December 18, 2017

Axioms of Separation – Chapter 3 (Part 1)

The late Dr. John Ashbrook, long–time pastor of Bible Community Church in Mentor, Ohio, wrote a little book calledAxioms 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

Chapter III

PRACTICING SEPARATION PRACTICALLY

There are many different abilities and attitudes you need to serve the Lord. One of them, which is much unheralded, is the ability to say, “No!” You need it many times. The early new evangelicals opined that the fundamentalists said “No” to the modernists with unnecessary harshness. Let me point out that, when Scriptural obedience is concerned, it is far better to say “No!” with ruffles and flourishes, than it is to disobey God by saying “Yes.”

ECUMENISM IN THE AIR

We are living in what the Bible calls “the last days.” Satan is building the one-world church which will be revealed in all of its ugliness during the days of the great tribulation. It is the aim of our enemy to attach every church to the ecumenical monstrosity. He has the National Council of Churches. He has the World Council of Churches. The Roman Catholic Church is now being tied in. The charismatic churches are being attached with the cement of experience. He is now using the ploy of praying for peace to amalgamate the heathen religions into the grand scheme. The pressure is on, and he wants to make connections with your church and mine. This pressure will increase every day until Christ takes His bride home.

The only thing which will keep your church from being swept into the Satanic counterfeit is the ability to say “no.” I would like to set forth four practical axioms on that subject.

AXIOM #7: DO NOT AFFILIATE YOUR CHURCH WITH ANY CHURCH, MISSION, MOVEMENT OR EVANGELISTIC EFFORT WHICH DOES NOT FULLY BELIEVE THE WORD OF GOD. There will always be movements which will want your church to join to support good causes. There will be movements like the American Family Association which opposes pornography, fights abortion and takes a stand against television filth. These are good causes with which you probably agree; but the hodge-podge of belief brought together to fight the “good cause” will join you with priest and bishops – from apostate Methodists to charismatic Catholics. There will be movements like the John Birch Society which will seek your church to join the fight against communism. That is a good cause, but you will find that such groups want your support without your gospel. There will be political movements to elect a good man. You may work for and vote for that man; but the good man of the world will always betray you. These movements have Christians in them. They will approach you through these Christians; but if the group is not fully Bible-believing, you will be burned.

THE GOOD CAUSE SYNDROME

In II Chronicles 18 godless Ahab trapped godly Jehoshaphat with the “good cause” syndrome. The Syrians held the border town of Ramoth-gilead. For the safety of both Israel and Judah, that town needed to be secured. On the basis of that good cause Jehoshaphat joined with Ahab. Jehoshaphat’s faith was comprornised as he listened to Ahab’s false prophets. With a believer’s discernment he saw that they were not men of God. A true prophet, Micaiah, was summoned to the scene and spoke the truth; but, by that time, Jehoshaphat was so enmeshed with his compromise that he stood with Ahab instead of Micaiah. Compromise ties your tongue so that you cannot rebuke evil. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Complicity with error will take from the best of men the power to enter any successful protest against it.” God, in His grace, delivered Jehoshaphat. However, when King Jehoshaphat arrived home at Jerusalem, God sent Jehu the prophet to meet him as a reception committee with the words:

“Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from the Lord.” II Chron. 19:2

Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was never the same after that. I think he would have denied loving Ahab. He might have said that he could hardly stand him. But, he said “Yes:’ when he should have said “No.”

A positive example is found in Ezra 4:1-4:

“Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our god; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building.”

Again, there was a good cause involved and help was needed. Apparently, these people did worship God in some sense; but Zerubbabel correctly saw that they did not fully believe the Word of God. Zerubbabel’s “no” cost him lots of trouble from his enemies. But it kept God’s hand of blessing on his enterprise. He did not “love them that hate the Lord” or accept their help.

I read somewhere that “Evangelism is the soft underbelly of fundamentalism.” (If I remembered who said it I would gladly give credit.) That is true. Fundamentalists ought to love souls and be soul winners. In my experience with fundamental brethren I find that true. The line which has trapped more pastors into some endeavor of ecumenical evangelism is, “Brother, this is for the cause of souls.” Do not allow any cause, even the cause of souls, to lead you into disobedience to God’s command.

There is one more practical thing to remember on the “good cause” syndrome. You can be for or against a cause without joining anything. You do not have to join “Right to Life” to fight abortion. You need not join a society to fight communism or an association to be against pornography.

Let me give a practical hint to young pastors. If you are the least bit uncertain about any invitation, say, “let me think about it for a day, and I will call you back.” That will let you weigh the matter with your Bible and prayer. Remember, do you affiliate your church with any church, movement or evangelistic effort which does not fully believe the Word of God? The world desires to use you. Your concern must be to keep your work so that you are sure God can use you.

To be continued…

Next in this series: Axioms – Chapter 3 (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.


Previously on P&D:


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