Here is Week 6: A Confident Answer to Roman Catholicism.
The issue between the Reformation and Roman Catholicism is deeply complex, and easily overwhelming. Many Protestants and Romanists choose to wave away the differences between us as if we’re the same (we’re not), some choose to treat the other as an intractable enemy; but here in the lonely middle, some of us have a desire to find understanding, have evangelistic conversation, and to see them come to a saving knowledge of Christ in His true gospel. What’s your strategy for talking to the Romanist? Continue reading
Recently I began teaching a class at my local church, which I titled “Confident Evangelism without a PhD in Apologetics.” This is Week 5: Confidence in our Faith Leads to Meek Apologetics. I think you’ll really resonate with this one, my friends. In this lesson we hit on some key points regarding God’s sovereignty. Continue reading
Recently I began teaching a class at my local church, which I titled “Confident Evangelism without a PhD in Apologetics.” Thanks to the hard work of one of my church elders, we have it on film, so I wanted to put it up for anyone to enjoy.
My angle is to approach ALL evangelism topics beginning in Colossians 2:2-3 “that [your] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Continue reading
2 John is a single short chapter, easily overlooked, and yet deeply relevant to our situation as Christians today, 1,930 years after he wrote.
John is writing to his dear friend, and in extension to all Christians, and he is warning us about the danger of compromising the truth, using the themes of truth, love, and abiding/walking in truth and love.
Let’s see if I’m right, using a little color to highlight the themes:
1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
John is an old man, and the last living Apostle. His stature in the early church is beyond authoritative: he is the most important man alive. Jesus had personally commanded him to take care of his mother Mary (John 19:26-27)!!
He greets “the elect lady” whom he “love[s] in truth. . .” Here he is possibly calling a whole church the elect lady metaphorically, but the plain use of language calls us to interpret this as an individual woman – could it even have been Mary, mother of Jesus as a very old woman? Maybe! Think about it – Mary truly was the elect among the elect, only less than her Son Jesus in importance in redemptive history.
But notice how he addresses her: he uses the word “truth” four times in the first three verses, and “love“ twice – and all of this he connects with the eternal life and presence of Jesus abiding with us. But look at this:
Walking in Truth and Love
4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.
And what does that look like, John?
6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world,those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
13 The children of your elect sister greet you.
Why shouldn’t we share the apostle’s love of the truth? We ought to be as focused, and diligent concerning what is true, false, right, and wrong. Let us follow what is true and right, and let the Lord Himself sort out the critics who will call us cruel, mean-spirited, or divisive.
Thanks for reading,
Two weeks ago, I posted my essay from a recent seminary research course here. Some dear friends commented that it was a bit heady, and difficult to digest (sorry!), so I wanted to do a quick “cliff-note” version here.
Well, what is baptism? It’s Jesus, at work in His church.
It’s the Word of God, doing it’s work through a physical medium, or “means.” This is why you may hear some Christians call baptism and the Lord’s Supper “means of grace.” These are the two sacraments, or ordinances, by which Jesus works His saving grace in the church.
Now, these are not the only means of grace. Whenever and however God’s holy Word is communicated, it is a means of grace.
Be it by sound waves coming from vocal chords, striking your ear drums.
Be it by reading.
Be it by braille.
The Word of God is powerful because it is His Word by which He has promised to do His works of grace.
Baptism is the place where God’s Word is present and applied by means of water. The water itself does nothing, but only when it is combined with the Word of God (gospel promise), and faith, that then saving grace is imparted. In this sense, God can and does use baptism as a means of birthing, strengthening, and/or preserving saving faith.
About my seminary paper: my argument was that Baptists have an historical track record of fighting with anyone who comes from a paedobaptist denomination (and for good reason, I’m a Baptist too!) But my argument is that we Baptists have overreacted to Roman Catholicism as an institution, and have therefore also overreacted to Lutheran, Anglican, and Reformed denominations (confessions) because of their infant baptism practices.
My argument was, therefore, that we ought to re-examine the Scriptures in light of the faithful, gospel-centered confessions of the Lutherans and Reformed churches, for if they have maintained both the gospel of the apostles AND infant baptism over 500 years, then we ought to recognize Jesus has not removed their lampstand in spite of an irregular administration of baptismal rites (to infants). Does that make sense? Babies should not be baptized, but once they are, we ought to recognize that God works through our mistakes, so long as we are not denying the gospel and twisting His Word to the point of heresy.
And so… I would argue that Baptists
1) Need to re-examine the delivery of saving grace in and through baptism (even though we administer baptism properly after a profession of faith – there is a mystery here working outside of time).
2) Need to recognize baptism as valid, though irregular when it has been done to an infant. Problems do arise when churches baptize infants, but even these issues are “fixable” when once the true, apostolic gospel is preached in those churches. (In other words, Baptists need to stop re-baptizing people, for in reality these second baptisms are not a baptism at all, but rather a traditional, ceremonial mimicking of baptism).
3) and finally, Baptists need to do some soul searching concerning our reactionary stances in a number of areas. This is difficult work, because we want to preserve our apostolic, first-century doctrines and practices that the other Reformation churches are missing out on, but on the other hand, we unnecessarily separate from fellow believers too readily.
This all calls for prayer, humility, and a deep trust in the Word of God to inform our hearts and minds… even if that calls for occasionally repenting of a bad practice or two.
In love for the church,
Will God allow His children, born from His own Spirit, adopted into His family in Christ, and indwelt by His Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14)… to apostatize and lose their justified, beloved place in His sight?
Understand what is at stake: Many who love Christ, His Word, His promises, and His gospel nonetheless teach that the regeneration unto eternal life is revocable upon crossing certain boundary markers. Put another way, they teach us that Christ has no sure hold on His people – any one of us could apostatize, lose our justified standing before the Father, who disowns us, the Holy Spirit leaves us, and we are once again headed for hell.
This is detrimental to the Christian understanding of salvation.
What would Romans 8 (Paul’s magnum opus on Christian security in Christ) look like if God actually let His children lose their faith and die under His wrath? It would be ugly – check it out: