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Historical Markings

Where Have We Been?

Where Are We Going?

” . . . The gift of God’s grace caused us to separate from the church body with which we were formerly affiliated. God made salvation precious to us. He had created a deep love in our hearts for Jesus who came to us through His holy Word. This love responded with obedience to His Word. It was and is evidence of God’s grace among us that we have a deep affection for the Word.

“It was the holy Word of God which was violated when the synods from which we originally came, continued in a fellowship which God forbade. God made it clear to us that every deviation from the Word is dangerous. He said: ‘A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,’ and again that every departure ‘will eat as doth a canker.’

“That the doctrine which was violated is a non-fundamental one is not the issue in fellowship. That the teaching because of which we separated may be referred to as a peripheral teaching does not alter God’s exhortation and admonition to withdraw. The fact is that the deviation is the beginning of an attack upon the glory of the work and person of Jesus whose Word is ignored. It is the beginning of the devil’s modification and eventual destruction of the essential doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. Every departure from God’s Word disrupts and disturbs the purpose for which God gave Scripture to us, namely, to ‘make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.’ We did not want to be partakers of the evil deed of departing from God’s clear Word, and we did not want to be joined with such as serve not our Lord Jesus Christ by ignoring and disregarding his ‘avoid’ and ‘withdraw.’

“Let others say what they wish as to the reasons why we withdrew. Let them say that it was because we couldn’t get what we wanted. Let them say that it was matter of personality clashes. Let them say that we were bitter. But let none of us ever conduct ourselves in such a way that the opponents can have a right to such claims. The six pastors who met in pastoral conference in Spokane in the fall of 1957 cautioned one another against bitterness, and it is worth repeating. ‘Bitterness and lovelessness are unbecoming to everyone who is a recipient of God’s grace in Christ. Our conduct and behavior ought to be such at all times that others may know that the love of Christ and love for His Word dwell in us. Let the gift of grace shine; let Christ be glorified in our lives; let the evidence of our love be clear to all.'”

–from the 1970 essay


(Pastor M. J. Witt)