Have you ever tried to contend for the faith within your own church, only to be told that you're probably not a good fit and should move on? Yes, that has happened to many of us, and though it may seem like it, you are not alone.
In an age of false ecu-maniacal unity, a friend of mine has penned the following exhortation, in hopes of unifying like-minded, battle-weary believers to stand strong in the one true unifying message of Hope in the sufficient Word of Truth:
A Call to Come Out and be Found Faithful
"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (1 Cor. 4:1-2)
We the undersigned, Christians from across the spectrum of denominations, independent churches, home churches, and even those scattered sheep who have no church home at this time, have determined that we must "stand fast" (2 Thes. 2:15) on the Gospel of "grace and truth" (John 1:17). We are speaking now in one voice, in TRUE unity, because, by the Spirit of the Lord, we believe we must "lift up a standard" (Isaiah 59:19, 62:10) against the flood of compromise and corruption (2 Cor. 2:17) that has entered our churches. The church is in a "time of departing," but we refuse to leave the "faith that was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3).
Many of us, in various ways, have tried to share our concerns.
We have preached sermons, held conferences, written books, blogs, articles, letters, and created videos, DVD's, and radio programming to confront the deception that has bombarded the church. In return, many of us have been cast out, called before councils, publicly rebuked, and scorned by shepherds and church leaders who have rejected our pleas.
A separation has been growing in many of our hearts for a long time. Just as in a marriage, when a partner has been unfaithful, and unrepentant, eventually there must be a public divorce. It is with great sadness that we must announce that we are coming out of the "evangelical" identity and forming our own identity as the "faithful church."
This is not the first time a separation like this has happened. There have been times in the history of the church when a remnant of Christians found it necessary to come out from the larger body of Christianity when that larger body had gone astray from the faith. For example, we saw this with Martin Luther and the Reformers. After all attempts to purge Roman Catholicism of its wrong doctrines, men and women of God finally separated themselves and formed a new group which is now known as Protestantism.
During the period of the development of the historical/critical movement, when many Protestant "Christians" claimed that the scriptures erred, a small group of believers opposed this attack on truth and became known as the "fundamentalists." They refused to question the veracity of the Bible and broke away from those churches who had departed from the faith and are now known as the "mainline" denominations.
Under the rise of the Third Reich, another group of believers found it necessary to break away from the larger German Evangelical Church. They declared in the Barmen Declaration that theyrejected "the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God's revelation." They stood on the Word of God in the face of Nazism, and left behind a heroic witness as the "Confessing Church."
We could also point to the division caused by the abolitionists, or the division caused by opposing the Gnostic teachers, or the division caused by the teaching of Jewish Christians who wanted to blend the law with the Gospel.
The lesson of history is undeniable: division in the church has been necessary in order to preserve a sound, strong, and dynamic faith! (1 Cor. 11:18-19) But we also want to emphasize that division is caused by those who depart from the faith, not from those who remain steadfast.
Those Christians who remained faithful to the truth of the scriptures were the heroes of history!
Believers who stood on the pure Gospel were bravely willing to be burned at the stake in the flames of the Inquisition or die in Nazi prison camps. They were also willing to face the scorn of those who claimed to have intellectual superiority over them, and trusted in the words of the Bible even when there seemed to be justification to doubt. They were faithful to the charge that was given to them by the apostle Paul:
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine . . . "(2 Tim. 4:3)
Sound doctrine matters! We will not forget the men and women who have been martyred in order to preserve the truth of the Gospel. After their great stand, their courageous sacrifice, would we just allow the wolves to consume the little flock on our watch? No! We will have the faith of our fathers, and follow the encouragement of Paul, who was beheaded for his faith, and said this:
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." (1 Cor. 16:13)
Over the last decades evangelicals, who, in the past, have been committed to the fundamentals of the faith, and to the innerrancy and sufficiency of scripture, are now compromising the truth in order to develop political power, pursue social justice, or achieve a "dream" of ecumenical unity. While these may seem to be admirable goals, we have to remember that the church must always remain faithful--no matter how great the cause seems--if grace and truth have to be compromised.
In this era of "unity" our separation will seem to be in complete opposition to the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the age). "COEXIST" is the idealistic rallying cry of our day. But our allegiance to Yahweh (Jehovah) makes us unable to give equal recognition to other religions. We believe there is a true unity, which fulfills the prayer of Jesus found in John 17, but that "oneness" can only be realized by those who are sanctified (set apart) by the Word of truth (John 17:17).
Therefore, because the Roman Catholic Church still promotes false doctrines such as celibacy, the priesthood, indulgences, purgatory, and transubstantiation, we cannot join with Pope Francis and his call for ecumenical unity. We reject the concept that the church can be unified around a "core orthodoxy," and instead, maintain that ALL of the truth must be loved. (2 Thes. 2:10) We cannot claim that the ecumenical movement is a move of the Holy Spirit when the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 16:23)! This isn't to say that the faithful church agrees on every area of doctrine, but we can all agree that the Bible is the final authority and it stands complete. We will not add or take away from the truth.
We want to please our Lord and hear the words, "Well done, thou good and FAITHFUL servant." (Matthew 25:21) We want to be a faithful bride without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish, holy and sanctified--by being washed by the water of the Word (Eph. 5:26-27).
We want to be prepared to be equally yoked with our Bridegroom--who is called "Faithful and True." (Revelation 19:11) We don't want to be found unfaithful!
How has the evangelical church been unfaithful?
1. We've corrupted the Gospel with business principles, psychology, mammon (through the prosperity gospel), Old Testament law, science (such as evolution or quantum theory), philosophy, eastern religions, fiction (such as The Shack), man-made traditions, new revelations, dreams, and visions that lead to new doctrines, environmentalism, political ideologies, and on and on...
The union of worldly, fleshly, revelations with the pure Gospel was warned against by the apostle James:
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" (James 4:4-5)
2. We've joined with other religions in the hope of bringing about peace and prosperity. This was the root sin of the ancient Israelites also. The prophet Hosea was once commanded by God to marry a harlot as a picture of God's relationship with his people. Although the Israelites continued to worship YAHWEH, they worshiped other gods also. This caused God to cry out, "How long will my people be incapable of PURITY?" (Hosea 8:5) To God this was the same as a woman who was married to one man, but added other lovers to the relationship . . . and it broke His heart. After all, what is the true source of peace and prosperity? Is it unity with other belief systems (such as Mormonism, Islam, or Catholicism), like a modern-day Tower of Babel, or are societies prosperous when they love Jesus and obey his Word?
3. We've added mystical experiences to the blood of Christ. When we add contemplative prayers, soaking prayers, labyrinths, the "silence," centering prayers, breath prayers, or any other additional work, to the work that was finished on the cross through the shed blood of Jesus, it's as though we are offering the equivalent of "strange fire" on the blood altar. It takes us away from pure grace and leads us to dead and useless works. Only the blood can take us into the presence of God. (Hebrews 10:19)
4. We've given heed to false prophets and false teachers. These men and women claim to be hearing from God, yet their prophecies seldom come true. If we accept them, we go against the warning in Deuteronomy 18:22.
"When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the
Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
Why do we need an extra-biblical revelation from God? Why do we need signs and wonders? Just like the Pharisees, the Word wasn't enough. They needed signs. And because the Word wasn't enough, Jesus called them adulterous. (Matthew 12:39, 16:4)
The ancient Israelites were adulterous when they added the gods of the surrounding nations to their worship, but Paul said the serpent's seduction would cause our minds to be "corrupted from the simplicity (singleness, purity) that is in Christ." (2 Cor. 11:3) Satan deceives and seduces us in our thoughts. The high places where idol worship once occurred aren't in the cleared-out groves and under the oak trees; the high places are now the regions of the mind and intellect where Satan wars against the truth.
"Casting down imaginations, and every HIGH THING that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ . . . " (2 Cor. 10:5)
We believe the indictment against modern-day evangelicalism is the same as the indictment against the ancient Israelites... we are committing SPIRITUAL ADULTERY. We are allowing our minds to be seduced by "high" things that "exalt themselves against the knowledge of God." When we add these "high things" (such as philosophy or political ideology) to the Gospel we are being UNFAITHFUL to Jesus, the Word that became flesh.
The prophet Jeremiah cried out against Israel's spiritual adultery. He said that during the reign of King Josiah, God said to him:
"Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there." (Jeremiah 3:6) And yet, when Jeremiah tried to convey God's heart to the people, he said the people rejected his message.
"O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return." (Jeremiah 5:3)
As our nation becomes more and more desperate, and we see the increase of crime, corruption, and injustice, even after decades of pleading with God and praying for revival, perhaps we need a new perspective. Perhaps instead of pointing to the unsaved, we need to repent of our own sin and unfaithfulness toward God. This was the warning given in 2 Chronicles 7:14. If we read a little further down in this famous chapter we discover that the sins of the people that God warned would cause Him to "shut up heaven" were forsaking His Word and worshiping idols (unfaithfulness). Is it possible to suppose that the reason God is not responding to our prayers could be because we have been unfaithful to Jesus and the Word?
Therefore, because we want to be pleasing to our Lord Jesus, our "first love," we are "coming out" from the larger evangelical community and gathering the little flock back together to form a network of "faithful" churches. For the sake of the scattered sheep who struggle to find a church they can trust, for the sake of our children who have developed relationships within congregations and then had to withdraw with broken hearts, for the sake of the new believer who may be easily led astray, and for the sake of our Christian witness, which will only become weak, irrelevant, and lukewarm if we don't separate, on this _(date)_________, we declare our love and faithfulness to Jesus and make a commitment to keep His Gospel pure and undefiled. We won't have any other loves!
*If you have a concern that you may have been unfaithful to Jesus, his Word, or to the charge that we've been given...it's not too late! There is still grace for you to turn. You can still be "found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2) The prophetess Huldah told King Josiah he wouldn't receive the judgment of God because "his heart was tender" and because he cleansed the land of idols. He repented and became faithful to God. (2 Chron. 34:27)
UPDATE: The authors of this piece have given me permission to share their contact information as a way to help professing believers gather together to oppose the false church. Some of you have asked me if there is an actual petition or call to action, and there is! You can find all of this information here.