Archive for January, 2014

A Child’s Conscious Awareness of Sin

Brad Whitt

This week, in Dr. Brad Whitt’s “Mondays are for Ministry” video, he discusses both the pastoral sensitivity and spiritual discernment needed in determining when a child is ready to profess faith in Jesus Christ.

To see the 4-minute video, click HERE.

Dr. Whitt is pastor of the Abilene Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga.

My Bucket List / Walker Moore

Walker-Moore-100

by Walker Moore
founder/president
Awe Star Ministies

The older I get, the more my conversations with friends seem to center around our hopes and dreams.  Hope and dreams go hand-in-hand in this walk called life. Dreams are a place we want to take our hearts, and hopes are the driving winds that lift us up to those lofty goals. When the two come together, we have ourselves a journey.

One day, you’ll wake up and realize your journey is nearing an end. The sand in your hourglass is quickly running out. I’m beginning to realize Bette Davis was right when she said, “Old age is no place for sissies.” Eventually, we realize we won’t get everything done that we had hoped and dreamed of when we were younger. But that’s all right. I would rather die with a dream still unfulfilled than run out of dreams before I run out of life.

I’m not going to get the mansion with the commercial kitchen that my sweet wife has always wanted and, more than that, deserves. I won’t be like my peers who retire early and spend a year on a private yacht going from island to island. (Actually, I don’t have friends like that. They’re all poor like me.) I like where I am, in the midst of battles for the lives of students, and I’m praying I can stay there as long as I can. I would still like to get my wife a commercial kitchen, even if it comes inside a pop-up camper. But there are some things I would still like to accomplish, so you might say I have a mini- bucket list. Here it is:

1. I would like to spend an hour with Chuck Norris. He doesn’t know it, but his television show, Walker, Texas Ranger, has been a great asset to my life as a missionary. Ten Years ago, I went to work in the village of Maje in the jungle of Panama where the Choco people live. After the boat ride upstream, the people stood on the banks waiting for me. As I climbed up the hill, the interpreter introduced me.  When he mentioned my first name, the tribe broke out in chatter.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

The interpreter told me, “They want to know if you’re Walker, Texas Ranger.”

“How do they know about Walker, Texas Ranger?” I asked. This village, a primitive place, has no electricity or running water. But the chief took me back to his hut. In the corner was a tiny TV set connected to a car battery and a crude antenna.

Once a week, the villagers come to the chief’s hut to watch Walker, Texas Ranger.  And that’s just one of the many stories of how my name has been connected to that TV show. In some countries, the people just call me “Walkertexasranger” as one long word. I would like to share with Mr. Norris how God has used that show for His glory.

2. I would like to live long enough to take my grandson, Titus, on his rite of passage mission trip.  I’ve taken thousands of other students on this journey, but the one person I want to live long enough to take is Titus. I can imagine us serving Jesus together for a season: the setting sun walking hand-in-hand with the rising sun, as the work of the Lord passes from one to the other.

3. I would like to see my Baptist Messenger articles become a series of devotionals. I started writing this column on March 5, 1998. That was 5,720 days or 15 years, 7months and 27 days or 817 articles ago. These articles address timeless issues with biblical direction along with a tad bit of humor. They could be passed down from generation to generation, right along with Great-Grandma’s suitcase-sized family Bible—the one that contains a life-size foldout picture of Jesus.

4.  I would like to go home. Of course, this world is not my home. If we get caught up in thinking it is, we miss the whole point. Jesus-followers live and act in eternity, not in the present. We must consider how we serve in the context of eternity, how we use our money is in the context of eternity and how we marry in the context of eternity. If we live with eternity in mind, we will have hopes and dreams that matter.

Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).

I may not finish my bucket list, but I’ll settle for completing the last item. As I round the corner, I’m keeping my eyes on home.

 

Evangelistic Events Win Souls

Now it's your turn to tell the world what God is doing in your church.

submitted by Pastor David Worley
Bethel Baptist Church, Greenfield, Tenn.

We have seen several great results from our Awana program. I had the privilege of leading a young girl to the Lord Jesus a few weeks ago. She has come to our Vacation Bible School through the years, and she and her family have attended our church from time-to-time. The Lord used all of these things to bring her to salvation.

After she got saved, her older sister came to me, telling me that she had gotten saved at a youth conference less than a year ago and she knew that she needed to be baptized. So, we baptized both sisters together. What a glorious day, which only got better, because their mother also joined our church.

Things like this — good and glorious things like this — still happen when we reach out to people with the glorious Gospel of Jesus. VBS, Awana, youth conferences and other events, which are evangelistic, are still worth doing. God uses them to save people, people whom God loves and wants to save.

 

Baptisms include former Presbyterian

Now it's your turn to tell the world what God is doing in your church.

submitted by Dr. Rick Patrick, pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Ala.

 

Pastor Rick Patrick with five youthful candidates for baptism.

 

Last Sunday God blessed the First Baptist Church of Sylacauga in a beautiful way. We began the morning worship service baptizing five middle school students. During the invitation, two more youths walked the aisle. After the service, a child came up indicating he had trusted in Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Then on Sunday night, we had the privilege of baptizing by immersion a man who had formerly been a Presbyterian.

Regeneration: When Does New Life Begin?

Ron_Hale

by Ron F. Hale

(Comments pre-moderated)

Viewpoints on the doctrine of regeneration collide and clash in the evangelical blogosphere. Is the sinner regenerated prior to faith or subsequently?  It boils down to the question of “when?”

Reformed theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul shares his personal experience: “One of the most dramatic moments in my life for the shaping of my theology took place in a seminary classroom. One of my professors went to the blackboard and wrote these words in bold letters: ‘Regeneration Precedes Faith.’”[1]

With polarizing gravitas, Sproul declares, “If we believe that faith precedes regeneration, then we set our thinking and therefore ourselves in direct opposition not only to giants of Christian history but also to the teaching of Paul and of our Lord Himself.”[2]

In stark contrast, my dramatic moment came a decade ago when realizing that many New Calvinists in the SBC teach that a sinner is regenerated or “born-again” in order to believe.  To say it another way, the sinner believes because he or she has been born-again (regenerated).

All of my SBC teaching and training had taught me that the regenerating work of God happens “as” or “after” a sinner (under conviction by the Holy Spirit) responds to the Gospel through repentance and faith. In other words, the sinner believes in Jesus and eternal life is imparted by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. The person becomes a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and partakes of a new nature (2 Pet. 1:4).

Consequently, if you believe a sinner is dead as a corpse (totally depraved and unable to freely respond to God) and faith is a gift given to particular ones (the elect), and only those individuals sovereignly and unconditionally elected before the foundation of the world will be irresistibly drawn to Christ – then it is highly likely you believe that regeneration precedes faith.

Dr. Kendell Easley wrote a book entitled 52 Words Every Christian Should Know (2006). Easley sides with Sproul on the matter of regeneration preceding faith. He defines the word in this manner:

Regeneration or being born again refers to God’s act of making a person alive spiritually. This is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit by which sinners are given new spiritual life enabling them to relate to God in faith, love, obedience, and delight.”[3]

Easley makes his position clearer as he says, “Is faith the basis upon which the Spirit regenerates or is faith the fruit of regeneration? The biblical language, emphasizing regeneration as moving from death to life as sovereignly worked by the Spirit, appears to favor the later view and understands faith itself as a gift from God.[4]  John Frame would agree with Sproul and Easley as he states, “The Spirit regenerates us, producing faith.”[5]

Conversely, Dr. Kenneth Keathley, senior associate dean at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, makes the case for faith preceding the new birth (regeneration) and lays out three strong biblical arguments, they are:

First, the many appeals in the Bible calling sinners to respond to the gospel imply that conversion results in regeneration. The Scriptures are presented as the seed the Spirit of God uses to bring about new life (I Pet. 1:23; James 1:18,21; I John 3:9). That the Word of God is the Spirit’s instrumental means indicates that faith leads to regeneration.[6]

Second, the Bible presents conversion as the condition to salvation, not the result of being saved (John 1:12; 3:16,18,24,36,40; Acts 13:39; Rom. 3:22, 26; 4:3,5; 5:1). The apostles repeatedly promise their hearers that, if they will repent and believe, then they will be saved (Acts 2:38; 16:30-31). The Apostle John put special emphasis on the necessity of the new birth, but he presented faith as the condition to becoming a child of God (John 1:12-13) and to receiving eternal life (“By believing you may have life in his name,” John 20:31).[7]

Third, Keathley uses a point made by Dr. Norman Geisler … that if regeneration is prior to conversion, then salvation is no longer by faith. If one is already regenerated before he believes, then faith is not a condition to salvation but the evidence of having been saved. However, sola fide is the testimony of Scripture (Rom. 10:9-10).[8]

Geisler’s point is well taken – a “born again unbeliever” is difficult to imagine even if the time span is infinitesimally small. Charles C. Ryrie has asked, “… for it may as well be argued that if a sinner has new life through regeneration, why does he need to believe?”[9]

Dr. Gary L. Nebeker questions the view of faith being given as a gift to some: “The concept of infused faith for salvation bears a marked resemblance to the sacramentalism of the Roman Catholic Church. That is to say, faith becomes a transmitted and efficacious element, which God gives to men for salvation. Again, it must be emphasized that faith is not a substance, but a human response prompted by the Holy Spirit.”[10]

Could it be that Reformed divines fought so hard in guarding Church orthodoxy against pelagianism (and semi-pelagianism)[11] and for salvation being purely and solely of God that they missed the living reality that God looks for a free and loving response of faith as the Holy Spirit draws the sinner through the Gospel?

In Luke 7, the “sinful” woman drenches the feet of Jesus with her tears, dries them with her hair, and anoints His feet with expensive perfume. Meanwhile, the Pharisee is nauseated by this nonsense. Finally, Jesus says to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” How? Why? When? What for?

Jesus said to her, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

The Bible is null and void of teaching that saving faith is a special gift of God to a privileged and particular few.  The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (to whosoever), and as the sinner hears the Word of Truth, he or she is born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God (I Pet. 1:23).

©Ron F. Hale, January 5, 2014


[2] Ibid.

[3] Kendell Easley, 52 Words Every Christian Should Know, (Nashville, Holman Reference, 2006), 86.

[4] Ibid. 87.

[6] Kenneth Keathley, “The Work of God: Salvation,” in A Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel L. Akin (Nashville: B & H Academic, 2007), 743. Also, Dr. Keathley believes that conversion is made up of two distinguishable yet inseparable parts: repentance and faith, 728.

[7] Ibid. 743.

[8] Ibid.743.

[9] Basic Theology, (Wheaton: Victor, 1986; reprint ,Chicago: Moody, 1999), 326.