This article was written by Pastor Roger Bixler. Pastor Bixler served as pastor of Westerville Bible Church (Columbus, Ohio) for over thirty years. Having retired from that service, he is now working with Gospel Fellowship Association in filling the places of missionaries on furlough. The Bixlers have served in Scotland, England, South Africa, Canada, and Korea.
In January, 1968, I was one of a group of men who left the Independent Fundamental Churches of America and helped to form the Ohio Bible Fellowship. The OBF was formed to take a militant (militant here means non-compromising with unbelief -editor) stand for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. In order to accomplish this goal the Preamble to our Constitution sets forth the purposes of our fellowship:
Whereas, our obedience to our Lord requires clear-cut biblical preaching to meet the needs of human hearts; and, forthright warning to the church about the danger of the hour; and the maintenance of means to express the unity of the body with fervent love and fellowship among brethren of like mind;
Purpose involves intention as well as resolution. We set forth an object or goal to be attained and then we determined to accomplish it. Let us consider the purposes which are mentioned.
WE PURPOSE TO PROCLAIM CLEAR-CUT BIBLICAL PREACHING
We live in a day of “instant things” when success is measured by numbers. Churches have turned to a methodology that produces results often at the price of biblical principles. Seminars, coffee clubs, and rock bands have replaced the preaching of the Gospel. We must refuse the fads and “isms” of our day. Many have turned to the use of psychological terms or adopt the termsof the charismatics, such as “celebrations” and “hapenings.” We need to retain the old paths which the Lord spoke of in Jeremiah 6:16:
Thus saith the Lord, stand in the old ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk in it, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
Rather than yield to the temptation of experimenting with new paths, we must follow God’s way. Paul tells us in II Timothy 4:2 God’s way to meet the needs of human hearts: Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. We are to announce as heralds the message of the Lord with the authority of His command. To be true to His Word we cannot interject out opinions or ideas but simply proclaim His message. We are to do it anywhere, everywhere, at all times and for every occasion. In so doing we will reprove sin and rebuke sinners and exhort men and women to do right. It is to be done with long-suffering and teaching. Paul tells us why we must do it: men will refuse what they need and receive what they want. It is God’s Word which meets the needs of men’s hearts – not man’s speculation or human reasoning. We believe the best way to preach the Word is by expository preaching. Our men in the OBF are known for their biblical unfolding of God’s Truth. Clear-cut biblical preaching causes sinners to see their need through the conviction of the Holy Spirit as well as to ground the saints in their faith and cause them to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord. Strong preaching from the preacher in the pulpit is God’s means to develop strong believers in the pews.
WE PURPOSE TO PURSUE FORTHRIGHT WARNING TO THE CHURCH
In so doing we must warn the church of the dangers of apostasy and compromise. I was not raised in fundamentalism. The denomination in which I was raised is perhaps the most apostate church in America today. I am so grateful that the Lord directed me to receive my training in fundamental schools. There I learned the principles of biblical separation. During my seminary days, I had the privilege of serving in a church in New York City. Those were the days of Billy Graham’s first New York Crusade. Although the church would not cooperate with the Crusade, I saw first-hand the real need for the practice of biblical seperation. That set the course for my ministry. Today the challenge facing the church is Promise Keepers. New Evangelicalism continues its drift toward apostasy. We must continue to warn our churches of the issues and dangers of our day.
How can we do this? By preaching on the great separation passages like II Corinthians 6:24 – 7:1, II John, II Thessalonians 3:6, Romans 16:17 and various Old Testament chapters. We need to keep good materials like Christian View of the News and Calvary Contender before our people. The scheduling of OBF Conferences in our churches is another important way of helping to warn our people.
We must also warn our people of the dangers of worldiness. Many talk about holiness but few seem to practice it. The old spiritual said, “Everybody talkin’ about heaven ain’t a-goin’ there.” There is much talk and little walk in the lives of too many. We have allowed Hollywood, TV and videos to set our standards, dictate our entertainment and determine our fellowship. How long has it been since we have heard of the filth in movies and the evils of dancing and drinking? What we would not go to see at the theater we will rent in our own homes. We are to be holy as He is holy and we must …cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Corinthians 7:1). A pastor friend admitted that he is not as strong as he once was in some of these areas. The Ohio Bible Fellowship is known around the world for its stand on ecclesiastical separation, but are we known for our stand on personal separation? We need to regain and maintain our moral fiber, for apure church is a powerful one.
WE PURPOSE TO PROMOTE THE MEANS TO EXPRESS THE UNITY OF THE BODY
Paul enjoins us to endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). In order to have unity in the body there must be a scriptural agreement. Amos asked the question, Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3). When the OBF was founded in 1968 there was a general agreement on doctrine and practice. Our doctrine hasn’t changed in 29 years but some of us share mutual concern for our practice. Allow me to share several concerns which I have:
1) A GROWING TREND TOWARDS INTELLECTUALISM
There is nothing that kills orthodoxy quicker than an undue emphasis on man’s mind. Preaching that only reaches the mind and not the heart is of little value;
2) AN ANTI-BIBLE INSTITUTE MENTALITY
It is a sad day when we exalt a man’s degrees rather than his understanding of the Word and call to the ministry. I have been privileged to enjoy seven and one-half years of post high school education but God forbid that I would look down upon a man with a Bible Institute diploma. We may question the continuance of the Bible Institute of Ohio for a lack of students, but never for a lack of course content;
3) A LOWERING OF DRESS STANDARDS
I have been involved in our camping program for all of our years. We are always combatting the intrusion of the world’s styles with the direction being steadily downward.
4) ACCEPTING SOCIETAL LEVELS OF BEHAVIOR
We have allowed the world, the flesh, and the devil to color our thinking in regard to divorce and remarriage, entertainment, movies and videos in our homes, and attitudes towards drinking.
These concerns need to be maintained in an atmosphere of spiritual love where we seek the other’s best rather than our own conceived selfish interest. In order to do so, we can promote our fellowship through the OBF Visitor, conferences and camping programs.
My wife and I had the opportunity of visiting the services of our former church in Wisconsin some thirty years after we left. We slipped in unannounced and found the pastor teaching separation in the Sunday School hour. What a blessing it was to my heart to know that they were still standing fast. We will be away more than we will be here over the next few years due to our missionary ministry. I trust that we will never return to find the OBF slipping in its declared purposes.
We, as the Ohio Bible Fellowship, have declared our intentions – the goals we wish to achieve. I trust that we will also determine to accomplish them. Paul states in II Corinthians 9:7, Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give. This is the real key – we must purpose in the heart and then do it for the glory of the Lord.