June 24, 2017

Axioms of Separation: Chapter 1 (Part 1)

The late Dr. John Ashbrook, long–time pastor of Bible Community Church in Mentor, Ohio, wrote a little book called Axioms of Separation. The current publisher has kindly given us permission to serialize the book here on Proclaim & Defend.

Previously on P&D: Axioms–the Preface; Axioms – Introduction

Axioms of Separation
John Ashbrook

Chapter I

SEPARATION FROM APOSTASY

My title, Axioms of Separation, mixes metaphors. I have heard that is not good. “Axioms” comes from geometry and “separation” comes from theology. My exposure to plane geometry came in a lackluster classroom at the west end of our high school building under the tutelage of a man we students called “77 Finger McCoy.” That was a cruel title, given because arthritis had warped our teacher’s fingers in the shape of 7’s. It was under Mr. McCoy that I became aware of axioms, theorems and corollaries. I learned that an axiom is a self-evident truth, like “things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.” It is my thesis in this booklet that, in the realm of separation, there are a number of self-evident truths. It is amazing that they are so neglected and scorned by the Church of our day. I would like to have you follow me through your Bible as I seek to set forth some axioms of separation.

AXIOM #1: SCRIPTURE FORBIDS US TO HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH UNBELIEF. There is one letter in the New Testament written to a lady. II John begins:

“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth:”

The commentaries like to argue over whether this was a specific Christian lady or whether the Apostle addressed the Church as an “elect lady.” That need not affect our discussion. The key point is that either the lady or the Church was given to extending Christian fellowship to professed Christians who came by. John’s command in the Book is that such Christian fellowship should not be extended to religious unbelievers or apostates. Verses 7-11 read:

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ he hath both the Father and the Son … If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

Many people in that day called themselves Christians. But already, some of them did not hold to the Scriptural doctrine of Christ. John advised this lady, and us too, to have nothing to do with those who do not hold the Scriptural doctrine of Christ.

What is the Bible doctrine of Christ? The keynotes would be that He was the eternal God, that through the virgin birth He became just as fully man, that He lived a holy and miraculous life, that He died for our sins, that He rose from the grave in the body in which He was crucified, that He appeared to those who knew Him best, that He ascended to God the Father’s right hand where He ministers on our behalf and that He is coming again to take us to the place He has prepared.

The Scriptures teach us, here in II John, that if a man comes to us claiming to be a Christian but not subscribing to this doctrine of Christ, we are to have nothing to do with him.

GROUNDS FOR SEPARATION

Let me give an example. The media and the apostate church have granted sainthood to Martin Luther King. However, the National Observer for December 30, 1963, gave his doctrine of Christ:

“What set Jesus apart, he believes, was Jesus’ unique goodness. ‘I don’t think anyone else can be Jesus. He was one with God in purpose. He so submitted His will to God’s will that God revealed His divine plan to man through Jesus.’ In this sense, says Dr. King, Jesus was divine. But Dr. King rejects the virgin birth of Christ as literal fact. The early Christians, he says, had noticed the moral uniqueness of Jesus; to make this uniqueness appear plausible, they devised a mythological story of Jesus’ biological uniqueness.”

The true Christian has his line drawn for him right there. He does not have to analyze civil disobedience or communist front connections. God’s Word says, “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.”

WHAT IS APOSTASY?

A paragraph back I used the word “apostate.” Let me pause for a definition, for that term will occur other times. The Greek word behind apostasy means “a falling away,” or “a defection.” My definition would be that apostasy is the departure from spiritual truth by individuals, churches, or organizations which once possessed the truth. The major portion of professing Christianity in our nation and world today would be correctly termed apostate. The first two places where apostasy always departs from Bible truth are the inspiration of the Word of God and the deity of Jesus Christ. Tragically, Martin Luther King’s view of Christ is not unique. It was the view which he was taught in Crozer Seminary, a leading school of the American Baptist Convention. It would be the view of the apostasy about us.

At the Northern Baptist Convention gathering in 1922, the conservatives felt that the Convention could be returned to theological orthodoxy by adopting the New Hampshire Confession of Faith as a doctrinal basis. Dr. W. B. Riley of Minneapolis was the spokesman chosen to read the Confession on the floor. With his imposing voice and figure, he gave the Confession a reading like it had never had before. When he finished, William Colgate (of toothpaste fame), the Treasurer of the Convention, moved to the podium and with contempt said: “Hmm, so that’s the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, huh? I thought Mr. Riley was reading from the back of a Western Union Telegraph blank.” Mr. Colgate spoke for apostasy — having moved from faith to sneering contempt for that faith. Scripture forbids us to have fellowship with such unbelief.

AXIOM #2: SCRIPTURE COMMANDS US TO REPROVE APOSTASY. When my father’s charade of a trial was over in the United Presbyterian Church, some of the denominational leaders came to him and offered to help him start a new United Presbyterian Church in the north end of Columbus on two conditions: (1) Give all mission money to United Presbyterian missions. (2) Keep quiet about the Federal Council of Churches. (The Federal Council of Churches was the forerunner of the National Council of Churches.)

WHY BE NEGATIVE?

It is obvious that one of the things which irritated apostasy was criticism of apostasy. Why be negative? Why criticize? Why not just obey God and have no fellowship with apostasy? Why not just be positive? Ephesians 5:11 says:

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

The first statement of that verse reemphasizes our first axiom. The second statement of the verse goes farther. The word translated “reprove” is elengcho in Greek. It means “to expose,” or “to show to be guilty.” We are to separate from apostasy and then to expose it by pointing at it with the finger of truth. Apostasy always masquerades in respectable garments. It claims to be spreading Christian love. It is eliminating prejudice. It is bringing men together. It is crusading for peace. It is cleaning up man’s environment. It never unveils itself as despicable unbelief with a veneer of humanistic good works. That unveiling is a task God has assigned to us.

A NIGHT IN THE DEVIL’S CHURCH

On November 5, 1981, my wife and I attended the 31st anniversary celebration of the founding of the National Council of Churches in Cleveland. We watched a slide show which portrayed the accomplishments of the Council. It presented the Council as having single-handedly eliminated prejudice, made peace with Russia and Red China, produced a new Bible for the people and fed the hungry around the world. A faithful pastor must reprove this darkness and show his people that this is really the Devil’s church, having abandoned the doctrine of Christ, and counterfeiting the fruits of the Gospel with a humanistic portfolio of good works.

Suppose that you are driving down your street and come to a place where someone has removed a manhole cover. You narrowly avert disaster. You realize that, had your front wheel dropped into that hole, you might have been killed. However, you have not discharged your responsibility as a citizen by avoiding the hole. You have a responsibility to stop and see to it that authorities are notified and a barricade erected to protect your neighbors.

Likewise, as a Christian, you have a responsibility assigned by God to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness as displayed in apostate Christianity and other Satanic religions. The spirit of today is, “Don’t be negative.” That is not a Biblical admonition. Scripture commands us to reprove apostasy.

To be continued…

Next in this series: Axioms – Chapter 1 (Part 2)


Dr. John Ashbrook served the Lord for many years as pastor of Bible Community Church of Mentor, OH. His ministry made a strong contribution to Biblical fundamentalism.


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