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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Free Presbyterian Position on Ecclesiastical Separation

Statement from the Free Presbyterian Church in Ulster General Presbytery
This statement has been published and distributed to Free Presbyterian congregations

Our Stand on Separation
The Scriptures lay before Christ’s Church the will of God pertaining to the doctrine of separation. With regard to this doctrine the following points are made clear in God’s Word. (It is important to underline that the points outlined below that present the Biblical teaching on separation, constitute a summary of what the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster has stated, believed and preached during its entire history).

1. The holiness of God is the undeniable root of separation at both a personal and an ecclesiastical level. God’s holiness is the essence of His very being, thus He is “glorious in holiness”, (Exodus 15: 11); and He is transcendently holy, so that “There is none holy as the Lord”, (1 Samuel 2: 2).

2. On the basis of His own holiness the Lord commands His people to be holy, “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy”, (Leviticus 19: 2), (1 Peter 1: 16).

3. God’s eternal purpose for His people is to make them a holy people by conforming them to the image of Christ, “For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son...” (Romans 8: 29); and “This is the will of God, even your sanctification”, (1 Thess 4: 3).

4. Consequently, in keeping with this His eternal purpose, God’s saving work in His people is essentially to separate them unto Himself to be a holy people, “Unto...them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints”, (1 Corinthians 1: 2). The essential and basic sense of the verb to sanctify is to set apart or to separate, whether in the Old or New Testaments. In this text as in other Scriptures the word sanctified is used in a broad sense with reference to our salvation as a whole. Thus, when God saves a sinner, He separates that person from the rest of fallen humanity. The words of Solomon in his prayer at the dedication of the Temple are a most succinct statement of the divine purpose of God in salvation, “For Thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth to be thine inheritance”, (1 Kings 8: 53).

5. Therefore, in keeping with God’s eternal purpose, Christ’s redemptive work for His people was to sanctify them or separate them, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ”, (Hebrews 10: 10); (see also Ephesians 5: 25-27). Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit is of the same nature, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit”, (1 Peter 1: 2).

6. On the basis of this clear Biblical teaching it is the responsibility of Christ’s Church to preserve the highest possible standards of purity in both doctrine and practice, “holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, forever”, (Psalm 93: 5).

7. Therefore, in matters ecclesiastical, particular churches – such as the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster – are called by God to separate themselves unto Christ and thus for the glory of Christ, (see Hebrews 13: 13). This is a key issue – we are separatists for Christ’s glory, not just for the sake of being separated from other churches, organisations or individuals.

8. Moreover, God’s call to separate is also for the purpose of preserving the purity of the gospel. Scripture shows that unholy alliances with deniers of the gospel will lead to corruption of truth, (1 Cor 15: 33, Gal 5: 9). Therefore, on this basis of desiring to preserve the purity of the gospel Biblical separation cannot be viewed as being schismatic, as has been alleged against separatists. The word schism in the New Testament literally denotes a rent, or cleft, and is the sin of rending the body of Christ through a failure to care for the members of that body, (1 Cor 12: 25). In nature schism is the sin of introducing self-centred division in a church situation where there ought to be mutual love and tolerance. But this is not the nature of Biblical separation with its desire to preserve the purity of the gospel by separating from professing churches in which Christ and His finished work are denied.

9. Thus, God’s call to separate means that a particular church is to separate from all participation or co-operation in worship or ministry with churches, organisations or individuals that have apostasised through denial of the fundamental truths of the Christian faith, (see 2 Cor 6: 14-18, Eph 5: 11, 1 Tim 6: 3-5).

10. They are also called to separate from brethren who maintain fellowship with those who deny the faith, (2 Thess 3: 6, 14-15); to repudiate unscriptural ecumenism and ecumenical evangelism; and to refuse to compromise any essential truth of the gospel in an effort to pursue and gain visible church union with degenerate churches, (see Prov 23: 23, Amos 3: 3, 2 John 9-11).

11. In the light of this Biblical teaching on the Doctrine of Separation, this Commission recommends the following:

(a) that in a time of deepening apostasy from the faith and an increasing unscriptural ecumenical agenda, the Presbytery publicly reaffirms that the historic separatist stand of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster is according to the Scriptures, (2 Cor 6: 14-18); and that this Presbytery repudiates any association with the World Council of Churches or with any national or local arm of this body as well as any association with the Charismatic/Pentecostal delusion; and calls on God’s people to separate from these unscriptural bodies and movements.

(b) that Presbytery requires all ministers and sessions to uphold and maintain this separatist position in the public ministry of each local Free Presbyterian congregation through expounding the Scripture on the Doctrine of Separation and by ensuring that this separatist position is upheld by the communicant membership; and to recognise that this requirement is in obedience to Scripture and is in keeping with the particular Presbytery ordination vow that reads and is subscribed by every minister and elder – “I vow to maintain the truly scriptural separatist position of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster...

(c) this Presbytery rules that no Free Presbyterian minister, elder and communicant member should be in attendance at religious services sponsored and promoted by ecumenists whose agenda is to promote the goal of the false ecumenical movement; namely the further establishment of ‘the one-world church’.

(d) that, believing the Church of Rome to be the apostate system of antichristianity under the headship of the Pope within the visible church (WCF ch.25 Section 6), and therefore believing that, on the basis of their blasphemous doctrines no member of the Roman Catholic clergy can be recognised as a minister of the New Testament, this Presbytery requires that no Free Presbyterian minister, elder or communicant member should ever be in attendance at the Mass and must also exercise due diligence so as not to become entangled with, participate in or attend any service of worship in which any member of the Roman Catholic clergy or orders is taking part;

(e) that members of the Free Presbyterian Church who, because of public office, are invited to attend civic services should enquire beforehand as to the format of and participants in such services, and should not attend those civic services that are billed as ecumenical/cross-community services, thereby ensuring that they will not be perceived to compromise the separatist position of this denomination;

(f) where there is an alleged breach of the separatist position of the Free Presbyterian Church on the part of any minister the Presbytery will appoint an investigative/judicial Commission to deal with the case; and the allegation of such a breach by an elder or communicant member will be investigated by the local session; and according to the findings of each body appropriate discipline will be administered;

(g) that, in keeping with our former practice, liberty of conscience should be granted to ministers with respect to participation with ministers of other Protestant denominations at funerals and weddings.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi just a quick question on point "10. They are also called to separate from brethren who maintain fellowship with those who deny the faith,"
does this mean we are to separate from people such as answers in genesis, creation ministries, cef etc?

Rev Brian McClung said...

Anonymous [ A name would help!!]

I don't speak on behalf of the Presbytery and therefore anything I say is in a personal capacity.

I certainly don't see how AIG or CMI would fit into the definition in point 10. I personally don't associate with CEF for the very reason outlined in Point 10.

Brian McClung

Martin Hysek from Czech Free Presbyterian Mission said...

I don't know whether it is stupid question or not, but does this mean that Free Church explicitly separated from dr. Joel Beeke or not?

The statement itself is nice and good, but I am still not entirely sure if the Presbytery stated plainly and clearly, that dr. Beeke's fellowships qualifies him to be separated from. Maybe it's my mistake and stupidity, that I can't read and understand a clear message, but I'd rather be absolutely sure.

Thank you for answer, dear brother in Christ.

Rev Brian McClung said...

Martin

The statement sets down the teaching of God's Word upon the issue of Separation and the principles that flow from that teaching. The statement itself doesn't deal with any one instance or individual. Not was not the purpose of the statement.

My personal opinion is that Joel Beeke ought indeed to be separated from if he continues on his present course.

Brian McClung

Rev Brian McClung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev Brian McClung said...

To all who leave Anonymous comments

Please observe the terms upon which comments will be posted on the front page of this Blog.

Brian McClung

William Sproule said...

Should Free Presbyterians seperate themselves from those within the church who have already went against these principles?
What actions have already been taken against those in "public office" who have been/are part of cross-community/ecumenical initiatives?

Rev Brian McClung said...

William

Free Presbyterians should obey the Scriptures in all things. Those who persist in a course of action contrary to the Bible's/Church's position on any distinctive, and show no willingness to change, should be put from among us rather than us separating from them. The principle of Titus 3:10 would suggest that repeated 'admonishment' is required first before that type of action you are envisaging is considered. There is a precise sequence of action outlined in the Scriptures that is to be followed. I have outlined that previously on this Blog.

As this is a personal blog and I don't speak on behalf of the denomination I am not able nor willing to break confidence about what was done as to your second question.

Brian McClung

Anonymous said...

I understand the points made in your original post at the top. However, I am very concerned as a Christian that we should not become Sectarian, and Separated from the One Body, because that is not a Biblical thought.

The Bible teaches that Christians are to accept one another as Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Romans 15 teaches -

5 Now the God of endurance and of encouragement give to you to be like-minded one toward another, according to Christ Jesus; 6 that ye may with one accord, with one mouth, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, according as the Christ also has received you to [the] glory of God.

The Bible teaches that we are to bear with one another understanding each others weakness or strength in the Faith, Romans 14 teaches –

1 Now him that is weak in the faith receive, not to [the] determining of questions of reasoning. 2 One man is assured that he may eat all things; but the weak eats herbs. 3 Let not him that eats make little of him that eats not; and let not him that eats not judge him that eats: for God has received him.

I fully accept that we are to expose false teaching and maintain the faith once delivered to all the saints as per Jude 1

3 Beloved, using all diligence to write to you of our common salvation, I have been obliged to write to you exhorting [you] to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.

However, this should not be at the expense of breaking up the Body of Christ, even further than it already is by declaring that all other churches are wrong and only “we” are right. To do so falls into the trap of pure sectarianism, something which the Apostle Paul warns about in 1 Corinthians 1

10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all say the same thing, and that there be not among you divisions; but that ye be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same opinion. 11 For it has been shewn to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of [the house of] Chloe, that there are strifes among you. 12 But I speak of this, that each of you says, *I* am of Paul, and *I* of Apollos, and *I* of Cephas, and *I* of Christ. 13 Is the Christ divided? has Paul been crucified for you? or have ye been baptised unto the name of Paul?

We must never forget we are called into and are a part of the One Body

Eph 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

1Co 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

1Co 10:17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

1 Cor 12 v12 For even as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also [is] the Christ.

1 Cor 12 v14 For also the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot say, Because I am not a hand I am not of the body, is it on account of this not indeed of the body?

1 Cor 12 v16 And if the ear say, Because I am not an eye I am not of the body, is it on account of this not indeed of the body? 17 If the whole body [were] an eye, where the hearing? if all hearing, where the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them in the body, according as it has pleased [him].

1 Cor 12 v19 But if all were one member, where the body? 20 But now the members [are] many, and the body one. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, I have not need of thee; or again, the head to the feet, I have not need of you.

1 Cor 12 v22 But much rather, the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those [parts] of the body which we esteem to be the more void of honour, these we clothe with more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness;

Dan

Rev Brian McClung said...

Dan

It is important to remember that the body of Christ is not made up of denominational structures. Denominations descend into apostasy and are to be forsaken. This is not breaking up the body of Christ. You are right that having the attitude that you are the only people who are right is sectarian. Practising Biblical separation is not to be equated with saying that everyone else is wrong. Separated churches/denominations are and can fellowship together and often do.

The Christian is not to be taken in by everybody who comes along professing to be Christian. We are to accept those as brothers and sisters in Christ who hold to the doctrine contained in the Bible. We are commanded to: believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world, 1 John 4:1. The devil is busy infiltrating the Church with false professors and teachers, . Having tried the spirits then we are to separate from those who teach and practice that which is contrary to the Scriptures, . This is not being sectarian but being scriptural. There is the express command of God to do so.

The divisions that you refer to in Corinth were divisions that were brought about by carnality and sin. A 'party spirit' had come in among them and instead of following the truth they followed what a particular person said the truth was. Again there is no comparison between this and Biblical separation.

Brian McClung

Anonymous said...

You say this is the original position of FP church, but surely the initial position of FP church was withdrawal from
Irish Presbyterianism, yet this booklet fails to name this, yet names Pentecostalism.
This certainly seems a change on position to me!

Also could you explain separation on a "personal level".

William said...

Based on the above principles, I really can't understand why Orange services are still allowed to be conducted in Free Presbyterian church and there does not seem to be a discrepancy having ministers who are Orange men.

Orangeism is ecumenical.

Rev Brian McClung said...

Anonymous

Your comments will be posted when you give your name. See commenting policy!

Brian McClung