Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Press Toward the Mark

Did you know that there actually people who text and play video games and look on the internet during worship services? That's a revelation of the true condition of ones heart isn't it? What are we there for? Why not stay home? Just there for people? If we are there for God, would you not think that games and the internet has no place for a believer in a worship service. Actually, it's quite blasphemous. Giving to something else what we should be giving to God. Which is our all. The hypocrisy of singing "How Great Thou Art" one moment, and the next moment texting a friend to inquire as to where we will eat lunch. or looking at Facebook to see what someone else is doing.
I'll tell ya. The apathy and laziness that is apparent in our pews reveal the ungodly levels to which we have sunk. I'm calling for a burnin'! At least for an appeal to believers that they leave their idols at home while we gather to worship the living God.
This kind of indifference though, really shows us how unconcerned we are to become the worshipers that God has called us to be.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Walmart Shun

Funny how a friend of mine read this post I borrowed and put on Facebook. She told how her story echoed these thoughts and that she is often "shunned" in Wal-mart. I've been there. I suppose because I no longer believe exactly like those who do the shunning. Perhaps because I left their church long ago? . I will have to get used to the Wal-mart shun. Sad. Life is so short.

From A Scandalous Freedom by Steve Brown:

When the requirement for acceptance in any particular group is to think certain thoughts, to act in certain ways, and to fit in certain molds — and when we don’t think or act that way or fit the mold — we tend to fake it. We put on a mask that says, “I’m just like you. Now, will you please love me and accept me?” I can think of hardly any thing that will kill your joy and freedom more than wearing a mask geared to get others to accept you because you are acting like them.

Allow me to let you in on a secret: Nobody fits the mold, and most of us wear masks to cause others to think we do…. When we give the impression that we have it all together and live “one hundred miles from any known sin,” when we preach and teach about sin with the implication that we are talking about others, when we seem to be anything other than what we are, sinners saved by grace — we do a great disservice to one another, and we become bound to the masks instead of free in Christ.


Christ can give you the freedom to stop pretending. Of course, superficial Christians — those who have been wearing their masks for so long that they seem sewed on — will probably reject you. Those who put you on a pedestal and worship there will feel so shocked they might, for a period, not want to have anything to do with you. Religious leaders into control will probably kick you out of their groups, because honesty and control hardly ever sleep well together. Those kinds of people will probably pray for you and give you a wide berth.

If that happens, celebrate. You have now determined who is and who isn’t playing games with your mind and your heart. And you will feel surprised how much easier it is to come clean about who you really are. It takes a lot of emotional gasoline to keep the mask straight… and now you won’t have to do it any more.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Longing

I long for the day when Jesus comes back personally to claim his own. I long for the day when I am fully free from sin and am able to fully and freely worship my Lord. I am tired of this world and its agenda and wish for the eyes of multitudes to be opened rather than just a few at a time. I long for holiness, without which no man will see the Lord. I long to be free from this body of death. I am so thirsty for the fullness of God and long to be filled to overflowing with the fullness of His Holy Spirit. I long for the day when there is no more pain, no more sorrow and no more tears. Mostly for my family and friends. It hurts me when they hurt. For 31 years now I have walked with the Lord, and my faith seems weakest in times of prosperity. Not that I am not happy. I am. Normally. But my walk is just not as consistent. What a weakness. Weakness after weakness. Oh to be free. To be with Him, forever. Until then, I fear that years may pass before I am any wit like the Lord Jesus. He is worthy of His reward.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Savor of Life Unto Life

As we live our lives as Christians, we will either have a good smell or we will reek. Our lives should cause the gospel to smell good. To other believers that is. To the lost, our lives should bring conviction. In particular, the conviction that should they not believe, they will perish.
The way we live enhances the flavor of the gospel. Paul warned the Corinthians that they should not peddle the Word of God. Basically, we shouldn't give out the Word of God for what we get out of it. What do you get from getting out the Word of God? Think about it!
Uh, or do you get out the Word of God at all? Wow, now that's a thought. Why bother living it if we don't believe it enough to tell other people about it?
So, how are you smelling today?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jesus Loves Me This I Know - repost

Some questions have been asked concerning my message on Sunday Morning, “Jesus Loves Me This I Know”, and the question of our sins and God’s anger. I want to try to make this response as brief as possible. I want to begin by affirming that, NO dear friends, God is not angry with us because of our sins. Now doesn’t that cause the believer to want to go out and sin with impunity? No, it doesn’t. The gospel makes the believer want to live a holy life. The question is, how does he do that, which is actually another message, but part of the answer is believing that what God says is true. Actually, it is very common for believers to live lives filled with guilt concerning their sins, and feel that God is continually mad, or “upset” with them. No, dear ones, God has forgiven you “all trespasses”. Isn’t He gracious? Isn’t He kind? Doesn’t that make you want to love Him more? Be patient. “He that has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” It is His love, kindness and forgiveness that excite us towards a practical living out a pure life, not His anger.
One verse that was referenced in questions about God’s anger for sin toward the believer was Gal 5:7.
Gal 5:7- Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for what ever a man sows that will he also reap.
The context of this verse has most to do with the believer doing good, especially concerning those who labor in the gospel
He is certainly not talking about the sins of a believer, for in the very next verse, the result of the wrong type of sowing is corruption, and the result of the right type of sowing is eternal life.
If anything, this verse has more of a reference to character and a hope for eternity, whether false or true.
It makes for “good preaching on sin”, to use this verse to attempt to prevent the believer from sinning, but it is simply the wrong use of scripture for a gospel preacher.
If this verse is the only ground we are going to stand on to attempt to prove that “God gets angry with his children”, than we are on shaky ground.
Spiritual warfare again sin is another subject, which always needs to be addressed. The true believer always desires to fight against sin, but the question of how that is scripturally carried on is another subject also. I would maintain that a big part of it is having our minds renewed concerning sin, the cross and the love of God. We are always to admonish one another concerning sin, but more importantly, we are to point one another to Christ. The believer is always to strive against and resist sin, but how is that accomplished? We are admonished by Paul in Romans concerning “reckoning” and “yielding” and it would pay great dividends to us to study what he says. Scott covered this beautifully in his exegesis of Romans, where the doctrine of sin is most full covered. Scott’s work on this subject is very clear.
In essence, when we understand that "We are dead, and our lives are hidden with God in Christ" Col 3:3, our theology about God's attitude towards us my get cleared up.
Another question that was raised was concerning the "discipline of God". Yes, God does discipline his children, but it always in love. God never disciplines his children in anger. (by the way, just like we should not!) His discipline is "for our good", not as a result of His being angry at us. it is simply His way of training the believer for godliness.
when I was in training for football, it was rigorous. It was often painful. It was sometimes not fun! but there was no anger or punishment involved. I was being prepared for survival! When a head to head collision came between me and some young 20 year old college football player, I wanted to be prepared. My trainers and coaches were kind to me to get me ready for those days, or I may not be walking today. God is so kind and good to discipline His children, and give them His grace in order to endure trials.
the scriptures teach us that it is God's goodness that leads us to repentance, not His wrath. that, glory to Him, was vented upon Christ, for us.
let's rejoice that we have such a loving God, who although He will pour out His wrath without mixture upon them that do not know Christ, upon His blessed children, He will lavish only grace upon grace.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Worship in Study

The Scriptures tell us to "study to show ourselves approved unto God". I Timothy 2:15 Study is one of the highest forms of worship. If you received a love letter from your lover, and merely glanced at it and threw it aside, it would reveal a problem in the relationship.

Believers ought to study God's Word passionately. There ought to be a daily and intimate relationship developed through the diligent study of God's Word. A true worshiper cannot help but to dive into the text he is reading and do all that he can do to understand what the sweet author is saying to him. He should diligently compare what He has said in other places, and if possible, study the original languages.

I am involved at this time in an intense study of Greek. Something that I have desired to do for many years after having dropped the course because of a failing grade, due to raising a family, working and in general not having the time to devote to every class.
I took the easy way out and have regretted it ever since. Now I am not saying that one has to study the original languages to know what God is saying. Far from it. But something of our study should reveal that we are passionate about the God we love. Our study should manifest itself in worship. Study is worship. How are you worshiping God in your study today? Then how will you worship Him on Sunday?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We beseech thee!

The word beseech isn't used any more. It is a strong word that means to entreat, but so much more. There is a passion and a longing in the word beseech. When the writers of the sacred text used the word beseech it had to do with things that were eternally significant. Perhaps that is exactly why we don't beseech God much anymore. We simply say our prayers, or ask the Lord for certain things.

We don't like to get down and dirty when it comes to prayer. We would never find ourselves wallerin' on the floor crying out to God. We, quite frankly, are too sophisticated. And so are our words. We frame our petitions and contemplate the elegance of our requests. How un-needy we are nowadays that we pray without sweat or strong tears.

Do we wonder that we never seem to "take hold of God"? Do we really want God? Or would we secretly rather hold on to our worldly life-styles?

I fear that, yes, we are comfortable where we are at. And that scares me. Oh how pride goeth before a fall.

"I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why All Of Those Who Are Baptist Should Cooperate Together In Spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I copied the following four statements from SBC websites. The second and fourth are duplications of point number 5 and 14 of the Baptist Faith and Message. The third is a duplication of points 4 and 5 of the original charter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, commonly called the Abstract of Principles. I include these foremost in order to show that what both sides of the issues need to understand is that there is historical precedence set for the stand each side is taking. From my point of view, the historical Calvinistic stand is the least understood, and has been relegated to a hyper-calvinistic view, when in fact it is not.
God's Purpose of Grace
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. …All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end.
God's Purpose of Grace
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
IV. Providence.
God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

V. Election.
Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life -- not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ -- in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified.
XIV. Cooperation
Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ's people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.

It is not my intention in this article to debate the subject of Calvinism. For one thing, many of our church members today do not know what one means when they use the term "Calvinism". I prefer Augustinianism, if you must have an identifier, because Augustine first espoused what we now call Calvinism, in particular in his controversy with Pelagius. Pelagius made salvation a choice of the free will and did not favor as severe view of the fall as Augustine. (For us as Baptists, it might even be helpful to think in terms of “Spurgeon-ism”, since the much revered Charles Spurgeon held fast to these same truths)
Nowadays, most Baptists that I know hold to at least some of Augustines’ tenets, which are referred to as “The Doctrines of Grace”, or Calvinism.. They may call themselves 3, 4 or 5 point Calvinists if cornered, but normally prefer to simply be known as Baptist. The one point of Calvinism that most in the SBC adhere to is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, commonly called "eternal security". None of those who have studied modern church history can deny that for years now, there have been at least two major camps within Baptist circles regarding Calvinism: those who emphasize limited atonement, or other points of Calvinism, and those who emphasize man’s free will, or other points of Pelagianism, (or actually today, semi-Pelagianism*) commonly now called Arminianism, after, the Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius. I would suggest a thorough study of both Calvinism and Arminianism, and most Baptists will come to the conclusion that, yes, indeed, they adhere to some of the points of Calvinism if not all. (I will deal with the question of hyper-calvinism, which is a different animal later.)
*Full blown Pelagianism emphasizes man’s will to such a degree, that atonement is not necessary. Men are not seen as born sinners. Instead it is thought that they are able to emulate Christ’s example and save themselves by their good works. Semi-Pelagianism, on the other hand, believes men are born in sin, but have the "capacity" to choose Christ of their own free will regardless of regeneration. Basically, in Calvinism, God regenerates a soul, giving him the ability to believe, and in semi-pelagianism, a sinner believes so that God can regenerate him. Can we not center our fellowship around the doctrine of justification by faith? Can we not focus on repentance and faith being the prerequisites for salvation, resulting in the forgiveness of sins and the imputed righteousness of Christ? These we all agree on. I am willing to uphold my integrity as to my belief in "how and why" faith comes, and yet allow the latitude for my brother to come to a conclusion in that area that is different than mine and still work together with the desire at hand, which is for as many as possible to come to faith. I agree with Spurgeon when he says that "we care far more for the central evangelical truths than we do for Calvinism as a system; but we believe that Calvinism has in it a conservative force which helps to hold me to the vital truth, and therefore we are sorry to see any quitting it who have once accepted it”. We are after all organized to aid in spreading the gospel around the world, not to police one another.
Again, my point is not to debate the subject at hand, but to merely suggest that we, at least we in the Jefferson Baptist Association, are probably not going to finalize a debate that has gone on for years, but that with mature, prayerful consideration of our responsibilities as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can cooperate in order to spread the gospel around the world, and evangelize as many as possible in the short time that we have.

Friends, it is impossible for us to have the blessing of God upon our lives if we insist on tearing down our brothers. While it is always helpful for us to study the scriptures and have healthy and sometimes fiery debate, we cannot slander our brothers in Christ or in anyway attempt to undermine their efforts for Jesus Christ and think that God will wink at our actions. On both sides of this issue, I have heard good men cross the line when speaking of those who interpret the scriptures differently when it comes to these doctrines. According to the Baptist Faith and Message, we all agree on the doctrine of election. We simply disagree on how a person arrives at that election. And that is alright. Our main focus in our association should be in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in order that all may hear. It is our job to get the gospel out to the ends of the world. Wherever the banner of our Savior is not being flown, we should be fierce about going, or supporting someone who is going. Surely we understand that the complexity of baptist life would require us to yield to our brothers often, in many areas. We have seen this at the national level. As long as we maintain doctrinal integrity that is within the historic beliefs of baptists, there should be no problem

There are some positions on both sides of this issue that need to be pointed out. They should be defined and explained in laymen’s terms in order to facilitate our working together.
1. Hyper Calvinism – Hyper-Calvinism emphasizes divine sovereignty to the exclusion of human responsibility. The doctrine of hyper-calvinism would tell us that there is no need for the believer to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, because God has determined whom He would save and He will save them without our help. They would say, or at least imply that there is no reason for us to evangelize or send out missionaries. That we cannot sincerely make an offer of the gospel to everyone, because God has not chosen everyone to be saved. The result of this error is a “sit and wait” mentality. We’ll sit and wait until God gets around to saving his elect. But we will not do anything to call men to put their faith in Jesus Christ.
These all, we utterly reject.
A true Calvinist, like Spurgeon, or for that matter William Carey the father of modern missions, knows of the great responsibility we have to get the gospel out and to support missions. That hyper-calvinism is dangerous and unbiblical we would all agree. It is important to point this out. A Calvinist is not the same as a hyper-calvinist. As I said, from the Baptist Faith and Message, it is clear that we are all Calvinists to some degree. Broadus and Manley, where we get our "Broadman press", William Carey, that great missionary, Adoniram Judson, John Bunyan, B. H. Carroll, Alvah Hovey, A. H. Strong, J. P. Boyce, John L. Dagg, Richard Fuller and many others were all "Calvinists" of the five point type. It is by no means a new invention that Baptists are Calvinists.
Most Baptists would agree with the total depravity of man, yet would insist that man is responsible to repent and believe the gospel. Many Baptist would agree with unconditional election, that God is at least infallible in His foreknowledge, define it how you will. Most Baptists with a few exceptions believe “once saved always saved”. That is called the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, or the last part of point 5 in the Baptist Faith and Message. Most all of us disagree strongly with Hyper-Calvinism, and reject the notion that we are not responsible to preach the gospel, evangelize and do missions. The apostle Paul rejoiced when the gospel was preached, even if it was because of contention. So should we. And we should never be those who attempt to thwart the work or ministries of those who by preaching HIS GOSPEL are calling men to repentance and faith and are attempting to do so around the world.

2. Easy-believism – Easy-believism is the notion that salvation entails a mere assent the the facts of the gospel message. It has been termed decisional regeneration or decisionism for short. Those who promote the man-centered tactics of easy-believism would maintain that all that is needed for a man to be saved is for him to affirm the truths of the gospel as they presented to him. It excludes the necessity for the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit and the responsibility for man to repent.
These, even Baptists who would not categorize themselves as Calvinists, would reject as not belonging to the way of salvation. This type of evangelism is to be rejected outright as being no more than an art of manipulation akin to convincing men to join a club because of its benefits. Baptists have historically required both a true repentance from sin, which is followed by a life of biblical fruit, and a sincere faith in the merit and work of Jesus Christ alone which benefits are applied to the believer upon his conversion.
What is interesting is that those who are either 3, 4 or 5 point Calvinists were among those who began to see errors of decisionism and the lack of fruit in our Baptist churches because of it, and after identifying it, began to categorize many who are not of a like Calvinistic mind as belonging to the those promoting decisionism. This general attack in the direction of any church which held an altar call was unwarranted, and only resulted historically in a return of fire from the other direction, both sides being the worse for it.

The Invitation System
While many Baptists who hold invitations would never agree to the above definition of easy-believism, it is also easy to witness the actual methodology of those who do being practiced in some of our Baptist churches today. While most all degree of Calvinists in our association would insist on a clear call for sinners to repent and believe and for believers to examine their lives, some would also insist that there are other ways to extend that call than to ask people to “come down the aisle.” We have no record of any form of the modern invitation being given in the church for 1800 years, but there has always been a clear invitation given for sinners to repent and trust Christ. Some churches have used a counseling room as a place to go to for counseling if someone has sensed an immediate urge to repent and trust in Christ. I know of no Calvinists even of the 5 point type who would refuse to counsel anyone in the gospel if they “came down the aisle” of their church in obvious spiritual need.
On the other hand, I have seen a number of people converted in their homes after having heard the gospel and brought under conviction by the Holy Spirit. We all know that there is no secret formula that must be prayed when a person is converted, but that it is a matter of the heart.
Unfortunately, many of those who have invitations and have seen the result of many coming down the aisle who nevertheless show no lasting fruit in their lives(thus revealing the truth that they were never truly converted), have failed to be more cautious when dealing with souls. Calvinists have watched the efforts of mass evangelism, and the promotion of numbers and baptisms result in a flood of unregenerated people filling our churches and scores who either struggle with the assurance of their salvation or depend on a time they went down an aisle or prayed a prayer, rather than continuing to trust in the Savior they claimed to be saved by.
Please let me reiterate that we all as Baptists demand that an invitation be given for sinners to repent and trust in Christ as their Saviour. We believe that invitation is given clearly every time we preach the gospel. When I am preaching on the streets, I am constantly giving an invitation. Sometimes people stop, and I personally call them to repentance. When I was a missionary in New York City, I preached on the streets there, went door to door, and from the pulpit, gave an invitation for sinners to come to Christ. We believe in invitations. We believe it is our responsibility to preach the gospel around the world and invite sinners to come to Christ. We do it every day. Is it so bad that our method of invitation is different. Where in the scripture does it spell out a need to have an “altar call” as so many do today? I have had altar calls and I have told people to think about and pray about what they just heard. It was just a few months ago that a sinner came to my home obviously distraught at his lost condition. He was under deep conviction by the Holy Spirit. It was obvious that God was doing a work in his soul. Could I have led him in a prayer at that time? Certainly. I have done it hundreds and hundreds of times. But our responsibility when we lead people to Christ is to be sensitive to where they truly are, and to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and to be spiritual surgeons who handle the Word of God like a scalpel. He was obviously struggling with some sin. After counseling in the gospel, I sent him home to pray. He went home and got alone with God and the sweet Holy Spirit showed the light on some sin of his and he cried out to God and was gloriously converted. What a bright light that young man is today. What hope has filled his family now that he is genuinely converted. We simply can’t get it down to a science and professionally lead people to pray a prayer, decide for Christ, or join a church. Our contention is that the call to come to Christ is entailed in the very gospel we preach, and it is up to the preacher of the gospel to both give that call and carefully and prayerfully deal with the souls that come under his counsel.
The modern resurgence of those who have gone back to the more ancient roots of Augustinianism is greatly populated by the very same people who were either brought up in some type of easy-believism, or once practiced it themselves. Some in this revolution, which those in it would term a “work of God”, have been tempted to classify even good Baptist ministries who adhere to neither a system of easy-believism, or Calvinism, as belonging in the easy-believism camp. This is wrong. I love my dear brothers who do not agree doctrinally with me, but are faithful in preaching the gospel and supporting world-wide missions, and name calling simply does not have a place in our baptist associations.

In my opinion, there is nothing inherently wrong with the invitation system per se. Many Baptist churches hold invitations, but are prayerful and careful in counseling with those who are being dealt with by the Holy Spirit. There is often time taken to pray, sometimes continuing on to an inquiry room, there is often scripture read, and there are times when souls are genuinely converted at the front of a church. The problem that many Calvinists see is when there is a mass of people who are led in a prayer, and then told that since they prayed that prayer they are going to heaven. I certainly don’t want to entertain any thoughts that would appear derogatory, but simply let me say that souls are worth spending time with. The Holy Spirit is more than able to finish any work that He starts. (Which does not mean that He does not use man in the process of evangelism, He certainly does.) The problem is when it is apparent that God is not working at all. There is no apparent conviction, no desire to forsake sin and no real faith in the finished work of Christ, but simply a desire to escape hell. I have many examples to site, but on the other hand, I could offer just as many examples where sinners were truly converted after the preaching of the gospel. They “came down the aisle” and were prayed with and God saved them. None of us doubt that! It is caution when dealing with souls that we demand, whether you deal with them during an invitation or during an appointment at a later time. It is entirely too common for those who deal with souls not to be familiar with the gospel and to attempt to convince an inquirer that, if they would simply “pray this prayer after me”, they would be converted. I don’t mind leading someone in a prayer, if I am convinced that they are praying from the heart. But if indeed The Holy Spirit has them under conviction and it is from the heart, and they have understood the gospel, would they not be saved regardless of whether they “prayed the right words” or not, if there was true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ?
Those are some of the concerns of Calvinists when it comes to the invitation system. The downside of all of this is that, many who don’t understand either the Calvinistic roots of our Baptist heritage and/or don’t understand biblical Calvinism (Augustinianism), are prone to identify the lack of an invitation or just the word Calvinist with Hyper-Calvinism. Even the most conservative of those adhering to an Augustinian position would have trouble with the positions they are often accused of having. Let me say loudly, “We are not hyper-calvinists.” I would like to hear just as loudly proclaimed on the other side; “we are not among those who promote easy-believism. We believe in the Baptist Faith and Message. We believe in the perseverance of the saints. We believe in the doctrine of election according to grace.” Let both sides loudly proclaim, we reject both easy-believism and hyper-calvinism, and we shall be on solid ground. At least solid enough to labor together to get the gospel out, and send the saints around the world in mission endeavors.
Both easy-believism and hyper-calvinism are dangerous positions which should be rejected by all gospel loving, mission-minded Baptists. It is also just as harmful to the cause of Christ, for those on either side to classify our brothers to the extreme side. The desire to defame, destroy or undermine our Baptist brethren does not help the cause of the gospel, but rather hinders it. Hyper-calvinism is not defined by whether you are a 3, 4 or 5 point Calvinist, but by your response to those truths in regards to missionary endeavors, evangelism, and the responsibility and duty of man. Easy-believism is not defined by whether you have an invitation or not, but by how you respond to the need for the gospel to be taken seriously by understanding that salvation is a work of God whereby the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin upon a sinner bringing him to repent and believe without doing any damage to his will. Understanding that salvation is a work of God will not only give the confidence needed to clearly preach the gospel, but will result in a reliance on the power of God in conversion rather than the ability of man. Not that persuasion and convincing is not a part of the art of preaching, but that we rely on the power of God in all of these things.
Human reasoning entering into the debate.
On both sides of this issue I have both heard and read men using human reasoning in order to justify what they believe. I don’t believe that is necessary or warranted. Do I believe the debate is necessary? Of course! Iron sharpens iron, and we as God’s men should be diligent about what we believe and why we believe it. But the debate does not have to degenerate. We can, like many of those in leadership of the Southern Baptist convention, have healthy dialogue, yet work together in preaching the gospel. I know of no preacher worth his salt who would preach either hyper-calvinism or easy-believism to a lost man. Yes, we can stand on our doctrine and even debate about it, yet we must be one in keeping our focus on getting the gospel out to the uttermost parts of the earth. That includes working together in our associational Camps in order to come to terms with one another’s differences in approach and methodology and seeking to find common ground where we can not only preach the gospel, but invite sinners to trust in Christ and counsel them to that end. We urge all men everywhere to repent and to trust in our Wonderful Savior.
I think the common ground we need to start on is that God is absolutely sovereign and man is absolutely responsible in the gracious work of salvation. Let us as Baptists make a resolution that in spite of our differences in doctrine and methodology, we are servants of the King and stand shoulder to shoulder with the banner of His gospel, His death, burial and resurrection, and the need for men to repent and trust in Christ as their Savior.
From there, let us send our missionaries out, stand on the streets and preach the gospel, pass out our gospel tracts, preach to our youth, preach to our congregations and give the clear call of the gospel, and advance the Kingdom of God.

Rev. Bob Schembre

Rockport Baptist Church

Friday, July 3, 2009

Worship - a response to a brother

It was not that long ago, that I had an interaction with a dear brother regarding the subject of a saint shouting during our worship services. Like all matter where there is disagreement, there must be communication. At that time I shared with our dear brother the following note, and thought that it would be edifying to include it here in my thoughts on worship. I have removed the names in the note and one or two identifying sentences. I hope that anyone who can receive understanding and/or help from this response will find it.


Thank you for your interest in this matter. I don't wish to debate, so this will be my only response, at least on this for now. That is why I addressed preachers. I didn’t want to bring all of this out for now. Another time maybe, but I am not interested in debating at this time. As with other issues I am tempted to think that you have your mind made up on this issue. But at any rate, I won't judge you and will entertain your thoughts.
You begin by quoting numerous verses on edification. Very well. Since God has called me to give my life for the edification of the saints, I must hasten to agree on the import of this subject. However, the subject at hand is worship, and although you cite these verses and conclude by saying that edification is of “first priority”, I also must hasten to strongly disagree.
In fact, first priority in worship is Godward. First priority is pleasing God, focusing on God, lifting up praises to God, bowing before God. It is all about God. During worship, while edification is important, it is not the most important issue. Teaching the saints to exult in God is the most important issue.
2Sa 6:15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
1Ch 15:28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.
2Ch 15:14 And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
Ps 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Ps 5:11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
Ps 32:11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
Ps 47:1 O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
Ps 132:9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.
Ps 132:16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Brother, shouting is as scriptural as singing. Now, I have seen the charismania in some churches, and would not want the disorder associated with that movement, but would you really think that it was love to censor a brother who was so full of joy over what Christ has done for him that he shouted one time during the service. Would you really be ready to judge his motives and say that that one shout was disorderly? Perhaps you are not comfortable with shouting. Our formative paths and experiences are different brother, and Christian love calls for a largeness of latitude and forbearance when it comes to expressions of praise. As I said to another brother, I will not judge your lack of emotions, and neither should you judge my emotions.
You are judging also whether the church is edified by certain expressions of emotion. I have been greatly edified on any number of occasions when the truth which was being sung or preached impacted a saint so much that that dear saint had to cry out to God. Who am I to judge that dear saint? Isn't it needful for the body to be hospitable and gracious to a saint who gets so stirred by the truth that is being sung or preached that it comes forth in what appears to many, both now and historically in many Baptist churches, to be a response that is quite within the limits of appropriate scriptural response.
Now maybe your background doesn't give you that experience. Perhaps you have never been in a baptist church when someone has shouted, and there are many good, solid, bible-believing churches, with nothing that most believers would classify as disorderly, where shouting sporadically takes place.
I had an older brother in the Lord who used to get moved by the truth often. He was a former alcoholic, and God had gloriously saved him and he never got over it. "Once in awhile old brother so and so is going to shout", was simply the way we handled it. What is so wrong with that? Have we come to the time in our Baptist churches that we are going to attempt to legislate the praises of God's people?
Now I believe in standing against the modern day charismatic movement and all that it stands for, but that is not us brother. Many of the old Regular Baptists, where we Calvinists get our heritage still shout today. Many of the Independent Baptist churches have members who shout. I have never seen it get out of order. And I have never in my twenty seven years of ministering seen people upset because another saint gets excited about the Lord and say that it just ruins the whole service for them. Brother, the whole thing quite frankly sounds ludicrous to me. I am trying to understand but am really having difficulty comprehending what seems to be bitter resistance, when holding it all up to the light of scripture.
Every single believer ought to be growing in grace and learning more and becoming more and more intimate. Brother, in my private devotions, I get so emotional nowadays over what God has done for me, that sometimes I don't know what to do. I waller and holler and thank God that He has saved me. The people in my church have never seen so much self-control, discretion, restraint for the sake of the body, subjection of my spirit and willingness to not be the center of attention, but one or two shouts during a service should be no more distracting than a loud off key singer. ( God give us more who sing loudly as the scripture teaches, even if off key.)
Brother, seriously, we need to be humble and not judge the motives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in an area so clearly spelled out in scripture. You would have to strain at a gnat to say that shouting is not allowed in worship services if you searched the scriptures on worship. I have. Over the years I have taught a series on worship and have carefully studied every single use of anything having to do with worship and praise and every word involved including the Hebrew and the Greek. We are simply not talking about disorder when a saint cries out. Every believer ought to learn the disciplines also, not just of self-restraint, but of not being easily distracted. We ought to be going so hard after God and worshiping with all of our might that it would be very difficult to get our attention off of God. All too often though, many are simply watching others. That is why so many, who really want to just lift up their hands and worship God don't. They are afraid what others will think of them. Shame. (And you really have to strain to say that the scriptures teach that the raising of the hands in worship is anything but that.)
Ps 28:2 Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.
Ps 63:4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
Ps 134:2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.
Ps 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Here is Spurgeon’s Quote –
“When I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle: which holy place was the type of our Lord Jesus; and if we would gain acceptance, we must turn ourselves evermore to the blood besprinkled mercy seat of his atonement. Uplifted hands have ever been a form of devout posture, and are intended to signify a reaching upward towards God, a readiness, an eagerness to receive the blessing sought after. We stretch out empty hands, for we are beggars; we lift them up, for we seek heavenly supplies; we lift them towards the mercy seat of Jesus, for there our expectation dwells. ‘I will lift up my hands in thy name.’ For worship the hands were uplifted, as also in joy, in thanksgiving, in labour, in confidence; in all these senses we would lift up our hands in Jehovah’s name alone. No hands need hang down when God draws near in love. The name of Jesus has often made lame men leap as a hart, and it has made sad men clap their hands for joy.
The New Testament is absent of many things about worship Bro. I believe that the particulars in the New Testament are not strangely absent, but purposefully absent, because the gospel was going out into all the world and there would be a wide variety in styles of worship throughout the nations and the ages. Thus there are precious few guidelines for worship in the New Testament. What we get from overall principles are from the Old Testament. Now I am not a dispensationalist and understand the ramifications of that theology. I believe that Old Testament saints were saved by grace just like today, and if they had something to shout about with the types and shadows, we New Testament believers who no longer have figures, but Christ Himself, and His shed blood have much more of a reason to shout. I'm about ready to shout right now.
Now is one expression or the lack of more spiritual than the other? Of course not. Whoever thought of such a silly notion? We are all different. You yourself said that most of the responses thus far were subjective, and that the fine line between what may lead to disunity and what is acceptable practice is subjective. Most of your responses have been subjective. Because we are all different. Why is it that the brother who cries out to God because of the enormous truth he is dwelling upon may be causing disunity, but the brother who is opposing him, or judging him is not causing disunity? It all depends on who you talk to in this subjective area.
You said that you like to hear an Amen now and then during the sermon. During the truth being preached in sermon, but not the truth being sung about in the songs? What is the difference? In considering an "amen" during the message, here's my question, "How is that OK and not disruptive (when all is quiet), but an "amen" or "hallelujah" during the singing when all are singing any way is not? Most of the answers are going to be subjective.
Now you said that the model for the church is inward peace, joy and faith. Hmmm. I strongly disagree. You have taken your subjective view of worship and want to use it as a rule. The New Testament model is liberty and freedom. Order yes. Silliness and trivialities no. Gravity yes. Gladness yes. Dull, emotionless worship no. Emotions in worship is another long subject though.
Brother, let's worship together in our church. Let's worship God passionately. You inwardly, me from inward to outward.
If somebody gets out of line with anything stupid like barking, laughing, crawling down the aisles, or speaking in tongues the leaders would quickly address it.
But for God's sake, let's not try to put out fires that God starts in peoples hearts. I haven't seen any wild fires or strange fires and am not going to judge that the passion in another saint is anything but pure.

In Christ’s Magnificent and Awesome Love,