Volume. XXIV, No. 9
Sunday, 30 August 2009

What is Biblical Separation?

Just a few weeks ago, our young people asked me a question: Can we work with others who have different doctrines in order to support some similar ideas?The following was my reply with revisions and additional comments:

This question touches at the core of the doctrine of Biblical Separation. As Bible-Presbyterians, we believe that the Bible teaches both primary (or personal), and secondary (or Ecclesiastical) separation. As for primary separation, it is practiced by most Christians, even by members of many, if not most, ecumenical churches for primary separation (or personal separation) has to do with separation from sins and immorality (1 Pet 1:15,16; Eph 4; Col 3). The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in the United States is considered a neo-evangelical body to us (fundamental Christians) because of her association with Billy Graham and other churches that involved in the ecumenical movement and her endorsement of the social gospel. Interestingly however, SBC is considered a fundamental Christian group in the United States by the secular mainstream media because of her stand against moral and ethical issues such as homosexuality and frivolous abortion, though not every church which comes under the umbrella of SBC stands on the same platform. Nonetheless, the secondary separation (or ecclesiastical separation) is what SBC and many main line Christian denominations in the United States, Australia and across the world fail to practice, which has also caused much debates and contentions, even among Bible-Presbyterian churches and conservative Bible-believing Christians.

Secondary separation or Ecclesiastical separation has to do with separation from apostate churches which we believe is taught both explicitly and implicitly in the Bible. The Apostle Paul clearly commands in 2 Thess 3:6, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. Also in 2 Thess 3:14, the Apostle Paul says, “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.Bear in mind that the secondary separation is a separation from apostate Churches and disobedient Christian, not from every non-Christian in the world. Thus, the Apostle Paul in 1Cor 5:9-11 explains, “9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

In view of the above passages, it is clear that secondary Separation teaches that believers are not to join or help an apostate church or organization (eg. an Ecumenical church or organization), or if in one, they are to come out of it (2 Thess 3:6,14). This also implies that faithful churches and organizations should not join nor remain in denominations or groups that are not true to the Christ of the Bible and His teachings, nor will they assist them. This is one main reason why we do not encourage our young people to join any ecumenical organisation or group in Universities (i.e. bear in mind most ecumenical organisations would not mind cooperating with Catholics or even many Christian cults). The Bible clearly challenges us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) and “always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”. Therefore, in principle this means that we do not take those that are known to be outside of Christ into our churches as members (this does not mean we do not welcome them to our church), and that we also ourselves depart from and come out of churches and organisations that are apostate (heretical or unbelieving, or churches which advocate or participate in that which is contrary to Scriptural teaching or compromise the gospel truth) or that have gone ecumenical. Bear in mind that the ecumenical movement paves the way for the coming of the Antichrist and born again Christians should not have anything to do with it as the Scripture warns.

What are the purposes, motive and goal behind the practice of secondary separation? First, it is commanded in the Scripture. The Word of God commands God’s people to separate from disobedient brethren (1 Cor 5:9-13; 2 Thess 3:6) or to come out of them (2 Cor 6:14-7:1), to mark those who are disobedient (2 Thess 3:14) with love (2 Thess 3:15) and contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3) and come out of them (Rev 18:4). Second, it gives a testimony to both those within and without the Church (1 Thess 1:6-8; Gal 5:9). However, cooperating with apostate churches will inevitably lead to bad apostasy and negative testimonies (1 Cor 5:6).  Third, it is part of the biblical instrumentality to call erring ones to repentance (1 Cor 5:5; 2 Thess 3:14; Jas 5:19). Fourth, it provides a lifeline for those within an erring body to “come out from among them” (2 Cor 6:17).  The motive behind practicing separation, whether primary or secondary, should be of love for God and for His people (2 Thess 3:14; Jas 5:19), and not out of a contentious spirit or carnal pride (1 Cor 1:10-12). The goal for practicing biblical separation, either primary or secondary, is for the glory of God (Rom 11:36), and God’s people glorify God when they obey His commandment according to His revealed will, including in the matter of separation from apostate groups.

Some may argue and say, “Isn’t God’s plan for us is to go out and evangelize to everyone?” To this I answer, “Yes, but not at the expense of disobeying His primary calling to us — be holy [ie. the word “holy” means to separate] (1 Pet 1:15-16).” God’s plan for His people is separation and never infiltration. Back in the Old Testament time, Jehovah God never condoned or approved the South Kingdom to cooperate or join hands (just like fundamental churches joining hand with ecumenical or apostate groups today) with the apostate Northern Kingdom. The best biblical illustration given to us is the example of “cooperation” between king Jehoshaphat of the South and king Ahab in the North. God was obviously not pleased with king Jehoshaphat joining forces with “the ungodly man,” namely Ahab. 2 Chron 19:2 says, And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.” This should warn us against cooperating with or helping any apostate church or organisation, even if we appraise it to be for a “good cause”.

Nevertheless, if you are talking about cooperating with or helping another conservative and Bible believing church, even of different denominations (eg. Baptist, Brethren, Presbyterian, Reformed, Methodist), there should not be a problem to cooperate with them as long as they also practice primary and secondary separation and hold on to the basic tenets of faith (ie. Virgin Birth of Christ, Deity of Christ, Man’s original sin, salvation by grace through faith alone, infallibility and supreme authority of the Scripture, Death and Resurrection of Christ, Second Coming [physical return] of Christ and literal existence of Heaven and Hell). All glory be unto the Lord and may God help us.            

Ps Weng

More Lively Hope




Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Sis Tabitha Heah

Farewell Gathering for Ps & Sis Ki on Sat, 19 Sept, at 4:30 pm, followed by catered dinner at 6:30 pm.

Bro Lucas Yiew joins the Lively Hope/Administrative Committee.

No Fellowship Lunch today. Only “Coffee & Cookies”.


Looking Ahead

Christmas Concert: Sat, 5 Dec 2009


Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Ps & Sis Ki (S Korea); Bro Raphael & Sis Bernadette Ng (Adl); Bro Joseph Selvanayagam (Barcelona); Sis Iris Surman (NZ) & all others who arrived safely at their destinations.

Church activities: BBK Class; Reformed H&A Class; Choir Practice/Rehearsals; Sunday School Teachers’ Training; Ladies Fellowship Share & Prayer; BSAG Prayer Meeting & Bible Study; YAF Bible Study; & Working Bees.

Ministry of Ps & Sis Ki in New Life BPC, London.

Ministry of Bro Max Opaskiatikul in MV Doulos.

Daily mercies, protection, and guidance

God’s guidance at ACM yesterday evening.


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Stephen Khoo, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi, Elton Law, Alan Marion, Len & Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, Fred Volvricht & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Swee Liang Ng, Mr Yeom; Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Nita Chong, Annie D’Mello, Myung Ki, Choon Fong Lee (KL); Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Sally Teng, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; Mrs Win Hooper; & others in affliction.

Missions - Cambodia (Rev Stephen Choi & ministry- Phnom Penh & Kandal Province); Hopefuls in S’pore; Teo family (Kuching).

Special Prayer: Bro Surish Dharmalingam - family & ministry in Vientiane (Laos) & Siem Pang (Cambodia).

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

IBPFM (USA) - For missionaries & funds

Pastor Weng & family & ministry

Journey mercies: Ps Ki & Sis Myung Ki; Bro Joseph Selvanayagam; Sisters Sum Chai & Iris Surman (Adl); families, relatives & invited guests for wedding; & others travelling.

Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Marion Chan, Tabitha Heah, Judy Li & Corinne Teng

God’s comfort, strength, guidance & care: Sisters Kathleen Creaser & Margaret Hooper.

Australian B-P Churches - for unity of doctrine & fellowship

Sunday School Teachers’ Training Course – for course attendants.

Bro Jason Tan & Sis Tabitha Heah - wedding preparations & their wedding on Sat, 12 Sept.

Sis Mag Yu - encouragement & guidance with work (Shanghai)



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