Volume. XXV, No. 30
Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Practice of Ecclesiastical Separation - Part 1

(Preacher Mark Chen, of Life B-P Church, Singappore, is the author of this article. The content of this article is applicable to Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church, Adelaide)

Life Bible-Presbyterian Church is historically a Fundamentalist church. And as such, it is a separatist church. We practice ecclesiastical separation.

This means that, as a church (ecclesia), we have no fellowship or cooperation with other religions, churches and organisations that deny the Gospel of Christ.  It also means that, as a church, we have no fellowship or cooperation with churches and Christian organizations that are disobedient to the commands of God.

Although the practice of ecclesiastic separation is good and right, there have been many excesses. Some of these excesses have caricatured ecclesiastical separation into something that Scripture never commends, but rather, something that Scripture condemns.

This article aims to examine the practice of ecclesiastical separation by briefly defining and defending it.  It also aims to examine the corruption of this practice and to offer a remedy, so that this biblical practice might be adhered to and obeyed in Life Bible-Presbyterian Church until the Lord comes.

Ecclesiastical Separation Defined and Defended

God commands us to separate from unbelief

Ecclesiastical separation is based on the command of God.  God commands, “Be ye holy; for I am holy”  (cf. 1 Pet 1:16). And because God is holy, he commands that believers have no spiritual fellowship with unbelievers.

2 Corinthians 6:14-17 commands, “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 hath 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.

This does not mean we cannot associate individually with unbelievers, only that there should be no spiritual agreement with them. Ecclesiastically, or on the church-level, this means that there should be no spiritual cooperation or unity with other religions.

This is also the case with churches who call themselves Christian, but oppose the Gospel. Christianity without the Gospel is not Christianity.

1 Timothy 6:3,5b commands, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness…from such withdraw thyself.”

The reason for such ecclesiastical separation is so that the church and the Christian are protected from the corruption of false teaching.  We are told that corruption and impurity spread easily in the body of Christ, and hence needs to be removed.

In 2 Timothy 2:16-17a, the church is exhorted to “shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their words will eat as doth a canker…”  The solution is therefore to remove the cancer. 1 Corinthians 5:6b-7a argues, “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.”

Practically, this means that there can be no cooperation with Liberalism, Romanism, Mormonism, etc.

Since separation requires discernment and judgment, it must necessarily include identifying those from whom the church should separate.  Romans 6:17 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

God commands us to separate from disobedient Christians

God also commands us to separate from disobedient Christians. This practice is commonly called “second-degree separation.”  It is thus called not because it is secondary in importance, but simply because it distinguishes it from the former.

2 Thessalonians 3:6,14 gives these instructions – “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…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.

Ecclesiastical separation from these erring brothers serves to discipline them.  According to 2 Thessalonians 3:14, it is so that they might be ashamed.  This speaks of repentance and turning back to right and Godly behavior.

The purpose of such ecclesiastical separation is not punitive but restorative.  The aim is not to punish the believer perpetually; the aim is chastisement so that through this chastisement, the believer would return.  Practically, this means we are to graciously but firmly decline ecclesiastical fellowship with those who are disobedient.

The Westminster Confession of Faith teaches that “Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offences, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honour of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord\'s Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of he person.”  (WCF XXX:3,4).

Now, if separation from unbelievers and from false believers is commanded by God, then those who decline to obey this commandment are disobedient.  There are those who would not separate themselves from, but have spiritual fellowship and cooperation with those who would deny the Gospel.  These brethren have clearly disobeyed the Lord. “Second-degree separation” also includes separation from these brethren.

(…..to be continued)


Letter From Bro Christanto & Sis Jenny Budiman

Dear Hopefuls,

It has been almost 6 years since I first joined the Sunday Worship Service in Hope Church. I arrived in early April 2005, while Jenni and Daniel arrived later in the following July. Since then, we have felt the warmth of the fellowship with brothers and sisters of this church and the edification through the faithful teachings from the scriptures both from the pulpit and the fellowship groups.

It is now time for us to move on to another chapter of our lives. Next Wednesday, 12-Jan, we will be flying off to Perth to start our new lives. We would have loved to stay in Adelaide, however, God\'s way is not always the same as our thoughts. Due to changes in my workplace, I had to make a decision whether to accept redundancy or to relocate. Before making the decision to accept the offer to relocate to Perth, we have pondered and prayed about other alternatives, however it seemed that this is the option that God has shown to us.      

Due to my move to Perth, I would also like to tender my resignation as deacon in Hope Church. I have always felt blessed and honoured to be allowed to serve in the Session. However, during the short duration of my service, I feel that I haven\'t been able to contribute enough for this church. I would also like to offer my sincere apology should I have made any mistakes during the course of my service as deacon. Nevertheless, I have confidence in the future of this church. After all, this church is Christ\'s body and it is not dependent upon who serves in the ministry. Different pastors and session members may come and go, but God is the one who gives the growth.

I would also like to take this opportunity to bestow my gratitude to the Hopefuls for all the support and care during our stay in Adelaide. Special thanks to Pastor and Mrs. Ki, who have been like our own relatives, while when we came to Adelaide as strangers, and also for their guidance and advice in the times we needed them. Special thanks also to Pastor Weng and fellow session members who have been very supportive during my term as session member.

I wish that Hope Church grows stronger in faith in the years to come, and becomes channel of blessings to others and more vigilant to protect our families against the corrupt ways of this world which is becoming more intense in the recent years.

May God bless you all and keep you.

Chris, Jenni, Daniel, Ruth.


More Lively Hope



*Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Bro Daniel Volvricht. Next Lord’s Day: Team Leader: Bro Raymond Ang.
*Hope Bookstore - open 12:30 - 1:30pm. Books & cards are for sale.
*New address for Ps Weng: Unit 7/80 Wattle St, Fullarton. Phone number same as church number.
*Daily Manna for Jan - Mar QTR available - please help yourself to a copy.
*Batam Missions ends today.
*2011 Family Bible Camp Committee: Volunteers required to serve in this committee. No experience required. If able to serve God in this committee, please meet in extended Sanctuary after service.
*Bro Christanto Budiman has resigned from Church Session, effective 16 Jan 2011. Session thanks him & family for their contribution to Hope BPC.
*New Clerk of Session: Dn Colin Gan; Church Treasurer: Dn David Yeo.
*Next Lord’s Day fellowship lunch is catered. $5 per person. Under 5 years old FREE.
Looking Ahead
*YAF Adelaide Uni O-Week - 21 & 24 Feb.
*YAF Welcome Dinner, Fri, 25 Feb at 6:30 pm.
*Easter Family Bible Camp, 22-25 April.
Praise & Thanksgiving
1. Journey mercies: Ps Weng, Dn David Yeo, Bros Phil Surman, Jonathan Yeo & Sis Clara Sim (S’pore/Batam); Bro John Wong & Sis Josephine Wong & Stephen (Melb); Bros Daniel Ki, Jason Teng (Adl), Tevi (NZ/Adl) & Daniel Volvricht (Melb/Adl); Sis Sheila Chalil (Bangalore); & others who have arrived safely at their destinations.
2. Batam Missions - God’s guidance & protection
3. Church activities - over the past week.
4. Interstate floods receding.
5. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings
Prayer Items
1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow; Rev George van Buuren; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Colin Creaser; Elton Law, & Len Pearson; Mr Swee Liang Ng; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Lydia Fan, Myung Ki, Choon Fong Lee (KL), Nan van Buuren; Gillian Ong, Lehia Paauwe, Margaret Pearson, Julie Tan, Irena Kurek-Braden; & others in affliction.
2. Hospital - Sis Susan Varadi in RAH, Ward Q8.
3. Cambodia Missions - Preacher Zhang & Ministry, Rev Moses Hahn & Ministry (Sihanoukville).
4. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry (Vientiane).
5. Batam Missions - for people to come to Christ.
6. iSketch&Tell Studio - Pr H S Lim & ministry.
7. IBPFM (USA) - Rev K Coleman, Board & Missionaries around the world.
8. Ministry in London - Ps & Sis Ki.
9. Presbyterian Missionary Union - Missionaries.
10. Ps & Sis Weng - ministry in Hope BPC.
11. Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
12. Journey mercies: Ps Weng; Dn David Yeo; Bros Phil Surman & Jonathan Yeo; & Sis Clara Sim (S’pore/Adl); Bro Leonard & Sis Margaret Pearson (SA); Bro Aaron & Sis Monica Tan & family (Melb/Adl); Bros Samuel Ki (Adl) & Jason Teng; Sisters Catherine & Sally Teng (M’sia) & Serene Wong (Adl) & all those who are travelling.
13. Job - Sisters Judy Li & Corinne Teng. Jobs for our uni graduates this year.
14. Good health in pregnancy & labour - Sis Myra Horenung (Mindanao).
15. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
16. God’s comfort - Those still in grief.
17. Bro Christanto & Sis Jenni Budiman & family in Perth; Bro John & Sis Josephine Wong & family in Melbourne.
18. Floods in Queensland, Northern NSW & Victoria - Comfort for those affected by the floods; & volunteers. People to repent and turn to Christ.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041