No true Christian is a liberal in doctrine or practice. And no true Christian is to have fellowship with liberals or liberal “churches”, because these deny the very truths of Scripture which the child of God holds dear.
Today, liberal “churches” include the vast majority of the so-called “mainline” denominations – Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and even Baptist – and a great many others as well.
The true Christian must also remain separate from Arminian “churches”. Arminianism is the belief that God did not elect some people to salvation in Christ, but rather that man has a free will and is able to either choose to accept or reject Christ. Arminians do not believe the scriptural truth that Christ died only for the elect – they believe He died for all men. They do not believe that once a man is in Christ, he is in Him forever – they teach that a man is able to lose his salvation by his own free will. They believe, in summary, in a God who is not all-powerful, but in all-powerful man. This is a false gospel.
Arminians, in fact, deny all the doctrines of grace: total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. And we are not to fellowship with “churches” which deny fundamental truths of the Gospel. We are not to join with “churches” which say that Christ died for all men, and that all men may be saved if they only exercise their free will and choose Christ, when the Scriptures categorically deny such things.
Many today are horrified when we say this. They think we should happily rush off to fellowship in Arminian churches. They are wrong! Arminianism is another gospel – a false gospel. Yes, many Arminians have been Christians, out of ignorance. But that does not justify us lowering the biblical standard of separation and attending Arminian churches.
Which churches are Arminian today? Answer: almost every single one! At one time Arminianism was confined largely to Wesleyan Methodism and one or two other denominations, but today it is rife throughout the vast majority of denominations.
PENTECOSTAL AND CHARISMATIC “CHURCHES”
We also must not join in fellowship with Pentecostal or Charismatic “churches”. We must remain completely separate from them. These “churches” deny the finality and all-sufficiency of the Word of God; they permit all sorts of doctrines and practices which are completely unscriptural, because for them the Word of God is not final – they emphasise experiences and “new revelations”, even if these contradict God’s Holy Word.
How could it be right for the child of God fellowship with such churches? It is sinful. These are not true churches. They are filled with heresy and unbiblical behaviour. We must remain separate from them all.
Finally, there is one other type of false church from which we must remain separate. Its evil is so subtle that many fall for its charms. This is the “church” which is doctrinally sound on paper; it has a good Confession of Faith; but – it is worldly in practice! Its members live ungodly lives. They do not separate from sinful pursuits. They live like people in the world.
In recent times there has been something of a revival of interest in the doctrines of sovereign grace, in some quarters. But much of the time it is nothing but intellectual head-knowledge! There is no corresponding change of life, no conformity to the holy standards of God’s Word.
We must turn away from such worldly false churches as much as from one which is full of false doctrine (2 Tim. 3:1-5; 1 Cor. 5:11). Those who call themselves Christian brethren, or whom others call brethren, but who are living unholy lives, must be separated from. They must be avoided, for they are hypocrites who profess one thing with their mouths, but live opposite to what they profess.
It is not enough that men have sound doctrine. They must also live holy, separated lives. Sound doctrine, when truly held in a regenerate heart, will result in a holy, separated life unto the Lord. And where we do not see this, we must turn away from such lifeless professing “churches”, where Christ is worshipped with the mouth but not with the life.
The Christian’s duty is plain from the Scriptures. Yes, it is often a lonely walk. It was lonely for Noah; for Abraham; for Moses; for Elijah; and it has been (and still is) for many of the Lord’s saints. Let men call us names, say that we are isolationists, etc. – we must remain obedient to our Lord, and separate from the camp of professing Israel, which hates the truth and hates the people of God, for it hates the very Son of God it claims to worship.
In the midst of our cities and towns full of “churches”, we must remain separate from all the false ones – and in our day this means the vast majority of them – and fellowship only with the true saints of God, who meet in biblical assemblies. We must pray for one another, support one another, love one another; but from the rest we must come out from among them – from the mass of worldlings who claim to be Christians, yet whose hearts are far from the Lord; and be separate. Touch not the unclean thing.
Shaun Willcock is a minister, author and researcher. He runs Bible Based Ministries. This pamphlet was first published in 2020. For other pamphlets (which may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, audio messages, articles, etc., please visit the Bible Based Ministries website; or write to the address below. If you would like to be on Bible Based Ministries’ email list, please send your details.
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