HOLDING THE ROPES IN THE BASKET

“And after many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him…Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket”

Acts 9:23 & 25

                Intro: During a recent 12 month period, this preacher heard three sermons from Acts 9:23-25 on “Holding the Ropes,” all with a different slant, but all solidly Scriptural. We have no idea who these believers were who faithfully held the ropes in the basket that   safely delivered Paul from his potential persecutors, but their labors were invaluable. The F.D. editor is making another brief entreaty based on this unusual text. He believes there are three key areas in which Fundamentalist Biblicist Baptists need to hold the ropes for the spiritual basket of truth.

(I)

We Need to Hold the Ropes for the basket of SCRIPTURE

                The basket of Scripture, with its divinely inspired contents, is the basis of the historic Christian faith. The contents of this basket were given by inspiration of God hundreds of years ago by men whose words were inspired by the Holy Spirit—II Tim. 3:16-17, II Peter 1:21. This divine basket contains (a) God’s person for salvation—John 14:6, (b) God’s plan of salvation—Eph. 2:8-9, and (c) God‘s power for salvation—I Peter 1:23. This basket also contains (a) God’s platitudes for sanctification of saints—John 17:17, (b) God's prescription for soul-winners—Acts 1:8 and (c) God's power for servants—Eph. 3:16 & 20.

Ever since its formation over 2,000 years ago, Biblical Christianity has been under attack by its enemies, an attack that has always concentrated against the inspired Scriptures and that is directed behind the scenes by Satan himself, Christianity’s foremost opponent. In recent years, and particularly within the last few months, Biblical Christianity has come under assault by three chief groups of antagonists, the first of which is the ATHEISTS.

1. The Atheists: While Atheists have always existed in America, for the first 225 years of their American existence, they were a small and relatively insignificant part of America’s religious scene. However, with the advent of the 21st century, they began making public waves that started to seriously affect the moral fabric of America’s civilization and culture.

                Using every possible avenue available such as written directives, public advertising (bus ads), public protestations at civic meetings, rewriting laws, and all the modern technological methodology available (TV publicity, computer, Facebook, etc.), the atheists have launched an all-out assault on conservative Christians who staunchly adhere to God’s Word. 

Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions legitimizing sodomy and gay marriage have given them greater leverage than ever before. Facing such an assault, genuine Bible Christians desperately need to securely hold the ropes on the basket of Scripture, not wavering their allegiance to God’s book, or weakening their confidence in its inerrant precepts.

2. The Apostates:Religious apostates are continuing their verbal and written assaults on Biblical Christianity. The apostates deny the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture, believing that the Scriptures are just a collection of ancient human writings, with men’s names sometimes attached to books they supposedly never really wrote.

Religious apostates use much of the same terminology as Biblicist Christians, but attach entirely different meanings to the words. Apostates do not believe that you can take the Scriptures literally for what they actually say.Though they use historic Christian terms, the major Protestant denominations, composed of entities that are associated with the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches are all apostate in their denial of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith.

A recent survey indicates that only one in three Presbyterians actually believe that Jesus is the only way of Salvation. Some apostates claim that Jesus was married and that even Judas’ betrayal was done at Jesus’s command! Apostates believe that homosexuality is an inherited trait not an action of a person’s self-will. Apostates thus accept same-sex marriage and the perversions associated with that immoral life style.

Biblicist Christians must earnestly guard the spiritual ropes against the apostates who seek to cut those ropes and destroy the basket of inspired Scripture!

3. The Accommodators:The Accommodators are undoubtedly the most dangerous group that would destroy the basket of Scripture. The accommodators are the group that while they claim to believe the Scriptures, adapt the meaning and message of the Scriptures to make it easy and comfortable to conform to the depraved mold of human society. The accommodators take the Scriptures and bend them to fit the latest societal trends so that they can comfortably blend in with the world’s depraved culture.

The accommodators use modern Bible versions that easily meld in with their compromising life styles. The accommodators also come to church looking like they were heading for a baseball or football stadium or a basketball or hockey arena with their flip-flop shoes, shorts and untucked shirts. They come to Christian funerals like they just got out of bed and drink coffee or soda while they are sitting in the front rows and the preacher is delivering his funeral sermon, while at the same time avowing that they are Bible-Christians. 

Their lifestyle is worldly, their apparel and dress sloppy, and their language is flippant, using all kinds of careless euphemisms and slang that are really only substitutes for profanity.  Their Christianity is a “this world” only brand that shows little or no concern for eternal verities. The accommodators are obviously living solely for temporal concerns rather than eternal values. They live materialistic secular lives all week long and come to church on Sunday working their cell phones and constantly checking their watches, hoping the service will conclude as quickly as possible so they can hurry back home, turn on their tv and see who is winning and losing the game.

                Faithfully holding the ropes for the basket of Scripture against this crowd is not an easy task, but it must be done. The genuine faith of a coming generation of younger Christians is dependent upon how well we hold the ropes for the basket of Scripture—II Tim. 2:2.

(II)

We need to hold the ropes for the basket of

SOUL-WINNING

            If you want to know the heartbeat of God, it can be summed up in one word, God’s love for souls. II Peter 3:9 says that “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness: but is longsuffering to us-ward, not wiling that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

                It is true that God does all the saving, but he desires us to do all the seeking and help turn lost souls to righteousness. Dan. 12:3 says, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”

                While Christ is the divine builder of His church, He has chosen to include us as His human helpers in that spiritual construction endeavor. In I Cor. 3:5, the Apostle Paul states: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers [servants] by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man.” In that same passage in I Cor. 3:9, Paul continues that theme when he states that “we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”

                The wonderful fact is God has chosen us to be soul-winners. Prov. 11:30 says that “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”  We sow the seed of the Word of God, we water the ground of man’s heart and God gives the increase.  Ps. 126:5-5 says: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him.”

Like Andrew in John chapter one, using the Word, we bring men and women to Christ (Jn. 1:40-42), God then takes the Word that is sown and Christ does the saving. Since Christ is no longer personally on earth, but at God the Father’s right hand in heaven; today, God uses believers who take His inscripturated Word and present His Incarnated Word and utilizes the Holy Spirit to bring about the miracle of conversion: I Peter 1:23 states: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.”

                Unfortunately, there is a trend today in conservative religious circles, to downplay soul-winning evangelistic endeavors. Soul-winning efforts in local churches are being diminished and in many cases discarded for social oriented “do good” neighborhood programs. Washing cars, sweeping walks, picking up trash may be commendable community projects, but they are poor substitutes for old fashioned door-to-door soul winning endeavors.

Writing about the early 1st century Jerusalem saints, the Gospel writer Luke states that “daily in the temple and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” When intense persecution set in the church at Jerusalem and believers had to move beyond their Jerusalem confines to Judaea and Samaria, the Scripture states in Acts 8:4: “Therefore they were scattered abroad went every where preaching the Word.”

The story of the vast expansion of Biblical Christianity in the first century can be summarized in the simple three-fold outline of the book of Acts:  (a) Christianity in Jerusalem—chapters 1-7, (b) Christianity in Judaea and Samaria, chapters 8-11, and (c) Christianity unto the uttermost parts of the world—chapters 12-28. As Satan’s emissaries ardently seek to cut the evangelistic ropes of N. T. churches, those ropes in God’s basket of soul-winning endeavors desperately need to be strengthened and intensified as never before.

With over 225,000,000 million American not  attending on any given Sunday today, and the USA now being the “third largest unchurched nation in the world,” God’s soul-winning basket today should be similar to the basket of first century N.T. churches where it states that “the churches” were “established in the faith, and increased in number daily—Acts 16:5.”  There never has been a greater need for the planting of indigenous N.T. Baptist churches than TODAY! (Ed: Where are the church planters? They ought to be coming out of our Fundamental Baptist colleges by the wagonload!!)

(III)

We Need to Hold the Ropes for the Basket of

SEPARATION

            Perhaps the spiritual basket that is being assaulted more than any other spiritual basket is the basket of Biblical separation. In the Scriptures, Biblical separation is like a railroad track with two sides. All railroads trains run on two tracks. To put it simply, it takes both tracks to run a railroad train. A train can never function without both tracks, and they both need to be in good operating status or the train is in trouble.

 Scriptural separation is a spiritual train that runs simultaneously on the tracks of personal separation and ecclesiastical separation. To put it plainly, you can’t have one without the other. Personal separation and ecclesiastical separation are inseparable twins. While each are each distinct Biblical entities, they are intricately related and cannot separated any more than our two hands or two feet can have one hand or one foot severed from the human body and the human body still operate with the same efficiency. The Scripture clearly teaches personal separation in Rom. 12:1-2 and ecclesiastical separation in II Cor. 6:14-18.

1.Personal Separation: Rom. 12:1-2 instructs believers that personal separation includes both a positive aspect and a negative aspect:  The positive aspect is declared in Rom. 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

The negative aspect is clearly stated in Rom. 12:2 along with the means to achieve this separation and some positive personal benefits that result from following this separatist directive.  “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

                Now the world from which believers are instructed to separate here is not the world of creation. Despite all the physical disasters that have pillaged the globe such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, nature still contains hundreds of beautiful picturesque scenes that can never be adequately described in human words or pictures. Psalms chapter 19 declares that the “heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.”

                The world to which Rom. 12:2 says we should not “conform” is not inherently of itself the world of people. God loves the world of people. John 3:16 is the most succinct record that God deeply loves human beings and earnestly cares about their eternal souls. No, the world about which the Apostle Paul speaks in Rom. 12:1 is the world of the “cosmos” [kosmos], of depraved human society over which Satan exercises control and dominion; it is the order of life, the sphere of human activity over which he exercises his dominion, jurisdiction and power. There are several areas to which genuine believers should not be conformed and from which they must be spiritually separated.

                a. Believers should not be conformed to the CARES of this world—Phil 4:6-7, I Pet. 5:7.

                b.Believers should not be conformed to the CHILDREN of this worldLk 20:34. Eph. 5:6.

                c.Believers should not be conformed to the CHARACTERISTICS of this world—Rom. 6:1-6.

                d.Believers should not be conformed to the COURSE of this world—Eph. 2:2.

                e.Believers should not be conformed to the COUNSEL of this world—Ps. 1:1-2.

                f. Believers should not be conformed to the COMMANDERS of this world—I Cor. 2:6-8.

                g. Believers should not be conformed to the CLOTHING of this world—I Cor. 7:31. 

Dear child of God, hold fast those ropes in the basket of personal separation!

                2. Ecclesiastical Separation: The flip side of personal separation is ecclesiastical separation which involves severance of spiritual relationships with unbiblical activities and unscriptural relationships. Obedient believers must separate themselves from (a) those who deny the faith—II Tim. 2:16-18 (b) those who are disobedient to the faith—II Thess. 3:6-14 and (c) that which defiles the flesh—II Tim. 2:19. Dr. Harry Ironside was truly correct when he stated that “Faithfulness to Christ demands separation from that which dishonors His Word.”

                Sometimes Biblical Separation may involve a combination of both personal separation and ecclesiastical separation. There are six solid Scriptural reasons why spiritual fellowship must sometimes be severed between genuine believers: (a) Unresolved Problems—Matt. 16:16-18, (b) Unrepentant Perversions—I Cor. 5:11, (c) Unscriptural Principles—I Tim. 6:3-5, (d) Unbiblical Precepts—Rom. 16:17, (e) Unorderly Practices—II Thess. 3:6-7, (f) Unequal Partnerships—II Cor. 6:1`4-18.

 CONCLUSION

                God is the author of Biblical separation. Scriptural separation flows out of God’s holy nature. In these last days, God hasn’t changed His mind or caved into current pressures and worldly trends. Biblical separation is the hedge that guards all the other doctrines. If this hedge is destroyed, all the major Christian doctrines come tumbling down with it. BELIEVERS NEED TO HOLD THE ROPES SECURELY ON ALL THREE OF THESE AREAS!  ON SCRIPTURE, SOUL-WINNING AND SEPARATION.

Also in this issue:

PROPHETIC FORESHADOWS

CHURCHES & MINISTRIES

WYCLIFFE BIBLE TRANSLATORS

Editorial – OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2015 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given.

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