The following message was delivered by Pastor John E. Ashbrook at the 57th annual convention of the American Council of Christian Churches in Monett, Missouri, October 27-29, 1998. This is the last installment of his message (Part 1 is here and Part 2 here).
The Eschatology of Right Now
In the third place, consider the eschatological necessity for separation. 1 John 2 is one of the classic passages on personal separation for the believer. In verse 18 John says:
“Little children, it is the last time: and as he have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”
That verse may trouble you. Over 1900 years ago John declared that it was, “the last time.” What did he mean? John saw that the Gospel of salvation, which had been progressively revealed in the Bible, was now complete and that this gospel age was the time of man’s full opportunity in Christ. He knew this age would end with the rapture of the Lord’s people. Then would come the most awful period the world will ever know, the great tribulation. One of the features of the tribulation will be a one-world religion, part of the kingdom of the Anti-Christ. John knew that he was in that last time because he could already see in society little anti-christs beginning to do their work.
The One World Church
Before our eyes in 1998 that one-world religion is being assembled. The National and World Councils of Churches have been busy gathering the one-world church. Billy Graham has led new evangelicals to cooperate and consort with that project. The charismatic movement has become a cement to weld people together by experience rather than doctrine. The Catholic Church cooperates increasingly. Promise Keepers has been busy helping to “pull down the walls.” Feelers are out to Judaism, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, heathen religions, and new age philosophies. The pressure is on to find and unite on the least common denominator of human religion.
It is like the ugly, boiling pot of MacBeth’s witches. The only group not yet drawn into the bubbling brew of ecumenism is fundamentalism. The pressure is bound to increase. What has kept fundamentalism out of all this? The biblical truth of separation has been our protection. We need to cherish, stand upon, and practice that doctrine more than at any time in history.
In speaking to a YMCA group one night after the Civil War, Major Daniel Whittle used a war illustration. A small federal force, guarding a supply depot, was surrounded by a superior confederate force. The order for surrender had been given to them. As they contemplated their answer they picked up a semaphore signal from a hill several miles away. The message said, “Hold the fort, for I am coming. Sherman.” P.P. Bliss the song writer, who was in the meeting that night, could not sleep until he had penned the words and music which said:
“Hold the fort for I am coming,
Jesus signals still.
Wave the answer back to heaven,
By thy grace we will.”
As fundamentalists in 1998 we are living in the days of the countdown to Anti-Christ’s kingdom. We need a thrill of expectation in our spiritual backbones. It is not a day to lower the flag. Rather, it is a day to run the flag of fundamentalism to the top of the pole and salute it until the Saviour welcomes us home.
Pastor John E. Ashbrook (1926–2011) served as pastor of the Bible Community Church in Mentor, OH for 46 years. He authored dozens of articles in the Ohio Bible Fellowship Visitor as well as three books published by Here I Stand Books: Axioms of Separation, New Neutralism II, and Family Fundamentals.