December 18, 2017

Axioms of Separation–Chapter 5 (Part 2)

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


Years ago I sat at our dinner table with a young man trained in Fuller Seminary. Our guest said, “I think of myself as a fundamentalist; but I have to confess that fundamentalists have been very uncharitable in their approach to the liberals. They have refused to dialogue with them and have failed to demonstrate Christian love toward them.” He had absorbed the Fuller philosophy. Let me ask you, where in Scripture do you find the teaching that we are to treat false teachers with charity and the apostles of apostasy with Christian love? That is exactly the opposite of the teaching of II John on which we have already commented. Scripture terms the purveyors of false doctrine as “grievous wolves.” The faithful shepherds of history have not dialogued with grievous wolves. Had our prophet taken his dramatic stand against Jeroboam’s heresy and then gone home with him to dinner, his actions would have belied his condemnation. God had protected him from that with clear orders. He has done the same for us. I always wish that this chapter ended at verse 10. It doesn’t. As we move on we see a second scene. We see the nameless prophet in a scene of compromise. That seems impossible.


The temptation to compromise comes from a new direction. Listen to verses 11 and 12:

“Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father. And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah.”

I wish that we might draw back the curtains of time to get a glimpse of the ministry of this old man. I am sure that, at one time, he had stood in the front of the battle for God. But something happened. Persecution had come with Jeroboam. It was easy to lose your head if you opposed the idolatry of Jeroboam. This old man had decided that it was expedient to be quiet. So, retiring to his peaceful home, he ceased to speak for God. That had an effect on his home. We see his sons returning from an idol feast — a strange place for prophet’s boys. But, more than that, his decision had an effect on his heart. When he cut himself off from the opposition, he also cut himself off from the fellowship of strong men. His heart was starved for that fellowship. He longed to talk with a brother believer. Then, his boys came home from the feast and told their story. His heart leaped within him. He must talk to that prophet. Right here we meet a new kind of temptation. In this second scene the temptation to compromise was the temptation which came from a friend. When we know we face an enemy our guard goes up. When we know we face a friend our guard goes down. So it was here. The sons of the old prophet saddled the family ass for him and he set off to overtake the younger prophet as fast as the little donkey could go. He found him sitting under a tree taking a break from his journey and gave a simple invitation. “Come home with me, and eat bread.” The younger prophet recognized a brother. This was no Jeroboam. However, he declined the invitation and explained his refusal by quoting the same orders he had quoted to Jeroboam. I am sure that God had given those orders to protect this prophet from the invitation of Jeroboam. But, those same orders protected him from the temptation of a friend. The path of compromise is always down. The old man who had begun on the road of compromise with his silence walked another mile with a lie as we read in 18:

“He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spoke unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.”

Tragedy struck right here. Our nameless prophet believed the lie and went back to dinner in the old man’s house. What caused this fearless prophet to disobey God’s orders? He was blinded by the fact that the lie came from a friend. The story of I Kings 13 would be very simple if it had only two men in it – the nameless prophet and jeroboam, the apostate. However, that is not the picture. There is another man somewhere in between. That is also the picture of our own day. On the one hand, we have declared fundamentalism. On the other hand, we have declared liberalism or unbelief. But, tragedy of tragedies, we have a mighty camp somewhere in between. That is what new evangelicalism is. These are brethren who have decided to ignore, and thus disobey, the clear commands of the Word of God about separation. They would have us ignore those commands, too. The story of the nameless prophet is repeated.

To be continued…

Next in this series: Axioms – Chapter 5, Part 3

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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