Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Taz.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Word From Spurgeon

"Grace commences to save, and it perseveres till all is done. From first to last, from the "A" to the "Z" of the heavenly alphabet, everything in salvation is of grace, and grace alone; all is of free favour, nothing of merit. "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God," "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."

From the sermon "The Doctrines of Grace Do Not Lead to Sin." Preached August 19th, 1883.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Word From Spurgeon

"It is no wonder, then, that I am not preaching a new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname "Calvinism," but which are surely the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I see Church Father after Church Father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me. If I was a Pelagian, or a believer in the doctrine of man's freewill, I would have to walk for centuries all alone. Here and there I would find a heretic, of rather dishonorable character who might rise up and call me brother. But taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients populated with my brethren. I see multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God's own church.

I also give you an extract from the old Baptist confession. We are Baptist in this congregation--the greater part of us at any rate--and we like to see what our own forefathers wrote. Some two hundred years ago the Baptist assembled together, and published their articles of faith, to put an end to certain reports against their orthodoxy which had gone forth to the world. I turn to this old book--which I have just published, and which you will soon be able to have--and I find the following as the 3rd Article:

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sins to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased nor decreased. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and unchangeable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or a cause moving Him to do so."

From the sermon "Election." The text was 2 Thess. 2:13-14.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Being Baptist

Some people these days seem confused about what it is that makes a Baptist. Being Baptist is not a doctrine about God, or Jesus, or salvation, or the end times or so on. Baptist share those things with Christians from many denominations. Being Baptist is about church polity, or how a church is governed. It is also about how the church views it's place in the larger society. So, being Baptist is essentially about ecclesiology (the doctrine of the Church).

While, as I mentioned above, there are many things Baptists share with other orthodox Christian denominations, there are some things that distinguish Baptists from the others. For example, one key Baptist distinctive is that of a regenerate church membership. In other words, no one is accepted for membership into a Baptist church who does not have a credible testimony of being a Christian. Baptists believe only saved people are true and proper members of the local Church (and the church universal).

Tied closely with the first distinctive is the belief in believer's baptism by immersion. This tenet is so much of a Baptist distinctive that Baptists believe no one has been actually baptized who was not baptized by immersion after their profession of faith as a believer. Baptists do not believe any other form of baptism is truly a baptism.

Baptists believe that the Bible is their sole rule of faith and practice. That means that everything necessary for belief and life as a Christian can be found in the Bible. It also means that nothing can be put as binding on the Christian that cannot be plainly proven from scripture alone.

Baptists believe God set two offices over the Church to see to it's orderly function and to train other believers. These are the pastor (also called an elder or bishop) and the deacon.

Baptists hold that Jesus Christ left two ordinances to his Church as a testimony to the life of the gospel among them. These are baptism and the Lord's Supper. We call these "ordinances" because we do not believe they confer any grace by the performance of them.

Baptists believe that every believer is his or her own priest before God. We believe each person may define what is acceptable worship for themselves, so long as scripture is not violated in doing so. This is called "soul liberty."

Baptists believe that God gave us both the Church and Civil Government to rule over us, each in it's own sphere. Therefore, each functions best when it is not interfered with by the other. Therefore, the Church may advise and act as the conscience of the people to the Government, but it does not make laws (except as each believer is accorded his or her single vote as provided for by law). Conversely, the Government does not rule over the Church, whose sole Ruler is our Lord King and God, Jesus Christ. Baptists believe Christ rules over His Church.

There are other things Baptists believe but these cover some of the big things that separate us Baptists from our other Christian brothers and sisters.

I am a Baptist. Most of all I am a Baptist because when I read the pages of scripture, I see Baptist things happening in the churches of the Bible. The churches of the Bible look and sound like Baptist churches to me. So, to me, to be a Baptist is to be a Bible believer.

I must note in passing that it is possible to be Baptist and not be like other Baptists. There are Conservative Baptists and Liberal Baptists. Baptists fall all along the spectrum of belief and politics.

But for better or for worse, I am a Baptist. I apologize to no one for it. Because to me, being Baptist is simply being Biblical.

Friday, March 14, 2008

From John MacArthur ...

Most people lack true repentance. They lack the true contrition, the true brokenness. They are void of urgent desperation. They don’t have a true relationship to Jesus Christ. They just "hang around" Jesus… And they do not know what it means to bow to that which is eternal. To be concerned about that.
They want a gospel that doesn’t ask for repentance. They want a gospel that has no threats. They want a gospel that allows them to have some superficial attachment to Jesus, but not a bowing to His absolute sovereignty at any cost. They want a gospel that fixes them in this world to make them more comfortable. That’s not it. And that’s not what Jesus offers.

I found this on another blog and, to me, there is a lot to think about here.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Spurgeon on the Christian's Heart

"In this first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, you see the spirit of communion in the apostle Paul. He was, he says, anxious to do good to others. He longed to see the Roman Christians, in order that he might impart to them some spiritual gift. While he is writing to them, you can see that he is anxious that they may have the best thing that they can have. All his desire is for their good; he is lovingly interested in their welfare. That is how we ought to be the one to the other, not only the pastor to the people, but the people to the pastor, and the members of the church the one towards the other, all anxious for the good of the rest; no man living unto himself, but each one endeavouring to live for the benefit of the entire community in Christ Jesus."

From Charles H. Spurgeon (The Beloved Pastor's Plea for Unity)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Joy of Predestination

This is from a Charles Spurgeon sermon on the topic of calling and predestination. It is worth our consideration.

"May not this electrify a man of joy, and make him dance for very mirth?

Chosen of God ere time began.

Come on, slanderers! rail on as pleases you. Come on thou world in arms! Cataracts of trouble descend if you will, and you, ye floods of affliction, roll if so it be ordained, for God has written my name in the book of life. Firm as this rock I stand, though nature reels and all things pass away. What consolation then to be called: for if I am called, then I am predestinated. Come let us at the sovereignty which has called us, and let us remember the words of the apostle, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."

Theocentric Monergism

The topics of monergism and synergism deal with who is doing the meritorious work of salvation. Put another way, who is doing the things that count? Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 1758), considered by some to be the greatest theologian ever produced in the United States, said once "God does all and man does all." Yet Edwards went on to explain that everything man does finds it's source in God, so that man, at no point, could claim even the smallest amount of credit for aiding in his own salvation. Edwards was a monergist. To him, God did everything meritorious. Then God revealed, by the Holy Spirit, to men what He had done for them. Men responded by repenting of their former works and turning in faith to Christ as savior and believing the testimony of God (and what He has done for men). But salvation, is not general, but personal. God reveals what He has done for YOU, or for ME, and when we are shown, we respond.

This is theocentric monergism. This comes from the Greek "theos" meaning God, and "kentron" meaning center. It is God centered. It gives God all the glory for the salvation of men. It upholds the 5 sola of the Reformation Soli Deo Gloria which means "To God alone be the glory." It gives man none of the credit and God all the credit for all the work involved in our salvation. Yet, this view does not deny that men act in our salvation. As Edwards said, "God does all and man does all." At every point, every action of God finds a corresponding response in men. Yet, at no point does man act without God's prior action.

The other extreme of this is anthropocentric monergism. This is Pelagianism. Man does all the work that is meritorious in salvation and God responds to what man has done. This is man centered. It is the opposite of theocentric monergism. In anthropocentric monergism, man gets all the credit. He makes himself holy enough to be saved.

In the middle is synergism. In this system of theology, man and God cooperate together to bring about salvation. This would include both Arminianism and Semi-pelagianism. There are significant points of difference between the two (Arminianism and Semi-pelagianism), however they share the idea that God does his part and man does his part. And with both parts working together, man is saved.

Of these three, it is my firm conviction that only Theocentric monergism is the biblical viewpoint. The Bible says that God shares His glory with no man. Only a viewpoint that credits everything entirely to God is the only viewpoint that glorifies God alone.

Let's examine our theology, at every point, to make sure we hold a theology that is theocentric. Because any theology that is not 100% God centered, is not a biblical theology. Either it is trying to put man on God's throne, or share that throne with God. And that is no theology for a Christian to have. I hope you agree.