Friday, June 30, 2006

Did the Apostle Paul Teach Evangelism?

Paul expected churches to evangelize, SBTS prof. says in new book

The apostle Paul was driven by the desire to share the Gospel with all people, and he expected every church to share his passion for evangelism, according to a new book by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Robert L. Plummer.

“Paul envisioned himself as an apostle who conveyed the dynamic gospel to his hearers, so that the same effective, self-diffusing word that characterized Paul’s apostolic mission also characterized the congregations he began,” Plummer writes in “Paul’s Understanding of the Church’s Mission,” published by Paternoster Biblical Monographs.

“As extensions of the apostles’ ministry, the churches are agents of God’s word, which continues to work in and spread through them … By its very nature, the ‘apostolic church’ must be missionary.”

Plummer’s argument counters several major scholarly books, articles and dissertations that have argued recently that Paul’s letters do not show evidence that he expected ordinary Christians to evangelize. Leading New Testament scholars in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have commended Plummer’s book.

According to Paul, Christians should feel compelled to witness because of the dynamic and effective character of the Gospel, writes Plummer, who serves as assistant professor of New Testament interpretation.

“The gospel, as God’s word, is ‘power’ which inevitably progresses through the persons and communities included in its advance,” he writes. “As the gospel comes to dwell in the churches, Paul is confident that the word will push the boundaries of the communities to include new people. Ultimately, Paul’s confidence in the gospel to create churches which continue the apostolic mission is a confidence in the gospel’s author and subject—God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul not only expects believers to witness because of the character of the Gospel itself, but he also gives them specific commands to spread the message of Christ, Plummer writes. Paul’s letters contain both commands to proclaim the Gospel actively and instructions to witness passively through a godly life, he argues.

Biblical texts advocating active evangelism include Philippians 2:16 and Ephesians 6:15-17, while the command to witness passively can be found in verses such as Colossians 4:6 and 1 Thessalonians 4:12, Plummer writes.

In addition to examining Paul’s commands to evangelize, Plummer points to “incidental evidence” which demonstrates Paul’s expectation that churches are to spread the Gospel.

“Looking beyond Paul’s explicit imperatives to evangelize, the apostle often makes incidental remarks showing that he expected the gospel to propel the church in missionary activity that paralleled his own apostolic mission,” he writes.

For example, just as Paul prayed for missions and taught God’s truth, he expected the early church to do the same, Plummer writes. These similar expectations for apostles and churches show that Paul viewed a church’s work as an extension of apostles’ evangelistic work, he argues.

Another factor showing that Paul expected churches to evangelize is his assumption that ordinary believers would suffer for the Gospel just as the apostles suffered, Plummer writes, adding that suffering for the Gospel presumed churches were trumpeting the Gospel.

“An offensive message spreading spontaneously from the people who hold it will inevitably result in opposition and suffering,” he writes. “Given this situation, Paul consistently presents Christians—apostles included—with two options:
(1) being ashamed of the gospel, and thus denying the faith … or
(2) allowing the gospel to run its dynamic course through their lives and thus suffering for it.”

Plummer concludes that churches which take the writings of Paul seriously have no choice but to devote themselves to proclaiming the Gospel.

“If we understand the New Testament documents as presenting us with the normative pattern for the church, then the modern church must be a missionary church,” Plummer writes. “The church must not only take on the mantle of the apostolic mission in a general or abstract way; she must carry out the apostolic mission in concrete tasks. Just like the ancient churches that Paul addressed, modern churches should be active in proclaiming the gospel.”

By David Roach

Where Do We Go From Here, Part 2

This is the follow-up to Where Do We Go From Here, Part 1, I would encourage you to read Part 1 first so that this will make more sense. This is written by Chris Humphreys who is a guest contributor to Truth or Consequences. He has entitled both of these Frankenstein for reasons that will be apparent in the article.

Frankenstein, Part 2

"It is far better to divide over all the right things than to unite around all the wrong things."

Back when I was involved in "pioneer missions" in Michigan and Ohio, there was some serious talk nationally about renaming the Southern Baptist Convention. The reason being is that it had outgrown its southern roots, and one can find SBC churches in all fifty states. The word "southern" does not have a nice ring to it in places like New York or Massachussetts. In fact, the church I was a pastor of in Ohio had the name "southern" in its name: Madison Southern Baptist Church. We changed our church's name, because many people in that community got the idea that our church was just for transplanted southern folks. The truth was we had very, very few southern people in our church. As you all know, the name of our convention was not changed because they could not find a satisfactory replacement, and long-held respected traditions die hard.

Fast forward to today. It may be time for us to reconsider a name change that would adequately identify who we are. The reason for the name change has long gone past the idea that "southern" is too provincial. A pastor friend of mine and I were having fun the other day batting back and forth by email some possible new names for our convention. The one we settled on was Frankenstein Baptist Convention. FBC for short. Before one's mind runs wild, let me explain why this name was chosen.

"We've created a monster!"

For years we have drunk from the well of the seeker-sensitive, user-friendly, pragmatic-crazy, purpose-driven, contemporary worship about anything goes churchless church. We have encouraged it, promoted it, advertised it, conferenced it, preached it, modeled it, authored it to death. Somebody forgot to tell us that the well we have been drinking from was poisoned, but that was beside the point. You can't argue with results was the battle cry. Immediate gratification is ok in one realm, and apparently that is church statistics.

Now what are we discovering today?

The fundamentalist/conservatives who took over the convention back in the 1970s from the moderate/liberals have been rudely awakened to the fact that the monster they helped create has turned on them. These new fangled churches (forget the name "southern"; many of them don't want to be called "Baptist" in their names) have not become Southern Baptist Convention loyalists like the conservatives who put them together in the laboratory. They don't give to the Cooperative Program like they should; they don't use Southern Baptist literature like they should; they don't do a lot of things that would remotely suggest to anyone that they are Southern Baptist. Some of these mega-churches will even remove baptism as a necessary step for Christian obedience and a prerequisite for church membership.

We saw a bit of this revolt against this monster at the recent annual Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro North Carolina. I was not there, and I can not speak to all the issues that were discussed. I don't get too caught up in a lot of denominational politics anyway. But from everything I have read, it seems it is slowly sinking in, that we have created a monster, and now what are we going to do about it? Some denominational heads are revolting against their offspring, the monster that has been deliberately constructed in front of our modern eyes. Other denominational heads want to keep the monster alive and kicking.

Whether a church gives a certain percentage to the Cooperative Program, or whether a church uses Southern Baptist literature (I haven't myself for a very long time), or whether a church has the name "Baptist" in it, is not my chief concern. As somebody on the sideline so to speak, who doesn't have a dog in this fight, it would be hilarious, if it were not tragically sad, to see how all this is playing out. While I refuse to give up and say all is lost, I must admit that at times the future of the SBC seems downright scary, hence another reason for the name change to Frankentstein Baptist Convention.

Maybe we have come to a significant turning point; but what are we going to turn to? Are the monsters going to keep replicating themselves? What will the SBC do if the CP receipts go down and down if Southern Baptist denominational loyalty continues to wane among many of the younger pastors in these new contemporary churches? Are we going to make new monsters in the laboratory to replace the old monsters? Will we go to something far worse, far scarier than the old sci-fi Frankentstein? Are there new church models out there being promoted that will take the place of the older monsters?

Another possible direction we can turn to is the one I favor, and the one I pray for, whether I will live long enough to see it in my day remains to be seen. That is, we will like the prodigal son, after wallowing around in the pigsty of our own creation, will come to our senses and return back to the wisdom of our forefathers. In essence, we need a doctrinal conversion of massive magnitude that leads to a revival of the deepest magnitude. The only thing that will prevent our convention from going further and further down the road to who knows where, is a return to our doctrinal heritage as Southern Baptists. To put it bluntly, while I would never call anybody who does not believe in God's sovereignty in the salvation of sinners a heretic, I will say this--the only true safeguard from total denominational collapse and widespread apostasy in our churches is a passionate, life-changing commitment to the doctrines of grace. Anything else will open oneself up to a real possibility of a monster in the making over time. Just look around, and you can't miss the evidence for that.

I realize those last statements will invoke fear in the hearts of many (they will call us the Frankensteins!), who think that any discussion of these "divisive" doctrines are better left in the seminary classroom and not in the local church. That is what we heard at the recent SBC national convention. How is that different from the medieval Catholic Church's position that only the priests, bishops and pope are equipped to study and to know the Bible and not the common man on the street? Are we turning back to Rome for our model now? Ephesians 1 was not written to the scribes; Romans 9 is not to be digested only by the seminarian; John 6 is not the exclusive property of PhDs in theology; 1 Peter 1 is not reserved for the privileged few to read and understand.

The time is ripe for us to dismantle the monster laboratory and to pull the plug before the next ghastly creature comes rolling off the operating table.

"When a denomination begins to consider doctrine divisive, theology troublesome,and convictions inconvenient, consider that denomination on its way to a well-deserved death." (Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at a Southern Baptist Convention meeting in July 1995)

Chris Humphreys

P.O. Box 16424
Oklahoma City, Ok 73113

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Case for Alcohol Abstinence By Dr. Danny Akin

I am sad to say that my own Dad worked for a beer company as I grew up and did not see the harm in causal drinking and still does not today. That may have a lot to do with why I feel uncomfortable around alcohol today. The SBC Resolution on alcohol continues to generate a great deal of conversation. I want to share an article written by Dr. Daniel L. Akin at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is coming out soon in Baptist Press.

Akin writes:

"I readily confess to a personal bias when it comes to the issue of alcohol. My wife Charlotte grew up in the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home because her parents were alcoholics. Her father died a lost alcoholic. Her mother, by God’s grace, was saved on her death bed. Her body had been ravaged by the twin killers of alcohol and tobacco. Today her sister and brother are lost alcoholics as is most of the rest of her family. My sister Joy and her husband Kevin King adopted a daughter born with fetal alcohol syndrome. She began life with two strikes against her through no fault of her own. Today there are more than 40 million problem drinkers in America. Alcohol is the number one drug problem among teenagers. One in three American families suspects that one or more family members have a drinking problem. Misuse of alcohol costs our nation $100 billion a year in quantifiable cost. Because of these experiences and many more, I have often said that even if I were not a Christian I would have nothing to do with alcohol. There is simply too much sorrow and heartache connected to it. Avoiding this devastating drug is simply the wise thing to do.
This year at our Convention we again passed a resolution calling for abstinence from alcohol. The resolution passed overwhelmingly, but it did generate significant debate both during and after the Convention. Some have accused those supporting the resolution of being pharisaical and legalistic, traditionalist and anti-biblical. It is said that we fail to understand Christian liberty and freedom, and that we even stand against Jesus. These are strong accusations from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. However, are they correct? Are those like myself who believe abstinence to be the best lifestyle choice really guilty of these charges? Let me respond as graciously and kindly as I possibly can, explaining why I hold the position I do. I share my heart with no malice or ill will toward anyone, but from a desire to honor the Lord Jesus, and to protect others from the evils alcohol has visited on so many.
We should remember from a Baptist perspective that there are historical precedents for affirming abstinence. In 1886 Southern Baptists issued their first resolution on alcohol. Since then there have been almost 60 resolutions that in a united voice have addressed the risk of alcohol and the wisdom of abstinence. For 120 years Southern Baptists have made clear their stand on this issue. Individual Baptists no doubt continue to take a drink as they had before 1886, but the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole has been crystal clear on where it stands for a long time. I am confident that our forefathers understood the issue of Christian liberty as they passed these resolutions. I am grateful for this tradition. I believe we should continue it.
There are moral reasons for affirming abstinence. John Piper teaches the wisdom of abstinence because alcohol can be a mind-altering drug, and it can be addictive. It does not help one in doing the will of God and can genuinely be a hindrance. Further, he notes “the carnage of alcohol abuse” and therefore chooses to boycott such a product. He then adds, “is it really so prudish, or narrow to renounce a highway killer, a home destroyer, and a business wrecker.” Some questions are in order and deserve an answer. Does alcohol make me a better person? Does alcohol draw me closer to God? Does alcohol help me run the race faithfully to the end (Heb. 12:1-2)?
Some respond by saying the issue is not abstinence but moderation. They draw an analogy to both eating and sex. There is however a significant difference. We must eat to live. We must engage in sex to procreate. Alcohol is not a necessity for life or good living.
I am in total agreement with my spiritual hero Adrian Rogers who said, “Moderation is not the cure for the liquor problem. Moderation is the cause of the liquor problem. Becoming an alcoholic does not begin with the last drink, it always begins with the first. Just leave it alone.” My friend James Merritt wisely says, “It is impossible to be bitten by a snake that you never play with.” Alcoholism cannot strike unless it is given the opportunity. That potential becomes real with the first drink that one takes.
There are biblical reasons for practicing abstinence. Let me quickly note several. 1) It is consistent with the principle of edification (1 Cor. 6:12). Alcohol does not build you up or make you better for Jesus. Avoiding it ensures you will not harm yourself with it. 2) It is consistent with the principle of refusing that which enslaves (1 Cor. 6:12). Alcohol is a drug that can impair the senses and has a potential addictive element. Like addictive pornography, it should be avoided at all cost. 3) It is consistent with the ethic of love for believers and unbelievers alike (1 Cor. 8:13; 9:19-22; 10:32-33). Because I am an example to others, I will make certain no one ever walks the road of sorrow called alcoholism because they saw me take a drink and assumed, “if it is alright for Danny Akin, it is alright for me.” No, I will choose to set an uncompromising example of abstinence because I love them. 4) I will seek my joy and filling in the Spirit not in alcohol. I love the Phillips translation of Ephesians 5:18 which reads, “Don’t get your stimulus from wine (for there is always the danger of excessive drinking), but let the Spirit stimulate your souls.” Psalm 4:7-8 adds, “You [O Lord] have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” 5) It is true Jesus drank wine, and I am sure I would have had I lived in the first century. However, there is no evidence that he ever partook of “strong drink.” As Bob Stein has carefully documented, “The term “wine” or oinos in the ancient world, then, did not mean wine as we understand it today but wine mixed with water… To consume the amount of alcohol that is in two martinis by drinking wine containing three parts water to one part wine [a fairly common ancient ratio], one would have to drink over twenty-two glasses. In other words, it is possible to become intoxicated from wine mixed with three parts water, but one’s drinking would probably affect the bladder long before it affected the mind.” It should also be noted that children would have drank this diluted mixture of water and wine. It seems clear that there is no one-to-one correspondence with first century wine and twenty first century distilled liquor. Concerning the latter I believe the Lord Jesus would have no part.
Let me conclude with some practical considerations. Should those who practice abstinence look down on those who do not? The answer is an unqualified no. That is pride and therefore is sin. It is true that alcohol has contributed to many going to hell, but pride, no doubt, has done so in even greater numbers. A smug, prideful abstainer without Jesus is just as lost as the poor drunkard who is always in search of another drink. Those who believe in abstinence should be gracious and humble, kind and caring, loving and patient.
As a pastor or church leader, would I demand abstinence for church membership? No, I would not. Would I demand it for leadership? Absolutely! The principle of Proverbs 31:4-5 is appropriately applied here, “It is not for Kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.”
I agree with John MacArthur. Can I say it is always a sin to take a drink? No. Can I say it is almost always unwise? Yes, because it violates the biblical principles of wisdom and witness. One of America’s leading pastors is Andy Stanley. He wrote a book entitled The Best Question Ever. That question is this, “What is the wise thing for me to do?” I challenge anyone to show me the superior wisdom of drinking “in moderation,” as opposed to not drinking at all. This is not legalism but love. This is not being anti-biblical but pro-brother and sister. This is not working for evil but for good. Given the world in which we live I believe such a lifestyle honors the Lord Jesus. I believe it pleases Him. Without question it is the wise thing to do."

Guarding Against Our Flesh

As ministers of the gospel we should be proactive about guarding ourselves against sin. I don't need to tell you that sin is against God. If we want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our pulpits and in our lives; we MUST take a stand against all sin. We just cannot sweep it under the rug like some do today. Our prayer needs to be "God keep me from all SIN this day." Brothers, make the mental decision with me not to let sin infect your life; perhaps this day you need to confess and repent from an infection in your flesh. We need to be reminded as ministers that salvation is an act of the mind. (Ephesians 4:23) We are utterly dependent on Him, and we can not stay out of sin without His power in our lives. Call on His great and blessed name today! I have to share an article on the importance of continually ridding the sin in your life.

But God (William Plumer, "Theology for the People")

No two things are more contrary to each other,than the vileness of man and the purity of God. Sin is hateful to God. It has dug every grave.It fills hell with groans. "From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness--only wounds and welts and open sores." Isaiah 1:6The whole nature of man is affected by sin: the understanding is darkened; the will is corrupt; the conscience is defiled; the memory is polluted; the imagination is depraved; the throat is an open sepulcher; the tongue is deceitful; the mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; the feet are swift to shed blood; the eyes are full of adultery; the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. The whole head is sick, the whole heart is faint! Man is by nature ruined. He is lost. Men are . . . sinners, wicked, ungodly, unrighteous, corrupt, deceitful, vile, ungrateful, children of the devil, slaves of iniquity."But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved! He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus." Eph. 2:4-7

A Good Communicator Of What?

In light of what I wrote yesterday; that is a healthy church is ONLY to be God-centered and God-driven. Contrary to what many churches have become today that is man-centered and man-driven. I had some more thoughts on the subject that I wanted to share. I hope you understand that God is building His church, PERIOD. We as pastors or church members should not want to get in His way. I don’t have anything to compete with Him over and I hope you feel the same way. He is building His church and we need to let Him. I argue to let God build His church as He said He would do, yield to Him today as He builds it with everlasting value. Man's attempt to put together a church will be faultless and useless; perishing in the end!

Two Springs ago I was required to take a course in Communication for my degree at Southeastern Baptist. Taking a break from the normal expository preaching classes sounded good to me, so I welcomed this course. A chance to better myself in the area of communication of the gospel, wow! I had in my mind that this class would help me round out the rough areas of my communication skills and make me a better communicator for the Lord. Well it did that and much more. I faced many challenges and was convicted in some areas as a result of the class. It started out with the understanding that being a good communicator begins in of all places-AT HOME. I do not always shine in this area for sure! If one is going to be an effective communicator for Jesus it must start in the walls of the home; with his spouse and family. The minister will NOT be a good communicator of the gospel in the church or on the streets if this is not first tackled. Am I speaking to anyone besides myself?

We understand that God is building His church, isn’t it a wonderful honor to know that he wants to use us in the process; that is if we let Him? Not only should one want to be a good communicator in the pulpit but also in everyday life. Another thing I learned was getting to know the community better in which I minister. That is getting all the information possible about the community. A minister should want to know as much as possible about the people to whom he ministers. Let me say that getting demographics about the community is a great tool to becoming an effective communicator of the gospel. Demographics help the minister better identify with the people. I know it helped me learn the average household income in my area, what most people do for a living in my area, the projected population for up to the next five years, and much more. My state helped me get these and I am sure that your SBC state would also.

Pastor brother/friend, let me encourage you to be the best communicator for God as He builds His church. To Him be the glory in His church and may you be encouraged as you serve Him today.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How Should The Church Be Built?

I often think of the many pastors that are buying into the church growth movement and its gimmicks. How sad that so many of them are buying into this nonsense. We need to remember from the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapter 4, that we are to have a God-driven church. He is building His Church, and man is not. A healthy church has God in-charge and in-control. I thought back to my seminary days to what a wise instructor said, and I have adopted his philosophy of church growth: 1. Prayer... 2. Proclamation (includes expository preaching/teaching)... 3. Perseverance (includes our faithfulness and outreach to the lost). These are what I call the three are P's of church growth and they are God's method of growing a church. It makes sense! Because it is God's special formula for His Church. We just need to discipline ourselves to do church God's way; according to His Word, and we need to stay out of it. Yield to Him today in your churches Brethren.

I read an article that confirmed my feelings once again about the church growth movement, and I'd like to share it; it is sort of lengthy, but worth the read.


By Paul Proctor
May 1, 2004

I saw something in the mall the other day that nearly turned my stomach. An item for sale caught my attention as I passed by a clothing store, accompanied by my wife. For teens, it is, and always has been, at least for as long as I’ve been alive, chic to wear clothes that are, shall we say, shocking to adults. That’s what rebellion is all about. Kids obviously love it because it not only challenges societal standards and authority but gets them the attention and admiration of peers, as well. Shop owners love it simply because it makes the register ring. Nevertheless, there, in that little boutique, written across the front of a brightly colored T-shirt, in bold print, was the proud proclamation: “Jesus is my homeboy”
My initial thought was that some anti-Christian group or organization was merely mocking God for moolah. Then I realized it was really the handiwork of hipsters hocking God for hoopla and in the process, degrading the Divine to the level of street urchin in some opportunistic attempt to alter the public’s perception of the Prince of Peace into someone not so sacred, serious or sin conscious. But, my question is, “What’s the difference?” Aren’t they both trivializing God and therefore equally blasphemous?
I don’t know about you, but even under grace, the very thought of coming face to face with the Alpha and the Omega is more than a little unsettling. In fact, I’ve yet to find anyone in scripture who wasn’t dramatically affected in some way by the mere presence of God. Scripture tells us that even the Earth trembles before Him.
But, who’s afraid of Jesus the Homey? No one, I’m sure. Serving a synthetic savior is a snap; which is why the church growth movement exists today – to change your perception of God, His Son, His Word, His church and its mission – to make each of them more desirable and appealing to the flesh – resulting in, of course, expeditious church growth.
You see, the flesh hates holiness and so do those who have dedicated their lives to making the church more like the world. Frankly, holiness is hard on the numbers and has a way of annoying the ambitious and offending the obscene. But, this is the new evangelism, my friends. This is the purpose and passion of the church growth movement – to dispel all fear of God and make Jesus our “homeboy.”
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” – Proverbs 8:13
Instead of hating evil, as scripture commands, today’s Christian is being taught just the opposite – to hate holiness – not in so many words, but by zealously ridding the church and its members of anything that represents or encourages fear, respect, reverence and awe toward the Almighty – going so far as to promote a casual, even cavalier attitude and atmosphere in and around church.
Many of you have probably asked yourselves at one time or another: “Whatever happened to real worship?” Well, I would say to you that it went the way of fear, respect, reverence and awe. We essentially exchanged it for Jesus the Homey so we could appeal to the flesh, feel better about ourselves and artificially grow the church.
The fact is; where there is no fear of God, there is no worship. And where there is no worship, there is no love – at least not the self-sacrificing, cross-carrying, truth-telling kind of love that Jesus demonstrated. There’s only a reciprocating, “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine”, kind of love – the kind of love that offers amusement for applause, friendship for flattery and titillation for tithes.
So, if you’re tired of waiting on the Holy Spirit to grow your church the old fashioned way – just do what Satan did to Jesus in the wilderness and appeal to the flesh by offering the world. (Luke 4:5-8) He didn’t take it, of course. But, if your church does, I can almost guarantee that it will grow at an enormous rate. Just tell all the visitors and prospects that they can have eternal life AND enjoy everything this world has to offer by making Jesus their homeboy and you will have more professions of faith, baptisms, new members, volunteers and missionaries than ever before, because, without a doubt, the satanic secret of quick and easy church growth is hating holiness.
“These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” – Psalm 50:21

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Greatest Danger to the Church

Jim Hamilton at for His renown has just posted an article that needs to be read by Pastors everywhere. I would go so far to say it should bound and printed and handed to every pulpit/search committee as well. I would encourage you to take the time and read through what he wrote, it is very well done.

Click here for article.

What's So Secretive?

I have been thinking about the name of this Blog; Truth or Consequences. Truth is Jesus Christ and abiding in His Word by sweet obedience (John 14:6, 15:7) and consequences is the result of a person not abiding in the truth and making the choice to live in sin. It is not a shocker to know that people saved or unsaved either live their life according to the truth or reap the consequences of their sin. Let’s remember that the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:23) O pastor brothers, be committed along with me to hate the sin in your life as never before and to weep prayerfully for the ones in your churches that are bearing the consequences of not living according to the truth.

We have been discussing Masonry the past few posts. We understand that as ministers of the gospel we are to use the words of Scripture to show Masons their sin. We should not be attacking, but rather deal gently in love with them. It is great to know that as believers in Christ we can and should speak the truth in love as stated in Ephesians 4:15. I would like to recommend a book by Ron Rhodes entitled, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Masons. In this book he states, “Masons establish and maintain children’s hospitals, provide free medical treatment to needy children, work actively in their communities, and promote high moral standards. Unfortunately, these activities do not reveal the true religious nature of Masonry.” He lists some things that the reader may not know about Masons:

-remove the name of Jesus from their rituals and Bible reading to avoid offending anyone.

-must, as part of their initiation, proclaim they are in darkness and seek Masonic “light”—even if they already have the true light of Jesus.

-have a secret name for God that combines Jehovah with the pagan deities Baal and Osiris. He explains the occultic, symbolism, secret oaths, and hidden rituals of Masonic tradition, and shows where they conflict with Scripture.

I appreciate Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary commenting on Masonry. He says, “I do not believe there is any place for a Christian to be part of a private organization conducting private rituals. That would include the Masons. However, if you inherit this in your church move wisely and carefully.” I could not agree with this statement more. These are very wise words from a wise man. Also, you may want to check out a great website on Freemasonry; it is

Dear pastor brothers and sisters in the Lord, I pray that you are encouraged with these words as you potentially deal with this system of falsehood in your church. Masonry is just one way for a person to get caught up into wickedness and fall into sin. We understand that their practices are clearly sinful and against God. After all, Masons are redeemable and Christ can save them from their sin and He wants to do that.

When I go to church each Sunday, I am encouraged to know that the worship of Christ is public and welcome for all to participate in; contrary to a secret society like Masonry where only a few are welcome to join. Masonry is a classic example of being close to the world. A person just cannot be close to Christ and the world at the same time. (1 Jn. 2:15) Sadly, it is felt among some that this system brings one closer to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Speaking of getting close to God, did you know the church of Jesus Christ is no longer important for many Masons because the lodge becomes his or her church? That is why you do not see some of them going to church regularly. One cannot play in witchcraft or some other sin and have a victorious relationship with Jesus Christ. Simply said, God cannot be glorified in the presence of sin. May God's face shine upon you as you faithfully live for Christ.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Video of Al Mohler on ABC World News Tonight

If you missed Al on ABC World News Tonight here is your chance to see it.

Click here for video.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Where Do We Go From Here

I would like to welcome guest contributor Chris Humphreys to Truth or Consequences. I received an email that he wrote from a Pastor friend and contacted him about posting it here. As I read through it I thought his perspective and clearness of thought was great. He correctly diagnosis some of the biggest on-going issues within the Southern Baptist Convention churches.

I unfortunately am able to relate to so much of this email, and I believe a lot of you will to. I can't encourage you enough to take the time to read through this.


One Bible preaching, doctrinally solid pastor I knew of had a surprise waiting for him when he came to his church study one day. On top of his desk were some ashes leftover from a burnt offering some men in the church did to some of the pastor's books in his library. They were showing their displeasure at his preaching certain truths which they found distasteful.

Another good pastor friend of mine began his ministry in our state by preaching the Word Sunday after Sunday in a faithful manner at his new church. He did not make any radical changes of any kind, nor had he touched upon that much any of the truths that precipitated the burnt offering that the other pastor had experienced in his church. But this pastor friend made a fatal "mistake"; he dared to attend a Founders Conference in our state. His deacons became aware of it, did some research, found out what the Founders were about, and before you could say Unregenerate Church Members, they had conspired together to toss him out of the church. He is no longer pastoring a church anywhere.

Another pastor friend in our state has been out of pastoring for two years, although he is still seeking to pastor a church somewhere. At one Southern Baptist church that was halfway interested in considering him as their pastor, they grilled him over "reformed" doctrine, because they got wind that this gentle, caring, faithful pastor believed in the whole counsel of God. As far as that church goes, and probably many more churches than this pastor knows about, that determination alone was the end of the line in regards to considering him as pastor.

These are not meant to be sob stories to evoke any kind of reaction, but simply to convey what is going on out there that many people in our churches may not be aware of to the extent that it has reached. Here are some considerations that may be worth pondering:

(1) Many pastors, because they know of what has happened to others just like them, feel trapped in their respective churches. When God made me aware of His glorious sovereignty many years ago, I knew then that it would spell the end of my pastoral ministry eventually at the church that I was then pastoring. Teaching the truth can be an occupational hazard. I wanted to fellowship with other pastors, though, who knew these glorious truths, and I found several in our state who believed these truths.

When I began calling around other pastors in the state who were of like mind, I soon discovered something: some of these pastors who felt trapped in similar circumstances were afraid to identify themselves with other pastors by attending pastors fellowships or certain Bible conferences, because they wanted to stay out of trouble. Any pastor today in a typical Southern Baptist church needs to watch his backside if he begins to associate with certain kinds of pastors, reads certain books by certain authors, begins to preach more boldly, or if he attends a certain kind of Bible conference. The word will get out.

One of the reasons why I love where I am now is that I am not trapped. I wouldn't trade my freedom to preach the Bible for anything else. I would not cherish the situation, given my old age now, of being placed in a church anywhere where I had to tread lightly when I came upon certain scriptural texts. Simply put, many pastors don't have much freedom to preach what they know to be true where they are now. They know what awaits them should they exercise more freedom, and they will have to make a judgment call over time--should I strive to please men and keep my job security in tact, or should I strive to please God even if it causes me to lose my church? While it may be easy for any of us to say which one we know should be done all the time, I can sympathize with pastors who agonize over these matters, because they do have a family to support. Having said that, we must trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

(2) Pastors who come into these truths will soon discover that it is almost impossible (nothing is impossible with God, I realize) to reform an existing church. It is far easier to turn a row boat around than an ocean liner, especially one that has Titanic written on its side. So what does a pastor do at this point? Here is where I believe we have dropped the ball a long time ago, and we are paying for it dearly now. We should have implemented a nationwide sovereign grace church planting strategy so that we would have been able practically to build a whole new fleet of row boats.

(3) We have our church organization model all wrong, which only makes the problem that much worse. We Baptists love to point out to Catholics that their first Pope was married. While that is true, Peter also was not The Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jerusalem. Our church polity allows each church to have its own possible pope. We have so democratized the church that we can not conceive of the biblical order of a plurality of leaders called elders. We consider that strange doctrine today; something that will divide current churches. We think The Pastor flying solo in a church is the only way to go, because we have always done it that way. End of discussion. Lately we were "warned" by a high ranking denominational leader at the national Southern Baptist Convention that all SBC churches should avoid going to elder rule, simply because it is not baptistic and too divisive.

Let me tell what is divisive--going against the Bible. We have seen the fruits of our traditional, long-standing church organization, and it is anything but a pretty picture. When I returned to pastor a church in Oklahoma in 1992, after I had been there for awhile and I saw trouble
brewing, I began reading the seventy-five year history of our church. I had been there for four years at that time, and I discovered to my chagrin that I was the second longest tenured pastor of that church! I would ask church members and pastors, especially of the smaller churches which predominate in our SBC, to make the same investigation as I did, and in most cases, they
will find similar results where they are now. Now what does the revolving door policy say about our cherished one pastor rule model? How does this model increase stability and unity?

Of course, due to this sole pastor rule model, we have invented a system whereby we encourage pastors to move on, in order to climb up the corporate church ladder, so to speak. You start in the minor leagues and work yourselves up to the big leagues, I heard one pastor say. I have heard women in a church say frankly that they refuse to get very close to a pastor's wife anymore, because they know she and her family will not be there for a long time anyway.

The little secret is that we do have elder rule in our SBC churches; we just don't call it that. In most churches, we elect men to serve as deacons, and in far too many cases, they win a popularity vote but they are not biblically qualified to serve in that position (1 Tim. 3). Then to stir the pot even more, they may begin to think of themselves as elders that rule the church, but in the wrong sense of the word and for all the wrong reasons. Talk about trying to put a square peg in a round hole. So now we have unqualified men serving as deacons in name, but who are trying to serve as elders in practice, which they are more unqualified to do so. Then that is where they get the idea that if they can easily hire a pastor, then they can also easily fire a pastor. Or they can make his life so miserable, that he will resign to retain his sanity.

Nine out of every ten Southern Baptist seminary graduates will be out of the pastoral ministry in thirty years. An alarming number of those will be out within ten years. These graduates are by and large going into a church government system that believes in a sole pastor model with ruling deacons. If one hasn't noticed, we have churches splitting or dying all the time. I was personally told by a denominational leader in our state convention that up to 40% of our churches could be dead within a dozen years or so. Churches have fought, feuded and split over a wide range of issues, and in 99% of the cases, those churches involved were not embroiled in any type of disagreement about going to a plurality of shepherding leaders.

Statistics have shown (and Southern Baptists love statistics) that churches who have a plurality of elders will have much longer tenured leaders (they don't bounce around from church to church like a ping pong ball). There is also the proven, documented pragmatic benefit (and Southern Baptists love pragmatism as much as or more than statistics) that churches with elder rule will have much less instances of leaders falling into gross immoral sin than what we find in churches where there is much less accountability with the sole pastor model.

So after stating the obvious, and after looking over the rampant mess we find ourselves in today, how can anyone even dare to suggest that biblical eldership is divisive, and that eldership is the ruination of our churches today?

I fully realize that just having in elders in place is not the sole cure for all of our current church woes, nor do I fail to see that there have been instances where elders were the cause of many of the problems in particular churches. Sinful human flesh does not discriminate on the basis of church structure. I still contend, though, considering the incredibly high percentage of SBC churches that do NOT have biblical elders in name and practice and considering what we have reaped through the years with our current sole pastor/deacon rule model, that it is a bogus point for anyone to suggest that going to a plurality of servant leaders called elders is dangerous and divisive.

Along the same lines as I said last Sunday, preaching doctrinal truths in love in our churches do not really cause disunity; it just happens to be the thing God uses to bring to light the hidden division and pretentious unity that is already there in our churches. (Luke 8:16-18)

So how does all this relate to Frankenstein?

Tune in for next week's article.

Yours in Christ,
Chris Humphreys

P.O. Box 16424
Oklahoma City, Ok 73113

Friday, June 23, 2006

Father, Son, Holy Spirit Receive a Makeover Courtesy of the PCA USA

Is it me or is the SBC Convention looking better and better all the time.


By Richard N. Ostling

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The divine Trinity -- "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" -- could also be known as "Mother, Child and Womb" or "Rock, Redeemer, Friend" at some Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) services under an action yesterday by the church's national assembly.

Delegates to the meeting voted to "receive" a policy paper on gender-inclusive language for the Trinity, a step short of approving it.

Among the proposed options drawn from biblical material:

That means officials with the Louisville-based denomination can propose experimental liturgies with alternative phrasings for the Trinity, but congregations won't be required to use them.

"This does not alter the church's theological position but provides an educational resource to enhance the spiritual life of our membership," legislative committee chair Nancy Olthoff, an Iowa laywoman, said during yesterday's debate on the Trinity.

The assembly narrowly defeated a conservative bid to refer the paper back for further study.

Among the proposed options drawn from biblical material:

• “Mother, Child and Womb”

• “Lover, Beloved, Love”

• “Creator, Savior, Sanctifier”

• “Rock, Redeemer, Friend”

• “King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love.”

For full article click here.

Ok, So The SBC Isn't So Bad After All

All of a sudden our Annual Convention seems like a winner.

Presbyterians Call for Medical Marijuana

By Peter Sachs
Religion News Service
June 23 - The Presbyterian Church (USA) on Wednesday (June 21) became the seventh major religious organization in the nation to support the use of medical marijuana.

The consensus vote of the church's General Assembly in Birmingham, Ala., comes as the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the issue next week.

Click here for full article.

Mohler to Appear on ABC News Sunday

Mohler to appear on ABC News Sunday

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is scheduled to appear on the Sunday edition of ABC News World News Tonight on June 25. Mohler was interviewed by correspondent Dan Harris for a story on a controversy involving the anti-porn ministry A publishing company declined the ministry’s request to print New Testaments with a cover that reads “Jesus Loves Porn Stars.” Check local listings for the broadcast time of ABC News World News Tonight Sunday.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the flagship seminary of the 16-million member Southern Baptist Convention. More information is available at

More on Masonry

You may be wondering why I am addressing Masonry. I am concerned that the ones in this cult are being deceived and they may not even know it. Now, don’t get me wrong there are some good Mason people. I know several of them in my town. They would do just about anything to help anybody. I am saying that what Masons and any cult for that matter stand for is contrary to the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They have a works for salvation attitude. What they are missing is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-10 says in the ESV, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”) The Masonic practices clearly say to me that there is no saving grace by faith in Jesus Christ.

A book that helped me put all of this in perspective is MASONRY, Beyond the Light, by William Schnoebelen and published by Chick Publications. It is edited by someone most of us are familiar with Ed Decker. Decker was once a Mormon and Schnoebelen once a Mason. In this book, Schnoebelen speaks out against Masonry. He says about Masonry, “To some, it’s a fine, Christian organization. But to higher level Masons, who know what goes on behind the scenes, it’s something much different.”

While a witch, William Schnoebelen studied hard to achieve the 32 degree of Masonry. But the higher he went, the more ungodliness he discovered. In the book, he gives the inside secrets of Masonry. He says, “If you think a person can be a good Christian and a good Mason, he or she needs the facts.” He gives some truths about the false religion. Like, to be a Mason, one must first take an oath that is in reality a denial of Jesus Christ. Also, the father of modern Masonry said “Lucifer is God!” The author of the book urges people, “Get the hidden facts from someone who learned what lower level Masons never hear…that utter darkness lies behind the light of Masonry.”

It is frightening to me the type of oaths that a Mason has to take. On page 89 of the book He speaks about dangerous and forbidden oaths. Listed is the Entered Apprentice oath: “All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear, with a firm and steadfast resolution to perform the same…binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by its roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea, at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, should I ever knowingly violate this my Entered Apprentice obligation. So help me God and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same. (Worshipful Master:) In token of your sincerity, you will now detach your hands and kiss the book on which your hands rest, which is the Holy Bible.”

I am writing for a couple of reasons: 1. To encourage you to do some reading about the dangers of Masonry. 2. For you pastors to monitor this dangerous cult in your church.

Freemasonry and Southern Baptists

I want to spend some posts addressing the issue of Freemasonry. If you want to get attention right away just say the word "Mason" in public. Just what is it with Masons in a conservative, Bible-believing church anyway? How can these people stay and pretend to worship our great God? How can they listen to expository sermons from the Word of God week after week and not be convicted of their sins? Are they present in the church to really seek God or are they there to lead others astray? Yes, obviously there are some questions that I have about the Religion. I am sure that most of you know that it is listed in the cult books, so I am going to refer to it as a false religion. I am not suggesting that I have all the answers about Masons and I am not claiming to be an expert. I have done some research of my own on it in my five years of ministry in my present SBC church. In fact, I had the Masons in an uproar my first few months here. I thought they were going to force me out; praise God that there are not many in my church. Yes, it is a problem here and just about everywhere you go in the USA. From the things that I have found out about this false religion, I really wonder if a person can be saved and secure in Jesus Christ and be an active Mason? MAYBE and that is a stretch, a big one! I would think the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God would be so overwhelming that a person in this situation would have to renounce Freemasonry. A man told me one time why he renounced Freemasonry he said, "If Jesus Christ is not in the name I do not want anything to do with it." That leds me to a question, just what God are the Masons serving? Another young man told me that they initiated him into the false religion by chanting words over him blind-folded with a dagger over his heart. Later he told his wife that he did not want anything to do with the Masons again. He did not ever want to be known as one even after he died. Stories like these from born-again Christians having to leave the Masons are frightening to me! Why did they have to leave the false religion? Because it is incompatible with the work of the Holy Spirit of God.

Here is another question that I have; what is it with Freemasonry and the Southern Baptist Convention? Are there some mysterious ties? When my wife and I attended the SBC in St. Louis a few years back a motion was made for them to take a stand against Freemasonry and the motion did not pass. It died for a lack of a second. Shame on them to be so silent! The Convention has been encouraged many times to take a stand against againt Freemasonary, but yet they have shut their mouths. At the SBC stories rang out on the floor into microphones from men that had been involved in masonary and later renounced it. We heard some of the horror stories of what they had to do at the 32nd degree mark like drink wine from a skull head and other things. They spared us alot of the horror stories. Brothers and Sisters there are other things that go on behind those closed doors in the Lodge that no one knows about; I mean no one, but God and fellow Mason brothers.

I am disturbed that the SBC has not passed a motion against Freemasonry; this is really something more than a big-boys club despite what some active Masons may say in the SBC and America. The SBC needs to get on the ball and stop debating petty issues not drawn-out in the Bible and pass a law against Freemasonry. I just wonder if some in the SBC have to many ties and friends that are currently involved in Masonic cultish practices to pass such a motion. This is a grave sin, I do believe, in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Here is a potential reason why the SBC won't touch this issue.
Masonry was originally a means by which people in the occult could practice their "craft" and still remain respectable citizens. The official publication of "The Supreme Council 33" of Scottish Rite Freemasonry is titled New Age. Some church denominations are also led by avowed Masons. For example, a 1991 survey by the Southern Baptist Convention Sunday School Board found that 14% of SBC pastors and 18% of SBC deacon board chairs were Masons; it is also estimated that SBC members comprise 37% of total U.S. lodge membership. (A 2000 updated SBC report found that over 1,000 SBC pastors are Masons.)

For the full article that this excerpt came from click here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Another Reformed Calvinist Enters the World

Yes I’ve Been A Little Busy
Luke Alexander Hinton
It is a Boy 9 lbs 21.5 inches long
If you were wondering what a Reformed Calvinist looked like at birth here he is!
Perfect I might add!

And thanks to all our friends and family.

And to the newest addition at Truth or Consequences, Ryan it's good to have you here. I look forward to your blogs everyday. Since you are so close to Nick out there I hope that you can straighten him out. Ive known him for years and many have tried but ALL have failed.

Thank you for the great posts.

Only in Texas - Public School Bible Study

Texas School District Will Offer Bible Study Class

The school district of Ector County in West Texas has decided to offer a Bible study class for seniors next year. The district selected a curriculum devised by a non-profit called the National Council on Bible study in Public Schools. It uses a single text -- the Bible itself -- and a teachers' guide that critics say does little to show the influence of the Bible on history, art and literature, the purported aim of the course.

Listen to full story here.

MySpace for Christians

I wonder how long it will take before this becomes as bad as the regular MySpace. I don't understand the need Christian's have with matching the culture with "Christian" alternatives. We are supposed to be different, and a peculiar people. There is no way to monitor people in these virtual environments. I think this is especially dangerous because it will give parents a false sense of security. (Christian MySpace Alternative) Announces Mike Collins and Associates Funding

Chattanooga, TN (PRWEB) June 22, 2006 --, an integrated online Christian social ecosystem, announced today that Mike Collins and Associates (MCA), a leading technology solution provider, has invested in the company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. MCA is best known for its successful Information Technology Solutions. MCA’s investment in represents the firm’s first venture in social networking web sites.

Vice President of MCA, Hal Landreth, is recognized as a leader in his field. “We are excited about the Christian social networking space and the growth of this ministry on the Internet. has demonstrated remarkable growth and execution since their launch just over a month ago.”

MCA's track record for identifying and providing solutions in fast growing, emerging markets and’s persistence in simplifying the social networking space make for a logical and exciting pairing. “We are pleased to have MCA as a part of our team. We truly believe we are in the early stages of a revolution in faith based user generated content,” says Co-Founder Greg Thomas.

About’s comprehensive online Church networking system, tightly integrated set of publishing, communication, and networking features now support and enable the social web like never before for a more meaningful experience. For more information about, please visit

The End is Near!!

'End times' religious groups want apocalypse sooner than later, and they're relying on high tech -- and red heifers -- to hasten its arrival.

For thousands of years, prophets have predicted the end of the world. Today, various religious groups, using the latest technology, are trying to hasten it.Their endgame is to speed the promised arrival of a messiah.

For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon.With that goal in mind, mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus' message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.

For full article click here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Al Mohler Has a New Blog

It is called Conventional Thinking with the idea of dealing with the issues facing the Southern Baptist Convention. I have listed it in the blogroll. Below is an excerpt from it.

Conventional Thinking
Welcome to a new blog dedicated to commentary and documentation concerning the Southern Baptist Convention. Some argue that we are entering a post-denominational era. Intense interest in the SBC indicates otherwise. Thanks for reading, and feel free to write me with comments and suggestions at

The Puritians Were Sold Out For Jesus

As believers in Jesus Christ we should continually want to get close to God. A couple of ways we get close to Him and He reveals Himself are by nature (General Revelation) and His Word (Specific Revelation). We are promised to hear the voice of God in Scripture (Specific Revelation) so that is why we should always be in the Word. I say this as I reflected on the lives of the historical Puritians.

I recently had a good friend and brother in the Lord recommend to me a book on some of the prayers and devotions of them. If you do not have a copy of The Valley of Vision put together by Arthur Bennett you need to get one. The booklet contains many prayers from these godly men that will take your breath away and encourage you in your faith. If you are like me sometimes it is easy to think that the Christian road is one hard one to plow, especially in the pastorate. But these writings are great encouragement to hang in there! Others have done it like these great saints of God. So, get yourself a copy today and begin using the easy index of prayers.

Friends, these wonderful men in history took the Word of God at face-value; they did not try and skirt around issues and only deliver some of the Bible. They believed its entirety and that included the Doctrine of Election. Here is their prayer on election:

Holy Trinity,
All praise to thee for electing me to salvation, by foreknowledge of God, the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus; I adore the wonders of thy condescending love, marvel at the true believer’s high privilege within whom all heaven comes to dwell, abiding in God and God in him; I believe it, help me experience it to the full. Continue to teach me that Christ’s righteousness satisfies justice and evidences thy love; Help me to make use of it by faith as the ground of my peace and of thy favor and acceptance, so that I may live always near the cross. It is not a feeling the Spirit that proves my saved state but the truth of what Christ did perfectly for me; All holiness in him is by faith made mine, as if I had done it; Therefore I see the use of his righteousness, for satisfaction to divine justice and making me righteous. It is not inner sensation that makes Christ’s death mine for that may be delusion, being without the Word, but his death apprehended by my faith, and so testified by Word and Spirit, I bless thee for these lively exercises of faith, for the righteousness that is mine in Jesus, for grace to resign my will to thee; I rejoice to think that all things are at thy disposal, and I love to leave them there. Then prayer turns wholly into praise, and all I can do is to adore and love thee. I want not the favour of man to lean upon, for I know that thy electing grace is infinitely better.

If you are a pastor/teacher in the local church I encourage you to introduce your people to these great historical men; you will not be sorry! Just get a copy of the book today and be encouraged. The bottom line is we need to begin praying like the Puritians in our personal devotions and ministries.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Looking Back at Greensboro/ Looking Ahead to the Future

Many of you know that I am a Doctor of Ministry student in expository preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Semianry. The seminary president is Danny Akin. Now, get this his mentor was Dr. Paige Patterson and his best friend is Al Mohler. I wanted to post his thoughts on the Southern Baptist Convention this year. Brothers and Sisters, I hope you will join me in continual prayer for the SBC convention.

Dr. Akin writes,
"At our Alumni meeting I shared my thoughts about the Convention meeting in Greensboro and my optimism concerning the future. Our students, alumni and friends made it clear that you would like for me to put this in a form you could have and share with others. I am glad to do this, and it will provide the debriefing I normally have with our students but could not because of the large size of this year’s class. I will also provide my reflections on several other issues which time did not permit at our Luncheon. I hope you will be as encouraged about our future as I am.

The Presidency of the SBC
This year we had three fine men run for president. That had not happened in a number of years. All three men are friends of mine. I love and respect each of them. I spoke in favor of Ronnie Floyd because at the time he was the only announced candidate, and because I believe his church was misrepresented in terms of its faithful support of the C.P. and Southern Baptist work. I still believe that was the case and I believe Ronnie would have made Southern Baptists an outstanding President. I also think Jerry Sutton would have served us well had he been elected. The Convention in a surprising first ballot elected Frank Page from Taylor, S.C. I have personally congratulated Frank and pledged my prayers and support. I think he will do a wonderful job as our president. You may not know that Frank and I served together on the resolutions committee several years ago. Frank also serves as an adjunctive professor at SEBTS, and his daughter, Laura Brammer, just graduated from Southeastern with her Master’s Degree. His son-in-law, Ben, was my teaching assistant and grader for the past 2 years and is in our Ph.D program. Frank is a godly man who is supportive of the Conservative Resurgence. He is an inerrantist who believes the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and strongly supports the Cooperative Program. He wants to involve more good and godly persons in the work of our Convention, something I fully affirm. I am delighted to let you know Dr. Page has agreed to speak at our Spring 2007 Convocation. I believe we have a good man, a man of God, to lead us in the days ahead.
There were four nominees for first V.P. All four of these men are friends of mine as well and each one would serve our denomination well. Jimmy Jackson was elected on a close second ballot. He will be an asset to Dr. Page.
There were also four candidates for 2nd V.P. Wiley Drake, the SBC gadfly, was elected on the first ballot. He received what was clearly the most humorous and entertaining nomination speech, from Bill Dodson, ever given at any Convention. His speech clearly won the day. Given the strong emphasis at this Convention on the C.P., there seems to be something of a disconnect since Wiley’s church gave only $200 to the C.P. in 2004 and $1,000 in 2005 out of total receipts of $96,450. Still, his nomination gave all of us a good and much needed laugh. I love brother Wiley and appreciate so very much his work with the homeless. With him as one of our officers, I suspect the fun times will only continue at next years meeting.

The issue of Calvinism was a hot topic. I believe it is becoming clear that there is a place for a healthy and evangelistically vibrant Reformed Theology in our Convention. It is part of our history and heritage. On Monday my father in ministry, Paige Patterson, and my brother in Christ and best friend, Al Mohler, had the “great debate.” In my judgment, it was a win-win event. Paige and Al showed us how brothers can discuss, debate and disagree in a manner that honors Christ. They also showed us that disagreement on some points of theology in no way prevents them from agreeing on the major issue: the gospel of Jesus Christ. Al warned us about Calvinist with an attitude, Paige emphasized the necessity of a responsible, regenerate church, and both challenged us to be passionate in studying theology and taking the biblical gospel to the nations. I hope we can continue to have good, honest theological conversations. We need them. We will only be the better for it.

This mission board has experienced some difficult times in recent days. To not become a distraction to the agency my friend Bob Reccord resigned as president in the spring. I greatly respect his decision and I believe he did the right thing for the sake of the SBC. Now one of the heroes in ministry, Roy Fish, has been named interim-president. This is a gift from God, and I believe this is a very positive sign of good things to come at NAMB.

There has been a lot of conversation emerging from our International Mission Board in the last year. One trustee in particular has raised concerns and constantly been in the news. A motion from this trustee, Wade Burleson, that the Executive Committee investigate the IMB was referred back to the IMB trustees for their action. This was a wise and proper decision in my judgment. I know a number of the wonderful and godly men and women on this board. I believe they are more than capable of setting their house in order. I trust them to help us understand better recent policy decisions as the board. I trust them to look into matters that have caused some persons serious concern. I further trust them in their ability to work alongside our president Dr. Jerry Rankin to see that we continue taking the gospel to the nations, and that we will continue planting thousands of New Testament churches for the glory of the name of Jesus Christ. I look forward to a good report from the IMB trustees and president at the 2007 Convention.

The Cooperative Program
The C.P. was also a major topic of discussion. Our Executive Committee recommended and our Convention agreed that we need to ask our churches to do more, but that it would be unwise to set a 10% litmus test for leadership and service in the SBC. Again, I believe this was a good and right decision. However, we still have some issues hanging that need prayerful and careful attention. First, we must not loose sight of the centrality and autonomy of the local church to do what it thinks best under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Second, our State Conventions must work at sending more to our National Convention. As a national agency head this can sound self-serving, but I have been saying this all 28 years of my ministry. The fact is this is what our people want. I am encouraged that our State Executives have pledged to do this. Third, we have got to find a better way of acknowledging all that a church does in supporting the SBC. To limit “what counts” as CP support only that which flows through a state convention is somewhat misleading. It should not be an either/or scenario but a both/and composite. We have, already in place, categories for undesignated/designated giving. I am simply saying we need to find a way to acknowledge and celebrate all that every church does in support of the SBC. I believe the leaders of our Executive Committee will help us find a way to do this.

Motion examining agency leaders
This Convention saw a record 29 motions proposed. There were a lot of busy bees in Greensboro! One called for an “administrative expense analysis” of all SBC agencies and institutions. There have been motions like this before. Some are well intended. Others have come from persons with an agenda that I am not sure was all that noble. However, let me say a couple of things. First, it is an honor and privilege to lead an SBC agency. Each of us works for the SBC and we are accountable to the churches of the SBC. This is a good thing and I am grateful for this relationship. I would not want it any other way. Mutual accountability is biblical and wise. Second, Southeastern already has a full disclosure policy. Any Southern Baptist is welcome to visit our campus, sit down with our business office staff, and see how we “steward” God’s money. I know they will be embarrassed by the low salaries paid to our faculty and staff, but do not feel sorry for any of us. We are here because of God’s calling. He brought us here and He takes care of us. I will say to those that stand with us, we seek to be “mean and lean” in how we run this seminary. It is God’s money that we handle. We try to never forget this. Please pray that we never do.

Resolutions are an important aspect of the annual meeting. It allows that particular convention to address issues it believes are important at the time. One issue that did not make it out of committee was related to integrity in church membership. I trust the Resolutions Committee as to their rationale for taking no action on this resolution at this time, but it is my hope this resolution or one similar to it will be addressed and approved in the near future. In fact, I believe we would be well served to have resolutions concerning regenerate church membership, church discipline, believer’s baptism, integrity in evangelism, expository preaching and theological education in the local church, addressed by future conventions. I have shared my concerns concerning these areas in a paper I presented at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary entitled, “Do Southern Baptists Have A Future? Yes, If…” You can locate it at
It was the case that this convention did speak to the issue of alcohol. Some persons expressed surprise that a number of individuals spoke against it. I was not surprised, though I was disappointed. I have observed for some time a growing emphasis on our “liberty in Christ” that I fear neglect of our “responsibility in Christ.” Therefore, let me say several things that I hope are biblical and balanced in assessing the issue. I pray you will hear my heart.
First, Southern Baptists since the late 1800’s have addressed the danger of alcohol with right at 60 resolutions. Beginning as a grassroots movement we have spoken with one voice pointing out the risks of alcohol consumption and the wisdom of abstinence in this area. We did so again in Greensboro with an 85-90% vote according to the chair.
Second, arguments that a total abstinence position is an extra-biblical tradition rooted in legalism are simply false. Now, let me be fair. Does the Bible by direct command condemn the use of alcohol in every instance? The honest answer is no it does not. Jesus clearly turned water into wine (John 2). However, this is where contextual and principle considerations must be engaged. The ancient Hebrew context and the 21st century American context do not have a one to one correspondence in this area. The distilled liquor manufactured today most closely corresponds to the “strong drink” which is consistently condemned in Scripture. My friends Bob Stein (in an article in C.T.) and John MacArthur (in a 3 part sermon series) provide irrefutable evidence of this. Further, Paul’s guidelines for the gray areas of life are helpful at this point. Does this action help me? (1 Cor. 6:12) Can this action enslave me? (1 Cor. 6:12) Could this action be a stumbling block to a fellow believer (1 Cor. 8:13) or an unbeliever (1 Cor. 9:19-22; 10:32-33)? These principles could be summarized in the maxim: “love for others regulates my liberty.” It is certain the alcohol industry has visited immense sorrow and heartache on millions. I will choose not to put one dollar in their pocket. It also is certain that if one never takes the first drink they will never become an alcoholic. The wisdom of this is self-evident.
Third, some draw an analogy with gluttony and point out 1) we don’t have the stomach (pun intended!) to address this, and 2) like gluttony, the issue is moderation. However, logic and experience refute this argument. I would agree we should address the sin of gluttony and perhaps even do so by resolution. But, no one even potentially becomes intoxicated by eating too much, and we do not lose thousands of lives each year because of DUG (Driving Under Gluttony).
No, the use of alcohol in most contexts ignores the biblical principles of wisdom and witness. Can I say it is a sin in every instance to take a drink? No. Can I say it is unwise? Yes. John MacArthur puts it well. Can I take a drink? Yes. Should I take a drink? No. I am grateful that our new President, Dr. Frank Page, served on this year’s Resolution Committee and helped draft resolution #5. I am glad to stand side by side with him and brothers like R.G. Lee, W.A. Criswell, Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, Paige Patterson, Chuck Kelly, Phil Roberts, Jeff Iorg, Richard Land, Bobby Welch, Morris Chapman, James Merritt, Johnny Hunt, John Piper, and John MacArthur and a host of others in opposing the evils of alcohol and promoting the wisdom of total abstinence. I promise our alumni, students and supporters that as long as I am president of this seminary, we will be vigilant and passionate in taking a stand against alcohol. We will do so not because of legalism, but because of love.

Not Forgetting Our Heroes
Finally, I shared at our meeting that I will not allow a new generation of Southern Baptist to forget our heroes. We today stand on the shoulders of giants like Boyce and Broadus, Carroll and Truett. More recently it is Criswell and Rogers, Vines and Draper, Smith and Elliff, Pressler and Patterson. For some reason there are today those who want to attack and malign some of these men, question their motives and actions. Are these men perfect? No. Are they good godly men who love Jesus, the Bible, the lost and our Convention? Yes!
I often remind our students, and myself, that it is never right to do even the right thing in the wrong way. Some of those throwing grenades at these heroes of faith would be well served to think on this. The intemperate nature of their rhetoric is too often shameful and dishonoring to the Christ they serve. Any truth in their diatribes is lost in the bitterness and sarcasm that flows from their keyboard.
Our Convention is experiencing a time of adjustment and evaluation. There is a generational shift that is taking place. This is not a bad thing, I believe it is a good thing. It is the way God works. As Moses moved off the scene, God raised up Joshua. The same godly wisdom and integrity he had seen in Moses was transferred by God into his life as well. It is my prayer that this is what will take place in the SBC in the years ahead of us. I believe it will. If it does, our future is bright and God will be honored by a people who more that anything else, want to see His glory made known among the nations. Thank you for the honor of serving you at Southeastern. I am blessed beyond measure."

Danny Akin

The Ministry is a High Honor and Calling By God

On most Monday's I have to remind myself why I do what I do and who I am in Jesus Christ. I encourage you to do the same if you are in Christ and in the ministry. I think the main reason to be a pastor is because it glorifies His name. God ultimately wants to glorify Himself. Spend time today reflecting on the glory of God, His Holiness and His Righteousness; it is wonderful to just praise His great name in utterances of prayer which are directly heard from the throne of God. Admit that you are helpless with out Him.

Ask yourself why you exist as a pastor/teacher? Just why it is you are in the ministry? Paul outlines the duty of a pastor in Eph. 4:12; a pastor/teacher of the Word of God should equip the saints for the works of service and to evangelize the lost. It is so rewarding to present the Word of God and see the lives of people transformed and changed to His glory! He is in control of changing the hearts and minds of people. He saves people; we do not; despite what some may say today. Do the will of God in your ministry and leave the results up to Him. He just wants you to be faithful and obedient to Him in the ministry. Just look to Him on this 2nd day of this new week and everyday. He is most worthy of our praise! To Him be the glory in the church. Lay your ministry today at His feet, seek to honor only His sweet name and not your own. Yield to Him today in your ministry. He is in control of things in heaven and on earth. Be encouraged as you rest in Christ and serve Him daily.

Friday, June 16, 2006

What in the World is Going on in the SBC?

Friends, I wanted to post an email I got from a friend of mine today. It proves a great point of concern for those of us in the SBC! Know that God can and will bring the SBC back to where it needs to be for His glory in the near future!

Before I get to the letter that was sent, I was thinking earlier today how a non-calvinist and non-armenian like Dr. Page Patterson and the many others in the SBC can preach/teach faithfully the doctrines of grace? Remember when he said it is not just calvinists that preach and believe in the doctrines of grace. He said that even he and others of his like preach all of the doctrines in the Bible. I got a question, what is that supposed to mean? This concerned me, does it concern anybody else? I wonder if this was a one way to bad-mouth calvinism? Maybe or maybe not. I am concerned with so-called people say that they are neither calvinists or armenians in the SBC. How can men of this type be true expositors of the Word. Can they really be? I admire so much Al Mohler standing up front and stating that he was a 5 point calvinist. At least he had the guts to say what he was. I want to address this issue one last time and than move on to bigger and better things.

Now, here is the article sent to me from a friend outside the SBC. (Hint, others are noticing what is going on in the SBC what does that tell you?) It should tell us alot, namely that the SBC is not what it could be entirely. Be sure to check out Spurgeon's sermon at the end of this article. I appoligize in advance for this being such a long post. I just felt all of it needed shared.

Here is the statement from a friend; it displays the lack of biblical concern and passion for truth that is all to common today, and let me say that this is present in many SBC churches across America.

"While there are Southern Baptists who believe in the doctrine of election, most Southern Baptists are not strident Calvinists or ardent Armenians. They are biblical and they are Baptists. They believe Jesus shed his precious blood for the sins of all mankind and that the Bible teaches “Whosoever will, may come.”...
If you wish, debate Calvinism. We should not fear theological debate as long as the participants understand they are brothers debating one another in a friendly environment. While Calvinism is a fair debate in the halls of academia, we do not need to bring the debate into our churches at the cost of dividing our congregations.
In actuality, the Bible contains a healthy and dynamic tension between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Let’s leave it where God left it in His Holy Word."
I would like to respond to this comment and many others I have heard before.

O' dear brothers, what a dreadful condition the church has fallen into today. The news and attitudes that say we must maintain the status quo and never rock the denominational boat is a plague on the denomination itself. A cancer is eating away the heart of truth and they cannot even see the effects. The majority of Baptist churches today maintain high numbers of attendees but little or no understanding of biblical truth. Most churches serve as spiritual daycare centers where pacifiers are placed on the every pew and lullabies are sang from every pulpit and the denomination is being rocked to sleep. When will good men stand up and lead the church, when will good men say it is time to see a sleeping church rise up and become a mature man? This will never happen however until good men are willing to stand for those doctrines that are the very pillar and support of our salvation.

Calvinism it seems is the catch word that is so often hated and despised by many today, but the heart of the matter is most do not even understand the term. This in itself is a sad commentary on Baptists in general since Calvinism is the very foundation of the denomination (look it up if you disagree). The true anger we see seems to be focused on the misunderstanding of what Calvinism is and is not. But what truly frightens me is that the anger we see may be at the implications of what Calvinism says about many professing Christians. Much of the anger focused on Calvinism may be attributed to the fact that it declares we serve a Sovereign God who calls all the shots. Generally this sends a chilling hatred in unbelievers who believe they call all the shots in their lives but I see the same effect in many so-called evangelicals when this issue is in focus. Many despise a God who has the audacity to say He alone is the author of our Salvation but the same people who despise that statement love to say that once you are saved you are always saved! Well you can't have the last statement without the first! Pride keeps man from submitting to such doctrines, and pride in the heart of those who profess Christ and understand and yet hate these essential doctrines is SIN!

The fear I have is that many who profess Christ as Savior despise a God who commands that you profess Christ as LORD! The doctrines that are espoused by biblical Calvinists is the doctrines that are established on the Word of God alone. These doctrines can be hard to profess, and teach but that is why Christ gave the church pastor-teachers. If you find that you cannot or will not teach these truths then you find conversely that you are not called to be a pastor-teacher to be quite blunt. It doesn't take high intellect or education to profess and teach such truths or accept them. I know of 10-12 men in a state prison that have little or no education who can profess and explain each point of Calvinism and passionately evangelize at the same time! Yes, Calvinism and evangelism go hand in hand you cannot have one with out the other. We must proclaim what scripture proclaims no less no more.

A biblical view is to preach the Word and let the secret things belong to the Lord, but we must preach the Word whether we like it or not. We must confront the issues not skirt them, you have no right if you make a claim to be a "Man of God"and do no less than preach the Word of God. You must preach all of it don't skip difficult issues because of your puny human opinion or minuscule intellect. If you don't understand it get on your face before God and pray that your selfish pride would be crushed and only God's truth would flow from your mouth. Lock yourself up with the godly men of our past, read until your eyes hurt, read Spurgeon, Calvin, Whitefield, Pink, Gill, Bunyan, and a host of other faithful men of God. Surround yourself with humility in your study not pomp and style, look for truth not a catch phrase you can not seek "a purpose driven life" until you have died to self!

Search the Scriptures it is here that we find our sermons not the Internet or on popular opinion polls. O' my dear Baptist brothers how far we have fallen from the call to shepherd, train and equip Christ's flock. We dare to say stay away from controversial doctrines, you have no such right, Christ commanded us to "go make disciples" and the Word of God declares we are to preach it "in season and out of season" when it's popular and when it is not. The sad commentary is that a season of perpetual winter has fallen upon the church when it comes to preaching doctrine. Let me be quite honest the number in the pew dictates the message from the pulpit in all to many churches today and that quite simply lies at the feet of ungodly men who desire a pay check rather than a crown! O' may God bring a revival of truth at all costs, it may rip a denomination apart, so be it if that denomination can not even define the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The following is excerpts from Spurgeon's sermon on "The Defense of Calvinism" in it he ardently defends preaching the whole counsel of God and not running from controversy as all to many do today. Here Spurgeon lays out the correct and balanced view of biblical doctrines (Calvinism) that seem so out of place today in our times.

"The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again."

"I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor."

"The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. For instance, I read in one Book of the Bible, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Yet I am taught, in another part of the same inspired Word, that "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." I see, in one place, God in providence presiding over all, and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions, in a great measure, to his own free-will. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act that there was no control of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism; and if, on the other hand, I should declare that God so over-rules all things that man is not free enough to be responsible, I should be driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring."

C. H. Spurgeon