Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Baptist, What Do You Believe? #14

We come to that article, finally, that defines what it means to be Southern Baptist. Not just Baptist, but Southern Baptist. Evangelism and missions are the two reasons that Baptists in the United States came together in 1845 to form the Southern Baptist Convention. The North American Mission Board, and the International Mission Board are the two agencies that make up the organizational bulk, and is the very heart of the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC is known around the world for its second-to-none missions organization, and their passionate commitment to reaching the lost for Christ with their 5000-plus army of full-time missionaries on the foreign mission field. Since the devastating hurricane disasters in 2005, the North American Mission Board, NAMB for short, has earned a reputation for first-class rapid response in domestic disaster relief, especially in the areas of providing hot meals and fresh, clean water. NAMB also sends missionaries to plant churches here in America, rural as well as urban, in areas where Baptist churches are not the norm. Article 11 marks the beginning of the articles that define what we do, not just what we believe. The first ten articles have laid the ground for what we do, for what we are suppose to do as ambassadors for Christ. Article by article we have created a giant mosaic called a biblical world view. In that biblical world view we have rightly assayed the character of God, of man, the dilemma that exists between God and man, and the reconciliation to that dilemma that is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Now that we have all of this information, it is time to do something with it. Coming to these truths for the first time, if you are not a Christian, your first responsibility is to bow the knee, repent of your sins, and confess Christ as your Lord and Savior. After that, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to go and tell, to make disciples of all the nations, on our block, in our town, and around the world. Let's look now at Evangelism and Missions.
XI. Evangelism and Missions It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations.
We have the duty to evangelize: Christ commands us not once, but five times to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:46-49, John 20:21-23, and Acts 1:8). Paul tells the Romans that he is under an obligation to preach (Romans 1:14-17). He later states that Christ sent him to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17). In 1 Corinthians 9:16, Paul adamantly declares that necessity is laid upon him, and goes on to proclaim "Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel." Paul commands his young brother in Christ, Timothy, to "preach the word" (2 Timothy 4:2). Peter declares in Acts 10:42 that "he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead." We have the privilege of evangelizing: In Romans 1 above where Paul announces his obligation to preach the gospel, he is quick to add, just one verse later, that he is eager to preach to those in Rome. In 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, Paul describes the preaching of the gospel as something he has been entrusted with. Indeed, what a great duty and privilege it is to evangelize. God does not need us, but He stoops down and uses us, allowing us to share in the joy that He has in the salvation of lost sinners, in the ever-increasing worship brought about by new believers being brought into the fellowship of the redeemed.
The new birth of man's spirit by God's Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ.
I am surprised that no reference to John's first epistle is given in this article's listed Scripture passages. John repeatedly makes the connection between love for God and love for our fellow man ( 1 John 3:10, 11, 14, 16-18, 23, 4:7-12, 19-21). We therefore should have a desire and make every effort to obey our Lord's commands, using the means He has given us, to proclaim the gospel to a lost and perishing world. We preach to the lost, realizing that we were once lost, without hope in this world (Ephesians 2:12), and someone had compassion on us and shared the good news that Jesus saves sinners.
The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
The above underlined parts are new to the 2000 version. They represent a strengthening of the 1963 version, which at this point reads: It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by personal effort and by all other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ. Notice the differences. First, notice that all Christians are commanded. The five verses listed in the introduction, as well as the passages listed in the "we have a duty" section above, bear clear witness to this fact. Secondly, notice that we are not commanded by one of the apostles, but by Jesus Christ Himself, who is our Lord. Thirdly, notice that our duty to seek the salvation of the lost is by means of the spoken word. The new wording has replaced personal effort with verbal witnessing undergirded by a Christian lifestyle. Verbal witnessing leaves no doubt that we are to proclaim the gospel to the lost, whereas personal effort is not quite so clear. Notice also that our walk needs to correspond with our talk. Our lifestyle has to back up, or undergird our message. We most certainly must live before the world as examples of obedience to Christ, but a godly lifestyle is not enough. We must go and tell. We must be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks [us] for a reason for the hope that is in [us] (1 Peter 3:15). As Paul points out in Romans 10:13-15, salvation comes primarily by means of the preached word: For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? and how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? and how are they to hear without someone preaching? and how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Conclusion When it comes to evangelism, we are all evangelists. We should, therefore, prepare ourselves by constant study and meditation upon God’s word. We should be eager to tell the world about our great Savior. When it comes to missions, we only have two options: to go or to send. If we go, our churches, through the Cooperative Program, send us out with their funding and their prayers. If we send, our joyful giving to our church, through the Cooperative Program and our constant, earnest prayers are a must. Verses Listed Under Article 11: Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 9:37-38; 10:5-15; 13:18-30, 37-43; 16:19; 22:9-10; 24:14; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-18; 24:46-53; John 14:11-12; 15:7-8,16; 17:15; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26-40; 10:42-48; 13:2-3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hebrews 2:1-3; 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 22:17. 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) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (Continued) (On the Doctrine of Salvation) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #9 (On God's Purpose of Grace) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #10 (On the Doctrine of The Church) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #11 (On Baptism and the Lord's Supper) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #12 (On The Lord's Day) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #13 (On The Kingdom of God and Last Things)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Baptist, What Do You Believe? #13

What do we as Baptists believe about the kingdom of God and the last things? We are going to look at these two articles together, because they are very much related to one another. The only thing that really separates these two articles is the concept of time. Article 9, on the Kingdom, has to do with God’s sovereign rein here and now, in time and space. Article 10 deals with the wrapping up of history and God’s glorious plan of redemption, and the peering beyond time and space into eternity, where all that is wrong here and now will be set right forever. When we combine these two articles for consideration it makes it easier to see that the Kingdom of God has two aspects: the already, and the not yet. We can see the already when we read passages like Matthew 28:18: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. We can see the not yet in passages like 1 Corinthians 15:25: For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The future fulfillment of the kingdom of God can also be seen in passages like Revelation 21:4: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Article 9 clearly and accurately teaches that God’s Kingdom is already here, firmly in place, and yet we can plainly see from our surroundings that not everything is as it should be. The final consummation of the age will only take place when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. You may have noticed as we have moved farther from the first articles to the latter articles in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, that these latter articles have been less detailed than the first articles. Those first articles on Scripture, God, and man deal with vital doctrines of the Christian faith. We need a fairly detailed and concrete statement on these doctrines. Perhaps as you have noticed items missing as we have discussed latter issues. That is especially true here. Why is there no mention of the role of the church in government in Article 9? Why is there no talk of a millennium, a rapture, or the tribulation? The reason for this is that among Southern Baptists there are several views concerning these matters. Let’s look now at Articles 9 and 10.
IX. The Kingdom The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ.
These two sentences pretty much wraps up the entirety of the concept of the God’s kingdom. An earthly kingdom is always defined by two distinctives: land and possessions, and subjects. God’s kingdom is this way too. He has a general sovereignty which extends over all of what He has created, which is everything. There is nothing too large, nor anything too small or insignificant to fall beyond the sovereign care of God. All of the earth belongs to God (Exodus 19:5), His are the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), and even the roll of the dice are determined by God (Proverbs 16:33). Even a sparrow falling to the ground is not outside of the domain of our God (Matthew 10:29). In a more specific sense, God’s kingdom is made up of men and women, boys and girls who have bowed the knee to Him. When questioned about His kingship, Jesus told Pilate "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). As we mentioned above, just before His ascension Jesus told His disciples that all authority had been given to Him, in heaven and on earth, and yet His only directive to them was to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God's will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.
Right out of the model prayer (Matthew 6:9,10) that our Lord gave his disciples, and us, we are to desire the coming of the fullness of the consummation of the age. We are to long for that day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns (Hebrews 9:28). This last sentence rightly assesses the situation, that the full consummation, or completion, of this kingdom waits for one thing and one thing only: the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. More about that in the next article. Scripture passages listed with this Article: Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Matthew 3:2; 4:8-10,23; 12:25-28; 13:1-52; 25:31-46; 26:29; Mark 1:14-15; 9:1; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; 12:31-32; 17:20-21; 23:42; John 3:3; 18:36; Acts 1:6-7; 17:22-31; Romans 5:17; 8:19; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 11:10,16; 12:28; 1 Peter 2:4-10; 4:13; Revelation 1:6,9; 5:10; 11:15; 21-22.
X. Last Things God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
As I pointed out above, there is no mention of millennium, rapture, or tribulation in this article. Only what is vital to this doctrine is mentioned here, and that is the way it should be. Here is what really matters when discussing the Last Things:
  • God is on His timetable, not ours. Nothing anybody does or can do is able to speed up or hold up God's perfect plan (2 Peter 3:8,9).
  • Jesus will return, personally, visibly, physically. He will judge all men in righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:10).
  • There is a Hell, and those who are unrighteous will go there at the last judgment, to be punished for ever (Mark 9:47,48, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Jude 1:7).
  • The righteous will be reunited with their bodies, but they will be glorified, Just like Jesus (1 John 3:2), absent of corruption of any kind, perfect in every way.
  • We will live in Heaven for ever with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Scripture passages listed with this Article: Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11; 20:1-22:13. 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) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (Continued) (On the Doctrine of Salvation) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #9 (On God's Purpose of Grace) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #10 (On the Doctrine of The Church) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #11 (On Baptism and the Lord's Supper) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #12 (On The Lord's Day)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Photos

Waterless Clouds
A Three-Button Sweat
It sure has been a hot summer here in Tulsa. Here is a couple of pics demonstrating tripple digits. We did get a little over an inch of rain Monday evening, but that just made Tuesday unbearable. Besides, we are so far behind on rain for the year that 40 days and 40 nights wouldn't be enough. Check out the other Friday Photos at Flickr. There are some "cool" pictures of water that will help you beat the heat.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Light Wine from Stein

Same Great Oinos with Only a Quarter of the Calories (and Gladness of Heart, Too) Well, If you haven't read it, you certainly have heard of the bomb-shell research Dr. Mohler alluded to in his now-famous declaration of total abstinence over the air waves last Wednesday on his radio show. For a refresher course, or if you don't know anything about what I am speaking, you can check out my post from a couple of days ago. I have since obtained and read this scholarly work by Dr. Robert Stein, and find it quite interesting. After reading it, I am curious why Dr. Mohler mentioned it all, for instead of advocating a total-abstinence position, such as Dr. Mohler was verbalizing, it called for a mixed, or watered-down approach to wine consumption. With the aid of primary sources from the ancient Greeks, the intertestamental Rabinic texts, and the early church fathers, an acceptable wine would be a wine that had been mixed one part wine to three parts water. Curious as to how this would taste, I decided to conduct an experiment. I felt like I was back in organic chemistry lab at college. With one ounce of Mogen David (Dr. Stein specifically mentioned this as a possible choice.) and adding three ounces of water you get what you see in the photograph above. Noticed how much darker the contents of the bottle are by comparison. How did it taste? Not bad. Not bad, at all. I tell you what: I'll go for it if Dr. Mohler will. Now, about changing the wording of Article VII, Baptism and the Lord's Supper in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 back to the original wording found in the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message (then Article XIII).
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The act is a symbol of our faith in a crucified, buried and risen Saviour. It is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation and to the Lord's Supper, in which the members of the church, by the use of bread and wine, commemorate the dying love of Christ.
I plan to post a more in-depth, serious piece in a few days concerning Dr. Stein's paper, but for now, this will have to do.

Martin Luther and Wade Burleson

R. C. Sproul tells of Rome's opposition to Martin Luther for translating the Bible into the German language:
They warned, for example, that letting the laymen read the Bible could open a floodgate of iniquity. Luther responded to that by saying, yes, a floodgate of iniquity could be opened by unskilled people. That is why God has put teachers in the church. But he also said the basic message essential for every Christian to understand was so clear, so manifest, that a child could understand it. It is so important and so worthwhile that if it risks the opening a floodgate of iniquity, Luther said, so be it. R. C. Sproul, Now That's a Good Question (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1996), p. 226.
Legalism in the church hasnt changed much in 1500 years:
But those who argue with me argue with all sincerity. To them, it is I who have "destroyed" the gospel. If I don't agree to their prohibitions and mandates, then my gospel is not truly the gospel of the Bible, and I am the one who is marring the gospel. I believe they look at the gospel through a filter. Maybe it is the filter of their upbringing, past personal disappointments or failures, or simply fear that a simple gospel, without certain prohibitions will lead to licentiousness.
Wade Burleson, Grace and Truth to You, Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

An Abstinence Statement I Can Respect

Well, Dr. Albert Mohler didn't make it. Dr. Mohler's comments on alcohol consumption, which he made last Wednesday on his radio show were a disappointment, but no surprise. I don't want to be guilty of playing favorites, so I better say what needs to be said. I do like Dr. Mohler. I share his nuanced view of the doctrines of Grace. I listen to his week-day radio show via podcast regularly. He's right on the money on most everything, every thing that is important, at least. The topics he covers on his program are usually current and relevant issues facing our culture, and he always has a solid Christ-centered approach to his commentary. On Wednesdays he has a format called "Ask Anything Wednesday", where the callers are free to ask virtually any kind of question. This last Wednesday (August 9) A lady simply asked him what his views on alcohol were. This segment occurs 22 minutes, 45 seconds into the program. Pastor Ben Cole very kindly has made available a written transcript of Dr. Mohler's statement. Dr. Mohler's position wasn't news to me. Several weeks back, I stumbled across an audio file of a student forum on the alcohol consumption policy at SBTS, that Dr. Mohler and Dr. Russell Moore conducted at SBTS sometime earlier this year. It was a very interesting forum, lasting about 57 minutes. Dr. Mohler's opening statement was especially informative, starting off with a history of the SBC's position on alcohol consumption, beginning with the SBC's roots in protestant revivalism of the mid 19th century, to the women's temperance movement, and through prohibition, which he describes as "a failed cultural experiment." He explains those movements' views on the "evils of alcohol", but you clearly get the flavor that Dr. Mohler also embraces these views as his own. Within the framework of a history lesson, as only he can do, Dr. Mohler articulately and smoothly makes a compelling argument in favor of total abstinence, based, not on Scriptural evidence, but based solely upon a social arguments. What can I say. He's just plain wrong. In much the same way as the other big wigs of the SBC have done before him, he has effectively denied the sufficiency of scripture, by going outside of scripture to mandate something that God's word does not mandate. We all have areas of inconsistency in our theology. This just happens to be one of those areas for Dr. Mohler. On the whole, I haven't wrung my hands over the situation this time. This simply is not as big of a deal as the others who have weighed in before him, for one simple reason: Dr. Mohler didn't go running to the press to let everybody know what his views on alcohol were. A lady called in to his program and asked him what his views were, and he told her (and us). Dr. Mohler isn't attempting to discredit pastors Burleson or Cole, or anybody else. He simply answered a direct question, honestly and candidly. Dr. Mohler is one of the most transparent, guileless men in the Southern Baptist Convention. He is the best spokesman and representative the SBC has. I am surprised, however, that his close friends Ligon Duncan, and C.J. Mahaney haven't had a greater influence on him with regard to the alcohol issue. Maybe they will now. Personally, I think an abstinence policy at our seminaries is a good idea, just as long as it is for the right reasons. What would I like to hear in an abstinence statement from a seminary president? It would look something like this:
In light of the intense focus we have here at Southern in preparing these young men and women for service in Christian ministry at home and abroad, and in light of their relative youth and inexperience in judgment, in regard to the consumption of beverage alcohol, we feel it is best to have a total abstinence policy in place. In order to show our student body that we would not require of them something that we would not hold ourselves to, the faculty and staff have also committed themselves to this higher standard during our time here at Southern seminary.
The only real statement I have heard on total abstinence that does not deny the sufficiency of Scripture has come from my pastor, Rod Harris. It is short and to the point: "Knowing my propensity to excess in other areas, I just figure I very well might have trouble with alcohol. It has never interested me, and I think it would be best if I abstained." Now, there is an abstinence statement that I can respect.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Lady Plowman Turns the Earth in Texas Over Alcohol

My wife is amazing. She had carpal tunnel surgery on her right hand last Wednesday. By Monday she had had all she could take, after reading the comments for five days over at Southern Baptists of Texas Convention blog. With her right hand in a brace, and strict orders from her doctor not to do such nonsense with said right hand, she procedes to bang out a comment on the alcohol debate over there, giving them what-for. She's right on the money, too. It's all about being counted righteous in Christ, and not blaming anything or anybody else for your sin. It's just you and the exceeding sinfulness of your own sin. If you've ever argued with her daddy, you'd know better than to tangle with Mrs. Farmer Brown. Go check it out. She made me proud.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Brush Arbor Meeting

Jackets laid aside, white shirt sleeves rolled up, and women waving cardboard fans, it looked and felt like a brush arbor meeting. To get the feel for our meeting Sunday morning, after the air conditioning blew up, listen to the "Call to Worship" and "Offertory Music" located in the side bar. The message was good too. You need to hear it. It was all about Jesus and Christian Morality. In the offertory music, the duet rumblings you hear in the background are our beloved music man, Jim, humming along with the piano, and our "building" man, Bob, explaining to Pastor Rod what's going on with the air conditioning. Anyone is welcome to download the offertory music file for private, non-commercial use. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tag, You're It

I’ve been tagged by Brother Bishop (Jeff) Young. Now, I will start off by saying that I am not going to abide by the rules. I'm 50 years old, and I've got more than one book that did this or did that. I also contemplated bogus answers to mess with your minds, when I realized that the real answers would do more damage than anything else. I am sure no one would be surprised to read that a horticulturist had been meaning to read Hortus Third, or that he would want Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop, by Euell Gibbons on a desert island. So here they are. Enjoy. 1. One book that changed your life: The Trinity Hymnal, 1976 edition, and The Second London Confesson; then later in 1991, Desiring God, by John Piper. 2. One book that you've read more than once: Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis. First as required reading in high school, a number of years later as an adult. I didn't get it in high school, but later I did. Along with the other two books in the trilogy, this novel is a powerful alegory dealing with sin and redemption. I have also found it necessary to reread The Time is at Hand, by Jay Adams. 3. One book that you'd want on a desert island: Other than the Bible, Saint Augustin's Confessions, in Latin. Depending on how long I'd be there, This would be a great opportunity to brush up on my Latin and my prayer life at the same time. 4. One book that made you laugh: Right Behind: A Parody of Last Days' Goofiness, by Nathan D. Wilson, and The Mantra of Jabez: Break on Through to the Other Side, by Douglas M. Jones. 5. One book that made you cry: Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson, and probably Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot. 6. One book that you wish you had written: Here's the list:
  • Hermeneutics for Dummies (and Southern Baptists)
  • Wine, Women, and Song: Reclaiming the Culture by Taking Every Thought Captive to Obey Christ
  • Beware the Calvinistas: Memoirs of Twenty-five years in a Small, Rural, Independent, Reformed-Baptist Church, with Plural Eldership
  • Psalam et Mente: Recovering the Hymnody of the Puritans, and Beyond
  • Living in the House at Pooh Corner - the Blessings of Dad Reading to His Children
  • I Learned More About Human Nature in the Hen House than Anywhere Else
  • Baking Your Own Bread and Breast Feading Don't Make You More Holy (This one would be authored by my wife.)
  • "Do You Work?" - Confessions of a Homicidal Housewife at the Grocery Checkout (Also by my wife.)
7. One book you wish had never been written: Systematic Theology, by Charles Finney, and the Scofield Reference Bible, edited and annotated by Cyrus I. Scofield. 8. One book that you are currently reading: By His Grace and for His Glory, by Thomas J. Nettles, Mark Dever's little book By Whose Authority?, and I have just finished Timothy George's book Amazing Grace: God's Inititative - Our Response. This last book is a very easy read. Even an Arminian pastor could read it, and I think, enjoy it. 9. One book that you've been meaning to read: Calvin's Institutes. I have used it as a reference for years, but have never had the time, or discipline to crack open page one and stick it out to the end. I would also love to read the new (anything less than five years old is new to me.) Whitfield biography by Arnold Dallimore, and also Iaian Murray's biography on Lloyd-Jones. Obviously, these are all large large two-volume sets, so I probably won't get around to them until I retire, or throw my computer away. I am supposed to tag four people. Nuts on that. This sounds too much like a chain letter. I think I may be the last blogger in the world to have been tagged, so those thousands of dollar bills will never begin pouring into my in-box. I have noticed that some of you out there have admitted to being tagged more than once. Look, if you haven't been tagged, and feel left out, drop me a comment, and I will tag you. Fair enough? Now I've got to get busy on my Sunday-school lesson. Love in Christ, Wayne Hatcher a horticulturist by profession, a truck driver by necessity, and a child of the King, by the Grace of God

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Photo

Cheese Toast 2 Originally uploaded by Wayne Hatcher.

I have been thrashing it out this week with some folks over at www.sbtexas.com/blog. over alcohol the sufficiency of Scripture. To understand the full meaning of the cheese toast, you need to go over there and read the comments under the post "Biblical inerrancy and alcohol use by Christians". Don't forget to view all of the other Friday Photos at the Friday Photo Group at Flickr. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Welch's or Wine: No Comment - Well, Not Much

Now Bobby Welch has weighed in, among other things, on the alcohol resolution. In many ways, there is nothing much worth commenting on. As far as I can tell, he doesn't start out defending his position, as some of those who have weighed in before him have. He simply begins by attacking his opponents. When I got up yesterday morning, all of the blogs I read had his name somewhere in the title or first paragraph of their posts. There has been adequate commentary, so I don't feel the need to comment on his statements. Here is a list of those posts. I do feel the need to comment on one thing. I believe in providence. I don't know why things happen when and the way they do, but I do not believe that anything happens by accident. Last week a friend, just out of the blue, brought me a VHS cassette of the movie The Untouchables, with Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Robert De Niro. He said he thought I would like it. I had never seen the 1987 movie, which is not uncommon for me. There are many movies I have not gotten around to watching, for a number of personal reasons. For some reason, I decided to watch this movie. The Untouchables is all about America's prohibition of alcohol, and the mob. The story is set in Chicago in 1930, and Robert De Niro is Al Capone, while Kevin Costner plays Eliot Ness. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to draw a one-to-one correlation here, on any level, but there was something that sent chills through me viewing the character played by Robert De Niro. Al Capone was so suave, so charming in public, especially with the press, but you could tell, just barely, that there was more to the man than just charm and dimples. I got that same uneasy feeling upon first seeing Bobby Welch and Paige Patterson at Greensboro this spring. First impressions mean a lot to me. Some people call it prejudging, but I call it carefully reading the minutiae: the tiny details of someone's mannerisms, a smile, a wink, a word. I am often wrong in pegging a bad guy as good, but never the other way around. I'm not saying these men are evil, I'm just saying they like to win, and don't and won't take loosing lying down. I wonder if either of them has a baseball bat in his office.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Baptist, What Do You Believe? #12

I have mentioned in the past how heavily I have leaned on my pastor’s notes when writing these posts on the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. In preparation for Article 8, on The Lord’s Day, I have found that pastor Harris’ notes in the main were virtually a transcript form of his Wednesday-evening message of January 25, 2006 (listen to the audio), so I have decided to publish his outline here, with only minimal editing. Introduction Why is it we gather for worship on Sunday? Why the first day of the week? Are we violating the Sabbath? What about those folks who worship on Saturday? Are they just nuts? What is to be our relationship with the Sabbath? Is the Sabbath a Christian institution? Is it merely for the Jews? This is one of the long-standing debates within the Church. What is to be our attitude toward the Sabbath? Which is part of a larger controversy – “What is to be our relationship to the Old Testament Law?” Here again we must recognize that godly people disagree on this subject. There are those who believe the Law is binding on the believer as well as the Jew. There are those who would modify that and say that the 10 Commandments are binding. Others would say it bears no relationship to those who are in Christ. Still others would insist that it does to some degree. As I try to work through this and untangle the knot – I have to acknowledge some of my presuppositions. I must acknowledge, up front, that I bring certain convictions to this question:
  • God exists.
  • He is Sovereign, king, lawgiver, he makes the rules.
  • He has spoken, revealed himself through the Scripture.
  • His word is faithful and true..
  • God has a people.
  • I reject a strict Dispensational approach to the Scripture.
  • I do not believe that God has two separate people: the Jews and Christians.
  • I do not believe that the OT was for the Jews and the NT is for Christians.
  • There is continuity and discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments.
  • Something is new about the New Testament.
  • I read the OT from a NT perspective.
  • The focus of all the Scripture is Christ! (See article 1 page 7, the last sentence.)
Thus I’m convinced that as New Testament Christians we read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. The New Testament has logical priority over the Old Testament. Which is the higher, more complete revelation of God; the O.T. law, or Christ? The New Testament regularly refers to believers as “slaves” of Christ. Christ is our master/law-giver. Look at the Mount of transfiguration, with Jesus, Moses (law) and Elijah (prophets). Hear The voice of God – “This is my son, listen to him.” With that in mind… What about the Sabbath? For the instituting of the Sabbath we must look to Exodus 20:8-11. Here we find the institution of the Sabbath Day. What day was it? The seventh. Why is this? It was to commemorate the work of creation. God set it up to be a day of “rest” and worship. It became one of the four major emphases in Judaism: The Temple, the Scriptures, traditions and the Sabbath. Let’s ask a question for thought: What does it mean “God rested”? Was He worn out from all that “creat’n”? Was He tired? Did He need to rest? Note throughout the Scripture the promise of entering into His rest. The Sabbath was a picture of this. I believe it is a picture of entering into Christ. All the OT rituals pointed to Christ. What was given as a picture of Christ and His work on our behalf was twisted and perverted into a means for man to prove how righteous he was because of what he did (observe the Sabbath)! What was intended to be a blessing became a “burden.” (See Matthew 12) The Sabbath was to be a day “set aside” to focus upon worship. It was to be a day given to God for the purpose of rest and spiritual development. Now, what of the Lord’s Day? The early church gathered on the first day of the week. Why is that? To honor and remember the Resurrection! The Lord’s Day commemorates the work of redemption – the “new creation.” Where do we find the New Testament command that “changed” the Sabbath? We don’t! Acts 20:7 Revelation 1:10 The command is in the implications of the text and in the practice of the early church. Even secular historians note that these early believers met on the first day of the week. The following passages might indicate that a specific day is not commanded (Galatians 4:8-11; Colossians 2:16-17; Romans 14:5-10; Hebrews 10:1), yet we must balance that with Hebrews 10:23-25 to gather together for worship regularly. Now look at our Statement of Faith. VIII. The Lord's Day The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Note the following:
  • It is a “Christian” institution.
  • It is “For regular observance.”
  • It “Should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion both public and private…”
There is some concern with the last sentence. If this statement were applied to all the articles it would render them meaningless. This is a change from the 1963 statement.The 1963 statement was a much stronger statement, reading thus: “…and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted.” Why was it changed? A number of people are asking that question. There was talk of seeking to replace the Article viii of the 2000 with article viii from the 1963. It would appear that the change was an accommodaation to our culture. At the time of the adoption of the 2000 BFM a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel, following the convention’s vote, wrote with tongue in check the following :
"Now that the NFL Tennessee Titans (based in the SBC’s headquarters, Nashville) have made it to the Super Bowl, Southern Baptist have conveniently decided that refraining from worldly amusements on the Lord’s Day is not longer advisable."
This is another of the emotional issues that surrounds our faith. While I would agree that Romans 14:5-10 should guide us in dealing with this issue, I also believe it is important that we acknowledge that the Lord’s Day is a special day. It is unique and set apart for a holy purpose. 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) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (Continued) (On the Doctrine of Salvation) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #9 (On God's Purpose of Grace) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #10 (On the Doctrine of The Church) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #11 (On Baptism and the Lord's Supper)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Baptist, What Do You Believe? #11

VII. Baptism and the Lord's Supper Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming. Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12. (Verses conspicuously missing from the list: The baptism of Saul in Acts 9; the baptism of Lydia in Acts 16:13-15; the baptism of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:25-33) Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two ordinances instituted by Christ, and belonging to Him. They both have a rich meaning and significance, but so much controversy and misunderstanding has swirled around them. In many instances one or both of these two ordinances are what define a denomination. We as Baptists are a prime example. After all, we are Baptists. We wouldn’t be called Baptists if there wasn’t something very distinctive about baptism that we hold near and dear to our identity. That distinctive is that we believe that baptism is for believers only. During the time of the Puritans in the early 17th century in England there emerged a body of believers, who after careful study, came to the conclusion that nowhere in Scripture was infant baptism taught. Thus emerged the Baptists, of whom we as Southern Baptists draw our direct heritage from. One of the first notes of distinction that needs to be mentioned in regard to Article 7: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper is that we call them ordinances. In some other churches we hear them referred to as sacraments. What is the difference? Does it really matter? Well, it does matter, because how we label these two activities determine the significance of the practices. When referred to as an ordinance, which simply put, is a command, and that is exactly what Jesus did. He commanded first that we should "Do this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19). Later, after His resurrection, just before Jesus returned to the Father, He commanded us to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). When referred to as sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper take on a role that is greater than Baptists are willing to allow. A sacrament, strictly speaking, is considered a means of dispensing grace. Through a sacrament something is actually being received or changed. The extreme example here is in the Roman Catholic church, where an infant is baptized into the church, initially washing away the original sin inherited in Adam. Baptist do not believe that baptism has any meritorious value what so ever. It is the same with the Lord’s Supper. The taking of the Holy Communion, as Roman Catholics call it, takes away sin for the participant, by offering up Christ as a sacrifice to the Father for those sins. Again, Baptist do not hold to this, seeing the re-crucifying of Christ at each mass as an abominable act (Romans 6:10, Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 26; 10:10). Now for the many Protestant denominations who use the term sacrament, these radical descriptions come nowhere close to what they believe. Suffice it to say Baptists do not believe that either of the ordinances do anything. So why do Baptists baptize by immersion? Why is sprinkling not enough? There are several reasons. First, the word itself is pulled directly from the Greek word baptidzo which means to immerse. Note at the baptism of our Lord, that John was doing it in the Jordan, and that Mark describes the end of the baptism as Jesus came up out of the water (Mark 1:9, 10). Baptism clearly involves more than just a few drops of water. Secondly, immersion more adequately and fully portrays the symbolism of baptism. Going down into the water signifies going into the grave. Christ died and went into a grave, and with Him we have died to our old life. Christ arose from the grave to live again, and with Him and in Him we too have been raised to newness of life (Romans 6:3-5, Colossians 2:12). Article 7 has this same kind of wording built into it, as you will notice. Why is baptism for believers only? Why do we not baptize infants? The answers are simple. To answer the first question, Christ only commands those who have believed (become disciples) to be baptized (Matthew 28:1-20). Lydia was baptized immediately after she believed (Acts 16:13-15), and the Philippian jailer did likewise (Acts 16:31-33). To answer the second question, we can find no better response than that given in Keach's Catechism: Q. 102. Are the infants of such as are professing believers to be baptized? A. The infants of such as are professing believers are not to be baptized; because there is neither command nor example in the Holy Scriptures, or certain consequence from them, to baptize such. Nowhere in Scripture is the practice of infant baptism shown to have happened, nor is it commanded anywhere in Scripture. Even in the two passages in Acts above where the household was also baptized, it is clearly in the context of conversion. One has to go beyond what Scripture states to assume that there were infants in those households. What is baptism? Does it save the recipient? We have already stated that baptism is only for those who have already believed. The rock-solid declaration of salvation by grace alone, as lined out by Paul in Ephesians 2:8,9, does two things. First, he proclaims what salvation is: a gracious gift of God through placing our faith in Christ. Secondly, Paul makes sure we know what salvation is not, by stating that is not of works. Baptism is a work, something you do, or rather, have done to you. By definition baptism cannot have anything to do with salvation. So what is the significance of baptism? Baptism is one of, if not the very first act of obedience to Christ. Baptism openly identifies the new believer as a follower of Christ. It shows that the new believer is willing to follow, to obey Christ. Baptism expresses the new believer's faith in a number of vital truths central to the Christianity:
  • the triune nature of God
  • sins having been washed away, cleansing by the blood of Christ
  • being united with Christ in His death & resurrection
  • Through Christ God has given you new life, now, and in the world to come at His return.
What about those passages in Scripture that seem to say that baptism is a part of salvation (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Romans 6:3-5)? A principle of Bible interpretation called the Analogy of Scripture is helpful here. The Analogy of Scripture, simply put, states that we interpret Scripture with Scripture. If there appears to be contradiction between scripture, the more-clear passage interprets the ambiguous passage. To take this principle a step further, the didactic or teaching passages, such as found in the epistles, are to take precedence over the historical narratives of the Gospels and Acts. The last sentence on baptism marks an addition to, not the 1963 version, but the 1925 version of the Baptist Faith and Message, in which the phraseBeing a church ordinance", and also the word "membership" are added. Take a look at the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message: Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The act is a symbol of our faith in a crucified, buried and risen Saviour. It is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation and to the Lord's Supper, in which the members of the church, by the use of bread and wine, commemorate the dying love of Christ. Have you ever heard the term alien immersion? No, it is not baptism by an extra terrestrial. Alien immersion is baptism by anyone other than a Baptist minister in a Baptist church at a duly scheduled business meeting, I mean, church service. An interesting example of this very thing occurred at the Southern Baptist Convention this year (and in years past, I am told). Numerous new believers from all over the country came with their pastors to be baptized at the convention. So that there would be no misunderstandings, this little asterisk was included in each bulletin: *Because baptism is an ordinance of the church, all baptisms will be conducted with full approval and support of a sponsoring home church, with members of each present to witness. Interesting, isn't it? The problem with this goes by a term called Landmarkism. Landmarkism states, basically, that Baptists constitute the only true Church, and baptism in any other church is no valid baptism. Also connected with this is the notion that baptism is membership. That is why many Southern Baptist vote to accept someone's profession, and to have them baptized. Have you ever noticed that there is never a subsequent vote to accept them as members. A fundamental problem with Landmarkism is the making of essentials out of nonessentials, thus narrowing the fellowship and cooperation between churches and believers. Baptism is important, and it needs to be administered in the right way, by immersion, and to only those who have professed faith in Christ. Beyond that, baptism can be administered by any other true believer, any where, and at any time. Now, I am sure that will raise a few eye brows. Certainly, the norm for baptism should be in the presence of a body of believers, a local church, but it should not be so organically connected with church membership. Now we will turn our attention to the second paragraph of Article 7, concerning the Lord's Supper. Much trouble can be avoided right at the start to emphasize that this is not the Church's Supper, it is the Lord's Supper. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ instituted it by taking a Passover meal (Exodus 12) with His disciples and giving it a new meaning. On this occasion, Jesus Himself was the sacrificial lamb. The wine represented His blood poured out unto death, and the bread represented His body broken for His people. He commands His disciples to do it in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:14-20). There are warnings in Scripture concerning taking the Lord's supper in a light manner, or with open, unrepentant sin (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Obviously, the Lord's Supper commemorates a very serious event, so we should treat it very seriously. How important is the Lord's Supper? Well, it is important enough for our Lord to command us to observe it. Therefore it should not be a mere feature of worship added on at the end of a service. It should be the centerpiece of a service, as it has the Gospel as the theme of its imagery. How often should we observe the Lord's Supper? That is a hard question that has no concrete answer. We should not do it so often that it becomes common or routine. On the other hand, we should not observe the Lord's Supper so seldom that we are not familiar with it. Its frequency of observance will vary from church to church. What did Jesus mean when He said "This is my body."? The Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation takes a very literal reading of this statement, and believe that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ at the consecration by the priest. The Lutheran view of consubstantiation believes that Christ is present with the bread and wine. We as Baptists do not believe either of these two views. The Lord's Supper is most commonly referred to as a symbolic memorial of Christ's death on the cross. We use it as a tool to remind ourselves of the consequences of sin, and the great price that was paid to redeem us from sin and misery. There is an added element that is far too often missing in Lord's Supper observances. In reaction to the errors of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran views, we fail to emphasize that in a very real sense Jesus is present. What is open and closed communion? Open communion is the policy that any baptized believer can participate in a Lord's Supper observance. Closed refers to the policy that some churches have, which limits participation to members only. This is just another symptom of Landmarkism mentioned earlier in this lesson. One of Landmarkism's main tenets is that the Baptist church is the one, true church. All others contain errors in doctrine, and are not true churches. Placing most, if not all of their emphasis on the local church, they have forgotten the larger context of the Church catholic, or the universal Church of all times and in every place. Certainly each local church can set their own policies concerning open or closed communion, but in opting for a closed policy they minimize, if not deny the rich truth of the larger body of the faithful. 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) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (Continued) (On the Doctrine of Salvation) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #9 (On God's Purpose of Grace) Baptist, What Do You Believe? #10 (On the Doctrine of The Church)