Weakness

Weakness

I have a friend who sends me a quote every day from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. This one was particularly challenging:

“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8)

…The fuller a vessel becomes, the deeper it sinks in the water. Idlers may indulge a fond conceit of their abilities, because they are untried; but the earnest worker soon learns his own weakness. If you seek humility, try hard work; if you would know your nothingness, attempt some great thing for Jesus. If you would feel how utterly powerless you are apart from the living God, attempt especially the great work of proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ, and you will know, as you never knew before, what a weak unworthy thing you are.

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Lessons I Tried to Teach You Without Teaching You

Another graduation ceremony is upon us. Young adults move from “young” to “adults” with a flip of a tassel – or so we say. In reality, some of them were adults long before there was a ceremony to prove it. Others will remain childish for years to come.

For 6 years, Crystal and I worked heavily in the youth ministry at Liberty Baptist. We saw the transformation from young to adult. We spent many hours with teens around the church, our kitchen table, a campfire, or a ball field. I taught a lot of lessons, and I think a few of them were actually helpful. So, a couple years ago I decided to write out lessons that I was trying to teach the teens without actually giving a lecture. The result was this short series. It includes lessons entitled:

  • Protect the face
  • Eat the hotdog
  • Read that verse out loud
  • Girls can go first
  • Let’s sing that first verse again
  • and others

So, if you ever sat in on a youth group lesson, suffered through a manathon, or choked down a burnt hotdog on one of our camping trips, this book may answer some questions. Or, at least it will give some background material for any therapy you may need in the future.

If you never had the “privilege” of participating in any of those, you can still read it. It should at least make you thankful that you didn’t have to learn these lessons the hard way.

Lessons I tried to teach you without teaching you

(Click on the link to download the PDF)

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Proud people…

Quote

Here is a particularly convicting quote from a book which convicts at every turn.

“The bottom line is this: proud people tend to talk about themselves a lot. Proud people tend to like their opinions more than the opinions of others. Proud people think their stories are more interesting and engaging than others. Proud people think they know and understand more than others’. Proud people think they’ve earned the right to be heard. Proud people think they have glory to offer. Proud people, because they are basically proud of what they know and of what they’ve done, talk a lot about both. Proud people don’t reference weakness. Proud people don’t talk about failure. Proud people don’t confess sin” (Tripp, 175).

Tripp, Paul David. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Crossway Books, 2012.

Internet Church 2.0

Series Intro: What is a New Testament church? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not something you “do.”  Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 11.12.14 AM

OverviewPart2Part3; Part4Part 5Part 6; Part 7

I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

—————————————————

The preceding study has led us to an important question: “Can you have a purely online church?”

This is an important question not only because of where we are headed in this technological age, but where we already are. Believers around the world are coming together online. Are these gatherings NT local churches?

First, let’s consider the positive aspects of an “online church” (Many of these were offered by the technologically savvy at Liberty Baptist)

  • Easy to watch so it can be evangelistic
  • There can be continuity for those who move, have to travel, or are sick
  • Accessible
  • Affordable (no building is necessary to maintain, no expense for gas to drive in)
  • Safer for those in persecuting countries
  • Cross Cultural and Worldwide
  • Discipleship and Missions can be faster and cheaper
  • There is a wider selection to chose from
  • Translated easily
  • Not awkward to have to get up and leave
  • Not as attached

Now, let’s consider the negative aspects of an “online church”

  • No physical contact
  • Power outages
  • No physical outreach to your community
  • What about time zones?
  • Lack of accountability and commitment
  • Government tracking
  • Who leads?
  • How can you fellowship?
  • Church Discipline and discipleship cannot be exercised effectively
  • Some don’t have the technology

Now that we got those out of the way, let’s deal with realities. (So often discussions get clogged up with positive or negative results instead of dealing with truth claims. None of the positive elements make any difference if it can’t be a church, and none of the negative elements should stop us from calling it a “church” if that is in reality what it is.)

According to my definition – which we are still able to argue about if you want – a NT local church is composed of these essential components:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

Now, which of these can we have online and which can we not?

  • You can have gospel believing individuals
  • They could have been baptized, but in order to be baptize the church has to stop being online and has to be physically present at some point.
  • They can covenant together
  • They can regularly meet around God’s Word
  • They can have legitimate leadership
  • In order to administer baptism and the Lord’s Table the church has to stop being online and has to be physically present at some point.
    • Baptism – see above
    • Lord’s Table – How is this distorting the picture of Christ’s death if we mail out the elements?

 

Can you have an actual online “church”? I would answer, No. At some point it has to come offline (baptism and Lord’s Supper). Can you have a church that primarily meets online? Yes, you can.

Now the question is, is that what is best for you?

You can have an online church in the same way you can have an online family. You can have a father who lives in China, a mother in South Africa, and children scattered throughout South America. Is it possible? Yes. Is it healthy, vibrant, and how it is meant to be? No. Why? Because that is not how we were made by God. We were made with physical bodies to be physically present in one place.

Jesus has given this incredible reality called the New Testament local church. It can have spots. It can have wrinkles and warts and less desirable parts, but it His Bride. He died for it and is giving it life.

How would you answer the question?

A picture is worth a thousand words: NT Church.7

Series Intro: What is a New Testament church? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not something you “do.”  NT Church.7

OverviewPart2Part3; Part4Part 5; Part 6

I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

—————————————————

Let’s take a look at the sixth essential component of a NT local church: Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

We have already considered Baptism here, so this post will focus on the Lord’s Table

A. Different views

  • Real Presence – the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation)
  • Sacramental Union – Christ is supernaturally present along side the bread and wine (consubstantiation)
  • Real Spiritual Presence – the real spiritual presence of Christ is present during the meal
  • Ordinance – Christ is remembered during the meal

B. Paul in 1 Cor 11:17-34 (The following outline was taken from Bauder, Kevin T. Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order. Schaumburg: Regular Baptist Press, 2012.)

The Lord’s Table provides believers with the opportunity for a crucial look:

  • A look back to the cross of Christ (11:23-24)
  • A look up to the risen Christ (1 Cor 15:1-8)
  • A look around at those who are part of the body of Christ (11:17-20, 33)
  • A look within at sin (11:27-32)
  • A look forward to the return of Christ (11:26)

A NT Church has the unique privilege and responsibility of visually enacting the Gospel in two ways – Baptism and Lord’s Table. These cannot be taken lightly. As a body we come together to remember, celebrate, and proclaim Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and return. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is. We need to hear and see the Gospel more than we realize.

Who’s Who: NT Church.6

Series Intro: What is a New Testament church? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not something you “do.”  NT Church.5

OverviewPart2Part3; Part4; Part 5

I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

—————————————————

Let’s take a look at the fifth essential component of a NT local church: Under legitimate leadership

A brief outline of NT references will have to suffice for our short summary here:

A. Led by elders

  • Terms (Titus 1:5-7 and 1 Peter 5:1-2). There are three overlapping terms used for this man: Elder, Pastor, Overseer
  • Responsibilities (Eph 4:11-16; 2 Tim 4:1-5).
  • Requirements (1 Tim 3:1-7).

B. Served by deacons

  • Responsibilities (Acts 6:1-7).
  • Requirements (1 Tim 3:8-13).

Oprah’s Book Club doesn’t cut it : NT Church.5

Series Intro: What is a New Testament church? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not something you “do.”  NT Church.5

OverviewPart2Part3; Part4

I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

—————————————————

Let’s take a look at the fourth essential component of a NT local church: Regularly meeting around God’s Word

Here is a question for you. What if we treated Tolkien’s work, The Hobbit, like we treat the Bible? We would pick up a portion here and there. We may do a word study on “second breakfast,” or a character study on Gollum. We may take seven weeks to walk with Bilbo through the forest, or have a special seminar on “Giant Spiders in Your Life.” Most likely we would never get around to reading the whole story. What a shame.

What is involved in meeting around God’s Word?

A. Consistent Expository Preaching (from the shepherds)

  • NT Example (Heb 13:7; Acts 20:26-27 [Neh 8:8]; 1 Tim 4:13)
  • Reasoning – If Scripture is sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17), shouldn’t we take time to know it?
  • Here is where we often go astray. We like to hear the nice stuff. Our ears are itching for keys for the good life, 3 steps to my best life, or living like it were Friday every day. But that doesn’t cut it. Storms will come, and fluff doesn’t last long in a storm.
  • An example can be seen in one of the major food groups, cookies. A sad lesson I had to learn as a child was that you can’t have cookies without bitter ingredients. Take out the baking soda, vanilla, salt, butter, and flower and you are left with sugar and chocolate chips. You don’t have a cookie. However, if you have the right mixture you have what is called “magic.” Consistent expository preaching makes sure you get all the ingredients, imprecatory prayers and all.

B. Dedicated Study of its Theology

  • NT Example – 2 Pet 3:14-18
  • Reasoning – God has revealed himself through creation (Ps 19), Jesus (John 14:9; Heb 1:1-2), and His Word (2 Tim 3:16-17)
  • Don’t short cut deep study for three easy points. Our Sunday Schools/Small Groups/Bible Studies should not be focused on “What does this mean to you?” but on “What does this tell us about our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ?”

C. Inter-Personal Gracious Admonishment (one to another)

  • NT Example – Col 3:16; 2 Thess 3:15; Rom 15:14
  • Reasoning – we are sinners in need of God’s grace in order to grow (Eph 4:12-16)
  • “Admonishment” – telling a brother in Christ that he is either being stupid or sinful, and needs to look to Christ. (You may want to look up “tact” before you do too much of that)

D. Obeying

  • NT Example – 2 Thess 3:13-15
  • Reasoning – Merely hearing the Word is not sufficient (Jas 1:22-25)

What other practices would you add?

Evangellyfish by Douglas Wilson

Evangellyfish by Douglas Wilson 

Product Details

Hardcover: 228 pages

Publisher: Canon Press

Date Published: 2012 

Point: The average must not rejoice when the lofty falls.

Path: This is a novel. a very racy, too realistic, novel. Through use of irony, satirical characters and often too true circumstances, Wilson warns the reader that all that glitters is not gold, as a contemporary cliche reminds us.

Sources: This story could have been taken from any number of front page articles in the past ten years. It is full of typical Wilson, blazing critiques, witty remarks, underhanded jabs, and painful, thought provoking evaluations.

Agreement: I appreciated that although he painted the mega church in a poor light, he was not without criticism of the small reformed guys. Obviously there was a great difference between the sins of the former and the latter in magnitude and repercussions, but they both are present.

Disagreement: I am not sure that the exaggerations helped me to foster the same view as John Mitchell came to in the end. But maybe it was needed for me to see the path.

Personal App: How do I view the mega church, sin, and repentance? Soaring numbers, beautiful buildings, and expert presentations do not always reflect what is inside. And how do I view sin and repentance? The big churches are not the only ones with problems.

Favorite Quote: “Uncertainty was part of the appeal. That was just one problem with ministering to the youth of today – riding the wave of cool and contemporary youth ministry was like surfing the big ones, and with one false move, there you were with sand in your trunks.

Stars: 3 out of 5 – The idea gets a 5. The content around which the story grows (homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, lustful thinking, etc) gets a 2.5.

I don’t know that I would read it again. There may be a handful of people that I would recommend this book to. I am still trying to think through who that might be.

If this review was helpful, let me know here.

“Secret Password, Please.” NT Church.4

Series Intro: What is a New Testament church? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not something you “do.” NT Church.4

OverviewPart2; Part3;

I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

—————————————————

Let’s take a look at the third essential component of a NT local church: Recognizably covenanting together

A covenant is an agreement. In this case, it is an agreement between believers in Jesus Christ to fulfill the Lord’s commands and the one another passages of the NT. When I covenant with you and others to be part of a NT church, I am stating that I will love you, protect you, admonish you, pray for you, minister to you, confront you, etc. I am also asking the others to do so for me.

Why would we say that there needs to be a recognizable covenant between these baptized believers?

First, because the NT shows this was the case.

A. In the NT, ”Disciples” and “Church” were interchangeable (1 Cor 1:2,10; 1 Thess 1:1,4; 2 Thess 1:1,3; Phil 1:1; 4:15 Col 4:15,16). When Paul addressed a church he was addressing individual believers. When he was addressing believers, he was assuming they were in the church.

B. In the NT, The Disciples were part of specific churches (Acts 13:1; 3 John 10; Rev 1:4,11; 2:10,23; etc.).

C. In the NT, The elders were responsible for specific churches (Acts 13:1; 14:23; 20:17; 16:4; Jas 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1-3; Phil 1:1 cf. 3:17; 4:9). This demonstrates that the elders had certain individuals over which they had to exercise care. They would have to give an account (Heb 13).

D. In the NT, Churches accepted members from other churches (Paul – Acts 9:17-29; 11:25,26; 13:1-3; Barnabas – Acts 4:32, 34-37; 9:27; 11:22-26; 13:1-3; Apollos- Acts 18:27,28; General- 2 Cor 3:1; Rom 16:1,2)

Second, without a recognizable line, one cannot restrict access or expel those who Christ has restricted.

A. Logically: A boundary clarifies those who are in, and clarifies those who are out. Try kicking someone out of a group that doesn’t exist.You have to have a group to kick them out of it.

B. Biblically: The NT demonstrates the existence of a boundary marker Acts 2:44-45; 2:41, 47; 4:4 (Acts 5:1-11); 6:1-2; 11:22, 26; 12:5; 13:1; 14:27; 15:3, 4; Heb 13:17; 1 Cor 5:13

 

The church is the Body of Christ made up of those individuals who have been redeemed, baptized, and are now covenanting together.

What other evidences of this would you add?

 

Helpful resources:

Anyabwile, Thabiti M. What Is a Healthy Church Member? Wheaton: Crossway, 2008.
Leeman, Jonathan. Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus. 1st ed. Crossway, 2012.
Harris, Joshua. Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Multnomah Books, 2011.

Spritzing, Splashing, Dunking, and other forms of getting wet: The NT Church.3

Series Intro: What is a New Testament church? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not something you “do.” NT Church.3

OverviewPart2

I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

—————————————————

Let’s take a look at the second essential component of a NT local church: Baptized in demonstration of their conversion

A common questions is as follows: “Should someone who has been sprinkled be re-baptized?” Lets take a look at what baptism is, and then answer that question afterwards.

Kevin Bauder did an excellent job at succinctly defining these points in Bauder, Kevin T. Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order. Schaumburg: Regular Baptist Press, 2012. Much of the following outline, if not taken from, was influenced by that work.

To be baptized according to the New Testament, you need the:

A. Right Subject: those professing belief (Acts 16:31-34). One is not baptized for their salvation, but in demonstration of their salvation. It is an outward action symbolizing an inward reality.

B. Right Meaning:

  • I am in Christ – As Christ Died, was buried, and rose again, so am I. (Rom 6:3-5; Gal 3:27 [water baptism is a picture of spiritual baptism])
  • I am with Christ (his disciple) (John 12:23-26 [following Jesus])
  • I am obedient to Christ (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; 10:48) In, following, and obeying Christ

C. Right Mode:

  • Immersion (John 3:23; Mark 1:10; Acts 8:38)
  • Symbolism: All other forms – sprinkling, pouring, or trine immersion do not convey the picture baptism was meant to symbolize, so cannot be considered a true, or real, baptism as adopted by the NT church.

D. Right Administrator: the Local Church

  • Jesus commanded baptism from his disciples and the disciples of his disciples (Matt 28:19-20).
  • Because the local church is the way in which the Universal Church can be seen, it confuses the matter when baptism is performed outside the local church. (If you are baptized but not part of a local church, how can you really claim to be part of Christ’s Body?)

So, “Should someone who has been sprinkled be re-baptized?” If the above evaluation is correct, there is no such thing as “re-baptism.” The individual should be baptized, what they did the first time was get wet.

The church is the Body of Christ made up of those individuals who have been redeemed and publicly baptized in demonstration of that belief. Let’s not forget that.

What other evidences of this would you add?