I was not raised a separatist. I don’t hold to separation as some form of tradition from my fathers. I was raised Southern Baptist and learned nothing about separation in my youth. I became a separatist by conviction after I was born again as a young man and began studying the Bible for myself.
As a new Christian I wasn’t attracted to separatism because of my background or personal inclination. I am a converted hippy. After I was discharged from the Army as a Vietnam vet, I grew my hair long, sold drugs, hitchhiked across America, went to jail, and otherwise lived the rock & roll lifestyle to the hilt. Any natural inclination I had as a new Christian was to keep my long hair, hold on to rock music, and remain friends with the Pentecostal movement. God’s Word didn’t allow that, and it was learning to separate from the world and from false teaching that kept me on the right track in the Lord’s will.
Separation is necessary for true discipleship.
Knowing the importance of separation, I am deeply concerned about the next generation, if Jesus “tarries.” I am concerned about my kids and grandkids and as yet unborn great grandkids. There are fewer and fewer churches that give more than lip service to separation. Will such churches still exist in 20-30 years so that God’s people can find the spiritual protection they will need even more urgently then than we do now?
By God’s grace, there will be such churches if I have anything to do with it, and I pray that many preachers will join me in that determination.
When I find a preacher who is playing games about biblical separation and who is showing signs of rejecting it, I refuse to have anything to do with him as far as ministry goes. I am not going to join his church. I’m not going to preach in his church. I am not going to preach with him on the same platform in meetings. I am not going to invite him to preach in my church. And I am not going to preach in churches that would have him!
Yes, that is narrow and strict, but I believe it is necessary to cut off the effect of compromise. Compromise is a communicable disease!
The old backslidden prophet in 1 Kings 13 taught the young prophet to disobey God by taking His commandments lightly. God told the young prophet to preach against the idolatrous altar at Bethel and then to leave and not even to eat there. The prophet obeyed for a while. He ran a good race for a distance. He proclaimed God’s message against the altar boldly, refusing the king’s offer of a reward, then headed away from Bethel. But instead of continuing to get away from there as fast as his donkey could carry him, he decided to take a rest under an oak tree. There an old compromised prophet, who had become comfortable in Bethel, met him and encouraged him that he didn’t need to take God’s commandments so strictly, that he could go to his house and enjoy a meal before leaving the idolatrous city. That sounded reasonable, didn’t it? Surely God would understand. The “little bit” of compromise didn’t work out for him, though. As a result of his association with an old backslidden prophet, the foolish young prophet was killed. By the way, we see in this account that backslidden preachers lie!
There are a lot of compromised preachers in Independent Baptist churches who are saying it is OK to lighten up on separation. They say that music is more an issue of taste, that teaching the biblical principles of modest dress is legalism, that it is fine to take the youth group to Dollywood and initiate them into Hollywood. They leave separation up to the people. Their theme song is “lighten up, don’t be so strict and narrow. Let’s be separatists but let’s not go overboard with it. Let’s not be fanatics. Surely, it can’t hurt to read the ‘conservative’ evangelicals and use their materials and follow their blogs. If we don’t lighten up, we’ll lose the kids.”
This spirit of compromise on separation which is permeating Independent Baptists was described to me in the following recent communication from a young preacher:
“I have been GREATLY encouraged by your writings because I had been struggling with the idea of holding to and preaching Christian standards when so many of the ‘good’ independent Baptist churches and pastors no longer do. I was getting to the place where I felt alone in desiring to preach and teach holiness from the pulpit, for I had asked many (at least 10) preachers if adapting CCM was ok and if we should preach hard on modesty and music and they ALL told me that if we love people and show them the love of the Lord they will eventually come around to creating their own standards. I was so discouraged because I had been convicted about the music/dress that I was listening to and allowing in my own life and family and was desiring to find a man who would say, ‘YES! TAKE A STAND!’ So thank you for doing right no matter the cost. I have been the youth pastor at an independent Baptist church, but I have been asked to leave by the pastor because he feels I am ‘too conservative/fundamental’ for his ministry (our church is adapting CCM praise music and giving up modesty for the sake of ‘keeping the unsaved in church’).”
Observe that all of the preachers that this young man consulted counseled him not to preach and teach holiness and separation from the pulpit, to leave it up to the people to make their own decisions. Observe that he was dismissed from an Independent Baptist church for being too conservative. This is happening everywhere.
I don’t want anything to do with that crowd! I believe that if you “lighten up” on biblical separation you will definitely lose the kids. You will lose them to the world, and you will lose them to the contemporary emerging philosophy. I am convinced that this thinking is wrong, that it is compromise, and I don’t want to be affected by it.
Even if I could associate with such men without being personally affected, which is probably not possible, what about those who observe my example? I don’t want to risk having our church members and Bible college students influenced by an association with compromising preachers and churches.
Biblical separation cannot be maintained without a campaign. A separatist stance will only be maintained on purpose and at a cost, but it is worth it.
Separation is not the gospel and it is not the work of the ministry, but it is a divinely-ordained wall of spiritual protection against apostasy and the world. To reject “separatism” is to tear down this wall so that God’s people are no longer kept from the “good words and fair speeches” whereby heretics deceive the hearts of the simple (Romans 16:17-18) and no longer distanced from the siren call of the world (2 Timothy 2:22).
“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” (2 Th. 3:6).
For an extensive course on separation see Bible Separation: Its Doctrine and Practice
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