June 24, 2017

Axioms of Separation–Chapter 5 (Part 3)

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.

(Links to previous articles in the series below.)

Axioms of Separation John Ashbrook

WOULD A BROTHER LIE?

Is it possible that brethren would lie to us? Yes. As a pastor, I have had many people speak to me about unscriptural conduct and say, “Pastor, we prayed about this and we know the Spirit of the Lord led us.” Every time J have been invited to join ecumenical campaigns that same lie has been repeated to me. How do I know such a thing is a lie? Permit me another axiom: AXIOM #12: THE SPIRIT OF GOD HAS NEVER LED ONE CHRISTIAN CONTRARY TO ONE WORD OF THE WORD OF GOD. The new evangelical comes to us as a brother. He has a philosophy of ministry which appeals to the flesh. It sounds very logical to human reason. But it ignores God’s simple commands such as, “receive him not into your house,” “come out from among them,” “be ye separate,” and “touch not the unclean thing.” When he tells us that the Spirit of God has led him in this new direction, we must recognize that as a lie; because the Spirit of God has never led one Christian contrary to one word of the Word of God.

THE MOST DANGEROUS DEVIATION

The most dangerous deviation is the one closest to your own position. New evangelicalism sprang out of fundamentalism. It is a movement of brethren. The lie of new evangelicalism has deceived more fundamentalists than the siren song of ecumenism. In recent years Jerry Falwell, who still desires to be called a fundamentalist, has denied the last forty years of church history and decided that there is really no difference between fundamentalists and new evangelicals. His swallowing of the lie of new evangelicalism has led great numbers of those who follow in his train into the same compromise. Don’t let your guard down. Is it right to allow disobedient brethren kind words from your pulpit? Is it right to allow disobedient brethren to use your good name? Is it right to let disobedient brethren have dollars collected from your people? Is it right to allow disobedient brethren to have the cream of your young people to educate and use in their enterprise? Say a gracious “No” if you can. Thunder out a “No!” if you must. But, above all, don’t say “Yes.”

A SCENE OF DEFEAT

There is a third scene in this chapter. It is a solemn warning. We see the nameless prophet in a scene of defeat. In this final section there are two things — a prediction and a picture. The old prophet who issued the lying invitation had not had a prophecy to declare for the Lord in many years. But as he sat fellowshipping with his younger brother, the Lord forced him to give a prediction which must have stuck in his throat. We have it in verses 21 and 22: “And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and has not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee, but earnest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.” When the meal was over the old prophet provided the younger prophet with his own donkey and sent him on his way. It was not long until there was a knock on the old man’s door and a neighbor brought the tragic message of which we read in verses 24, 25:

“And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcass was cast in the way, and the ass stood beside it, the lion also stood by the carcass. And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcass cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcass: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.”

I submit to you that the scene so described is one of the most unnatural scenes in the Bible. We have a man-eating lion which would not eat the man he had killed. We have a donkey which would not run from the lion. Donkeys are not famed for brilliance, but they have always known enough to run from lions. Man-eating lions eat donkeys for dessert. In this strange tableau a man-eating lion and a donkey stood on either side of a prophet’s carcass. The people of the area came and peered around the rocks to see the strange scene. The aura of unnaturalness which surrounds this scene is the stamp of God upon it. God wanted all who passed that way to know that this was not a man who happened to be killed by a lion, but a prophet who was executed by his God for disobedience. We are always worried what men will think in any given situation. God was not worried about what men would think. He was concerned only that his prophet had disobeyed. This story compels any discerning reader to ask an obvious question. Why was it that God was so severe on the young prophet who spoke to Jeroboam so well; but, the old prophet who perpetrated the lie seems to have escaped scot-free? Let me give my answer in the form of a final axiom.

AXIOM #13: AT ANY GIVEN TIME OF CHURCH HISTORY GOD IS MOST SEVERE ON THOSE WHOM HE IS USING AT THE MOMENT. The old prophet in our story had been laid on God’s shelf for years. God was not using him in Israel. The younger prophet was God’s man of the hour. Because God had so clearly commissioned him, He was forced to treat the breach of his responsibilities with death. With all of my heart, I am a fundamentalist. I believe that the Bible-believing, separated, fundamental church is God’s instrument in this hour. For that reason, I do not believe that we can afford the luxury of compromise. As I observe fundamentalism at this hour, I see fundamental associations becoming more new evangelical. Every fundamentalist gathering I attend has less protest and forthrightness than the one before. I see fundamentalists more tolerant of new evangelicalism’s great speakers. The fundamentalists’ desire for souls and consequent growth have opened the door to new evangelical methods. Success, instead of Scripture, has become the measure of a man’s work: The music fundamentalists sing has more new evangelical notes. Fundamentalists have adopted the silent stand and allowed vocal new evangelicalism to sweep the day. God does not have to use fundamentalism. If we sell our birthright of obedience for a mess of new evangelical pottage, God can leave us lying in the middle of the road somewhere between the lion and the ass.

Last in this series: Axioms – the Epilogue


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.


Previously on P&D:


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