Thursday, June 21, 2012

Southern Baptist "Sinner's Prayer" Resolution - Compare & Contrast

The following is offered without commentary:

This is the text of the resolution that was passed yesterday at the Southern Baptist Convention:

Resolution 3

An Affirmation of a “Sinner's Prayer” as a Biblical Expression of Repentance and Faith

WHEREAS, The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers full forgiveness of sins ans reconciliation with God to anyone who repents of sin and trusts in Christ; and

WHEREAS, This same Gospel commands all persons everywhere to believe this Gospel and receive Christ as Savior and Lord (Mark 1:15; John 1:12; 6:25-52; Acts 17:30); and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures give examples of persons from diverse backgrounds who cried out for mercy and were heard by God (Luke 18:13; Acts 16:29-10); and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures also give numerous examples of persons who verbally affirmed Gospel truths but who did not personally know Jesus in a saving relationship (Luke 22:47-48; John 2:23-25; 1 Corinthians 10:1-5); and

WHEREAS, Empty religion and formalism, of whatever kind, apart from personal relationship with Christ, cannot wash away sin or transform a heart (Matthew 7:21; 15:8; John 3:3); and

WHEREAS, The Bible speaks of salvation as including botha a confession with the mouth that Jesus is Lord and a belief in the heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Matthew 16:16; Romans 10:9-10); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 19-20, 2012, reaffirm our Gospel conviction that repentance from sin and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation (Acts 20:20-21); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm that repentance and faith involve a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord (Romans 10:13), often identified as a “sinner's prayer,” as a biblical expression of repentance and faith; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a “sinner's prayer” is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel (Matthew 6:7; 16:7-9); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we promote any and all biblical means of urging sinners to call on the name of the Lord in a prayer of repentance and faith; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptists everywhere to continue to carry out the Great Commission in North America and around the world, so that sinners everywhere, of every tribe, tongue, and language, may cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).

This is the text of the resolution originally proposed by Dr. Eric Hankins, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi, and principle author of the "Anti-Calvinist Manifesto":

A Resolution on the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be presented at the SBC in New Orleans, June 2012

WHEREAS, God desires for every person to be saved and has made salvation available for any person who hears the Gospel (John 3:16; Romans 10:14-17; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2); and

WHEREAS, A free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel is both possible and necessary in order for anyone to be born again (John 3:1-16; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13); and

WHEREAS, Prayer is God’s gracious means through which any person can communicate with Him and is everywhere in Scripture commanded and commended for every matter and every person (2 Chronicles 7:14; Matthew 7:7-11; Mark 11:17; Philippians 4:6); and

WHEREAS, Praying to God to express repentance for sins, to acknowledge Christ as Lord, and to ask for forgiveness and salvation is modeled in the Bible (Acts 2:37-38; Romans 10:9-10); and

WHEREAS, While there is no one uniform wording found in Scripture or in the churches for a “Sinner’s Prayer,” the prayer of repentance and faith, acknowledging salvation through Christ alone and expressing complete surrender to His Lordship, is the biblical means by which any person can turn from sin and self, place his faith in Christ, and find forgiveness and eternal life (Luke 18:9-14, 23:39-43); and

WHEREAS, It is biblically appropriate to help a sinner in calling on the Lord for salvation and to speak of Christ’s response to such a prayer as “entering a sinner’s heart and life” (John 14:23; Acts 2:37-40; 16:29-30; Romans 10:11-17; Ephesians 3:17); and

WHEREAS, A “Sinner’s Prayer” is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel (Matthew 6:7, 15:7-9; 28:18-20); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in New Orleans, LA, June 19-20, 2012, commend the use of a “Sinner’s Prayer” as a biblically sound and spiritually significant component of the evangelistic task of the church; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage all Christians to enthusiastically and intentionally proclaim the Gospel to sinners everywhere, being prepared to give them the reason for the hope we have in Christ (I Peter 3:15), and being prepared to lead them to confess faith in Christ (Romans 10:9), including praying to receive Him as Savior and Lord (John 1:12).

Class assignment: Compare and contrast these two documents.

Class dismissed.

post signature

Monday, June 4, 2012

Parkside Baptist Has a Need

My uncle used to always say that Montana only has two seasons: "Winter" & "Getting Ready for Winter." Well, he was (mostly) right. Spring is here, and the weather is getting warm. But, in Montana, summer is a short season, and autumn will get here before you know it. And, so, the season is short to raise the funds to replace our small church's heating system.

Parkside Baptist Church's current heating system has surpassed its designed lifespan -- Indeed, we were told that it needed replacement a full year ago. $2,000 towards the replacement cost of $8,600 has already been raised. If you can help, any assistance would be greatly appreciated! Or if you know anybody who can help, please spread the word!

Thank you!

post signature

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reformation Montana 2012

Last Thursday and Friday, in Great Falls, Montana, the First Annual Reformation Montana Conference was held. Jordan Hall, Paul Washer, and Phil Johnson were the keynote speakers, and the audio messages from the conference are now available for download.

Sadly, due to some recording equipment issues, the audio quality of the first two messages is very poor. The problems were corrected, and the remainder of the messages, including Phil Johnson's exceptional 3-part exposition of Ephesians 2:1-10, are fine.

Session One - Jordan Hall

Session Two - Paul Washer

Session Three - Phil Johnson

Session Four - Paul Washer

Session Five - Phil Johnson

Session Six - Jordan Hall

Session Seven - Paul Washer

Session Eight - Phil Johnson

Session Nine - Jordan Hall

It was a great conference! It was good to renew old acquaintances, as well as make a few new friends. Next year's conference is already in the planning stages! I'll let you know the "who, where, & when" sometime soon!

post signature

Saturday, April 14, 2012

100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic

Tonight marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on her maiden voyage.

We all know the story: At 11:40 p.m. ship time, she struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic. 2 hours and 40 minutes later, at 2:20 a.m. ship time, she slipped beneath the waves, and now lies over 12,500 feet down in the deep. Of the 2,224 people on board, only 710 survived. Among the dead were some of the richest people in the world.

I admit it… I’m a Titanic buff. The story of the Titanic has always been of interest to me. I first read Walter Lord’s A Night To Remember while in high school. Then, in 1985, when Robert Ballard found the Titanic, I remember watching the National Geographic Special, Secrets of the Titanic, that documented the discovery with rapt fascination.

I was born in 1965, the year that marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. To me, the Civil War seems almost like ancient history. Yet, as I rapidly approach 50 years old, 100 years doesn’t seem nearly as long any more, and events of 100 years ago seem much more recent.

As an amateur historian, I could not allow this date to pass without making a few comments – Musings, really – regarding the events of 100 years ago and also the place that the Titanic still has in popular culture and myth.

Safety: The Ship & Her Operation

The Titanic really was the pinnacle of coal-fired steam technology. A lot of people mock the safety features that were incorporated into her design – after all, she did sink – yet she really was the safest thing afloat at the time and she was built to the highest standards of the day. By all accounts, Harland & Wolff, the shipbuilders who designed and built Titanic were not innovators. Titanic was not designed to be cutting edge new technology, but was the culmination of 51 years experience at shipbuilding, most of it building iron and steel steamships for the White Star Line. All of that knowledge and experience went in to building Titanic. She wasn't up to our modern design standards, but neither was she a flawed design. Nor were her materials substandard. Her sister ship, RMS Olympic, the identical design, built by the same workmen with the same iron and steel, served faithfully from 1911 until retired in 1935. (Sadly, she was scrapped in 1937.)

While they had received ice warnings, Titanic’s officers were certain that any ice in her path was insignificant. None had ever seen ice that far south, and, even with the warnings she’d received, considered it highly unlikely that they were in any danger of collision. They had lookouts posted, and that was considered sufficient by all. Captain Smith even delayed his turn westward by almost an hour, taking an even more southerly path, confident that he was skirting the ice that had been reported. Radar, which would have been able to detect the iceberg ahead, would not be invented for another twenty-nine years.

There was a certain complacency to the lack of precaution, but, according to Daniel Butler’s ”Unsinkable”: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic, travel had never been safer than in the 40 years before the Titanic’s sinking.

Mr. Butler wrote:

”If the passengers believed that the Titanic was indeed unsinkable, it wasn’t because they had succumbed to the blandishments of the shipping line’s advertisements or the pronouncements of the experts: in the forty years prior to the Titanic’s maiden voyage, only four lives had been lost on passenger ships on the North Atlantic trade. Imagine how blithely air travel would be regarded by present-day travelers, who usually express little trepidation about the hazards of commercial flying, if the major airlines possessed a similar safety record. Never had any form of transportation been so save and hazard free.”

With such a history of safety, it is no surprise that people recognized the dangers involved in modern sea travel only in hindsight. They were not blithely ignoring the dangers; they were just not cognizant of the dangers at all. To the people who built, crewed, and sailed on these vessels, such an accident was simply unimaginable; therefore they didn’t plan for what they never imagined would happen. The post-Titanic changes in safety regulations were certainly needed, especially the requirement that a passenger ship have enough lifeboat capacity for the total number of people aboard, but to say there was a callous disregard for the lives of the passengers by the owners and crew of the RMS Titanic is just untrue.

The Wreck Site

It is my belief that the looting of the wreck site for artifacts is a problem. The problem is that the wreck is just too recent. 500 years from now, it’d be different, but the last survivor of the Titanic only died 3 years ago. Titanic has passed from memory into history, but it is still recent history. The raising of the cannons from Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, which sank in 1718, does not cause near the same visceral reaction that bringing up artifacts from the Titanic invokes. Also, Queen Ann’s Revenge ran aground and was abandoned, she didn’t go down with 1,500 people at the dawn of the age of modern media.

The Titanic is a gravesite, but she’s also a scientific, historic, and archaeological site. Surveying the sight, taking photographs, and collecting scientific samples are certainly acceptable, but large-scale looting of the site for artifacts for collectors is not. I understand that a large collection of artifacts brought up from the wreck are being auctioned off on Sunday. I hope they end up in museums.

Cameron’s Film

Beautiful sets, impeccable costumes, peerless cinematography, stunning special effects… and an insipid story. What’s the matter, Mr. Cameron? Not enough drama in the real events? You thought the story could be improved upon by adding cheap romance with a plot more shallow than those contained within the pages of most old Harlequin Romances?

The setting makes the story more than it is. Still, it's a beautiful production, and it gives you a pretty darned good look at the ship.

Some Final Thoughts

In many ways, the 20th Century didn’t begin on January 1, 1901, but on April 15, 2012. The sinking of the Titanic marked the end of an era of unbridled optimism. It was followed, in quick succession, by World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. There was a certain innocence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that was forever shattered when the Titanic hit that iceberg. It wasn’t a perfect time, but it was one of those almost mythical “Golden Times” when life seemed especially good and hopeful. But, like other times which we tend to romanticize and idolize from the distance – the High Middle Ages, the Old West, etc. – the reality was, no doubt, not nearly as idyllic as we imagine.

Another reason why the Titanic story is so compelling is the senselessness of it. The ship wasn’t sunk in some grand battle for a cause deemed worthy of such sacrifice. These were just people traveling from one place to another, totally unaware of the great risk that they were taking. We all, individually and collectively, still take such risks today. How often do you think about what might happen every time you walk across the street or drive to the corner store?

Tracking the Events of Today

If you wish to note the exact times of the events that took place 100 years ago, you need to know a bit about ship time. Ship time is based on the ship’s exact position east to west, and not on what “time zone” the ship may be in. Therefore, when the Titanic struck the iceberg, it was 11:40 p.m. ship time, which would make it 11:07 p.m. on April 14 in New York and 3:07 a.m. on April 15 in London. She sank 2 hours and 40 minutes later, at 2:20 a.m. ship time, or 1:47 a.m. in New York and 5:47 in London. For the more technically minded, Titanic’s ship time was GMT/UTC -3:27.

As I said at the beginning, this has been just some random musings, things I've been thinking about as we mark the anniversary of this tragic but historic occasion.

Eternal Father, strong to save, Whose arm hath bound the restless wave, Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep Its own appointed limits keep; Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!

post signature

Friday, March 16, 2012

What Really Is The Preachers' Job?

At the Shepherds' Conference that just concluded last week, Al Mohler gave a fantastic explanation from Scripture of what the job of the preacher really is. In my opinion, it is very much worth your time to watch.

post signature

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Marketing Can't Overcome Truth

The King James Only movement used to be a much bigger deal than it has been lately. Well, it seems that at least one King James Only proponent is ready to try to recapture some lost market share with a series of slick videos.

The website for this effort, What's the Big Deal about the KJV?, says that there will be 8 to 10 videos in the series. Episodes 2 and 3 are, we are told, due out sometime in June.

But episode 1 is out now: Let's watch...

Well, there is is; glossy, well produced, full of good-natured sincerity... and enough error that it's hard to even know where to begin!

Luckily, as textual criticism is not at all my area of expertise, I don't have to know where to begin. James White, who is very well versed on the history of the text of the New Testament knows exactly where to begin, and has produced a 5-part, information-packed, video response to What's the Big Deal about the KJV? episode 1.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

For more information about this topic, I highly recommend Dr. White's book The King James Only Controversy, now it it's second edition. If you are more of an audio-visual learner, Dr. White gave a lecture on the reliability of the New Testament text about a year ago. It is 1 1/2 hours long, but it is just jam-packed full of interesting and useful information!

post signature

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Qualification Number 1: Character

Just this past Sunday, the popular pastor of a large church in a nearby town resigned in shame. He stepped down after it was discovered that he had plagiarized sermons – A lot of sermons. It is reported that he preached sermons taken from the websites of other churches and ministers word for word and joke for joke. Even, I have been told, to the point of copying facial expressions and gestures from videos.

There is no doubt that he did these things. The evidence is overwhelming, as recordings of his sermons have been compared to the recordings and transcripts of the sermons that he copied. Faced with this evidence and asked to resign, he did so. He admitted what he had done, apologized to the church, and resigned.

The wake of his resignation, and the reasons for it, left a wash of disillusionment and a swath of sad, hurt, angry, and resentful people. Some are angry with him, others are angry with those who requested his resignation. A church now lies crippled, damaged, rudderless, and without any course or direction. I pray for this church’s future and for those who now struggle to lead it. I fear that they have rough seas ahead of them.

Then I read statements like this, left on the pastor’s Facebook page after the service in which he resigned, “I disagree completely with the proceedings today. You are a man of integrity, worthy of our trust.” – I read that, and all I can think is that its author either doesn’t know the facts, doesn’t want to know the facts, or has a definition of “integrity” that is at odds with every dictionary I’ve ever used to reference that word.

This article could be about this specific situation. It is not. This situation is painful enough as it is. I talked to the pastor in question the day before he resigned, and he admitted to me what he had done. I have no doubt that he is a man humbled, broken, and in pain. He doesn’t need me “piling on” – and I won’t.

I could be writing about the growing problem of pastors plagiarizing sermons. I am not. No doubt, the internet makes it both easier to copy other’s work, and easier to catch those who resort to such copying. This problem with plagiarism will likely only get worse, as time goes on. But others have written on this subject, and I don’t know that I have anything to add.

No, what I want to write about is the care with which church leaders are to be chosen in the first place.

When you look at the qualifications that God laid out for the leadership of the church, listed for us in the third chapter of 1 Timothy and in the first chapter of Titus, it is readily apparent that ability and giftedness are not the focus. Only one skill or ability is listed, the pastor must be “able to teach.” That’s it. He has to be able to teach.

All of the rest of the qualifications for church leadership are character issues. As Paul writes, “For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach.” (Titus 1:7a) Paul then, inspired by the Holy Spirit, explains what being “above reproach” means; “He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:7b-9)

But one thing about all of the qualifications that Paul lists as being requirements for positions of leadership within the church is clear; they take time to manifest themselves. In other words, a man has to be observed over a lengthy period of time to see if he really possesses these qualities.

The plagiarizing pastor I referenced above was, like most pastors, hired from outside of the community. There was some sort of search committee that advertised for, collected, and looked over resumes and applications. Then there were a series of interviews, reference checks, visits, etc. Finally, a job offer was made and accepted, a family moved, and then and only then did the church start getting to know their new pastor.

That is not at all the New Testament pattern. In the early church, according to the directives contained in the epistles, the leaders were raised up from within the church, where they were known before they became leaders. If a man had issues with womanizing, or alcoholism, or dishonesty, or any other moral or ethical failing, it was likely already known, and the man would never be considered for a pastoral role in the first place.

Following the directives contained in the Word of God helps to protect the church from ignorantly elevating to leadership men who are really morally unqualified. Men who might look good on paper, but whom the church truly does not know well enough to really evaluate.

Even when these safeguards are followed, moral failures will take place. But not following these safeguards greatly increases the odds of such failures.

Church: guard your pulpit.

Pastor: guard your integrity.

post signature