Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Applying Holiness part one

If they took a test or quiz on the attributes of God, evangelicals and fundamentalists would list holiness and get that one right.  They know God is holy.  They know the word "holy."  But they either don't understand holiness or they have purposefully twisted it to conform to their churches and lives.  I want to explain.

God's holiness is His uniqueness, His majesty, His separateness, His distinctness.  God is Higher, far above, exalted, and superior.  None are and nothing is like Him.  There is a perfection to His nature that sets Him apart.  God defines every one of His own attributes.  All the transient or communicable attributes are what they are because they separate themselves unto the attributes that are God's.  

Righteousness, for instance, is righteousness because it is of God's righteousness.  Love is love because it is of God's love.  It is only one of those attributes because of its separation unto God.

Whatever is holy is holy because of its proximity to God.  In the Old Testament, ground that Moses walked on was "holy ground," not because of the elements in the dirt, but because it was close to God's special presence.  Moses needed to recognize that holiness by taking off his sandals or kneeling or bowing.  That would be holy response coming from Moses.  Angels in the presence of God use wings to cover their faces in the close proximity to God's throne.  God's name is holy, because it is His name.  For that reason, the name must be respected by using it in a distinct way different than other names.  It can't be taken in vain.

Scripture never tells us how it is that we don't take God's name in vain.  How do we use God's name in a way that is not vain?  We are assumed to know.  It is implied that we will know how not to take God's name in vain.  We know how to use God's name in a special way, in a reverent way.  It is a careful use of the name of a God in the context of a sentence, an appropriate use to His nature and attributes.  We can know what that is.  However, today people don't seem to know that they are taking God's name in vain, not because they can't know it, but because we've stopped caring about the holiness of His name.

All of the attributes of God remain within the realm of His holiness.  They stay separate.  When Jesus became a man, He didn't cease from becoming holy.  This is where many evangelicals and some fundamentalists have tweaked the holiness of God, which isn't a good thing.  A new term has developed---"incarnational."  God condescends, but is still holy, still stays separate, unique, distinct.  Jesus became a man and could still and was holy.  All flesh is not evil.  His was holy.  Incarnation did not mean losing the distinctiveness and the reverence that is God.  Jesus did not come to "relate with us."  He sympathized with us.  But He came to bring us to Him, to make us holy.

If we take on the same ministry as Jesus, we do not become like the world.  We don't try to relate with the world.  We're in the world, but we're not of it.  Our affections are for God, not for the world or the things in the world.  Evangelical and fundamentalists are taking the church to the nature of the world, characterizing the church more like the world.  They see this as or at least behave as if it is what Jesus did.

Distinctions and uniqueness are what make something holy as He is holy.  It isn't reverent or special to have whatever it is that is closely associated with God and His worship to be closer to what the world would do.

I want to illustrate like I have before by using language.  Our language as Christians should be holy.  We should use holy words.  What are those?  Aren't words just letters in a particular order?  Words can be corrupt communication.  And we will know when they are, even though Scripture doesn't tell us what those words are.  We can know when something does not fit the nature of God---His truth, His goodness, His beauty, His purity, His righteousness.  We are to judge those words, so we can judge those words.

Everyone really does understand the distinct nature of even places.  Let's say you and I went to Arlington National cemetery and played frisbee among the tombstones.  What do you think?  Scripture doesn't say it's wrong.  We know it's wrong.  People respect those tombstones. They respect what those people have done, and they know what it is to respect them, to keep that separateness.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists, however, are taking up the frisbee, so to speak, as it relates to the church. Instead of separating unto God, the church has drawn near to the world.  The evangelical churches aren't distinct from the world, not sacred---instead, common and profane.

The evangelical and fundamentalist churches, instead of looking toward God, and what characterizes Him, have looked to men and what characterizes them.  The world should be able to look at the church and see God, rather than the church looking at the world to find out what it looks like.  

For instance, the world wants casual. That's the world, what the world wants, what men want.  That doesn't represent God.  It's not to say that casual is wrong.  That's not the point.  The church is supposed to be holy, however.  And so the church should represent God, not kowtow to the world.  I'm not saying the casual is the worst of it, just representative of it.  Church needs to be special, unique.  That's what the church has thought.  This is a movement toward thinking through all the things that the world is and imitating it for the purposes of relating with the world.  It really is a mentality that isn't depending on God or even looking to God.  It looks desperate.  I use this one example that is probably controversial.  It shouldn't be.  Stop obsessing over image, over whether the world will think it will be comfortable with you.

Church leaders are looking for the edge that will work to make them a success---seminars, conferences, sessions.   Some are looking at the mega churches and what they're doing and thinking they have to do that if they are going to succeed.  I get the gist of that.  It really is a fundamental misunderstanding or perversion of holiness.

The argument, I've heard, from evangelicals is about adding to God's Word---that kind of thing.  Liberty.  Be like 'em to winn'em.  And a whole lot of other newly invented reasons.  They aren't legitimate.  It's all sad.  Centuries of biblical thinking overturned.  God hasn't changed, but with the times churches and their leaders have.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Pharisees to the Left: Little Faith, Weak Minds, Poor Arguments, But With a Loud Fanfare

OK.  I'm going to postpone what I was going to post until at least Wednesday.  This subject has captured my attention.
In Mark 7:13, Jesus said:

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

This could be a bumper sticker for what I'll call "the Pharisees of the left."  The Pharisees didn't just add to the Word of God---they also subtracted from God's Word.  They wished to make "the word of God of none effect," the parts they don't like obeying.  They did that by leaving out mercy and judgment and faith for tithing on little herbs (Matthew 23:23).  They did that with "corban" so that they could abstain from supporting their parents (Mark 7:7-12).  They also attempt to reduce God's laws to a smaller number by ranking doctrines (Mark 12:28).   They did all this to make salvation and sanctification easier, more convenient, and more comfortable on their own.  It is something that you saw the Jesuit monks practice in the medieval period, called casuistry.  It is a form of left-wing legalism.  All of what I'm describing is the bread and butter of liberalism, and now evangelicalism and even much of fundamentalism.

Know this about the left I'm describing.  They have very loud fanfare, but don't let that confuse you.  Their loud fanfare is the cover for their little faith, weak minds, and poor arguments.  They are the strawman in the Wizard of Oz.  They have the diploma, which is the major and perhaps only evidence for their brains.  They are good on fanfare, what is really sounding brass.  It makes a loud noise, but is worthless.   What they are doing is giving away the faith and sabotaging biblical Christianity for their own convenience, just like the Pharisees were doing with the Old Testament and Jeroboam did with worship in Jerusalem. Their organizations and institutions and "success" have become far more important than the truth itself.

I want to concentrate on new evangelicalism or evangelicalism and fundamentalism, because that's where the greatest danger is.

The Pharisees were into their props and instruments of self promotion.  This was their loud fanfare.  They would throw the ashes on their face, wear the phylacteries, put on sad faces, and bruise themselves to make an impression that they were serious for God.  It was so much a show.  With today's left, it goes a different direction.   They embrace a populism with an emphasis on creature comfort, so the left show a faux identification with these.  They make an impression in fitting with an Oprah generation.  Instead of the trappings of first century Judaism, they target a different kind of worldliness.

Let me describe.  Come as you are.  Leadership photo with everyone dressed down.  New emphasis on social causes---the soup lines of the Hollywood elite.  In certain cases, the moussed up hair, soul patch, and brand names that imitate poverty.  Today's noble savage.  Gritty urban or graffiti font on the brochure.  Earnest, whispery, throaty tones in the voice, much like today's soul singers, Alicia Keys or even Justin Bieber (though they wouldn't want to admit the latter).  And then everybody is your pal, like Woody in Toy Story, a friend indeed.  All of this is strategic, the modern fanfare parallel to the Pharisees with their first century Jewish crowd.  But that's not all.

For centuries, Christians believed and obeyed the Scripture, especially in practical matters, a particular way. As the culture has changed, new evangelicalism or evangelicalism and now fundamentalism has changed to conform to the zeitgeist.  This is where they use the Pharisaical tactics to make the Word of God of none effect.  To protect their numbers, their payroll, and other infrastructure for the movement, they give up on distinctions in dress between men and women, modesty, reverent worship music, roles of men and women, cessationism, and more.   They use the same type of reasoning that the religious leaders of Jesus' day did with corban in order to dispose of thousands of years of practice.

In order then to protect what they've got going, the evangelicals and fundamentalists use the same type of tactics that the Pharisees did.  They said Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebub.  They've got no proof, but if you keep saying it enough times, a lot of people will believe it.  Their professed evidence that Jesus was with Satan was that Jesus hung out with the obvious friends of Satan, so there you go.  The evangelicals and fundamentalists will call you Amish, say you're irrelevant, have a remnant mentality, you're myopic, you're judgmental, etc., either psychobabble or red herrings.

What's ironic to me with the evangelicals and fundamentalists is their similarities with the Jack Hyles movement, which was all about bells and whistles.  Both major on programs and demographics and incentives and youth culture and business practices.  The former would never want to be associated with the latter, but both use a similar template for church growth.

The evangelicals and the fundamentalists also both have their scribes that are the academic or legal wing of their movement.  For the evangelicals, it is the Evangelical Theological Society and their graduate schools, and for fundamentalists, it is the colleges and seminaries.  Christians since Christ believed in the preservation of Scripture.  This is the historic position.  With that also came certainty and authority.  The faux authority of the evangelicals and fundamentalists is their degrees and papers and self-endorsement and accreditation.   This parallels with the difference between Jesus and the scribes.  Jesus spoke with authority, because His was the Word of God.  The scribes quoted each other.  Why is it true?  Because Rabbi So-and-So says so.  Well, why is he right?  Of course, because Rabbi This-and-That also said he was right.  And plus it has worked!  And who do you have who agrees with you?  You're irrelevant!

Have the above societies of sacredotalism increased faith?  No.  Instead of faith in Scripture, it becomes faith in scholarship.  We were once sure we had all the Words.  Now we're not sure.  We were once sure what Scripture meant.  Now we're not sure.  We were once sure how the Bible applied.  Now we're not sure.  But we're smarter!  We've got the Dan Wallace and James White position to combat the Bart Ehrman position.  Both sides are unsure, but it's a degree of uncertainty.  And because of scholarship, we're told that's how it's got to be.  With that as your foundation, it's simple to see why pragmatism becomes the actual rule for the day.

There is far less holiness.  Children are disobeying their parents.  People are more into material things.   We've got the Bible, but everything is reduced to a syllogism.  This is what evangelicalism and fundamentalism has given us.

Ahhh!  But you've got an argument!  What about the expositors!  There is far more exposition today!  I am thankful for exposition, but exposition has become a medium for allowing worldliness and sin.  Exposition has become the end all.  I expose the Bible.  I preach through books, but you've got to deal with what it says.  The teaching is not a replacement for obedience.  Like the Corinthians, evangelicalism and fundamentalism are puffed up with knowledge.  The Corinthians knew that meat wasn't an idol and that knowledge puffed them up (1 Cor 8:1). They use their "teaching" time to explain away centuries of biblical practices.  The Pharisees taught Scripture.  They used the Bible.  But then they made the Word of God of none effect with what was little more than excuses.  That's what evangelicalism and fundamentalism has gotten us.  The type of exposition that centers on interpretation results in a form of godliness, excused by the ability to parse and conjugate.   The exposition falls short of exposing the lives of the hearers.

The Pharisees of the left require their liberty.  They're better than you because they have a lower standard but you can reach up to their exalted status if you would do the same.  The most godly are less sure and more uncertain.  Uncertainty is humility is authenticity.

Pastors and their churches have no need for evangelicalism or fundamentalism.  You shouldn't be cowered by or influenced by them.  They are one of those ghost cities that majors on infrastructure.  Behind the doors, you won't find much.  Don't be intimidated by their loud fanfare.

Words About My Last Post

I decided to take the last post down.  No one asked me to do that.  I was pressured by no one.  I got no emails asking me to take it down.  I thought it was up long enough and served its purpose, which I was happy to have it do.  I believed removing it deserved an explanation, which I didn't have time to write until now.  I had a post written 3-4 days ago that was going to go up today that needs slight tweaking and then I'll post that in about two hours.  I still agree with the one I wrote here, but I mentioned one name and I didn't want his name permanently emblazoned on the blog.  I gave it 24-48 hours and its gone.  My choice.  No one repented.  No one tried to reconcile.  I would just rather not hit what he did any harder than this.  I'll approach the same subject some time in the future without the personalities.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Spirit Baptism—the Historic Baptist View, part 19

Historic Baptist support for a first century fulfillment of Spirit baptism and for interpreting 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to the church ordinances

            While many in modern times have not given the view maintained above much consideration, and an unfortunately large number of advocates of both the PCP (post-conversion power) and UCD (universal church dispensational) doctrine have never even heard of the historic Baptist position on Spirit baptism, the view of 1 Corinthians 12:13 expounded above, where the passage is considered as a reference to the church ordinances of baptism and the Supper, has strong Baptist support historically.[i]  Indeed, the fulfillment of Spirit baptism as a past event that ended in the first century is an important Baptist position in the history of doctrine.
            In 1802, Pastor T. B. Montanye, representing the “elders and messengers of the Philadelphia Association,” wrote the work “On the Baptism of the Holy Ghost” as a circular letter, which was “signed by order of the Association” by the Association moderator.[ii]  This letter, as representative of the beliefs of the most influential Baptist body of the time, is worth quoting at some length.  The letter stated:
      The Baptism of the Holy Ghost . . . was never inculcated . . . [as] the work of regeneration and sanctification . . . in the Gospel, and we think ought not to be considered as constituting any part in the office work of the Divine Spirit in renewing the heart. . . . [O]ur respected [non-Baptist but Christian] friends . . . may be regenerated, and enjoy the highest consolation in the sweet incomes of the Holy Comforter, and the most sensible communion with Christ;  yet as all this does not constitute the baptism of the Holy Spirit, nor is designed by it in the sacred Scriptures, it follows of consequence, that, rejecting the water baptism, they have no baptism whatever, and ought cheerfully to submit to that prescribed in the example of Jesus Christ. . . . [T]here is no well founded evidence of [the] present existence . . . of the baptism of the Holy Ghost . . . The term baptism of the Holy Ghost  . . . was first taught by the harbinger of Jesus Christ, Matthew 3:11, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” . . . the accomplishment of the promise made by Jesus Christ [of Spirit baptism was in] . . . Acts 2:16-22 . . . [as predicted in] Luke 24:49 . . . Acts 1:4, 5 . . . [and it was] the ground on which the apostles went to Jerusalem, and there in holy concert joined in prayer and supplication for the accomplishment of such qualifying aid, to [promulgate] the knowledge of their exalted Redeemer. . . .
      The nature of this baptism, most clearly evinces it to be distinct, and materially different from that of regeneration.  The one a still small voice, saying “this is the way;” the other, that of “a rushing mighty wind.” One invisible, “A white stone, and a new name given, which no man knew save he that had received it;” the other, to be seen, “Cloven tongues of fire sat on them.” One internal, filling the heart with secret consolation, joy, and pleasure; the other external, “The whole house where they were sitting.”
      This renders the term baptism proper, because they were immersed in the fountain of the Spirit, and thereby made partakers of such extraordinary and miraculous influence, as in regeneration and conversion were never promised.[iii] . . .
      The subjects of this baptism differ essentially from those of regeneration.  The work of grace is upon the hearts of the unregenerated, bringing them from a state of moral death to life, from darkness to light, and from the power of sin, and service of Satan, to the liberty of the gospel, and the enjoyment of fellowship with God.  Whereas, the baptism of the Holy Ghost was upon the apostles; who, having experienced the work of grace upon their souls, and being thereby made partakers of all that is peculiar to regeneration, could not be regenerated by the descent of the sacred Spirit, which being a work only once in the divine life, could not be effected again. . . .
      Here it is proper to remove some apparent difficulties, which are a means of puzzling the minds of many.  First, what baptism the apostle denominates one baptism?  We answer, The instituted appointment of Jesus Christ, which he authorized after his resurrection, which remains a standing ordinance in the church, and which Peter, when filled with the Holy Ghost, enjoined on Cornelius and the rest of the believing Gentiles, even after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit; though the baptism of the Spirit was never an essential prerequisite to water baptism[.] . . . [I]n 1 Corinthians 12:13 . . . there seems no absurdity in saying that the same Spirit influences all nations to yield an obedience to the instituted appointments of Jesus Christ, and so come [by immersion in water] into the union of the body the church. As for sundry other Scriptures, such as Romans 6:3, 4; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27; they have an evident relation to water baptism, and are no way connected with, nor yet refer to, the work of grace in the heart. . . .
      We . . . leave you to [some closing] further instruction. 1.) That though regeneration and sanctification be essential to the character of a Christian, yet neither of them constitute the baptism of the Holy Ghost. 2.) However much you may enjoy of the Spirit, as the Spirit of life, light, and love; you have no Scripture grounds to call this the inward baptism, and so the one baptism, and thereby live in the neglect of the appointments of Jesus Christ.  3.) That as the baptism of the Holy Ghost was given for the confirmation of the gospel dispensation, it has effected its design;  the sacred prophecy is fulfilled, and it has ceased.  4.) That as [this] extraordinary work, and no other, is known in the gospel as the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and that took place after faith in Christ, or regeneration, we have no right to call regeneration baptism.  5.) Though we are the hopeful subjects of divine grace, and live in the smiles of heaven;  it is both our duty and privilege to submit to the appointments of Jesus Christ, as laid down in his word.
      And now, dear brethren, you may perceive, that our intention is not to deny any of the blessed operations of the holy Ghost upon the human mind; but to distinguish between truth and error. . . . And as churches, we would exhort you to live in the Spirit, and grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed until the day of redemption.  In the mean time, pray for us, that as instrumental of your joy, you and we may honor our profession by holy living, in the smiles of God’s gracious Spirit.
The historical fulfillment of Spirit baptism was affirmed with striking clarity in 1802 by the Philadelphia Association.  A position very similar to that advocated in this composition, and very different from both the PCP and UCD view, was thus the official doctrine of the most influential body of American Baptists in that era.  Similarly, Texas Baptists of the 19th century believed:
When the Holy Spirit came with power upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2), and fell on the house of Cornelius (Acts 11:15-16), while Peter preached to them, it was called a baptism of the Holy Spirit.  In both cases, and all cases of such baptism, speaking with tongues followed. . . . The ordinary operation of the Holy Spirit in the first century, in the regeneration and conversion of men was [not] called a baptism . . . of the Spirit. . . . To speak of the operation of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and conversion as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is both unscriptural and misleading.  For it is not a baptism, even figuratively.[iv]
            Considering specifically 1 Corinthians 12:13, one notes that the Baptist Confession of 1527 affirmed the faith of all Baptists accepting the document that being “baptized into one body” referred to that immersion in water by which one joined the membership of the local, visible assembly:
In the first place, mark this concerning baptism: Baptism should be given to all those who have learned repentance and change of life, and believe in truth that their sins have been taken away through Christ; and to all those who desire to walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and to be buried with him in death, that with him they may rise; and to all those who with such intention themselves desire and request it of us. By this is excluded all infant baptism, the Pope’s highest and first abomination. . . . In the second place, we were united concerning excommunication, as follows: Excommunication should be pronounced on all those who have given themselves to the Lord, to walk in his commandments, and on all those who have been baptized into one body of Christ, and who call themselves brothers and sisters, and yet slip away and fall into sin and are overtaken unawares. . . . Thirdly, we were one and agreed concerning breaking of bread, as follows: All who would break one bread for a memorial of the broken body of Christ, and all who would drink one draught as a memorial of the poured out blood of Christ should beforehand be united to one body of Christ; that is, to the Church of God, of which the head is Christ, to wit, by baptism.[v]
The pastor of the first American Baptist church, John Clarke,[vi] believed that 1 Corinthians 12:13 referred to immersion in water, and gave no indication that he believed that Spirit baptism was still going on after the first century:
Believer’s baptism by immersion was a cardinal tenet of Clarke’s church way. . . . Clarke wrote only of water baptism. Although he spoke of being filled with the Holy Spirit, he never suggested a “baptism of the Spirit.” . . . [I]n his discussion of 1 Corinthians 12:13 . . . Clarke glossed . . . it as “knit together in one by his Spirit.”[vii]
A historical fulfillment and cessation of Spirit baptism, and a view of 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to immersion in water and the Lord’s Supper, was advocated in 1828 by the congregations of the Georgia Baptist Association, which affirmed that the “plain” interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 was one which read the verse as a reference to the church ordinances:
The Georgia Baptist Association of Elders and Brethren, to the Churches which they represent, send Christian salutation [in 1828]: . . . We now advance some plain Bible proof of that gospel order observed by us. . . . We believe that water baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are ordinances of the Lord, and are to be continued till his second coming.  That true believers in Jesus Christ are the only subjects of baptism, and that dipping is the mode.  That none but regularly baptized church members have a right to commune at the Lord’s Table. In vindication of these doctrines we bring the following plain scriptures: . . . For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one spirit.”[viii]
Similar declarations from other Baptist groups of that era and afterwards are found:
For we believe that Christian baptism is the first ordinance a believer ought to comply with; and persons cannot become regular church members without first being baptized according to the word of God.  This appears from the conduct of the apostles in the first gathering of the churches of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:41, 42. They that gladly received the word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they (i. e., those baptized) continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  Also it is said, “By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:13.  That is, by the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit we are all baptized into one body, i. e. the church. And we cannot find from the Holy Scriptures, and we think no man can, that since the ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that any were received members of the visible church before they submitted to the ordinance of baptism.[ix]
A belief that Spirit baptism ceased in the first century, and that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to immersion in water and the ordinance of communion, is not a new view among Baptists.  Many of the Lord’s churches have demonstrably held this view of the verse for centuries.

Note that this complete study, with all it parts and with additional material not reproduced on this blog in this series,  is available by clicking here.

[i]           Of course, this does not mean that all Baptists, or all Baptist churches in all ages, believed exactly the position proposed above.  Such doctrinal harmony will only be achieved when all the saints are gathered, free from sin and in resurrected, glorified bodies, into the future heavenly assembly. 
One should also consider that the historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism was very prominent during times of Spirit-led revival among Baptists.  Holding the Biblical, Baptist view of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, rather than a PCP or UCD position, contributes to the cause of revival.

[ii]           The letter by T. B. Montanye, from the minutes of the October 5-7 meeting of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, is found on pgs. 415-420 of the Minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, A. D. Gillette. elec. acc. Baptist History Collection, ver. 1. Paris, AK: Baptist Standard Bearer, 2005.

[iii]          In the omitted section the letter argues that “whatever any Christian may have gained in the experience of grace, he has no right to the term, baptized by the Spirit, unless such a person professing this miraculous attainment, for no other is called the baptism of the Holy Ghost, prove it by signs and wonders, as did the primitive Christians.”

[iv]          Pg. 481, Texas Historical and Biographical Magazine, vol. 1, ed. John B. Link (1825-1894), elec. acc. Baptist History Collection CD ver. 1.0. Paris, AK: Baptist Standard Bearer, 2005.

[v]           Pgs. 535-536, A History of the Baptists, vol. 2, Thomas Armitage, quoting the Confession of 1527, by (prob.) Michael Sattler. elec. acc. Baptist History Collection CD.

[vi]          John Clarke appears to have established a real Baptist church in America the year before Roger Williams, for less than a year, adopted Baptist sentiments and, practicing se-baptism before going off into the “seeker” heresy of the day, created a “Baptist” church that never started any other churches in America and from which American Baptists by no means are derived.  See The First Baptist Church in America Not Founded by Roger Williams, J. R. Graves & S. Adlam. Texarkana, TX: Bogard Press, 1995. (reprint of 1928 2nd ed.).

[vii]         pg. 103, Chapter 11, “A Baptist Theology and Church Way,” in John Clarke (1609-1676): Pioneer in American Medicine, Democratic Ideals, and Champion of Religions Liberty, Louis Franklin Asher. Pittsburg, PA: Dorrance Publishing, 1997. Elec. acc. Baptist History Collection CD.

[viii]         pgs. 175-181, History of the Georgia Baptist Association, Jesse Mercer. Washington, GA, pub. 1838. Elec. acc. Baptist History Collection CD.
It would not be valid to conclude that these Georgian Baptists did not believe that 1 Corinthians 12:13a referred to the Holy Spirit because of the lack of capitalization in this document.  Capitalization conventions of the present time are notably different in past centuries.  One notes, for example, in this same book, sentences such as “We believe that all those who were chosen in Christ, will be effectually called, regenerated, converted, sanctified, and supported by the spirit and power of God, so that they shall persevere in grace, and not one of them be finally lost” (pg. 25), “Their hope of success was founded upon the promise and spirit of the Lord” (pg. 30), “It is not assuming to much to say, that a large proportion of the Mission ardour which is felt by thousands, may be traced to the influences of the spirit of our GOD on the heart of our excellent brother Dr. WILLIAM CAREY” (pg. 44), “Consider, we beseech you, if there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any bowels and mercies, the situation, of many parts of our land” (pg. 106), “[A]n inspired Apostle, who had been himself, the happy subject, in a special manner, of the gracious influence of the spirit of God, and thereby made a true convert” (pg. 135), etc.  Sometimes references to the Holy Spirit received capitalization, and sometimes they did not, but this did not make references in sentences such as those above concerning the “spirit . . . of God” or “the spirit of the Lord” or “the spirit of our God” speech about anyone or anything less than the Holy Ghost of God.

[ix]          pg. 13, “Preface.” A Concise History of the Kehukee Baptist Association, Lemuel Burkitt & Jesse Read, rev. Henry L. Burkitt, pub. 1850. Elec. acc. Baptist History Collection, ver. 1. Paris, AK: Baptist Standard Bearer, 2005.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Burden of Man-Centered Evangelism

Men have made a burden of evangelism not designed by God.  Where Jesus' yoke is easy, men have made it heavy.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16) and it pleased God to save them who believe by the foolishness of preaching (1 Cor 1:21).   The method of preaching itself is the gauntlet through which people must come to be saved.  If they don't want preaching, they won't get saved.

It's not a movie.  It's not a special event.  It's not a concert.  It's not a hot dog or snow cone.  It's not a building.   It's not a children's program.  Preaching is the method God designed for the conversion of the lost.

What men have done, which they do so often, is to get on God's side of the equation.  We acknowledge Him and He directs our path (Proverbs 3:6).  But we want to direct our own paths and so we take on what is only God's part.  In this case, we preach.  He saves.  But when people are not being saved, we try to help God along on His side.

Men haven't been satisfied with just preaching.  They want to get involved in the "save" part to help improve the statistics or the numbers on that side.   Earthly and temporal renown hasn't come for faithfulness in preaching.  It has come from the supposed results, what appear to be the consequences of the work.  Success for us has been attached to the part that God does.  Not by God.  No, not by Him.  By men.

So if men see more results, they are considered to be greater in some fashion.  They are a better preacher, better leader, have more power, are more clever, or are worth imitating or emulating.  The ones with the biggest numbers get the attention.  They must be better at this, be doing something that is a secret that most don't know about.

What is true is that those who are helping God, which is a sort of oxymoron, are the ones with the weak faith.  They go outside the Word of God to reach their goal.  The ones with faith are those who keep doing it God's way with less significance.  They don't panic when they are not seeing the numeric growth that signals earthly success.  The just live by faith.

Yet, the ones who go faithless and veer from the biblical method receive the fanfare from the common man.  They get the kudos.   This is ironic, but typical.  Part of avoiding deceit on this earth is ignoring the urge to follow the crowd by chasing after some fad.

Preaching is the method God uses to save people.  God gets the credit through preaching (again look at 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5).  People understand signs and wisdom and those things like them.  Preaching isn't signs and wisdom and those things like them.  Despite that, men trade preaching for signs and wisdom and those things like them.  Those things work.  They get results.  In the end, the men will say that God did it, because that is part of what is necessary to get the credit that God deserves.

Preaching is the means God uses to show who wants Him.  Men are in rebellion against God.  Preaching comes, the Word of God works, and when people reject preaching, you know it's time to move on to someone else.  God didn't say, change or add to the method or even the message.  He said dust your feet.  We dust our feet of those who say "no" to the preaching.  But we'll never know who those people are when we won't even preach to them.  We can't find out who does or doesn't want preaching except by preaching.

Man's new methods are attempts to create good listeners.  It's not "he that hath an ear, let him hear."  It's "if you don't have the ear to hear, that's OK, because I've got a corn dog to give you instead."  It's an attempt to try to take away the offense.  We shouldn't be trying to take away the sting of preaching.

All of this has added a burden to evangelism.  We can do preaching.  That's our part.  We can't do the results, but now we're responsible for the results too, and that puts a lot of pressure on men.  I'm sure many men are no longer preaching because they have felt the burden of the results.  The results are not a burden you are supposed to be carrying.  Part of the result of someone not wanting to hear is the result that God wanted you to get.  God is not just glorified by men hearing.  He is glorified by men not hearing.  He is glorified because someone was faithful to preach.  He is glorified because it won't turn out very well for people who won't hear.  It shouldn't turn out well for them.   Since it shouldn't turn out well, He is glorified by that result.

Men won't preach anymore because they don't think they have what it takes to be a success.  They see whether men listen to preaching or not to be up to them.  It isn't.  Men should just preach.  But we've made evangelism about men---about how good they are, about how talented they are, about how clever they are. It should be about how faithful they are.  Paul said he was a galley-slave (minister of Christ), who was a steward of the mysteries of God.  We are stewards.  We are faithful dispensers of truth.  That's all we are.  When we understand that, that removes the burden from us.  The burden is where it belongs---on Christ.

Paul wrote that the one who planted wasn't anything and that the one who watered wasn't anything.  The One Who was anything was the One Who gave the increase.  That's God.  You can sow.  You can water.  But you can't give the increase.

Men.  Even those who call themselves Calvinists or reformed, have taken that responsibility upon themselves.  No one says they believe more in God's sovereignty than these.  No one talks about gospel-centeredness like they do. And yet they contextualize.  They do missional things.  They bring in crooners and operatics for a Christmas concert that will attract the lost.  They bring in the kegger to the church party.  They emphasize casual dress. They shape the building like a theater.  So much pressure is put into brochure and web design.  All of these things are the signs and wisdom that attract men.  They've got to help God along, help the gospel along.  It's obviously not truly good enough for them.  Paul said he didn't come with excellency of speech.  Today its all about excellency of speech.  The packaging has become so, so important.

The proof that these new measures, these additions to preaching, have really worked are the results.  The ones who use them get bigger than the ones who don't, so they must be right.  Have you considered that churches today are full of unsaved members?

God is Omnipotent.  He doesn't decrease one iota in power when our burdens fall upon Him.  However, rather than having Him carry the burden of salvation, men have taken that upon themselves.  They've got to get creative. They've got to make everything more attractive.  It's on them to see everything grow.  If it doesn't get bigger, something must be wrong with them.  Maybe they weren't called.  Perhaps they didn't have the gifts.  Maybe they're just a loser all the way around.  Rather than have that said or thought, it would seem better just to get with the program.

On the other hand, those who just preach unleash the saving power of God everywhere.  A few want to hear.  Most don't.  It's not up to you though.  If there is going to be a church there, we'll wait and see.  We'll wait to see if people want to listen.  That's a prerequisite.  The pressure isn't on you.  You just have to be faithful.

But meanwhile, while men are brainstorming new methods that might work with a different demographic, people aren't getting preached to.  Has everyone in your area heard the gospel?  Are you working at preaching it to everyone?  The likelihood of that occurring isn't going to be increased by your joining a hobby group to build bridges with the lost.  But while you do, and spend all that time, your area is still unreached.  And when I say unreached, I mean unpreached.

Go.  Get the gospel out there.  I've been challenged here about whether the New Testament teaches us to get the gospel to everyone.  The intimation is that isn't effective.  The gospel is effective.  If that's true and you try to preach it to everyone, then you are doing everything you can do.  You are effective.  You are having the maximum effect that you possibly can have.  But when you won't preach to everyone where you live, you aren't effective.  You are unfaithful.  I don't care what new fangled idea you've cooked up to make your evangelism work, you're an unfaithful steward of the mysteries of God.  That ought to matter to everyone reading this.

Monday, February 20, 2012

How Giving Up or Stopping Door-to-Door Evangelism Will Grow or Build Your Church

Many people, like me, have discovered or concluded that door-to-door evangelism will cause your church to get smaller.  I haven't seen other churches doing it around here and some of them have gotten huge in part by leaving it out.   The really big churches almost exclusively would be against door-to-door evangelism.  Being here for twenty-five years, besides Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, we have never had anyone knock on our door with any kind of religious or biblical presentation.  Neither have I had anyone hand me a gospel tract out in the real world.  Most churches that still do door-to-door evangelism are considered to be a bad joke by almost all of evangelicalism and big part of fundamentalism.  Most of them are even thought to be stupid, because they "haven't figured out that not only does it not work, but it is an actual detriment to real church growth."

I've read the following as some of the negative opinion about door-to-door evangelism, not necessarily in this order.  First, you don't have to do it.  Nowhere does Scripture say you have to do it.  Second, it doesn't work, so it's a waste of time.  Third, there are much better ways to see better results.  Fourth, when we stopped doing it, we had a lot more success.  That ties in with number three, I know.  Fifth, the people who do it are generally one-to-three-pray-with-me, easy prayerism types, that have a weak view of salvation.  Sixth,  the people who are involved with it don't want to develop relationships with the lost, like Jesus did with sinners. Seventh, just shoving the gospel down people's throats isn't going to work.  You can't pull your Bible out like a big hammer and expect people to listen to you.  Eighth, door-to-door preaching will close the doors of your church to people.  People won't want to come to visit the church because you've turned them off to the church through the preaching.  Ninth, the people who do go door-to-door think that you can measure people's Christian life or spirituality by how many doors that they knock on.  It lacks in grace in this way and is a faulty view of sanctification.  Tenth, unsaved people just don't like it.  Eleventh, people in general, not just the unsaved, don't like having cold turkey calls on their doors.  It's a turn off.  Again, that is related to number ten.  Twelve, a lot of Christians can't do door-to-door; it's too hard.  So there we go---there's twelve of them.  You can tell me if you've heard others.  I wanted you to know, however, that I really already knew all of these, heard them all before, and maybe even others that I'm not thinking of right now.  I know I'm still stupid, but I at least know these.

So, if you want your church to get bigger and especially if you want to be a mega-church, you've got to dump door-to-door.  I want you to explore with me how giving up or stopping door-to-door evangelism will grow or build your church.

First, if you don't go door-to-door, your people will like your church more and stay.  This is what people call 'keeping the back door of your church closed.'  When people find out that you think the Bible requires Christians to be a part of preaching the gospel to every creature, they will find another church that doesn't say that, and go there.

Second, if your church is a church that goes door-to-door, people out there will figure that out, because they'll see you going.  And they'll know then to stay away, because you may as well admit it---you're crazy.  People into Jesus enough to go cold turkey to someone's door to talk about it are so fanatical that they will scare the normal person off.  Keep going door-to-door and people will mark you down as the place not to attend.

Third, you will ruin the strategy of inviting people to church by preaching.  You don't want to give them an unpopular message all at once, but to dispense it a little at a time to make it palatable to the hearer.  You first want them to get excited about qualities of your church that aren't offensive to them.  Once they find things they like, then they'll accept some of the things they don't like as part of the whole package.

Fourth, your church people will be disaffected toward church ministry by door-to-door.  Your workers will dwindle down to near nothing if they feel like they have to do something so difficult.  And without those volunteers, your church can't grow.  To keep up the interest for working in your church, you've got to minimize the value of door-to-door and make it seem as more of an unappealing alternative for the few hysterical.  Even better, replace it with forms of evangelism that make common sense.

Fifth, if you are doing door-to-door, you are taking away from the methods that actually work in adding numbers to your church.  If you want your church to get bigger, you use techniques that target certain demographics with church programs and incentives.  Any manpower or time that you take away from those programs, the smaller your church will stay.

I recently read the following that represents exactly what I'm talking about above:

When I first came to this church 12 years ago, we had a door to door program. It consisted of me and one man going out on Saturday mornings and another man going out by himself on Saturday afternoon. We did this faithfully for 2 years with zero results. I begged the Lord to give wisdom. I was willing to do that my whole ministry if that is what he wanted. But I also sensed something had to change. . . . We have not done door to door in 10 years and have way more Gospel contacts than we ever did. My people are starting to get it. I really believe this is the best way to give out the Gospel. Find a hobby you like, and witness to the lost who do it.

People laud this kind of comment in evangelicalism and fundamentalism, as if it really is novel kind of thinking.  It isn't.  People stop evangelizing everyone because they suffer persecution.  They stop because preaching is an offense.  It isn't popular.  It's foolishness to the lost.  They stop because the fear of man brings a snare.  They stop because they fear him who can destroy body more than they fear Him Who can destroy both body and soul in Hell forever.

A good question is:  what did Jesus do?  He preached everywhere to everyone.  There was no strategy except preach to everyone everywhere.  He preached to everyone everywhere in Galilee, Judea, Samaria, Perea, Caesaria Philippi, and Tyre and Sidon.  If you are truly gospel-centered, you will too.  You will sow, water, and God will give the increase.  God gives the increase.  The one who sows and the one who waters are nothing.  They are irrelevant.  The new methods and strategies bring new relevance to the one who sows and waters.  They think of ideas that Jesus never thought of.  And meanwhile, what Jesus actually told us to do, preach the gospel to everyone, goes undone.  We disobey the Father's will because instead of being sanctified by the truth, we are sanctified by our own opinions and feelings.  Jesus came to do the Father's will.  We have come to conform the Bible to our own will.

Another acceptable new measure is the idea that you "pray for wisdom," and then God tells you something that adds to what He already said.  He told you to preach, but because "you weren't seeing results," you prayed for God to give you wisdom.  And how did you get that wisdom?  Where did you get your new revelation?  From man.  It didn't come from God.  God isn't going to give you something that will contradict what He already told you to do.

The churches in the Bible that became classified as churches that preached to everyone became more unpopular with the world.  So will yours.  Don't go door-to-door if you think it's about making your church bigger.  It's about obeying the Bible and, therefore, honoring God.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spirit Baptism—the Historic Baptist View, part 18; the Alleged Reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13, part 9

Support from Commentators for Interpreting 1 Corinthians 12:13
as a Reference to the Church Ordinances

Many Biblical commentators, both Baptist and non-Baptist, have viewed 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to baptism in water and the Lord’s Supper.  Of course, many other commentators have adopted a large variety of alternative positions.  The view that the first half of the verse is a reference to water baptism is somewhat more widespread than the position that the second half refers to communion—some commentators hold that baptism in water is spoken of in the first half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 while positing that the second half refers to something else.  Almost all, on the other hand, who view the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to communion likewise see water baptism in the first half of the verse.  Some examples are worthy of citation. 
A. T. Robertson affirmed that the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is water baptism, “a reference to a definite past event with each of them of different races, nations, classes, when each of them put on the outward badge of service to Christ, the symbol of the inward changes already wrought in them by the Holy Spirit.”[i]  Albert Barnes stated that “Many suppose that there is reference here to the ordinance of baptism by water. . . . [including] Bloomfield, Calvin, Doddridge, etc.”[ii]  John Wesley saw water baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13,[iii] as did G. W. H. Lampe, evaluating both the New Testament and patristic doctrine.[iv]  Henry Alford, in his classic Alford’s Greek Testament,[v] states the verse speaks of “the water of baptism . . . so (understanding the whole verse of baptism) Chry[sostom] Theophyl[act], Oec[olampadius] Rückert, Meyer, De Witt.”  Alford also declares that “Luther, Beza, Calv[in] Estius, Grot[ius], al., refer the latter half to the Lord’s Supper.”  The Expositor’s Greek Testament edited by W. Robertson Nicoll[vi] states that “Paul refers to actual Christian baptism” in 1 Corinthians 12:13, and further indicates that “Aug[ustine] C[alvin], Est[ius etc. understand] the poterion of the Lord’s supper (10:16, 11:25),[vii] as though kai coupled the two sacraments.”  John Calvin, commenting on 1 Corinthians 12:8-13, wrote, “‘We are,’ says [Paul], ‘engrafted by baptism into Christ’s body[.] . . . He speaks . . . of the baptism of believers . . .  Hence, with respect to God, this invariably holds good—that baptism is an engrafting into the body of Christ[.] . . . The Apostle, also, observes here a most admirable medium, in teaching that the nature of baptism is—to connect us with Christ’s body. . . . We have drunk into one Spirit . . . [Paul refers] to the Supper, as he makes mention of drinking . . . Now, though the cup forms but the half of the Supper, there is no difficulty arising from that, for it is a common thing in Scripture to speak of the sacraments by synecdoche.  Thus he mentioned above in the tenth chapter . . . simply the bread, making no mention of the cup. . . . He teaches, therefore, that believers, so soon as they are initiated by the baptism of Christ, are already imbued with a desire of cultivating mutual unity, and then afterwards, when they receive the sacred Supper, they are again conducted by degrees to the same unity, as they are all refreshed at the same time with the same drink.”[viii]  The Jamison, Faucett, and Brown commentary,[ix] commenting on “drink into one Spirit,” affirms, “There is an indirect allusion to the Lord’s Supper, as there is a direct allusion to baptism in the beginning of the verse.”  Matthew Poole, commenting on “drink into one Spirit,” stated that “many others choose rather to interpret drinking in this place, of drinking at the table of the Lord, partaking of that whole action being set out here by one particular act there performed. This is probable, considering that the apostle, in the former part of the verse, had been speaking of the other sacrament of the gospel, and that he, speaking of the Lord’s supper, 1 Cor 10:17, had used this expression: For we being many, are one bread, and one body.[x]  Albert Barnes commented on the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13, “This probably refers to their partaking together of the cup in the Lord’s Supper.  The sense is, that by their drinking of the same cup commemorating the death of Christ, they had partaken of the same influences of the Holy Ghost, which descend alike on all who observe that ordinance in a proper manner. They had shown, also, that they belonged to the same body, and were all united together; and that, however various might be their graces and endowments, yet they all belonged to the same great family.”[xi]  While it would be inaccurate to affirm that viewing 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to the two ordinances the Lord Jesus gave His church is anything like the unanimous position among commentators on the passage, the position is very widely represented.  Indeed, within the wider world of Christiandom “the most popular view of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is that Paul is describing Christian water-baptism . . . which incorporates the baptisand into the Body of Christ.”[xii]  A reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13 to immersion in water cannot be dismissed as a new and novel position, although those who have only been exposed to heavy doses of universal church dispensationalism might wrongly think it is.  On the contrary, viewing 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a reference to the church ordinances has been believed by many of the Lord’s churches and people, as well as by many within Christendom generally, and deserves to be evaluated sympathetically, and accepted on account of the strong exegetical merits specified in previous posts.

Note that this complete study, with all it parts and with additional material not reproduced on this blog in this series,  is available by clicking here.

[i]             Word Pictures in the New Testament, A.T. Robertson, comment on 1 Corinthians 12:13. Elec. acc. Online Bible for Mac, Ken Hamel. Oakhurst, NJ:  Online Bible Software, 1996.

[ii]             Notes on the New Testament, Albert Barnes. Elec. acc. Online Bible for Mac.

[iii] Notes on the Old and New Testaments, John Wesley (orig. pub. 1767). Elec. acc. Online Bible for Mac. Comment on 1 Corinthians 12:13.

[iv] The Seal of the Spirit: A Study in the Doctrine of Baptism and Confirmation in the New Testament and the Fathers, G. W. H. Lampe, 2nd ed.  London: S. P. C. K., 1967, pgs. 56-7, 137.

[v] Alford, Henry, Alford’s Greek Testament (rev. ed). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1980 (reprint ed). Comment on 1 Corinthians 12:13.

[vi] Nicoll, W. Robertson (ed.), The Expositor’s Greek Testament. Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson, 2002 (reprint ed.), comment on 1 Corinthians 12:13.

[vii]             The related verb potidzo is used for “to drink” in 1 Corinthians 12:13.

[viii] John Calvin, Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, elec. acc. Christian Library Series, vol. 7, John Calvin Collection.  Rio, WI: AGES Software, 1998.

[ix] R. Jamieson, A. R. Faussett, and D. Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (1871), elec. acc. Online Bible for Mac.

[x] Annotations upon the Holy Bible, Matthew Poole (1700), elec. acc. Online Bible for Mac.

[xi] Notes on the New Testament, Albert Barnes. Elec. acc. Online Bible for Mac. The view that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to baptism in water and the Lord’s supper is, naturally, also advocated in other theological works outside of commentaries.  For example, “[In] 1 Corinthians 12:13 . . . distinctions of Jew and Gentile, bond and free, are abolished. By the grace of the same Spirit (or perhaps ‘in one spirit’ of Christian love and fellowship) . . . all are joined in baptism to the one body of Christ[.] . . . Possibly there is an allusion to both sacraments. . . . Both our baptism and our partaking of the cup in the communion are tokens and pledges of Christian unity. They mark our union with the one body of Christ” (“Baptism,” in the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, John McClintock & James Strong. Elec. acc. Christian Library Series vol. 2. Albany, OR: AGES Software, 2006. The author of the article in the encyclopedia, in common with all the Protestant commentators cited above, believes in universal ecclesiology, not the historic Baptist local-only position.).

[xii] pg. 129, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, James Dunn.  Unfortunately, many of those who advocate this position, confusing ecclesiology and soteriology, follow Cyprian and affirm that the body of Christ is the universal realm of salvation, rather than the local assembly of those previously born again.  The wider world of Christiandom is filled with heresy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You Are What You Allow

Sandwiched in Judah between Uzziah and Ahaz is Jotham, tucked away for 16 years in 2 Kings 15:32-38 and 2 Chronicles 27.   2 Kings 15:34 says "he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD."  He did right.  Case closed, right?  No.  Doing right isn't all there is to it, that is, when you are the leader.

Judah received 1 and 2 Kings as a sermon in her Babylonian captivity, explaining how it was she got there.  1 and 2 Chronicles gave hope to post-exilic Israel for her future.  So you are in exile in Babylon, reading the trajectory toward defeat and humiliation.  What part does Jotham play?  He did what was right.  So he did not at all advance the slide toward ejection from the land of blessing?   You read his part and you understand his role in your unfavorable circumstances.  It wasn't what Jotham did, but what he allowed.

Jotham did right.  Jotham defeated the Ammonites.  Jotham rebuilt the temple gate.  Jotham built fortresses of defense against Judah's enemies.  He did that which was right in the sight of the LORD.  It wasn't what Jotham did.  It was what he allowed.  When you are leader, you are responsible for not just what you've done, but also  what you allow.

What did Jotham allow?  He allowed worship in the high places.  He allowed the people of Judah to do corruptly.  What he allowed resulted in the Lord sending Israel and Syria against Judah.   Because of what he allowed, he produced an Ahaz, a son who witnessed this compromise and who didn't do that which was right in the sight of the Lord.

In Isaiah 6:1, King Uzziah died, Jehovah sent Isaiah to a hard hearted people, who wouldn't listen to God's man.  Jotham allowed this.  So Isaiah 7 starts with Ahaz and God's warning to him through Isaiah.

The point is, you are what you allow.  You aren't just what you do.  If you allowed it, you as much as did it. Allowing it doesn't mean that you can stop everything from happening, but it does mean that you will go about making sure it doesn't happen again.  You certainly won't disapprove of it by inviting it to be with you.

You can write a book against the Charismatics, but when you honor the continuationists by inviting them in to preach for you, you are what you allow.  You can decry the horrible results of amillennialism, and say that the Bible is perspicuous in how everything will end, but when you honor the amillennialists by having them preach for you, you are what you allow.  You can preach against the rock-star pastors and the rock concert "events" they produce, but when you allow one of your own, you are what you allow.  You can write against the reckless, young pastors with their sex messages and hyper-emphasis on relevance, but when the men you honor invite them and honor them in public, and you say nothing about the men who honor them and do nothing about that, you are what you allow.  You can say you are for modest dress, but if you allow immodest dress in your church, you are what you allow.

I think that some of the conservative evangelical pastors and preachers, well-known ones, do right.  I'm talking about somebody like John MacArthur and all those in his orbit.  They have much righteous conduct themselves and even preach many, many right and good things.  That's not the problem.  Their issue is the same one Jotham had.   What they allow is who they are.

The captives in Babylon read about Jotham and they knew.  There is a unique responsibility for the one who does right but allows wrong.   You are what you allow.  And what Jotham allowed was an important reason why Judah was marched out of the land in 586BC.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Extra: An Evangelical Uses the Term "Separatist"

It would be easy to take a cheap shot, but I actually want to give positive notice for Phil Johnson's usage of the word "separatist" over at his very hip, innovative, very relevant, and popular evangelical blog.  To remind you, Phil is the executive director of Grace to You, John MacArthur's multi-media wing.  He used the word "separatist" in a positive way, as if he liked it.  For all the criticism that I hand out, I want to do friendly applause when I read something so positive.  It is a good thing that Phil said "separatism" was positive.

Phil was complaining about a celebrity syndrome in evangelicalism and using 2 Timothy 3 to slap it down.  He wrote:

With regard to pastors and church leaders who promote and model innovative, worldly, self-loving ministry philosophies, "reckless [church leaders], swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure"—Paul wants Timothy to be a separatist: "Avoid such people" (v. 5). In fact the Greek term is active, aggressive: "from such turn away."

The bold on "be a separatist" was his.  Phil was lathering up his fundamentalist fans with that particular emphasis---holding up the red meat to a pen of fundamentalist pit bulls.  At Phil's blog, the term "separatist" is an unusual and inflammatory word.  He knows that it sets off theological buzzers all over the place among those who read him.  But it is true that 2 Timothy 3, there in the portion that he was referencing, does teach separation.  That is in the Bible as something we're supposed to do right there.  That's not an amazing thing.  It's there.  We're to do that.  To separate.  To be separatists.

So that's it?  I'm only going to be positive?  OK, you got me.  That's not all I wanted to say.  I was so surprised by Phil's use of "separatist" that I did a search at his blog to see how many times he used the word.  I'm going to help you out.  He uses it 5 times including the time above (here are the others: 2 in comments (12) and 2 in articles (1, 2).  That's why it should be surprising Phil used the word.  But to show the greater surprise, he never uses it one time in the entire history of teampyro (his team blog) as an actual teaching.  Of his two uses in articles, one is a quote by Dave Doran and the other is a description of Kevin Bauder.  In the comment section, he uses it because someone else does first and he is answering the comment.  He never uses it positively as a teaching, except for this one time that he uses it above in bold print.  His compadres, Dan Phillips and Frank Turk, never use the word "separatist" (or its plural version) one time--numero zero.  So Paul is commanding Timothy to "be a separatist," but we never hear about that practice until Febrary 10, 2012 on Pyromaniacs, despite all the bandwidth and discourse dedicated on that blog.

Since this is really Phil's first time of using "separatist," and then saying that we're commanded to "be a separatist" in the Bible, it really does make you wonder about what is the occasion.  What event would result in such a rare mention?  If it really has been a command from God in His Word to separate from such men that Phil describes, then why haven't we heard of it before?  For all the exposure there has been of these types of men, why are we just now hearing about what the Bible says to do with them?

We really do have a lot to catch up on with Phil Johnson.  We were supposed to be separating all this time. OK, so what is that?  What is separation?  How do we separate?  We haven't been told about this particular requirement.  And Phil doesn't help us, because he says nothing about it.  He doesn't expand at all upon what this separation is or what it would look like.  He never has.  More so he has purposefully avoided being categorized with separatists, referring to others not in his own personal category with that title, as if he is not one.  If it is commanded by God, then why has he run away from the designation?  And he has---let there be no doubt.

Since Phil NEVER says separatist, you might think it isn't found in the Bible, and if it is, it is probably found in the one place that Phil EVER writes about it.  But no.  Being a separatist is all over Scripture.  All over.  It is part of the character of God.  To "be holy" means "to be separate."  God is separate---"hallowed be his name"---and He commands us to be holy.  A lot of passages tell us why to separate, how to separate, and from whom to separate.

Why don't evangelicals separate?  Lots of reasons.  Bad ones.  But not separating has been one of the means by which they have gotten to where they are.  People don't like to separate.  It's one of their least favorite things to do, even though Jesus talked about it a lot. And they leave separation out, and it helps them have the bigger crowds that are so important to them.  Well, now things are so bad in evangelicalism, that the word "separatist" is finally used, is finally released from its grave clothes.

To end, again, I want to thank Phil Johnson for using the word "separatist."  It's a nice start to the rest of his life.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Spirit Baptism—the Historic Baptist View, part 17; the Alleged Reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13, part 8

“Are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
whether we be bond or free”:

The baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is immersion in water, since, as demonstrated earlier, Spirit baptism had ceased by the time the first epistle to the Corinthians was inspired.  Furthermore, a reference to Spirit baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13 would be unique in the Pauline corpus—all other references to the baptism of the Holy Ghost are in the gospels or in Acts.[i]  Indeed, throughout the entirety of Scripture, whenever baptism is spoken of without a contextual qualifier (“with the Holy Ghost” “with fire” “unto Moses,” etc.) immersion in water is universally the referent.  No contextual qualifier is found in 1 Corinthians 12:13.  Thus, the verse does not constitute a unique reference to Spirit baptism contrary to the uniform Pauline usage elsewhere in his epistles, but a simple reference to baptism in water, like all other unqualified references to baptism in the Bible.  Such general considerations from Scripture establish that 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks of immersion in water, not Spirit baptism.

The statement of the verse itself supports a reference to immersion in water.  As discussed earlier, Christ is the agent of Spirit baptism—the second, not the third Person of the Trinity performs this baptism (Matthew 3:11, etc.).  Were 1 Corinthians 12:13 a reference to Spirit baptism, it would contradict all the clear passages on the doctrine by making the Holy Ghost the baptizer.  Recognizing in the text a reference to the working of the Spirit in leading the members of the Corinthian church to be baptized in water harmonizes perfectly with the rest of the Bible.

A reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13 to the working of the Holy Spirit in leading the members of the Corinthian church to receive water baptism fits the context of 1 Corinthians.  Paul wrote his epistle to a church filled with “contentions” (1 Corinthians 1:11), where factions had formed claiming to follow Paul, Apollos, and others (1:12).  The apostle exhorts the church to unity based on their uniform immersion in the name of the Trinity—they were not baptized in the name of Paul or any other affirmed head of a church faction (1:13ff.), but had all pledged themselves to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the baptismal bath.  Likewise in 1 Corinthians 12:13, all the members of the Corinthian church, whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, had received a common water baptism into the body of Christ, the local congregation (12:27), and thus unity was incumbent upon them.  Having been added to the body by an identical immersion in water (12:13), each member of the church was a body part which needed the others for the congregation to function properly (12:14-27).  The Corinthians exulted in the various pneumatic gifts, often improperly manifested among them (1 Corinthians 12-14), but they were to be unified, as they had all been led by the one Holy Spirit (12:13a) to submit to immersion into a common church body.  The assembly was to recognize and prize the unity derived from the identical, Spirit-led immersion in water participated in by all its members.  Finally, the reference to the other church ordinance, the Lord’s Supper, in 12:13d, supports a reference to water baptism in 12:13a.  The context of 1 Corinthians 12:13 clearly supports a reference to baptism in water in the verse, rather than to Spirit baptism.

Water baptism is “into one body” because the ordinance adds one to the membership of the congregation authorizing the immersion.  This truth is also manifest in Acts 2:41, 47.  Those that “gladly received [Peter’s gospel preaching of the] word were baptized: and the same day there were added [to the pre-Pentecost church membership of around 120, Acts 1:15] about three thousand souls.”  These three thousand were “added to the church” (v. 47).  The verb “add,” prostithemi, is not just a word for joining a church’s membership in Acts 2:41, 47, but is also employed in this way in Acts 5:14; 11:24[ii] (cf. Isaiah 14:1, Zechariah 14:17, LXX).[iii]  Thus, 1 Corinthians 12:13 affirms that, led by the Holy Spirit, the members of the Corinthian church had been immersed in water and by that means had been added to the membership of the congregational body in that city.

“And have been all made to drink into one Spirit”

As the members of the church at Corinth had been contentious and factious over the issue of baptism (1 Corinthians 1), so they had been practicing the Lord’s Supper improperly (1 Corinthians 11).  As Paul had exhorted the congregation to Spirit-led unity around their common immersion in the first half 12:13, so he reminds them that they had all participated in the Lord’s Supper, had “been all made to drink,” with reference to the same unifying Holy Spirit.  The verb make drink is used for literal drinking in Scripture.[iv]  The use of the passive voice for the verb is parallel to the passive voice for were baptized—indeed, the clauses discussing the two church ordinances manifest strong parallelism,[v] a strong argument that the phrase refers to the church ordinance that complements believer’s immersion, the Supper,[vi] the celebration of communion with reference to (eis) the one Holy Spirit.  The topical and linguistic connection of 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 to the discussion of communion in 10:16-17, as explained earlier, further supports this interpretation.  While a reference to the Lord’s Supper is natural when compared to the first half of the verse, and the perspicuity of Scripture supports the fact that one can indeed determine the significance of the text, the question of why the Supper would be referred to as “drinking” rather than “eating” (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:20), along with the use of potidzo as “make drink” rather than the verb drink elsewhere used for the Supper, pino, makes a view that the clause refers more generally to common blessings received from the Spirit, including the Lord’s Supper but not exclusively referring to it, understandable. However, both of these arguments for a wider reference to spiritual blessing, rather than a restricted one to the Supper, can be effectively answered.[vii]   While the verb potidzo is not used elsewhere of the Supper in Scripture, the related noun poterion is regularly employed in the New Testament in connection with communion (Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 21; 11:25-28), and the noun is exclusively used—in eight references, all of which are in the two chapters immediately preceding 1 Corinthians 12—with reference to the Supper in 1 Corinthians.  Furthermore, the specific sense of potidzo as made to drink, in contrast to the simple idea of drink with pino, emphasizes the work of the unifying Spirit in bringing the Corinthians to both immersion and the Supper.  The connection of 12:13 with 10:16-17, with its mention of the Supper first as drinking, explains the reference in 12:13 to the ordinance as a common drink rather than a common eating—contextually, greater clarity is achieved through the representation of the Supper in this manner.[viii]  Furthermore, one wonders, since drinking is not clearly a metaphor anywhere in the Bible for general Spirit-produced spiritual blessings, what could possibly be drunk in 1 Corinthians 12:13 other than the fruit of the vine from the church ordinance that complements the baptism spoken of in parallel syntax in the first half of the verse.  Contextual and lexical considerations demonstrate that the final clause of 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to participation in the Lord’s Supper.

e.) A Summary of the Conclusion of the Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12:13

In the divided church at Corinth, the ordinances of baptism and communion, which were intended as sources of unity, had been distorted and were associated with divisiveness and strife within the Corinthian congregation  (1 Corinthians 1:11-17; 11:20-22).  The Corinthian strife was further worsened by the misuse of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14).  In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul reminded the church that God had given them a common baptism and Lord’s Table, and called them to the unity the Lord intended for their congregation as the body of Christ.  In 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul told the Corinthians, in paraphrase, “Spiritual gifts are for unity in the congregation, the body of Christ—the Spirit who gave these gifts to your church also worked in you to receive a common immersion, and to partake in a common Lord’s Supper—so be unified!”

Note that this complete study, with all it parts and with additional material not reproduced on this blog in this series,  is available by clicking here.

[i] That is, no verse in Paul’s epistles employs the word baptism in connection with the work of the Spirit in Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19.  Titus 3:6 does allude back to this action in the historia salutis.  A discussion of verses in other parts of the New Testament sometimes alleged to be references to Spirit baptism is found in the section “Spirit Baptism: Other Alleged References in the Epistles: Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21” below.  Concerning these latter texts, “It is sometimes argued that certain passages that refer to baptism, without any further qualification, also teach about Spirit-baptism (e. g., Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21). This interpretation is usually designed to protect these texts against a view that takes them to teach baptismal regeneration. But, in fact, the early church consistently used ‘baptism’ without any qualifiers to refer to water-baptism. None of these passages, even when taken to refer to immersion in water, implies baptismal regeneration” (pg. 50, “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” Craig Blomberg, in Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996).

[ii] Note that these verses cannot refer to becoming “in Christ” at the moment of conversion.  Those who had already become believers were subsequently “added to the Lord” by means of baptism into His body, the local, visible congregation.

[iii] Isaiah 14:1, kai« e˙leh/sei ku/rioß to\n Iakwb kai« e˙kle÷xetai e¶ti to\n Israhl kai« aÓnapau/sontai e˙pi« thvß ghvß aujtw◊n kai« oJ giw¿raß prosteqh/setai pro\ß aujtou\ß kai« prosteqh/setai pro\ß to\n oi•kon Iakwb, “And the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and they shall rest on their land: and the stranger shall be added to them, yea, shall be added to the house of Jacob.” Zechariah 14:17, kai« e¶stai o¢soi e˙a»n mh\ aÓnabw◊sin e˙k pasw◊n tw◊n fulw◊n thvß ghvß ei˙ß Ierousalhm touv proskunhvsai tw◊ˆ basilei√ kuri÷wˆ pantokra¿tori kai« ou∞toi e˙kei÷noiß prosteqh/sontai, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever of all the families of the earth shall not come up to Jerusalem to worship the king, the Lord Almighty, even these shall be added to the others.”

[iv] The fifteen New Testament references are Matthew 10:42; 25:35, 37, 42; 27:48; Mark 9:41; 15:36; Luke 13:15; Romans 12:20; 1 Corinthians 3:2, 6-8; 12:13; Revelation 14:8.

[v]             pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n sw◊ma e˙bapti÷sqhmen
            pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n Pneuvma e˙poti÷sqhmen
One notes as well the naturalness of the aorist tense for the verbs e˙bapti÷sqhmen and e˙poti÷sqhmen as references in the text to baptism and the Supper (contra, e. g., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelien (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990), which argues in its note on 1 Corinthians 12:13 that present tense verbs would be expected if baptism and the Supper were under consideration).  Each member of the church at Corinth had only been baptized once, so the use of tenses common for durative action, such as the present or the imperfect, would not well fit the verse.  The parallelism between the two ordinances makes the use of the same tense for both verbs expected, so a requisite requirement of an aorist e˙bapti÷sqhmen would lead one to expect the aorist for e˙poti÷sqhmen.  Furthermore, the summary nature of the presentation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 expects aorist tense verbs.  The emphasis is not upon the repetition (or lack thereof) of the acts of baptism and communion, but upon the simple fact that the members of the church shared in unifying fellowship around these ordinances derived from the Holy Spirit.

[vi] The variant reading po/ma poti/sqhmen, making the phrase “we have been all made to drink into one drink,” found in around 15% of the MSS of 1 Corinthians 12:13 (while the TR reading has 85% of MSS, including those preferred by the CT, such as a and B), although certainly not original, indicates that scribes copying 1 Corinthians 12:13 thought its latter portion referred to the Lord’s Supper.

[vii] The more common verb pi÷nw appears 75 times in the NT and is simply “to drink” in contrast to poti÷zw, which appears 15 times and is “to cause/give to drink.”  The “give to drink,” rather than a simple “drink” sense for poti÷zw is very clear in Matthew 25:35, 42.  Pi÷nw is used elsewhere for the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:18), including six references in 1 Corinthians (11:25-29), while no other poti÷zw reference specifically refers to communion.  This is a formidable argument against a reference to the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 12:13.  However, there are considerable counterarguments to this linguistic challenge.
First, as mentioned in the text, the related noun poth/rion is used in connection with the Supper—indeed, it is used exclusively in connection with the Supper in 1 Corinthians, where it appears eight times.
Second, in 1 Corinthians 12:13 poti÷zw is an aorist passive indicative verb.  There are no passive forms of pi÷nw in the New Testament—the verb appears in the active voice 71 times, and in the middle 4 times (Matthew 20:23; Mark 10:39; Luke 17:8; Revelation 14:10), and the middle possesses a genuine middle sense, not a passive one (while some might argue that some or all of the middle references are deponent, that would, in any case, make the sense equivalent to the active, not to the passive).  The NT middle voice references are also universally in the future tense.  One notices a similar extreme paucity of passive pi÷nw forms in the LXX—the verb appears there in the active 206 times, 61 times in the middle (all future again and at least some deponent), and only 3 times in the passive voice (Leviticus 11:34; Sirach 31:28, 29), in each case a present passive.  The apostolic patristic writers employed pi÷nw 7 times in the active, once in the (future) middle, and never in the passive.  Various works of the Apologists Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Theophilus of Antioch (as found in the respective modules for Accordance Bible software; so for all the studies in this endnote; it should be noted that the classifications in Accordance have been accepted, so that middle/passive forms recorded as middles or as passives have here been reckoned as such) contain 13 uses pi÷nw of in the active, 4 uses in the middle, and no uses in the passive.  Various Apocryphal Gospel texts (as found in Accordance) employ the verb in the active 9 times, and never in the middle or passive.  Josephus employs pi÷nw in the active voice 37 times, never in the middle, and only once in the passive, a present infinitive.  Philo employs the verb 49 times in the active voice, 6 times in the middle (always a future middle), and only once in the passive (an aorist passive participle).  The pseudepigrapha employ pi÷nw 45 times in the active, 15 times in the middle, and never in the passive.  Thus, the passive voice of pi÷nw is absent from the inspired Greek text and extremely rare in related Koiné Greek literature, while the aorist passive, as employed for poti÷zw in 1 Corinthians 12:13, is not found in any range of literature examined outside of a single participial text in Philo.  No aorist passive indicatives were found in any text.  Thus, one could conclude that the constraints of the Koiné usage impelled Paul to employ poti÷zw to express the aorist passive idea he wished, such a tense and voice for pi÷nw not being a live option.
While poti÷zw is in the passive voice only in 1 Corinthians 12:13 in the New Testament, the other 14 references possessing the active voice, the verb is found in the passive twice, in the present and future tenses, in the LXX (Genesis 13:10; Ezekiel 32:6), along with 63 active voice uses.  In the apostolic patristic writers, two active voice forms, 4 middle, and one passive, an aorist, (Shepherd 68:9) are found.  The Apologists examined above employ poti÷zw in the active 7 times, the middle once, and do not employ the passive.  Josephus does not employ the verb at all.  Philo has it in the active 33 times, the middle 7 times, and the passive twice, both aorists (Alleg 2:86; Post (Cain) 151).  The pseudepigrapha have the word in the active 6 times and the passive (an aorist) once (Abraham 19:16).
A consideration of these data points toward the idea that the passive voice of poti÷zw was much more in live play than the passive of pi÷nw in the Koiné milieu. Thus, it appears possible that poti÷zw would have been the verb of choice for Paul when he wanted to express a passive concept, and especially an aorist passive idea.
A third and considerably simpler further consideration lies in the parallel with the aorist passive e˙bapti÷sqhmen.  As passivity, not active agency, is expressed in the verb for the church ordinance of baptism, so it is reasonable to see Paul maintain parallel passive, rather than active agency in the reference to the second church ordinance.  As the Corinthians, led by the Holy Spirit, “were baptized,” so they “were given to drink” of the cup in the Supper.  An active voice reference to the church members drinking would violate the parallelism, and once one was shut up to the passive voice, the sense of “were made to drink” expressed by poti÷zw would be more natural than a use of pi÷nw as simply “drink.”  Furthermore, as discussed in the text, since He who “made [the Corinthians] to drink” in the Supper was that same Spirit who led them to the waters of baptism, the use of poti÷zw to emphasize the unifying Spirit’s active work in the Supper provided Paul another argument to exhort the church, divided as it was specifically over the practice of the Supper (11:17-34) while it boasted in its pneumatic gifts, to unity.
These considerations eliminate the force of the objection to viewing the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 as a references to something other than the Supper from the use of pi÷nw, rather than poti÷zw, in the passage.

[viii] Note also the repeated (though not exclusive; cf. 9:7, 13; 11:24-34) connection in the previous context of the verb to eat in connection with meat offered to idols (8:7, 8, 10, 13; 10:7, 18, 25, 27, 28, 31).  This also could contribute to Paul’s choice of drinking as the verb of choice to refer to the Supper rather than eating.  Drinking would contextually more certainly reference the church ordinance, rather than to meat eaten to glorify false gods.