Gospel Ministers and Ministerial Alliances
Some gospel preachers of the Lord’s church are choosing to affiliate with their local ministerial alliance. The following observations are addressed to such men and to those who may be contemplating such a move.
Through the years our preaching brethren have stood apart from these alliances. Was there any biblical foundation for their so doing? Was it just tradition, personal preference or popular opinion or was there a biblical reason for their practice? Faithful servants of Jesus always seek His will on such questions. If it is right for the preachers . . . to join ministerial alliances consisting of the various denominational bodies of a community than all should be encouraged to do so. If it be wrong, we should all abstain from such involvement’s and teach our fellow ministers to do the same.
AN UNEQUAL YOKE
As members of Christ’s body, we do not consider these denomination leaders to be faithful Christians in the biblical sense of that word. Although they honor Jesus with their lips, in their teaching and their works they are far from Him (Matt. 15:8). Paul wrote that we should “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what communion hath light with darkness” and what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?…Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord…” (II Cor. 6:14-17). The word, “alliance” is defined, the “state of being allied; act of allying or uniting: a union of interests.”
By the very definition of the word, a Christian brother in a ministerial alliance is united or yoked with those of other religions. Would anyone question that it is an unequal yoke? What fellowship hath those who teach the righteousness of God with those whose message and practice are contrary to God’s Word? What communion hath the light of the gospel with the darkness of false religion? What concord hath the citizens of the kingdom of Christ with those who promote competing causes? What portion hath the brother who believes the simple message of Christ with those who reject much of it? The obvious answer to all the above rhetorical questions is, None! Paul’s message to those caught up in unequal yokes is, “Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord.”
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF SUCH INVOLVEMENT’S
It causes confusion in the minds of your brethren and the world. For if you teach that denominationalism is sinful and wrong, but then you join in an alliance with denominational leaders, how can people interpret your words and actions? How can they harmonize them? If you can fellowship their preachers on Tuesday, why can’t the people fellowship them in their assemblies on Sunday? Remember, “God is not the author of confusion” (I Cor. 14:33). If we create confusion by our conduct, certainly we are not representing His Cause as He wants us to do. To the religious leaders of Israel God said, “And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” (Ezek. 44:23). Preachers are expected to teach God’s people the difference in true and false religion, not confuse their minds by thoughtless actions.
Membership in ministerial alliances compromises a preacher in many ways:
· The community will regard him as “one of them” and no different in what you say or do.
· How would you engage in worship with them without disobeying God’s will?
· In what ways do you cooperate with them without comprising yourself?
· Would you point out the error of their teaching and warn them of the consequences of teaching another gospel?
· Or worse still, would you say nothing and leave the impression that you approve of and endorse them and their work?
· It creates a situation where the danger of falling into sinful compromise and even apostasy becomes very easy and even likely. To preachers as well to youngsters, Paul says, “evil companions corrupt good morals” (I Cor. 15:33).
THE USUAL JUSTIFICATION
Some may protest, “Think of the good influence you can have on these denominational preachers. Consider the opportunities to teach them the truth. A preacher may gain respect by participation in the alliance.” To this I suggest Paul’s answer to a similar proposition, “What shall we do evil that grace may abound? God forbid!” (Rom. 6:1-2). I also question the actuality of the claim. Look at those men who have thus entangled themselves and see if they have wrought good or folly for the Cause of Christ? Generally the loss of influence and respect the man and local church suffers, far outweighs any good that might come. Add to this the confusion it creates and see how the scales tilt.
When God gave the Hebrews the land of the Canaanites, he warned them against the dangers of their false religion “Thou shalt drive them out before thee. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me; for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee” (Ex. 23:31-33). Again he said, “thou shalt make no covenant with them…neither shall thou make marriage with them…For he will turn away thy sons from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of Jehovah be kindled against you, and he will destroy thee quickly. But thus shall ye deal with them: ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim., and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art a holy people unto Jehovah thy God (Deut. 7:2-6).
The Lord’s church is in conflict with every false religion, be it Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddism, or Islam. There can be no compromise, no peaceful co-existence. When we strike the compromise, we are doomed.
Can you visualize the prophet Amos making application to Amaziah, priest of Bethel, for membership in the local ministerial alliance? Of course, Amos had a definite message of rebuke to deliver to such false teachers.
Perhaps herein lines the difference in him and those brethren who are affiliated with their local alliance.
Paul reminded a young evangelist, “No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life: That he may please him that enrolled him as a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4). Could any better advice be given to those contemporary soldiers of Jesus who are enmeshed in such worldly associations as these alliances?
It is a sad day for Zion when her leaders go down to the “Plain of Ono” to talk of compromise with the enemies of the kingdom of Christ (Neh. 6:1-7).
Nehemiah, a faithful man of God refused such an invitation. We should follow his godly example. I appeal to all soldiers of the army of King Jesus, fight the good fight of the faith (I Tim. 6:12). Preach the word is season and out (II Tim. 4:2). Be not entangled in the affairs of this world.
–John Waddey (Fortify Your Faith)