We were asked to unite with a number of churches in our area that were having a "wake up call" for all Promise Keepers. This seems to be in keeping with a central theme I have noticed in Promise Keepers literature to "break down the walls" of denominational differences.
We did not be participate in this movement, and I would like to share with you a few of the many reasons why we did not participate.
We were asked to join this group under the cloak of fellowship and love, agreeing to five principles that made this fellowship possible. These five principles are the whole of the doctrinal beliefs of the Promise Keepers--everything else is "non-essential." This means that other principles of the New Testament are not issues over which we should disagree.
First, there can be no unity outside of truth. It is the truth that will set us free -- not the compromise of truth. Jesus never tried to unify the Pharisees with his little band of disciples. Yet these Pharisee would be welcomed today into such a group as the PK movement. The fact of the matter is, He tells us to beware of the "leaven" of the Pharisee. He knew that a little leaven would permeate the whole batch. To disregard truth for the sake of "unity" is sin. Jesus did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Matthew 10:34 -- "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."
Jesus did not seek to unify error and truth, but rather to change the error. He drew a line in the sand, and declared there were values and truths worth more than unity. He commands that we hold to all His truths, not sliced bits that suit our fancy. You might think this unification is a noble effort: it is not, at least not without the changing of men's heart toward the truth.
Next, consider Paul's admonition to the Corinthians that they were carnal. Do you know why they were carnal? They were divided, and Paul rightly deduced that division meant there were heresies being taught. And what were the heresies that divided them? The things that the PK says are "non-essential", such as baptism, spiritual gifts, the Lord's Supper etc.,
1 Corinthians 3:1-4 -- "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"
This church was not in fellowship because there was division. How then can the PK unify us when we have so many differences as to the mode and purpose of baptism, the uses of spiritual gifts, the reason and method for the Lord's Supper, etc., You may meet, but you can never be unified. Then, notice something else very significant in this same book. 1 Corinthians 11:29-30 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
These two verses of Scripture are direct references to the Lord's Supper and the way the Corinthians had "abused" this ordinance. Note that some of these church members were sick and many had died because they ate the Lord's Supper for the wrong reason! Think about it! The very things the PK says do not matter so disturbed God that he deprived many among the Corinthians of their health, or their very lives! God demonstrated in a real way just how important these "non-essentials" were. Will you dare tell God these principles are unimportant?
Next, are there really only five important principles in the New Testament?
Revelation 22:18-19 -- "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
Why such a solemn warning if there are only five important principles? Consider this: The great commission in Matthew 28:19-20 is one of the seven promises of a PK but not a part of the statement of faith, is it now a "non-essential". Christ's death for His church (Eph. 5:25) is now disposable. Will there really be a great white throne of judgment as found in Revelation 20:11 or is it, too, without significance? Don't forget the reality of Hell in Luke 16. What about baptism? Will it ever matter now if you are sprinkled or immersed? Do the elements of the Lord's Supper really become the literal body of Jesus? This just names a few of the hundreds of important "essentials" in the New Testament that really are not negotiable.
It is left up to you to decide whether it is important to believe in Hell, or judgment, or evangelizing the world. You decide if the PK groups are right when they compromise truths for the sake of unity.
A few years ago there was a tremendous outcry when Readers Digest gave us a "compact" Bible by abridging the sacred Scriptures. What is the difference between what they did and what the PK wants to do?
You will no longer be able to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3) This is only the first step toward a greater compromise; anything else will be easy to swallow.
Maybe you don't care if you are compromising what you believe for the sake of unity. I think you do, else you would not have built your church and made your stand. Baptists have never been Protestant, but according to the PK the Protestant reformation was a joke. Luther, Calvin, Wesley and others who separated themselves from Rome should have kept silent for the sake of unity. They should have stayed with the Catholic Church. Deep in your heart you know that some principles are worth standing for. Some things are worth squaring your jaw, setting your feet, and saying "Here I stand."
We don't believe you can be baptized and wash away your sins. Neither do we believe that you have to hold out faithful to be saved. We believe you are born again forever in that instant you put your trust and faith in the one who died for you. The instant you repent of your sins you are born again -- forever. We don't pretend to be in harmony with such doctrines as falling from grace, speaking in tongues, open communion, or baptism by sprinkling, etc. However, we do want you to know that though we may not believe like you, neither do you believe like us! How in the world can we unite in fellowship until one of us comes to the truth (we think it is you who should change, you think it is us who should change)?
When you join the PK movement you are saying "it makes no difference, we are working for the same cause." But it will be a lie! Even those who tout such a utopia through unification know they do not believe such a thing! Indeed, number three of the five basic principles of belief causes division. One group believes you must be baptized, take communion, go to confession, etc., in order to be saved. Another group believes you are saved by the additional agents of water and works, another by manifestation of spiritual gifts, another by doing good, another by holding out faithful, others by secret rites; a few believe the Blood of Christ is sufficient without works, or tongues, or church membership. There is not even agreement on this one basic principle.
Jesus required His disciples to come out from the world and be separate. 2 Corinthians 6:16-17 -- "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
Notice these verses and see if they tell you to unite, or separate.
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."
1 Corinthians 5:11 -- "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 -- "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed."
2 John 10-11 -- "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
Titus 3:10-11 -- "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself."
Galatians 1:7-9 -- "Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
I can see nothing in these scriptures that would allow us to unite, in any meeting, with those who pervert the Gospel.
Folks, we don't need the PK or any other "alternate" church group! Any right principles that the PK promotes are church matters and not PK matters. God left into the hands of the local church -- not the PK -- the authority to go into all the world. She, the local church, is the pillar and ground of the truth. She is to bind and loose on earth, not the PK. Granted churches have failed to do what they were expect to do at times, but that does not justify the creation of an organization to supplant the church and her authority.
Jesus did not try to make exceptions and allowances when truth hung in the balance. He required, demanded, that His followers follow Him, every jot and tittle. He never allowed His people to pick and choose those doctrines "most important" and allow everything else to become negotiable.
Mr. McCartney, the founder of the PK, issued this warning to those who would not participate in this movement. "I really believe they better be careful that he (God) doesn't pass them by because this is a movement of God. Those that sit back are at risk." Who says, other than Mr. McCartney, this is a movement of God? If it is, would not God be awfully confused? He left us many doctrines and non-negotiables in the New Testament but now Mr. McCartney has reduced it to five? Are we now to believe Mr. McCartney has a new revelation from God and we can toss out the Bible and accept what this man says is sufficient for our faith and practice? According to the apostle Paul, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).
What are we at "risk" of, Mr. McCartney? Will God no longer honor what His church does for Him? Have we been wasting our time for these last two thousand years until you came along and revealed the right path?
Let me close with a warning -- not mine -- but God's:
Isaiah 5:20 -- "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
If all of "Christianity" say a thing is right, does that make it right? We know of only one source of absolute truth -- God.
The invitation letter we received aptly put it, this should be a "wake-up call." May every church that holds to and teaches the truth wake up!
Jackie Battles, Pastor, Liberty Baptist Church
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