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The Biblical Attitudes
The second major point that I present to you is the matter of the attitudes that we must manifest. The first is that of devotion to God and to His Word. You and I can support this doctrine of separation upon a wrong philosophy. That is to say, we can be marked by a wrong attitude. You know after you have committed yourself to something, you do not want to back down because you lose face! There may be people who do not have any more reason to stand for some of the things for which they stand (on either side of this issue) except that they do not want to lose face. They have committed themselves to a certain position and so they will fight until they have no more strength with which to fight, rather than say, “I was wrong.” God spare us from that sort of foolishness. If you and I are not contending for this position because it is God’s truth, and for God’s honor, then let us abandon the thing. If our attitude is not right, then let us correct our attitude, because there are people on the wrong side of this issue who want us to abandon the truth because our attitude is wrong! That is a foolish solution! We must maintain the position which we have outlined, but with it we must maintain, by the grace of God, a right attitude.
That attitude must basically be a love for the truth of God and for His honor. It must not be to save our own face, nor to vindicate our own position, nor our own organization, nor our own philosophy, but to honor God and His truth.
Second, our attitude must be one of true humility. You remember that in Galatians 6:1, the Word of God says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” If we are not approaching this problem on that basis, then our attitude is wrong. If we simply are going out to fight, if we are in the business of swinging fists and clubs, then God forgive us for the attitude that we manifest, and give us the right attitude to defend the right position. We must have humility in our own hearts because we have not been brought to this position because we are smarter than others. We did not come to this because we are more bold or more courageous than some of our brethren who have not as yet taken this position that we believe is Biblical. God in His grace has opened our hearts, and we should be humble before Him to thank Him that our eyes have been opened, and that He has given us courage and faith to move in obedience. Let us not look down in contempt upon others, but pray for them that God may deliver them, with us, into the glorious liberty that is ours as children of God.
Third, our attitude should not only be one of humility regarding self, but of compassion toward our brethren that are still confused. It is easy to get haughty and contemptuous toward people that occupy a different position, and perhaps many times we have done so in the heat of our controversy. But it is possible for us to maintain this position which is Biblical, and still maintain this attitude which is also Biblical. Our hearts must reach out in love and compassion for a multitude that is essentially shepherdless in this whole matter without proper teaching, without proper leadership. Confused and mistaught, they wander in bypaths, many of them not realizing where they are going. You and I need to put forth every effort to reach out the hand of help to bring them into this place of obedience. Some people may have gotten haughty and nasty in their attitude, but it is not characteristic either of our position or of our people. May God spare us from any of it. May we hold this position for the glory of God with humility regarding ourselves, and compassion toward those who are still in difficulty.
Fourth, an attitude is not complete on this subject until it is marked by sternness and rebuke to false leadership. Note the approach of the Lord Jesus. He was never sharp to the multitude. He looked upon them and He wept for them, and He had compassion upon them as sheep without a shepherd. But He was sharp with the Pharisees and the Scribes and the Sadducees who were false leaders. Note such portions as Matthew 23:27: “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites … whited sepulchres … full of dead men’s bones!” He was not talking about people in some remote area. He was talking about the people who sat in front of Him! But after all, it was not to the crowd that he was talking—it was to the leadership. In Matthew 15:14 He talks about them being blind leaders of the blind. They are false. They deserve rebuke—the sternest rebuke because they need to be either corrected or punished. So you and I ought to realize the difference, when we are dealing with people who are misled and people who are misleading. There needs to be the sternest of rebuke to those who are in places of false leadership. We should not be vindictive, but it is not a time to extend fellowship to men who mislead the churches of Jesus Christ! We are to rebuke and exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
From Baptist Bulletin, March/April 2018 © Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Paul R. Jackson (1903–1969) was among the first generation of GARBC leaders, serving as national representative from 1960 to 1969. Prior to this, he was president of Baptist Bible Seminary for 14 years, a pastor in California and Michigan for 17 years, and a member of the GARBC Council of Eighteen. His book The Doctrine and Administration of the Church is regarded as a classic on church polity. He also wrote a pamphlet on church associations, Biblically Separate: Choosing Alliances Wisely.