How Did Our Baptist Ancestors View Church and State?

John Leland, a Baptist preacher, “emerged a leader among the Commonwealth’s Baptists. He was instrumental in allying the Baptists with Jefferson and Madison in the bitter Virginia struggle to disestablish the Anglican Church and to secure freedom for religious dissenters.”[1] According to L.H. Butterfield, Leland “was as courageous and resourceful a champion of the rights of conscience as America has produced.”[2] Continue reading →

Think About IT: Love the World and Hate Worldliness

If Christians were once again to be lost and destined to hell, but still remembered all we knew about Christ and salvation except how to be saved again, we would desire more than anything else in all the world that those who know Christ as Lord and Savior would present us with the clearest display of him in word and the most compelling lives to lead us to him.

While Christians are not to be worldly minded, we are to be devotedly mindful about the lost world. Concern for building our own self-esteem is a fleshly distraction from building Christ esteem in our lives to be displayed to all. Self-esteem determines to make sure others give due attention to us, whereas Christ esteem determines to make sure others give due attention to Jesus, the only one who can truly help them.

The flesh wars to ensconce our own needs, feelings, reputation and wants above others, and the Spirit wars to enthrone the true spiritual needs of the most worldly above our own, even those who mean us harm.  When hurt by others, the flesh mounts an attack against them, but the Spirit desires we die to self and leave space for wrath. This so that we may present Christ in order that the worldly may be transformed, and thereby disdain worldly mindedness and embrace single minded devotion about the lost world.

“That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” John 17:21.

Teaching the Basics: Important But Insufficient!

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”’ (Matthew 28:18-20). (underline and embolden added)

Most often, this passage is referenced in order to emphasize missions and evangelism, and those are indeed vital components; however, the teaching task is often, albeit unwittingly, reduced to a secondary or tertiary status. Additionally, the essentialness of the breadth and depth of the teaching component is often obscured by our words and practice. Continue reading →

A Prayer to Love as God Loves

By Your grace that has so radically and eternally changed me and Your Holy Spirit within me, the cry of my regenerated heart through the otherwise impervious layers of sin and selfishness is that my inner man wants to love, and love like You love me—the most unfathomable thought I could ever have.

Oh God, beyond my ponderings at heaven’s glory and wonder at the power of the forever sea is my ever-present humbling marvel at how You could—can—love me when You know my selfishness, sin, and un-Christlikeness. I live in grace because my constant failings are always before me, not in pessimism nor defeatism, but in the liberty and love of Your grace.

Let me love others with total disregard for myself. Let me see their failings and know even their assailing against me or my family, and let me love them like You do. Guard my heart and mind from the plethora of modern unbiblical ways that eschew the word sin and therefore the need to repent, but allow me to truly love as You and enjoy the restoration of relationship when repentance is present.

I choose love, gentleness, forgiveness, turning them over to You, rather than bitterness, sin, resentment. Thank You my Lord for even my desire to make that choice, for without You I would not and could not; although, in my sin I could easily cloak it in what You know to be self-righteousness.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).

Law and Morality

At Trinity, I lead a three-year men’s group called the Round Table. The first year focuses on Theology, the second on Ethics and the third year on Ideologies (Worldviews). Mike Tinney recently presented a paper on Law and Morality in The Roundtable in Ideology. Mike is an attorney by profession and has presented an excellent presentation of this subject that is well worth the read. Continue reading →

Think About IT: Repentance is Our Friend 

Repentance is a friend that leads to God, and such a friend should always be eagerly embraced.

A friend is someone who always seeks to help us be our best and seeks to bring us closer to God by making us more like Christ. Repentance is such a friend. Repentance brings us to God in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance restores the child of God who wanders astray for a time.

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” (Acts 3:19).

“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son….for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:17-21, 24).

Think About IT: Logs before Splinters

Putting splinters before logs is the recipe for Pharisaism.

Religious pride causes us to miss our own glaring failures and turn others’ splinters into logs. Permitting God to reveal ourselves to us as he sees us is the first step in helping others in godly splinter removal. If we fail to do so, our help will be characterized by hypocrisy and harshness rather than humility and gentleness (Matthew 23:23).

Godly splinter removal involves seeing the splinter sins of others through the lens of humility, which emanates from ones awareness of his own sin. Then one can approach the needs of others as a servant, helping them with their own sin.

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1–2)

Pharisees use Scripture only in ways that serve to confirm their own superior standing in comparison to other people. Pharisees add to Scripture, selectively apply Scripture to serve their own ends, and avoid Scripture that unmasks their pride. This results in carefully overemphasizing certain select scriptures while ignoring more relevant ones and designing certain extra-biblical behaviors as the evidence of true spirituality.

One of the most humbling aspects of considering the heinousness of Pharisaism is this. Every person has the essence of a Pharisee in his own fallen humanity, the flesh; it skulks in the shadows of every Holy Spirit filled life awaiting the slightest opportunity to subdue our reborn spirit and leadership.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” (Galatians 5:16–18)”

 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3.

 

Does God Have Two Wills?

Recognizing that the simple and straightforward message of Scripture is that God loves everyone and truly desires for everyone to hear the gospel and be saved by faith in Christ leads some Calvinists like John Piper to postulate that God has a secret will in which He does not desire everyone to be saved.

That is to say, by what we know from Scripture and the good news of the gospel, it appears that God wills that all be saved by faith in Christ, but secretly He wills that His public will, as revealed in Scripture, be superseded by unconditionally electing only some to salvation and choosing to pass over the rest of humanity. Thus, we are to believe that according to God’s revealed will (Scripture), God loves every person and desires that every person be saved (John 3:16; Titus 2:11), but in His secret will He only wills to make salvation actually available to the unconditional elect. Continue reading →

We are Truly God’s Temple

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

The church in the New Testament has replaced the sacred Old Testament temple. The New Testament says that Christ’s body is a temple (John 2:19–21), the universal church is a temple (Ephesians 2:20–21), the individual Christian’s body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), and in this verse the local church is a temple of God. The you is plural in this passage, signifying the corporate local body of believers. Consequently, every local New Testament church is a temple of God. Paul uses the word temple, naós, without the article (anarthrous), signifying the quality or essence of the meaning of temple as opposed to a particular location. Continue reading →

Think About IT: Face the Future with Humility, not Confidence

Humility rather than confidence is the proper apparel of security.

In the security of our lives going well, we can often envisage ourselves as acting supremely in future difficulties or if we were suffering the present peril of others.

We should learn from Peter. Christ told Peter of his future denial of Him, and Peter argued that he would not fail Christ in His hour of need. When Peter was with Jesus (life going well), he was confident of his ability to handle the future.

What Jesus knew, and Peter failed to see, was that the future challenges to Peter’s faith would not happen in the security of the present. Peter’s faith would be challenged when Jesus was forcibly taken from Peter’s side, leaving Peter ever so alone. Peter would be encircled by Christ haters, faith would have been subdued by fear and the sun would have given way to the darkness of night. In that crucible of temptation, Peter would fail and weep over his prideful confidence in himself.

Humility and trust are always more suitable than confident predictions.

And again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man’… And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” Matthew 26:72, 75.