“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” (Jude 3).
It is not enough to know the truth; we must have a zeal for it. We must be passionate about it. We must be willing to earnestly contend for it (Jude 3), and this zeal comes by loving the God of the Bible and having a passion to please Him.
This zeal produces a love for everything taught in God’s Word and a passion to stand against error.
Preaching the whole Bible and caring for the whole Bible and resisting everything contrary to God’s Word will keep you biblically separated.
You might get invited to the wrong place and you might make a mistake in going, but if you preach and stand correctly you won’t be invited back! You might mistakenly become affiliated with the wrong crowd, but if you have a passion for the truth, the association will be short lived!
I am not naturally brave, but I get conviction and courage from God’s Word. Like Jeremiah, I have said to myself at times that I am going to shut my mouth and stop speaking out, because no one cares and it just brings me trouble, but I have found that I can’t keep quiet, because the Word of God burns in me like a compelling fire.
“Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jeremiah 20:9).
So as issues have arisen I have taken a public stand, whether it be against the error of Quick Prayerism, or Jack Hyles-style “grand poobahism,” or Ruckmanism, or modern versionism, or contemporary worship music.
I have begged the Lord to help me care more about His truth than pleasing some influential preacher or a “good old boy’s network” or a supporting pastor or a personal friend in the Lord.
And I can assure you that a strong Bible stand will keep you separated!
I recall the first missionary conference I was invited to speak at when we were on deputation in 1978. I had a fairly wealthy aunt who was a member of the church and her “pull” was the reason for the invitation, I am sure. After the first evening’s service, the pastor and a couple of the members of the staff took my wife and me and the other missionaries to a restaurant. The conversation turned to the Bible version issue and I was shocked to learn that the church leaders were Ruckmanites. They justified the man’s multiple divorces, godless mocking attitude, and his heresies such as the KJV being “advanced revelation” and “given by inspiration.” I tried to speak up against these things, but I was shut down by the pastor and the members of his staff. I was just a young, inexperienced preacher. The next day one of the missionaries, a really slick fellow who was adept at “getting support,” took me aside and suggested that I learn to be more “careful” when visiting churches. I considered what he was saying, but since God had already instructed me to “prove all things” and to “reprove, rebuke, exhort,” I figured the matter was settled on the side of being outspoken for the truth.
Forty years later I can look back and see that situation as one of the major turning points in my ministry. I have tried to be wise and to “know my place” in any given situation, and I hope to think that I have grown in wisdom in dealing with men, but one way or the other I am going to be outspoken for the truth God has shown me, and that is a settled matter.
And I can testify that the Lord has always met our every need and much, much more.
It is also true that this principle has been tested many times and it continues to be tested today.
In the 1980s I visited a church in North Carolina that had started supporting our missionary work without having ever met us. They had heard about our work through a church member and had voted to support us sight unseen. This was very encouraging because we didn’t have a lot of support. I had left a mission board to operate our ministry directly out of the church and as a result had lost support from churches that were mission board-oriented. I was looking forward to meeting this new supporting church. Who knows, they might even raise our support once they heard a firsthand report!
As I drove into the parking lot before Sunday School, I saw a group of men smoking outside of the church auditorium, and I soon learned that the smokers included the pastor and deacons. I told myself, “David, you’re not here to preach on smoking; you’re here to preach on missions. Maybe you should just let this one pass. It’s not really your business.” But I was also there to preach God’s Word! So during my sermon I gave my personal testimony about smoking--how that God dealt with me about this when I was a young Christian and how He had shown me that it was a poor testimony. I encouraged the men that they could get victory over that habit, but they must not have been very encouraged for they dropped our support rather quickly!
In the early 1990s I started speaking out against Jack Hyles and his “quick prayerism” and the heresy of “100% Hylesism” (e.g., pastors demanding unquestioning loyalty of the people and exalting themselves beyond being tested by God’s Word). Jack Hyles was hugely popular and influential at the time and I lost support from men who looked upon him as “untouchable” and who considered my warnings to be nearly blasphemous. It also closed a lot of doors for selling of our literature.
It was also in the 1990s that I began to speak out against the deep compromise that was spreading throughout the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, including the participation of some BBFI pastors with Promise Keepers, Jerry Falwell’s ecumenism, the adaptation of the modern versions, the use of contemporary music, and the gross worldliness in many of the churches.
That decade I was invited to speak at a BBFI regional meeting by a pastor who wanted to “raise a flag against compromise” in the fellowship by bringing me in as one of the main speakers. I preached on the characteristics of Southern Baptist compromise (e.g., preaching against sin and error in generalities, avoiding controversial issues, neglecting separation) and actually was amazed when many of the BBFI preachers in attendance responded to the messages in anger. As they say, when you throw a rock into a dark alley it is the dog that gets hit that yelps the loudest! That was the last time I was ever invited to a BBFI church or forum.
But we have never lacked anything whatsoever that we needed, and our support grew throughout the 1990s, even though my warnings offended a large percentage of Independent Baptist churches.
In 2011, I spoke out against the use of contemporary worship music at West Coast Baptist College and some pastors dropped our support as a result. But at the end of the year, we had more support than at the beginning.
If God has called you to a ministry, you don’t have to play the politician or compromise your conscience in order to have what you need to accomplish that ministry. “Where God leads He provides,” and, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” And that is for sure!
In the 1990s I was once unwittingly invited to preach at a meeting that featured contemporary music performed by a “singing evangelist.” I didn’t know that he would be there, but I made a point of saying something about his worldly music during the meeting, and that was the last time I was invited, not only to that particular church but also to the churches that were associated with it.
Another preacher was there who said privately that he agreed that the singer’s music was not right, but he didn’t say anything publicly because he didn’t want to “rock the boat.” That mindset results in a broader tent of ministry but it also results in increasing compromise, as you gradually accept more things that are either questionable or out-and-out wrong for the sake of getting along.
It discourages me to receive communication from people who say to me privately they share my concern about compromise and error, such as contemporary music or a worldly youth ministry, but they hasten to ask me not to use their names in my writings. The “fear of man” is just as great an error as using contemporary music.
A pastor once said to me, “You are very brave to preach against so many things.”
I could have replied, “You are brave not to!”
It simply depends on whom you fear the most, man or God.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-2, we see that the thing that will keep a preacher straight and that will keep him preaching the Word properly and reproving and rebuking sin and error is the awareness that he will give account to God.
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