Archive for the 'Disobedient Brothers' Category

Resolved

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

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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

Separation from Brethren

feature-article.gifSeveral years ago I spoke to a group of independent churches in a neighboring state on the subject, “The Church Today: Its Affiliations.” I had two main points, explaining the policy of our own church. (1) We will not associate the name of our church with any church, mission, youth movement, or evangelistic movement that does not believe and obey the Word of God. (2) We will not associate the name of our church with any church, mission, youth movement, or evangelistic movement that maintains connections with men or movements that do not believe and obey the Word of God. The first point received head nodding and amens. The second point made an abrupt change in the climate of the meeting.

After the message, the president of a well-known Bible school and a retinue of his followers cornered me. They protested that my message was unscriptural, that it is never right to separate from other believers; after all, we will all be together in Heaven. The final volley was, “We believe in separation, but we do not believe in second degree separation.”

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Joel Osteen

Why would the Visitor run an article about television personality, Joel Osteen? Some of our readers may not even know the name. However, Osteen’s website (joelosteen.com) states:

“According to Nielsen Media Research, Joel is the most watched inspirational figure in America. His weekly sermon is broadcast into every U.S. television market where it is viewed by seven million Americans each week and more than 20 million each month.”

I would guess that some of those 20 million people sit in our Ohio Bible Fellowship churches. Those very people may view Osteen as a Bible preacher and react favorably to his upbeat view of life. It would therefore behoove us to look at his ministry with an open Bible.

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Gospel-Driven Separation

feature-article.gif“Earnestly contend for the faith.” This statement from Jude 3 has long been the battle cry of fundamentalist Christians, those who are willing to do “battle royal” in defense of biblical doctrine. Fundamentalists have rightly appealed to Jude as an example of a faithful defender of the faith. He willingly entered the fray for the sake of the truth, and he called on his readers (including us!) to join him.

However, Jude’s epistle is not merely a call to arms, though it certainly is that. Jude provides us with a philosophy of ministry that includes—but is not limited to—defending the faith. Indeed, his epistle gives us a look at his own heart. Though we know comparatively little about this half brother of Christ, I admire him and relate to him. If we are willing to learn, Jude can teach us much regarding the role of the believer in a wicked world. In particular, he shows us what it means to love the gospel.

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Ecclesiastical Separation

feature-article.gifFor over a century Christians have wrangled over the issue of ecclesiastical separation, debating whether it is biblical, helpful, or even needed. We frequently hear “Why can’t we just get along? After all, we’re all really on the same team, right?” Questions like these have a ring of spirituality and can influence pastors, Christians, churches, and Christian organizations. Is ecclesiastical separation biblical? If so, why do so many reject it?

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Are Separatists Divisive?

feature-article.gifA charge often leveled at separatists is that they are divisive. They split groups, leave churches, separate from organizations, and go off and form their own “splinter groups.” Aren’t Christians supposed to love one another? Shouldn’t they all be united? Didn’t Jesus pray that all those who believed in him would be as one?

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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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