Resolution on Creation and Evolution

WHEREAS, the Bible says that in “six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exod 20:11); and

WHEREAS, the theory of evolution holds that the universe including the earth with all its life evolved over billions of years; and

WHEREAS, science is “systematized knowledge derived from observation, study, and experimentation carried on in order to determine the nature of principles of what is being studied” (Webster’s New World Dictionary); and

WHEREAS, the theory of evolution is not properly science but a philosophy bordering on religion that requires faith, since it is impossible to observe it happening over billions of years and no complete experimentation can be carried out on it during that time; and

WHEREAS, the theory of evolution undermines the doctrine of sin and salvation, since evolution requires death for the survival of the fittest before man ever existed, whereas the Bible states that death did not exist until man sinned (Rom 5:12); and

WHEREAS, certain ungodly philosophies are based upon evolution such as Communism, Nazism, certain forms of racism, and is a foundation for many forms of immorality;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we the delegates and members of the Ohio Bible Fellowship at its 2010 Fall Conference in Bellevue and Willard, Ohio, identify the theory of evolution as one of the great errors and heresies of our age that has led to all manner of sins; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we believe that the Lord created the universe out of nothing in six standard earth days, not more than ten thousand years ago in keeping with a literal biblical chronology; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we will stand against the theory of evolution and its resulting errors in our teaching and preaching and teach young earth creation according to a literal reading of the Bible.

Resolution on Biblical Separation and Evangelicals

WHEREAS biblical separatism is based on the holiness of God (2 Cor 6:14–7:1; 1 Pet 1:14–16); and

WHEREAS “ecclesiastical separation is grounded in the character of God Himself,” being an “expression of His eternal holiness” (Rolland McCune, Promise Unfulfilled, p. 138); and

WHEREAS ecclesiastical separation involves having no fellowship in spiritual endeavors with either apostates (Rom 16:17–19; 2 Cor 6:14–7:1; 2 John 7–11), or disobedient brethren (2 Thess 3:6, 14–15); and

WHEREAS there is a legitimate corruption by association that we must fear (1 Cor 15:33; cf. Prov 22:24–25); and

WHEREAS one promotes those with whom he associates (2 Chron 19:2; Gal 2:12–14; 1 Tim 5:22), thereby potentially identifying oneself and one’s ministry with those who do not believe and obey the Word of God in either doctrine or practice (1 Cor 5:6; 2 Thess 3:14); and

WHEREAS there have always been evangelicals who have done good work for the Lord but have either been inconsistent, apathetic, or denied the doctrine and practice of separation from either apostates or disobedient brethren; and

WHEREAS we are alarmed by the growing trend among many separatists, who, basing their separation on something other than God’s holiness, engage in spiritual endeavor with such evangelicals;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the members and delegates of the Ohio Bible Fellowship meeting in our Fall Conference on October 8–9, 2010 at Faith Bible Church, Bellevue, Ohio, and Calvary Baptist Church, Willard, Ohio, make every effort to consistently practice biblical separation, thereby obeying our God and expressing His holiness; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we encourage our separatist brethren and ministries to base their separation on the holiness of God, recognizing that associations affect their testimony, the ministries they represent, and their influence on other separatists; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we encourage our evangelical brethren to believe and consistently practice the doctrine of separation from both apostates and disobedient brethren, thereby glorifying God by expressing His holiness.

The following resolution recently passed by the American Council of Christian Churches is included as it is consistent with and adds helpful detail to the above resolution passed by the Ohio Bible Fellowship at its recent fall meeting.

Resolution on Together for the Gospel

The theological and ecclesiastical confusion that has its roots in the middle of the 20th century and that has been flourishing in the first decade of the 21st century springs from the willingness to forsake the Biblical doctrine of separation. The “new” evangelicalism of dialogue and cooperation with those who deny the Gospel departed decades ago from the old evangelicalism, also known as Fundamentalism, which stressed the need for the people of God to maintain separation from those who depart from Biblical truth (Eph 5:11).

Early in the 21st century, another movement has begun as an effort to counter the dilution of Gospel doctrine by the marketing schemes concocted to make church growth easier to generate and consolidate. Part of those schemes emphasized the need to avoid any heavy emphasis on doctrine, particularly doctrine that could make seekers uncomfortable. A certain group in evangelicalism sounded the alarm that some churches, at least, had opted for the road of less resistance and had weakened the Gospel message to such an extent that it was practically devoid of any direction to show people how to be saved or even that they needed to be saved.

In the middle of the century’s first decade, four men agreed to establish a movement that they called Together for the Gospel. Initially, its main purpose was to organize conferences every two years, beginning in the spring of 2006, which they hoped would attract those who had become alarmed at the weakening of the evangelical message. Since then, it has developed into the desire for a loose affiliation of individuals and churches that have been involved in the conferences. The founders of the movement were J. Ligon Duncan III, who until this past June was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA); Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.; C. J. Mahaney, who served for 27 years as pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD and who now leads Sovereign Grace Ministries; and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Those men drafted a constitutional document for their movement that they called Affirmations and Denials in which they sought to clarify the purposes they were trying to achieve. They began by saying, “We are brothers in Christ united in one great cause – to stand together for the Gospel. We are convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized in many churches and among many who claim the name of Christ. Compromise of the Gospel has led to the preaching of false gospels, the seduction of many minds and movements, and the weakening of the church’s Gospel witness.” They added, “We are concerned about the tendency of so many churches to substitute technique for truth, therapy for theology, and management for ministry.”

These statements along with many other parts of the document express sentiments for which Fundamentalists have been contending for years. The doctrinal affirmations and denials of Together for the Gospel reflect sound orthodoxy. For examples, Article VII maintains, “We affirm that salvation is all of grace, and that the Gospel is revealed to us in doctrines that most faithfully exalt God’s sovereign purpose to save sinners and in His determination to save his redeemed people by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to His glory alone.”

However, there is one vital element of Biblical truth that is missing from the document. There is no call to adhere to the Biblical doctrine of separation. Instead, Article XV states, “We affirm that evangelical congregations are to work together in humble and voluntary cooperation and that the spiritual fellowship of Gospel congregations bears witness to the unity of the Church and the glory of God.”  However, what constitutes an evangelical congregation is not readily apparent. It is even less apparent when considering that two of the signers of that document, Albert Mohler and J. Ligon Duncan III, are also signers of the Manhattan Declaration that pointedly affirms that Roman Catholics and adherents of Eastern Orthodoxy are fellow Christians.

The appeal of Together for the Gospel is undeniable. The 2010 conference attracted an attendance that numbered in the thousands. The potential for harm, however, is just as real. The idea that cooperation can be a function of agreeing on the Gospel without referencing the historic lines of Biblical separation sounds eerily like the philosophy of the “new” evangelicalism from the late 1940s and onward. The inclusion of so-called Reformed Charismatics as speakers in the conferences, notably C. J. Mahaney, has been justified by describing them as continuationists as opposed to other speakers who are called cessationists. This assumption that there is a place for charismatics in the evangelical tent is not a new error, but the use of the affirmations and denials makes the argument for that place more attractive to those already inclined against Biblical separation.

This new movement, then, follows previous error in neglecting the Biblical doctrine of separation that has always marked Fundamentalism. Sadly, some fundamentalist institutions have begun to welcome as co-laborers some conservative evangelicals associated with efforts like Together for the Gospel. If such trends continue, what has been known as historic Fundamentalism, with its emphasis on Biblical separation, personally and ecclesiastically, will be seriously eroded if not rendered irrelevant.

Therefore, the delegates to the 69th annual convention of the American Council of Christian Churches, meeting October 19–21, 2010 in Hope Baptist Church, Hanover, PA resolve to remind God’s people that Biblical separatism is a watershed doctrine that has its source in the attribute of God’s holiness and determines what kind of legacy we will leave to the generations that follow our own. Undermining separatism for the purposes of cooperation with those who either define the doctrine more loosely or do not hold it at all has proven costly in the past, and it will do so again. Faithfulness from generation to generation requires that we do not surrender the ground that has been defended by those who have gone before us lest those who come after us have no ground left to defend.

December 2010

Prayer in Colossians

Paul’s letter to the Colossians was written by the apostle to a group of people that he had never met. He knew the Gospel had worked effectively in Colossae, and that a church had been gathered there, but he never made it to the city to personally teach those believers. News of their faith reached him through his coworkers, but along with that good news, he heard reports of false teaching that was starting to pull some of them aside. Paul wanted to write to remind those believers what the truth of the Gospel was that they had believed, and to give them instruction how to remain firm in that truth. Part of his instruction about a sound Christian life was on the topic of prayer. Throughout the letter, Paul either records his own prayers for them or teaches them about prayer. It is an important part of this book. Prayer is just as important for believers today as it was for those believers almost two thousand years ago. By answering four questions about prayer, Paul teaches that it is an indispensible part of a believer’s life.

Continue reading ‘Prayer in Colossians’

Summer Vacation Meditation

Perhaps this summer finds you and your family loading up the car and driving off in search of pristine scenery and family memories. As you travel across our beautiful land, many striking sights meet your eye: forested hills, sandy beaches, vast plains, rugged mountains, deep canyons, and pounding surf. What do you see when you look at these beautiful sights?

God’s splendor in creation should provoke our worship.

Worship isn’t just something that happens for an hour and fifteen minutes on Sunday morning; it is giving God the honor and glory due him. It is recognizing who he is and what he has done. David’s meditation on God’s greatness and goodness in Psalm 8 is a great pattern for our thoughts. As we view God’s creation, we can’t help but feel very small. Yet God cares for us in an extremely involved and loving way! Such undeserved kindness!

God’s spectacular universe demonstrates his power and “God-ness” (Rom 1:20). The unrelenting power of the ocean, the silent immensity of the atmosphere, the undisturbed tranquility of mountain peaks and ocean trenches make it very clear that we are out of our league. Man is easily crushed, lost, exhausted, or even killed in his attempts to explore God’s vast creation. Only an omnipotent God could create and maintain such a universe!

God has created a beautiful world that, although marred by sin’s curse and man’s sinfulness, still causes the regenerate heart to resonate with the beauty of God’s greatness. A Christian should be able to appreciate the beauty of creation far beyond any scientist, astronomer, or geologist simply because we understand the greater significance of creation. It does not exist “just because”; it exists because God created it for his pleasure and to accomplish his will (Rom 11:36).

Many of our hymns echo this truth. Listen to these words penned by George W. Robinson in 1876 from the hymn “I Am His and He Is Mine.”

Heav’n above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,
Flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His, and He is mine.

Allow your summer vacation to be a time of worship as you meditate on our great God!

July 2010

The Holiness of God

Growing up my brother and I were known for our very red hair. I wish I had a quarter for every time someone called me “carrot top” or asked us while in the grocery store, “Wherever did you get such red hair?”

While the red hair was attention getting, I have to admit I didn’t really like either the hair or the attention. I even let my brother cut my hair when he was only four years old and didn’t mind the extra locks he cut off! Thankfully as I got older my hair has turned more brown than red, and now with four teenagers the white hairs are coming through!

God is known for his attribute of holiness. God’s people are known as “saints,” or holy ones. The church is to be holy and blameless. Yet, the doctrine of holiness that is essential to who God is and is to characterize God’s people too often gets the same kind of response that I gave to my red hair! There is little to no real understanding, thankfulness, or love for holiness. Too many of Christ’s church today are not only wishing for a change—like I wanted my hair to change color—they are actively making the change, cutting it out entirely!

Continue reading ‘The Holiness of God’

Does the Gospel have a Social Mandate?

The gospel should be the dearest thing to the heart of the redeemed. That God would save a sinner such as I should never cease to amaze me. That there would always be some who stretch the gospel to include things that it does not should not surprise me.

For the last sixty or so years we have heard new evangelicals stress “social involvement.” Harold John Ockenga characterized fundamentalists as being indifferent to the physical needs of people. He and other new evangelicals promoted a positive social message. Their view of a contemporary kingdom of God provided a foundation for engaging the culture and advancing a social element in the Gospel. Ockenga claimed, “There need be no disagreement between the personal gospel and the social gospel.” Fundamentalism was portrayed as leaving out an important part of the Bible message. The push for the Gospel to have a social relevance gained acceptance in both liberal and new evangelical circles. This emphasis has appeared in many different forms, but has never gone away.

Today there are groups which claim to be defining the Gospel. The Gospel Coalition is gaining popularity among new evangelicals and some fundamentalists. I wholeheartedly agree with the Gospel Coalition that salvation is “received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone” (Gospel for all of Life: Preamble). But in the same document they claim that Christian living is supposed to impact the arts and improve living conditions.

“Developing humane yet creative and excellent business environments out of our understanding of the gospel is part of the work of bringing a measure of healing to God’s creation in the power of the Spirit. Bringing Christian joy, hope, and truth to embodiment in the arts is also part of this work. We do all of this because the gospel of God leads us to it…. Christian churches must work for justice and peace in their neighborhoods through service even as they call individuals to conversion and the new birth” (Theological Vision for Ministry, V, 5).

Those who wrote the Foundation Documents for the Gospel Coalition lament that they do not “see enough individual churches that embody the full, integrative gospel balance we have outlined here” (Theological Vision for Ministry).

In 1976 Ronald Sider wrote, “Social reform and social welfare are aspects of proclaiming the gospel.” That has been the rallying cry of most new evangelicals for decades. The Gospel presented in God’s Word calls men to turn from sin and trust the finished work of Christ. The lost must see that they are spiritually bankrupt, and the God of all grace provides salvation through Jesus Christ alone. That’s the Gospel message. Our work is soul work. We should beware of any man or movement that removes repentance from the Gospel, and we should be aware that many are preaching social action as part of Gospel work.

I’m always wary of any movement that presses for evangelism but has little or no use for biblical separation. Historically fundamentalists have warned of an inclusivism that claims we can focus on what we have in common with compromisers for the sake of the Gospel. While some have rejected the terms “fundamentalist” and “new evangelical”, differences in agenda and emphasis still exist. Always look behind the curtain of any “coalition” to see who started it, who’s supporting it, what they are stressing, and what they are leaving out.

The mandate of the Gospel is repent and be saved. A social consciousness is not part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord.

June 2010

God Has a Purpose for Trials

Have you ever wondered why good things happen to bad people? We have all observed the dilemma. We possibly have given thought to the world’s determination that “life isn’t fair.” Why should bad people be able to not only get by with their evil ways, but even prosper in them?

Continue reading ‘God Has a Purpose for Trials’

Forgiving as We Have Been Forgiven

From a Roman prison cell Paul wrote a short letter to be hand delivered to a Christian brother. The recipient was Philemon, and the deliverer was his runaway slave, Onesimus. Paul could refer to Onesimus as “my child. . . whose father I became in my imprisonment” (v. 10) because this slave became a child of God by faith. As Paul discipled this new believer, his heart was knit to that of Onesimus. This young believer was of great encouragement and service to Paul, but Paul knew that Onesimus needed to be returned to and reconciled with Philemon. On his behalf, Paul writes to Philemon to receive back on brotherly terms this one who had run away.

While it is easy to harbor a hurt and resentment, it is our duty, our “glory to overlook an offense” (Prov 19:11). If we withhold forgiveness, we put a basket over our light. Nothing causes our testimony to shine brighter than when we forgive for Christ’s sake. Onesimus had an opportunity to show obedience to the Lord by returning to the one he robbed by running away. Philemon had an opportunity to show the forgiveness of the Lord. Paul had an opportunity to lead both men to be more Christ-like.

Onesimus had not a farthing to restore him to Philemon. Philemon could not begin to pay Paul for the spiritual debt he owed him. Paul could very easily have pressured Philemon to do him a favor, but instead he tenderly leads Philemon to the high principle of forgiving one who owed him so much.

It could be said of all of us that we have a debt that we could not pay. No one is more in debt than a sinner is to God for sending Jesus to die in our place. Like Onesimus, we were in no position to contribute anything to change our status before God. Whether someone has defrauded you or maligned you, you are not owed as much as you owe your gracious God for salvation.

Our heavenly Father, like the loving father in the story of the prodigal son, gives total, glorious forgiveness. We have no right to give anything less than complete forgiveness. Paul instructed the church at Colossae, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:13). The standard we are to live by is very high and does not change. We cannot seek what we are not willing first to give (Matt 6:14).

When we show mercy we promote unity. When we forgive beyond what is commonly seen in the world, forgiving as often as someone wrongs us (Matt 18:21), then we show we value true fellowship more than anything and want the focus to be on Christ.

Instead of demanding justice or compensation, the Christian practices compassion in light of the great grace shown to us while a sinner with nothing to offer.

To refuse to forgive someone who has wronged you is to declare that you are not forgiven and changed by God, or else that you have been forgiven your sins by God, but are asking for chastening for not obeying the commandment of God. But to forgive as Christ forgave you is to give a clear testimony to the One who redeemed you.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).

April/May 2010

Faith, Leading, and the Will of God

“I’ve been ministering in this church for three years and have seen no fruit. Most days I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall, but I’m never going to quit because I have faith God wants me to be here.” Maybe you’ve heard a testimony like this from a missionary or Christian worker and walked away encouraged by their resolve and spirituality. But maybe the conversation went like this: “We have tried everything we can think of for three years. We have prayed, we have worked, and we have prayed some more. God is leading us to another ministry.”

Which person was actually doing God’s will, the one who stayed or the one who left? Is there any objective way to find out? How do I know what God’s will is when I am faced with a similar situation?

Continue reading ‘Faith, Leading, and the Will of God’

Spiritual Gifts and the Church Today

The debate about spiritual gifts in the church today has not abated in recent years. While the topic of gifts exercised by the body should not dominate discussions, neither should it be a subject that we ignore. Since the Bible does speak of spiritual gifts being provide by God and used in the local church for its edification and maturity, this area of study should not be surrendered to charismatics to be twisted and abused.

Continue reading ‘Spiritual Gifts and the Church Today’

Every Member Ministry

Ephesians 4 follows three chapters that rehearse the glorious position that belongs to the Christian because of the work of Christ. It starts the final 3 chapters that make everyday applications of the gospel in the local church, the home, the workplace, and the world at large. In 4:11–12, Paul speaks of leaders who have been given to the church by God for its development. My understanding of verse 11 (with an eye on 2:20) is that the gifts of apostle and prophet were foundational and temporary, but that the gifts of evangelist and pastor-teacher are still functioning today. I’d like to focus on verse 12, however. It teaches that one of the main jobs of ministerial leaders is to “get the work of the ministry done through others,” as Bill Hull put it in his very helpful book The Disciple Making Pastor. The American Standard Version of 1901 communicates the idea most clearly. Church leaders were given by Christ “for (pros) the perfecting of the saints, unto (eis) the work of ministering, unto (eis) the building up of the body of Christ.”

So what? So the pastor-teacher is to equip the entire church body with the goal that they can minister and build each other up effectively. Your pastor’s job is to get you working—and your job is to make that easy on him! The biblical norm is “every member ministry.” That’s the point of 1 Corinthians 12’s body imagery. That’s the point of Ephesians 4:15–16’s focus on “every joint” and “each part.” That’s the point of the perpetual focus on “one another” ministry in the New Testament.

Let’s close with a picture. Too many churches rise and fall with the pastor. Relationships and responsibilities look like a wagon wheel in which all the spokes are connected to the pastor-hub. If he falls, or leaves, or dies, every other spoke is in jeopardy. He’s the center; he’s essential; he’s preeminent. Much better is a church that looks more like a spider web, with relationships and responsibilities moving in every possible direction, thereby making every member both important and expendable—including the pastor. The only indispensable one is also the only preeminent one: Jesus Christ. August Strong put it this way in his Systematic Theology:

“That minister is most successful who gets the whole body to move, and who renders the church independent of himself.  The test of his work is not while he is with them, but after he leaves them.  Then it can be seen whether he has taught them to follow him, or to follow Christ; whether he has led them to the formation of habits of independent Christian activity, or whether he has made them passively dependent upon himself.”

A healthy church isn’t dependent on one man or even a handful of people. It is one in which 100% of the people do 100% of the work, to the glory of God. Every member ministry.

February 2010

OBF Visitor Website

The OBF Visitor is the official publication of the Ohio Bible Fellowship. Feature articles from past issues of the Visitor are made available here for your use. You may read, distribute, and use this material as long as you do so in its entirety and without modification. All articles © The Ohio Bible Fellowship.


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