Saturday, June 24, 2006

Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8, continued

Article 4: Salvation (Continued) Conclusion The beauty of this article on salvation, even with the one minor problem mentioned previously, is that it approaches salvation from a God-centered perspective, rather than a man-centered perspective. Salvation is initiated by the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Justification is the declaration of God the Father, declaring us righteous based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and accepting the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross in our behalf. Once declared righteous in Christ, we proceed to become righteous by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. In glorification we enjoy all of the blessings of salvation in full, that up to that point were only "seen in a mirror dimly" (1 Corinthians 13:12). This article is also careful to point out two other very important aspects of salvation. First, that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone (Acts 4:21 Acts 4:12). Many commonly view Jesus' illustration of the narrow gate and the wide gate in Luke 13 as a contrast between seeking God and not seeking God. What is really in view here is the difference between the narrow gate of Acts 4:21 Acts 4:12 and 1 Timothy 2:5, and the wide gate of "There are many ways to God.", or "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere". The second very important detail found in this article is that repentance and faith must be found together. Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ is only possible by that change of heart that is wrought, hammered out, by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. There is none of this nonsense that we can believe in Jesus now for salvation, and at some later date, give our lives over to Him in obedience. So, as I asked in the beginning of this study on salvation: Is there enough in this article to point you to Christ for salvation? I think not. This is one reason why the articles are set up the way they are. Once the foundation of all authority is laid, namely God's word, we need to understand what is contained in the next two articles. Salvation really means very little until we have a knowledge of who this righteous, holy, and just God is. We also need to know who we are, and what our predicament as fallen creatures is. Last of all, to understand the significance of salvation, we need to know who the Savior is. The beginning of regeneration by the Holy Spirit is our conviction of sin, and then our seeing the need for a Savior. Only after all of this occurs does salvation make any sense. So, now for the other questions asked at the beginning.
  • What are we saved from? We are saved from the wrath of God (Romans 1:18).
  • What are we saved for? God's holy purpose, to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1).
  • Is salvation a one-time thing, or does it take you your entire life to be saved? Answer: We have been saved. We are being saved. We will be saved. All of this is to say that salvation begins at justification, and you are saved. But that is not the end of it, for you are being saved by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, making you more and more like Christ. Still more is involved as you pass from this world, where you inherit all those blessings in their fullness.
In [Christ Jesus] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13,14 ESV) One question that continues to nag on me. If the Southern Baptist Convention is made up of a minority of believers holding to the doctrines of Sovereign Grace, then how has a strong particular-redemption phrase in the first paragraph of this article escaped the notice of the majority. Next week we will look at God's Purpose of Grace, where there will be even more wonders to behold. The more I study the BFM 2000, the more I wonder if anybody has bothered to read it. Maybe I should be happy and shut up. I know that when I teach it the way it is written, and back it up with Scripture, the class frowns and fusses a bit, but then they accept it because that is how God's word teaches it. Hopefully, some day it will all soak in and begin to cause them to see the power and majesty and beauty of a sovereign God and Savior. Previous Lessons: Baptist, What Do You Believe? #1 (An Introduction) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #2 (On the Doctrine of Scripture) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #3 (On the Doctrine of God) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #4 (On God the Father) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #5 (On God the Son Baptist, What Do You Believe? #6 (On God the Holy Spirit) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #7 (On the Doctrine of Man) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (On the Doctrine of Salvation)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Acts 2:21 (ESV) And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:8-10 (ESV) Jesus, looking at him with sadness, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:24-27 (ESV)
Saved? What are we saved from? And what are we saved for? How does one go about being/getting/finding saved/salvation? Is salvation a one-time thing, or is it a process that lasts all of our lives? Much confusion surrounds the doctrine of salvation. Get these questions wrong and you come up with something less than salvation in the reconciled-to-God sense of the word. This week we are looking at Article 4 of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, on the doctrine of salvation. What about the BF&M2000; does it accurately lay out the biblical doctrine of salvation? Does it say enough, and is it clear to the average reader? Is there enough in these brief paragraphs to lead a lost person to Christ? Is there enough here to teach you how to proclaim the gospel to a lost and perishing world? Does it accurately describe what Southern Baptists believe? Let's dig into the contents of the doctrine of salvation in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. IV. Salvation Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, The word redemption involves the idea of buying something back. The most common illustration is one of someone buying another person out of slavery. God is described as redeeming Israel when He brought them out of the land of Egypt in 1Chronicles 17:21. Both Paul and Peter refer to the lost as being slaves to sin (Romans 6:16-20, Titus 3:3, 2 Peter 2:19). Salvation redeems us from the guilt and power of sin, through Jesus Christ. The whole man is redeemed, body and soul. Being in Christ makes us new creatures now (2 Corinthians 5:17), and at the resurrection in the life to come (1 Corinthians 15:52-54). Christ redeems his people from the curse of the law (which brings death) in Galatians 3:13. and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, I am sorry, but someone nodded off when this phrase was written. It should read something like this: and is offered freely to all, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. I am assuming that this phrase was intended to express the idea of the gospel call and offer going out to all humanity. Neither Calvinist nor Arminian believes that the offer is limited in any way. As modified, we have in this phrase the free offer of the gospel (Matthew ll:28, John 7:37). The original wording implies, though probably not intentionally, that the offer goes out freely, but the all is limited by only those who believe. That is clearly not what Scripture says. who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. Christ's blood, which represents his violent death on our behalf on the cross, is what has obtained (purchased) this redemption (1 Peter 1:18,19, Revelation 5:9). When you obtain something by paying for it, you are usually buying a set amount of something. Jesus did not merely make salvation possible, He saved a people (John 6:37, John 17:6-24) from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 5:9, Revelation 7:9). This one short phrase lends a particular, rather than a general flavor to the entire Baptist Faith and Message 2000. It was that way in 1963 version, as well. This redemption is eternal. We were not leased or rented, we were bought. It shall never end (John 6:58) In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. Jesus Christ is the unique saviour, and that salvation comes through faith alone.
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart othat God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9,10 (ESV) Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 (ESV) And there is salvation bin no one else, for cthere is no other dname under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (ESV)
I underlined the word justification above, because it is the one word that is not present in the 1963 BF&M. The 1963 edition does go on to include justification in the definition list below, in effect combining point A and B into the first point. In every other respect, the 2000 and the 1963 are virtually identical. The 1925 BF&M, however, gives the doctrine of Justification its own separate article. Although the scope of this brief survey does not permit it, it would be interesting to study the changes also made from 1925 to 1963. A. Regeneration, or the new birth, (John 3:3) is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:2). It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, The sinner is saved by a gracious work of God. The believer is a recipient, passive in the transaction. Yes, man has to repent and believe, but even that faith that wells up in the heart of man is a gracious gift of God.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)
The word wrought is considered an archaic word, not a word used in modern English much any more. Gramatically, wrought is the past tense of the verb to work. As it is most commonly used today, the word wrought is used in connection with the beating and shaping of metals with an anvil and hammer. to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour. Jesus is not just Savior, He is also Lord. You can't have one without the other. Repentance is just the first act of service (1 Thessalonians 1:9). B. Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God. Justification is a word act. The scene is the court room. God is the judge bringing the gavel down at the end of a trial, declaring the defendent not guilty. In justification, God doesn't make us just; He declares us just, based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This declaration is gracious and full. It is gracious because we don't deserve it. It is full because we do not need to bring anything to make it complete. It already is. Justification is the part of salvation that happens once, and only once, in an instant. C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life. This is the part of salvation that takes all of our Christian lives. It never ends until you die. The Christian walk is not easy. It is accompanied with trouble on every hand. We will fall many times, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will get up and continue on. Notice that the reason that we are set apart are to God's purposes, not ours. Sometimes it is impossible to know what God is doing in and through us, because it doesn't seem to make us happy, or it doesn't fit the way that we think would be best. D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed. Either when we die, or when Christ returns, we will no longer be limited by our sinful natures. Glorification is that final part of salvation in which the believer receives the full measure of all that has been promised. Up until this point the believer has to rely on faith, but in glorification, the believer sees, tastes, touches all the blessings promised of God, even God Himself.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV) Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2 ESV)
Later this week I am going to try to post some conclusions to this lesson. We probably won't make it through this in one week, anyway. I apologize (if you noticed) for revising this post while online multiple times. Trying to patch the Ponderosa back together after our trip to Greensboro occupied most of Saturday, when I usually put the finishing touches on the lesson. Thanks for your patiences. Previous Lessons: Baptist, What Do You Believe? #1 (An Introduction) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #2 (On the Doctrine of Scripture) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #3 (On the Doctrine of God) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #4 (On God the Father) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #5 (On God the Son Baptist, What Do You Believe? #6 (On God the Holy Spirit) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #7 (On the Doctrine of Man)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

SBC Day 2, Wednesday Evening

Well, what do you say. "It's over.", I guess. The only reason we came back this evening was to see if "anything" would develope out of the IMB report. There were a few ripples. At the point of "questions" two men stepped up to the mic and both each directed their question, not at Dr. Rankin, but the new chairman of trustees, John Floyd. Each messenger in his turn ask Dr. Floyd what he was going to do concerning "certain trustees" not being allowed to attend all meetings of the IMB, and of the excessive use of executive (closed) sessions. Dr. Floyd responded both times to the effec "I don't know what you're talking about." My pastor said afterward concerning the response, "What condescension. What an insult." The point was made, and publically, so the monkey is on the IMB's back, and they are going to have that monkey for the next 12 months. There was also the unveiling of a large bronze statue of the Rev. Billy Graham standing in front of a cross, holding up a Bible in one hand with the other arm raised, in his typical style of offering the gospel. There was also a brief appearance and address by Cliff Barrows. It was all nice, a nice gesture, but. . . Impressions Keep in mind, this was my first SBC ever. I was raised a Southern Baptist. I am a Southern Baptist now. The first twenty-five years of my adult life I raised a family of five in an independent, rural, reformed Baptist church. Three pastors and twenty-five years later, I woke up one day and found myself in a reformed Episcopal church, to which my wife and I said "Hey, what are we doing here? We're Baptists." So here are a few random impressions of my first convention. 1. The music was better than I thought it would be. My pastor's wife asked what kind of music do I like, to which I replied, "I don't know. I haven't heard it yet." More on this some day. Maybe. 2. Everybody clapped for everything. After praying, after preaching, after singing, after business. If we were doing God's business, why were we constantly applauding man for everything. 3. Too many frivolous resolutions and motions, especially the ones that passed. 4. Too much preaching. Now this comes from someone who listens each work day on an iPod to 25 min. of Piper, 26 min. of Sproul, 38 min. of Mohler. I also listen to my pastor's three messages twice, because I record and publish them, and want to make sure the audio quality is fit for the internet. Then there's the odd conference messages I pick up, and the audio of of other pastor's sermons. I guess I should have said "Too much shallow, man-centered, mediocre preaching. Some day I will tell you what I really think. 5. Words too often used: inerrency (without the accompanying "sufficiency"), ten percent, and baptism (without the accompanying "regeneration"). More on these later, maybe. 6. Words not used often enough: soli Deo gloria I'm sorry. It's late. I really did enjoy the convention. I will have to post a counterbalance soon. There was much good, much encouragement, if you looked for it, but I just can't get the phrase "Ringling Brothers" out of my head. Go to the blogs I linked to in the previous post. They've all updated this evening, all good stuff. Go to Wade's blog also. I'm going to paste his photo in the margin of my dictionary next to the words gracious, patient, and longsuffering. It's late. I've got to get to bed. We shove off at dawn.

SBC Day 2, Wednesday Morning

Well, despite heavy rains, there was a considerable crowd at the second day of the convention. It was an interesting morning, with a speech by Secretary of State Condelesa Rice, a report from Dr. Mohler on Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and debate and votes on a number of resolutions. Pastor Rod and I are on the bus now, headed for lunch with our wives. Dr. Mohler's address will probably proove be the high point of today. He spoke to the health of the seminaries in the SBC, and the role of truth as a reflection of God, and subsequently, the character of God. Dr. Mohler stated that SBTS existed for three things: 1. for the truth 2. for the church 3. for the world Again, what I love to hear from a minister of the gospel, Dr. Mohler spoke on these subjects in light of "how to deliver the maximum glory to God alone. Dr. Tom Ascol spoke from the floor, requesting that his resolution, which did not make it out of committee, be voted on to be considered anyway. This required a two-thirds majority, which it did not get. Dr. Ascol's resolution was one basically calling for honesty in reporting church membership numbers, which by implication is a call for churches to take the responsibility of church discipline seriously. A representative from the committee on resolutions responded by saying that the reason why the resolution didn't make it out of committee was because we don't want to get rid of those records of people who no longer attend, because we need them for contact and prayer purposes. It seems like a lame excuse to me. No body said anything about throwing three-by-five cards in the trash bin. Good grief, you can remove someone who never attends from a church roll, and still keep the "card" for information purposes. I grew up with this: "Oh, you can't take someone off the rolls, that might send them to Hell.", or something like that. A resolution which did make it out of committee, and indeed was passed by the convention, was one regarding the SBC making a strong statement discouraging the use of alcohol. Brave arguments were brought against this resolution by Ben Cole, Jeff Young, Marty Duren, and Dr. Ascol, but to no avail. We can pass a resolution to discourage something that Scriptures does not, but we cannot pass a resolution which promotes something that Scripture speaks plainly on. I haven't met any of these young men (Well, Dr. Ascol is older than myself.), but if this is a picture of the future of the SBC, I think we are going in the right direction. Judging from their deportment, articulation, and emphasis on the glory of God, the best years of the SBC are ahead. Go check these guys blogs out. Their reports are all interesting, much more detailed than mine. Art Rogers Tom Ascol David Phillips Marty Duren

SBC Day 1

I was going to post something on the road Sunday and Monday, but there really wasn't anything worth writing about. It was two days of driving with lots of pretty scenery. Though I have been to every state west of the Mississippi, I haven't been west of Arkansas in the south, so Tennessee and North Carolina were special treats. The landscape is hard to write about, so you will have to wait till I get some pics posted. . . some day. This morning at 6:30 Pastor Rod, Suzan and I went to the Founders breakfast, where Mark Dever was to preach on Romans 9 and 10, Why aren't my loved ones saved? . After Dever, the preaching was pretty much downhill the rest of the day. Pastor Dever gave three reasons from the text why those that Paul longed to see saved weren't: 1. Because God hadn't saved them. 2. Because they don't believe. 3. Because No one was telling them the good news. Under this last point Pastor Dever went on to answer the question "How should we tell the Gospes?" A. That it is an urgent decision. B. That it is a costly decision. C. That it is infinitely worth the cost. In conclusion several points were made, including, but not limited to, the following: 1. Pastor Dever gave examples from Scripture as well as church history, of those who were patient and persistent with their loved ones: God with Paul, and Monica with her son Augustine, for example. 2. "The Gospel is full of whoevers" 3. It is not up to us to limit the gospel. 4. We Calvinists often use our theology to excuse our laziness. The Convention 1. The preaching peppered throughout the business was energetic, loud, illustrated, emotional, innovative, but not half as good as Pastor Rod on his worst day. One bright spot was a report from a young man, I missed his name, during the NAMB report. He had a church plant in NYC, and he said several times that his goal was to "display the greatness of God to the world.", and not xx number of baptisms or decisions. 2. Frank Page from South Carolina was elected president, with 50.48 percent in a three way race, just barely avoiding the necessity for a runoff. Mark Dever got the most votes for 1st Vice President on the first vote with 29.72 percent, but lost to Jimmy Jackson in the runoff, 51.44 to 47.86 percent. We voted on 2nd vice president, but no results before we adjourned last night. I will try to post on this tomorrow, as there was a considerable amount of humor involved? 3. I was hoping to see some people I was familiar with. I saw the obvious: Tom Ascol, Mark Dever, Tom Nettles, Wade Burleson. I did not get to meet them, but it was nice to see a real face with familiar names. I did unexpectedly see Steve Parks (For you Tangleites/Trinitites). He brought a motion to the convention. Pastor (Bishop) Jeff Young brought a comment to a motion made. Ben Cole also raised a question on one of the reports. I've never met Cole, and have only traded a few emails with Young. Now Steve Parks: well I could tell stories for weeks about Brother Steve. I've got to get some snooze. Bus leaves at 7:30 in the morning.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Greensboro or Bust

I will not be posting a Baptist, What Do You Believe? installment this week. It won't be needed until next Sunday. Another brother will be leading a review lesson this Sunday morning in my Sunday-school class. By the title of this post I've already let the cat out of the bag. Yes, were going. My wife and I, along with our pastor and his family, are making the 16-hour trek from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Greensboro, North Carolina. This will be my wife's and my first convention, so Pastor Harris is going to hold our hands. For the congregation back home and others interested, I plan to post some From-the-Laymans-View articles while at the convention, maybe with a few photos sprinkled in. They might not be worth a flip, but I will let you decide that. From all that has been going on lately, this year's convention could prove to be one not to miss. In going, we certainly want to help, to represent our home church, to give it a voice at the convention. The five of us from Trinity certainly have our opinions concerning the issues that are pressing this year, but I think that all of us want to hear the discussion and debate, if any, to try to get the whole story and everybody's point of view. I have been saving this picture since shooting it back in March, thinking I would write a post titled something like "Can It be Salvaged?" I am glad that never took place. I am inserting it now to illustrate the need for regular, faithful maintenance, so our great convention, and especially the IMB doesn't wind up like this old barn near Muskogee, Oklahoma. These past few months I have been so encouraged by the upbeat, optimistic words of Pastor Wade Burleson in his blog. He never misses a chance, as he did in this Friday's post to praise the efficiency and effectiveness of the IMB, and his fellow trustees, and the faithful missionaries that are sent out by them (and thereby all us all). My prayer for this coming week is that we all pack our hammers and nail aprons, and leave our wrecking bars at home. A word about the home front. Anybody thinking about burglarizing should be advised that the Marine will be at our house, and Barny (Fife) the attack Beagle will be guarding Pastor's home.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

More Classical, More Traditional Music

Are you trying to resist that popular wave of modern worship music, but can't seem to find anything good to listen to? Well, Old Fashioned Christian Radio is the place you have been looking for. This site is different from all the other sites I have mentioned and placed in my sidebar, in that this is not a resource for mp3 files, music lyrics, or scores. This site provides streaming audio. In other words, it is an internet radio station. As far as web sites go, this one is "U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi.", but it does a good job at what it does, which is stream classical-style traditional Christian music over the internet. The site has settings for dial-up, as well as broadband users, and you can purchase the cds of the music aired right there on the site. Go check it out.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Baptist, What Do You Believe? #7

Article III, Man Review Questions: 1. What is regeneration? 2. What is illumination? 3. Why is the Holy Spirit called the Holy Spirit? Introduction This week in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 we turn our attention to Article 3: Man. What makes us different from the animals? Is there any difference, or are we just grown up germs? Is it simply that we have won the cosmic lottery, and wound up at the top of the heap? Or could it be, as Article 3 begins, that we are the special creation of God? At first glance, if we are His crowning work then something is very wrong with this picture. As we work our way through the doctrine of man, as laid out in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, we begin to see the picture rightly, as God would have us see it. The Creation of Man Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. What is so special about man? Where in Scripture are we told that man as the crowning work of His creation?
  • We are made in God's own image and likeness: Genesis 1:26
  • God gave us dominion over all else that He had created on earth: Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:6
  • God blessed man: Genesis 1;28
  • Only after the creation of Man did God say that His creation was very good: Genesis 1:31
  • Man is the only creature that God breathed the breath of life into: Genesis 2:7
  • We are made just lower than the angelic beings, and with glory and honor: Psalm 8:5
  • God sent his only begotten Son to die on a cross and redeem His people: Romans 5:8
The underlined portion above is the only part of Article 3 that constituted a significant change from this article in the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message. Obviously, the societal mores in the 21st century are not what they were in the middle of last century. Even though homosexuality was a known sin in 1963, it was not an accepted practice in general society. Today, on the other hand, homosexuality has passed into, not only accepted practice, but is all but considered as perfectly normal in America. The added wording is intended to show that the creation story specifically includes gender, and in fact shows God to be kind and generous in providing complimentary companionship as a part of His crowning work of creation. It is only after the fall that prohibition against the perversion of homosexuality has to be spelled out (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9). Man's Rebellion and Fall (Genesis 3:1-24) By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Not long after being placed in the garden, Adam and Eve disobeyed the one and only command of God by, first desiring the benefits of the forbidden fruit (being like God: Genesis 3:5), and then taking and eating it (Genesis 3:6), thus bringing sin into the world. We are also told in this section that the temptation was prompted by Satan. All of humanity was represented in Adam, and consequently, all humanity inherited a sin nature. On a personal note, I believe that the phrase his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin is too weak. The next sentence leaves no doubt that all are indeed sinners by virtue of being the posterity of Adam, but the word inclined weakens the idea a bit. An inclination can be changed. while a nature cannot. David said in Psalm 51:5 "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." This verse points out the inherency of our sin nature, and as the next sentence of Article 3 states, as soon as we are capable of sin, we do so. As Christian parents, this should not make us wonder what the age of accountability is, but rather should cause us to raise our children as Timothy was raised, knowing from childhood the sacred Scriptures, which were able to save him (2 Timothy 3:15). What better blessing any parents could give their child, than for them to never know a time when they didn't have saving faith in Christ Jesus. God's Gracious Act of Redemption in Christ Jesus Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. Here we have a nutshell version of the gospel. Because man is a sinner by nature, that is all he is capable of. It takes a gracious God to bring man back (Ephesians 2:8,9). Man cannot and will not come to God (Romans 8:7), so God must do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, through His son Jesus Christ. Only then can we fulfill the creative purpose of God (Ephesians 2:10). The Dignity of Every Human Being The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love. Here we are where we started with the doctrine of man. Man being made in God's image makes him special, having full dignity, and sacredness. The article gives two proofs for the dignity of all mankind: being made in the image of God, and Christ dying for His people. Man bearing the image of God is the reason God condemns murder (Genesis 9:6). In Acts 17:26 Paul points out that all of the races have their origin in Adam and Eve, and later in verse 30 he tells his hearers that God has commanded all men everywhere to repent. Jesus, when He gives the great commission in Matthew 28:19 tells His disciples to make disciples of all nations. John, in Revelation 5:9 records that God has saved people from every tribe and language and people and nation. All peoples everywhere, therefore deserve our greatest effort to reach them with the gospel of grace. Previous Lessons: Baptist, What Do You Believe? #1 (An Introduction) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #2 (On the Doctrine of Scripture) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #3 (On the Doctrine of God) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #4 (On God the Father) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #5 (On God the Son Baptist, What Do You Believe? #6 (On God the Holy Spirit) Technorati Tags: