Biblical Separation 

Audio Transcript 

Biblical Separation

By: Pastor Doug Barger

Christ Reformed Baptist Church

New Castle, IN 

Today I would like to address the topic of Biblical Separation.

 

WHAT IS BIBLICAL SEPERATION?

 

“Biblical Separation is the implementation of the Scriptural teaching that demands repudiation of any conscious or continuing partnership and/or fellowship with those who:

  1. Deny the fundamental doctrines of the historic Christian faith.

  2. Permit, tolerate and/or promote: principals, doctrines, ideologies and/or philosophies which can be demonstrated as contrary to doctrines of the historic Christian faith.

Especially when such fellowship finds expression in formal/organized ecclesiastical structure/alliances (associations, denominations, etc).

 

    I want to clarify up front, that the purpose for my talk is not particularly related to any situation that pertains directly to our church, nor any within our circles, but when you have only six days’ notice to address a group such as this, you have to pray the matter over and come to a conclusion as to what it seems would best to serve Christ’s people and Christ’s ministers of the gospel.

 

   Why then this topic?  Well, the primary reason is that I have been reading, praying and thinking about this particular subject as a result of several notable events that have occurred over the past year, which I believe are clear evidence that there exists a  fundamental difference between otherwise doctrinally sound and agreed brethren.  Brethren who, would uphold the fundamentals of the historic Christian faith and even many who would agree far beyond the basic fundamentals…have recently been on what appears to be opposite sides of certain issues.

 

    One case in point, is a awkward and rather embarrassing moment which took place before all the world at [1] Dr. John McArthur’s 2019 Shepherd Conference.  During a question and answer session, seated on the platform along with Dr. McArthur, were present some of the most eminent leaders from denominations such as the Presbyterian Church of America and the Southern Baptist Convention.  Both have been known to hold to solid, historic Christianity, but recently have been struggling on how to deal with recent issues that challenge the faith.

 

    As the session went along, one of the men from McArthur’s church (who was leading the questions) – Phil Johnson, began to press these leaders on where they stood regarding their continued alliance/connection with promoters (many of which are Pastors from their own sister churches) of a liberal movement that has come to be known as “The Social Justice” movement; which among other things seeks to redefine the Gospel as not just, “Christ died to save sinners”…not just, “an entrance into Heaven”…but rather, while the “Gospel” is indeed those things…it is also those things PLUS becoming “woke” to the need and inclusivity of correcting various perceived in-justices throughout society including racism, misogynism (male leadership), and a unloving bias toward celibate “homosexual-Christians”.

 

   At min.43:10 - Phil Johnson while engaging with Al Mohler (Dean of an SBC seminary) said to Mr. Mohler, “just last year at the Gospel Coalition conference[2] and the Together for the Gospel I was hearing some rhetoric similar to that which I first heard from men like Jim Wallis [3]and the Sojourners 20-30 yrs. ago, and so I think what I am asking you (looking at Al Mohler from SBC)…in fact what I am asking you is – do you not see (agree) that the evangelical movement, even our constituency, who represents the most conservative end of the spectrum is becoming a little more susceptible (tolerant) ?" (Toward liberalism / social Marxism.)

 

 In response to the pressure of being put on the spot and asked a very straightforward question…Al Mohler said “Phil you have known me for a long time, and you know that the answer to the question is Yes…but I am not going to be forced into a situation before thousands of people in which I agree to do it  (separate) your way …sorry…I’m just not…and if that’s the test of fellowship amongst us then this would be a good time to find out”

 

    Well, they all did find out.  According to credible sources, Al Mohler and others who were also present on the stage that day were in fact scheduled to return and speak at the conference in 2020 and for whatever reason either – they declined to return or were removed from the list.

 

Now, we could fall into the mistake of thinking that this something which only happens out there in Big-Eva (big evangelicalism) and is something that we are not really going to have to deal with in our local church’s context.

 

Well, allow me to share a story with you form my own experience.

 

Earlier last year, we had a family who started to visit our church and early during one of my visits with them, they shared with me (in tears) about how their church (College Park Church)[4] started to preach in such a way that began to make them feel guilty for being born as “white people”.

 

This simply brings me to my first of seven reasons of WHY it’s necessary to revisit the topic of Biblical Separation:

 

  1. The modern context we exist in – demands it.

The cases just cited prove this while many more could be given.

 

2.   The topic of Biblical Separation is rarely ever addressed, in part because it is viewed as negative and/or divisive.

While, indeed the application of biblical separation can and has been wrongly applied, its abuse however does not make it invalid, backwards or somehow ‘old fashion’ especially in consideration of the many situations which we find ourselves in as individual Christians and collectively as gathered local Churches.

                                               

3.   The remains of our old nature necessitate Biblical Separation.

In Gal. 5:17-26 the inspired Apostle Paul describes a battle that is taking place within the heart of every Christian, a battle between what he calls the “flesh” and the “Spirit”, the Old Man and the New Man.

This dual nature, consisting of remaining sin as part of our makeup should alarm us to the fact that it is possible, for even the best of us to begin to drift and become asleep or numb to the seriousness of certain teachings and/or popular practices among broader evangelicalism. (Frog in the pot).

 

4.    The person and work of Satan demand it.

2 Cor. 11:14 Paul’s warning is clear to us “And no marvel (Marvel not); for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” By imitating the true gospel and/or blending the true gospel with other things, Satan has indeed caused untold misery and suffering in the Kingdom of Christ and much of his damage could have been altogether avoided had watchful Christian ministers seen through his initial, outward approach and scheme and implemented biblical separation.

 

5.    In light of this, Biblical Separation is then, logically necessary.

If Satan is still up to his old sinister ways, disguising himself as an angel of light seeking “if it were possible” to deceive the very elect…then it is necessarily logical that we as ministers and good churchmen carefully evaluate the teachings, alliances and actions of those who confess to be citizens of Christ’s Kingdom and where we detect dangerous error we have a biblical command to separate.

In fact, (to further expand on this reason) we do this in our everyday lives…don’t we?  We by necessity evaluate various things in comparison and don’t automatically accept all things as equal, if you really stop and think about it, our whole life is one long and constant process of sorting, analyzing and classifying things of a materialistic nature for our basic survival, dare we be any less scrupulous regarding the religious movements and activities that surround us today?

 

                                   6.    Biblical Separation has been practiced throughout church history.

The history of the Christian Church is marked with examples of the subtle growth of dangerous errors and even heresies that originally seemed quite harmless, but ultimately proved to contain well-near fatal consequences for the life of the church and God raised up many courageous and faithful men who implemented biblical separation.  In fact, we would do well to recall that our very history as Particular / Reformed Baptists is inseparably rooted in the English Separatists movement of the 17th and 18th centuries.

 

7.     It is part of biblical and doctrinal truth.

Beginning very early on within the anti-dulivan period of God’s creation first with Adam, then Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech and then Noah there always has been a clear witness of Christ’s Kingdom being separate from that of the world’s kingdom – that dark system which very early on began to mix the truth with fabricated lies to reinvent man’s origins and deny his continued obligation to obey and worship the One True and Living God.

 

Thus, in light of just these seven reasons (to which many more could be added) the doctrine of Biblical Separation, I hope you would agree, needs to be revisited from time to time amongst us as sins of Light.

 

    If we had more time, I would propose that this topic be treated in a more through manner utilizing in equal balance two areas of theology:

  1. Historical Theology

  2. Biblical Theology

 

Indeed, there would be an immeasurable benefit to any disciple of Jesus who would take the time to study this out - how the people of God throughout the Scriptures and subsequently following post-Apostolic succession have separated from that which is contrary to doctrines of the historic Christian faith.

 

However, for our short time together today, I wish to draw our attention to what I suggest are the TWO HEADS or PILLARS of biblical separation and I pray that by briefly examining them, we as God’s servants, will know something of what Paul means in Rom 1:1, “a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,”

 

 

 

  1. The nature of God’s holiness.

Isa.6:1-3 “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy (kä·dōshe, kä·dōshe, kä·dōshe), is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

  • kä·dōshe' - set apart, separate

 

Notice the three-part repetition, just as in other parts of Scripture, the number “three” denotes perfection, so in other words these majestic beings; here are called seraphim confess that the Lord is perfectly and all together separate/set apart.

 

  • This word is found in 106 verses in the OT all of which denote this same idea/concept, something that is objectively, positionally – set apart.

 

    Ex.19:3-6, “And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy (kä·dōshe') nation."

 

Lev 20:26, “And ye shall be holy (kä·dōshe') unto me: for I the LORD am holy (kä·dōshe'), and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.”

 

Not standing in the sandals of Isaiah, we may ask the obvious question – what is it that God is separated from?

 

The Lord in His thrice, perfected holiness is separate from that which the Bible describes as being opposite and contrary to His very nature and being -  SIN

 

How is sin defined - The 1693 Baptist Catechism Q.17 based on

1Jhn. 3:4 describes sin as, “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God”.

 

 

 

Whenever sin is described in the bible as being committed by mankind it is described as:

 

  1. Being a Enemy of God - Rom.5:10; Col. 1:21

  2. As Being Hostile and Walking Contrary to God’s Will - Lev.26:21

  3. As Being in Rebellion Against God - Isa.1:2

  4. As Rising Up Against God as an Enemy - Micah 2:8

  5. That which Strives and Contends with God’s Authority - Rom.1:30

  6. That which Resists God - Act 7:51

  7. That which Fights Against God - Acts 5:39, 23:9

 

The Lord positionally separates Himself from the darkness, hostility and enmity of SIN - that which lacks conformity unto or transgresses His Law.

 

    (Look at your Bibles) Having arrived at this point…we now can understand something of why Isaiah (as a mere man) in response to being in the presence of the holy, separated Lord replied in v.5, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

The doctrine of biblical separation has as its FIRST PILLAR this  highly exalted view of God’s separateness from sin.

  All other considerations regarding biblical separation and/or its application must stream out from this singular fountain head – THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY IS HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.

Now,  prior to moving onto the second pillar of biblical separation, we must take notice of something here in the text from Isa. 6:3.  In the gospel of John 12:41, we are told that in this vision of Isaiah that Isaiah is seeing in someway or meaning the actual glory of Jesus.

 

John Calvin, “In this passage…although God is mentioned indefinitely, yet it is also correctly said that Isaiah saw the glory of Christ, for at that very time he (Jesus) was the image of the invisible God.”

 

   John Gill, “…here God is not essentially considered, whose essence is not to be seen; but personally, Father, Son, and Spirit, for all the three Persons appear in this vision, particularly Christ, as, is clear from John 12:41 who is the "Adonai", or Lord; he is Lord of all, of all men, even of the greatest among them, and of all the angels in heaven, and of the church of God, by his Father's gift, by his own purchase, in right of marriage, and through the conquest of his grace.”

 

Thus, it is correct to say that here we understand Jesus (our Prophet, Priest and King) is also described as being perfectly separated.

 

Which leads me to the second pillar of biblical separation:

 

   THE NATURE OF CHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM 

 

   The nature of Christ is without blemish, spot or wrinkle (2 Cor.5:21; 1 Pet. 1:19; Heb.7:26). As we just learned Jesus in all his glory and splendor is wholly separated from that which transgresses the Law for it is contrary to His very nature.

 

This truth concerning Jesus, is intended to be an encouragement to all those (who through Faith) have been ingrafted into Christ and made partakers of His riches and grace…because we too will someday be finally and completely separated from all sin just as He himself is. (Ps.126:5; Rev.21:4)

 

That future reality of final separation from sin and darkness has in fact already begun and can only be realized within the Kingdom of Christ – His Church.

 

The nature of Christ’s kingdom finds as its foundation the Covenant of Grace, which is fully discovered in the New Covenant by which former lovers of sin are granted a new birth and faith in the person and work of King of the Kingdom – Jesus and thereby they are called to be separated just as He their King is separated unto all righteousness.

 

To understand something of the significance of this, turn your Bibles to Romans 1:7.  Listen how the Bible describes the citizens of Christ’s Kingdom – His Church:

 

Rom.1:7 “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints (hä'-gē-os): Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

  • hä'-gē-os = separated, consecrated unto God’s special use.

 

Jude 1:1 “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified (hä-gē-ä'-zō) by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:”

  • hä-gē-ä'-zō = separate from profane things and dedicate to God.

 

While this is indeed encouraging news…there is something else important to consider and the Seventeenth Century English Particular Baptists help us to see it:

 

1689 LBC 26:3 “Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in Him, and make profession of His name.” (Mth.16:18; Ps. 72:17, 102:28; Rev.12:17)

 

For our purposes today regarding biblical separation, we must realize, that while the Church (the Kingdom of Christ) exists in a fallen and sinful world it is subject to and prone to being influenced by surrounding darkness.

 

And as we just learned, citizens of the Christ’s kingdom, those described as children of light (Eph.5:8) are called to be separated unto Christ and His Law-Word. 

 

   Therefore, in light of this these truths, we are forced to conclude that those who deny the fundamental doctrines of the historic Christian faith and/or permit, tolerate or promote: principals, doctrines, ideologies or philosophies which can be demonstrated as contrary to the doctrines of historic Christianity have no place or communion in the New Covenant kingdom of Christ. 

 

Thus, if any of us would choose to not separate from such threats, no matter from where they originate evidences a stark inconsistency between our profession and our actions.

 

Granted, in some cases such biblical separation from those in dangerous error will take planning and time, this is of course understandable, however, if those in such open error will not heed exhortations to repent, and if sufficient evidence and time have amounted to properly demonstrate the invalidity of their profession of biblical Christianity, we who have been called from darkness unto light must by the example and command of our King – come out from among them – we are to be separate.

 

 The nature of God & The nature of Christ and His Kingdom are the two pillars or superstructures that provide biblical separation its sure foundation for all implementation and application.

 

IN CONCLUSION – The Positive Nature of Biblical Separation.

 

  Biblical separation has unfortunately been sorely mis-characterized by the modern church.  In part because of those who admittedly have abused it.  None the less, it is a biblical doctrine, and like all doctrine is to be obeyed with humility and charity.

 

Contrary to popular perception, biblical separation is not by necessity divisive and negative…but rather when in humility it is implemented, it is:

 

A positive instrument for the self-preservation of the church in a state of holiness (hä'-gē-os) which befits her own public profession, which would otherwise be endangered or yet destroyed by continued religious fellowship with those who remain defiant to biblical truth.

 

Ps.29:2, “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (kō'·desh) separation.”

 

FOOTNOTES: 

 

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ0kcMv1G5o

[2] Founded by: Timothy Keller, D. A. Carson

[3] Although Wallis actively eschews political labels, he describes himself as an evangelical and is often associated with the evangelical left and the wider Christian left. In 2010, Wallis admitted to accepting money for Sojourners from philanthropist George Soros after initially denying having done so. In 2011, Wallis acknowledged that Sojourners had received another $150,000 from Soros' Open Society Foundation. Wallis also worked as a spiritual advisor to President Barack Obama. Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Wallis

[4] Which leads the Leadership Council for the Indy Gospel Colition.

Doug Barger is the founding minister of Christ Reformed Baptist Church. He has served the Churches of Jesus Christ within Indiana through various capacities over the last 19 years, following his conversion in 2001.  In addition to serving at CRBC he continues his theological studies at London Reformed Baptist Seminary (London, UK), Covenant Baptist Seminary (Owensboro, KY), and the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies (Mansfield, TX).  Doug currently resides in Henry County with his wife Jessica, and their three children, were they serve and pray that the glory of God through Jesus Christ will be made known throughout this region where the Lord has placed them.

 

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