Summary: Sermon 22 from our series on the Baptist Faith and Message
Cooperation (BFM #22)
I Get By With A Little Help from My Friends
Text: Philippians 1:15-18
By: Ken McKinley
This morning we are on article 14 of our study of the BFM – In the coming weeks we will be finishing up this series and I’ve already started praying about what I should be preaching once we do; but today, like I said, we are on article 14 so please either read along with me, or listen as I read article 14 from the BFM (Read Article 14).
Now in a nut-shell, what this article is saying is that we should join together with other believers to advance God’s Kingdom, but in doing so, we should respect the autonomy of the local gathering of the Church. And we are to do this without compromising either doctrine or theology. Now I’m sure most of you know, we do this, or at least we say we do this, on several levels. Nationally; we belong to the SBC, at the state level we are part of the BGCO, and locally – we have our Northwest Baptist Association that we are part of. Now none of these groups, or organizations, or associations have any authority over us as a local church. At least their not supposed to. We are to cooperate with the other churches in our association or state or national conventions as the Lord leads us. Those entities are supposed to be there to help and assist the local congregations in the work of the ministry. In other words, when we have something we feel that we should do, the association, the BGCO and even the national convention – as it applies, should be ready and willing to help us do that.
Now the BFM says “Christ’s people…” but as far as I know, I’ve never seen a Presbyterian minister at one of our associational meetings. I’ve never seen a Methodist pastor at one of them, or Assemblies of God. Or even free-will or Bible Baptist pastors there. Now I don’t want to get into the semantics or the wording of the BFM, but are Christians in other denominations not “Christ’s people?” Augustine said some 1500 years ago, “In essentials – unity, in nonessentials – liberty, and in all things – charity.” What he meant by that was that if a person, or a group of persons hold to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, we can work with them. If they disagree with us on the non-essentials, it’s ok… because those things are non-essential. We have disagreements on non-essentials right here in our church, but if they are a brother or sister in Christ, we can walk in love with them, and work with them towards the advancement of the kingdom. But what about those preachers and churches that it’s obvious that all they want is fame and fortune? Can we work with them? It really depends on doctrine. Turn with me to Galatians 1:6-10 (Read). So maybe we don’t like a particular slant a denomination takes on a certain issue. Can we work with them? It depends on doctrine. Do they preach and teach sound doctrine? Are the things we disagree on non-essentials, or are they something that’s going to lead people astray?
Now having said that, there are some groups – who claim to be Christian, that we cannot work with because of doctrinal differences. The JW’s claim Christianity, but they do not hold to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. The Mormons claim to be Christians, but they do not hold to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. There are other groups out there that do charitable deeds, but they are not Christian. And it’s because of this, that in today’s world, we are sometimes labeled as intolerant or bigoted, or elitist. But what people don’t understand is that we aren’t bound by what seems right to the world, or what the world dictates as tolerance, but we are bound by Scripture itself. We are bound by the very Word of God. And yes the Bible has a lot to say about unity, and about who we are to associate with, and who we are to avoid.
There are basically two areas where we are called to be vigilant or cautious about our relationships. One is the area of personal relationships and the other is the area of religious practice.
Way back in the book of Exodus and all throughout the Old Testament, God makes it clear that His people are not to be in fellowship with the pagans around them. Turn with me to Exodus 34:12-16 (Read). There are several places in the Bible where God warns His people to not enter into fellowship with unbelievers. And if you go through the OT, you’ll find over and over again where the Israelites failed to heed God’s warnings. Eventually it led to their captivity and downfall. But it’s not just an OT principle. In 1st Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived, evil company corrupts good habits.”