"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.IV No.V Pg.2
December 1941

A Separate People

The divine idea of separation in religion is as old as the Jewish race. Abraham was chosen of God to be the father of the chosen race. But idolatrous Ur of the Chaldees was not a land to nourish such a race. Influences were overwhelmingly against God's purpose to raise up a separate people. Hence, the call of God came to Abram to abandon country and kindred and seek a home in an unknown land. And that is the beginning of a separation—a separate family.

Years afterwards the posterity of Abraham, through a series of varied providential circumstances, settled in the land of Egypt. There they grew into a numerous race. Time developed that they could not serve God in Egypt. Separation was essential. God called them out of Egypt. A peculiar nation was formed at Sinai, with peculiar laws, a peculiar government, and peculiar life and relations. In keeping this law and maintaining this separation Israel was blessed. But when they departed, changed their government (1 Sam. 8), served other gods (Deut. 8:19), and formed alliances, they were rejected by God and subjected by their enemies. And only after reformation did God grant them restoration. (Ezek. 10: 10, 11.) The lesson of the story is separation—a separate nation.

But that is not the end of the story of separation. God still requires it—a separate church. As fleshly Israel was called out of Egypt, God has called the church, spiritual Israel, out of the world. And to retain the favor of God, the church must maintain that separation distinct and peculiar.

1. The church must maintain separation in speech. "Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard in me." (2 Tim. 1:13.) The power of a united language is demonstrated in the Tower of Babel. It became the bond of an apostate union which God had to break up in a confusion of tongues. And it is so that unity and purity of speech—calling Bible things by Bible names—is a bond among Christians that will triumph over error and bring order out of confusion.

2. The church must maintain separation in doctrine. Paul's admonition to "speak thou the things that become sound doctrine" needs constant emphasis today. The New Testament command to "touch not, taste not and handle not," does not refer to strong drink, but to "the commandments and doctrines of men." (Col. 2:21, 22.) It is a warning against flirting with error and fraternizing with denominationalism. The growing idea that the "church of Christ" is just a church among churches will prove fatal, and it must not prevail. It is the church or nothing. It is one way or none. Any participation on the part of members of the church of Christ in denominational functions can only compromise the church and is detrimental to the cause of truth.

3. The church must maintain separation in worship. The Old Testament injunction to "take heed lest ye turn aside" has its counterpart in the New Testament counsel: "Let no man beguile you.... intruding into those things which he hath not seen.... and not holding the Head, . . . after the commandments and doctrines of men. Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship." (Col. 2: 18-23.) Self-devised worship is condemned along with man-written creeds and man-made doctrines. The New Testament Pattern must be adhered to.

4. Christians must maintain separation in life. Terms of dignity are applied to Christians. The church is "a chosen generation;" it is "a royal priesthood" and "a holy nation." Christians are to "show forth the praises (or excellencies)" of God who called them.

The demand of the Bible upon Christians is to deny "ungodliness and worldly lusts" and to live "soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." -F. E. W.