terms of some fearful verbal manipulation, as if its breach were made in terms of "the liberty of the Spirit" (II Cor. 3:18), which in fact transforms to Christ-likeness, not to contumacy against Him (I Cor. 2:9-13, II Cor. 3:17-18, Ephesians 2:20-22, John 14:21-23, I Cor. 14:37, Luke 6:46, John 16:14, Matthew 7:24-26).
Again we ask, Are we licensed to defect, to countermand what Christ says in the Great Commission, "Teaching them to obey all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Did He mean by "all things whatsoever", some things at taste and preference!
How far can you vary from a command by adding whatever comes into your mind ? As far as you like; you can take it in bits and pieces, in qualifications and promulgations: it is all one, and all contrary to what was commanded in Moses and through John in Revelation. Do not add; do not diminish. Like Moses, Paul speaks to his entire constituency, and in his case, as he is apostle to the Gentiles, he speaks
a) through Him, the Lord
b) as one who through Him has received not only grace, but apostleship
c) as one not merely having received some limited or confined apostleship, but "for obedience to the faith among all nations" (1:5).
This relationship focussed here is that of "obedience to the faith". It is not proclivity or taste for the faith, but OBEDIENCE to it; and indeed, what do we find in II Thessalonians 1 ?:
It is true that it may be rendered, "on those who do not know God, even those who do not obey the Gospel", but our point is the category of OBEDIENCE. As to that: A moment of weakness is not the same as sustained rebellion. As James points out, faith works, it is alive not dead, and this is a feature of the life which it has, derived from the Lord. In essence, it is a faith which receives salvation by grace with the power of God entailed.
As in I Corinthians 1-3, it is to the church from the master church builder, saying, "Be followers of me as I of Christ", speaking to "the church of God... with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours..."
When God speaks, it is wise not to talk your words into His mouth; for you see, as to His mouth, it is a place from which comes infinite wisdom (Psalm 147:5, Jeremiah ). When it comes to infinity, it is not good to compete with it, or to seek to complete it, to purge or purify it; nor is it acceptable to qualify, crucify or multiply its pronouncements. When God speaks through His universal Gentile apostle, without qualification, what follows ? This: receive it without qualification or add your mouth to His! What does it feel like speaking as God when you are not ? Ask the antichrist of II Thessalonians 2, showing himself that he is god if you will. Better, don't try. It is too horrible to consider.
What does the word say further in this area ? This (Psalm ):
"Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression." And this: "Add not to His word, lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar" - Proverbs 30:6.
word, lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar" - Proverbs 30:6.
To be found a
liar in the presence of God is no desideratum. But then, to use His mouth for
your larynx, would not even a jackal be ashamed!
Some cases ?
Yes. If a
church formerly faithful, varies (as in Revelation 2:18-21), so that some substantial
evil/rebellion/pollution comes on the horizon, and blazes/blazons its evil into
the church, and is tolerated/accepted, or even endorsed, then the LORD is ready
to act and judgment is asked for - judgment NOW, such as excision of that
"church" from the body of Christ (Revelation 2:22 - the judgment is
primarily spiritual - "kill with death", but may be broader, removing that former church’s blessed name - Revelation 2:5). This can be
rebellion on words or departure in spirit, so that words are only mouth deep,
mimicking but not confessing the reality to which they refer (Revelation 2:4;
and in quite another case, 3:15ff.). Faith, for its part, is always crucial,
and it works by love, according to the word/orders of the Lord (John -23, Galatians 5:6).
Thus a church departs from the divine commands by
a) saying so
b) pertinaciously doing so, heeding no warning
c) in particular, perhaps by accepting some false prophetess (Revelation 2:20), such as Rome etc. (cf. Revelation 18:4, where an equally poignant and piercing call comes,
this compare I Timothy 5:22, which applies the same principle in another context,
warning of the need of separation, so that you do "not share in
other people’s sins", exhorting, "Keep yourself pure!" (cf. Ephesians 5).
· to the church as noted above, engaging in departing from the word of God in statement or uncorrected practice, such as acknowledging in some Council of Churches, that an idolatrous church, like that of Rome, is a ‘fellow’ church, within the limits of the definition, tolerable as a proclaimer of the Gospel, an ally in the divine commission (Matthew 28:20, Ephesians 2:11-22, I Timothy 3:15). What then ? This: then that church creates a division in the body of Christ, by so doing and teaching that this is right, sound, suitable or satisfactory. Endorsing such conduct or speech, creates a division against those who follow the word of God and refuse such fellowship with idolatry (cf. SMR pp. 1088B-H, and 1042ff.). It does so, calling good evil, evil good or both. HENCE at once, the Romans command precisely applies -
It is short, sharp and simple and incapable of misunderstanding! To reject it is to rebel. That is all.
Either the WCC or NCC membership in
5. THE OVERALL RESULT
The criteria are simple, comprehensive, multiform, but with one simple assessable result. Where the word of God written is smitten with contrary, additional teaching or characterisable contrary practice, we reform or remove.
If we reform, the time is not protracted, though it may be more so
with a large church body with various courts. In the end there is no provision
for a style of church life or personal living which involves the composition of
opposites, where one is the word of God. NEITHER THE MORALS NOR THE TRUTH OF
GOD IS FOR
After studying the End-notes, the reader may then wish to consider our 7th. Section: the Coda to Christ.
however we have a short walk through the Hall of Spiritual Mirrors.
6. REBELLION SPECIAL - SEEDY SUBSTITUTES AND EMPHEMERAL
applied to separation in particular
... COVERING UP REBELLION WITH WORDS
A. LISTING THE UNLAUDABLE
Can we then separate types of rebellion, which may be found useful in the special case of separation ? Some come to mind.
1. The Impotent ... What is their cry ? It is this:
"WE CANNOT MANAGE WHAT IS REQUIRED!" It is too hard, too exacting, not for normal souls, out of the social flow of things, cannot really be done.
Its motto: DON'T DO IT!
2. The Strategic ...Their cry ?
"WE CAN THINK FOR OURSELVES." We have, they indicate, their own ideas of how to get what they want.
The motto: WON'T DO IT!
3. THE SEDUCTIVE ... They affirm:
"IT, THE BIBLE, OBVIOUSLY DOES NOT AND CANNOT MEAN WHAT IT SAYS."
The motto: MUSTN'T DO IT!
4. THE SCHOLASTIC ... "BODIES OF SCHOLARS OFTEN POSE THIS AND THAT APPROACH TO IT, THEREFORE WE SHALL DISCUSS IT RATHER THAN DO IT."
Motto: DISCUSSION DOES SOMETHING BUT AVOIDS DECISION.
5. THE PHILOSOPHIC ... "WE KNOW THIS TYPE OF THING IS CONTRARY TO NATURE, OR TO HUMAN NATURE, SO IT IS NO USE ATTEMPTING IT!"
The motto: NEEDN'T TRY TO DO IT!
6. THE ADVENTURIST ... The cry: "THIS IS ONE OF MANY PRACTICAL OPTIONS FOR THE PURPOSE, AND MAY CERTAINLY BE ENTERTAINED. THEREFORE WE SHALL ENTERTAIN IT RATHER THAN DO IT." Alas, it does not have much fun despite the entertainment.
The motto: POSSIBILITIES NOT PERFORMANCE.
7. THE DISPUTATIVE ... The call: "THIS IS A PRODUCT OF VINTAGE VIRTUE, BETTER REPLACED BY MORE EVOLVED APPROACHES, so it should be kept on the sidelines, near enough for the old-fashioned, but far enough from the game to avoid upset with the advanced."
Motto: Oughtn't do it!
8. THE CLANDESTINE ... The call: "THIS IS IDEALISTIC IN A ROUGH OLD WORLD, SO REALLY IT IS RATHER TOO MUCH, WHAT!"
Motto: Can't expect to do it!
9. THE HUMBLE ... "THIS IS FOR THE GREAT/THE OUTSTANDING FIGURES OF HISTORY. THEREFORE WE ARE TOO LOWLY TO DO IT!"
Motto: Can't aspire to do it!
10. THE HAUGHTY ... "THIS IS FOR THOSE WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND, FOR THE SPIRITUAL CANAILLE, THE PLODDERS, FOR SPIRITUAL PEDESTRIANS. WE, BEING ABOVE ALL THAT SORT OF THING, HAVE NO NEED TO DO IT."
Motto: Simply no need to do it!
11. THE SEDITIOUS ... "WE ARE MEANT TO THINK AND QUITE FRANKLY, WOULD FAIL TO SECURE MAJOR SPIRITUAL OBJECTIVES FOR OURSELVES, AND THEREFORE WE DO NOT ELECT TO DO IT."
Motto: Don't want to do it!
12. THE PROPITIOUS ... "THAT WOULD WORK, AND IT IS GOOD, SO THAT IN PROPER/FIT/DUE CIRCUMSTANCES IT WOULD BE GREAT, BUT PLACED AS WE ARE, WE CANNOT AFFORD TO DO IT."
Motto: Can't afford to do it!
13. EXPANSIVE ... "THIS WOULD BE ONE COMPONENT OF OUR APPROACH, WHICH INCLUDES ITS EXACT OPPOSITE. THEREFORE WE SHALL DO IT ON FITTING OCCASIONS ONLY, AS THE DYNAMICS OF OUR AFFAIRS SHALL DICTATE."
Motto: May at times opt to do it!
14. THE FRANK ... 'WE DON'T LIKE THIS, AND IT GRATES; WHEREAS WE'RE MEANT TO BE HAPPY - ASK THE PASTOR. THEREFORE WE SHALL CAREFULLY AVOID DOING IT."
Motto: Don't like doing it!
15. THE EMPHATIC ... "THIS HINDERS SELF/ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, WHICH AS EVERYBODY KNOWS IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT. THEREFORE WE SHALL DEVELOP AN ALTERNATIVE THEOLOGY STYLE, WHICH FORBIDS US TO DO IT, AND SO SHALL TAKE CARE OF ALL THAT, DECENTLY AND IN ORDER."
Motto: Will avoid doing it in an orderly fashion!
16. THE ORGANIC ... " WE LOVE OUR ORGANISATION AND ITS DIGNITY, PAST, PROSPECTS AS FOUNDATIONAL TO LIFE. SINCE AS CHRIST SAYS, WE CANNOT HAVE TWO MASTERS, THEN THIS IS OURS. AS TO THE DIVINE COMMAND, THEREFORE, IT IS DISLOYAL TO DO IT."
Motto: Charge disloyalty to those doing it!
These are certainly no 'sweet 16'.
a Black Hole without Light, contrasted with the ways of the Lord of Light
In fact, contrary to all this persiflage, equivocation anddisputative dreaming, it is the Lord who saves and who cries,
· "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do the things that I say" - Luke .
There is no other but Him to whom the first and overpowering loyalty is due (John 12:48-50, Matthew 23:8-10, Luke 6:46, Psalm 62:1-3, II Samuel 22:32, Luke 14:26, Mark 7:7).
Making innovative additions
to what are His commands, like dismissals of any of them (Matthew 5:17ff., -23, John 14:21-23, I Cor. 16:22) are undesired befoulings
of His reality, revelation,
requirements, graces, mercies, for whom the church is the body, not the head! (Ephesians 1:22, I Cor. 12:27; Leviticus 10:1-2, Deuteronomy chs. 4,12; Revelation 22:18-19, Mark 7:7). They are a source of woe, contentious, imperious, required and requisitioned by flesh in the face of the word of God (Matthew 4:4, Proverbs 30:6).
We do in this matter as He, being sent AS He was sent (John ) - AS HE SAID. On the word of God we stay, knowing our place built on the foundation of Christ the cornerstone and the prophets and apostles, all built in its master-building (Ephesians 2:19-20, I Cor. 3:10). "Having been built" thus, as to foundation, we grow in number not in new gods, new words crammed into the mouth of God, though His word has been known and declared for many centuries. To these things we may not add (Revelation -19), nor are we gifted to rescind in the name of the Almighty from our foundations (Matthew -27), which having been built, do not mutate.
We do not teach our own doctrine: even our Lord (John -50) kept lean His word to His Father's command. As to Him, His servants shall serve Him and reign for ever, in His endless kingdom (Revelation 22:1-3, -13, Daniel ,27, Ephesians , , ). Neither new Christs who can utter new things (II Cor. 11), nor new words into the mouth of the historic One, whose prophets and apostles presented the foundation, essentialised in Himself (I Cor. 3:11), nor the deletion of His diction by the devices of men are anything but rebellion against the God who is, has been and will be, who does not change, whose mouth is captive to no man, whether by dream or delusion (Jeremiah 23:16-29).
The mind of the infinite One for mankind, it is declared in His written and in His living word, in His Gospel from which to change one whit is to court cursing (Galatians 1:6-9). Having given His word to His apostles to determine (John 14:25-28, 16:1-3,13), undertaking to bring to their memories the realities by recall and providing them with promises for the deposition to come, He has given His sole authorised word to mankind in toto. There is no other Son to come, no other covenant to make (Matthew 26:27-29, Mark 12, John 3:1,16, Ephesians 1:10,3:8-11,21, Hebrews Chs. 1, 9-12), no other Lamb, no other Lord. What removes foundation, being built, crumbles; and what presumes to add meets the embargo on tradition (Mark 7:7) as much as the cry of apostle and master-builder, as if the place had been jerry-built and needed more! God does not jerry-built, and his apostle put the clamp on flapping mouths masquerading as the mouth of God in Revelation 22, where these things are formally closed, as the whole church so abundantly attested in its early Councils, culminating in what we have as the 27 books of the New Testament, while the Jews (Romans 9:1-6) have passed on what they had commissioned. (Cf. SMR Appendix D.)
We have, then, in these numerous cases above, reviewed some forms of rebellion against God. In all such cases, God is mocked, disobedience becomes either choice, resultant or necessity, God's book is re-written, His power overlooked, His superintendence overseen, His direction is all but bedevilled, His plan aborted.
It is part of the
principle-package of the
In such a particular case of separation, where the form of rebellion to be abandoned, though sparking in all cylinders, falls into this particular category, there is some special interest. What if this course is not followed, and the ill-advised remain within the portals of such rebelliousness ?
Here the terminal folly or dénouement of spiritual, co-operative fellowship with bodies idly calling themselves Christian, or delusively naming Christ Lord, can both result from humanistic pollution, and lead on to inane liaison, counter-current muddle, Babel-type models, erratic flow chart diagrams, odd-ball enterprise, cumulative disregard of the authority of God. Its spiritual pathology will often manifest itself in declining plateaux, where the rebellion stabilises itself before proceeding further downward.
It is aggressive, bizarre, uncontrolled, disillusioned, arbitrary, exotic, unspiritual; diseased. Its end is death, its way is marshy, its word offensive, its model vile, its opposite victory, its request - ruin!
While it is the opposite in general trend to addition-mongering Pharisaism, it can nevertheless be found at times in that category under the guise of thinking for oneself/one's objectives, in areas already foreclosed by divine direction. Thinking for oneself is one thing; thinking for oneself in the midst of the word of God and proceeding on a divine basis, that is quite another! That little difference: man and God, creature and Creator, Maker and formed! It is here infinitely greater than the difference between a mouse and an atomic bomb, since infinity is God's and what is not infinite is infinitely less than what is!
Readily can pragmatic traditions of alternative neological 'styles' arise, avant-garde theology can become set and fixed, set in its own shibboleths like inferior buildings ready for demolition, that cannot pass standards, but which litter the landscape in the meantime, before the destroy word is put into effect. Such constructions and indeed shibboleths with them are often drawn from current secular culture, and plastered into position until only doom along with other rebels and rebellions, remains certain and assured. 'Names' of the great can even be used in this way to make an illegitimate '-ism', despite the express ion prohibition on the same (cf. I Cor. 3:1-4, The Biblical Workman 8).
If possible, this is worse than the subtraction brigade, who simply REFUSE to do what they are told. Small wonder the attack on Pharisaism (Matthew 23 for example) is more corrosive than almost anything one could imagine - and the exponent of these evils: Jesus Christ! Thus the defilement of the name of God by naming such things 'Christian' brings confusion, disrepute to what is genuine, so that this becomes an indirect attack on Christ through mischaracterisation, like libellers, of which the world has plenty without theological vagrants, which nevertheless all but fill contemporary skies with their skylarks. Yet they do not sing as well!
It is of course true and proper that separation can and does hurt - as when a gangrened member is cut off to spare the body. Physically, such action can temporarily reduce comfort (in the intense pain of separation perhaps surpassing the rottenness of the previous status quo). In a church, it may reduce moreover resources/outreach, on a superficial consideration. However, as the gangrene is involuntary, the path of love is to reason like Paul with Festus, or more sharply as Paul with the Pisidian Antioch Jews (Acts 13:13-41), to explain, to exhort with all longsuffering as able and within the limits of fellowship the Bible dictates; but the case is one where it is never fitting to JOIN in the rebellion! To follow the figure, THAT simply makes YOU gangrene, and helps none. If you prefer, that characterises you also as a rebel, which does nothing for either the power or the discipline, the path or the beauty of the body. It defames infectiously and there is small wonder that the word of God both in the passage just noted and in those in the Old Testament, in Leviticus and Numbers, cuts like a scalpel into the rottenness.
When severance does come, as both in medicine and in church affairs it not seldom does, it may be poignant, puncturing inflated ideas, reckless hopes: but like other realities, it is not removed by shutting the eyes. It is chronic disease, not desire, mere drive, predilection or preference, which requires surgery. The stakes are total.
It is true that unwise, unloving, imprudent separation, precipitate before clarity, based on counter-shibboleths and not on Scripture, reckless hacking off of parts of the body with undue haste, is an unnatural as self-mutilation; but on the other hand, retention of gangrene, of deadly weapons with fateful effect and privileged access to the heart of the people - put it how you will, can mean death to a whole church. It thus is a question: How do you avoid self-mutilation and suicide ? The answer is quite clear: in mode, moderation, against wolves in sheep's clothing, expulsion, in things uncertain, clarity; in matters not Biblically declared, reticence; in love, hopefulness; but in necessities of doctrine clearly declared (and action may be reduced to its principles not least), action, lest mutilation become an affair of excision of the heart itself.
Nor is it merely human response that is in view; the Lord Himself may remove the candlestick (to use Revelation symbolism in Chs. 2-3), that is the authority to BE a church, rather than one more sick, slick and slithery substitute for spiritual work in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now the Lord Himself visited Pharisees, speak with them, exposed them, dealt with their follies in detail, but any thought of His joining with them (cf. Luke 11:23,53) is as absurd and unhistorical as is deft and disastrous for 'diplomacy', His clinical accuracy in diagnosing their errors, rendering Himself by such exposures of their fateful flaws, determinate traditions and frenzies of religious folly, quite obnoxious to their refined and cultivated taste! Indeed, in Luke above we read of their intemperate vehemence in trying to 'catch' Him, urging and pressing Him, as if to put Him off guard, to seduce or secure Him from His purpose, to match it with theirs, or remove Him! (Luke 11:39-44,53-54).
Faithfulness in such cases of settled and determinate rebellion does not deal with fictions, any more than a prominent surgeon would be expected to palaver about cancer, when it is near to terminal. Such would be a confusion of image with reality, of vocation with fidelity, of socialising with necessity, of self-centred prudence, or organisationally tilted desire with service and due function. Light does not commune with darkness; it merely banishes it (II Cor. 11:1-21, Romans 16:17, Luke 11:34-35, Matthew 18:15-19).
The same sort of situation
applied to the liberal Sadducees, whom Christ roundly rebuked on the
resurrection (Matthew 22:22-33), telling them they were ignorant both of the scriptures
and of the power of God (22:29)There is little greater in "offence"
than teaching astray in the body of which one is part, or seducing it into
suicidal or doom-inviting courses, not only without the sanction of authority,
but contrary to it! Their subtractions were like putting healthy limbs in
traction, removing the mobility of health in the diseases of the imagination.
Error is not a supplement for truth, but a substitute for it.
FORMS and FORMULAE of REBELLION
against the LORD
While these many forms/formats/formulae for rebellion are applicable to the separation arena, they are by no means limited to it.
It is true that the building of Babels can be - and indeed is - a spiritual occupation; but alas, humanistically contrived and constructed, it is often Satanically inspired; for detached spirituality, drifting without the word of God, can be acquired as a means for his own cunning conducting of his prey to diabolical worship: site and centre vested in himself. In this way, spiritual aspiration, arrogantly or ignorantly misshapen, can be clandestinely directed with only one final object, the prince of darkness himself, in the form of the adversary of truth, goodness and light. Indeed, Satan is the quinessential antagonist of God Himself, whose munificent freedoms both make the evil one possible, and give him a run for his ruin.
In particular, non-separation as a form of rebellion against the word of God, implying such free-lance spiritual operations therefore, in whatever pathological stage they may be, can minister to such artful Babels, imposing before their ruin, lofty and uplifted like their eventual centre; but degraded in their end and maintenance. No Empire in the end has ever escaped; no ideology ever comes clean, without God. Yet rebellion has many other modes of operation. In separation however you have an excellent example, for it readily amidst the Pharisaic addition of tradition to the word of God, as we have noted, the Sadducaic stripping of the sentences of God and the Herodian politicisation of it, as in our contemporary scene, manifested in Liberation Theology.
Rebellion in any area can equally refuse personal morality, organisational morality, exclude cordial love to the lost, dismiss co-operative yieldedness in the Lord for the Christian work of His choosing, according to His word; dispense with kindness and purity of heart, become knowledgeable in the mechanics of churches, and manipulate them like the worst of Congress, Parliament, of kings, clamour for novelty that stands the word of God on end, dispense with truth which does not and use group dynamics to seek to cloud issues, apply pressure and white-ant churches, feeding on them the while, during the time they still seem to stand, make of God a minister to self-realisation, despise goodness, obstruct the saints and call it being realistic or even ... religious.
Thus one can even find separation through non-separation. In this case, one's fellows (or some of them) are cut off for being Biblical in mode, too 'strict' about commandments, too untraditional with accepted shibboleths, too illiberal in method - in short a nuisance to those who love expediency, to ecclesiastical engineers who would "run" things for grandiose and worldly objectives; a nuisance and a chain. Breaking these 'chains', they separate from those who would follow the word of God, even deeming them divisive or anything else that happens verbally to lie ready to hand. An excellent example of this was found in the Presbyterian Church in Canada where the ordination procedure required that one accept the Westminster Confession as subordinate standard. When myself in Toronto with a Committee, before ordination, I had the opportunity to congratulate the Committee that as ordained in this setting, they were bound to the infallible word of God, since that is expressly declared to be the case in the said Confession. Almost at once, out came the cry: Divisive! One was divisive for believing the Bible and reminding them that they were those who had VOWED so to hold!
Truth of course IS divisive, as Jesus pointed out, but in the Christian Church one would hope one would not be 'divisive' by adhering to it; but if that were so, no Church would it be that so determined; or at the limit, a church ... in rebellion! (cf. Matthew 10:34-38; Revelation 2:18-23).
Nevertheless the principle remains; for so does liberal disregard for the word of God amongst professing Christians fashion its own official or unofficial separation, while with a spiritual voyeurism, peeping here and there with unrestrained assurance, this becomes friends and a new identity is fashioned, which does not happen to be the word of God and a new body, which does not happen to be the Church.
The Pitiable Bleat
is the word of God or the word of man, the word of which God is the competent
author, or that where man parades his spirituality, like an ass braying in the
mistaken apprehension it sounds just as good as the speech of man! As to the
word of man, a rebellious adjunct or alternative to the word of God, it is a
pitiable bleat confused with a valorous shout, drowned in the majesty of the
voice of God, whose word has stood and shall stand, despite the whole spectrum
of rebellion, indeed is merely made the more manifest in rebutting rebellion
and overthrowing attack. In the case of non-separation when the Bible commands
it, this attack is made the more atrocious through the naming the name of God,
not as an enemy but as a friend, while yet opposing His words who said,
"You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you." And that ?
There lies the very genius of rebellion in the area of separation, there is its
precise manner and status; but it is a moronic genius that makes fools of those
who practise it, a barren brilliance with all the lustre of the lost.
HOW GOD IS GLORIFIED
THROUGH SPIRITUAL SEPARATION,
In Christ, and for Christ -
and how this provides
AN AVENUE THROUGH CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS
TO THE TESTIMONY OF TRUTH
This excursion into the
area of spiritual separation at the level of fellowship has produced results
while showing wonderful things concerning God and His word written word, and
His Eternal Word, incarnated, Jesus Christ. Let us now consider the principles
at the directly spiritual level, involved in due separation both TO and FOR
Jesus Christ, as well as IN Him.
1. HOW GOD IS GLORIFIED
1) GOD IS PURE and demands purity - clean hearts, hands, feet, lives. This example reinforces this testimony to glory. He does not abide as He does not say. For His word and His people, purity is de rigueur.
2) CHRIST died to procure pardon, and CONFER PURITY by the power that raised Him from the grave ( Ephesians , I Peter 1:2, Romans 8:2-10). Christian life needs training, chastening, but its heart is pure, and purified constantly (Psalm 72). This is the way of God with man.
3) Violence such as Inquisition and race or other assaults produce, this is not the way ( I Peter -25, -20). Christ ENDURED VIOLENCE, but did not sponsor uprisings by force - such as the WCC indirectly but categorically did. This does not mean that kindly and orderly deliverance should not be sought; far from it; but it limits the modes. It does mean that a sharp focus in contrasts is edifying as to His way.
4) More broadly, the opposite way to Christ's convenience, not only force in the place of faith, but pragmatism in changing His word to popular taste or apparent requirements, assumed needs - in which Mormonism excels in its changeable 'divine' declarations (v. Galatians 1:6-9, 6:14, Ephesians 2:20-22, Revelations 22:18ff.; and see SMR Appendix D,, pp. 837ff., 866ff.) - this is not His! Neither 'liberalism', that directly attacks the word of God, nor inclusivism that walks with what attacks it - is of Him, or accord with His word (Amos 3:3).
These failures on the part of imitators are like highway posters placarding the difference to His way, witness and word.
5) We are reminded in all this, very effectively that:
THE WORD OF GOD IS DECLARED AND DEFENDED; NOT REPAIRED AND AMENDED.
(II Corinthians 10:5, 4:1ff., 11:1ff., Galatians 1; Jude 1:1-3, Isaiah ). The rebelliousness that acts otherwise, even at times when using His name, is like froth that emphasises the liquid beneath by the contrast.
As to the word of God, it is wholly contradistinct from all this; as the very variability of this contrivances, shows - like stout soldiers whose courage is seen in contrast to running cowards.
The word of God: It is
unchangeable, workable, practical, the governor of events, powerful,
ineradicable, intractable, irresistible, irrepressible, unconquerable, rejoiced
in and applied by millions, strong in execution of its promises (Joel 2:11,
Isaiah 44:25-26). Neither has the other way any bearing on Christianity or the
correct way for Christians, nor any apologetic significance except this: that
it was predicted, falsified in advance, and exemplified with some precision in
the Old Testament in similar departures on the part of
Hence the teaching is magnificent, self-confirming, more than any law of physics, in this: that it has no change in these laws. For millenia they continue, and continue to apply, with their results. These have been many, foul and odious.
6) THIS WORD, THEN, HAS SPECIFICALLY FORETOLD this huge, acrid widespread decline in Christian bodies - the false prophets, and yes, the false and pretended gurus, 'christs' indeed more intimate than that, as with Rome's pope -'God Almighty on earth', self-proclaimed false-teachers from WITHIN the church, just as we find it happening.
God is glorified in precise power to predict, control of human history despite the freedom which He has graciously conferred - and this, indeed, even in its misuse, determining outcomes before they are here, and speaking this with clarity and impact, before it comes - often, millenia before, with coverage of major intervening modes in-between. All this is seen in detail in SMR chs.8-9.
Millenia of "storm-warning" is pretty fair! It is a longer range forecast than "science" of any kind has ever managed, with its endless "revisions". These constantly make much of the understanding of 5 decades ago look deplorably inadequate, or at times, ludicrous; but 200 decades do not dint the precision of the word of God. Its vast amplitude allied to exactitude are trade-marks of infinite wisdom.
Further, just as it is happening, so is the penalty occurring in those churches which continue in pollution, unseparated from fallen denominations whose unbelief shouts, yes shrieks to the winds; and in the lives of those who knowing better than God, continue in the same, though such places are forbidden as sites for fellowship as we have shown above.
The variable morals, uncertain commitments, unchaste pursuits, synthetic world-view compounds, harassment in forms and powerlessness because God is not trusted: these things invest what is inveigled, confuse what is disobedient and produce ever-new arrangements to suit world tastes, dancing in church, rock music in church, breach of the rest day, debates about doctrines divorced from the clear teaching of the Bible, in embrangled bodies, slaves of society, convention and philosophy, anaemic and spiritually neurasthenic. Disobedience produces more of its own ilk, and rebellion is worse than witchcraft as Samuel said, making a travesty of truth the parent of hardened hearts, liberated consciences and unreliable human beings.
Again, such results have nothing to do with the Christian church, as to quality, any more than the wiring of a house by an electrician has anything to do with the electricity, where he fails to insert the wire, but puts in the switch. It dangles merely useless, a form, like so much in the 'churches' of disobedience which would seem to consider Paul's word, "the obedience to the faith" (Romans 1:4-5), based on the physical resurrection as in I Cor. 15:1-3, as if it were news from an alien.
All this throbs with fulfilment, both in the weakness and in woe natural to rebellion against the only wise God (Romans -21,25), in proliferation like plague, in vocal pluralities of the guilty; but it does more. It is seen arising in much from WITHIN what was once the church, fallen denominations eating up the people as if grass. This is just what both Peter, for the last days, and Paul attested would happen (Acts -30, II Peter 2:1-3). "Perverse things" indeed are the order of the day, as it turns to the dusk which looks towards the darness.
Indeed, we read the precise
configuration in places such as II Timothy 3, where the TREACHERY (Judas
style), to the church's commission, disbelief in the POWER OF GOD, the FORMALISM,
the ceaseless confusion about doctrine, "ever learning but never able to come to
the knowledge of the truth" are being fulfilled before our eyes as if the report of
yesterday's reporter from a contemporary newspaper, church record or
denominational meeting: and this in various
II Peter 2:10 concerning the idle presumption, careless and seemingly indifferent denigration of the testimonies of God, as unwarranted as witless; and 2:17-18 concerning the profusion of unclear words attesting wasted philosophies, could have come from the observations of delegates at any one of numerous meetings of those whose departure in spirit and word, is not yet followed by their abandonment of the church.
Many want to take it with them; and many of those bodies once churches, are doing just that, docile disciples of deviation. Others remain with these hijacked bodies, as if hypnotised by their company, the buildings or the tradition. So the plague and the disobedience, indeed defiance of the word of God continues, as predicted and abounds, as pre-announced.
The accounts multiply of various sloth of spirit, division of heart, confusion of mind, wrangling and tangling amongst each other, like passengers in a doomed air-liner; and what doom is like that of the unfaithful, speaking of one thing, but doing and asserting another, false leaders as in Ezekiel 34, for whom the truth is inconvenient, and to whose judgment the truth assures us, He will come, convenient or not (cf. Revelation 22:11-15, II Thessalonians 1:5-10, Jude).
While this is a boon to Christian Apologetics, then, multi-dimensionally, it is sad and grievous to see such a waste of time and heart and mind and spirit, in godless mimicry of the truth, as well as in the more obdurate and obtrusive cases, pagan hearts marching into the church, under false banners (cf. Matthew 24:24). False prophets and false profits alike mingle like a crowd of spiritual assassins, beckoning to judgment as a man to his dog (cf. II Peter 2:4-16, 3:2-6).
It was to be so; it is so. They cannot leave alone Jesus the Christ, till this day: many have contributed to His murder in the flesh, and now mazes of men and women lacerate the faith, infiltrate the church, trying to put some new gender into God who is a Spirit, some new look into the Lord who has spoken, and to speak for Him as if by proxy, so that in His absence in body, pending return to judgment, they should join the squalid infestation of truth with the erection of a new body, like a cancerous tumour, retaining the name of the church.
Many do these things; but many do not. The church continues despite this grab, in many cases, of land and buildings, finance committed to one thing, for what is now wholly and outrageously contrary. The church however was never a mere building, finance or tradition; and the exposure and rejection of these take-overs, masqueradings and mockeries, often with straight faces, is also to end in greater deceptions than these, so that towards the end, "they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they did not love their lives, to the death" - Rev. 12:11.
This began long ago, and is
to reach its unhallowed but brilliant climax (Rev. 16:13, 17:13-17, 18:4,
6:9-13, Daniel 7:8,24-25, II Thess.2:8-12, Mark 13:10-22). The current
condition shows the stage settings all but complete, the actors activated, the
agents dynamised, the arrogance and the subtlety, the
duplicity and the deviousness, the dire confrontation mingled with ponderous
words, to the music of siren songs of philosophy, masquerading as theology,
ready more and more nearly as in New Age verbal technology. We look to Act V,
Scene 5 imminently, with
7) It may be said: But look! The contest is not a good match! God against men - what would you expect! That however is precisely the point. This is PRECISELY what one WOULD expect! Our immediate point: it is what one finds, and that is a massive verification of the word of God.
THAT in turn is one way in which decline serves the glory of God, verifies the truth of His word and shows the empathetic kindness of His pastoral care.
Thus man's infirmities, even in this area of spiritual separation in Christian fellowship (not of course the same as Christian concern or aid), demonstrate God's dynamics and illustrate His wonderful perfected comprehension of all things - including, incidentally, the human heart, which finds its rest only in Him.
8) THIS HONOURS AND GLORIFIES JESUS CHRIST AS THE FAITHFUL SHEPHERD, thoughtfully, amply, carefully and accurately directing His sheep. His Holy Spirit, in Scriptures as well as in Christian hearts, does indeed not leave us 'orphans' (John 16:4,7,15,27-28, ).
It exemplifies on a prodigious scale, His reliability as a Shepherd par excellence (John ,14,27).
9) IT ATTESTS HIS PERSONAL PURITY, FREE FROM ENTANGLING AND OFTEN VICIOUS ALLIANCES WITH STATE OR UNBELIEF, that His word forbids. His people are differently directed. He died without collusion, on being challenged as to His identity. His followers likewise are charged in all integrity, to be faithful to the end without wavering: these things help to exhibit these noble things (cf. Revelation ).
10) IT ALSO SHOWS HIS PRECISION AT THE PERSONAL LEVEL - some predictions being finger-print precise in style in their detail (e.g. I Timothy 4:1-4, Matthew 24:24, II Peter 3:1-5). It is like a doctor's word to your ear, about your health: intimate, informed - and personally useful.
11) IT APPLIES TO HIS PROMISE REGARDING CHRISTIAN JOY (John 16:20,22) - for polluted, promiscuous and HENCE forbidden associations that grieve are simply forbidden, though undoubtedly common, in defiance of His word, as many who THOUGHT they believed the Bible, come to show by their deeds what they do believe.
Challenge by all means, the word indicates, but DO NOT LOITER in the byways of sin, allied to rebelliousness against His word (Romans , II Corinthians 6:14, I Corinthians 5:29ff., Titus 3:10 etc.).
12) IT GIVES GRACIOUS CHALLENGE - and a good car is not ashamed to run (cf. Matthew 7:18 - and HE makes it a good one, freely through faith by grace, Romans 6:5, Ephesians 2:8, Isaiah 61:1-3). It lets it be seen by what is done by many, the specifications required by those who do conform to His word. In this it is rather like swimmers who, at a false start, nevertheless remain at their posts though nearly all fall in. The constancy is emphasised by the slippage. What is real is broadcast by these means; and brought to attention.
13) SPECIFIC FORECAST OF WOLVES IN THE FLOCK (Acts 20:28-30) is a good case of tender care lest, lulled by "respect for authority", misplaced in men rather than set in their godly commission from Jesus Christ according to His word: people should needlessly be slaughtered or molested, spiritually or physically. The warning of "wolves in sheep's clothing" is yet more intimate a warning (Matthew ). This is preventive 'medicine'.
14) THESE THINGS TEST (cf. I Peter , , 1:7) and PURGE FAITH, so making it suppler, more active, combat-ready, realistic, unconfusable with mere sentimentality or self-fulfilment, while as always, natural and kind. Not merely is faith exhibited, but it is purified (cf. Daniel , which shows the principle).
15) In fact, just as the Bible says, persecution has wonders NOW ( I Peer 4:14, Luke 21:14-15) - all of its own, directing one to the unseen Head (cf. Hebrews 11:6,10,14,27), away from the "temple stones" - the traditions of men, on which so many so perilously 'rest'(Jeremiah 7, Mark 7:7, Matthew 24:1-2). All this is wonderfully confirmed. It is rather like seeing the acceleration of an aircraft when a storm compels you to move; but more moving! Truth compels me to add this: it has been repeatedly, practically and often dramatically confirmed in my own life as these precepts were followed; these promises work with the smoothness of a new sports car under test.
In conclusion, let the word of God speak for itself, in the format of one of its many prophecies, duly fulfilled, like all the rest at all times, even from pre-Christ concerning the Gospel to be preached, even from Gospel proclamation time concerning times when its defilement should amount to a cultural passion:
says he Lord, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb:
I am the Lord who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself,
Who frustrates the signs of the babblers,
And drives diviners mad,
Who turns wise men backward,
And makes their knowledge foolishness;
Who confirms the word of His servant,
the counsel of His messengers..." (from Isaiah 44:24-26)
2. AN AVENUE
THROUGH CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS
TO THE TESTIMONY OF TRUTH
Hence Christian Apologetics finds here also one more magnificent avenue to the testimony of truth. These developments - AND requirements OF Christians during them - affirm the stringent verifiability of the word of God, its long-range fidelity, both in inward and in outward concerns, its keen and intense aptitude, and display that mastery, over and above all that one might expect in the abstract - so endearing in the maestro of history and conqueror of death.
New depths and dimensions constantly are found as we look - and this of course is a most massive particularity of that God whose WORD is truth. Truth is never embarrassed, but is confirmed on all sides - EVEN AS HERE, where its people are under test and suffer duress. In its least moments, great, how great it is that so confers quality at all times. Laughing at laughter, it predicts the antics of the mockers, and mocks them with its knowledge, as it directs the planned universe to its culmination at the feet of the personal One who invented it all.(Cf. SMR pp. 873,833, 865-866.)
Indeed, these things encourage people to call on, look for and study the word of the true God, whose various assailants, seeking to imitate the inimitable, look like forecast clowns, so enhancing by contrast, the stature of the truth in the eyes of those who will look, and driving them to Him, who will receive them if they come to Him, as He invites.
Rebellion, in His hands, can ever become a therapeutic instrument. That is because they are
i) nailed, for He, Christ the Lord, was crucified, the just for the unjust to bring us to God, and
ii) majestic, their capability is unlimited.
In terms of
Christian Apologetics, as of gospel proclamation, these ways of God are as
stunningly wonderful as one becomes accustomed to find when Jesus Christ - Saviour and Lord - is concerned; and where His word, the
word of the faithful Prince of Life, is in view.
It was no accident that the British
Empire had a total scope for industry, raw and manufactured materials alike,
name for its sway, earth shaking power. Though the formal State-established
Church connection was an error - as distinct from just favour
from a righteous State towards righteousness; yet it did have some effect in
excluding subversive plotting from agents of what the current Charles might
call 'other faiths', some of which can rival the distorted horror of the Roman
Catholic Inquisition, the remorseless and fiery abuses of which were not, in
its day, particularly pleasing to the English... The British Empire did tend to
establish certain moral standards and principles, and to give glory to the
Lord, despite variable levels of hypocrisy and words without deeds. The latter
condition was by no means always so, and
As Empires went, it was an
amazing intrusion into much that was lawless, unlovely and crass, though it
would be folly to pretend its own ways were wonderful. Options abound and are
very visible in this century. It is well they had their Shaftesbury
and their Wilberforce, both closely related to the ostensible religion of
It is true that this meddling with the church on the part of the State, however understandable at the first, was not Biblical; for many in the State who would gain control and the more as the nation declined, would have misplaced governmental power over an institution they did not understand. As the nation declined in its religious graces, so the majority in parallel declined, leading to worse ideals in the elected government of the State, and so a vicious circle intruded both into the Church of England, heightening the impact of its initial error.
For all that, in its time and when it was strong in a way it is now far from being, RIGHTEOUSNESS DID EXALT THE NATION. The Empire had some singular aspects for good, as well as notorious failures in their time; and it provided for long a freedom which few now equal. But the price of this mixed result?
The 'broad-minded' stress, so often found in the Church of England, because it was after all to a large extent civilly comprehensive rather than Christian in some of its structure, led to Tractarians, Anglo-Catholics, neo-orthodoxy, pseudo-orthodoxy and so on, so that an Australian archbishop can be found praising as noteworthy philosophical theology, a subtle monistic philosophy that scourges the minds of the unwary in Australia.
It is not merely the usual
run of decline; it had its own special features relative to inclusivism
and Romanism, as the fruits of
Furthermore, in the trend
of the worldwide communion of Anglicans, as in the W.C.C., there is an index to
ascertaining what in fact are the limits of
"toleration" for all parties. Thus in New Life,
Melbourne, the issue for
1. A CLEAR passage of motion "calling for renewed debate on the issue of homosexuality. The debate particularly focused on the question of whether or not practising homosexuals could be ordained to the priesthood."
In Biblical terms, that is
rather like having a church which CONTINUES to tolerate views and doctrine for
and against road rage or casual assassination. ALL of these things are
categorically condemned in the Bible; but none more than sexual perversion, a
subject covered from the Bible in great detail, supra
in Ch. 3, The Morals of God are Not for
Moreover, the use of the term "abomination" occurs in relation to this practice. Indeed, in Leviticus - the immediate parallels to it, are bestialism and putting children through the fire of the petty godlet, Moloch. Pagan fires for God-constructed children should lack appeal even to the most hardened... Indeed, in Leviticus at this very place, we read this:
"Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled: therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statues and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations..." (vv. 24-28).
The terms used here, in this regard are, no doubt, more than a little suggestive of the divine view of these contra-design prodigies, HE being the designer! (and not only of the body, but of the spirit of man, with all the complications of emotions, roles, co-operations, modesties and specialised love-commitment in faith and tryst as well as trust).
2. It is in this context that we return
now to the debate noted in New Life, concerning the Anglican
General Synod in
What was to be the Synod's pleasure ? What would it show it would tolerate by way of
reply from its midst, to this 'view', which of course the lady did not invent!
This: a Canon Paul Oestreicher from - interestingly
"Holy Scripture is not the last word. Holy Scripture too is created in a cultural context and needs to be revised in a godly way." (See , pp. 201ff., in Blood Sport, Appendix 3, infra.)
"Revised"? Revisionism? "In a godly way ?" That of course is a complete denial of the Biblical claims on divine speech being given both in substance and in teaching words by God personally.
That of course is a complete denial of the Biblical claims concerning divine speech being given both in substance and in teaching words, by God personally. (See I Corinthians 2:9-13, Isaiah 48:3-11 and see Appendix D, SMR, with pp. 422Qff., 374-386, 623ff., 29ff., 580ff.). Here is the general proposition of which many and further, pp. 201ff. supra, in Ch.10) . Here is the essence of the departure, its base and ambition. Man shall become as gods, knowing good and evil, and God - well, He can learn, perhaps more than anything else, to speak the truth. The blasphemy in such a view is not readily surpassed by any ready work of the imagination (John 14:6, -45, -50).
3. Here is the general proposition of which many others are parts. Here is a new religion, with open face, declaring itself among the bishops, undaunted, undisciplined, undeterred.
Not for nothing did an Australian Bishop tell me in a practical educational issue many years ago, that he was not bound to the 39 Articles of the Church of England. Strange, said I, that I who am not Anglican, agree with them, while you who are, do not! It meant that he could tolerate a mass in the college!
Roman Catholicism is now on
the Anglican agenda, as the reference above to A Question of Gifts shows (pp. 65ff.),
with formalised intentions towards that perilous and
opprobrious body. Official
Now too the Royal Family in several of its members contributes openly to disastrous immorality, while the would-be Head on earth of the Church of England wants to defend faiths - and some of them are rather rich, as SMR shows in Ch.10 particularly - not THE FAITH, while showing by his own personal and highly publicised actions, precisely what that does NOT mean!
Obviously, all this has let the nation decay, unblessed through grounds now changed, that once - for all their imperfections - led to significant national blessing. IN THIS CRUCIAL FEATURE, they now vacate the IN and UP stage of world leadership among the nations. What indeed the world is shortly to become with this power vacuum, resulting not least from the demise of such an Empire both spiritually and dynamically, with every novice interested in twiddling the switches whilst ever multiplying millions are in servitudes all but unthinkable, has been traced elsewhere. (The interested reader could consult SMR pp.717-732C, 743-744, 749-750E, 750Aff., and 699ff. with 844ff..)
To revert to our current main theme: bodies once adorned by Anglicanism now are subject to the rebellious influences which it espouses. The Biblical base that once tended to direct this body, progressively abandoned, no longer prevents wandering like that of angry waves. The wandering indeed is further than incidental or merely episodic, being formalised as we have shown. To an increasing degree, what is sure is that nothing ... much, outside assorted words and phrases perhaps, is.
Atrocious as have been some
of the episodes of a national church with errant political power from time to
time in the ascendant, nevertheless the philosophies behind these have not been
enshrined in its very constitution and structure, as with
As to Anglicanism, many
excellent things have also come in their time, in areas of termination of
slavery, missionary love and light, industrial conditions and child development
advances; and the doctrinal base, to the extent it WAS followed, was largely
sound - polity apart. But now? with the foundations destroyed, where shall the
people fly? Not where this body leads. With
(cf. SMR pp. 843, 1088B) and other idolatry, and the W.C.C. SMR pp. 743ff.) involved in violence and anti-missionary thrusts for the sake of ... "unity', and requiring FORMALLY merely lip service to tenets interpretable at pleasure, and shown by what IS accepted, for what they are: where then are the people of the word to go? Not that way, Biblically, not that way at all.
C.S. Lewis, famed Christian Professor at Cambridge University who played a very important role in England in his field, during and after World War II, one of the greatest writers of this century indeed, was in the Church of England decades ago now, and this was then his thought:
Once the layman (i.e. the non-clergyman) was anxious to hide the fact he believed so much less than the Vicar: he now tends to hide the fact he believes so much more. Missionary to the priests of one's own church is an embarrassing role; though I have a horrid feeling that if such missions work is not soon undertaken the future history of the Church of England is likely to be short.
Now there is but one Biblical option: Separate in a segment, as the Diocese of Sydney nearly did; or separate as an individual. In 1662 to its immense credit, the Anglican clergy to the number of some 2000 left home and place, salary and prestige for the honour of being outcasts instead, perhaps banned from being too near their former places, and with no beautiful social service "net". Men of courage were unwilling to be pawns of State when they lived as servants of Christ; just as in Scotland so many were scourged and afflicted by the political arm of England evilly misusing the Church of England in the late sixteen hundreds.
Indeed, in that dreadful and catastrophic century, Scots who insisted on the crown rights of Jesus Christ over their church, on people being able to call their pastors, believe the Bible and follow its precepts were not made to feel merely 'uncomfortable'. Rather this: many thousands were taunted, tried, tested, tortured, killed, maimed, incarcerated, some put in cages exposed to the elements, held up in air, objects of ridicule and impassioned malice, shot at in fields, harassed in preaching, denied their flocks, subjected to intruders in their homes, pillaged, dispossessed, removed from pastorates, hunted and shot at, sought by troops, investigated in forests in case, discarded, they preached yet. They did not exactly consider it too much of an effort to give Christ the pre-eminence, whatever culture said.
The State loves to be unified. So small a consideration, in its eyes, as supernaturally directed loyalty to the heavenly Jesus Christ can be vexing to it, even when it names Him as its own! These causes however are almost like mere beginnings, in comparison with the outrageous contemporary extremes of rampant, reckless and unrepentant radicalism which sweep the Anglican body like tornadoes on holiday, trying out their new sports cars to find the maximum speed. The 'nice' sale of the Christ of the word of God (see SMR Ch.6, Appendix C), leads to a crucifixion in the end. Though the nails now be spiritual, they remain piquant, punitive and treacherous.
The Uniting Church has reached the same place by a different road - also in the W.C.C. and in much else. (See News 24, The Morals of God are not for Sale), disjoining itself from its Protestant heritage both in morals and in its style of connection in this pervasive trend towards union... but union with what!
It has moved in a way somewhat different from that of Anglicanism, but with equivalent result. Christs born, manufactured or manipulated in the twentieth century died for no one's redemption, and arrived from no heaven, nor do they lead to any. (Cf. SMR pp. 857-877.) It is another Christ than this who is to be served and worshipped, and a different testimony with which one is Biblically obliged to worship in the fervour of faith and the blessedness of obedience. (Cf. II Corinthians 11:1-15.) It is the word of God which alike judges and must be followed; and its judgments are clear.
is necessary now as in earlier centuries, to seek without inhibition or fear,
the Christ of the Bible, of the Cross, of the Resurrection, and to FOLLOW HIM,
knowing that what is written is the test (SMR esp. Chs.1,3,6,7-10). What this points to is, when found, His own
confirmation in heart, mind, experience and validity. In this, it is like the
laws of physics in their most modest state, yet for its own part, it is eternal
in its wonder and never outdated: when you follow the requirement, you
get the result.
The twentieth century has been a time of wastage. True, advances have been made; but Protestantism no more has the vast coverage and enormous power of the British Empire, with England as a State, directly committed to non-papacy in the most uncompromising way. Since 1982, Anglicanism in England has been rather actively toying, trifling and touching this particular papal enormity. Royalty have made visits and the Church itself has small qualms at condoning such trifles as PRIMACY FOR THE POPE. It becomes merely a matter of interpretation as to what kind.
Toleration has turned into adulteration. A letter dated January 17, 1990, from the official Anglican Lambeth Palace, advises on relevant thoughts of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The question which was being answered related to this area: Why is a primacy being accorded the pope (something in strict contravention of the Act of Settlement, in that the Queen is deemed head of the Church of England, and this is part of responsibility as queen)?
To be first bishop, the letter writer proceeded, would mean to have rule over the Queen in part of her duties, however erroneous it is for a political queen to have such duties. The Act requires a Protestant sovereign: anyone holding even Communion with the Church of Rome is excluded and to be "forever incapable to inherit, possess, or enjoy the Crown and Government of this realm". To accept a pope as first BISHOP amongst all bishops, and hence in regard to all English bishops, would imply breach of this Act. Communion? THIS is obeisance!
"May I first of all assure you that the Archbishop of Canterbury has not been saying anything new. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission - officially established as long ago as 1970 - has been working on the important and long disputed questions of authority between Churches. In 1976 it produced a first Statement ... and in 1982 its Final Report. The Commission spoke therein of the role of leadership of the Bishop of Rome to which the Archbishop alluded.
The Joint Statement of Pope and Archbishop deals with "the necessity for unity for ... mission to "a "godless world". There is thus a JOINT MISSION in the name of Jesus Christ - without which no church can operate, if Christian (Colossians 3:17); and THAT necessitates due communion or fellowship. Now the British sovereign is forbidden this; the British head of the Church of England is forbidden this, on pain of losing the crown; but do the underlings perform what the head cannot!
Therefore the future of long famed British freedom of speech is again in doubt. Not for nothing did Charles Dickens say: "Roman Catholicism is the most horrible means of political and social degradation left in the world" or John Milton: "Popery is a double thing to deal with, and claims a twofold power, ecclesiastical and political, both usurped and the one supporting the other." (Cf. Unam Sanctam, papal Bull, 1302.) The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Ch. 10 details the horrible mockery of Christ's power both as Master and in the atonement, which Rome brings (cf. op.cit. pp. 924, 978, 993, 1032-1088C esp.). It deals significantly with the central Roman Council of Trent.
The coercion which is apparent in the Council of Trent is not revoked. The errors are not corrected. The British State's legal and constitutional rejection of Rome's intrusion (not for private desire but for final power) fostered a measure of freedom for which England since 1689 has on many occasions been justly famous; but now it is perilously compromised. Indeed, much modern ecumenism departs from objectivity, and is ready for almost anything, including totem poles and addresses on alien spiritism at the level of international Conference (W.C.C. case at Vancouver, 1983).
Such devices then are merely an example. Meanwhile existentialism has made rank subjectivity, often anomalous and outré, a matter of pride. Like odd hats in their fashion day, this is becoming fashionable in an increasing area of earth's religious environment. Secularism for its part is now seldom effectively leavened with any real moral thrust, rather seeking to cover all with its polluted skirts.
It is true that pure religion cannot be imposed by law, and SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED AS TO FAITH, BY FORCE, despite the torrents of blood Rome has spilled in the Inquisition and in the more recent days of the Ustashi and Archbishop Stepinac (SMR pp. 950-954), convicted war criminal, in Yugoslavia. It is still true however that objectively sound moral rulings, that righteousness will exalt a nation.
This is God's view in the Bible; and it will be found true in history. Peoples are not for example helped by the fall-out of Aids, or the shocking intrusion into religious dictatorship in certain educational areas, now anomalously if not illegally practiced by the ostensible secular government of South Australia - a subject of repeated protest by numbers of Ministers and hundreds of petitioners. Toleration has yielded to intrusiveness, and intruders are notoriously prone to fictionalising freedom, and requiring beliefs rather than inviting people to share them, or providing sound grounds for them.
Nihilism, relativism, militant missionary-minded atheism, theosophy dressed in Adelaide in particular, in the garb of physics; together with secularism, humanism - man measuring man by man, as if that would tell the race of anything to the point; and neo-orthodoxy, neo-evangelicalism - say anything and do what seems good - with the whole dismal mess and abyss of subjectivity, human autonomy and human coercion, rationalism and irrationality, indeed the New Age old-time duplicity: as to this, its tongue strides throughout the earth. The tongue of truth is often left for that of convenience, attraction or appeal.
In the midst of this predicted and vast decline from the objective Jesus Christ, in the milieu of the objective word of God to man with objective sin, requiring objective ransom for objective reasons, there has come a new peril (cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, pp. 699ff., 850, 867ff. 993-994, 743). Surging into the muddle and the mêlée, like a surfer in the turmoil of the ocean, has come Pentecostalism.
Indeed some - despite the prophecies of the Bible against Rome (op. cit. pp. 946ff.), and its vast contradiction by Rome - join tongue with tongue, to make by a sort of verbal chaos, a clouded uproar ... They do it 'charismatically' with baby talk; and certainly this diverts from the application of the word of God - that immeasurable source of clarity (Proverbs 8:8-9).
The triple idolatry12 of Mass, pope and Mary (each used in ways God reserves to Himself), allied with the Gospel of conditional salvation (contrary to I Thessalonians 5:9-10, John 10:9, I John 3:0, John 6:47, 4:14, I John 2:26-27) puts people in servitude of mind and spirit, as well as of body; and God forbids such association (op.cit. p. 950 - Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10, Ephesians 5, Isaiah 8:20, I Timothy 4, a specific prophecy also, II Timothy, I Timothy 6, I Corinthians 5:11, II Corinthians 6:14-18, II Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6).
Misuse of tongues as to priority, in relation to the word of God and its teaching, joint utterance and so on in the litany of riot: these things merely add spice to the rebellion, speed to Satan's deception, and confusion to betrayal, when fellowship is held with Rome. Let us now turn to the tongue-dispersal flair site, Pentecostalism.
It is true that Pentecostalism for its part sometimes has good elements (as indeed does much else), and that it is very varied; but it has been so subjected to the forces of the Age, that it is frequently found not only EXCEEDING the Bible but CONTRADICTING the Bible, making unconscionable requirements (as to show you are converted, much in the manner of Rome, which has used OTHER MEANS to make its point, but similar officiousness). It has set up - in cases so numerous that total and beneficial exceptions are extraordinarily difficult to find - conditions, criteria and practices so far from the Bible that although, like Rome, it claims very often, belief in it, it often becomes a reservoir for the disaffected, whose revival might have been hoped for (cf. Luke 11:52).
In flat contradiction, for example, of I Corinthians 12,14, Pentecostalism very frequently insists that ALL should speak in tongues (versus 1 Corinthians 12 lessons on specialisation thematically, and also 12:29-30 in particular); or even more in rebellion against the apostolic command (I Corinthians 14:37, 2:9-13), that non-speaking in tongues either means non-conversion, or a lapse or failure in sanctification!
Again, conventionally, contradicting 1 Corinthians 14:13-15,27-28, more than 2 or 3 speak in tongues in public meeting, or there is no interpreter for EACH such given utterance, or some speak, pray or sing more than one at a time. Not merely is the RULE, 2-3 speakers at most, and that, only with interpreters; but the CONFINEMENT is of ALL UTTERANCE (vv.13-15, 27, Greek general term, lalew) of any kind, including singing, praying; and this is further subject to the rules of edification and interpretation. De-emphasis of such speaking is specifically called for (I Corinthians 14:19). The only specific things authorised in this context to be sought, in Paul's instructions, are prophecy and love.
Edification and order is essential IN ALL THINGS, with comprehension required, and NOT AN OPTION (I Corinthians 14:26-28, Ps.96:9, 89:7). ONLY in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is one to glory. (See Galatians 6:14, cf. Jeremiah 9:23, John 17:3; and the Appendix to this volume, Question and Answer on the Cross - but not cross purposes with Christ, pp. 173-179 infra.)
While God can use what He will, such open rebellion against His word - as indicated in this customary case of Pentecostalism extensively and in detail in my work, A QUESTION OF GIFTS - is a sadly lapsed vehicle.
The spirit of our Age is this way; but it is the word of God which needs to be examined, and followed, not some experience based vacuously in subjectivity, without the certain buttress of the word of God. Another Jesus, another gospel and another spirit, Paul says (II Corinthians 11) can indeed attract; but as to THIS SAME JESUS WHO SHALL RETURN IN A MANNER LIKE THAT IN WHICH HE WENT (Acts 1),
Nothing can fray the power13 of God, or cancel its availability to His people (cf. John 14:12, Ephesians 1:19, II Corinthians 1:9-10); but it neither needs nor requires the social, psychological, political or administrative additions of man, that it might operate. Does it not say it (Acts 5:31-32) of Christ:
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance ... and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him!
And does not Galatians 3 with II Corinthians 11 warn of manipulators, human or otherwise, of silly shibboleths, vacuous words and straying standards till even "another Gospel" and "another Jesus" are invested, with "another spirit"!
As to man's sometimes insidious and pseudo-spiritual works, is not obedience better than sacrifice, and is not rebellion as the sin of witchcraft? Let us then be crafted in Christ, moulded by His word, and let Him send forth His refreshing showers at His pleasure (Acts 3:19, I Samuel 15:23, Isaiah 30:15,18).