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Mailing Address: 1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, Singapore 308899
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.truelifebpc.org.sg
(Ring Pastor Jeffrey Khoo 62561189 Anytime)
|“The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep SILENCE before him.”|
In missions and evangelism, it is biblical to serve together with others. Jesus for example sent out His disciples to do the work of the gospel not alone but in pairs (Mark 6:7). Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” Companionship and cooperation in ministry should be promoted and practised.
However, does that mean we should work with anyone and everyone simply because he calls himself a Christian or names the name of Christ? Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt 10:16). Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matt 7:15). It does us no good to be naïve or gullible. We need to be discerning.
So, how do we go about deciding on whom to cooperate or work with as we seek to fulfil the Great Commission of Jesus Christ (Matt 28:19–20)? The Lord gave us these three principles to help us make the right decision:
Not Against Is For
Principle #1: Cooperate with those who are fundamental in the faith as contained in the Holy Scriptures, who are gospel-preaching, Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, and Bible defending.
“And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” (Luke 9:49–50).
There are Christians from other churches or denominations, and though they may not be of the same church or denomination as us (“he followeth not with us”), but are doing God’s work in God’s way according to God’s Word unto God’s glory—“in thy name”, we should not prevent them but rather promote them—“for he that is not against us is for us.” They are friends not foes. The reference point for cooperation is never man—his likes or dislikes, his whims and fancies—but God, His Word and His glory. This keeps us from elitism, factionism, and isolationism.
The Apostle Paul practised this principle. In Philippians 1:15–18, he testified, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” As far as Paul was concerned, regardless of personal motives (whether good or bad), as long as Christ (ie the Truth) is preached, he is happy. He is happy the gospel truth is spreading without hindrance. Although some may preach the gospel with an ulterior motive or with ill will, he is not bothered. God will be the judge of that (1 Cor 4:5).
It goes without saying that if another gospel was preached or if false doctrines were taught, Paul would have been quick to expose and condemn the false preachers and their teachings as he did in Galatians 1:7–9, “but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Christianity has many denominations—Anglican, Baptist, Brethren, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Independent etc—and they may differ with us Bible-Presbyterians in their method of church government, or mode of water baptism, or view of the rapture and the like—but if they are true to the gospel, biblical in the faith, fundamental in the doctrine, defenders of the historic Protestant faith, biblical separatists (against liberalism, ecumenism, neo-evangelicalism, charismatism, worldliness etc), and not against us in our Bible-Presbyterianism, we can cooperate with them in the work of building God’s kingdom—“for he that is not against us is for us”. We as Bible-Presbyterians put to practice this good principle. In a cooperative spirit, we have given financial and material support to churches from other denominations to build their church buildings, providing support even for their Bible schools—all this only for the extension of God’s kingdom and for God’s glory.
Nevertheless, let us be aware that there are those who say they do evangelistic work “in the name of Jesus” but are denounced by our Lord Jesus Himself, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt 7:22–23). Simply mouthing the name of Jesus means nothing. We should not cooperate with those who simply pay lip service to Jesus. As such, the following principles of non-cooperation apply.
Not With Is Against
Principle #2: Do not cooperate with those who oppose, or who seem to be for but are actually against the fundamentals of the faith or any of the fundamentals as contained in the Holy Scriptures.
“He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” (Luke 11:23). Here, Jesus spoke of his theological enemies—the scribes and Pharisees—who accused him of being possessed by an unclean spirit and doing God’s work by the power of the devil (Luke 11:15, cf Mark 3:22). These religious teachers knew the truth that Jesus by His powerful words and works was truly from God and of God; yet they falsely and maliciously accuse Him of heresy and evil. They hated Him and His doctrine and did all they could to destroy Him and prevent people from hearing His truth. We must have nothing to do with such people, and they will amount to nothing. Those who “gathereth not with me scattereth”. This is biblical separation and excommunication—we warn against them and leave them to their own deception and destruction.
Jesus had already warned of false Christs and false prophets who will proliferate in the last days. Three times in Matthew 24 He warned, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (vv4-5), “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (v11), “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (v24). Many who appear to be Christian may not be Christian at all, even those who come “in the name of Christ”, who preach the “gospel”, teach the “Bible”, and even perform “miracles”. In Matthew 7:21–23, Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
On one occasion, there was someone who appeared to be supportive of Paul and his gospel, but was actually working for the devil. This incident is told in Acts 16:16–18 when a girl, possessed with an evil spirit, who worked as a fortune teller, followed Paul, “And cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.” There may be those who look to be gospel-promoting but are subtly subversive, trying to mislead, confuse, and deceive. For this reason, we should reject any cooperation with unbelievers and false teachers even though they may appear to be supportive of the gospel or the work that we do. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2 Cor 11:13–14).
There are ignorant and undiscerning Christians today—they may even be church leaders—whose only criterion for fellowship and cooperation is merely the “gospel” or “evangelism”. Such naivety finds no encouragement in Scripture for it raises the question: What kind of gospel? We must also ask: Is it evangelism that will lead to biblical and truthful indoctrination? The Christian faith is not just John 3:16, but the whole Bible (all 66 books, every book, chapter, verse, word, syllable, letter). “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4).
Know that the Great Commission is a teaching commission (Matt 28:19–20): (1) “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (ie evangelism), and (2) “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (ie indoctrination). Evangelism and indoctrination are inseparable links in missions and ministry. It is disastrous to evangelise someone and then release him to be indoctrinated by false teachers. If we preach the gospel and do not teach the truth, we are no better than the scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus denounced, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” (Matt 23:15). Paul himself said he is “pure from the blood of all men” for in “preaching the kingdom of God,… I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26, 27, 29).
That was why in the past, our founding pastor—the Rev Dr Timothy Tow—refused to cooperate with Billy Graham. The gospel might have been preached, but Graham made no effort to ensure that all who professed faith in his crusades were channelled to Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, and Bible-defending churches. Instead, he cooperated with liberals and modernists who deny the fundamentals of the faith, Roman Catholics who preach another gospel, neo-evangelicals who reject the total inerrancy of Scripture, charismatics who peddle counterfeit miracles, and released his converts to them. Know that Graham as a neo-evangelical was friendly to liberals and modernists who oppose biblical inerrancy and the fundamentals of the faith. As Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me”. JA Johnson rightly called Graham “the Jehoshaphat of our generation”. Jehu’s rebuke of Jehoshaphat applies equally to Graham, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.” (2 Chron 19:2). We refuse cooperation with neo-evangelicals (2 Thess 3:6). JK
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