Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
"I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Therefore, go out from their midst, and be seperate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 6:14 - 7:1)
In an earlier post, I have placed two links whereby I have earlier written about the Doctrine of Seperation. This doctrine, which I have stated as being abused by modern-day "Fundamentalists" and ignored and despised by Neo-Evangelicals, is actually a very biblical doctrine which safeguards our witness for Christ to a depraved and sinful generation. In fact, I will even go so far as to say that it builds genuine unity in the bond of Christ among believers, insted of the sheep being left to fend for themselves while the shepherds allow the wolves to come in because we must be 'loving'.
In this post, I would like to show how this doctrine is to be applied in various situations, namely that of Church, Ministry and Marriage.
When finding or considering a church home, it is imperative that such a decision glorifies God, not just to make us feel happy. The doctrine of seperation will thus have implications for us as we seek to glorify God in all that we do, even in this aspect. The idea of first-degree seperation automatically means that we are not to join apostates churches, or to leave them if we are presently a member therein. The idea is very simple: What kind of testimony you are giving to the world and to God by staying in a "synagogue of Satan"? When we interact with people, like it or not we are ambassadors of where we come from, and that includes the church you are in. If a true born-again believer whom we shall call Mr. A remains in, for example, a Roman Catholic church in the interest of reforming that church, guess who benefits? People may be confused when they interact with Mr. A and think that there is some change within the Roman Catholic religion. In the meantime, Mr. A is obviously not fed and is subjected to many dangers, as bad company ruins good morals (1 Cor. 15:33). Furthrmore, he is in danger of being taught false doctrines, especially if he is young in the faith, which may shipwreck his faith. All in all, Mr. A has tarnished his witness for our God, and worse still have unwittingly given legitimacy to Romanism in the sight of men.
But how about going there as a missionary, some may ask? I will respond back and enquire of them where in the Scripture is this tactic of infiltration recommanded. Obviously nowhere! Worse still, for example in Billy Graham crusades, new believers are channeled back to liberal Bible-denying churches! In other words, you are sending young lambs who have just been born into a pack of wolves, and you think that is a good tactic to win the lost souls in there?! What foolishness! Even if you advocate infiltration, you should desire to send in only the strong, elite and well-trained forces, but yet this New Evangelical tactic is not only unbiblical, it is downright stupidity. As an analogy of how stupid New Evangelicalism is, just imagine which army in the world would send fresh recruits in a commando raid deep in the enemy's territory.
Infiltration of apostate religious organizations masquerading as churches therefore is unbiblical. If anyone however thinks we should still try this "in order that by all means save some", then I will give them the example of righteous Lot, who was grieved in his spirit by the lawlessness the Sodomites practised (2 Peter 2:7) and yet he would most probably be trying to reach out to them. Of the biblical narratives, this is proably the best narrative which proves the point (Other examples may include instances in Israel's history itself). Lot who is righteous, and who have even "earned" for himself the right to be heard (since his uncle saved the kings of Sodm and Gomorrah and their people - Gen. 14:1-16), lived in Sodom as a sortof de-facto Evangelist. Yet by the end of his "mission", his two sons-in-law disbelieved and were killed together with the other people of Sodom, his wife doubted and became a pillar of salt, and his two daughters became perverts who concoted a plan to sleep with their father in order to preserve their family line. Is this the type of legacy that New Evangelicals would want? But yet through their goal of 'friendly engagement', this is what will happen. And such a falling away is already happening in the proclaimed Evangelical world. Far from changing the culture, and the apostate churches, liberalism and worldliness has seeped into mainstream Evangelicalism, until we have all kinds of heresies within the camp, in movements such as the semi-Pelagian Purpose Driven paradigm and the anti-propositional Emerging Church Movement. Not to mention the leftist socialist Jim Wallies of Sojourners.
Since I have raised the question, I will briefy answer as to the biblical methods of reaching out to apostate congregations. We are to reach out to all of them pro-actively in Evangelism, in proclaiming to them the Gospel of God from the outside. We are not to have any part in the works of darkness (Eph. 5:11) but rather expose them. Why must we utilize the tactic of infiltration unless we are ashamed of the Gospel, and of the offense of the Cross? In the end, it comes down to a fear of Man such that we would not otherwise interact with those who are clearly not in the Kingdom of God but through hints, suggestions, etc. We are not willing to be seen as confrontational "bigots" but as "nice people" (you know, not like those "intolerant Fundamentalists")
Now, don't get me wrong here. I am not interested in purposefully antagonizing people and then claim that we are persecuted when they oppose us, like some "Fundamentalists" like to do. However, have we become too fearful of Man that we cannot tell them lovingly that they must repent and turn to Christ otherwise they are going to hell? They will certainly hate us for saying so, but will we yet do it?
Next then, what about second degree seperation? With regards to choosing a church, this would become trickier, since second degree seperation will be with regards mainly to the ministry of the church. Of course, if a church allows known heretics in as members without discipling them, then that is an obvious violation of the command of seperation. Incidentally, this would also disqualify a church from being considered a true church, since it does not practise church discipline. As for cases of churches whereby they do practice church discipline correctly and are solid, yet their pastors, elders and deacons and.or other leaders may be involved in compromising activities outside the church, the doctrine of seperation does not exactly apply for joining that church as long as they don't practice their compromise in the church setting. However, such an action by the leaders should cast a shadow over their eligibility, and therefore it is up to the individual to decide between him and God.
I would like here to mke a brief comment regarding Frank Turk's recent ongoing crusade for the local church despite all her failings, of which the latest post can be found here. Certain points Frank made are good, but by and large he has totally avoided the topic of the doctrine of seperation, and what that has to say that will impact the things he has been asserting. Certainly, we are not to leave the church over really trivial issues, nor should we expect total perfection in any church, and we should not be church-hopping and should serve in the local church. That said, Frank Turk's New Evangelical slant can be seen as he hints that people who normally do not talk with a pastor should not come up one day and comment that what he is teaching is wrong, and the way he uses the passge in the LBCF (Loindon Baptist Confession of Faith) to state that we should automatically stay in a church no matter how bad the error is by default, until they apostasize that is. To complete his bad exegesis, just look at his interpretation of Rev. 1:4b-7, which should make the Arminians happy (what with the playing around with the word 'all' to mean 'all').
Fact of the matter, such a strained exegesis and elevation of the local church by Frank Turk contradicts the Scriptures as it makes the doctrine of seperation to no effect. According to Frank Turk, we can only seperate from a local church if they have either 1) turn apostate with no hope of turning back, 2) we cannot fit in and be fed dispite trying. This is contrary to the clear teachings of Scripture in this regard, and serve only to magnify the authority of "Mother Church" above its biblical position. In the meantime, believers' witnesses are lost and even destroyed, error thrives, and the Church (capital C) is weakened. In fact, a lot of so-called churches that I personally know of will allow people who believed similarly to Frank to serve, while all the time undermining their teachings through the pulpit or otherwise, and at the same time providing the sheep with such 'wonderful
fei-lou-ship fellowship' (Sorry to non-Singaporeans who can't understand this). Soon, the sheep are lured to lukewarmness by their pastors and their friends in a spirit of 'Don't rock the boat'-ism, and in the end Christ's glory is diminished. And please do not think it will never happen to you. As it is written, pride comes before a fall, and let him who stands take heed lest he falls (1 Cor. 10:12). Does anyone dares to boast that he/she has the resources, zeal and knowledge to stand against the schemes and temptations of the devil, and of the flesh? I myself do not. Our perseverance is only by God's grace which preserves us as His elect (Jn. 6:39). Do not boast and think that you are so strong and mighty that you can stay in a compromised church without any destrimental effect on you or your family, which is what Frank Turk's advice would ultimately lead to. Those who continue to doubt that this is the case should really have a good look at the biblical example of Lot. In the end, those who refuse to seperate from biblically deficient churches (of which I have only listed one particular aspect in the doctrine of seperation here) will compromise their spiritual walk and fervor for the Lord and produce little lasting works.
In the next post, we will look into the issue of Ministry, as to how the Doctrine of seperation ouught to be practised there.