Archive for May, 2012

Calvin Is My Fallible Friend

By David E. Crosby, Pastor,
First Baptist Church,
New Orleans, Louisiana

The lapel buttons worn by a church staff displayed “WWCS.” I asked what the letters meant and they said, “What would Calvin say?”

My response: “Who cares?” Ever since I saw those buttons I have wanted to ask those fellows why they put Calvin’s name where the name of Jesus should be.

John Calvin is my friend, of course, as historic believers may be who have influenced us in positive ways. I enjoyed reading portions of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, and he has definitely influenced my thinking about God and salvation.

Calvin did continue to baptize infants (which I do not endorse), and at one time he ran Geneva like the city belonged to him, which seems to me to be a confusion between the city of God and the city of men. Most lamentably, he consented to the execution of Servetus in Geneva as a heretic. Executing anybody for their religious opinions should be off the agenda for followers of the executed heretic, Jesus of Nazareth.

Calvin was not perfect, we all would agree. He created an amazing systematic theology which is not perfect, either. The Bible is the infallible Word of God. The Institutes are not.

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Going Inward: Taking the Gospel to an Unlikely Place

Marilyn Stewart is a weekly religion events columnist in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and is a free-lance writer for the Louisiana Baptist Message and other publications.

*names in this article are changed to protect identities.

It’s only Wednesday night, but the strip clubs on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street are busy.

The crowded street is awash in neon light as tourists, some with children, snap souvenir pictures. Inside, tears stream down a dancer’s face when the women of Inward step into her dressing room. God has answered her prayer.

“I asked Jesus to send someone,” she said. Tricia* needed help in breaking free.

Inward, a ministry that is showing God’s love in a place where the need is great, began when women of New Orleans churches felt burdened for the women of Bourbon Street. Without a template and with few ministries to model, they started by simply taking gifts of chocolate to the dancers.

Two years in, Inward is making a difference.

“Our ladies have followed the footprints of Jesus to Bourbon Street and found people in need who want to hear and see God’s love,” said David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist New Orleans.

The ministry has hosted four breakfasts for workers in a room above a club in the early hours of the morning, after closing time. Attendance is growing.

“The word is spreading,” said Maggie Broussard. “People say to us, ‘Oh, you’re that group that does the breakfasts.’”

At the breakfasts, the women share the gospel as they talk to dancers, bartenders, and managers – both men and women. Across town, prayer partners gather at First Baptist New Orleans to pray as text-messaged updates about conversations come in.

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Is There a Bridge over the Troubled Waters
of Our Soteriological Divide?

Dr. Bonts is the Senior Pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama.  He has earned a BA in Theology from The Baptist College of Florida, and an MDiv and PhD from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Over the course of my fifteen years in ministry, Southern Baptists have written much in defense of various positions on the doctrine of salvation within the Southern Baptist Convention. Calvinist blogs sprung up en masse, defending the views many felt Southern Baptists had neglected for the better part of a century. Non-Calvinist blogs responded with a remonstrance of sorts to defend their view of our theological heritage. Others have even tried to advocate a “baptist” doctrine of salvation, which is odd, given that “baptist” has always been a moniker that described one’s doctrine of the church.

Those who enter the fray usually share a common denominator: a desire for scriptural faithfulness. The debate over God’s providence in salvation, however, often causes us to lose sight of the common understanding of evangelism and salvation that have held Southern Baptists together for over 150 years. By focusing so much upon what separates us, we have forgotten the beliefs that unite us and allow us to cooperate.

Southern Baptists’ Common Beliefs Regarding the Doctrine of Salvation

  1. Apart from a personal relationship with Christ Jesus, all of humanity is lost. The lost are dead in their transgressions and sin (Eph 2:1-3).
  2. Because of their sinful, willful transgression of God’s law, unbelievers are enslaved to their sin (John 8:34) and blinded to the gospel (2 Cor 4:4).
  3. Unbelievers do not seek God of their own initiative (Rom 3:11); unbelievers do not come to Jesus unless drawn by the Father (John 6:44).
  4. The drawing of the Father occurs as the Spirit works through the preaching of the gospel (Rom 10:17). None can be saved apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 10:5-20; John 14:6).
  5. The gospel is the message of the sinless life, penal substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus from the grave (1 Cor 15). Salvation is entirely of God, entirely of grace, and is received entirely through faith (Eph 2:8-9).
  6. The gospel includes an urgent call to respond to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith (conversion). Conversion involves repentance (a turning away from sin). Faith is belief in and receipt of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross whereby one surrenders to Jesus as Lord.
  7. Jesus commands all Christians everywhere to endeavor to carry the gospel to the nations in obedience to the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20).

To be sure, Southern Baptists have a great deal more in common than what I have listed. These commonalities, however, should remind us that when it comes to the gospel of King Jesus and the command of the Great Commission, there is more to unite us than divide us. For the sake of cooperation and kingdom advance, we must move beyond the sometimes petty arguments about what was going on in the mind of God in eternity past as he planned to create humanity. Instead, we must move toward a cooperative effort to populate the community of God for eternity future through the preaching of the gospel. After all, the Southern Baptist Convention was founded, in part, for the sake of evangelistic cooperation. While there is certainly a time and place for the irenic discussion of the tertiary theological issues in Scripture, at the point where they begin to affect our willingness to cooperate (and from my observation point, they have), then we have quit following Jesus Christ as a convention. An inward focus always prevents an outward impact.

Monday Exposition Idea:
Do you believe this?
(John 11:25-26)


Monday Exposition Idea:
Do you believe this?
(John 11:25-26)

By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.


Do you believe this? You might hear this question as two young boys make their way through an attraction called “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” They bill this attraction as “EVERYTHING ODD, WEIRD & UNBELIEVABLE!”[1] Ten years ago at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, as I perused the personal library of Dr. R.G. Lee, I found a copy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dr. Lee filled his sermons with interesting anecdotes.

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Established Faith Begins at The Cross

By Bob Williford, former director of the Hope Migrant Mission Center at the Migrant Farm Labor Center near Hope, Arkansas (a ministry of the Arkansas Baptist Convention), and author of Fence Post Digest blog.

Colossians 2:7-15

7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.


Two very important aspects of the believer’s relationship with the Christ are given here:

Paul reminds us of the importance of being instructed in the Word of God. Every believer will demonstrate a commitment to the Father and following the instruction of Christ.

The instruction sets the standard for the faith of developing and sustaining a faithful relationship with Jesus. The believer cannot sustain a healthy faith without the support that is found in Scripture.

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