A Baby Dedication

At Berean, some parents choose to dedicate their infants or small children to the Lord at the normal conclusion of the Sunday morning preaching services, but what does it mean to “dedicate” a baby to the Lord? Is this a “photo op,” or is it something much more serious and important? Is this baby dedication the same as infant baptism? Is a baby dedication a church sacrament? Does it dispense grace? Since various Christians would answer these questions differently, the purpose of this article is to clarify what I believe and we practice at Berean.

In the Jewish religion, male infants are circumcised in obedience to the Mosaic Law. In Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other reformed churches, infants are baptized into the church; however, Baptists do not baptize infants, nor do they believe that circumcision is necessary from a biblical perspective. Moreover, Baptists believe that only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can a child become a part of the body of Christ.

Some suggest that the practice of dedicating a baby to the Lord is simply a matter of praying for the infant’s health and salvation. This is based on the example Matthew presents in his 19th chapter where Jesus lays hands on small children and prays for them in verse nine. The trouble with this understanding of the text as the basis for a baby dedication is that it elevates the pastor to a position of being able to convene a “blessing” through a prayer, an unbiblical assumption.

A few suggest that Hannah’s dedication of her toddler son, Samuel, to the Lord in I Samuel 1:19-28 is the basis for the modern day “baby dedication” ceremony. However, the difficulty with using this passage as the scriptural basis for a baby dedication ceremony is that Hannah left Samuel with the High Priest Eli to serve the Lord all the days of his life at the “house of the LORD in Shiloh” (v. 25). The church is not prepared to rear a child in the house of the Lord forever. Nor are most parents truly giving their child at birth to the work of the Lord in the house of the Lord.

Therefore, it seems best to conclude that we are unsure of the origin or tradition of a baby dedication ceremony. We cannot say that the “baby dedication” ceremony is biblical unless we view Jesus being brought to Simeon (Luke 2) as an act of fulfilling a Mosaic Law requirement (see Leviticus 12)—in which case, a child’s dedication would be an old covenant expectation for Jews. We are also unsure if baby dedication was practiced by the early church. There isn’t anything in the New Testament indicating that babies of believers are to be dedicated to the Lord in a special church ceremony.

Some churches conduct special baby dedication Sundays or special services where all who had a child within a specified period of time collectively dedicate themselves before the church. Berean does not hold such special services; instead, a few minutes are used at the end of the normal time of invitation to recognize the parents, the child, and most importantly the commitment to raise the child according to God’s Word. In reality, our ceremony should be called a parent dedication.

Parental Responsibilities

According to Psalm 127:3, children are a gift from God; and parents have a responsibility to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Moreover, Deuteronomy 6:4-7 provides even more specific guidance concerning parental responsibilities toward their children.

4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Parents are to be the primary teachers of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, beginning with the most orthodox truth that the “The Lord our God is one Lord” who has always existed as three Persons–the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—and that every man, woman, and child is to love the LORD their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength (Matt 3:16-17; Mk 12:30-31).

Therefore, instead of dedicating a baby, it seems much more appropriate for each parent to dedicate themselves to both God and their child to be obedient to their God-given parental responsibilities. Doing this before the body of Christ is a sign of the parent’s commitment to fulfill these responsibilities within a community of believers.

These parental responsibilities include but are not limited to:

1. Staying married in recognition that God’s plan for the biological father and mother to rear their children in the same home is the best plan. (This is not meant to exempt single parents.)

2. Being the spiritual leader(s) of their children—which includes setting the example in their relationship with Christ and the church as well as teaching their children the gospel and the whole counsel of the Word of God and its application to life.

3. Maintaining the health, safety, and welfare of their children.

4. Praying without ceasing for their children’s salvation and sanctification to the glory of God.

5. Shepherding their child’s heart toward a full relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel by God’s Sovereign grace.

At Berean, the “baby dedication” is special time at the end of a worship service in which parents recognize that their child is a gift from God and publicly affirm their commitment to fulfill God’s expectations. In essence, each parent who participates enters into a covenant with God and the body of Christ to do what they have been called to do as parents. As such, those who are not truly committed to doing what God expects, by His grace, should not present themselves before the church for a baby dedication. Although photos are often taken during this public proclamation of a commitment to the Lord, it is much more than a photo op; it is a solemn commitment to obey the Lord as parents.

Walter Reed Jumps on the Ban Wagon

After Friday's bombshell, Walter Reed Military Medical Center was inundated with calls about the hospital's Bible ban. In case you missed it, FRC broke the newsthat the Navy had issued new guidelines for the friends and family of wounded soldiers. In a stunning attack on faith, Walter Reed specifically outlawed "religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts" from being "used or given away" during patient visits. As soon as the memo was in FRC's hands, we brought it to the Hill's attention. After working with concerned leaders like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and talking with staff at Walter Reed, we were assured that the Navy was rescinding the policy. Todd Starnes at Fox News also contacted hospital officials and was told by a public affairs officer that the Bible ban was "in no way meant to prohibit family members from providing religious items to their loved ones at all." If that's the case, Starnes pressed, then why bother rescinding the policy? "We don't want there to be any misinterpretation of what we're trying to say," Sandy Dean said.

As of this afternoon, there is no written proof that the policy change has taken place. All we have are the verbal assurances from Walter Reed that the problem is being corrected. Until then, leaders continue to shake their heads at open hostility toward faith in Obama's military. While we appreciate that the Navy is trying to right this wrong, it speaks to the effectiveness of the President's three-year war on Christianity. Apparently, this administration will do whatever it takes to wipe faith off the military's map. With your help, they won't succeed any time soon. Log on to frc.org and speak out against the Walter Reed Bible ban. Click here to add your name to our petition.

http://nation.foxnews.com/bible/2011/12/02/exclusive-military-blasted-banning-bibles-walter-reed-hospital

Biblical Scholarship and the Right to Know | The Humanist

This professor from UNC Chapel Hills seeks to destroy the faith in Christ that young freshman have in the New Testament. Hundreds of students take his New Testament survey class each semester and in this speech he outlines his objectives.

Educate yourself on the enemy. Read the speech he gave when he received an award for his work.

Biblical Scholarship and the Right to Know | The Humanist

Music Wars

The music war will plague the church until Jesus comes again. Every side and angle believes they are correct. Personal preference are superimposed on Scripture. Every side believes they know what God likes best.

Check out this article from USA Today.

And then my short audio commentary.



For more commentaries like the above; check out my sermon page on this blog.

Shepherds Must Shepherd

If you wish to watch this sermon simply click on the small blue camera and a pop-up will broadcast the sermon.

Shepherds must shepherd is an examination of Ezekiel 34 in light of the New Testament. This is part 1 of a two part sermon on the entire chapter.

Learning from the Hebrew! I AM

Once again I discovered this morning why it is critical to use all the resources available to the post-modern Christian to study his Bible. (This includes other translations and websites like www.blueletterbible.org.)

I am writing to those who believe that the KJV is all they need to prepare sermons, etc. and also to those who want to understand the Word more.


I am writing to those who insist that the KJV has some special status above other diligent word for word translations like the NKJV or NASB or ESV. Look at Psalm 50:21 with me.

These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

The words “that I was altogether” are translated from one Hebrew word, the word hayah (Strong’s H1961). This Hebrew word can mean “to be,” “to exist,” and to “be in existence.”

What makes this word so special and what provides so much more depth of understanding concerning the truth in Psalm 50:21 is the fact that the same word is found twice in Exodus 3:14.

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Hayah hayah is translated “I AM THAT I AM” in Exodus 3.14. Perhaps you will recall this is the name that God told Moses to tell Israel when they asked the name of the One who sent him. (This is when Israel was begging God to deliver them from Egypt.)

The English Standard Version (ESV) adds a footnote to Psalm 50:21 indicating that an alternate translation could read “you thought that I AM was one like yourself.”

This makes the pronoun “I” so much more specific. These Jews, who are described as wicked in verse 16, thought that I AM that I AM was like themselves. This is why their thinking was so upside down and why they were being judged so severely.

Thinking that the self-existing God of the Israel is altogether like thyself is disastrous. Having the wrong view of God sets the conditions for wickedness. You may ask, “How so?”

The answer is found in this people’s lack of fear of God. They are not concerned that I AM that I AM is going to "tear them apart," and there will not be anyone who can deliver them from his hand (vs. 22) because they think he is altogether like them (v. 21).

You will recall that I AM that I AM demonstrated His great power in the exodus of Israel from Egypt. Ten plagues all proved the power of God. The horse and rider drowning in the Red Sea while Israel walked over on dry ground were miracles designed to demonstrate God’s great power to execute judgment!

Establishing the Hebrew linkage between hayah (H1961) (found only once in all the Psalms) and Exodus 3:14 is only possible through the study of the original languages.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a Hebrew scholar to gain this level of depth. Instead, you must be willing to read footnotes, use a reference like a Strong’s Concordance, or a website tool like www.blueletterbible.org.

Peek A Boo Jesus Loves You

Peek A Boo Jesus Love You is the title to this tract especially designed for Halloween.

Look at the nonsense in the wording on the tract that was no doubt given out to 1000s upon 1000s of homes last night.

While I have no problem with giving out tracts. The tracts MUST be theologically correct.

This tract does provide a solid gospel centered verse--Romans 6:23. But then it completely ignores the fact that sinners are saved by grace through FAITH (Eph 2).

The tract says, "If you want to live with Jesus forever say a prayer like this:"

Here we go again.

Who writes these tracts? Who approves the final product? Who can defend such a statement? Who can promise to every boy and girl that says these words that they will live with Jesus forever? Will there not be accountability before God for teaching such heresy? Is God's mercy to be presumed upon, such that those who print tracts do not have to be concerned with getting it right.

Or are those who order and pass out such tracts not culpable for there failure to ensure only truth is communicated.

494 years ago Martin Luther nailed a Theses on church door to warn the body of Christ of the heresy of suggesting that one could buy their way out of purgatory.

Today we are not battling indulgences. Instead, we are battling an Evangelical community that teaches boys and girls that the mere articulation of words in the form of a sincere prayer is the same as repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).

How many will say in that day Lord, Lord I prayed that prayer and the piece of paper said if I pray this prayer I will live with Jesus forever.

God forbid that we not fight this heresy the same way Luther fought the Roman Catholic Church's heresy.




Oct 23, 2011 Youth Service

Click on the image to make it larger.

It was Awesome!!  Check out our YouTube channel to hear them sing @ http://www.youtube.com/user/Bereanfayetteville


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King James Bible or Version

Have you noticed a new abbreviation for the Authorized Version of the Bible? The abbreviation reads KJB; instead of KJV or AV. Notice the B has replaced the V. Those who use this abbreviation believe that the KJV is not a version—it is the Bible for English speaking people. They believe that version is not the right word to use because it implies that there is more than one acceptable translation of the Bible. You see, according to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, a version is “a translation from another language; especially: a translation of the Bible or a part of it.”

Baptist churches that use a B instead of a V reject the idea that the King James Bible is a translation. They believe that the translators were given special guidance to select all the correct English words.

This new extreme minority group within Baptist churches has adopted the position that the KJB is the new original manuscript. This group believes that the KJB has replaced the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. The following is a sentence taken directly from a letter I received from one in this group. The sentence is not taken out of context or extracted for my open purposes. This is what one man wrote me:

“We strongly believe without apology that the old 1611 King James Bible is neither just a ‘reliable translation’ nor an ‘accurate version’ but rather God's perfect, pure, infallible, and inerrant word in the English language. It is WITHOUT proven textual or doctrinal errors. It CANNOT be improved upon by any other English or American language version now and forever!”

He continues to write:

“Even with very limited resources and virtually no financial backing, I am alone endeavoring to translate the Old Testament scriptures directly from the King James Bible (without resorting to Greek and Hebrew lexicons). — a very difficult and tremendous task indeed! The Filipino King James Bible translation project is progressing slowly but surely. Filipino, which is based from Tagalog, is our national language.”

Notice that he says he is going to give the Filipino people a King James Bible. He is going to do this without “resorting to Greek and Hebrew lexicons.” To do so, this man will rely strictly upon whatever KJB he presently uses with whatever current English renderings it has. Please understand that his KJB is not a 1611 Bible. We know this to be true because, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the KJV, Amazon and others are selling replicas of the original 1611 Bible. Next time you are in a bookstore, look for a replica.

Or, if you don’t want to do that, you could check out this website:

http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1611-Bible/

If you want to see an example of what a page looked like in the original 1611, here is a link to a facsimile:

http://www.greatsite.com/facsimile-reproductions/kingjames-1611-detail3.html

When a KJB Baptist says he is using the 1611 KJB to translate into a new language, one has to wonder if he is really using this hard-to-read-and-comprehend 1611, or if he is using a newer version. Of course, the differences are primarily in spelling, punctuation and other minor differences that have no impact on doctrine, but the point is clear: why say 1611 when the version being used is really from 1769 or some other more recent year?

The real issue is: Were the American version translators among a long line of gifted men who were committed to giving English-speaking men and women a Bible they could understand in their own language, or did something special happen in 1611 that had never happened before? Did God lead, guide, and direct these men to select all the correct English words in a particular way such that reference to the Hebrews or Greek is no longer necessary?

This scenario is problematic in this sense: who defines a word when it is not clearly understood? Is it the Webster dictionary? Is it the 1828 Webster dictionary? If Hebrew and/or Greek lexicons can’t be used, something must be used.

The value in looking at alternative scriptural rendering in English is completely lost when one decides he cannot use either other translations or the Hebrew or Greek text to gain a better understanding of what Paul, Peter, or John (or any other author) has said.

Let me illustrate. Let’s look at Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

What does the author mean by the word substance? If I choose to use an English dictionary, my choices are presented below.

sub•stance \ˈsəb-stən(t)s\ noun
[Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin substantia, from substant-, substans, present participle of substare to stand under, from sub- + stare to stand — more at STAND]

1 a : essential nature : ESSENCE
b : a fundamental or characteristic part or quality
c : Christian Science : GOD 1b
2 a : ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change
b : practical importance : MEANING, USEFULNESS 〈the… bill—which will be without substance in the sense that it will authorize nothing more than a set of ideas —Richard Reeves〉
3 a : physical material from which something is made or which has discrete existence
b : matter of particular or definite chemical constitution
c : something (as drugs or alcoholic beverages) deemed harmful and usually subject to legal restriction 〈possession of a controlled substance〉 〈has a substance problem〉
4 : material possessions : PROPERTY


The above choices are not very helpful. I don’t know which one to choose. There is nothing between the verse and the four choices to help me make a better choice.

Searching for the word substance in other Bible verses also becomes exceptionally problematic because this particular Greek word is only rendered substance once. However, the word substance is found four times in the New Testament. The other three times come from a different Greek word than hypostatis, the Greek word used in Hebrews 11:1. This is why knowing the Greek behind the text is critically important. (Additionally, if it were not for a lexicon or another translation I would not know that the other three uses of substance came from a different Greek word.)

Hypostatis is found twice in 1 Corinthians and three other times in Hebrews, for a total of six uses in the New Testament.

It is translated twice as confidence, once as confident, and once as the word person.

Because I know which Greek word is in the text, I can now study the correct word to gain a better understanding of what the word substance means in this text.

I understand the word confidence. So, if I substitute confidence for substance in Hebrews 11:1, the text would read, “Now faith in the confidence of things hoped for…”

Interestingly, if I choose to take advantage of other English translations I discover that confidence is the right idea.

‎‎Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
‎‎Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
‎‎Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
‎‎Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Assurance, reality, assurance, and confidence are the four ways hypostatis (G5287) is rendered in four other translations. Knowing the Greek behind the English is critical. Using either hardcopy or digital lexicons makes it easy to look for other contextual uses of the same Greek word. And recognizing that the KJV is just a translation gives me the freedom to look at other English translations.

By rejecting potential insight offered by other English translations and the Greek and Hebrew texts, those in the KJB camp loose valuable resources in gaining a complete understanding of the English rendering of God’s Word.

Those still not convinced should consider the following: The KJV was not the first English Bible. William Tyndale translated the Greek New Testament into English about 70 years before the 1611 version was first printed. To claim that the KJB is the only Bible worthy of acknowledgement as God’s Word means that the Greek that William used was good Greek and worthy of being studied during his time, but that this same Greek is no longer of value today. It was of value for some people (Tyndale, Miles Coverdale, the Geneva Bible translators, and the AV 1611 translators) for about 100 years, but the value is no longer there for Christians alive today who seek to know and understand the Word of God.

That is just ridiculous. It is just as ridiculous as statements like this:

"We believe that the King James Version is the perfect, impeccable, inspired, and preserved Word of God. We believe that inspiration took place when God spoke through holy men of old and that God has preserved His Word to this present moment. The Textus Receptus manuscript from which the King James is translated is the only completely reliable manuscript in existence. Midwestern Baptist College has no other text or version and would not tolerate the use of any other."

What if I don’t read English? Then what? What if I am going to preach the gospel in another country where English is not the primary language? Then what? Do I teach these people that the Greek is the standard, or do I teach that the English the standard? What happens when there is a difference between the word rendering in the non-English Bible of missionary’s people group and the way a word was rendered in the KJV Bible? Do I teach them that we must look at the Greek; or is the KJV perfect?

Certainly, what works much better is to teach that all translations are the Word of God in so much as they accurately represent the Hebrew and Greek words in the text. This means that all Bibles are not the Word of God. Only those Bibles that diligently preserve the meaning of the original language are the Word of God. Paraphrases and gender neutral translations may contain the Word of God; but they are not the Word of God because their first objective is not to translate the text.

Conclusion

When a translation committee has the same objective that William Tyndale had, we can be assured that God will use it to continue to preserve his Word. Over 2000 years ago, God did it first with the translation committee who gave the Apostles the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Through the Holy Spirit, God continues to do the same year after year, for which we can all be thankful.

He is Not Silent--Book Review



He is NOT Silent: Preaching in a PostModern World by R. Albert Mohler Jr. is an exceptionally good read on the state of preaching and what is needed for today. The length is reasonable and can be read in about a week. Each chapter has a specific focus that the preacher will find to be challenging and encouraging. The text is packed full of scripture, fully quoted and left in its context. Mohler’s chapter on the preacher as a theologian is unusually helpful. He is spot on as he emphasizes the need for sound doctrine in postmodernity. Finally, the epilogue on the Baptist preacher Charles H. Spurgeon is superb!

Any man who aspires to the office of pastor must read this book.

The Bible And the Modern Age

This sermon is the follow up to the YouTube video clip you may have watched earlier on the blog between Pierce Morgan and Joel Osteen titled Kicking and Screaming into the Modern Age.

By clicking on the red pdf icon you can read the sermon transcript as well.

Kicking and Screaming Into the Modern World

The importance of a solid stand on the authority and inerrancy of the Word of God is seen in the wish-washy performance and response of the Osteen couple.

Piers Morgan, the interviewer, recognizes the problem of Osteen's position and presses him hard but Osteen wants to have one foot in the Kingdom of God and one foot in the Kingdom of Public Approval. While we are in the world we are not of the world. No man can serve two masters. Joel is trying but you can see it is not working well in this interview. Moreover, it will be disastrous at the judgment seat of Christ.

Please pay close attention to Piers expectation that the Scripture be dragged into the modern world.


Courageous by Sherwood Pictures


Don’t believe a single review that doesn’t praise Courageous as an excellent movie. Sherwood Pictures has out done itself. Writer Stephen Kendrick and writer-director-actor Alex Kendrick have together done a great job of providing two hours of good challenging entertainment that doesn’t seem like a waste of time. Instead, I left the theater moved, inspired, challenged and thankful I spent the money to watch this movie. I immediately sent a tweet expressing my complete appreciation for the movie. After spending a few minutes reading reviews of the movie, on my iPad, I was once again reminded that Christian fundamentalists are in the extreme minority in America. These movie critics can’t appreciate a movie with a Christian agenda behind it. They don’t mind a pagan or heathen agenda, but an agenda where Jesus is Lord is just unacceptable; therefore, it must be ripped apart.

Every Christian that can afford the cost of a movie ticket should send a strong message to Hollywood with our wallets. We want movies that reflect Christian values and Courageous is just such a movie. Kendrick’s target audience is not the unconverted pagan; so if such a person fails to attend this movie—that is their problem. He or she will still be accountable for their sin. For those who are unregenerate but venture into the theater anyway, they will not be able to say—I didn’t know there were people who believe that sin separates from man from a Holy God. Nor will they be able to say, “I didn’t know there were people who believed that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, died for the sins of man.” You can’t miss the gospel in this movie, yet it’s a great movie that deals with life in a rough way. All can relate to the struggles of parenting, financial battles,ethical dilemmas at work, etc.

I wish I could order every male in my church to watch the movie, but I can’t. So I will resort to encouraging all in the strongest way: Go watch Courageous! Support the local theater who dares to run such a proselytizing movie.

Sherwood Keep Up the Great Work!

Grace Card: A Must See Movie

This is an excellent movie. It is not perfect and the actors will not win carnal awards for acting, but it is an superb movie. I would fast forward through the previews but once the movie gets going it getting better and better. It does suffer from a bit of predictability but that's true for most movies. It is available on Redbox.

Social Security Must Be Fixed

This is an excellent read about the problem with Social Security and what needs to be done to fix it.

Most people are not so misinformed that they don't recognize the necessity of providing a solution.

Moreover the only reason a Christian should be retiring from the "work force" is to do more for the Lord.

Charles Krauthammer Writes:

The Great Social Security Debate boils down to four major points:

* Proposition 1: Of course it's a Ponzi scheme.

In a Ponzi scheme, the people who invest early get their money out with dividends. But these dividends don't come from any profitable or productive activity -- they consist entirely of money paid in by later participants.

This cannot go on forever because at some point there just aren't enough new investors to support the earlier entrants. Word gets around that there are no profits, just money transferred from new to old. The merry-go-round stops, the scheme collapses and the remaining investors lose everything.

Now, Social Security is a pay-as-you-go program. A current beneficiary isn't receiving the money she paid in years ago. That money is gone. It went to her parents' Social Security check. The money in her check is coming from her son's FICA tax today -- i.e., her "investment" was paid out years ago to earlier entrants in the system and her current benefits are coming from the "investment" of the new entrants into the system. Pay-as-you-go is the definition of a Ponzi scheme.

So what's the difference? Ponzi schemes are illegal, suggested one of my colleagues on "Inside Washington."

But this is perfectly irrelevant. Imagine that Charles Ponzi had lived not in Boston but in the lesser parts of Papua New Guinea where the securities and fraud laws were, shall we say, less developed. He runs his same scheme among the locals -- give me ("invest") one goat today, I'll give ("return") you two after six full moons -- but escapes any legal sanction. Is his legal enterprise any less a Ponzi scheme? Of course not.

So what is the difference?

* Proposition 2: The crucial distinction between a Ponzi scheme and Social Security is that Social Security is mandatory.

That's why Ponzi schemes always collapse and Social Security has not. When it's mandatory, you've ensured an endless supply of new participants. Indeed, if Charles Ponzi had had the benefit of the law forcing people into his scheme, he'd still be going strong -- and a perfect candidate for commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

But there's a catch. Compulsion allows sustainability; it does not guarantee it. Hence ...

* Proposition 3: Even a mandatory Ponzi scheme like Social Security can fail if it cannot rustle up enough new entrants.

You can force young people into Social Security, but if there just aren't enough young people in existence to support current beneficiaries, the system will collapse anyway.

When Social Security began making monthly distributions in 1940, there were 160 workers for every senior receiving benefits. In 1950, there were 16.5; today, three; in 20 years, there will be but two.

Now, the average senior receives in Social Security about a third of what the average worker makes. Applying that ratio retroactively, this means that in 1940, the average worker had to pay only 0.2 percent of his salary to sustain the older folks of his time; in 1950, 2 percent; today, 11 percent; in 20 years, 17 percent.

This is a staggering sum, considering that it is apart from all the other taxes he pays to sustain other functions of government, such as Medicare, whose costs are exploding.

The Treasury already steps in and borrows the money required to cover the gap between what workers pay into Social Security and what seniors take out. When young people were plentiful, Social Security produced a surplus. Starting now and for decades to come, it will add to the deficit, increasingly so as the population ages.

Demography is destiny. Which leads directly to

* Proposition 4: This is one Ponzi scheme that can be saved by adapting to the new demographics.

Three easy steps: Change the cost-of-living measure, means test for richer recipients and, most important, raise the retirement age. The current retirement age is an absurd anachronism. Bismarck arbitrarily chose 70 when he created social insurance in 1889. Clever guy: Life expectancy at the time was under 50.

When Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security, choosing 65 as the eligibility age, life expectancy was 62. Today it is almost 80. FDR wanted to prevent the aged few from suffering destitution in their last remaining years. Social Security was not meant to provide two decades of greens fees for baby boomers.

Of course it's a Ponzi scheme. So what?

It's also the most vital, humane and fixable of all social programs. The question for the candidates is: Forget Ponzi -- are you going to fix Social Security?

Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, writes a weekly political column for The Washington Post. Email to letters@charleskrauthammer.com.

After winning key right, gays press for more from military - Washington Times

With the official end of the U.S. military’s ban two weeks away, gay-rights activists are pressing the Pentagon for more than just the right to serve openly.

An underground group of gay personnel says it has won permission from at least two military branches to let it distribute its magazine, Outserve, on bases.

In addition, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which led a long fight in Washington to repeal the ban, has written to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta urging him to extend military housing and other benefits to the same-sex spouses of personnel.


Read the entire article here.


After winning key right, gays press for more from military - Washington Times

A Discussion of Luke 24:44

Yesterday Bill, David, Joe and I sat down to discuss the significance of Luke 24:44. This is one of my favorite verses in the NT. Join the discussion by leaving a comment.



Understanding the Depth of Luke 24:44 as it Relates to Christ in the Old Testament

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

The significance of Luke 24:44 cannot be overstated. In this statement, Jesus is either a liar or He is the central figure of the majority of the prophecies found in the Old Testament.

The inclusion of the word “fulfilled” lets us know that Luke is referencing prophecy. Prophecies are fulfilled through Jesus. Notice the words “must be.” These words are foundational. He did not say “may be.” He said “must be.” The Sovereign God of the Universe is assuring that all that was prophesied of the coming Messiah either has been or will be fulfilled.

Notice that at a minimum Jesus is making reference to 5 plus 17 plus 1 or 23 OT books. Of course, if Psalms is more than just the book of Psalms then Jesus could be referring to the number of songs Israel sang about the coming Messiah. Therefore, books like Song of Solomon, as well as songs found in the historical books, could also be included in making the scope of His statement even more significant.

Think about the promises that are found in the law concerning Jesus. We can start with the promise found in Genesis 3:15 and move forward. In Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18, specific references are made to God sending a Prophet. Stephen understood this promise to be Jesus.

Referring to Jesus, He said, “This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.”

Seventeen prophetical books, five major and twelve minor, all contain prophecies about Jesus. Certainly, one of the most importance chapters of prophecy concerning Christ is found in Isaiah 53 where Jesus, the suffering servant, atones for the sins of the world.

A famous example of a minor prophet’s reference to Jesus would be Micah’s reference to the birthplace of Jesus.

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2 is incredible in its depth. A ruler from the tribe of Judah, from everlasting, as in preexisting, will be born in Bethlehem. Of course, this is Jesus.

Stephen, Peter, Paul, and others all expected the Jews to recognize that they had made a colossal mistake in crucifying the Messiah. Yet, they also understood this was God’s predetermined will.

Of course, there are so many more prophecies found in the seventeen prophetical books—hundreds upon hundreds, and I would be remiss if I did not mention Isaiah 7:14 as one of the most crucial.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

In addition, Malachi 3:1 predicts that God would send a forerunner before Jesus who we now know to be John the Baptist.

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Finally, the Psalms are filled with references to Christ. Think about Psalm 22.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

But, perhaps the most significant of all is Psalm 110.

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

Again, Stephen (in Acts 7) and the author of Hebrews (throughout the letter), both provide commentary on this passage for us. Both make it clear that Jesus of Nazareth is the man (God-man) who is being referenced in this prophecy of a priest after the order of Melchizedek who sits on the right hand of the Lord, as both a priest interceding and a king awaiting his kingdom.

It is critical that the student of the Old Testament recognize that the Old Testament was written with Christ in mind from the beginning to the end.

An Interview with Lecrae and Trip Lee

This interview is about 45 minutes long, but the point of the interview that I want to bring to your attention is in the beginning of the interview. Notice the manner in which two men nearly 10 years apart, in different parts of America, both experienced the same "pray this prayer for conversion experience." Listen to them in their own words. For it is a compelling reason to get the gospel right with students! Listen for words like "robust theology" and you will realize even children are desiring depth in their walk with the Lord. Sunday school teachers, youth workers, AWANA leaders, Pastor David, Pastor Bill, Pastor Steve, Nate, let's give it to them.

I found this interview exceptionally encouraging as it reveals the scope of God's work of redemption in America.


An Interview with Lecrae and Trip Lee

Sharing the Gospel with Children

Wednesday night I think we had an exceptionally profitable seminar in preparing for the new AWANA year. The training was well attended but for those who were unable to be present we recorded the audio and videotaped the seminar. The camera icon below lets you watch the video and the red icon lets you download the transcript as a pdf. Additionally, from sermon audio (www.sermonaudio.com/bereanbaptistch) you can also send it to your Kindle.

This seminar puts clear focus on teaching children to trust in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and the Promise of the eternal life to all who will repent and believe in the gospel. I hope you will listen or watch.

Tim Hawkins - The Government Can



Watch this.

WallBuilders - Issues and Articles - The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible

WallBuilders - Issues and Articles - The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible

Anyone who has been convinced that all of the America's founding fathers were deists who denied the Lordship of Jesus Christ as Freemasons--should read this article. As Freemasons they were wrong but that doesn't mean they were not influenced by the Bible.

No one knows whether these men were born again or not. That is not the issue in this argument the primary issue is: Was the Bible an influence in the lives of the founding fathers? Did Christian values and morals influence the governing documents of America?

It appears to me the answer is yes. This is not a biblical debate. It is simply an observation about the foundation of America. What do you of this article?

What about a 90 minute Worship Service

Recently a visitor to Berean let me know that they would not attend a church that had a 90 minute worship service. Wow! Consider what a statement like that is saying. “God, I don’t have 90 minutes for you.” Think about everything the typical America is willing to do for over 90 minutes. They will attend a sporting event that could easily last 90+ minutes. Americans will attend a movie what will also easily exceed 90 minutes—but the preaching of the Word, worship, fellowship, Bible study, announcements, baby dedications, a call to repent, and a baptism are not worth 90 minutes of my time once a week.

It is no wonder that America is in its current state, and the fundamental/evangelical church is in its current state in the USA. “I will not go to a church that has a service that lasts 90 minutes” is indicative of a failure to disciple people into a full level of commitment or a lack of genuine conversion.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ by the Apostle John, Jesus expresses his disdain for “lukewarm” Christians.

Jesus says that because they are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, he will spew (vomit) them out of his mouth (Rev 3:16). What a graphic picture of disdain! Spitting something out of one’s mouth is what a person may do when they just can’t suffer the taste of something. Neither of the polar extremes of lukewarm are acceptable. Hot water when I am cold is wonderful and ice cold water when I am hot is so refreshing. So, both are excellent, but what about lukewarm water? It is not quite as warming or refreshing.

Unfortunately, I am afraid lukewarm is where many so-called Christians are living.

Lukewarm Christians want “sermonettes” delivered on perceived needs, not to exceed 30 minutes in length. Hard exegesis of the whole counsel of the Word of God are avoided at all cost. Lengthy sermons that explore the holistic message of the text beginning with the author’s original intent may simply take too long.

All this creates a world in which the majority still claims to be Christians, but an alien visiting America for the first time would conclude that America is not a Christian nation. Instead, it is apparently that the citizenship is worshipping at the altar of “what is best for me” without regard for anyone else. This polarization is contrary to the Word of God, but so-called Christians more concerned with political correctness and Sunday afternoon lunches and naps rather than a worship service that pleases the Lord and challenges the soul don’t care about anyone but themselves.

This manifests itself in a visible sense in those who arrive late and leave early. But, even those who arrive early and stay after can be present for the wrong motives. Treasuring Christ above all else must be the driving force for participation in corporate worship services and the preaching of the Word of God.

“90 minutes is too much” is reflective of a heart that needs to be challenged to recognize the work of the Lord in a worship service. Certainly there are exceptions for those who have back injuries and such who need to get up and stretch or those who are sick, but the general statement taken at face value does not reflect a heart that desires to experience God’s best each week in the assembly of the people of God.

Finally, there is nothing special about 90 minutes; God can work in 60 (or 76, for that matter) minutes as well as 90 minutes. That isn’t the point. The point is that 90 minutes isn’t a long time when we’re watching a great movie or a good high school basketball game when our child is playing. In the same way, when God is working in the church, 90 minutes flies by, but that’s only when Christ is treasured in the way basketball is treasured by a true “Tar Heel.”

Trust in the Tension You Can't Understand

In Proverbs 21, the opening verse and the closing verse of the chapter both point to the same truth that isn’t readily acknowledged by many Christians, which is the fact that God is clearly in charge. God is in charge of the affairs of man. He is not distant and removed from day to day life on the earth. On the contrary, he directs the king’s heart. Look at verse 1:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.


God turns the king’s heart. “Heart” in this verse is the mind. It is the place where decisions are made, and God turns the king’s heart as He sees fit. Then, the closing verse reminds me of the same truth.

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.

In this verse, “the horse is made ready” refers to all that man does to ensure the outcome that he desires on a particular task, event, contest, battle, etc. Preparation is made to win the war. Training occurs to be victorious. Every effort is made to be prepared for the storm. Structures are built to withstand winds and weather. Safety and shelter are sought when weather alerts warn of danger. However, in the end “victory belongs the Lord.” In the end, safety belongs to the Lord.

Seatbelts are worn. Airbags are installed. Speed limits are followed. But in the end, safety belongs to the Lord.

This amazing tension between man’s responsibility to do right, to choose wisely, to prepare appropriately, to seek the Lord, to pray without ceasing and God’s sovereignty is seen throughout the Bible.

In fact, the more you study the Bible the more you see it. Look at Luke 22:22:

For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”

In this verse, Scripture makes it clear that God determined before the foundation of the world the way that Jesus, the Son of Man, would go.

Yet, there is no immunity for the men who were involved in crucifying an innocent man. God will not turn a blind eye to their sin. Judas contributes to the predetermined crucifixion of the Son of God, yet he does not get a pass for betraying the Lord.

God’s sovereignty does not absolve man of his responsibility to do right, even when God uses the wicked actions of men for a good purpose.

Therefore, the more you study the Bible the more you will see this fundamental truth woven into the narrative of the history of mankind. With your heart focused upon this truth, search for it for yourself in Scripture, and you will begin to see it come to life.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Parents do you know what is in the movie you are letting your teenagers attend at the theater?

I have not seen this movie so I rely on websites like Pluggedin.com to give me a perspective I might not have. After hearing that the moview was clean I thought let me double check. Here is a portion of the review from pluggedin.com.

SEXUAL CONTENT:

An early scene features lingering, exceedingly close-up shots of Carly's backside as she's clad in skimpy bikini underwear and one of Sam's shirts. We watch as she climbs on top of him and straddles him in bed. Though we never see the pair in bed together after that, a sexual relationship is clearly implied between the couple. And even though they're apparently living together, both agree that they're not yet ready to say "I love you."

Carly's physique, including her long legs and cleavage-baring outfits, get regular attention throughout the film, though never quite as obviously as in the scene described above. Dylan has eyes for her, and he compares her curvaceous figure to the sensual curves of a vintage automobile in his collection. Someone makes a joke about wanting to frisk Carly, and a scene with her involving licorice is played suggestively.

Sam's mother offers him an explicitly titled book about female orgasm and says he won't be able to land another beautiful girlfriend unless he's well endowed and knows how to pleasure a woman. A male colleague corners Sam in a restroom to give him secret information, but a scuffle breaks out between them instead. Their melee (played for laughs), ends up with the man straddling Sam with his pants down in a men's room stall—something that looks like a violent homosexual tryst to Sam's boss, who happens to walk in as they stumble out. (His boss later mentions the encounter again, stressing that he doesn't care about what his employees do with others in a bathroom stall.)

Women frequently wear revealing tops, while skirts and dresses display a lot of leg. An office worker dubs a colleague a "hoochie mama" because she wears a very skimpy outfit. Sam and Carly kiss twice, as do one other couple. One character fondly recalls a secret tryst with a woman and makes a suggestive comment about her backside.

Read the entire review at:

http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/transformersdarkofthemoon.aspx.

Letter to the Editor of the Fayetteville Observer

This letter was printed on June 29, 2011 in the Fayetteville Observer in response to the SBC decision to elect a black pastor to the No. 2 position in the convention.

After 165 of history, the Southern Baptist Convention is long past due in its decision to elect a black pastor to its No. 2 leadership position. The No. 1 post should be next. Every Baptist (and Christian), both those in and out of the convention, should rejoice in this step towards full racial integration. It is truly unfortunate that the Body of Christ is so divided over denominational lines. The Biblical truth is that it was never God’s intention that the body of Christ be fragmented in such a way as it is today.

The church was not designed to be segregated into “black churches” and “white churches.” While different languages can sometimes force separate times and places of worship and Bible study, skin color should never be a source of division. Racism is unquestionably a sin, and the goal of every local church should be to reflect the cultural diversity of its city as symbolic of the unity bought by the gospel of Christ.

How is it that the gospel that unifies sinful man with a loving God is preached in largely segregated churches? The same gospel that reconciles man to God and the same gospel that integrated Jews and Gentiles in first century churches after the resurrection of Jesus should undoubtedly unify whites, blacks, and believers of all colors in the church today.

Pastor Sean Harris

Saved by Fire or No Hope of Repentance

This sermon deals with the controversal interpretations of Hebrews 6:4-8. It attempts to examine each of the four of the major interpretatives perspectives, including David Allen's position, and explains why some work better than others and what seems best in light of the Words of our Lord in Matthew 7 and 13.



For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

Baptists Must Extend to Others Liberty in the Non-Essentials of the Faith and Grey Areas of Life

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Is what Paul writes about in the above verse true in your church? Do members of the church have the right and privilege to disagree on matters of the conscious without consequence?

1 Corinthians 10:29

Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?

I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?


For about 375 years Baptists in America have affirmed “soul liberty” as a distinctive of being a Baptist—because of numerous references to such liberty in the Bible. In response to the Church of England’s overbearing control of every aspect of doctrine and the full or partial denial of the individual priesthood of the believer, Baptists and other Bible churches have continually affirmed the right of the individual believer to be a priest unto himself before God. This distinctive goes hand in hand with the view that each soul has the liberty to disagree regarding non-essential matters and remain a member of the church in good standing.

This means that I can disagree with my friend Pastor Andy Webb on infant baptism and remain co-laborers and friends in Christ. We can agree to disagree. Baptists and Presbyterians have been doing this for hundreds of years. Moreover this applies to fellow Baptists. I can disagree with a freewill Baptist about man’s ability to lose his salvation. I will not criticize him; I will not accuse him of being an unbeliever, liberal, or bash any other area where the Scripture is not as black and white as I would like it. Perhaps if parts of Hebrews (and a few other passages) were more black and white, then I could describe what a freewill Baptist was saying as heretical. However, the fact is orthodox believers have disagreed on this matter. Therefore, according to 2 Corinthians 3:17, I am to extend to them liberty more specifically “soul liberty” for where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.

I can extend soul liberty to preferences regarding music style, skirts or pants for women, mixed co-ed bathing [swimming], inter-racial marriages, Bible translations, infant baptism and many other non-fundamental issues, debates, discussions and differences.

I can respect the fact that two born again, Christ loving, gospel centered Christians, can come to two different conclusions on a particular issue. Both are not right but this side of eternity we will not know who was right and who was wrong or if the issue was one where God permits more liberty.

So what bothers me is when the people who make the most fuss about being a Baptist are the same ones who are the least committed to extending to other Christians the liberty in which Baptist churches were founded upon centuries ago. For example, the church has always had general Baptists and particular Baptists. General Baptists believe in a general atonement (Christ died for the world) and particular Baptists believe in limited atonement (Christ died for elect). These Baptists do not share the same conviction and understanding about the atonement, yet they should extend to each other the soul liberty to be different without branding the other as a heretic. Paul said it like this:

Romans 8:21
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Are you in a Baptist church that doesn’t extend “the glorious liberty of the children of God” to others? Is there one way or the highway on non-essential issues? Does the pastor passively shun those who do not agree with his take on the non-essentials? Is there a pugnacious, self-righteous air of superiority the ones who know all? Are some made to feel like second class citizens for not wearing skirts/dresses 24/7? When someone shows up in the assembly of believers without the right Bible (translation) are they looked down upon? Would there be an awkward silence in the air if the “wrong” translation was read aloud? Would someone feel they had a responsibility before God to set this person straight?

In Baptist and Bible churches, these things should never happen because the very distinctive things that set Baptists apart is their commitment to the priesthood of the believers, the autonomy of the local church, congregational government, and soul liberty.

Paul told the church at Galatia not to allow others to put them in bondage again.

Galatians 2:4
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

Because Paul makes specific reference to “false brethren” do not think that is ok for genuine brothers in Christ to do what Paul said the false brethren were not to be allowed to do. Do not think this is my pastor—surely it is “ok” for him to bring me into bondage. Bondage is bondage.

Christ said he came to “set at liberty those who are bruised [oppressed]” (Luke 4:18). There are far too many Baptists preachers oppressing their people with secondary rules where the spirit of liberty is supposed to be ruling.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not add this final admonishment from Paul. He said,

1 Corinthians 8:9
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

Nothing about the liberty or freedom I have in Christ should ever be used in a way that could cause a weaker brother in Christ to stumble. What a balance! This is a balance that I must rely upon the Holy Spirit to help me find each and every day God calls me to serve him.

Communion with God

Having just read an article on “Reading the Bible in Prayer and Communion with God” by John Piper in the ESV Study Bible in the Articles and Resources Section (p. 2570-2), I thought I would try and share a few thoughts with you.

1. I don’t ever want to get over the fact that the Sovereign God of the Universe desires to hear from me in prayer. What an amazing thought! The One who created an untold number of galaxies upon galaxies and calls the stars by name (Is 40:26) is ready to hear from me—little old me—one of billions on the planet.

2. Then when I consider the number of times that I place something else about communion with God it is amazing that He still wants to hear from me. In my mind, I can almost hear the “O now…now you want to spend time with me.” “Is there a tornado coming? Is that why you are praying?” I know I have been guilty of that and I want to confess it as sin. Communion with God needs to a top priority in my life.

3. Praying should be a joy in my life not a drudgery! Praying is not something I have to do; it is something I get to do! I get to spend time with the Lord and it is for my joy. If God is my joy then communing with God will result in my joy.

4. May I never forget that I was created to commune with God to His Glory! The Lord says, “even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him” (Is 43:7). Piper reminds me that glorifying God is not something I go do after I have prayed for the day; instead, I bring glory to God in communion with Him.

5. Then I (a sinner!) am reminded that it is the gospel that makes communion with God possible. The gospel not only promises me eternal life, but the same good news makes prayer a joy. Without the gospel the wrath of God abides on me and I cannot imagine communing in prayer with a God who is pouring wrath in my direction. When God gave Adam and Eve coverings of skin and blood was shed because of their sin he was reminding them that communion would still be possible even after they had disobeyed him. But animals died and blood was shed! And the eventual death of Christ was portrayed.

6. Finally, communion involves two way communications and Piper reminds me that the Bible is the revelation of God. Sixty-six canonical books inspired by God to ensure I have an infallible and authoritative revelation of the eternal Triune God. But this is work—I must think as I am reading. True communion with anyone requires work so I should not be surprised when the same holds true with God. I must respond to God communicate to me. What is he saying to me? How does His Word speak to me? What should I be getting out of this text?

The Christian cannot separate prayer from Bible reading. The two go hand in hand. I need to synchronize the two. I need to pray and read and read and pray. Therein lies true communion with God.

Does God Obligate Himself to Do Things Based on the Incantation of Prayers?

This morning I hope to talk about three things in a way that relate one to another and should serve to reinforce an important point. First, by now most Christians have heard of the Prayer of Jabez book from 1 Chronicles 4:10. From one verse, ripped out of context, an entire book was developed and marketed to millions. Without regard to the motive of the author of the book, one thing is clear—the book is a sham. It suggests that the articulation of Jabez’s prayer in faith obligates God to perform for the one praying the same thing that He did for Jabez. Most Baptists understand that God doesn’t operate that way. There aren’t words that can be articulated which obligate God to do anything. Even the words “Have mercy upon me!” may not automatically result in mercy. In the end, God will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy (Romans 9:15).

Second, John Eckhardt, a self-proclaimed Apostle, markets a book that suggests that certain prayers rout demons and break curses. Obviously only he knows what prayers work and do not work. Therefore, you need to buy his book—the Bible is not be sufficient. So like Bruce Wilkinson, the author of the Prayer of Jabez, Eckhardt has the inside scoop and you need to buy his book. Again most Baptists (including other Fundamentalists and conservative Evangelicals) seem to understand that it is ridiculous to suggest that a particular prayer is necessary to gain victory over our Enemy or automatically gain victory over Satan and his cronies. It is seems as though nearly all Baptists understand that it is faith in the power of God that overcomes the devil and the flesh.

However, I find it quite ironical, sad, and disconcerting that these same Baptists sometimes teach by word and/or practice that a certain prayer is necessary for salvation or this prayer guarantees salvation. How can this be? How can Baptists refute the idea that the mere articulation of Jabez’s prayer will not obligate God to bless and how can they rebut the idea that saying the words in Eckhardt’s book will not obligate God to remove a demon from a person, but these same Baptists teach a child that the articulation of a prayer of salvation guarantees eternal life. How can these three things be reconciled? Where is this model prayer of salvation in the Bible? Where is the scriptural proof?

Is it Romans 10.13? Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Is that the same thing as say this prayer?

Is that what the Bible teaches? Is that how we tell somehow to be saved? Do we lead them in prayer? Can we not see that the mere articulation of words does not obligate God to bless financially or exorcise a demon or save a soul from hell?

Is it not repentance toward God and faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves the soul from hell (Acts 20:21)?

How can we say, “yes, I agree with you” and then violate our very words as we lead a six year old in a prayer—are they supposed to understand the difference?

Read about what does it means to call upon the name of the Lord here:

Can’t we stop practicing that which we know is not a guarantee of anything? In the end we can only tell someone what the Bible says and challenge them to repent and believe the gospel. We can do know more to seal the deal or close the net or invoke decision—only the Spirit of God can do that.

Disingenuous or Ignorant: The 1611 KJB Brothers in Christ

The next time you are in a Walmart pick up a 1611 KJV Bible in the book section of the store. Walmart and many other stores are selling replicas of the original Authorized Version in celebration of its 400th Anniversary Year. These Bibles are digital reproductions of the actual pages from the first King James Bible. And one thing you will quickly see is the font is much different and very hard to read. The next thing you will notice is it is hard to read because of how many words have changed in the way they are spelled. Sonne is son and many, many others. At first, you will be tempted to go to a passage you are very familiar with, but let me encourage you not to do that. Go to a book and chapter you are completely unfamiliar with and then try and read the text. You will quickly see how very much has changed from the first printing to the current version you have at home. Numerous changes have been made to the spelling, punctuation and words. In fact the original 1611 had a preface from the translators and marginal notes. It also had 14 additional apocrypha books included between Malachi and Matthew. In the marginal notes you can see alternate renderings of the text from the translators. You will also be able to read the translators note to the reader challenging others to carry on the work they started in giving the people of God scripture in the common tongue.

I bring all this to your attention because some Baptists are not being honest when they say they use the 1611 KJB. They may be using a Bible historically tied to 1611, but they are not preaching from the 1611 KJB. Yet somehow this is the image they wish to portray. Somehow it appears to be more traditional, conservative or authoritative to suggest that the Bible they are using is 400 years old. Often the very ones who are hypercritical of other modern translations do not know their own favorite version has been updated as well. Perhaps the update is not as great but the fact is it has been updated. It is not the same Bible printed in 1611.

This is not a bad thing; this is a good thing. Sometimes I wish a new printer/publisher would take up an endeavor to standardize even more things in the King James. I think it is confusing to have Mark and Marcus in the New Testament when it is the exact same Greek work. I wish references to Elijah, Isaiah and others would be clearly presented by keeping the spelling consistent and synchronized with the OT. I do not think it is helpful to have three different spellings of Judah, Judas and Juda when it all refers to the same proper noun. I do not think it is helpful to refuse to update the English as it changes. Somehow it was previously ok to makes updates for the first 150 years of the King James history and publishing but now it is no longer acceptable to make spelling, punctuation, and marginal note changes. It was fine to do that for the first 150 to 200 years but it is no longer acceptable. Why? It just does not make sense to say corrections could be made but now no longer can be made. Why?

Did someone finally get it perfect? If so who? Cambridge? Oxford? Nelson? Who did it and in what year?

Read this article for an even more detailed discussion of the differences.

http://bible.org/article/changes-kjv-1611an-illustration

Do not be ignorant.

God Doesn't Need Me to Do Anything to be Saved: Believing is Enough

A fellow sent me a link to look at a fundamental Baptist website. And one of the first pages I reviewed was “How to Get to Heaven.” What I found was the author believes there are things that I need to do in order to be saved. That always interests me when I hear what someone needs to do because people are not saved by works (Titus 3:5).


From the website, I learned “first, God needs you to confess.” Is that right? Is God in need for me to do something in order to be saved? From the website, I learned that I need to “call.” This is what is presented on the website.

“What does it mean to call to God? You call to God in prayer. This is not an audible prayer that man needs to hear, it is a prayer of the heart that God needs to hear. Call simply means to ask (believing His Word by faith, believing He is true to His Word, then acting on that belief). We ask God by praying to Him, believing His Word is true and that He will do what He says He will do” (http://militarygetsaved.tripod.com/heaven.htm).

Does God need me to do things? Does the Sovereign God of the Universe need anything? Is it true that God needs to hear a prayer from my heart? Is this web author teaching biblical truth?

The short answer no. God can save anyone; He can save anyone he chooses to save. Even before the foundation of the world God chose to save people (Eph 1:4). In love God predestined believers unto salvation before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:5) .

In Acts 17:25, Paul makes it perfectly clear that the Sovereign God of the Universe does not need anything from man.  To say that God “needs” something is heresy. God does not need anything that man can provide or is not present in the Tri-unity of God. He does not need my love or worship or anything. He does not need my faith to save me. Instead, He has ordained that by His grace man may be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9).

In Acts 16:30-31, Paul and Silas answer the most important question in the Bible. Luke, the author of Acts writes:
And brought them [the prison guards] out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

That is the answer. God does not need me to believe—I am the one that needs to believe. What do I need to do? I am the one who needs to believe—not for God—but for myself.
Was there something that needed to be satisfied within God? Yes—God’s wrath needed to be satisfied and Christ is the One who answered that need—for “it is finished” (John 19:30).

There is not anything else that God needs to save people. Christ satisfied the wrath of God. Does God need me to pray something from my heart?

John 2:25 answers the question and the answer is “no.” God knows the heart man. I cannot make my heart communicate something. I can communicate with my mouth, hands, and eyes but not my heart. It is unbiblical to tell someone that they must communicate something to God with their heart or that they need to articulate something in order to be saved.
John 2:25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

According to Hebrew 4:12, Jesus Christ the “Word of God [see John 1:1-4, 14] is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Jesus is the discerner of the heart. This is why he knew who believed unto salvation and who didn’t in John 2:23 for “many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did,” but Christ did not commit himself unto them because he knew what was in man.

Christ knows whether one’s faith in authentic or not. My confession does not make it authentic; articulating words does not make it authenticate. Saying something in my heart or with my mouth, heart, or mind doesn’t make it authenticate. I must trust in Christ to be saved.
For more about what does it means to call upon the name of the Lord check out
http://pastorseansblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/what-does-it-mean-to-call-upon-name-of.html

In the end, to suggest that God needs man to do anything is unbiblical. Does man need to believe unto salvation, yes, but not for God or God’s sake.

The “Already” and “Not Yet” of the Kingdom of God

After Jesus’ baptism and period of temptation for forty days in the wilderness, Christ begins his public teaching and preaching ministry. Mark writes,
  • Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14,15).
Notice in this text a reference to the words gospel and kingdom of God. In the kingdom of God, the good news was communicated by Christ and people were expected to believe this good news by faith. They were expected to turn to God and put their faith in the words of Christ. Christ taught; He communicated for three years—message after message, lesson after lesson all about the kingdom of God.

 
Yet, today perhaps we have thought too much about the kingdom to come and not considered the present kingdom enough. So when I began to study the NT concerning the “kingdom of God,” I was amazed at what I found. I, too, have been guilty of thinking “kingdom” is futuristic. When I looked at the numerous references to “kingdom” throughout the twenty-seven canonical books of the NT, I realized that the apostles continued the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God. I don’t think they were locked into a thinking of the kingdom as a time when Christ rules in David’s stead for 1,000 years. No. Instead they understood the kingdom of God was the reign of God in the people of God which would culminate into the full and complete reign of Christ on this earth—but the kingdom of God was being established present day.

 
I need to understand that the kingdom of God has both an “already present” and a “not yet” futuristic aspect to it. As a born again believer, I am in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God is in me. The reality is in the present world in which I live, there are multiple kingdoms of men competing with the kingdom of God. The god of the world is the ultimate leader for the kingdoms of men, and all those who are not in the kingdom of God are citizens of the kingdom of this world. The fact is you are either in the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan. You may say “No I am not—I am a ________ (any religion)”, but the truth is those false religions are just a fraud to deceive you. In the present world, there are parallel kingdoms existing. They both exist simultaneously on the same planet and God sovereignly reigns in both but permits man to choose what kingdom he will live in for all eternity.

 
There are nearly 200 references to this idea of “kingdom” in the NT. The kingdom of God is referred to as the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of the Lord, the kingdom of his dear son and more. These are not different aspects of the kingdom of God but simply various ways of referring to the same kingdom where the one true God exists as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 
The kingdom of God is the reign of God, and this reign occurs first in the hearts of those who are truly converted. This is not to say that those who are converts always obey the king, but they share a similar objective, which is to allow the reign of God to occur in their lives. Their lives are not characterized by disobedience to the kingdom. The kingdom of God then expands into the marriages and families of those who are members of the kingdom. Then the reign of God can be seen in the body of Christ, in those churches, whose head is King Jesus. Finally, the reign of God exists on the planet, for God has not given up His control to intervene and limit the god of this world as He sees fit.

 
The resurrection of Christ is the greatest evidence that the reign of God exists on the planet. When the God of the universe can come to the kingdom of men and subject himself to all that man experiences living on the earth and can still be victorious over sin, death and ultimately over Satan, you know God still sovereignly reigns. Think about what Nebuchadnezzar had to learn.

 
And they shall drive thee [King Nebuchadnezzar] from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will (Daniel 4:32).

 
Luke 17:21 tells me that the kingdom of God is within me, and John reports that Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world and “now” is not from here (18:36). So I conclude that the kingdom of God already exists in me, and the kingdom of God will be on this planet in the future, for Christ left that door wide open with his remark “now is not from here” which certainly implies the possibility that it is only temporarily not from here.

In Matthew 24:44, Jesus plainly stated that the good news of the kingdom would be preached throughout the world as a witness unto all the nations, and then the end would come. So I should not be surprised when I find the bookends of the book of Acts to be the same message. In Acts 1:3, Luke states that Jesus “showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Notice what Jesus spent forty days instructing the apostles about—“things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

 
Then when I turn to the end of the book of Acts, I find the same thing. The very last verse of the Acts of the Apostles and Luke concludes with Paul’s ministry. He writes concerning Paul’s ministry that he focused upon “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” That’s it. Luke opens with the “kingdom of God” and Luke closes with the “kingdom of God.” Therefore, my single focus must be upon the reign of God in my life, in my family’s life, in the church’s life and ultimately globally.

 
Christians are often guilty of thinking that they have a religion just like Muslims have a religion, but that is not how we should think. Instead, we must realize we are the people of God. We are the only people of God, and we are members of the kingdom of God with a mission and message from the King! Everything else is secondary to that. I have brothers and sisters—fellow members of the same kingdom—strategically located throughout the entire globe. They are not my enemies because they are in China. On the contrary, if they are part of the kingdom of God, they are my brothers in Christ—citizens of the same kingdom.

 
If you can’t see this, you are not born again. Jesus said very plainly and with emphasis designed to get a religious Jew’s attention “truly, truly, I say unto you except a man (or woman) be born again he (or she) can’t see the kingdom of God”. They can’t see it and they can’t enter it. Jesus said:
  • For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).
  • Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
  • And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).
  • And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24).  
Paul understands this in the same way; he repeatedly addresses the kingdom of God. Jesus made it clear that man cannot serve two masters. He will love the one and hate the other. And then as though he was talking to American Christianity, he speaks very directly about loving God or money (Matthew 6:24).

  
In the same sermon, he tells us (members of the kingdom) to seek the kingdom first. “But seek you first the kingdom of God” is what he says. I am to make seeking the kingdom of God my first priority. I need to want the rule and reign of Christ to expand globally by the conversion of one disciple at a time through the power of the gospel.

YAHWEH’S SILENCE ENDS WITH A PROMISE OF GRACE AND JUSTICE

Introduction


Prior to Isaiah 65, seventeen verses are presented as a prayer to Yahweh. Beginning with “Look down from heaven and see” (63:15), Isaiah provides a model of how God’s people should be praying during this crisis. He states that although Yahweh is their Father, he is concerned that Abraham does not know them. They have drifted far from the ways of Israel. Isaiah asks, “Why the Lord has made them wander from him and harden our hearts, so that we fear you not?” (63:17). As evidence of their desperation, Isaiah prays that Yahweh would rip the heavens open and come down and give them a true display of his majesty; he wants the mountains to quake in the presence of the Lord (64:1). He rightfully acknowledges that Israel is the clay and he is the potter (64:8). Finally, he closes with two questions that sound more like desperate pleas: first, “will you restrain yourself at things, O Lord?” and second, “Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?” Yahweh responds to these questions beginning in Isaiah 65:1 with the words “I was ready,” (twice) “I said,” “I spread,” and “I will” (seven times). He responds with love and grace to the question of his silence and affliction with a promise of a Seed, comfort to his servants, and horror to the rebellious. The primary purposes of this paper are to provide an exposition of Isaiah 65:1-16, with a focus on the interpretive issues of the passage, identify the theological significance of the passage, and to draw application into the twenty-first century as a message just as relevant to believers and unbelievers as it was to the original recipients.

Paul reinforces the relevancy of passages like Isaiah 65 with his application to epistles like Romans. In chapter 10, Paul explains that his heart aches for Israel and that his greatest desire is to see Jews stop seeking after personal righteousness and pursue God’s righteousness by faith (v. 3). Then after a thorough explanation concerning how one is saved by believing in (v. 9)/ obeying (v. 16) the gospel in faith, Paul proceeds to quote from the Old Testament to prove that this is not a new idea. First, he quotes from Isaiah 53:1 and then he quotes from Psalm 19:4. Third, he quotes from Moses in Deuteronomy 32:21, and then in verses 20 and 21 he quotes from Isaiah 65:1-2. He writes, “Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’ But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’” Paul’s incorporation of Isaiah in his argument reveals its relevancy to the message of the gospel.
Exposition of the Text

God’s Love and Forbearance

In response to the accusation that God was neglecting his covenant people, Isaiah 65:1 answers the two questions presented in the previous chapter. These questions are: “Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD? [and] Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?” The initial response to the question reveals Yahweh’s amazing benevolence, mercy, and grace. This is seen in the fact that he permits people, more specifically a nation, to find him who are not seeking to know him (65:1-2a). Speaking for God, Isaiah declares that God has not been silent! He has continually been revealing himself to a nation that was not called by his name (65:1). “Who is this nation” is the first interpretive issue in the text. Concerning the last clause “a nation that was not called by my name,” Carson writes: “The Hebrew [language] as it stands supports Rom. 10:20–21 in referring v 1 to the Gentiles and v 2 to Israel. In the NIV, the Hebrew phrase ‘a nation … not called by my name’, (i.e. the Gentiles) has been adjusted to read a nation that did not call on my name (which could still be Israel). While this reading can claim ancient support, the unaltered Hebrew (as in the AV and RV) points quite clearly to the Gentiles, answering Israel’s disdainful 63:19b, rather than merely echoing 64:7. Obviously then, the issue is not with God. Smith writes, “To this sinful Israelite “nation” (gôy), a derogatory term for foreign nations that is used instead of the covenant term “people” all of which seems to reinforce that Yahweh is not referring to Israel.

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