by Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980)
Nine Ecumenical Excuses for Unequal Yokes ...Parable of the Tares: "Leave Them Alone Till Harvest."
2. "But Love the Modernists as Christian Brothers."
3. The Great Success of the Compromise Proves God Is for It.
4. "Fundamentalists Are Jealous, Envious Pharisees."
5. "Touch Not Mine Anointed."
6. Gamaliel's Advice, "If Not of God, It Will Come to Nought."
7. "Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged."
8. "The Holy Spirit Will Take Care of the Converts When They Are Sent to Modernistic Churches."
9. "Sinners Will Be Turned Away From Christ by Christians' Disagreeing."
This will be a Bible message expounding Scriptures. So the proper thing for an honest Christian to do is to read carefully and critically, see if the Scriptures are quoted correctly, see if they are explained honestly.
There is a group of Christians in America who call themselves "New Evangelicals." Dr. Harold Ockenga of Boston says he coined the term. Christian Life magazine, Christian Today, Fuller Seminary and Dr. Billy Graham are, we suppose, the principal exponents of the "New Evangelicalism."
The term means that they have invented a new kind of evangelicalism which is not so offensive to the enemies of Christ and the Bible, and so they hope to avoid much of the reproach which came to old-time fundamentalists or old-time evangelicals as they defended the historic Christian faith. The New Evangelicals are for Bible believers' staying in the denominations controlled by modernists, joining in ministerial associations on an equal with those who deny the faith and with Catholics and with false cults, and uniting with modernists and neo-orthodox people and false cults in revival campaigns, etc.
Now the Bible has many clear statements forbidding Christians' having spiritual fellowship or ties with unconverted people.
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." - Ps. 1:1.
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." - Eph. 5:11.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hat Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." - 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18.
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." - II John 9-11.
So what do our "New Evangelical" friends do? they take other Scriptures and try to cancel out these plain commands of God! They attack the character and motives of anybody who defends the faith and opposes modernistic unbelief and yoking up with unbelievers! They try to show that God is blessing their compromise so much that we must have misunderstood the Scriptures!
Here we will try to mention the principal excuses made by these ecumenical friends for disobeying the command of God in yoking up with unbelievers in local churches, in denominations, in ministerial associations, in revival campaigns, and in Christian magazines, speaking in the Chicago Sunday Evening Club, writing in the Christian Century, etc.
Dr. Billy Graham in the Baptist Standard of Texas and elsewhere set the pattern by saying that the parable of the tares indicated that Jesus wanted both modernists and fundamentalists to go together in the churches. Many others have copied that false teaching.
Jesus explained the parable of the tares:
"The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels." - Matt. 13:38,39.
And Jesus in telling the parable said that the servants of the man who owned the field said unto him:
"Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." - Matt 13:28-30.
So Dr. Graham and others who fellowship with unbelievers and unconverted churchmen interpret that to mean that Jesus wants both modernists and fundamentalists to grow together in the church, infidels and Christians, and we are to make no protest against modernism.
But notice how Jesus explained the parable. "The field is the world," not the church. We are not to kill modernists and get them out of this world. Leave that to the angels of God. But these "children of the wicked one" are not supposed to be in the churches. Not a single Scripture justifies taking one into a church except on the basis of personal faith in Christ as Saviour according to the historic Christian faith. In Galatians 1:8 and 9 anyone who brings a different Gospel is to be accursed. In II John, verses 9-11, we are plainly forbidden to receive such a person in our houses or pulpits or to bid them Godspeed.
Leave the infidels in the world? Yes. We should not set out to kill them. Leave that to the harvest time. But should we call infidels Christians? Of course not! No honest interpretation of Scripture can make Jesus teach that Christians and infidels are the same and should be bound up together in the same churches.
So Dr. Graham writes in a printed letter widely scattered which he says is "not to be published."
Now let us say frankly that brotherly love is taught throughout the Bible; and that of faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love. But is it honest and right to use love as an excuse for disobeying the plain command of Scriptures? This is an old device of Satan by which he has led many, many people into sin and compromise.
The father who whips his children and makes them mind doesn't love them like he ought! The preacher who preaches on Hell and judgment is simply mean; he doesn't love people as he ought! The death penalty for murder is uncivilized: we are supposed to love the murderers and rapists and turn them loose! So say those who love modernists so much, but not fundamentalists.
And so our "New Evangelicals" reason that we ought to love the modernists, pat them on the back, call on them to lead in prayer, tell them they are good Christians while they spit on the Bible and step on the blood of Christ!
But the Bible has a very clear word about this. "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good" (Rom. 12:9). Why be a hypocrite about love?
What would you think about the sincerity of a man who would insist that he loves his wife just like Christ loved the church, and that he loves a harlot just as much as his wife! What would you think of the sincerity of a man who would solemnly affirm his holy zeal for old-time Americanism, if he would say that he is just as strong from communism?
No, there are some things that are opposite. If you cleave to that which is good, you must abhor that which is evil. Otherwise, love is pretended, with "dissimulation." The man who loves corn hates weeds. In raising cattle in West Texas, the men who loved their cattle hated the screwworms, the ticks, the Texas fever which were enemies of the cattle. A man who is for Heaven is against Hell. A man who is for the Bible is against the enemies of the Bible. The man who is for the historic Christian faith is against infidelity. It is insincere hypocrisy to pretend otherwise.
The Scripture warns, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverb 13:24). Faithful love deals with sin and harm among those we love. With a true surgeon, love will cause him to cut out the cancer which threatens the life of his patient. With the true preacher of the Gospel, love will cause him to warn people against sin. And Jesus said, "The friendship of the world is enmity with God" (Jas. 4:4).
The kind of love that causes people to ignore the plain commands of Jesus Christ on separation from unbelievers is a fake kind of love. No good Christian ought ever be guilty of using that kind of an argument to get people to do wrong.
I believe that the right kind of love for the late Bishop Pike, the infidel Episcopal bishop of San Francisco, would have been to solemnly warn him that he needed to be born again, that Christ-rejecters wake up in Hell. He is no true friend of an infidel who pats him on the back, calls him a good Christian, asks him to lead in prayer, says he is all right just as he is, and turns over inquirers to him to ruin their faith. To put love against Christ and His commands and against duty is wrong.
Let us say, first of all, that we thank God for every soul saved under anybody's ministry. Many are saved under the ministry of Oral Roberts, though we think some of his doctrine is wrong and his healing services deceive many, and do harm. But we are glad for every soul he wins to Christ.
I was astonished when one man told me how in a movie theater he saw "The King of Kings" and was converted to Christ by it! I praise God for his conversion, though I am against the commercial Hollywood movies.
When Chuck Templeton worked with the National Council of Churches, he got some people saved before he quit the ministry, divorced his wife and gave up his Christian testimony. I am glad he got some people saved.
Dr. Billy Graham has preached the Gospel to many and we believe many have been saved under his ministry. That does not mean that God is for all the methods he uses, all the quotations he gives from Karl Barth, Elton Trueblood, Reinhold Niebuhr, Albert Schweitzer, and other unbelievers. That does not mean that God favored his friendship and fellowship with Bishop Pike, with Henry Van Dusen, and with other people who do not believe the Bible and who are against the historic Christian faith.
However, I rejoice that the Gospel is preached and I am glad for every should that is saved. I wish there were many more.
But do the crowds, the popularity, and the "inquirers" (of course, not all of them saved, only a fraction of them claim to be) prove that God is for Dr. Graham's compromise? No. Bigness does not prove the blessing of God.
If so, when the Catholics gather in Soldier's Field, Chicago, by the thousands, that would prove God blesses them more than Protestants. when Jehovah's Witnesses annually overrun Yankee Stadium in New York, that would prove that they are better Christians than Bible believers. The National Council of Churches has more big names and more promotion and publicity than Bible-believing bodies, but that does not prove God has approved them. The Chicago Tribune has a great deal more circulation than THE SWORD OF THE LORD, but I do not believe that proves God is better pleased with The Chicago Tribune than with THE SWORD OF THE LORD.
But if every person who comes forward as an inquirer were saved, that still would not make it right to disobey the plain command of God. Peter preached a great sermon at Pentecost and had three thousand saved and was a great soul winner. Still Paul needed to face him openly and publicly rebuke him for his compromise, as we learn in Galatians 2:11-14. Nobody gets so big and popular and famous that he has a right to disobey the Bible. And nobody is so God-like that any humble Christian does not have a right to call attention to what the Bible says about yoking up with unbelievers.
Suppose we poor fundamentalists admit that we are frail and weak as all other mortals are. Suppose instead of defending ourselves, we leave it to the Lord to defend us in His won way. He knows how I used $10,000 worth of space boosting Dr. Graham and defending him back in the days when Moody Monthly, Sunday School Times and Southern Baptist papers were not for him (neither were the modernists). God knows how fervently I have prayed day after day for many years for Dr. Billy Graham. I prayed for Dr. Charles E. Fuller and now pray still for some others who say that "God has bypassed the fundamentalists" and the fundamentalists are "Pharisees," that we are "envious and jealous" and that we "do not care about people being saved." I leave God to answer that.
God knows how Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., invited Dr. Graham to Bob Jones University and gave him an honorary degree and helped him in every way possible.
But just suppose that all of us fundamentalists are very sorry. Isn't it still right to obey the Bible? Suppose THE SWORD OF THE LORD'S defense of the faith is just because we are Pharisees and hypocrites. Would it still not be right to obey what the Bible commands against yoking up with unbelievers? Would one still not be blessed if he "walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful" as Psalm 1:1 promises? Would a Christian still not be warned against receiving one into his house or bidding him Godspeed who does not abide in the truth about Jesus Christ as given in the Bible? It is an old, old trick of shyster lawyers when they have a poor case to try to discredit the witness who gives the facts.
But when New Evangelicals get everybody to hate fundamentalists and get everybody to agree that all of us fundamentalists are hypocrites and Pharisees and jealous and envious and that we don't love sinners, then God's commands will still be in the Bible that it is wrong to break down the division between saved and lost, wrong to call a goat a sheep, wrong to call an infidel a Christian, wrong to yoke up with unbelievers.
Those who accuse fundamentalists of being Pharisees and jealous and envious often call our attention to Luke 9:49,50 and Mark 9:38 and 39. The latter says,
"And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbade him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me."
And so they hint that we fundamentalists would forbid all the ecumenical evangelists from casting out devils. On the contrary, I do not know a single fundamental man but is glad for drunkards to be converted and infidels to be turned into believers. And I do not know any fundamentalist who ever criticized Billy Graham for getting somebody saved. Certainly I do not. And I would rejoice if he would cast out devils instead of having them sit on the platform and lead in prayer. And I am not being facetious nor playing on words either because in John 8:44 Jesus said to the unconverted religious people, "Ye are of your father the devil." And again He said to them, "Ye do the deeds of your father" (John 8:41).
I have never known of a modernist who got saved by having him on the platform to lead in prayer, by calling him bother, by turning over innocent young inquirers for him to wreck their faith. One doesn't get a drunkard converted by drinking with him, nor get a Christ-rejecting modernist saved by calling him a Christian.
One of the blessed Bible truths is that God takes care of His anointed preachers. So compromisers say that we should never criticize any man whom God uses. Two Scriptures are pertinent. In Psalm 105, verses 14 and 15, God speaks of the time when the children of Israel were in Egypt and He said: "He suffered no man to do them wrong: year, he reproved kings for their sakes; Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm."
Yes, God takes care of His own. He reproved Pharaoh who would have killed Moses and Aaron and so with the kings of Amalek and Midian and kings in Canaan. To these He said, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." Kings ought not to kill God's prophets.
But does that mean now that a prophet is not to be subject to the Scriptures? Certainly not! Does that mean that Paul was wrong to reprove Peter openly when he compromised, as we read in Galatians 2:11-14? Was Paul wrong to say, "Demas hat forsaken me, having loved this present world ... " (II Tim 4:10)? Was he wrong to name Phygellus and Hermogenes as having turned away from him (II Tim. 1:15)? It is not proper to wrest one Scripture to try to make it contradict another Scripture, or to cancel the meaning of one Scripture by misuse of another Scripture.
Again, the term "the Lord's anointed" is used in I Samuel 24:6. David, pursued by Saul, had a chance to kill that king but did not. "And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord."
And again in verses 10 and 11 we read:
"Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the Lord had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the Lord's anointed. Moreover, my father, see, year, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it."
David was right not to kill Saul. That would have been murder. Second, God put Saul in the kingship and only God had a right to take him out.
But David did soundly rebuke King Saul for his sin, as he should have. He said, "For in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it." And then he said, "The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee." So although David would not kill King Saul, he did rebuke his sin. So Christians ought to do today when another Christian sins.
Gamaliel was an unconverted Pharisee. God used him to deliver Peter and John from death. But that wise man said a foolish thing which many Christians quote as gospel truth. He advised the Jewish rulers not to kill Peter and John who had been preaching. He said:
"And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." - Acts 5:38,39.
The Bible only quotes Gamaliel; it does not approve his statement.
So people say that it is none of our business to rebuke sin, to expose modernism. We should leave that to God to attend to. They say if the work be of God, it will grow; if it is not of God, it will fail. But when they quote Gamaliel they are quoting an unsaved man, not what God Himself says.
It is not true that if a work be not of God, "it will come to nought." The Christian Science movement is not of God, but it has not come to nought. The Jehovah's Witnesses movement is not of God, but it has not come to nought. So with Mohammedanism and Romanism and Spiritism. So with the liquor business, so with lewd literature. It is a foolish and unscriptural idea that we are to leave things alone and if there is anything wrong with them, then they will come to nought of themselves.
This idea that the truth should never be defended and a wrong should never be attacked is wholly different from the plain teaching of the Bible.
The Lord Jesus commanded us to "beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15). Young Timothy was commanded, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear" (I Tim. 5:20). Paul was inspired to write Titus about some "vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision ... Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:10,13). And Jude 3 tells us that "Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Some follow Gamaliel, but it would be far better if they would follow the Bible.
Yes, here is a clear statement by the Lord Jesus, and it is important. I have written in detail about this in a chapter in The Ruin of a Christian. Here Jesus says there are certain reasons why we are not to judge others. For one thing, we will be judged with the same judgment. It will be measured to us with the same measure. Jesus says that sometimes we see a mote in the brother's eye when we have a beam or plank in our own eye.
And here it seems clear God is speaking about judgment of the heart and motives of a man. And we are told elsewhere. "For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (I Sam. 16:7). I cannot tell who is saved and who is lost by watching their actions, because I cannot see their hearts. The other apostles thought Judas was a Christian, no doubt, but he was not. On the other hand, some very probably thought that Pere, when he cursed and swore and denied Jesus and quit the ministry, was probably unsaved. As far as judging motives and the state of the heart, we are commanded, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."
However, in the same chapter the Lord tells us that there are some people we can judge because of certain outward fruits. He said, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits ... " (vs. 15,16).
When a man says, or in a book writes, that he does not believe in the virgin birth of Christ, in His deity, His resurrection, His blood atonement, then we know that man is not saved, according to John 8:23,24, and II John, verse 9.
There are certain fruits by which we can know that a man is not saved. Not drunkenness, for Noah and Lot and other Christians have been drunk. Not murder nor adultery, for David and other Christians have been guilty of those sins. But one who does not accept Christ as what He claims to be, cannot trust Him as a Saviour. So when a man's fruit is open antagonism to the Christian faith, rejection of Christ and the Bible, he is not saved. And on this matter of certain outward fruits in doctrine we can judge whether a man is a believer in Christ or a false prophet. And I have a right and duty not only to judge false prophets but to expose them.
But the Scripture also teaches clearly that there are some matters of Christian action which we are to judge by the Bible. In I Corinthians 6:1-3 Paul was inspired to write:
"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?"
And in verse 4 he says that we should "set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church." In verse 5 he says, "Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?"
So on matters of action, right and wrong, where the facts are clear, Christians can and are required to judge. We cannot judge the heart but we can judge actions by the Word of God.
In fact, in the preceding chapter, in speaking about the man who lived in sin with his stepmother, Paul said, "I verily ... have judged already," and told them to expel the offender (I Cor. 5:3-5). And then God inspired Paul to lay down certain rules about fellowship and judging or putting away from our fellowship other Christians (I Cor. 5:11-13).
Was Paul wrong to face Peter openly at Corinth when he was leading Barnabas and others astray by dissimulation, refusing to eat with Gentile converts in order to please the Judaizers (Gal. 2:11-14)? No. Concerning people's hearts, we cannot judge and we should be very careful about our opinions, because we want people to be charitable to us, too, about the matters they cannot know and cannot see in our hearts. But about right and wrong, as clearly commanded in the Bible, we have a right to speak, and we have a right to require in Christian fellowship the very things that God requires.
So no preacher is judging heart or disobeying the Scripture when he obeys the plain command to "preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Tim. 4:2).
People who excuse themselves for running with unbelievers and encouraging other young converts or inquirers to join churches where the pastor does not believe the Bible, the other fundamentals of the faith - I say to excuse themselves, those who are guilty say, "The Holy Spirit will take care of these converts."
Well, does the Holy Spirit lead all the saved people out of the Methodist church with such infidel bishops as the late Oxnam and others?
It is true that the Holy Spirit abides in the body of every truly born-again Christian. But the Holy Spirit does not take the place of a pastor.
Paul went back to the towns where he had preached, "confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith ..." (Acts 14:22).
The council of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem sent a letter telling the Gentile converts that they need not be circumcised to keep the law of Moses. They did not leave that to the Holy Spirit.
In the Great Commission Jesus commanded that the apostles and other Christians were to go and make disciples and baptize them, "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you ... ." They were not to leave this duty to the Holy Spirit.
If the evangelist is to leave out part of his plainly commanded duty and leave that to the Holy Spirit, why not leave the rest of it to the Holy Spirit, too? Paul was a mighty evangelist, but when he came to Miletus and called for the elders of Ephesus, he reminded them "how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you," and again, "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:20,27). Then he told of wolves that would arise among them and said, "Therefore watch ... ." Men are still accountable to teach new converts what God said to teach them. And the blessed work of the Holy Spirit is not any good excuse for disobeying the plain command of God against yoking up with unbelievers.
This is an old, old story. Worldly Christians think you could win more souls if you preach on Heaven but never on Hell; if you preach on faith but never on repentance! They think you can get more people saved if you never whip your children, if you never enforce the law, if you never offend anybody!
On the other hand, all the great soul winners through the centuries - from Savonarola to Wesley, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Moody, Torrey, Billy Sunday, Sam Jones, and Bob Jones, Sr. - have proved that the greatest number of souls have been saved by plain, sharp preaching against sin and by exposure of sin.
It did not keep Spurgeon from winning souls when he opposed the down-grade movement (modernism) so openly and finally left the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland over it!
It did not keep Billy Sunday from winning souls because he fought the liquor traffic, fought worldliness, and modernism.
I heard Gypsy Smith in Dallas turn with flashing eyes and holy indignation upon the preachers on the platform of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, where he was engaged in a city-wide revival and say to them, "You do not believe in the virgin birth of Christ? Hypocrite! Get out of the pulpit!"
Do you think D. L. Moody was kept from winning souls because he would not sit on the same platform with a Unitarian preacher in a temperance meeting?
I suggest that the reader pick out a dozen Christian magazines that never condemn sin, never fight modernism, never name a compromiser, and I will show more letters from lost sinners saved through THE SWORD OF THE LORD ministry than these dozen other magazines which do not oppose sin as we do.
It is shocking that great crowds can attend a so-called revival campaign these days and when it is over, there are just as many crimes, just as much child delinquency, just as many divorces. Infidelity is just as strong as ever before! The revival campaigns of the mighty soul winners of the past really changed things. They cleaned up corrupt governments, shut up saloons, emptied the jails, doubled the attendance at churches, shut the mouth of infidels, dispersed the infidel clubs of Bradlaugh in England and Ingersoll in America!
If you want to win souls, then set out to please Jesus Christ instead of sinners. Even a lost sinner knows that a good Christian ought to stand up for Christ and the Bible.
Let us boil the thing down simply. Whatever the Bible says, we ought to follow it. No one ought ever set one Scripture against another and try to cancel out a plain command of Scripture by a twisted interpretation of another Scripture.
I am convinced we do not need "New Evangelicals," but old evangelicals who stand for the old truth, with old-time fire and old-time convictions.
To follow a man as an idol, right or wrong, is sin, and leads to twisting of Scriptures to excuse the sin.
Copyright: Sword of the Lord
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