The Gospel

Quotations

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.
The Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. III:3

Those of mankind who are predestined unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto.
The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, III:5

Jonathan Edwards

The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husband, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How High is Your View of God?



Friday, December 25, 2009

12 Days of Calvinism


This is awesome! Thought it was appropriate to post for Christmas. Run across this post on http://www.newdemonstration.com/

On the first day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, the fallen nature of man.

On the second day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

On the third day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, John chapter six, called and chosen, and the fallen nature of man.

On the fourth day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, Synod of Dordt, John chapter six, called and chosen, and the fallen nature of man.

On the fifth day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me 5 GOLDEN POINTS! Synod of Dordt, John chapter six, called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

On the sixth day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, world isn’t world, 5 GOLDEN POINTS! Synod of Dordt; John chapter six; called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

On the seventh day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, predestination, world isn’t world, 5 GOLDEN POINTS! Synod of Dordt; John chapter six; called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

On the eighth day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me belief is a work, predestination, world isn’t world, 5 GOLDEN POINTS! Synod of Dordt; John chapter six; called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

On the ninth day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, errors of middle knowledge, belief is a work, predestination, world isn’t world, 5 GOLDEN POINTS! Synod of Dordt; John chapter six; called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

On the tenth day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, Arminian heresy, errors of middle knowledge, belief is a work, predestination, world isn’t world, 5 GOLDEN POINTS! Synod of Dordt; John chapter six; called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me, Romans 8 & 9 ; Arminian heresy, errors of middle knowledge, belief is a work, predestination, world isn’t world, 5 GOLDEN POINTS! Synod of Dordt; John chapter six; called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my Calvie explained to me that I’m really a Calvie, Romans 8&9; Arminian heresy, errors of middle knowledge, belief is a work, predestination, world isn’t world, 5 GOLDEN POINTS! Synod of Dordt; John chapter six; called and chosen and the fallen nature of man.

The Most Important Page -- Bob Hanks


Welcome to The Most Important Page.

You know , everywhere we look we see people in vigorous pursuit of what is most important to them. If you stop and think about it, that is what our lives consist of . We work for and seek after those things that are important to US. It might be fame, money, social standing, or any combination thereof. We spend our lives tending to what’s important in our own minds, our own way of thinking. If you want to see what is first in a mans life, look at his calender and his checkbook. You will see his priorities.


That’s why I call this The Most Important Page. If God exists (and He DOES!) then ultimately in the light of eternity , and realizing our own mortality , the only thing that is REALLY important is Him. What God requires is the only thing that is really and eternally significant.

So how do we access God and get right with Him ? The Apostle Paul said in Acts 16:31 to ” believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. “ But Jesus warned in Matt. 7:21-23 that many who claim to believe in Him would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven , and we read in James 2:19 that there is a type of faith that does not save ; ” the demons also believe and shudder. “

What we must have is SAVING faith , which is trusting in The Lord Jesus Christ to forgive our sins through His finished work on the Cross, the Substitutionary Atonement where He bled and died in our place. WE deserve the Cross, ” But God demonstrates his own love toward us , in that while we were yet sinners , Christ died for us . “ ( Romans 5:8 ) When we realize the enormity of our sin debt , and our desperate situation in the sight of God , and we realize that Christ has paid that debt through His suffering and agony on the Cross , our response will be heartfelt repentance , turning our backs on our sinful ways , with a sincere desire to walk with the Lord and learn His Word.

All of our best efforts can never bridge the chasm that exists between God and the natural man . Only Christ can save us . If you have not trusted in the Work of Christ on the Cross to forgive your sins, you are separated from God and are without hope. Call on Him today and He will save you !

Please read Romans 10 : 9-13. Ask God to grant you a repentant heart and a teachable spirit. God will hear your prayer !

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Multi-cultural Glory in the Church: Should We Have Black Churches and White Churches? Or Cowboy Churches?

Author: Jim Elliff
To Read the Entire article click on this linky

..... So, I will say as strongly as I can, you should not start (or have) “a black church” or “a white church” or a “homeschooling church” or a church for professional people and another church for poor people. Nor should you start a church aimed at younger people or older people. In this the modern church has erred. I do not mean that we should not be evangelistic toward all categories and types of people (actually, that is my point), but in building the local church our aim is too low, and frankly, sometimes selfish. We are forfeiting something of the glory of the church by not seeking to blend all kinds of people together, even if we cannot fully accomplish it. A cowboy church or a country music church may reach cowboys or country music lovers, but is this anything like what God intends to promote as the primary social implication of the cross? Does it depict real earth-side yearning for a future glorious church? We have diminished the meaning of the church by doing this. Paul simply refused to have a Jewish church on this end of town and a Gentile church on the other.

Again, if language barriers mean that some churches must be started for specific language groups, you must be as diverse as possible within those language groups to fulfill the intention of God. We have also not fully worked out the possibilities of multi-language churches through simultaneous translating yet, but it surely would also magnify the glory of the cross and of the church if we could find some way to do so successfully.

We all know that more homeschooling people or Hispanic people, or White people, or Black people or urban poor people may be in attendance in a given church, but that is no excuse to be a “homeschooling church” or an “Hispanic church” or an “urban poor church.” The actual demographics are God’s business; ours is to seek all people in Christ, “the desire of all nations.” We know that there may be more Asians in this particular part of town and that most in attendance will be from that background, but do not make the mistake of making your church an “Asian church.” It may be Korean-speaking, if necessary, but it should not exclusively be a KoreanChurch. If it is Christ’s church, then be aware that He does not intend it to be exclusive. Do not work against the glorious cultural ramifications of the cross with your good intentions.

Even though moving from a single-culture church to a multi-cultural church (or better to a Christ-cultural church) is sometimes a daunting task and causes many to say, “Where do we begin?” it still must be the intent of the local church, and the message of the local church, when addressing its constituency. I read an advertisement about a church in our city that said, “We sing the Old Hymns.” That was all they said. What does this say to our objective? Granted, I have likes and dislikes in music and so do you, but, in the final analysis, we really should not separate over whether old or new is sung. I’m not offering full solutions about a difficult issue here at all. I am saying that the gospel demands better solutions than dividing ourselves. We don’t work hard enough at understanding what our separations are projecting to the world and to the heavenly authorities. As difficult as it might be, the early church had far more to work through than what music would be sung. Their struggles and successes are instructive to us who may have less to work through than they did. It will be sad to face Christ in the future and say, “We could not be the glorious church you called us to be because we could not get together on the music.”

One of the by-products of thinking in the way I’m suggesting is that some of the silliness in church life goes away. Emphasizing oneness in Christ among diverse people has a way of purifying the church. No church that is multi-cultural can make it without prayer, sound doctrine, close pastoral oversight, Christ-centered worship, and biblical evangelism, all of which are unifying aspects of church life. Such churches work harder at what the people have in common, the ground that is shared in Christ. They have to let the rest go. Paul worked to de-emphasize cultural likes and dislikes that are inconsequential (if not downright divisive) in favor of New Covenant principles and behavior. It takes biblical thinking to get there. This was exactly what Paul was laboring at in so many of his letters. Sadly, we, on the other hand, just specialize in one type of people and what they enjoy (sometimes even if it has no organic relationship to the gospel at all), and avoid the need for the labor. But we must do the hard work, the kind that brings joy and glory to God.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

When the Pastor Suffers

When the Pastor Suffers

Matt Chandler comforts an anxious church following his Thanksgiving seizure.

Collin Hansen
posted 12/14/2009 09:28Am
Few understand cancer better than pastors. They regularly visit hospitals and counsel church members who suffer from this devastating illness. Cancer strikes nearly every family at some point. But for pastors caring for multiple families at all times, cancer is a never-ending fight. They watch beloved friends who formerly looked so healthy begin to whither away as they withstand bouts of chemotherapy treatments. In the worst cases, pastors are left to comfort the grieving family and conduct the funeral.

But who is left to comfort pastors when they get the dreaded diagnosis? Cancer doesn't exempt pastors, either, no matter how sizable their influence. John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis announced in January 2006 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Then on Thanksgiving last month, rising young pastor Matt Chandler of the Village Church in Dallas suffered a seizure and hit his head. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where doctors eventually discovered a tumor in the frontal lobe of his brain. Surgeons removed the tumor on December 4, but the pathology report has not yet returned. Meanwhile, the rapidly growing church that draws about 6,000 each week waits anxiously to learn the diagnosis.

The spotlight turns on pastors in these cases because we're accustomed to them offering words of comfort and wisdom to the suffering. Perhaps we wonder if they will heed their own advice to trust God despite the circumstances. Maybe they will forsake what they have been telling the grieving all these years and forsake God. But good shepherds don't stop shepherding when danger threatens. That's when their work really begins. Both Piper and Chandler have modeled for their congregations how to turn the dreaded diagnosis into cause for thanksgiving, praise, and sanctification.

Chandler wrote shortly before his surgery that he felt "anxiety, fear, sadness and a deep and unmovable joy simultaneously and in deeper ways than I have felt before." In the aftermath of his Thanksgiving seizure, he expressed gratitude for a "heightened sense of things." Then he offered a list of 10 things for which he gives thanks. The list included health insurance, his friends on the pastoral staff, his wife Lauren, his three children, the doctors, and the people of Village Church. Chandler acknowledged the support from thousands who heard of his condition through the Internet. Their prayer and fasting "has brought far more tears to Lauren's and my eyes to receive this kind of attention from the Church universal than this tumor has."

Then in a widely distributed video recorded between the seizure and surgery, Chandler shared reflections on his career and future. Chandler has been preaching lately about the hall of faith in Hebrews 11, the moving description of leaders such as Samson, David, and Samuel who stopped the mouths of lions and put foreign armies to flight (Heb. 11:32-34).

"I'm 35 years old, and up until this point in my life, we've shut the mouths of lions and put foreign armies to flight and we've fought against injustice," Chandler said. "Nothing but good has come."

But Chandler observed how the passage's tone abruptly changes in 11:35. Some of these champions of faith were tortured. Some were sawn in two. Some were destitute. How did they still walk by faith? Chandler is learning, because God has now counted him worthy to suffer. If God should allow Chandler to preach from Hebrews 11 again, no one will ever wonder if he truly understands the implications of God's Word. Speaking as a "guy who could lose everything," Chandler promised that he would demonstrate through his suffering that God is enough, come what may.

"For those of you who keep living in fear and would try to use this as an excuse to continue in that fear, don't you dare use me as an excuse to continue in your lies," Chandler told his church. "My hope would be that you would see that he is good in all things, and he would never send any of us things he does not provide strength for."


Chandler's message resembles what Piper wrote in February 2006 when he urged Christians, "Don't Waste Your Cancer." Chandler explicitly credited Piper for teaching him to hold his life cheap as he trusts in a "strong view of God's sovereign will." Piper is no stranger to suffering, either. The implications of his theology hit home in a powerful new way after his cancer diagnosis. Yet Piper did not back off.

"It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it," Piper said. "What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design."

Piper urged Christians suffering from cancer not to look for comfort by calculating their odds. Invoking Psalm 20:7, Piper likened taking comfort in the percentages of survival to trusting in chariots, and weighing the side effects of treatment to counting horses. But as for Christians, they trust in the name of the Lord alone, even as they submit to treatment. This trust transcends even the worst cancer can bring.

"Cancer does not win if you die," Piper said. "It wins if you fail to cherish Christ. God's design is to wean you off the breast of the world and feast you on the sufficiency of Christ."

Cancer quickly reveals who and what we ultimately trust. It can bring life into eternal perspective, so long as we don't despair in our illness. If we feast on Christ, we will find our sins don't taste so rich any longer. Even well-known pastors must fight this battle. They might appear to have it all, but they actually have more cause for despair that we usually imagine. Thousands turn out to hear them speak in conferences. Thousands more buy their books. Megachurches sprout where they serve. But cancer threatens to end that influence. Of all people, they are tempted to think they are too important for God to take.

Yet God wants us to count all fear and pride as loss so we may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8). After all, the God we worship did not spare his own Son the suffering of the Cross (Rom. 8:32). And he did not spare his servant Paul the thorn in his flesh. Still, God's grace was sufficient for him, as it is for all who believe.

"For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10).

Collin Hansen is a CT editor at large and author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists.

Copyright © 2009 Christianity Today.

Are many practices and traditions in Christianity actually pagan in origin?


In their 2008 book Pagan Christianity, authors Frank Viola and George Barna present the surprising origins of many of the practices commonly found in churches today. The authors claim that many common church practices / traditions actually have their roots in paganism (non-Christian religions), not in the Bible. But is it accurate to claim that the practices of modern Christianity are pagan? Is what typically occurs in a church supported by what the Bible teaches about the church?


Many Christians recognize that some pagan ideas and practices have infiltrated the Christian church. Sadly, much of what Jesus Christ abolished by His death and resurrection, the early Christians re-established. Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled God’s requirements, ending the need for any further sacrifices (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18). The early church, due to pagan influences, warped the celebration of the Lord’s Supper into a re-sacrifice / re-offering of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice abolished the need of a formal priesthood (Hebrews 10:12-14), creating instead a “kingdom of priests” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). The early church, again influenced by paganism, re-established a priesthood that added a barrier between the “ordinary” believer and God (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 9:15). These are just two of many possible examples.

Most Christians wholeheartedly agree that beliefs / practices such as these need to be rejected and the biblical truth upheld. Following are the primary issues Pagan Christianity raises.

(1) The Church Building. The New Testament records the early Christians meeting in homes (Acts 2:46; 5:42; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19). Neither Jesus nor the Apostles encourage Christians to build temples / church buildings. In John 4:21-24, Jesus declares that a time is coming where worship will not be tied to any particular location or building. For the first few hundred years of the Christian faith, church buildings were very rare. It was not until Constantine and his succeeding Roman Emperors made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire that Christians began to build temples. In some instances, Christians, with the aid of Roman soldiers, took over pagan temples and “Christianized” them into churches.

Christians building church buildings resulted in multiple problems. First, people began to think of a church building as “sacred space.” This resulted in a separation between what goes on inside a church building, and what takes place outside of a church building. Among some, blatant evil and immorality was tolerated outside of the church as long as behavior inside the church was proper. Second, some people lost the idea of God’s omnipresence. The biblical fact that fellowship with God could be had anywhere was lost, and replaced with the idea that a church building and/or the altar inside a church building was the only place one could connect with God. Third, some people lost sight of the fact that believers in Christ are the church, and instead began to think of the church as the building.

But is the idea of a church building pagan? Since the Bible does not instruct Christians to build church buildings, does that mean it is wrong to have a church building? The fact that the Bible does not command something does not mean the Bible is opposed to that something. The Bible neither encourages nor discourages the idea of Christians meeting in buildings that are specifically designed for corporate worship. The question of a church building is one where it is crucially important to recognize the difference between description and prescription. The New Testament describes the early Christians meeting in homes. The New Testament does not prescribe that Christians should only meet in homes. A church building in which the biblical truth about the church is declared is in no sense unbiblical. The building is not what is unbiblical. It is the beliefs that are often attached to the building that are unbiblical.

(2) The structure of the church. In many churches today, there is a “set in stone” structure for how a service will proceed. The structure changes somewhat from church to church, but the core items remain the same: announcements, corporate worship, meeting and greeting, prayer, the sermon, a closing song. In some churches, the order of service is absolutely unbendable. In other churches, there is some flexibility. Whatever the case, the idea of a church meeting having such a rigid structure is not presented in the New Testament. When a church has such a rigid structure, it can stifle, rather than promote, true worship and fellowship.

First Corinthians 14:40 teaches, “but everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” Order and structure are not unbiblical. Rigidity and legalism are unbiblical. While a church should ensure that its services are reasonably organized, it is unbiblical for a church service to be so structured that it prevents any participation, freedom, or moving of the Spirit.

(3) Church leadership. The Bible undeniably teaches that the church is to have godly leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:17-20; Titus 1:6-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4). Sadly, the early church took the concept of church leadership, and due to pagan influences, molded it into a priesthood. While most Protestant and Evangelical churches do not refer to its leadership as priests, in some instances, the pastor/preacher serves in much the same role as a priest. Pastors are expected to do all, or nearly all, of the ministry work. In some churches, the re-introduction of the idea of a priest into Christianity resulted in the biblical identity of all believers being saints, ministers, and priests, being lost. In church leadership, the result can be burnt-out pastors or overly authoritative pastors. The result in the congregation can be passivity and inactivity.

The idea that a Christian can unenthusiastically sing a few songs, lackadaisically shake a few hands, inattentively listen to a sermon, and reluctantly give an offering – and thereby fulfill his/her role in the church – is completely unbiblical. The church is intended to be a place of healthy fellowship, active participation, and mutual edification. First Corinthians chapter 12 likens the church to a human body. All of the parts of the body must be functioning for the body to do what it is intended to do. In some churches today, only the “head” is functioning. And as physiology teaches us, a head cannot survive on its own.

(4) The sermon. The Bible clearly declares that God’s Word is to be taught (1 Timothy 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:2). There is undeniably a place for a godly man teaching other believers in a sermonic / oratory format. One problem is that many churches fall into the trap of one man being the sole teacher. Another problem is when churches, whether intentionally or unintentionally, convey the idea that passively listening to a sermon is all that God expects. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul encourages Timothy to entrust teaching to others who are gifted by the Holy Spirit for teaching. The presence of a non-participatory sermon is not the problem. The lack of opportunities for others to teach and/or the lack of willingness to teach can be a problem. One of the goals of the church is to make disciples, not pew-warmers. Many churches could do a much better job at recognizing the gift of teaching in others and training and encouraging them to use that gift. At the same time, no one should seek the position of teacher unless he really has been gifted by the Holy Spirit, a fact which can be verified by the testimony of others who can give witness to the presence of this gift. In fact, James 3:1 warns us, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

For other issues raised by Pagan Christianity, please read the following articles:
http://www.gotquestions.org/dress-up-church.html
http://www.gotquestions.org/tithing-Christian.html
http://www.gotquestions.org/pastors-paid-salary.html
http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-baptism.html
http://www.gotquestions.org/communion-Christian.html

It is undeniable that pagan ideas and practices have crept their way into the Christian church. To varying degrees, every church has practices that are not completely based in Scripture, either in the practice itself or in the understanding of the practice. But again, this does not mean these practices are pagan or wrong. Churches would do well to continually re-evaluate their methods and motivations, to make sure they are biblically solid. While no church practice should contradict Scripture, a church practice does not have to be explicitly biblical to be a viable choice. Nor does a practice not being taught in the Bible make it pagan. A practice having a pagan origin does not necessarily make it unbiblical. The key to avoiding “pagan Christianity” is comparing every belief and practice with Scripture and removing anything that contradicts what the Bible prescribes for the church. For those issues on which the Bible is silent, the church leadership should prayerfully consider whether or not to continue them.

Recommended Resource: Pagan Christianity:
Exposing the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola & George Barna.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Parable of the Drowning Man



Dear Friends:

Perhaps you have run into an earnest Christian, that when opposing the biblical teaching of the "bondage of the will", "salvation by grace alone" and "election" will use the common salvation analogy which likens the unsaved to a helpless drowning man. That a loving God gives us free choice while drowning whether we will reach out and take His hand to be saved or not. That only an 'evil' God, they say, would leave or not attempt to save people who are drowning in a lake. "How could a loving God be so cruel just to leave them there drowning," they argue.

There are quite a number of things that might be said in response to this. First of all we must clarify that what distinguishes our tradition from freewillism is not that one God loves people and the other conception of God does not. No... the distinction is between an intensive and an extensive love, between an intensive love where God actually expresses His love by laying down His life to redeem His loved ones, and an extensive love that loves everyone in a generic sense but actually delivers no one in particular. Consider the parable of the drowning man again in light of these two perspectives:

(1) Your child is drowning off the edge of your boat. You are a great swimmer but the swells are high and it is risky. You call out to your child to use his willpower to swim back to the boat to save himself, yet he is entirely too weak to do so. You reach out your hand but it depends on whether your child is a good enough swimmer to get to you and has the strength in himself to reach out his arm. But you do nothing more than call for him to come and will only go as far as reaching out your hand since you wouldn't want to violate his free will to let him decide if he will swim back and reach for your help.

(2) Your child is drowning off the edge of your boat. You are a great swimmer but the swells are high and it is risky. But your love for your child outweighs all other considerations and without hesitation you leap into the water at the risk of your own life, due to the weather, and actually save your child from drowning. You drown in the process but your child is saved. In other words, you don't just wait to see if he is willing or has the strength. He doesn't. So you go in and save your child regardless of the cost to yourself.

Which of the two fathers is more loving I ask?

The first one, if you haven't yet guessed, is the Arminian "father". He sees his child in trouble and will only save him on condition that he has the capacity to swim through the waves and reach out and take hold of the father. The father will not, however, risk his life to actually MAKE SURE that the son does not drown. His love does not act so this love is ineffectual. It all depends on how the son responds. It is a love which is conditional. The Arminian gospel is just like this because if God violates the human will in any way it makes Him evil in their mind. [Note: I will tell you what. If I am stubborn and will not obey the gospel, afterwards I would be grateful if he "violated" my will to save me from drowning. What I want does not matter since I am only a child with reference to God. It is what God wants that matters. What I want will conform to what God wants when He opens the eyes of my understanding. This is not something I can produce naturally. The Holy Spirit must act or I die. If your child is to be hit by a car, do you wait to see what he will do or do you run out to save him? I don't care if the child did not want it at the time. I do it anyway if I love him. The fact is what kind of love just sits there and does nothing but woo and hope you will save yourself? Is that the kind of love we expect of a parent, let alone our Heavenly Father?]

The second analogy is the Augustinian father. His love is not weak-willed or ineffectual but he loves his children with a resolute will that accomplishes what His love dictates by actually saving his child, even by forfeiting his own life in the process. God is love, and God's love is like His Word ... He says of it, "It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." This is beautiful and what love is all about because it means we can take God at His word and promises.

Again, which father in the story is more loving?

Of course the analogy is flawed since the son, in real life is already dead to the things of the father and due to his autonomy and pride, would never take his father's help to do what he knows (or thinks) he can do for himself.

Naturally the next question is why does God not save everyone then? That is a deep mystery but we know God conspires with His own goodness and wisdom and always does what is right whether we fully understand His reasons or not. The same mystery equally extends to the question of why He bothers to save anyone at all. Given our hostility toward Him it is even more amazing that He chooses anyone. Why not give us what we all deserve, which is justice? So while it is true we may not know why He chooses only some for redemption, the Scriptures do teach the "what" and the "how" ...that He, in fact, does save a partuclar people for Himself. But it is not for us to pry into the mystery of why (since He has not revealed it) except that it was His good pleasure ... And it is not for us to presume, as some do, that election means He must have bad motives in doing so. We know, from revelation, that the character of God is always good and trustworthy so we can know with certainty that He does His choosing for good reasons that are in Himself even though we may not fully understand God's purpose. But to conclude, therefore, that God must be evil if He chooses some and not others is presumptious at best. The very fact that He does it is the highest reason in the universe. That He has covenantally set His affection on certain persons but not others is His prerogative. There cannot be a better reason than "God wills it". Can you think of a better reason?

But to perhaps gain some understanding from what God has revealed to us, consider the following:

The Arminian calls a God who leaves a rebel behind as evil. To expose the fallacy of this argument we should respond biblically by asserting that God would only be "evil" in leaving them if people were undeserving of just punishment. By using "drowning in a lake" as an analogy, they are making it sound like our condition before salvation is innocuous. This logical fallacy is called an "appeal to pity" (ad misercordiam). "Look at the helpless person drowning and the Calvinist God does nothing. This God must be an ogre".

Perhaps if our problem were only of a physical disability or of an innocent man drowning then, of course, we might be more tempted to make God out to be an ogre. But this is not how the Scripture describes the disposition of a sinner's heart. The Scripture says the unregenerate are rebels, hostile to God by nature. Realizing that analogies are imperfect, this drowning analogy still depends on pity for it to work at all, but is actually imposing an alien presupposition on the Scripture that we were just helplessly, innocently in need and God is, therefore, obligated to reach out to save us, lest we drown. So according to this analogy the one condition for us to meet if God is to love us is to reach out our hand and take hold of His, which He is obligated to extend lest otherwise He must be evil, they reason. Not only is this kind of love conditional but this love does nothing to help the helpless except call to him from afar. I hope you are beginning to see the clear problem with this line of reasoning.

Lets get the facts straight: nowhere does Scripture even hint that man is just innocently drowning. Rather it describes us as willfully and purposefully hostile toward God like an opposing army, suppressing the truth and replacing God with our own idols, having a debt we cannot and will not repay. The Text says that we love darkness and hate the light - which means our affections are bent on fleeing from God. Michael Horton once described it like this: “We cannot find God for the same reason that a thief can't find a police officer.” It is not as though we just had a physical inability, but our condition is described as a moral inability with darkened affections (John 3:19) in need of a new birth (John 3:3-6), i.e. a completely new nature that we might desire and understand the things of God (1 Cor 2: 5-14). One thing to remember is that we are all debtors for willfully breaking God's holy Law. We owe a debt we cannot repay - the price is too high, and further, we are unwilling. This means that we justly deserve God's wrath - all of us. Unless we can say that we justly deserve God's displeasure, save in the mercy of Jesus Christ, then we have yet to truly understand the gospel. If God were to completely wipe out the entire human race in one fell swoop, it would be entirely just for that is what we rightly deserve. If we were all thrown into an eternal hell, we would merely be getting our just deserts.

But since we are using analogies here is another: if nine people owed me money, and I canceled the debt of seven, the other two would have no grounds for complaint. In the same way if God canceled no one's debt it would be entirely proper, but if He cancels the debt of some of them, the others have no ground for complaint. They are responsible to repay but do not have the ability to repay (see Rom 3:20). God is in no way obligated to to cancel anyone's debt, but because He is loving and merciful He paid the debt for those He came to save according to His sovereign good pleasure (Eph 1:4, 5).

We must remember also that God has more than just one attribute ... and we must also remember that God is infinitely holy, just and wrathful. When we say we are saved what do we mean? What are we saved from? We are saved from God. Yes, saved from God. If God is truly a just God, His wrath must be poured out on the guilty. God is holy and no sin can stand in His presence - His justice requires just payment, a payment we cannot repay.

So God gives one of two things to humans in this life: justice or mercy. Those in Christ have received mercy. It wasn't because God saw anything in us that recommended us to Him, or because of our great resume or skill but because of his mercy alone that he saved us.

He didn't love us because of our faith but loved and redeemed us UNTO faith. We are justified through faith alone but we didn't produce faith in our unregenerate, hostile fallen nature ... God mercifully granted that we would repent and believe the gospel (2 Tim 2:25, Eph 2:8). Apart from His grace, which He granted us in the new birth, we would never come to God on our own. Rather, God has set His affection on us from eternity. He came to find us and deliver us from death that we might worship and have fellowship with Him. So if men suffer in Hell it is not because God so determined that they would for no reason, but because of their sin, and if we are saved it is solely because of His grace.

In spite of ourselves God came in the person of Jesus Christ to bear the full brunt of God's wrath for His people. The punishment we deserved fell on Him. He saves many but passes over the rest. He leaves the non-elect to do what they will. They choose to rebel because this is their natural inclination - God did not have to coerce them. So is God an ogre standing over some poor helpless drowning man? No, He is faced with people who are wilfully trying to establish themselves against Him and do not want His help. In fact they take up arms against the King. They will do anything they can to flee from Him, to declare autonomy and mutiny.

God sends His servants and His Son but we kill them instead. Does God have the obligation to save those who killed His Son? Or those who conspire against Him as we once did? No, He is righteous if he casts them in the lake of fire. But in spite of all we have done against Him, He comes in love bearing the punishment we justly deserve on His own person. Great love. But He will have mercy on whom He will (Rom 9:15, 16). Who are you man to tell God He is evil or unjust for saving some and leaving others? We should marvel that He saves any. If anyone would agree that He is just in punishing us all (which Arminians do), how then can they be consistent to make Him unjust for punishing some and saving the rest for His own good and wise reasons?

We must ask ourselves in light of all this, what is love? What is a holy love? ... and which description most closely fits with true biblical love. Jesus said in John 10 that He not only "calls his own sheep by name and leads them out" (John 10:3) but that "the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." (John 10:11,15) but he says of others that they "do not believe because [they] are not of My Sheep." (John 10:26) . He lays down his life for the sheep but some are not his sheep, and that is the reason they do not believe, Jesus says.

GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR, EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT, DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY." (Rom 11:8)

In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; (Matt 13:14)

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Rom 11:33)

- J.W. Hendryx

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Life's Toughest Question



Q -

How would you go about structuring a message titled: answering life's toughest questions?

Jim -

I have a brief answer. Woody Allen said in one of his films (they all run together at some point) that humans spend their time creating trouble and dilemmas in their life so that they won't have to face the really big issue, which is that we are all going to die. There's a lot of truth in that. I would add that we create dilemmas that are actually within our power to control or solve in order to fool ourselves into believing that we are the masters of our destinies and that we actually will have some control over our ultimate fate.

But, the real issue remains - we are all going to die.

I've heard a whole rash of sermons on the radio lately [they seem to run in cycles. I think the radio guys all listen to each other and when somebody comes up with an idea or series that sounds intriguing the rest of them jump on the bandwagon so as not to lose their audience...but, I digress) that have to do with Life's Tough Questions, and similar titles. And, of course, they all run through the litany of human troubles, especially those that are "big press" items, like abortion, race relations, marriage, crime, drinking, etc.

To be honest, those messages don't do much for me. I listen to them to try and get the pulse of "the church as entertainment" movement. But, they are always little more than popular questions with semi-Biblical, or pseudo-Biblical, answers. Abortion? Hate the sin; love the sinner. Race relations? Love your brother as yourself. Marriage? Husbands, love you wives as Christ loved the church. Crime? Thou shalt not steal. Drinking? Be not drunk with wine.

You get the picture. Basic answers to complex questions. It's sort of like Nancy Reagan's answer to the drug problem - Just Say No. Well, if the drug problem in America were so simple it could be solved with a slogan, we'd have licked it a long time ago.

Nevertheless, these questions are hardly anything new. These are problems that are typical of the human condition in any age. Sinners do sinful things. The sinful things that sinner do will always be a problem for the church. Well, at least they used to be a problem, until the contemporary church decided to embrace them as opportunities to be more "seeker sensitive."

My point?

The supposed "hard questions" of life aren't really that hard. They may be complex, but they are ultimately manageable. That gives us frail humans some sense that we can, by own effort, solve some of our own problems. And, most of what I hear called "the hard problems" are really quite basic, according to Scripture.

Human actions fall into two categories: right and wrong. Most reasonably educated people, or at very least people indwelt by the Spirit of God, have some sense of what's acceptable and what's not in God's eyes. Only sociopaths don't understand that killing people is at very least "anti-social." We may act as if we don't recognize any authority but ourselves, but deep down we all fear that there might actually be a God, He might actually be watching, and we may in fact be held accountable for our actions. But, we don't have to think about that if we fill our time and thoughts with problems we might actually be able to solve with a little brain-power and effort. We'll just push that "God" thing to the side.

So, are there answers to our social problems and ills? Sure.

Abortion? Don't do it. Children are a gift from God. Murder is wrong. There, that wasn't too tough. Race relations? Esteem every man as better than yourself and remember that the purest races are mixed breeds. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. He has made of the two "one new man." So, act like it. I could go on, but you get my drift. God actually has provided answers to our "toughest" questions. We just don't like His answers. Murder? Don't kill. Crime? Don't covet; it leads to stealing. Sexual immorality? Don't fornicate. Don't commit adultery. Those are the answers.

The simple reality is that God has laid down His standard and He expects His standard to be upheld. Now, will it be? Nope. Sinners to sinful things. Will it be upheld in Church? It should be, but that's why grace is so necessary. We all have come short of the glory of God.

So, are life's toughest questions that same list of social ills that's repeated ad nauseum in these sermons? No, absolutely not. Life's toughest questions are the ones nobody asking, because they are afraid of the answer. So, to avoid the answer, they don't ask the questions. It's easier to deal with questions we can answer in a thirty-minute, radio-friendly sermon.

So, what are the tough questions?

Let's start at the top: Is there a God and will He really judge me for my actions?

The answer, of course, is: Yes, there is a God. And yes, everywhere that He presents Himself in Scripture He represents Himself as a jealous God, who will judge in righteousness and who is willing to condemn people eternally.

Life's toughest questions #2: Is it true that all men are sinners, born dead in trespasses and sins and there's not one thing we can do to satisfy the holiness, or appease the wrath, of God?

Answer: That's right. You're born dead in sin. It doesn't matter whether you think you're a sinner or whether you have verifiable evidence that you're better than, say, Hitler. The standard of righteousness is not other people, the standard is the Holiness of God. And, whether it's Hitler or Mother Teresa, all we like sheep have gone astray and turned, everyone of us, to our own way. No human being that is tried on the basis of his or her personal works and individual level of sanctification will be allowed into Heaven. We are all guilty, and our best works of righteousness are nothing more than filthy, bloody rags.

Life's toughest question #3: Is it true that God is absolutely holy and that people have to attain a standard of holiness commensurate with God's in order to avoid eternal damnation?

Answer: Yep, that's the deal. The standard is impossibly high. Don't attempt to lower the standard in order to convince yourself that you can attain it. I mean, if real holiness could be achieved by how you dress, or wear your hair, or what church you attend, then we could certainly live up to that. But, those are manmade standards designed to convince egocentric people that they actually are impressing God with their actions.

Nevertheless, the true standard, according to Jesus, had to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (who were actively attempting to achieve salvation through the actions of the Law). In other words, neither the Pharisees nor the disciples had yet to achieve a righteous standard sufficient to obligate God to save them. No one gets in by their personal merit. The standard remains and the standard does not bend. God does not grade on a curve. Only absolute, eternal, spotless holiness will achieve eternal salvation.

Life's toughest question #4: Oh my Heavens!!! What if those first three questions and answers are right????!!!! What will I do???!!!! I mean, if God is absolutely holy and I am absolutely depraved, then I am absolutely hopeless!!! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

And that, my friend, is life's toughest question. God is holy. I'm dead in sins. The gulf between us is insurmountable. What will I do?

That's the question no one seems to ask anymore. They want to make sinners look good, or bring God down to our level. Either way, they are creating a false answer to a seemingly impossible question. God's standard does not bend and dead men do not make themselves alive. We are in desperate trouble.

Life's one toughest question: What will I do about eternity?

Answer: Christ. There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. That's the answer. Christ did not live and die in order to give us a simpler, calmer, more blessed life here on earth. He did not agonize on the cross in order to supply us with endless health and comfortable shoes. He did not endure separation from His Father, causing Him to cry out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" in order for us to make Him our bellhop and let Him know when we need something from Him.

The answer to life's toughest question is that only faith in Christ's finished work will result in salvation, the only thing you absolutely, positively must have when you leave this world. And, as I said, we're all going to leave. You can suffer through life's other miseries and do it with great aplomb or with wailing and gnashing of teeth, but if you don't know the answer to that one question, you will be cast off from God's presence for the rest of forever. Get that one question right, and Christ's own righteousness will be imputed to your account, and you will live gloriously through eternity, accepted in the beloved, and securely wrapped in the powerful, unchanging love of the Father.

Spend the rest of your life debating the minutiae of the human experience and you may never have to address that question.

So, if I were constructing a message with that title, that's the approach I would take. I know that life has bumps and troubles. But, that's life. The big questions are those that lead to eternal life or damnation, and those questions are far too frequently ignored in favor of the minor, more immediate dilemmas that are within our grasp.

Grace and peace, philos.

Jim Mc.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The SBC -- The Unregenerate Denomination

“How are you doing?”

“Pretty well, under the circumstances.”
“What are the circumstances?”
“Well, I have a very effective arm. It moves with quite a bit of animation. But then I have my bad leg.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“I guess it’s paralyzed. At least it doesn’t do much except twitch once a week or so. But that’s nothing compared with the rest of me.”
“What’s the problem?
“From all appearances, the rest is dead. At least it stinks and bits of flesh are always falling off. I keep it well covered. About all that’s left beyond that is my mouth, which fortunately works just fine. How about you?”

Like the unfortunate person above, the Southern Baptist Convention has a name that it is alive, but is in fact, mostly dead (Rev. 3:1). Regardless of the wonderful advances in our commitment to the Bible, the recovery of our seminaries, etc., a closer look reveals a denomination that is more like a corpse than a fit athlete. In an unusual way, our understanding of this awful reality provides the most exciting prospects for the future—if we will act decisively.

Facts

Although the Southern Baptists claim 16,287,494 members, on average only 6,024,289 people (guests and non-member children included), a number equal to only 37% of the membership number, show up for their church’s primary worship meeting (usually Sunday morning). This is according to the Strategic Information and Planning department of the Sunday School Board (2004 statistics). If your church is anything like normal, and is not brand new, your statistics are probably similar. In other words, if you have 200 in attendance on Sunday morning, you likely have 500-600 or even more on your roll. Many churches have an even worse record.

Discerning who among us is regenerate is not an exact science, but a closer look at these numbers will at least alert us to the fact that most Southern Baptists must certainly be dead spiritually. That is so, unless, of course, you claim that there is no difference between a believer and a non-believer.

In the average church you can cut the 37% Sunday morning attendance by about two-thirds or more when counting those interested in a Sunday evening service, or other gatherings held in addition to the principal meeting of the church. In 1996, the last time the SBC kept these statistics, the number of Sunday evening attenders was equal to only 12.3% of the membership (in churches that had an evening meeting). One might ask what makes us claim that the rest are Christians, if they involve themselves with God’s people only on such a minimal, surface level? How are they any different from the people who attend the liberal church down the street—the “church” where the gospel is not even preached?

And remember that the numbers of those attending include many non-member children and guests, often making up a third of the congregation’s main meeting attendance. When all factors are considered, these figures suggest that nearly 90% of Southern Baptist church members appear to be little different from the “cultural Christians” who populate other mainline denominations.

To make matters worse, we tell a lot more people that they are true Christians (because they prayed a prayer sincerely) than we can convince to be baptized. Our largest pizza supper may bring in a hundred new “converts,” but we will likely get only a few of those on the roll. After that, the percentages that I have been mentioning kick in. In other words, if you compare all who we say have become Christians through our evangelistic efforts, to those who actually show signs of being regenerate, we should be red-faced. In the Assembly of God’s 1990s “Decade of Harvest,” out of the 3.5 million supposedly converted, they showed a net gain of only 5 new attenders for every 100 recorded professions. When one considers all of our supposed converts, including those who refuse to follow Christ in baptism and who never join our churches, our numbers are much the same. Doesn’t anybody see that there is a serious problem here?

Let me illustrate in rounded figures by looking at some of the churches where I have preached as a guest speaker. Each could be any Baptist church in any city. In one church, with 7,000 on the active roll, there were only 2000 in attendance on Sunday morning, and a mere 600-700 on Sunday evening. When you account for those attenders who are not members of this flagship church (i.e. guests and non-member children), you have about 1500 actual members coming in the morning and 500 or so in the evening. Where are the 5,500 members who are missing on Sunday mornings? Where are the 6,500 who are missing in the evening?

Another church had 2,100 on the roll, with 725 coming on Sunday morning. Remove guests and non-member children and the figure drops to 600 or less. Only about a third of that number came out on Sunday evening, representing less than 10% of the membership. Yet another church had 310 on the roll with only 100 who attended on Sunday morning. Only 30-35, or approximately 10%, came to the evening worship service.

These are all considered fine churches. All have an extremely competent level of leadership and vision. Some shut-ins and those who are sick, out of town, or in the military, certainly affect the figures a little. But those who are justifiably absent are not enough to alter the bleakness of the picture, especially when we remember that these numbers represent people who have been baptized and have publicly declared their allegiance to God and the Body of Christ. Even if you generously grant that the 37% are all true believers (an estimation that most pastors would say is way off the mark), one still has a church membership that is more dead than alive. If we are honest, we might have to ask ourselves, “Do Southern Baptists believe in a regenerate membership?”

Missing Christians are No Christians

What do these facts and figures, as general as they are, suggest?

First, they reveal that most of the people on our rolls give little evidence that they love the brethren—a clear sign of being unregenerate (1 Jn. 3:14). It is impossible to believe that anything like real familial affection exists in the hearts of people who do not come at all, or who only nominally check in on Sunday morning as a cultural exercise. Love is the greatest mark of a genuine believer (1 Jn.3:14-19). Attendance alone does not guarantee that anyone is an authentic believer, but “forsaking the assembling,” is a serious sign of the unregenerate heart. The phrase: “They went out from us, because they were never of us” (1 Jn. 2:19) may have doctrinal overtones, but it nonetheless represents many on our membership rolls.

Second, these numbers suggest that most of those who do not attend (or who only come when it is convenient), are more interested in themselves than God. To put it in Paul’s words, they are “fleshly-minded” and not “spiritually-minded” (Rom. 8: 5-9). The atmosphere that most pleases them is that of the world and not God. They can stand as much of God as makes them feel better about themselves, and they find a certain carnal security in “belonging” to a local church. But beyond that, they will politely resist getting involved. They use the church, but are not really a part of it. For some, the extent of what they can take is an Easter service now and then; for others it is an occasional sterile (and somewhat Pharisaical) trip to church on appropriate Sunday mornings as fits into their schedule. But their apathy towards regular and faithful church attendance betrays their true affections. The fact is, you do what you love to do.

Third, the numbers indicate that some people have joined other denominations and our churches have not kept up with their movements—a sign of inadequate pastoral oversight and the built-in deficiencies of the “inactive membership” concept. I’m quite certain Paul never dreamed of “inactive membership.” Embarrassingly, some left on the rolls are dead—physically! It goes without saying that a dead person is about as inactive as one could be! But others, though presumably alive physically, have disappeared without a trace. I believe it was our beloved Dr. Roy Fish of SWBTS who said, “Even the FBI could not find some of them.” Yet, if we want to claim them as members, we are responsible to keep up with them.
All of these people have “prayed the prayer” and “walked the aisle.” All have been told that they are Christians. But for most, old things have not really passed away, and new things have not come. Most are not new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). In too many cases, obvious signs of an unregenerate heart can be found, such as bitterness, long-term adultery, fornication, greed, divisiveness, covetousness, etc. These are “professing believers” that the Bible says are deceived. “Do not be deceived” the Bible warns us concerning such people (see 1 Cor.6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; 6: 7-8; Eph. 5:5-6; Titus 1:16; 1 Jn. 3:4-10; etc.).


Jesus indicated that there is a good soil that is receptive to the gospel seed so as to produce a fruit-bearing plant, but that the “rocky ground” believer only appears to be saved. The latter shows immediate joy, but soon withers away (Mt. 13:6, 21). This temporary kind of faith (which is not saving faith, see 1 Cor.15:1-2) is rampant among Southern Baptists. In The Baptist Faith and Message we say we believe that saving faith is persistent to the end. We say we believe in the preservation and perseverance of the saints (once saved, always persevering). In other words, if a person’s faith does not persevere, then what he possessed was something other than saving faith.

In John 2:23-25 Jesus was the center-piece for what turned out to be a mass evangelism experience in which a large number of people “believed” in Him. Yet He did not entrust Himself to even one of them because “he knew their hearts.” Is it possible that we have taken in millions of such “unrepenting believers” whose hearts have not been changed? I say that we have. Our denomination, as much as we may love it, is on the main, unregenerate. Even if you double, triple, or quadruple my assessment of how many are true believers, we still have a gigantic problem. It is naive to believe otherwise.

There are those who would say that such people are “carnal Christians” and don’t deserve to be thought of as unregenerate. It is true that the Corinthian believers (about whom this phrase was used; see 1 Cor. 3:1-3) acted “like mere men” in their party spirit. Christians can commit any sin short of that which is unpardonable.

Undoubtedly, however, Paul did suspect that some of the Corinthians were unbelievers, for he later warns them about such a possibility in 2 Cor.12:20-13:5. A long-term and unrepentant state of carnality, is, after all, the very description of the unregenerate (Rom. 8:5-14, 1 Jn. 3:4-10, etc.). In calling some people “carnal” Paul did not mean to imply that he was accepting as Christian a lifestyle that he clearly describes elsewhere as unbelieving. He wrote, in the same letter: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived” (1 Cor. 6:9-11, etc.). Apparently there were some, even then, who were deceived into thinking that an unrighteous man or woman who professes faith in Christ could really be a Christian!

Is Follow-up the Problem?

A great mistake is made by blaming the problem on poor follow-up. In many churches there is every intention and effort given to follow-up, yet still the poor numbers persist. One church followed up “by the book,” seeking to disciple people who had been told they were new converts during the crusade of an internationally-known evangelist. The report of the pastor in charge was that none of them wanted to talk about how to grow as a Christian. He said, “In fact, they ran from us!” I have known some churches to go to extreme efforts to disciple new believers. We must do this. Yet, like the others, they generally have marginal success. They have learned to accept the fact that people who profess to have become Christians often have to be talked into going further, and that many, if not most, simply will not bother. Authentic new believers can always be followed up, however, because they have the Spirit by which they cry, “Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15). They have been given love for the brethren, and essential love for the beauty and authority of the Word of God. But you cannot follow-up on a spiritually dead person. Being dead, he has no interest in growth.

It was the preaching of regeneration, with an explanation of its discernible marks, that was the heart of the Great Awakening. J. C. Ryle, in writing of the eighteenth century revival preachers, said that they never for a moment believed that there was any true conversion if it was not accompanied by increasing personal holiness. Such content was the staple of the greatest of awakening preaching throughout the history of revival. Only such a powerful cannon blast of truth could rock the bed of those asleep in Zion.

Facing the Dilemma

What must be done? I suggest five responses:

1. We must preach and teach on the subject of the unregenerate church member. Every author in the New Testament writes of the nature of deception. Some books give major consideration to the subject. Jesus Himself spoke profusely about true and false conversion, giving significant attention to the fruit found in true believers (Jn. 10:26-27; Mt. 7:21-23; Mt. 25:1-13, etc.). If this sort of teaching creates doubt in people, you should not be alarmed, nor should you back away from it. Given the unregenerate state of so many professing Christians, their doubts may be fully warranted. In any case, as one friend told me, “Doubts never sent anyone to hell, but deception always does.” Most will work through their doubts, if they are regenerate and if we continue to preach the whole truth. Contrary to popular opinion, all doubts are not of the devil. Speak truthfully the whole counsel of God. You cannot “unsave” true believers.

It is true that there may be some who are overly scrupulous and overwhelmed by such examination. But most who will be affected are those who are too self-confident, having based their assurance on such shaky platforms as their response to an invitation, praying a perfectly worded “sinner’s prayer,” or getting baptized. If they are unregenerate, they may take offense and leave. But if they are truly regenerate, patient teaching and care will help them to overcome their doubts and gain biblical assurance. Such preaching may even result in true conversion for some who are deceived. And don’t forget that the overconfident ones are not the only ones at risk. Quiet, sensitive, insecure people can be deceived also.

2. We must address the issue of persistent sin among our members, including their sinful failure to attend the stated meetings of the church. This must be done by reestablishing the forgotten practice of church discipline. Each church should adopt guidelines that state just what will happen when a member falls into sin, including the sin of non-attendance or very nominal attendance. Such discipline for non-attendance is clearly found in the history of Baptists—but more importantly, in the Bible.

Everyone in the church, including new members, should be made familiar with the biblical steps of church discipline. Jesus said that a person who was lovingly, but firmly, disciplined by the church, and yet failed to repent, should be thought of as “a heathen and a tax collector” (see Mt. 18:15-17). Though David committed atrocious sins, he was a repenter at heart (see 2 Sam.12:13; Psalm 51). Every Christian is a life-long repenter and church discipline brings this out. (See “Restoring Those Who Fall,” in Our Church on Solid Ground: Documents That Preserve the Integrity and Unity of the Church, www.CCWonline.org)

Leaders must get into the homes of all our erring church members, seeking either to bring them to Christ, or to reluctantly release them to the world which they love more than Christ. Nowhere in the Bible are we taught to keep non-believers on the rolls. As a side benefit from church discipline for the SBC, remember that when we reduce our membership to what it actually is, we will be amazed at the statistical improvements in the ratio of members per baptism and members to attenders. Of course, statistics are not worth dying for, but obedience to God’s Word is.

We are never to aggressively pluck the supposed tares from the wheat as if we had absolute knowledge (Mt. 13:24-30; 36-43). We might be mistaken. However, loving church discipline is a careful process by which the obvious sinner in essence removes himself by his resistance to correction. The church is made up of repenting saints, not rebelling sinners (see 1 Cor. 5). The slight improvement in the disparity between membership and attendance in the last couple of years is likely due, in major part, to some churches beginning to practice church discipline—a matter of obedience that thankfully is regaining credence among us. Some have removed hundreds from their rolls in this process, and regained some also.

3. We should be more careful on the front end of church membership. In my estimation, the public altar call (a modern invention) often reaps people prematurely. Others will disagree or can perhaps make significant improvements on the traditional “invitation system.” We have used this method in our evangelism because of our genuine zeal to see the lost converted. But in our zeal, we have often overlooked the fact that many who do what our method calls for (i.e. respond to our invitation) may not be converted.

Though sacrosanct to Baptists, careful study should be done related to the historical use of the invitation system evangelistically. For eighteen hundred years the church did not use such a method. It was not until its principle originator, Charles Finney, a true pelagian in his theology, promoted his “new measures.” Earlier preachers were content to let true conviction play a greater part in conversion. They needed no props for the gospel—no persuasive techniques to prompt people to make a “decision.” Instead of relying on a method, their confidence was in the preached Word and the Holy Spirit. Baptist giant, C. H. Spurgeon, for instance, saw thousands converted without the use of an “altar call.” His message was his invitation. We should always offer a verbal invitation in our gospel preaching, meaning we must invite people to repent and believe. But there is no real benefit, while there is much potential harm, in our inviting them to the front of the church and then assuring them that their short walk or tearful response proves their conversion.

We don’t need better methods to get people down to the front. What we need is more biblical content and more unction in our preaching. You cannot beat sinners away from Christ when God is bringing them in (see Jn. 6:37, 44-45). When as many as 70-90% of “converts” are giving little, if any, evidence of being saved after their first weeks or months of emotional excitement, questions should be asked, both about our understanding of the gospel and about our methods. Forget the fact, if you must, that there is no clear biblical precedent for the altar call. Even considering the matter pragmatically ought to make us quit. Though prevalent in our churches for decades, it has not helped us. (See “Closing with Christ,” www.CCWonline.org/closing.html)

The dangerous practice of receiving new members immediately after they walk the aisle must finally be abandoned. Also, more careful counsel should be taken with those entering in as members from other churches. And add to this a need for much deeper thinking concerning childhood conversion. An alarming percentage of childhood professions wash out later in the teen and college years. For unconverted yet baptized church kids, the more independence they are granted, the more they live out their true nature. (See “Childhood Conversion,” www.CCWonline.org/cconv.html)

4. We must stop giving immediate verbal assurance to people who make professions of faith or who respond to our invitations. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to give assurance. We are to give thebasis upon which assurance can be had, not the assurance itself. Study 1 John in this respect. What things were written so that they might know they have eternal life? (1 Jn. 5:13). Answer: The tests given in the book. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).

5. We must restore sound doctrine. Revival, I am finding as I study its history, is largely about the recovery of the true gospel. The three great doctrines which have so often shown up in true revival are: 1) God’s sovereignty in salvation, 2) justification by grace through faith alone, and 3) regeneration with discernible fruit. Revival is God showing up, but the blessing of the presence of God is directly affected by our beliefs. God most often comes in the context of these and other great doctrines, preached penetratingly and faithfully, and with the unction of the Holy Spirit.

As an illustration of our doctrinal reductionism, repentance is often forgotten completely in gospel presentations, or else it is minimized to mean nothing more than “admitting that you are a sinner.” Also, “Inviting Christ into your heart,” a phrase never found in the Bible (study the context of Jn.1:12 and Rev. 3:20, the verses used for this), has taken the place of the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. The doctrine of God’s judgment is rarely preached with any carefulness. And comprehensive studies of the meaning of the cross are seldom heard. Merely looking over the titles of the sermons which awakening preachers preached in the past would surprise most modern pastors.

Be Healthy or Be Ashamed

Which army would you rather have? Gideon’s first army or his last? No church, and no denomination, should call itself healthy unless more people attend than are on the roll. This is a standard kept by most of the world, and was kept by our great-grandparents in Baptist churches as well. We would be closer to the revival we desire if we would admit our failure, humbly hang our heads, and seek to rectify this awful hindrance to God’s blessing. When we boast of how big we are, we are bragging about our shame.

In the Philadelphia Baptist Association Minutes, our first association, our initial American statistical record shows that five times as many people attended the association’s churches as were on their rolls. Greg Wills in Democratic Religion in the South (Oxford University Press, 1997, p.14) reports that three times the number on the rolls attended Baptist churches, then located mostly along the eastern seaboard when surveyed in 1791 by John Ashlund. In 1835, the Christian Index of Georgia recorded that “not less than twice the number” of members were in attendance.

Today, in rough numbers, it takes 300 people on our rolls to have 100 attenders. In the 1790s, it took only 33. Or, to put it in larger figures, it now takes nearly 3000 people, supposedly won to Christ and baptized, to result in a church attendance of 1000. Then, it took only 333. Our potency has diminished to such an extent that we must “win” and “baptize” over 2,000 more people to get to the same 1000 to attend.

Apparently, being orthodox in terms of inerrancy and infallibility is not enough, though without these doctrines we have no foundation for true evangelism. A lot has to be done, and a lot undone. And, sadly, we have been actively transporting this mainly American problem overseas for many years.

To conclude, I suggest two remedial steps for the convention as a whole, in addition to what was suggested for the churches:

1. We might reverse some of our proclivity to continue as normal if we introduced our preachers more accurately in our evangelism meetings and convention settings. Try using this introduction: “Here is Brother ______, pastor of a church of 10,000 members, 6400 of whom do not bother to come on a given Sunday morning, and 8600 of whom do not come on Sunday evening. He is here to tell us about how to have a healthy, evangelistic church.”

It might be better to ask a man to speak who shepherd’s 100 members, all of whom attend with regularity and all of whom show signs of regeneration—a man who, in the last year, has baptized 5 people who stick—rather than a pastor of 10,000 members, 7000 of whom do not come—a man who has baptized 1000 in the past year, 700 of whom cannot be found. The smaller, but more consistent numbers of the first pastor reveal a far more effective ministry and thus a far better example for other churches. (Please understand that I don’t like this talk about “numbers,” but this is the main way we evaluate people and churches as Baptists. I am sure God is not really impressed with any of our statistics.)

2. We should establish a study group to explore our presently deplorable situation and to track its history. This group should also seek to re-examine the biblical mandate to have a regenerate church. Then this study group should report back with a strategy to help us out of the dilemma. They should be painfully honest. I am hopeful that individual churches will act without this prompting, but this would be an added stimulus to getting us to our fighting weight as a denomination. Some church leaders will not act without this sort of backing since independent action would be a departure from the status quo.

Our only alternative is to carry on in the old way—the way that produces 70-90% fallout. By continuing on as we are, we will gradually blur, and eventually obscure altogether, any distinction between the professing and the authentic Christian. In the end, we will look like every other mainline, liberal denomination. We are only one-third to one-tenth alive now. If we want to avoid complete deadness, we must take dramatic measures immediately. Like cotton candy, our apparent size does not add up to much.

Our forebears, especially those who died for the biblical concept of a regenerate church, would hardly recognize our compromised condition. It will admittedly take us down a notch or two, in the estimation of the rest of professing Christianity, when millions are removed from our rolls. But humility and a new reality might be the starting place for God’s greatest blessings on us yet!

The next time someone asks how your church and your denomination are doing, tell the truth. Tell them that we have a new confidence in the inerrant Bible. Tell them that we have seminaries that promote orthodoxy, and new evangelistic fervor among the true believers. Tell them we have a lot to be excited about. But also tell them that when considered as a whole, most Southern Baptists need raising from the dead.

(Jim Elliff is president of Christian Communicators Worldwide. by More articles by Jim may be found here.
Revised edition, Copyright © Jim Elliff 2005 Christian Communicators Worldwide, Inc. 201 Main, Parkville, MO 64152 USA Permission granted for not-for-sale reproduction in exact form including copyright Other uses require written permission. Write for additional materials.

The New Hampshire Confession of Faith -- 1833




This Confession was drawn up by the Rev. John Newton Brown, D. D., of New Hampshire about 1833, and was adopted by the New Hampshire Convention, and widely accepted by Baptists, especially in the Northern and Western States, as a clear and concise statement of their faith, in harmony with the doctrines of older confessions, but expressed in milder form. The text is taken from the Baptist Church Manual, published by the American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia.


Declaration of Faith


Of the Scriptures We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction (1); that it has God for its author, salvation for its end (2), and truth without any mixture of error for its matter (3); that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us (4); and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union (5), and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried (6).
1.  2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Samuel 23:2; Acts 1:16; 3:21; John 10:35; Luke 16:29-31; Psa. 119:11; Rom. 3:1-2
2. 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; Acts 11:14; Rom. 1:16; Mark 16:16; John 5:38-39
3. Prov. 30:5-6; John 17:17; Rev. 22:18-19; Rom. 3:4
4. Rom. 2:12; John 12:47-48; 1 Cor. 4:3-4; Luke 10:10-16; 12:47-48
5. Phil. 3:16; Eph. 4:3-6; Phil. 2:1-2; 1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Pet. 4:11
6. 1 John 4:1; Isa. 8:20; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Cor. 8:5; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:6; Jude 3:5; Eph. 6:17; Psa. 119:59-60; Phil. 1:9-11
Of the True God We believe that there is one, and only one, living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, whose name is JEHOVAH, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of Heaven and earth (7); inexpressibly glorious in holiness (8), and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love (9); that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (10); equal in every divine perfection (11), and executing distinct and harmonious offices in the great work of redemption (12).
7. John 4:24; Psa. 147:5; 83:18; Heb. 3:4; Rom. 1:20; Jer. 10:10
8. Exod. 15:11; Isa. 6:3; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; Rev. 4:6-8
9. Mark 12:30; Rev. 4:11; Matt. 10:37; Jer. 2:12-13
10. Matt. 28:19; John 15:26; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 1 John 5:7
11. John 10:30; 5:17; 14:23; 17:5, 10; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor. 2:10-11; Phil. 2:5-6
12. Eph. 2:18; 2 Cor. 13:14; Rev. 1:4-5; comp. 2, 7
Of the Fall of Man We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker (13); but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state (14); in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners (15), not by constraint, but choice (16); being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin (17), without defense or excuse (18).
13. Gen. 1:27, 31; Eccl. 7:29; Acts 16:26; Gen. 2:16
14. Gen. 3:6-24; Rom. 5:12
15. Rom. 5:19; John 3:6; Psa. 51:5; Rom. 5:15-19; 8:7
16. Isa. 53:6; Gen. 6:12; Rom. 3:9-18
17. Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 1:18, 32; 2:1-16; Gal. 3:10; Matt. 20:15
18. Ezek. 18:19-20; Rom. 1:20; 3:19; Gal. 3:22
Of the Way of Salvation We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace (19), through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God (20); who by the appointment of the Father, freely took upon him our nature, yet without sin (21); honored the divine law by his personal obedience (22), and by his death made a full atonement for our sins (23); that having risen from the death, he is now enthroned in heaven (24); and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfections, he is every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all- sufficient Saviour (25).
19. Eph. 2:5; Matt. 18:11; 1 John 4:10; 1 Cor. 3:5-7; Acts 15:11
20. John 3:16; 1:1-14; Heb. 4:14; 12:24
21. Phil. 2:6-7; Heb. 2:9, 14; 2 Cor. 5:21
22. Isa. 42:21; Phil. 2:8; Gal. 4:4-5; Rom. 3:21
23. Isa. 53:4-5; Matt. 20:28; Rom. 4:25; 3:21-26; 1 John 4:10; 2:2; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Heb. 9:13-15
24. Heb. 1:8, 3; 8:1; Col. 3:1-4
25. Heb. 7:25; Col. 2:9; Heb. 2:18; 7:26; Psa. 89:19; Psa. 14
Of Justification We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ (26) secures to such as believe in him is Justification (27); that Justification includes the pardon of sin (28), and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness (29); that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer's blood (30); by virtue of which faith his perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God (31); that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity (32).
26. John 1:16; Eph. 3:8
27. Acts 13:39; Isa. 3:11-12; Rom. 8:1
28. Rom. 5:9; Zech. 13:1; Matt. 9:6; Acts 10:43
29. Rom. 5:17; Titus 3:5-6; 1 Pet. 3:7; 1 John 2:25; Rom. 5:21
30. Rom. 4:4-5; 5:21; 6:28; Phil. 3:7-9
31. Rom. 5:19; 3:24-26; 4:23-25; 1 John 2:12
32. Rom. 5:1-3, 11; 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Matt. 6:33; 1 Tim. 4:8
Of the Freeness of Salvation We believe that the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel (33); that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial, penitent, and obedient faith (34); and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the gospel (35); which rejection involves him in an aggravated condemnation (36).
33. Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17; Luke 14:17
34. Rom. 16:26; Mark 1:15; Rom. 1:15-17
35. John 5:40; Matt. 23:37; Rom. 9:32; Prov. 1:24; Acts 13:46
36. John 3:19; Matt. 11:20; Luke 19:27; 2 Thess. 1:8
Of Grace in Regeneration We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again (37); that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind (38); that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth (39), so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel (40); and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life (41).
37. John 3:3, 6-7; 1 Cor. 1:14; Rev. 8:7-9; 21:27
38. 2 Cor. 5:17; Ezek. 36:26; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 2:28-29; 5:5; 1 John 4:7
39. John 3:8; 1:13; James 1:16-18; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 2:13
40. 1 Pet. 1:22-25; 1 John 5:1; Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:9-11
41. Eph. 5:9; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 5:16-23; Eph. 3:14-21; Matt. 3:8-10; 7:20; 1 John 5:4, 18
Of Repentance and Faith We believe that Repentance and Faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God (42); whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ (43), we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy (44); at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour (45). 42. Mark 1:15; Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:8; 1 John 5:1
43. John 16:8; Acts 2:37-38; 16:30-31
44. Luke 18:13; 15:18-21; James 4:7-10; 2 Cor. 7:11; Rom. 10:12-13; Psa. 51
45. Rom. 10:9-11; Acts 3:22-23: Heb. 4:14; Psa. 2:6; Heb. 1:8; 8:25; 2 Tim. 1:12
Of God's Purpose of Grace We believe that Election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners (46); that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end (47); that it is a most glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable (48); that it utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy (49); that it encourages the use of means in the highest degree (50); that it may be ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the gospel (51); that it is the foundation of Christian assurance (52); and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence (53).
46. 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-14; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; Rom. 11:5-6; John 15:15; 1 John 4:19; Hos. 12:9
47. 2 Thess. 2:13-14; Acts 13:48; John 10:16; Matt. 20:16; Acts 15:14
48. Exod. 33:18-19; Matt. 20:15; Eph. 1:11; Rom. 9:23-24: Jer. 31:3; Rom. 11:28-29; James 1:17-18; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rom. 11:32-36
49. 1 Cor. 4:7; 1:26-31; Rom. 3:27; 4:16; Col. 3:12; 1 Cor. 3:5-7; 15:10; 1 Pet. 5:10; Acts 1:24; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:9; Luke 18:7; John 15:16; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 2:12
50. 2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Cor. 9:22; Rom. 8:28-30; John 6:37-40; 2 Pet. 1:10
51. 1 Thess. 1:4-10
52. Rom. 8:28-30; Isa. 42:16; Rom. 11:29
53. 2 Pet. 1:10-11; Phil. 3:12; Heb. 6:11
Of Sanctification We believe that Sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness (54); that it is a progressive work (55); that it is begun in regeneration (56); and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means--especially the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer (57). 
54. 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23; 2 Cor. 7:1; 13:9; Eph. 1:4
55. Prov. 4:18; 2 Cor. 3:18; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pet. 1:5-8; Phil. 3:12-16
56. John 2:29; Rom. 8:5; John 3:6; Phil. 1:9-11; Eph. 1:13-14
57. Phil. 2:12-13; Eph. 4:11-12; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 13:5; Luke 11:35; 9:23; Matt. 26:41; Eph. 6:18; 4:30
Of the Perseverance of Saints We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end (58); that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors (59); that a special Providence watches over their welfare (60); and they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (61).
58. John 8:31; 1 John 2:27-28; 3:9; 5:18
59. 1 John 2:19; John 13:18; Matt. 13:20-21; John 6:66-69; Job 17:9
60. Rom. 8:28; Matt. 6:30-33; Jer. 32:40; Psa. 121:3; 91:11-12
61. Phil. 1:6; 2:12-13; Jude 24-25; Heb. 1:14; 2 Kings 6:16; Heb. 13:5; 1 John 4:4
Of the Harmony of the Law and the Gospel We believe that the Law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of his moral government (62); that it is holy, just, and good (63); and that the inability which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen men to fulfill its precepts arises entirely from their love of sin (64); to deliver them from which, and to restore them through a Mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy Law, is one great end of the Gospel, and of the means of grace connected with the establishment of the visible Church (65).  
62. Rom. 3:31; Matt. 5:17; Luke 16:17; Rom. 3:20; 4:15
63. Rom. 7:12, 7, 14, 22; Gal. 3:21; Psa. 119
64. Rom. 8:7-8; Josh. 24:19; Jer. 13:23; John 6:44; 5:44
65. Rom. 8:2, 4; 10:4; 1 Tim. 1:5; Heb. 8:10; Jude 20-21; Heb. 12:14; Matt. 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 12:28
Of a Gospel Church We believe that a visible Church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers (66), associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel (67); observing the ordinances of Christ (68); governed by his laws (69), and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his Word (70); that its only scriptural officers are Bishops, or Pastors, and Deacons (71), whose qualifications, claims, and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. 
66. 1 Cor. 1:1-13; Matt. 18:17; Acts 5:11; 8:1; 11:31; 1 Cor. 4:17; 14:23; 3 John 9; 1 Tim. 3:5
67. Acts 2:41-42; 2 Cor. 8:5; Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 5:12-13
68. 1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 3:6; Rom. 16:17-20; 1 Cor. 11:23; Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5:6; 2 Cor. 2:7; 1 Cor. 4:17
69. Matt. 28:20; John 14:15; 15:12; 1 John 4:21; John 14:21; 1 Thess. 4.2; 2 John 6; Gal. 6:2; all the Epistles
70. Eph. 4:7; 1 Cor. 14:12; Phil. 1:27; 1 Cor. 12:14
71. Phil. 1:1; Acts 14:23; 15:22; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1
Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper We believe that Christian Baptism is the immersion in water of a believer (72), into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost (73); to show forth, in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life (74); that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a Church relation; and to the Lord's Supper (75), in which the members of the Church, by the sacred use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ (76); preceded always by solemn self- examination (77).
72. Acts 8:36-39; Matt. 3:5-6; John 3:22-23; 4:1-2; Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:12; 16:32-34; 18:8
73. Matt. 28:19; Acts 10:47-48; Gal. 3:27-28
74. Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:20-21; Acts 22:16
75. Acts 2:41-42; Matt. 28:19-20; Acts and Epistles
76. 1 Cor. 11:26; Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20
77. 1 Cor. 11:28; 5:1, 8; 10:3-32; 11:17-32; John 6:26-71
Of the Christian Sabbath We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's Day, or Christian Sabbath (78); and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes (79), by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations (80); by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private (81) and public (82); and by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God (83).
78. Acts 20:7; Gen. 2:3; Col. 2:16-17; Mark 2:27; John 20:19; 1 Cor. 16:1- 2
79. Exod. 20:8; Rev. 1:10; Psa. 118:24
80. Isa. 58:13-14; 56:2-8
81. Psa. 119:15
82. Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 11:26; 13:44; Lev. 19:30; Exod. 46:3; Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2, 3; Psa. 26:8; 87:3
83. Heb. 4:3-11
Of Civil Government We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society (84); and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed (85); except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ (86) who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth (87).
84. Rom. 13:1-7; Deut. 16:18; 1 Sam. 23:3; Exod. 18:23; Jer. 30:21
85. Matt. 22:21; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13; 1 Tim. 2:1-8
86. Acts 5:29; Matt. 10:28; Dan. 3:15-18; 6:7-10; Acts 4:18-20
87. Matt. 23:10; Rom. 14:4; Rev. 19:16; Psa. 72:11; Psa. 2; Rom. 14:9-13
Of the Righteous and the Wicked We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked (88); that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in his esteem (89); while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked, and under the curse (90); and this distinction holds among men both in and after death (91). 18. Of the World to Come We believe that the end of the world is approaching (92); that at the last day Christ will descend from heaven (93), and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution (94); that a solemn separation will then take place (95); that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy (96); and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness (97).
88. Mal. 3:18; Prov. 12:26; Isa. 5:20; Gen. 18:23; Jer. 15:19; Acts 10:34- 35; Rom. 6:16
89. Rom. 1:17; 7:6; 1 John 2:29; 3:7; Rom. 6:18, 22; 1 Cor. 11:32; Prov. 11:31; 1 Pet. 4:17-18
90. 1 John 5:19; Gal. 3:10; John 3:36; Isa. 57:21; Psa. 10:4; Isa 55:6-7
91. Prov. 14:32; Luke 16:25; John 8:21-24; Prov. 10:24; Luke 12:4-5; 9:23- 26; John 12:25-26; Eccl. 3:17; Matt. 7:13-14
92. 1 Pet. 4:7; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Heb. 1:10-12; Matt. 24:35; 1 John 2:17; Matt. 28:20; 13:39-40; 2 Pet. 3:3-13
93. Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7; Heb. 9:28; Acts 3:21; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:1-11
94. Acts 24:15; 1 Cor. 15:12-59; Luke 14:14; Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; 6:40; 11:25-26; 2 Tim. 1:10; Acts 10:42
95. Matt. 13:49, 37-43; 24:30-31; 25:31-33
96. Matt. 25:35-41; Rev. 22:11; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Mark 9:43-48; 2 Pet. 2:9; Jude 7; Phil. 3:19; Rom. 6:32; 2 Cor. 5:10-11; John 4:36; 2 Cor. 4:18
97. Rom. 3:5-6; 2 Thess. 1:6-12; Heb. 6:1-2; 1 Cor. 4:5; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:2-16; Rev. 20:11-12; 1 John 2:28; 4:17
Of the World to Come We believe that the end of the world is approaching; that at the last day Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place; that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, or principles of righteousness.