A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

You know you have a pastor who loves you when he writes a letter like this one…

This letter was excerpted from here. Please read through it and understand the uncomfortable nature of the topic and also appreciate the genuineness of the pastor’s resolution to safe guard his flock and young people.

Come out from among them and be separate, says the LORD. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you

– 2 Corinthians 6.17

20120630-193745.jpgDear Friends,

With a somewhat heavy heart I must write to you regarding separation from error. I have a heavy heart because I know that these are matters which can cause upset and contention. But these are matters which we must be very clear about.

From time to time I receive invitations to join our church with various organisations or events. One such well-meaning invitation was to an event called ‘Arise *****’. We understand that over 5,000 people gathered at ******* Stadium for a time of prayer, worship and so forth. We surely rejoice in one sense, that so many people cared enough about their faith to come together.

This event saw many churches in the area joining together. Surely it is mean-spirited to raise any objection to so many people who seem to long for God’s blessing, gathering together? But that is not the case. In order to foster this ‘unity’, many simple truths of the Word of God are ignored. We see the Roman Catholic church simply accepted as equal to any other church. We see outright liberal denominations given the same courtesy. What foolishness can have seized us if we think that God will be pleased to bless those of his children who are ‘unequally yoked together’ (2 Cor 6) with those who deny the clear teaching of His Word?

In this one event were people who deny the clear and vital doctrine of justification by faith alone, and believe that the Pope is the Head of the Church, rather than Jesus Christ. They were joined by others who deny the Trinity. There were yet more there who teach the appalling ‘health and wealth prosperity gospel’. There were many there who deny the Bible’s clear teaching on the respective roles of men and women, particularly relating to the ministry. We also know that amongst the churches represented there were those who deny the plain teaching of the scripture relating to human sexuality. Also disturbing is the prominence given to so-called ‘Prophetic Words over Bristol’, but that is a matter needing more attention than a few lines.

What does Almighty God think of all this confusion? Or is ‘confusion’ too soft a word to use? Are we not seeing outright disobedience to the Lord? We ask with the Apostle Paul ‘What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?’

We have no business joining ourselves with false teachers and deniers of the plain truth of the Bible. We rejoice to join with and pray for churches of ‘like faith’, such as our friends at ****** Baptist Church, and their bold desire to plant in Kingsway, or such as our friends at Grace ***** Church, and their hoped-for expansion in *****. There are many other Bible-believing churches we could mention also….

We will certainly be mocked and scorned for such a stance on these issues. We will be called ‘divisive’ and ‘isolationist’ or ‘out-of-touch’. Some may say that we are not ‘open to the Spirit’. I do wonder what spirit they are speaking of, who seems to lead them in paths which are contrary to the revealed will of God. We have the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us in our understanding of Scripture – which is the final, authoritative, Word of God, and we are genuinely ‘open’ to every word of it!

Some may cry ‘but what of our Saviour’s prayer in John 17, that Christians all may be one?’. Our response is simple: What of it? Do you think that our Saviour’s prayer is unanswered and that somehow we have to run after a false unity in order to bring his wishes to pass, as though he was a dead man who wrote something in a will? He is the risen and living Lord! Of course His prayer was, and is, answered. His true people are one, at all times, and this unity is frequently demonstrated in many, many ways. It cannot be demonstrated by the formal joining together of denominations and para-church organisations filled with people who make a big deal out of these few words of Christ, and ignore many, many more which they dislike. The whole of the scriptures are the words of Christ (red-letter Bibles are quite misleading in this respect).

Let us be quite clear about where we stand. We do not for one moment doubt the sincerity of many who seek unity. We do not doubt that many are born-again Christians. We do not claim to have everything right or to be the only church in our area. That would be arrogance on a grand scale, and a terrible error.

But we have a great and solemn responsibility to be faithful, and to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 1.3). Let us not foolishly imagine that the Lord’s work will be furthered by compromise with those who reject God’s standards. Although we may see ‘success’ in the eyes of this world, we surely cannot expect any blessing, or true spiritual success, if we do so.

Do we care for the young people amongst us? Will we guard and protect them from error? Do we really care for our community, lost and without Christ? If we do, then we will hold to the ‘old paths’, and the truth of God’s Word, without compromise, whatever the cost. It is unchanging truth which our lost community needs! This is not a question of the way we worship, or the version of the Bible we use. Neither is it about whether we wear smart clothes on a Sunday or whether we have chairs or pews in the chapel. The only question is whether we will hold fast to the clear teaching of the Word of God, and stand clear of those who refuse to do so.

This is not a comfortable topic, and doubtless some will tell us that none of this matters. Let us be blunt – it matters to the Lord. He assures us that if we are willing to come out, and be separate – ‘I will receive you’. And that promise is all we need.

Amen.

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10 responses to “You know you have a pastor who loves you when he writes a letter like this one…

  1. Joseph Richardson June 30, 2012 at 19:37

    It’s not my intention to start a contentious debate here, but I want to point out a couple of misconceptions.

    First, Roman Catholics do not believe that “that the Pope is the Head of the Church, rather than Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. Period. You will never find a Catholic who says that the pope replaces Jesus as the head. The pope is the earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church, the vicar (representative) of Christ on earth — in precisely the same way that a pastor represents Christ to his flock. The pope just has a really big flock. Nobody thinks the pope divine or in any way comparable to Christ.

    Also, to “justification by faith alone” — yes, Catholics reject that. But we fully embrace justification by grace alone. Protestants tend to think that Catholics believe we can save ourselves. We believe nothing of the sort. A lot of confusion stems from the fact that Catholics don’t separate the doctrines of justification and sanctification. Catholics fully affirm that initial justification, the initial calling to Christ, is entirely a work of God’s grace, and man can do nothing to approach God apart from grace. Catholics do acknowledge free will in accepting or rejecting God’s call — but this is no different than the Arminian view. Likewise, Catholics believe that through our good works, God works with us for our sanctification — but we fully affirm that man can do no good works apart from God’s grace. Again, this is very similar to the Arminian view. So if a church is going to reject Catholics by these doctrines, then they must also reject Arminians.

    I respect the desire to protect young people from “error.” Folks are perfectly welcome to do that. But Catholics are a part of the same Body of Christ. We worship the same God, and affirm the same Christ, the same Gospel, the same salvation. At some point, Christians of our various divisions — adults, who aren’t so susceptible to “error,” if you wish — need to sit down at the same table and talk about our differences. Because Christ is not divided. We have done this to ourselves. Paul urged that there should be no divisions between us (1 Cor 1), and we have pretty well screwed that one up. Continuing “separation” against orthodox, conservative Christians who love the Lord as much as you do is not helpful, and only hurts the Body. We need to bury this decrepit 500-year-old hatchet and its foolish prejudices and work together to heal the wounds of the Church.

    • Acidri June 30, 2012 at 20:02

      Joseph I do understand your emotional appeal to endorse ecumenism but sorry we are bound by scripture to separate from error (lovingly if need be) but hastily at the most.

      • Joseph Richardson June 30, 2012 at 20:06

        Heh. So you don’t address anything of my substantive statements, but only my “emotional appeal.” Thanks a lot.

      • Acidri June 30, 2012 at 20:20

        When it comes to ecumenical associations or even associations with groups who do not Have a grasp on the gospel I think the letter is clear in explaining out why there is a need to separate. Besides it confuses what Christians should stand for….the gospel of grace. The gospel is what is at stake when we join hands with every and any group that comes saying “hey we too worship the same God”. Mormons too can claim the same thing and Muslims too but do they believe the same gospel. No.

      • Joseph Richardson June 30, 2012 at 20:13

        I might point out, too, that you’re taking 2 Corinthians 6:17 out of context. The passage is about not associating with “unbelievers”: Catholics do in every sense believe the same Gospel you believe (and have been believing it for a lot longer than you have).

      • Joseph Richardson June 30, 2012 at 20:22

        Did you not even read what I wrote? Catholics fully affirm that salvation is by grace alone. In what way, please do explain, do Catholics “not have a grasp on the Gospel”?

      • Acidri June 30, 2012 at 20:31

        Joseph, you probably may not be aware of this but Catholics will indeed say and agree that yes we are justified by grace. But they Also believe you are justified by works. Good works ofconfirmation, charity and prayers to saint plus living a “good life”. That is not what the bible says. Orthodox Christianity believes we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone.
        For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8)

      • Acidri June 30, 2012 at 20:47

        Joseph here is a link that you will find helpful. Please let me know if there is any thing more I can help you with. The article is titled “Before you covert to Roman Catholicism”. It is writen from a Reformed perspective. Will be praying for you. Thank you for passing by. http://www.reformationtheology.com/2007/08/before_you_convert_to_roman_ca.php

  2. Ecron Muss July 3, 2012 at 13:44

    Acidri, I think Joseph has said some good things to you and you have disparagingly and with antagonism called it “emotional” rather than reasonable conversation. Perhaps he should be separating from you, rather than you from him.

    • Acidri July 3, 2012 at 14:07

      Well Ecron, I guess we are rightly divided. There are fundamental doctrinal truths that we cannot compromise on. Any student of church history will always realise that the church is called out to be separate and not to defile themselves with doctrines and teachings that are contrary to that which was established in scripture. The Roman catholic church introduced doctrines like the in errands of the papacy, mariology (worship of Mary), praying to saints, introduction of purgatory and the list goes on.
      Ecumenism or embracing of roman catholism is not debatable. Yes, we are rightly divided …and I am happy with that.

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