Secondary Separation – Galatians 5:1-12

What does the Bible say about separating ourselves from error? If it is Biblical to separate from error, is it unbiblical to separate from those who refuse to separate from error? What would you guess does the term “Secondary Separation” mean? (Separation from those Baptists who refuse to separate from Protestantism and the cults.) As far as I am concerned this “Secondary Separation” is one of our Biblical Landmarks. But what does the Christian world think about this Landmark Baptist position?

We have looked at scriptures which are the foundation for what we believe and practice as Baptists, and we have seen that Baptistic people have believed these things since before the fourth century. Now, I’d like us to notice what the Bible says about separation from those who disagree with us.

The teachings of the Scriptures?
God’s principles of separation from sin and heresy are found throughout the Scriptures. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

Turn to Exodus 19:4-6: – “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” What did the Lord imply about Israel’s relationship to other nations when he called them “a peculiar treasure?” Exodus 33:16; Leviticus 20:24-26; Numbers 23:8-9; Deuteronomy 7:2-6; Joshua 23:6-8, etc. What did Peter say in I Peter 2:9? “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

I believe that the principle of separation which God first applied to Israel, applies to God’s churches today. We are supposed to be distinct and separated from those societies of man’s invention. We are not to inter-marry with them. We are not to imitate them. We are not worship their idols or to acknowledge the legitimacy of those idols. But even in Paul’s day the fore-runners of the cults were beginning to be seen, because the mystery of iniquity was already at work. So Paul laid down a standard with which to judge the various teachers that were coming along, and he told the true churches of God what to do with them. It should be borne in mind that those teachers, who subverted the faith of many by their false doctrines, were not heathens, nor infidels, nor heads of alien and formidable organizations, set up in direct opposition to the churches of Christ. In other words, they weren’t obvious Pedobaptist and cults, but what made it more delicate and difficult to fix relations and determine the character of the intercourse, they were Baptists. For example, the Judaizers, were in many cases members of the church at Jerusalem, and sometimes even members of the churches which Paul himself had planted. They taught a very similar false gospel to that of the Protestants: it was a covenant salvation, which tied them to Abraham. This is what Paul was opposing when he wrote our opening scripture for this morning.

Turn to Acts 15:1 – “And certain men, which came down from Judea, taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised, after the manner of Moses, ye can not be saved.” Verse 5 – “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed [i.e., in Christ, and were members], saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the laws of Moses.” What did Paul call these heretics in Galatians 2:4? (False BRETHREN.) “And because of false brethren, unawares brought in, who came privily to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage. To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for one hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these, who seemed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me, God accepteth no man’s person), for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference, added nothing to me, but contrariwise.”

What did Paul say that he wished would happen to those false brethren? (Galatians 5:1-12 – “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.”

Paul puts the problem in another way in Galatians 6. What is one of the favorite Paedobaptist arguments for infant Baptism twisted out of the Old Testament? (Circumcision.) Galatians 6:12 – “As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised.” “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.” What is the primary reason that the Anabaptists were persecuted? (Rebaptism.)

There would probably be a lot more Landmark Baptists in the world today if it wasn’t for a desire “to make a fair show in the flesh,” and to avoid the persecution that comes with a consistent practice of Baptist principles. The #1for Landmark Baptists comes down to “perils among false BRETHREN” (II Corinthians 11:26). I think I have told you about a member of our church in Calgary who left us over these doctrines. He stayed in touch with me to some degree, and one day he invited me to join him for coffee. He wanted to introduce me to a new Free Presbyterian preacher who had come to town. (Ian Paisley) As we sat and talked, the subject of Landmarkism came up, and I explained my position once again. The Baptist, the former member of my church, just could not see it, but the Presbyterian clearly understood what I was saying and agreed that it was perfectly consistent with fact and logic. The problem against us, comes primarily these days from false brethren, not from the Protestants.

How did Paul instruct the churches to treat these false teachers?
Did he exhort them to be liberal, and charitable, and to associate with them as beloved brethren? Did he advise Timothy and other ministers to affiliate with them, invite them into their houses of worship and to teach their people, as so many Baptists do now? Romans 16:17-18 – “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” II Thessalonians 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.”

Do Pedobaptists and Campbellites teach the doctrines that Paul taught, and do they walk according to his teachings? Is it “withdrawing from and putting them to shame” to invite them into our pulpits, to preach to our people as ministers of Christ, and to associate with them in “Evangelical Pastors’ Meetings,” and “Evangelical Alliances?” Is it withdrawning from them to accept their baptism as scriptural? The Lord Jesus said, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words in this age, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

I quoted an article from Albert Barnes last week, telling Landmarkers to “receive us poor Protestants.” In that article he almost threatened retaliation if we didn’t receive them. Now listen to Albert Barnes’ note on I Timothy 5:22: “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” “He was not to invest one with a holy office who was a wicked man or a heretic, for this would be to sanction his wickedness and error. If we ordain a man to the office of the ministry who is known to be living in sin, or to cherish dangerous error, we become the patrons of the sin and of the heresy. We lend to it the sanction of our approbation; and give to it whatever currency it may acquire from the reputation which we may have, or which it may acquire from the influence of the sacred office of the ministry.” Barnes has the right understanding the scriptures, he just doesn’t understand that he is a teacher of heresy. What difference is there between putting a heretic into the ministry and recognizing the heretic who is already in the ministry?

Adam Clark – Methodist commentator on II John 1:10-11: “For if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house; neither bid him God-speed.” “He that acts toward him as if he considered him a Christian brother, and sound in the faith, puts it in his power to deceive others by thus apparently accrediting his ministry. No sound Christian should countenance any man as a gospel minister who holds and preaches erroneous doctrines.” Do Protestants teach any false doctrine? Methodists and Campbellites say that the Presbyterians do. Both the Presbyterians and Methodists declare that the Campbellites do. And all the Baptists know that they all do.

Now continue to hear Adam Clark: “Nor can any Christian attend the ministry of such teachers without being criminal in the sight of God. He who attends their ministry is, in effect, bidding them God-speed, no matter whether such belong to the established church, or to any congregation of dissenters from it.” Barnes quoted and indorsed Clark saying: “It is as applicable now as then.”

An Historian named Curtis put it this way: “In former ages of the church – that is, from the close of the second century downwards until heathenism was obliterated – it was generally supposed by almost all, that Christian fellowship, or communion, consisted chiefly in praying together. Christians would never unite in saying, ”Our Father, who art in heaven;” would not even pray in the same house of worship, with those whom they did not consider orthodox Christians. Heathens, unbelievers, heretics, persons suspended, or excommunicated. . . and members of other sects, were admitted to hear the Psalmody, and reading of the Scriptures, and the discourses, but were invariably excluded from the building before the prayers of the church were offered.”

This man’s testimony establishes declares two things: Any practice looking toward “open communion” at the Lord”s table received no recognition in those early ages. And that there was no “pulpit communion,” no exchange of “ministerial courtesies,” – as the exchange of pulpits, inter-preaching between the orthodox ministers of those ages and the teachers of manifest heresies, even though the latter belonged to orthodox churches – as the false teachers in Paul’s day did – much less when they belonged to opposing sects.

Orthodox ministers and churches in those early ages held no “union meetings” with heretics. They did not labor together in public worship, or co-operate in the preaching of the gospel with those ministers and members who preached, or held, doctrines contrary to the teachings of Christ. How can two people consistently walk or work together unless they are agreed? From the teachings of the apostles, the early Christians understood that they did, by their act of worshiping, even in prayer together, say to the world that they were in fellowship with their doctrine and religion.

Can anyone honestly say, with the teachings of the apostles and the facts of history before their eyes, that the apostolic churches, and the orthodox churches of the earliest ages downwards, were not “Landmarkers” of the strictest sort? We are accused of teaching NEW Landmarks, when in fact we are just practicing what we find in the scriptures, and what Baptists have practiced since of the earliest ages.

It would have been in open violation of Paul’s instruction for the primitive churches to have invited ALL members of other churches, to participate with them in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, since some of them were “false teachers, ministers of Satan, enemies of the cross of Christ and subverters of the gospel.” Paul commanded us to “withdraw from, avoid, have no company,” and “not to eat” with them. And if it was unscriptural and sinful for them to associate and encourage false doctrine, it should be just as unscriptural and as sinful for us in this day and age.