A Church Losing Its Independence And Not Knowing It
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness ?And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ?for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. II Corinthians 6:14-18
You do not have to come out from among them if you never were a part of them. If you do not go in, you do not have to come out. That is a great statement. More great soul-winning fundamental churches have fallen by the wayside in the last twenty years as a result of what I am going to cover in this chapter than over any other reason. These were good churches that did not intend to become liberal, but they became useless because they lost their independence and did not know it.
Most fundamental churches do not go liberal first. They go useless first. Once they go useless they have to find some reason to explain their uselessness. They end up explaining that growing churches and soul-winning churches are shallow. Then, they become new evangelical and eventually change their doctrine and become liberal. The first step is the step to uselessness. Let me explain to you exactly how this happens.
1. We unite for a good cause.
Liberals want to join up with a fundamentalist, because a liberal wants the fire from the fundamentalist. A liberal can not start a fire, nor keep one going unless somebody else starts it. So, he wants all the fundamentalists that he can get. That is one reason why they have lured Billy Graham through these years. They do not have any fire of their own, so they need somebody who still believes the Bible to join their camp to help them.
The fundamental preacher has conviction, so he will not join with a liberal. When I was a young preacher, there basically were no new evangelicals. There were liberals and there were Bible believers. When I was a young preacher, you could not find a Southern Baptist preacher who did not believe the Bible. Last year the Southern Baptist Convention voted by a small margin to have a Bible believer as its president. When I was a young man, you would not have gotten 2% of the people to vote for a man who did not believe the Bible.
No fundamentalist ought to join up with a liberal. The Bible says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." That does not give any specifics as to what not to link up with an unbeliever to do. It does not say not to be religiously unequally yoked together with unbelievers. It does not say not to be politically unequally yoked together with unbelievers. It simply says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." That includes any type of cause.
The Devil is not finished. He will continue trying to get a fundamentalist yoked up with a liberal, because he wants to destroy the testimony of fundamentalism in America. The Devil knows that if he can get the fundamentalist yoked up to the liberals that this country is gone. So, the Devil invented something else.
When I was a young preacher, a new kind of person came on the scene known as the neo-orthodox. A neo-orthodox is someone who believes the liberalism, but talks like a fundamentalist. He says he believes the Bible, but he does not mean it in the same way we do. He believes the Bible is inspired like Shakespeare is inspired. The Devil is trying to get the fundamentalist and the liberal to join together, so he finds somebody who talks like a fundamentalist eto deceive many fundamental people.
A preacher says he believes the Bible is a good book and that parts of it are inspired. He does not believe what we believe. These neoorthodox people talk well, but the Devil uses them to get the fundamentalist to join up with the liberals, by putting them in between.
Most fundamentalists did not fall for this trick, so the Devil decided to take it a step further. He brought someone else into the picture, called the new evangelical. That is the new neo-orthodox. The neo-orthodox believes like the liberal, but talks like the fundamentalists. The new evangelical believes like the fundamentalist, but talks like the liberal. He does not want to associate himself with the old hell-fire and brimstone crowd.
I was watching an interview with a Nashville leader one day who said, "I am a born-again Christian. Now, of course I am not a fundamentalist. I am an evangelical." He did not want to associate himself with the fundamental crowd. He wants the have the popularity of the liberals and believe like the fundamentalists. The evangelicals do not want the stigma of the old-time religion. They do not want the stigma of an altar call. They do not want the stigma of hell-fire and brimstone preaching. The evangelicals would rather associate with liberals than with fundamentalists, because they are more concerned with how sweet you are, than how right you are.
Most of us did not fall for that, but the Devil was still not through. He finally knocked a home run. He brought in a political campaign. The fundamentalists fell for it and joined up with the new evangelicals. That has destroyed more churches than any single thing in this generation. What the liberal could not do, the neo-orthodox could not do, and the new evangelical could not do, the political campaigns did.
I was invited to a meeting of about twenty-five leaders in America. One stood and said, "Gentlemen, it is time that God's people decided to take over the politics in America. We are going to organize and take over the precincts of America and the Republican Party."
That sounded good. It would sound good to anybody if you do not stop and consider what II Corinthians 6:14 says. At first I was all for it. Later, we were sitting around the table talking. The man beside me had a tremendous personality. He had charisma and I was really impressed with him. I was just like a fish ready to bite. I said, "By the way, what church do you pastor?"
He said, "I do not pastor any church."
I said, "Well, what ministry do you lead?"
He said, ''I am the director of the denomination.''
It was a group that believes you must get baptized in order to get saved. I was about to join in a campaign to save America by yoking up with a man who was a leader of a false doctrine. This is exactly what has happened to churches all over this nation.
What the liberal could not do, the neo-orthodox could not do, and the new evangelical could not do, the gay rights issue has done. Preachers have linked up with others who are liberal in their doctrinal beliefs, but who are like minded in their views on gay-rights. The same thing has happened with the abortion issue. I hate abortion, but I wonder how many churches in America that once were great soul-winning churches have lost their zeal for the lost because they got wrapped up in the gay rights, or abortion issue. Those issues have joined the fundamentalist with the liberal when nothing else in this world could do it. I have seen this happen over and over again.
We worry that our churches are going to lose their freedom and that we will be forced to get our Sunday schools licensed. We fear that they will take away our freedom and force us to have a license to preach. So, we join up with the liberals to fight for freedom. We ought to fight for our freedom, but we ought not to join up with the Devil to fight for our freedom. It is wrong to join up with a group of people who think that Jesus Christ is the illegitimate child of an adulteress, and who make fun of our Bible, our Christ, the Virgin birth and everything that is decent and sacred.
We have destroyed fundamentalism in our generation because of these good things that brought us together when nothing else could. The same is true about the issue of the separation of church and state. A group of fundamental Baptists and others joined with false teachers to have big rallies, because both were being persecuted by the government. Some of my good friends went to those meetings. They asked me to speak in Washington, DC at one big rally. When I found out who was involved, I refused.
My Bible still says that we are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Not doing so is destroying many of our churches in America.
2. We unite for a good cause; then we discover that we differ on more important things than those about which we agreed.
The man in early American history who did more to make it possible to have our religious freedom was James Madison. He was the man who stood, not just for separation of church and state, but who also said that the church should stay out of the state's business and the state should stay out of the church's business. He compared it to two kingdoms, like Canada and the United States. Here is what happened.
George Washington, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson joined this campaign and won for us our freedom. When they were through, they found that they differed on issues which were more important than the issues which had united them. Let me illustrate. In the Bible days, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection from the dead. The Pharisees did. Paul was hated by both. The Sadducees and the Pharisees got together on a common cause, which was their hatred for Paul. That is what is happening in America.
Many years ago a couple visited one service at the First Baptist Church, and I preached against Communism. They belonged to the John Birch Society. They joined the church because we hated Communism as much as the John Birch Society did. That is not a good reason to join the church. You should join a church because it believes the Bible. You should join a church because it hates sin. You should join a church because it hates all sins, not just Communism. You should join a church because it believes that every word in the Bible is the Word of God. Watch out for one-issue churches, and watch out for one-issue people.
The Bible says, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will hear from heaven, and willforgive their sin, and will heal their land. The way you save a nation is not for God's people to get involved in politics, but to get involved in prayer and repentance.
Fundamentalists had never before been big shots. We got invited to a Presidential Prayer Breakfast, where fundamental preachers joined with Jews who believe that Mary was an adulteress and Jesus was an illegitimate child, Catholic Priests who do not believe anything, and compromising members of the National Council of Churches. We became big shots and got our pictures in the paper. What happened? Churches all over America got wrapped up in trying to save America man's way instead of God's way. We lost our churches by the hundreds.
I know of Hyles-Anderson College graduates who became wrapped up in secondary matters. If we are supposed to come out from among them, would it not be wisest not to even go in among them?
The Bible tells us not to be yoked up with some things. We are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. We are not to be unequally yoked together with worldly denominations. We are not to be unequally yoked together with darkness or sin. We are not to be unequally yoked together with infidels. We are not to be unequally yoked together with unfaithful people. We are not to be unequally yoked together with idols. Once you have started, there is no stopping.
I received a copy of the program for a film festival program being held on the campus of a Christian college which was started by a fundamental church just one year before we started Hyles-Anderson College. They were promoting Hollywood films on the campus of this Christian college. I spent a day in Atlanta, Georgia, begging the founder of this college not to run with the wrong crowd. I have preached against Hollywood my entire ministry, and I do not intend to stop. That shows you how quickly a college can change. It started with their affiliation with the world through political campaigns.
Years ago, I was preaching in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Two fine-looking young men walked in the back. After the service they asked if they could drive me to the airport. One of those young men was the founder of that school, and the pastor of a church. He invited me to come to his church and to give him advice on how to build a great church. I went to his church and helped him organize his Sunday school. I helped him organize his bus ministry. He came to Pastors' School, and brought his staff with him. He built a great soul-winning church. How did he get to the point of allowing a Hollywood film festival to be held on his college campus?
He decided to join hands with the politicians, who join hands with the new evangelicals, who join hands with the neo-orthodox, who join hands with the liberals. When you start speaking well of new evangelicals, you are in trouble. If young people go to a Christian college to see these movies, they are going to learn these actors and eventually go to the local theaters to see R-rated movies.
I am determined to keep soul winning as the main thing at HylesAnderson College. America must have some old-fashioned rock-ribbed fundamental colleges.
That is one reason why the gates of Hell have not prevailed against the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. We preach against every sin known to man. We teach the Bible, warn people, exhort, preach the word, go soul winning, try to get people right with God, get folks to pray and to believe in the Bible. It is not a one-issue church, and Christianity is not a one-issue faith.
Literally hundreds of churches have died because the Devil has succeeded in getting the liberal joined up with the fundamentalist. He could not get the fundamentalist to do it, so he introduced the neo-orthodox, who believes like the liberal, but talks like the fundamentalist. Then he introduced the new evangelical who believes like the fundamentalist, but talks like the liberal. Finally, he introduced one big issue that every decent person hates, and started a big campaign. That one issue did what the others could not do. It broke down the wall between fundamentalists and the liberals.
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