The Biblical Doctrine Of Separation -- By: Ernest Pickering

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 03:1 (Spring 1960)
Article: The Biblical Doctrine Of Separation
Author: Ernest Pickering


The Biblical Doctrine Of Separation

Ernest Pickering

Professor of Systematic Theology
Central Conservative Baptist Seminary,. Minneapolis.

“To identify oneself with the truth is to plant oneself in the heart of a storm from which there is no escape for life.” So wrote the late D. M. Panton in a stirring article entitled “The Defense of the Truth.”

Few are anxious to plunge themselves into the teeth of a howling storm, and yet to lift the banner of God’s truth is to bring down upon one’s head all the raging storms of hell. For this reason those who hold strongly, and uncompromisingly to the whole revealed truth of God have ever found themselves a despised company and a pilgrim, people. God has continually exhorted His people to walk in purity and holy separation and to keep themselves “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). It is this doctrine in all its ramifications that we commonly speak of as the “doctrine of separation.” What is the Biblical basis for this doctrine?

I. The Position Of Separation

Three lines of truth are included in a Scriptural position of separation—the separation of believers from religious apostasy, the separation of believers from the world, and the separation of the church and state.

1. The Separation of Believers from Religious Apostasy. There is nothing that God hates more than false religion. The Bible abounds .with denunciations of it. In no areas were the Old Testament prophets more scathing than in their rebuke of false religion.

The book of Exodus vividly describes the unyielding nature of God’s opposition to mixed worship. In Exodus 5:1

God’s challenge is lifted, “Let my people go,” the demand of God for the complete and immediate separation of His people. No doubt many of the Israelites would have been content to establish an altar to Jehovah God alongside of the heathen altars of Egypt thereby giving the Egyptians the impression that the God of the Israelites was no better than their own. But God was the true God. Worship to Him must only be conducted by a separated people in a separated place.

Obedience to God’s command of separation drove Elijah to walk a lonely pathway and be reviled as a “troubler of Israel” because he would not cooperate with the apostate religion of his day. What a price he paid —loneliness, tears, reviling, hatred! Obadiah basked in the favor of Ahab. But who received the “word of the Lord,” fearlessly met the prophets of apostasy, led a great spiritual awakening in Israel, and brought rain f...

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