There is a fierce attack today on a strict Biblicist position. It is hated by evangelicals, the emerging church, Southern Baptists, most Presbyterians and Methodists and Lutherans.
Brian McLaren said the emerging church is targeting our children and grandchildren with the objective of leading them away from separatism. Recently Gabe Lyons (shown above) said he is excited about (supposed) death of separatist Christianity (“End of Christian America is Good, Says Young Evangelical,” Christian Post, Oct. 12, 2010).
Even among those who still claim to be fundamentalists and who say that they are opposed to New Evangelicalism and the Emerging Church, there is a softening of stance, a moderation of militancy, less forthrightness, less naming names, less plainness in warning. How many Independent Baptist schools/churches even have warning conferences? When is the last time that you hear of a large IB school that had a conference on Separation?
(I am not defending Fundamentalism as a movement. It has always been interdenominational and committed to the heresy of “in essentials unity; in nonessentials liberty ...” See our report “New Evangelicalism: Its History, Characteristics, and Fruit” at the Way of Life web site for more on this.)
I didn’t know anything about Fundamentalism or separation when I was converted in 1973. I grew up in the Southern Baptist Convention, and separation was not a part of the message and practice. Billy Graham and his ecumenical evangelism was upheld as the desirable philosophy. “Let’s be Christians but not fanatics” was the unsung watchword.
After I was saved, I began to devour God’s Word and to seek to measure everything by it. I took the following promises of Christ in the Gospel of John seriously and trusted the Lord to lead me in the path of truth.
John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
John 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
I didn’t know where to go to church at first. I was led to Christ by an old-line Pentecostal, but we parted ways the next day and I have never seen him again. I attended some Pentecostal services, some Baptist ones, some generic evangelical ones. I listened to J. Vernon McGee on the radio and ordered some of Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklets. In the public library I found some books by Seventh-day Adventists, and of course I came across Jehovah’s Witness literature and met a Mormon. It was bewildering, but I continued to devour the Bible and to call out to the Lord for wisdom. I trusted His promises, and I thank the Lord that He led me through the wilderness of heresy and end-time compromise into the bright light of sound doctrine.
As I have studied the Bible to renew my mind and to develop a proper Biblical worldview, I have learned the importance of the following points. I have learned that the Scripture demands a strict position on doctrine and practice. Nowhere in Scripture is there an encouragements to be tolerant and broadminded in these things.
The following Scriptures teach me to have a “fundamentalist” type of Christianity. Call it what you will, these Scriptures condemn the Evangelical-Emerging philosophy of our day.
THE BIBLE DEMANDS STRICTNESS IN DOCTRINE
This is foundational. If a believer is as strict about doctrine as the Bible commands he will not be able to follow any of the contemporary philosophies or movements.
Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
1 Timothy 1:3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.
1 Timothy 6:13-14 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
The Bible teaches that God’s people can know sound doctrine through diligent study, obedience, and surrender to the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:17; 8:31-32; 1 Timothy 2:15; 1 John 2:27). We can learn to rightly divide God’s Word.
THE BIBLE DEMANDS THAT WE TEST ALL THINGS
Not only are we exhorted to know sound doctrine, we are to test everything by it. We are taught that we live in a world of lies and that heresies and compromise will abound more and more as the time of Christ’s coming draws nigh (e.g., 2 Corinthians 11; 1 Timothy 4:1-6; 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 2; Jude; 1 John 4).
Following are some of the passages that require the child of God to develop a testing mindset:
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
1 Corinthians 2:15-16 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3-4 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Philippians 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
THE BIBLE DEMANDS THAT WE CONTEND FOR THE FAITH
Not only are we to know the Scripture and to test everything by it, but we are also to contend against all errors.
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
It is impossible to take this verse seriously and also to be an evangelical or emerging Christian today. If you try to fight for the truth once delivered to the saints, you will be mocked, misjudged, and ostracized. Which part of the old faith are we to fight for? All of it! Especially that part that happens to be under attack at the moment.
THE BIBLE DEMANDS PLAIN EXPOSURE OF ERROR
We are not to contend for the faith in vague generalities. The apostle Paul gives us the example of naming the names of heretics and compromisers. He did this 10 times in 1 and 2 Timothy.
1 Timothy 1:19-20 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
2 Timothy 2:16-18 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
If the preacher is not plain in exposing sin and error, God’s people will not know exactly who or what to avoid.
THE BIBLE DEMANDS SEPARATION FROM COMPROMISE, DOCTRINAL ERROR, AND APOSTASY
Not only are we to know sound doctrine and to test everything by God’s Word and to earnestly contend for the truth, but we are also exhorted to separate from error. This has become a dirty word in pop Christianity today, but it i clear teaching of Scripture.
Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Someone might ask, “What about the Bible’s call for unity?” Bible teachings aren’t contradictory, and if we examine the unity passages in their context we see that one can obey them while also obeying the commands pertaining to separation.
Consider Romans 15:5-6: “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The context of this passage is the church at Rome. That is to whom it was immediately addressed. Observe, then, that the Bible’s call for Christian unity is primarily something that functions at the church level. Observe, too, that the unity that God demands is not the ecumenical/evangelical “unity in diversity,” it is the unity of speaking with “one mind and one mouth.” That is a very serious type of unity, and it is not possible in the midst of popular Christianity in these end times. Consider a typical ecumenical evangelism event or a Christian rock concert. You will have Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Church of Christ, Brethren, Orthodox, even Roman Catholics, all bringing their various conflicting doctrines. It is impossible to have “one mind and one mouth” in the midst of such a hodgepodge of doctrinal confusion, and it is not expected today, but to have less than “one mind and one mouth” is to disobey God’s Word.
The late David Nettleton, in a message entitled “A Limited Message or a Limited Fellowship,” described his experiences in an interdenominational youth ministry in the 1950s. He said that when he was invited to speak, he was instructed not to speak on certain doctrines, such as the mode of baptism, eternal security, tongues speaking, and the interpretation of Bible prophecy. These were called “non-essentials” and he was taught to focus only on the “essentials” in order to have a broader fellowship and ministry. Through prayer he realized that this philosophy is contrary to how the apostle Paul operated. In Acts 20:27, Paul reminded the elders at Ephesus that he was pure from the blood of all men “for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Nettleton realized that he had to make a choice, between popular evangelicalism or the Bible. He concluded his message with these words:
“Today we are choosing between two alternatives. A LIMITED MESSAGE OR A LIMITED FELLOWSHIP. If we preach all of the Bible truths, there are many places where we will never be invited. If we join hands with the crowds, there will be limiting of the message of the Bible. Bear this in mind--it is the Baptist who lays aside the most! It is the fundamental Baptist who makes the concessions! Think this through and you will find it to be true. We believe in believer's baptism. We believe in separation. We preach eternal security. We believe in the imminent coming of Christ. We consider it an act of obedience to reprove unbelief in religious circles. The Sadducee and the Pharisee are to be labeled. But according to a present philosophy we must lay these things aside for the sake of a larger sphere of service. ...
“It is our first duty to be fully obedient to God in all things, and then to wait upon Him for the places of service. It may be that we will be limited, and it may be that we will not. Charles Haddon Spurgeon did not travel as widely as some men of his day, but his sermons have traveled as far as the sermons of most men “(David Nettleton, “A Limited Message or a Limited Fellowship,” GARBC, c. 1960s).
(For more about the Bible’s doctrine of Christian unity study 1 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:3-6; and Philippians 1:27.)
THE BIBLE DEMANDS STRICT SEPARATION FROM SIN AND WORLDLINESS
Not only does the Bible require separation from false teaching and religious/spiritual compromise, it also requires strict separation from sin and worldliness. Consider the following Scriptures:
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
1 Corinthians 10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
These verses are why I changed my lifestyle dramatically after I got saved (though it was part of a growing process that took time, of course). I changed my clothing styles so as not to be identified with the rebellious, licentious “hippy” movement. I cut my long hair. I stopped smoking and drinking and using drugs. I changed my music. I stopped going to bars and movie theaters and the beach (to ogle the half-naked girls) and other wicked places.
The Bible teaches us that believers are to walk in the fear of God. The word “fear” appears 30 times in the Epistles.
Hebrews 12:28-29 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.
This is not the “Jesus is my pal,” Jesus is a party guy, type of Christianity that is popular today.
Believers are warned about a strict judgment at the Bema of Christ (1 Cor. 3:13-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-10).
Scripture demands strict biblicism. We are to hold fast to the old paths until Jesus comes!!! Biblical Christianity is not new and it is not cool. The newest part of the Scripture is 2,000 years old, and it came from Heaven rather than from earth.
Jesus hates lukewarm Christianity (Revelation 3:15-16)!
It is impossible to obey the Scriptures we have listed and also to follow any of the contemporary programs and movements; all of them renounce this strict approach. All of them hate biblical fundamentalism and find time to mock it and take cheap shots at it every chance they get.
Furthermore, biblical strictness is not mean or unloving.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
The late Mel Rutter, vice president of Maranatha Baptist Mission in Natchez, Mississippi, told me the last time I saw him in 1978, “Son, be as firm as a rock in your position, but be as sweet as the honey from rock in your disposition. That is a proper biblical objective and calling.
It is salvation that made me a strict biblicist. I made a profession of faith at about age 11 and was baptized into a Baptist church, but there was no evidence that I knew Christ. I never read my Bible of my own accord. I never prayed about God’s will. I had no interest in church or in preaching. But when I was biblically converted at age 23, my life changed, and as I studied the Bible as a young Christian I read the verses we have considered in this sermon and I began to try to take them seriously.
We live in an age of terrible compromise, an age that was prophesied in Scripture (e.g., 2 Timothy 4:3-4), but many are standing in an evil age. They refuse to be swept down the river of compromise or to bend with the winds of apostasy. They are more fearful of God than the crowd and more impressed with the Christ of the Bible than the big names in evangelicalism. I am thankful for every preacher and church that does not compromise when the pressure to do so today is so very strong.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).
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