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Separated unto God: Holy Call to Truth, Faith, and Love

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Separated unto God: Holy Call to Truth, Faith, and Love
Separated unto God means forsaking the world, taking up the cross, and following Jesus: No servant can serve two masters. - Luke 16:13.

Separated unto God: Holy Call to Truth, Faith, and Love

Paul*, a servant of Jesus Christ*, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, - Romans 1:1

Paul wrote this to the Romans about 57 AD, 22 years after his call on the road to Damascus. There, Jesus appeared to Him brighter than the noonday sun, blinding him, knocking him from his horse, and separating him dramatically from what he had been before.

*Indicates there is a short biography of this person in SPIRITUAL LIVES.

Separated unto God:

Saul of Tarsus *thought he had been separated to God long before, all his life. He was, in his own words,

Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. – Philippians 3:5-6

Elsewhere he tells the Galatians:

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. – Galatians 1:15-17

God made the separation to Himself “from my mother’s womb,” but activated it with His call of grace on the road to Damascus. This comports with what the Apostle says in Ephesians of us all:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, - Ephesians 1:4-4

A further distinction in Paul’s case is separated unto the “gospel of God,” namely to preach/teach the good news that Jesus commanded His disciples, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

He was given the same mission as Jesus’ 11 disciples, whom He had trained for 3 years. Paul *

describes his “training” by Barnabas in Antioch and later his preparation in Arabia in Galatians, and an essential part of that was “separation unto the gospel of God.”

This separation demonstrated itself in total commitment to Jesus, to “not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ*, and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

His ministry worked in the spirit Jesus demanded: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. – Luke 9:23

Later He carried this further:

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:27

Separated from the world.

Saul of Tarsus and the 12 disciples not only left their former occupations to follow Jesus but were called to be separated from the world. Jesus put it like this, ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, John 15:19.

St. Paul* extended this teaching to the Christians in Corinth:

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. – 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

The world as an enemy/corruptor

St. Paul* had earlier given the Corinthians a statement outlining some of the corruptions of the world and emphasizing that the wicked had no part in God’s kingdom:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

While separation unto God is the basis for the call of grace to Paul and Jesus’ disciples, its first display is in separation from the world. This is a heritage based upon the scriptures they all honored.

Separation in the Old Testament

Abraham* was separated unto God by being separated from his idolatrous family and culture in the land of Ur. Being separated from the world meant a long (in his case 1000 mile) journey away from Ur to the Promised Land of Canaan. This is the prototype of our spiritual journey from the world, the flesh, and the devil to heaven, eternal life, and the place Jesus is preparing for us.

This separation process is presented in a national/cultural picture when Moses* led the Children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt into a covenant with the LORD and then into the Promised Land of Canaan.

Moses* himself was the personal example of separation from the world and power of Egypt and unto the LORD of the burning bush and the 10 Commandments.

When God had separated His people from the world of Egypt, He then separated one of the 12 tribes of Israel to Himself, the Levites, who were given no land in Canaan but were separated unto “the gospel of God.” This meant they were ordained into full-time, life-long service of the sacrificial worship in the Tabernacle and administration of the Law God gave to Moses. *

Within this broad picture of separation from and separation unto we see the separation process operative at a personal level and on an individual basis.

First, there were Nazarites, who were separated unto God by holy vows (never drinking wine, cutting their hair, shaving, or touching dead bodies). The most famous of these was Samson,* whose separation to God brought with it the power of the Holy Spirit and supernatural strength. Samuel* and John the Baptist* were also separated unto God in this way. To each of them, the Holy Spirit came so that not a word that Samuel spoke “fell to the ground,” and that everyone John baptized believed on Jesus as the Lamb of God.

The prophets were also separated unto God, beginning with Amos who was called from tending sheep to prophesy to the wicked kingdom of Israel, and continuing through the major prophets, Isaiah*, Jeremiah, * Ezekiel, * and Daniel. *

Daniel himself is an outstanding example of one separated from his homeland and then unto God by separating himself from the world, namely refusing to partake of the food and drink of Babylon.

All of this was well-known to the Jews of the New Testament to whom Jesus and St. Paul ministered. The Jews had the Old Testament and knew what the world was and that they had to be separate from it. They carried this out in their daily life, distaining the Samaritans, Romans, and all Gentiles.

But the converts to Christianity came from pagan cultures, did not know the Old Testament, and did not yet have the New Testament to guide them. Hence the Apostle Paul* defined wickedness to them and admonished them to come out from the pagan world and be separate.

Being separate in the apostolic era

The first separation we find in the church is from Judaism. This was a long struggle, for the first Christians were all Jews and wanted to continue following the Law of Moses. * The conflict was intense, at one point causing Paul* to publicly rebuke Peter for separating himself from the Gentiles in Antioch (Galatians 2:11).

But this issue was settled by a council of the apostles led by James that freed Gentiles from the Jewish law and gave them simpler guidelines (abstain from sexual sin and meat offered to idols).

This stepping away from Jewish traditions, opened the door widely to the Gentiles through the Gospel of Grace. There was great interest in what they then called “the Way,” but it was necessary for Gentiles to leave their false religion first.

The first great example of this was in Ephesus, the second largest city in the Roman Empire where the world-famous Temple of Artemis (Diana) stood as one of the wonders of the ancient world. When Paul and Barnabas preached the Gospel in Ephesus there were riots led by the priests of the goddess who rightly saw that this new religion threatened their livelihood. They proved right. As the worship of the Roman gods and goddesses fell, the worship of Jesus grew, and soon there were not enough sacrifices to sustain the great pagan temple financially.

This became the pattern throughout the Roman Empire: false religion faltered, and Christianity grew.

Separated through persecution

As Christianity grew opposition increased. This was partly due to self-interest and devotion to Roman religion, and partly due to a misunderstanding of Christian practice. Enemies said that practicing the Lord’s Supper was cannibalism.

Nero began Roman persecution of Christians in 64 AD, killing Saints Peter and Paul*, and countless others by burning, public execution, and death inflicted by the sword of gladiators and the mouths of lions. Official Roman persecution continued up until the time of Constantine* when he established Christianity as the state religion.

This 250-year time of danger drove Christians into hiding in the catacombs keeping them separate from the world but separated unto God. This separation unto God was driven by the Didache, the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the publication of the New Testament.

With Constantine* 272-337, Christians were freed from persecution and entered a time of being separated unto the gospel of God. This came through the lives and work of many, including.

Iraneus* 130-202 who had defined and preached against heresy,

St. Jerome* 347-420 who put the Bible into the people’s language, and

Augustine of Hippo 354-430 who established the central elements of Christian theology that continue to this day.

Separation in the post-Roman world

The Fall of Rome in 454 began a thousand-year separation unto God, as Roman government and institutions were destroyed and replaced by the Catholic church. The church fed and clothed the masses and taught the faith to men and women who had been separated from the world and unto Christ by ministers, teachers, educators, and missionaries.

Their role was to repeat the missionary efforts of St. Paul and the Apostles, to win souls for Jesus. This meant separating people from the world and separating them unto the Gospel of God.

St. Patrick* 415-494 was the pioneer in this long line of missionaries from

  • Columba* 521-597, to

  • Amandus* 584-675, to

  • Wynfrid (Boniface)* 675-754, to

  • Olga of Kiev *890-969 and

  • Anselm of Canterbury* 1033-1109.

By this time all of Europe had been won for Christ.

The Church is corrupted by the World.

When the Gospel separated believers from the world and their pagan religion, millions entered the church and were separated unto God. But as the church grew its holiness and focus on worshiping Jesus dimmed. Its servants were no longer “holy men of God” and women, but people of the world, administrators, businessmen, social workers, and executives. The church became less a body and more an organization.

Driven by its desire to expand, the church embraced pagan rituals and practices like veneration of relics, the rosary, prayer to the saints and to the Virgin Mary, as well as the Idea of Purgatory and the sale of indulgences.

God raised up and separated unto Himself 2 men of genius, Thomas Aquinas*1225-1274 and Dante Alighieri* 1265-1321.

Aquinas wrote 3125 articles explaining the Bible. This work became the greatest theological work of all time. His Summa Theologiae became the foundational basis for Roman Catholic theology and doctrine to the present time.

But Thomas stepped away from this work while it was still unfinished when Jesus appeared to him. After that, he said he could not continue, “because all that I have written seems like straw to me.”

Dante took that theology to heart and gave it to the Italian people in the Divine Comedy, the greatest poem yet written. It drew the people of his time to God and showed them the value of separation from the world by describing the poison of sin and showing its eternal consequence in the punishments of Hell. On the other side, its presentation of the glories and beauty of heaven in the Paradiso awakened a desire to be separated unto God and was the basis for a revival of Holiness.

Sadly, the corrupt leadership of the church did not respond to the Bible Aquinas was explaining but put his theology in its place. The church chose the Latin of Thomas and ancient Rome to govern, but the language Dante used to teach the Bible’s truth helped ordinary people discover God’s Word in their own language. As the Bible was translated into the vernacular, it sparked two great movements of history, the Renaissance, and the Reformation.

Separation in the Renaissance and Reformation

The Renaissance was the rediscovery of the ancient culture of the Greeks and Romans, especially their art, architecture, and literature. Christian artists like Michelangelo and Rafael created beautiful sculptures and paintings on Biblical themes and turned the culture from the worldly to God.

This refocusing from the things of the world to the things of God continued in the Protestant Reformation when the renewed interest in the Bible sparked a revival that separated people from the world unto the things of God.

This renewal of faith and hunger for the things of God continued through the 19th century when the agnostic views of the Enlightment infected the church and many were separated from the Gospel of God.

Holy men and women of God like Charles Spurgeon*, Fanny Crosby, * J. Gresham Machen* and Aimee Semple Macpherson* refused accommodation with the things of the world and stood firm for the Gospel.

But the process of separation continues to this day. The world has redefined Christianity to accommodate things of the world but in doing so created another gospel that denies Jesus’ atonement for sin and substitutes a social gospel with man at its center.

The world has gained such a powerful place in what were once Christ-centered churches that we see the full impact of Jesus’ question: when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?Luke 18:8

Separation today

Thank God for the 2.4 billion Christian men and women in the world.

Sadly, many of the 2.4 billion are “Cultural Christians.” Jesus has a warning for such:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. – Matthew 7:21-23

Jesus has died on the cross for everyone and calls each of us to be separate from the world and its evil and to be separated unto Him. He calls “Come unto me, all ye that labor and have heavy-laden and I will give you rest.’’

In order to come, we must separate from the world.

Come out from among them and be ye separate, commands St. Paul.

The Apostle John warns, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Separate from the world in your daily life and in your worship. Jesus calls us to take up our cross daily to follow Him:

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. - Luke 14:33

Separation from the world includes stepping away from false teaching or a corrupted church:

A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Titus 3:10

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8

Separated unto Jesus Christ

Our separation unto Christ begins when we believe and answer His call to “Come unto Me.”

When we come to Jesus, He comes to us.

In Revelation, He stands at our heart’s door knocking and asking to come in. When we open the door, He comes in and “sups with us,” that is shares food with us. I take that to mean His Word, and as we share that He gives us understanding and draws us closer to Himself in holy separation from the world and unto the gospel of God.

Even more wonderful is the promise in John that when we keep His words, He, and the Father “will come unto him and make our abode with him.” John 14:23 Here we have both separation from the world and unto God in a place of perfection. Both separations are gloriously complete.

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