Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Should a Child Be Trained?

Every godly parent will have a burning desire to see his children love the Lord. It is hard to think of anything else which could be more of a burden on a parent's heart. Our discussion last Sunday afternoon about training our children prompted me to think back on a series of posts I did a couple years ago dealing with J. C. Ryle's little book How Should a Child Be Trained? I thought I would bring them out of hiding so we can learn more from his excellent instruction.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: My discussion of the interpretation of Proverbs 22:6
Part 3: First, then, if you would train your children rightly, train them in the way they should go, and not in the way that they would.
Part 4: Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience.
Part 5: Train your children with an abiding persuasion on your mind that much depends upon you.
Part 6: Train with this thought continually before your eyes – that the soul of your child is the first thing to be considered.
Part 7: Train your child to a knowledge of the Bible.
Part 8: Train them to a habit of prayer.
Part 9: Train them to habits of diligence and regularity about public means of grace.
Part 10: Train them to a habit of faith.
Part 11: Train them to a habit of obedience.
Part 12: Train them to a habit of always speaking the truth.
Part 13: Train them to a habit of always redeeming the time.
Part 14: Train them with a constant fear of over-indulgence.
Part 15: Train them, remembering continually how God trains His children.
Part 16: Train them, remembering continually the influence of your own example.
Part 17: Train them, remembering continually the power of sin.
Part 18: Train them, remembering continually the promises of Scripture.
Part 19: Train them, lastly, with continual prayer for a blessing on all you do.
Part 20: Conclusion

Fathers and mothers, you may send your children to the best of schools, and give them Bibles and prayer books, and fill them with head knowledge; but if all this time there is no regular training at home, I tell you plainly, I fear it will go hard in the end with your children’s souls. Home is the place where habits are formed; home is the place where the foundations of character are laid; home gives the bias to our tastes, and likings, and opinions. See then, I pray you, that there be careful training at home. Happy indeed is the man who can say as Bolton did upon his dying bed to his children, “I do believe not one of you will dare to meet me before the tribunal of Christ in an unregenerate state.” J. C. Ryle

Friday, March 27, 2009

What Is Conservative Christianity? (Part 8)

Tradition.

The very word tends to bring to Baptist minds visions of the Roman Catholic Mass. (Or, unfortunately, since so many Baptists don't even know enough about church history to know about the Roman mass, they may well think of "Fiddler on the Roof" when they hear the word.) Nevertheless, it is a very good word, and in this installment of his discussion on conservative Christianity, Kevin Bauder demonstrates the difference between a proper view of tradition and the Roman Catholic view of tradition.

Read it all here.

Elect Exiles

Many Christians are wearing wide-eyed expressions these days. It is the expression of a dawning realization, a rather unsettling realization, that our society is doing an amazingly thorough and effective job of walling Christianity out of its territory. Oh yes, individual Christians are allowed within the walls, but only if they pay taxes to finance the building project, so to speak. The fortress wall is built with immense stones of pagan ideology and it is cemented with the bonds of social practices and institutions. Not since the days of the church fathers has Western Christianity had such outsider status.

So how should we live?

We will look into the Word of God and allow it to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We face increasingly dark days, but we have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He will have the dominion forever and ever!

Songs
To God Be the Glory (#16)
Give to Our God Immortal Praise (#53)
Fairest Lord Jesus (#21)
O Sacred Head Now Wounded (#139)
Before the Throne of God Above (#177)
He Who Would Valiant Be (#507)

Scripture Reading
The Lord is in His holy temple - Habakkuk 1-2

Sermon
Elect Exiles of the Dispersion: Who Are We and How Should We Live in Our Day? - 1 Peter 1:1

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Christ Is All

Christ is the mainspring both of doctrinal and practical Christianity. A right knowledge of Christ is essential to a right knowledge of sanctification as well as justification. He that follows after holiness will make no progress unless he gives to Christ His rightful place.

With these Christ-saturated thoughts J. C. Ryle brings his book Holiness to a conclusion.

Is Christ all? Then let all His converted people deal with Him as if they really believed it. Let them lean on Him and trust Him far more than they have ever done yet....

Alas, I fear there is a great piece of pride and unbelief still sticking in the hearts of many believers! Few seem to realize how much they need a Savior. Few seem to understand how thoroughly they are indebted to Him. Few seem to comprehend how much they need Him every day. Few seem to feel how simply and like a child they ought to hang their souls on Him. few seem to be aware how full of love He is to His poor, weak people, and how ready to help them! And few therefore seem to know the peace and joy and strength and power to live a godly life, which is to be had in Christ.

Change your plan, reader, if your conscience tells you you are guilty; change your plan, and learn to trust Christ more....Christ loves His people to lean on Him, to rest in Him, to call on Him, to abide in Him.

Let us all learn and strive to do so more and more. Let us live on Christ. Let us live in Christ. Let us live with Christ. Let us live to Christ. So doing, we shall prove that we fully realize Christ is all. So doing, we shall feel great peace, and attain more of that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb 12:14).

The Augsburg Confession (Part 5)

Article IX—Of Baptism
Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that by Baptism the grace of God is offered, and that children are to be baptized, who by Baptism, being offered to God, are received into God’s favor.


They condemn the Anabaptists who allow not the Baptism of children, and affirm that children are saved without Baptism.

Article X—Of the Lord’s Supper
Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the [true] body and blood of Christ are truly present [under the form of bread and wine], and are [there] communicated to those that eat in the Lord’s Supper [and received]. And they disapprove of those that teach otherwise [wherefore also the opposite doctrine is rejected].

Article XI—Of Confession
Concerning confession, they teach that private absolution be retained in the churches, though enumeration of offenses be not necessary in confession. For it is impossible; according to the Psalm: “Who can understand his errors?”


This section of the confession deals with doctrines which divided the Protestant Reformation into divergent streams. The major reformers Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli differed on the significance of baptism and Lord's Supper. However, they all agreed that infants were to be baptized. The Anabaptists stood alone in contending for believer's baptism. Thankfully, however, the Lord later raised up witnesses to the Scriptural truth of believer's baptism, so that today it is widely accepted in true churches.

The Augsburg Confession is dangerously vague when it declares that baptism is necessary to salvation. When one looks at Luther's teaching on the issue, he declared that baptism itself profits nothing but only faith in the promises of God which are connected with baptism. [Interestingly, Luther taught in 1519 that the practice of baptism by immersion should be restored. We Baptists can give him a hearty round of applause for this aspect of his teaching.] Luther was contending specifically against the Roman Catholic teaching that baptism works ex opere operato, which simply means that baptism is automatically effective as long as one does not put any obstacles in its way. Luther believed that baptism is God's work. He believed that God had bound himself to save through baptism; therefore, those who are baptized must exercise faith in God's promise to save through baptism. Luther once said, "Not the sacrament, but the faith of the sacrament justifies."

It appears, although I could be wrong on this, that the Lutherans were attempting to be as politically concilliatory as possible in the way they stated Article 9. From a human perspective this is certainly understandable, but it is also unfortunate. The Augsburg Confession, in my opinion, only adds to the confusion regarding baptism. In itself, it is indistinguishable from Roman Catholicism. It transmits the idea in most lay peoples' minds of works salvation, even though Luther tried to defend against this error.

Furthermore, Baptists have always contended that Luther's teaching on baptism never sufficiently extricated itself from its Roman Catholic roots. The NT teaches that because baptism is an expression of faith, only those who repent and believe in Christ may be baptized. We do not put our trust in God's promise to save through baptism. We put our trust in Christ alone to save us, and baptism is an expression of that faith in Christ.

In Article 10, the Augsburg Confession continues its vagaries, failing to clearly state the Lutheran position as over against the Roman Catholic position. In any case, Baptists believe that neither Lutheran nor Romanist positions do justice to the Scriptural teaching. Christ is not bodily present in the elements. If he were, it would wreck all the Scriptural teaching on the true humanity of Christ and his bodily presence at the right hand of the Father.

These articles of the Augsburg Confession we strongly reject, both for their internal lack of clarity and for their failure to conform to the Scriptures.

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Is Conservative Christianity? (Part 7)

Kevin Bauder considers the situation that conservative Christians find themselves in today and what they should do about it. Since we are cut off from the living tradition of the church, it is difficult to know even where to begin. Nevertheless, we must begin where we are, recovering what we can from the wisdom of the past and exercising leadership as we move into the future, full of confidence in God's providence.

I appreciated this challenge:

If conservative Christianity is true—as I believe it is—then it is the very Christianity that the world most needs. Moreover, the people who understand it and love it are few. Like it or not, my friends, it is up to us to make a difference, not by pleasing ourselves, and not by making ourselves inconspicuous, but by exercising leadership.

This is precisely what High Country Baptist Church represents - an effort to reclaim robust Christianity, shining with the glory of God in Christ by the Spirit. It is the Christianity that Colorado Springs most needs. Those of our friends and neighbors who understand it are few. It is up to us to make a difference. Pray that God will give us the wisdom and courage and love to do it!

(Read it all here.)

A Call for Repentance, Reformation, and Revival

Here are a couple things I've come across this week which continue to reinforce our great need for repentance, reformation, and revival.

Survey says less than 1 percent of young adults hold a biblical worldview.

Voddie Baucham discusses Lifeway research which confirms decline.

Gather as God's People

I will miss you as you gather this Lord's Day, but I'm sure the Lord will graciously provide you spiritual riches. So, come with hearts prepared to seek the Lord, and may he make his face to shine upon you!

Songs
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise (#23)
O Worship the King (#46)
He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions (#149)
Behold, the Savior on the Cross (#153)
Amazing Grace (#247)
O God, Our Help in Ages Past (#49)

Scripture Reading
Bless the Lord - Psalm 103

Sermon
TBA - Justin Schluessler

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Augsburg Confession (Part 4)

Article VII—Of the Church
Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. But the Church is the congregation of saints [the assembly of all believers], in which the Gospel is rightly taught [purely preached] and the Sacraments rightly administered [according to the Gospel].


And unto the true unity of the Church, it is sufficient to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, rites, or ceremonies instituted by men should be alike everywhere, as St. Paul saith: ‘There is one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.’

Article VIII—What the Church is
Though the Church be properly the congregation of saints and true believers, yet seeing that in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled with it, it is lawful to use the Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the voice of Christ (Matt 23.2): ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat,’ and the words following. And the Sacraments and the Word are effectual, by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, though they be delivered by evil men.


They condemn the Donatists and such like, who denied that it was lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and held that the ministry of evil men is useless and without effect.

Although detailed discussion is impossible, a word of explanation will be helpful. These Lutheran confessors, fighting as they were against both the Romanists and the Anabaptists, believed that the word and sacraments formed the church, since through them the Holy Spirit creates faith. They did not believe that the word and sacraments were the boundaries of the church. This led them to suppose that, although they had defined the church as a congregation of saints, the church could still be full of unbelievers.

Baptists later argued that the church is an assembly of saints in the full meaning of that phrase. In other words, we believe in regenerate church membership. We acknowledge that there may be unbelievers who slip into the church, but we deny that any true church can be largely composed of unbelievers. This makes it highly incongruent for "evil men" to be administering the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper. The Second London Baptist Confession says, "These holy ordinances are to be administered by those only, who are qualified and thereunto called according to the commission of Christ" (Chap. 28.2).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

To Him Be Glory Forever

When I began our series of messages on the good news of God's great plan of salvation (way back at the end of August of last year), I gave 10 reasons why I wanted you to hear this series on the gospel and God’s great plan of salvation. Allow me to reiterate them now that we are coming to the last message in this series this Lord's Day.
1. I want you to know what God has given you (and the whole creation) – his fullness, grace and truth.
2. I want you to know how much God has given to you – his fullness.
3. I want you to know how God has given himself to you. This is what the gospel story is all about.
4. I want you to experience the fullness of God revealed in Jesus Christ as the controlling factor in your whole life.
5. I have had a sense for some time now that our church needs to grow in our understanding of the heart of the gospel.
6. I want to open up a window for you into the multi-dimensional richness of the gospel.
7. I want our church to be always centered around Christ and the gospel.
8. I want your joy to be full as we fellowship together with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).
9. I want to protect you from false teachers and false gospels which will bring shame on the name of our Savior and bring eternal destruction to your souls.
10. I want you to know God and hence to worship him.

The gospel is ultimately designed to reveal the glory of God in Christ and our good in him alone.

Songs
Praise Ye Jehovah (#4)
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing (#69)
Hark! the Gospel News Is Sounding (#293)
Salvation! O My Soul Rejoice (#291)
For My Sake and the Gospel's, Go (#695)
Doxology

Scripture Reading
The Lord Reigns - Psalm 97

Sermon
To Him Be Glory Forever - Romans 11:33-36

Friday, March 13, 2009

What Is Conservative Christianity? (Part 6)

Right affections are the focus of Kevin Bauder's next installment in describing conservative Christianity. Consider this...

Conservative Christians believe that orthopathy (right affection) is equal in importance with orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right conduct). Our choice of circumstances must be guided by a knowledge of what will foster ordinate affection (right feeling) toward God, toward holy things, toward our fellow humans, and toward the world.

And this...

Conservative Christians believe that heteropathy threatens the Faith as seriously as heterodoxy or heteropraxy. Therefore, they hold heteropathic fundamentalists to be just as badly in error as modernist liberals or prelatic sacerdotalists. Indeed, they believe that heteropathy (at least in its more serious manifestations) may be an apostasy, a departure from the faith once‐for‐all delivered to the saints.

Consider the whole essay well.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Augsburg Confession (Part 3)

Article V—Of the Ministry of the Church
For the obtaining of this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For by the Word and Sacraments, as by instruments, the Holy Spirit is given: who worketh faith, where and when it pleaseth God, in those that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our merit’s sake, but for Christ’s sake, doth justify those who believe that they for Christ’s sake are received into favor.
They condemn the Anabaptists and others, who imagine that the Holy Spirit is given to men without the outward word, through their own preparations and works.

The second paragraph above specifically opposes those who believed that "the Holy Spirit comes without the external Word, without the oral and visible Word of proclamation and the sacraments. Instead, they rely on their own preparations and works,...[including] certain spiritual exercises called...self-abstraction...concentration...and others, with which a person prepared for the coming of the Spirit. In addition, any notion of mortification of the flesh as a condition for the Spirit's regeneration is rejected here" (Leif Grane, The Augsburg Confession: A Commentary, trans. John H. Rasmussen, p. 70).

Of course, Baptists have historically avoided the word "sacrament" when speaking of baptism and the Lord's Supper. They have done this primarily to avoid the nearly magical ideas of Roman Catholicism that these practices give grace automatically to all who receive them without putting an impediment in the way of the sacrament. However, despite their opposition to popery, it should be noted that early Baptists did not object to the spiritual presence of Christ in the ordinances (see 2LBC, chapter 30.7).

Article VI—Of New Obedience
Also they teach that this faith should bring forth good fruits, and that men ought to do the good works commanded of God, because it is God’s will, and not on any confidence of meriting justification before God by their works.
For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ witnesseth: ‘When ye have done all these things, say, We are unprofitable servants.’
The same also do the ancient writers of the Church teach; for Ambrose saith: ‘This is ordained of God, that he that believeth in Christ shall be saved, without works, by faith alone, freely receiving remission of sins.’

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Hope of Glory

Every one of us has in our hearts a dream - a dream of what life and the world ought to be. Our dreams are distorted, to be sure, but in his Word God has given us a glimpse of what this world ought to be. In fact, he has given us a glimpse of what this world will be when he brings his great plan of redemption to completion. It will be glory beyond anything we can even dream of now. Join us this Lord's Day as we rejoice in the hope of glory!

Songs
Jesus Shall Reign (#51)
Praise Ye the Lord (#58)
On Jordan's Stormy Banks (#649)
Immanuel's Land (#641)
For All the Saints (#643)
Thine Be the Glory (#162)

Scripture Reading
Glory - Revelation 21-22

Sermon
Blessed be God for Blessing Us in Christ with Glorification - 1 Cor 15; Rom 8; Rev 21-22

Friday, March 06, 2009

What Is Conservative Christianity? (Part 5)

Kevin Bauder continues his discussion of the characteristics of conservative Christianity. He says that conservatives adhere to the command, "Tinker not!" (That's my shorthand summation of his essay.) Read it all here.

Just to encourage you to read it all, here is his conclusion.

At the beginning of the twenty‐first century, within the greater part of American Christianity, the church is no longer the church. It has taken the form of social clubs in which members wear the trappings of their religion much as a Shriner wears his fez. It has taken the shape of therapy groups for the curing of addictions, obsessions, and co‐dependencies, but without a sense of the profound offense of sin. It has taken the shape of pep rallies in which Jesus is treated as a rock star or a sports celebrity. It has taken the shape of trinket shops filled with bric‐a‐brac like WWJD bracelets and Precious Moments® figurines. It has taken the shape of a Purpose‐Driven® ecclesiastical vaudeville in which people on a stage pretend to be having spiritual experiences.

American Christians have chosen those practices and even doctrines that appeal most to themselves. The result is that what passes for church in America today is an insipid religious pretense that lacks the power to command souls or transform lives, let alone to challenge the unsaved world with respect to issues of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We are left with a shallow religiosity in which more and more people are won to less and less Christianity. With increasingly rare exceptions, the institutional church in America is not a bride.

The church does not belong to us. It belongs to Christ. He is its Head and its Lord. It is His household. Within His household, only He has the right to say what ought to be done. A genuinely conservative Christianity will reject the pretense of innovation and cling faithfully to the apostolic tradition as it is preserved in Scripture alone.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wants of the Times

In 1879, J. C. Ryle delivered a sermon on the wants of the times. Here are the main points of his address.

1. First and foremost, the times require of us a bold and unflinching maintenance of the entire truth of Christianity, and the divine authority of the Bible.
2. In the second place, the times require at our hands distinct and decided views of Christian doctrine.
3. In the third place, the times require of us an awakened and livelier sense of the unscriptural and soul-ruining character of Romanism.
4. In the fourth place, the times require of us a higher standard of personal holiness, and an increased attention to practical religion in daily life.
5. In the fifth and last place, the times require of us more regular and steady perseverance in the old ways of getting good for our souls.

Now that we live 130 years later, what do you think are the wants of our times?

The Augsburg Confession (Part 2)


Article III—Of the Son of God
Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, took unto him man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably joined together in unity of person; one Christ, true God and true man: who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that he might reconcile the Father unto us, and might be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

The same also descended into hell, and truly rose again the third day. Afterward he ascended into the heavens, that he might sit at the right hand of the Father; and reign forever, and have dominion over all creatures; might sanctify those that believe in him, by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts, who shall rule [sanctify, purify, strengthen], comfort, and quicken them, and hall defend them against the devil, and the power of sin.
The same Christ shall openly come again, to judge the quick and the dead, according as the Apostles’ Creed declareth these and other things.

Article IV—Of Justification

Also they teach that men can not be justified before God by their own powers, merits, or works; but are justified freely [of grace] for Christ’s sake through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and their sins forgiven for Christ’s sake, who by his death hath satisfied for our sins. This faith doth God impute for righteousness before him. Rom. iii and iv.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Hospitality Habits

Here are some very practical habits which foster hospitality.

Spiritual Disciplines for Free

The title of this post sounds exactly like what we modern Americans would like. We would like spiritual disciplines, but we don't want to have to work for them! Well, I'm sorry to disappoint, but the title of this post is not referring to the practice of spiritual disciplines. Rather, it refers to a great deal available at christianaudio.com. This month the folks at christianaudio.com are offering an audio version of Donald Whitney's book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life for free download. I read this book when I was a college student, and it was a great help to my walk with the Lord. Go to their website and follow the instructions to get a most helpful resource!