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Ecclesiastical Separation

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Ecclesiastical Separation

2 Cor 11:13-15

I want to use our text tonight to teach about the differences between the fundamentalist and ecumenical movements.  What is the ecumenical movement?  It is the bringing together of various beliefs under the umbrella of Christianity.  It has the purpose of eliminating divisive issues and embracing the major points of agreement.  We hear that a lot when we knock doors---why so many denominations…If you are all Christian, why can’t you seem to get along?  I will tell you why.  Doctrine divides, and the truth separates.  Ne man said this, “The many who complain about fragmentation in Christianity are extreme pessimists.  There is great value in healthy, wholesome competition.”  Think about that;  if all churches were alike, then we would all fall into this status quo, satisfied with mediocrity mentality.  It is the churches that preach the Word, knock doors, win souls, and stand on the truth that are the driving force for the others.  Let me illustrate with the words of Rick Warren.

 “There are all kinds of fundamentalists, Larry, and they’re all based on fear. There are Christian fundamentalists. There are Muslim fundamentalists. I’ve met some Jewish fundamentalists. You know that there are secular fundamentalists. They’re all based on fear. Secular fundamentalists are afraid of God.”

 He does not to be labeled as a fundamentalist, so he just minimizes their meaning to Christianity.

“Today there really aren’t that many Fundamentalists left; I don’t know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America. ... Now the word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity, and when I say there are very few fundamentalists, I mean in the sense that they are all actually called fundamentalist churches, and those would be quite small. There are no large ones. ... that group is shrinking more and more and more”

It is the passion for discovering the truth of the Word of God that energizes this fundamental preacher to remain a fundamental preacher and to pastor a fundamental church.  When we are willing to set aside some truth as being non-essential for the sake of unity, then we are really saying that we are willing to embrace error. 

You know as well as I do tonight that the truths of the Bible are vitally important as to what we preach and believe.  Heaven and Hell, Life and Death, Power and Weakness—we cannot simply let the truth fall to the wayside for the sake of fellowship.  Watered down truth is no longer truth.

Substitutionary  Atonement. 

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 

The Bible says that Christ is the propitiation for our sins.  That Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to appease the wrath of God.  Here is the liberal theologian’s take on the Substitutionary  Atonement.  Jesus was sincere enough to die for His beliefs, and that sincerity is a vehicle of high moral influence.  As my father says, “I think how you live your life determines if you are a Christian.” 

Much of this liberal thought found its root as scholars went to Germany to study.    Our country was introduced to skepticism and rationalism.  The age of enlightenment was convincing people to question the authority of the Word of God, by science and rational thought.  This led to Darwinism, which even filtered into the higher criticism argument by alleging that the Bible text had evolved over time.

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

So there was this climate of fighting and debating over many Biblical issues.  Some men stepped forward and said—all of this fighting has to stop.  We all believe in the same God; so let’s start there. Witness the birth of the Neo-Evangelical Movement ..  Before 1950, the terms fundamental, conservative, and evangelical were synonymous.

Look back our text.  There are those that have the appearance of being Christian, who are actually ministers of Satan.  Over the process of time they have followed the Devil’s lead, and have changed, added, and misquoted the Word of God.

1.  The Differences Between the Fundamentalist and the Neo Evangelical.

A.  Fundamentalist—Aim to please God.  Glorifying God is our desired end.  We understand that our modern media has taken the word fundamental and ascribed it to the Islamic extremists, and other nuts of our time.  Just because the media paints a twisted picture of fundamentalism, does not mean that we should shy away from using the term.  Here are the five simple fundamentals of the faith, see if you are in line with them:

  • The Inerrancy of Scripture
  • The Virgin Birth of Christ
  • The Deity of Christ
  • Substitutionary  Atonement
  • Physical Resurrection, and the Bodily Return of Jesus Christ.

We are also Baptists.  I am going to quickly make mention of the Baptist distinctives and then move on.

  • B- Biblical Authority
  • A- Autonomy of the local church
  • P- Priesthood of the believer
  • T- Two offices
  • I- Individual Soul Liberty
  • S- Saved church membership
  • T- Two Ordinances
  • S-  Separation of Church and State

So we are an Independent, Fundamental Baptist Church.  That label speaks volumes of what we believe.

Fundamentalists also practice separation.  This is the acknowledgement and application of the holiness of God.  There is the area of ecclesiastical separation.  Avoids entanglements with denominations and religious organizations that deny or question any part of the fundamentals.  You say, but Pastor we are Baptists, and Baptists are a denomination.  Well actually it is a distinctive, but even if it were, being independent prevents the direction of the denomination from affecting this assembly. I want to share a quote from the mission statement of the NCC.  Doctrine divides, but service unites.

There is also the area of personal separation.  This person avoids all forms of wordliness and seeks to live a life of hliness that is pleasing to the Lord.  If it is pleasing to the Lord, then it must be grounded in faith.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

B.  The New Evangelical-  Desires the praise of men; wide acceptance is their desired end.  A neo evangelical claims to hold to the fundamentals of the faith, but also wants to be accepted by the more liberal theologians.  I have already mentioned Rick Warren, let me list a few others who are prominent in our time:  Chuck Swindoll, James Dobson, Bill Hybels, Joel Osteen, David Jeremiah, and Billy Graham.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t’ care what the liberal scholar thinks of me.

2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

 Pastor Al illustration.

  • Characteristics of the new evangelicals:
  • They tolerate diversity and are open to liberal schools of thought.
  • Friendly toward evolutionary theories (theistic evolution).
  • Accept questionable arguments concerning the Word.
  • Promote a social gospel.
  • Choose church unity of purity. Rick Warren requires his church members to sign a covenant that he or she promises to protect the unity of the church.

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.

  • Criticize fundamentalism—funnymentalists.
  • Encourage greater political involvement—Ill.  Central Baptist.
  • Liberal view regarding the role of women in the church.

The neo evangelical movement shows no discernment in the area of ecclesiastical separation which is witnessed by membership in the NCC, and WCC and their widespread involvement in the Promise Keepers.  They also do not preach separation but appear to promote worldliness and carnality. 

2.  Why is it important that we remain separate from the Ecumenical Movement?

There are two issues that must be addressed:  The absolute authority of the Word of God, and the absolute holiness of God.

Rom 16:17-18.  Mark- to point out publicly.  Avoid- to separate from.

2 Cor 6:14-18.  Fellowship is partnership.  Communion- to hold in common.  Concord to have harmony with. Part means participation.  Agreement means being of the same mind.

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Does this mean I cannot have friends who are not of like faith and practice?  As long as your friendship does not allow for compromise or disobedience, I don’t have a problem with it, but I would take before the throne if you have doubts.  One pastor wrote an article of when you may need to break fellowship of friendship.

  • When there are serious doctrinal differences.
  • When continued fellowship will damage your testimony.
  • When there is deliberate movement in the wrong direction.

Let me put it this way.  Many of you want the church to remain pure, and the church is the people…

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