Ernest Pickering

Implementing Separatist Convictions, Part 3

By Ernest Pickering (1928-2000). Read Part 1and Part 2.

The Pitfalls of Separatists

Separatists are human. They have sins. They are not perfect. While the matters about to be discussed are not problems exclusively for separatists, separatists are especially vulnerable to them by virtue of their unique position.

An improper spirit

It is possible to believe the right things, but to hold them and present them in the wrong way. Paul told us this when he spoke of those in Philippi who preached Christ “of envy and strife” and “of contention” (Philippians 1:15, 16). He was saying that he was happy for their message—Christ—but saddened by their spirit. Because separatists are in almost constant conflict in order to maintain their position against the tremendous attacks mounted against them, they can develop a spirit of bitterness and acrimony. They are under the gun most of the time, and this situation can take its toll. It is very important to be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). On occasion, some separatists may be long on truth and short on love.

2032 reads

Implementing Separatist Convictions, Part 2

By Ernest Pickering (1928-2000). Read Part 1.

The Practical Implementation of Separatist Convictions

The teachings of Scripture regarding separation must be implemented in a practical manner, or separation becomes a meaningless theory to which one gives lip service but that has no practical value in everyday life and ministry. Consider some of the areas of Christian work in which this doctrine must be obeyed.

Maintaining personal relationships

Separatists may have personal friendships that are broader than their official ties. Personal Christian fellowship is grounded primarily in a mutual knowledge of Christ as Savior. Personal interaction with other Christians is not wrong if it is found in contexts where compromise and disobedience are not involved.

4221 reads

Implementing Separatist Convictions, Part 1

by Ernest Pickering (1928–2000)

Considerable discussion is taking place today as to why so many younger men raised in the separatist tradition are failing to take a good position and, in some cases, are backing off from the fray. One of the major reasons, it seems to me, is that they are disgusted with the lack of discernment on the part of some separatists who cannot distinguish between what is truly crucial to fellowship and what is not crucial.

It is one thing to embrace Biblical truth concerning separatism. It is quite another to implement it in day-to-day relationships. While a person may possess good convictions, he or she may not be able to clearly discern the right course of action; and separatists do not always agree among themselves as to the proper response to a given problem. So we separatists need to give attention to how we implement what we believe.1

Guidelines for Determining the Extent of Cooperative Fellowship with Other Believers

A few questions are suggested by Scripture that will aid the sincere believer in determining the boundaries of fellowship.

(1) Am I honoring God by my fellowship? “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). When a believer remains in an apostate denomination, that believer is supporting the Lord’s enemies through his or her money and presence. Is that believer honoring the Lord by “staying in”? In all that we do we must earnestly seek to honor God.

4298 reads