When my wife made a stop at the church one day last week, she found an invitation stuck in the door. It announced the “Franklin Graham, Decision America, Pacific Northwest Tour.” Tomorrow night at one of the larger venues in Spokane, Graham, supported by singer Jeremy Camp, is going to preach his Protestant version of the gospel. Surprisingly, I knew nothing about this meeting. Usually, when this sort of thing comes to town I get information a year in advance. I am invited to planning meetings and prayer meetings, but not this time. Perhaps our reputation has protected us from the earlier invitations. But the last minute, in the hopes that we might relent, we were “personally” summoned.
As I said last Sunday, I am not encouraging you to go. There is absolutely no good reason to go. If you want to evangelize your friends bring them here, not to hear Franklin Graham. 40 years ago, a similar meeting took place in Lethbridge, where I was pastoring at the time. Out of curiosity, one night I attended, just to see what it was like – the Holy Spirit made me miserable. I knew that I was not where He wanted me to be, and I feared someone would recognize me. Even if I had donned a fake mustache, dark glasses and strange clothes, I would not have been comfortable.
I know that my reasons are not considered reasonable by most Christians these days. These are days of inclusivism and ecumenicity – at least when it comes to evangelism. Anything less than a reasonably ecumenical mind is considered to be “heathenism.” In 1948 at about the time this Graham’s father was starting his famous career, a Greek Orthodox priest, speaking to a diverse group in Palestine said, “Those who oppose Christian unity must ask themselves whether they are Christian or not.” At the time there were 172 missionaries working in that country. No two missionaries were working for the same denominational missions board. In that meeting, an Anglican Bishop said that denominational divisions are a shame and weakness in Christian countries. But they are an out-and-out sin in non-Christian countries. He said if we want to have any impact on society we must be thoroughly united.
This is still a common religious attitude. Those who refuse to participate in ecumenical services, like that of Franklin Graham must not be Christian. The god of world hath certainly blinded men’s minds. And his greatest tool in this blindness is ignorance of the Word of God. “The entrance of thy words, Lord, giveth light.”
The BIBLE is my first and primary reason for not participating in such meetings.
From the very days of Apostles, the Bible has been the Baptist’s standard for faith and practice. Our feelings about people shouldn’t determine our relationships with those people. Nor should their feelings about us sway our thinking, our evangelism, or our relationship. What is wrong, is always wrong, and it is never right to do wrong in order to do right.
The Bible says a great deal about relationships. It outlines proper relationships between men and women – married and unmarried. It says that adultery is sin; it says that a man ought not even to touch an unmarried woman. And of course it condemns homosexual relations. It describes the relationship between parents and children; youngsters and the elderly. And the Bible discusses the relationship between believers, non-believers, and even semi-believers.
In regard to the last two relationships, what does the Bible, our Standard, say? Romans 16:17 – “Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Ephesians 5:11 – “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” II Thessalonians 3:6 – “Now we command you brethren…withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” II John 10-11 – “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.” There are 6 or 8 other New Testament scriptures which teach the same thing.
Some of these verses tell us to become AWARE of the doctrines, the teachings, of our neighbors. Some of these verses demand that we REFUSE TO PARTICIPATE in their compromises. What kind of fellowship and concord can Christ have with an infidel? I will not be so bold as to call the people of this crusade infidels. But I will say that within many of the denominations supporting this crusade clearly are. We are commanded by God to stay away from their mixed multitude. The problem is basically about doctrine – that is the BIBLE.
The second reason for my non-participation I can describe with the word “Blood.”
It ought to be the desire of every scriptural ministry to “Preach the whole counsel of God.” Another good Baptist motto might be – “Preach the Blood, the Book and the Blessed hope.” That sounds vaguely like the three points of my message tonight. We must preach the Blood of Christ, the King James Bible and Blessed Hope of Christ’s return.
But tonight when I mention “blood,” I am talking about another kind of blood. It is still Biblical blood, but not the Saviour’s blood. What I’m referring to is the blood of Stephen as the stones crushed his skull. It’s the blood of John Baptist gushing from the open wound upon his shoulders. It’s the blood of James who was beheaded for the cause of Baptistic truth. It’s the blood of Hebrews 12:4 – “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin.”
I may have not as yet shed blood striving against sin, but many of my Baptist forefathers have. Now I know that this argument would be laughed at in the average “Christian” church. But I think that the blood of Baptistic Abels are still crying out from ground. And against whom are they crying the most today? Against compromising Baptists who have forgotten that their forefathers died to protect the Word of God and to preserve their Baptistic faith. The first persecutions against our brethren came at the hands of the Jews. When the Jews lost control, the great murderers of the brethren became the heathen Romans, but after these two, the greatest persecutors of all were the religious Romans – Roman Catholics. More importantly for the question at hand is the persecution by the children of Romanism – Protestants. In England and Scotland, Presbyterians and Anglicans have shed Baptist blood. The fabled Puritans hated the Baptists as much as did the Catholics, and they shed our blood. Methodists have hated us; Congregationalists have persecuted us; Episcopalians have hurt us.
There have been no apologies given to any of us. There has just been the soothing of wounds through the passing of time. Franklin Graham is not a Baptist, even the weak kind of Baptist his father was. This current Graham is a member of Presbyterian church – a church which sprinkles babies to bring them under an imaginary covenant of grace. We should not be a part of a ministry which corrupts the gospel with infant baptism and which persecuted our forefathers for pointing out that specific heresy.
Of course I am not advocating any kind of retaliation or retribution. I hope that no one thinks that I want reparations or revenge; that is not my goal at all. I just want people to realize that there are genuine differences between us. Even if persecution has ended in this nation, which is debatable, the theological differences remain. The things which prompted that historical blood letting still exist. I will not physically persecute anyone else, but I will not have church fellowship with them.
It is not because of animosity that I abstain from associating with this crusade. I am not saying that Franklin Graham or Jeremy Camp are not genuine children of God. But I don’t know that to be the case, because they have rejected the Bible in some clear areas. It is not that I hate anyone, it’s that I love my Baptist forefathers enough not to forget them. It is simply a matter of principle; of semi-silent protest and the process of education.
My third reason for not participating with this crusade can called “Brotherly Love.”
And by the way, isn’t the word “crusade” an interesting one? It was not printed on the advertisement I received, but Billy Graham often used it. It takes us back to Roman Catholicism’s bloody campaigns against their enemies.
Sadly, another misused word is quite different – “love.” Many strange and wicked things are done in the name of “love.” Sinful and lustful people say things like, “If you love me you will be immoral with me.” Those who truly love would never ask for such a sin. “Love” prompts different kinds of murder, such a euthanasia and abortion. “Love” makes parents spoil their children, by giving them their every whim. But these are not true love. When love finds poison in the medicine bottle, it throws it away. When love sees a brother headed toward certain death, at the very least it warns him. When love hears of a threat on the lovee’s life, it intercedes as best it can.
It is out of love that Calvary Baptist has not participated in this or any other ecumenical service. It is love for the Lord, who has given us His will in the matter. But it’s also out of love for the people in our church and also in that corrupt assembly.
Union with Presbyterians tells the unthinking that we agree with their false doctrines. It says that we agree with their infant baptisms. Union with the Assembly of God, tells people that we think that glossolalia, tongues, is Biblical. I not only think that it is un-biblical, I’m sure that it is often demonic. Union for the sake of evangelism with a non-denominational Bible Church leaves the impression that we agree with their casual, worldly, non-doctrinal approach to worship. Union with the Southern Baptists testifies that we agree with their universal church cooperative program.
On and on we could go with doctrinal differences between our church and others in this campaign. I don’t and can’t use the Bible that most of those people use. They don’t have the word of God. I can’t abide the weak evangelism which makes prayer the means to personal salvation. I have heard too many such evangelists leave repentance out of their false gospel message. I can’t stomach any effort which encourages a new convert to be baptized by sprinkling or to join a church which denies the blessed hope of the return of Christ.
There are simply far too many reasons not to participate with Franklin Graham, than there are to do so.