The above statement is the vision and commitment of Eric Fuller, Evangelist.
SBCToday is pleased to present his sermon below for your edification and encouragement.
Public servants within the city government in a small town in Utah prayed regularly before their meetings but abandoned the practice due to harassment by an atheistic group.
Christmas vacation is now being replaced with Winter Break in public school calendars across America in order to express tolerance and acceptance of those from other faiths and/or no faith.
Last summer, an Arizona pastor refused to stop a weekly Bible study held in his home. The result, more than a dozen Phoenix Police officers raided his home, handcuffed Michael Salman, and threw him in jail. Salman was sentenced to 60 days in jail, three years’ probation and received a $12,180 fine for his “crime.”
You might have also heard of a recent story of a California pastor who was arrested outside a DMV office for reading his Bible.
This type of criticism, persecution, and bullying now entering the United States and that has occurred in other parts of the world in much worse forms against the Christian faith isn’t new.
Today, we will look at the minor prophet Amos who displayed conviction in his calling, in light, of criticism, persecution, and bullying.
Thesis: In the midst of opposition, conviction must reside within our calling.
Let’s study Amos 7:10-17 so we may establish conviction in our calling throughout the days ahead in our ministries and Christian walk.
For a bit of background, let’s read verse 10a.
“Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying,
When the nation of Israel split into the northern and southern kingdoms in 930B.C. Jeroboam I became king of the ten northern tribes. Jeroboam I enjoyed his promotion from general in Solomon’s army to King of Israel.
But, he realized that his people were a people of traditions, they would continue to go to Jerusalem which was located in Judah for their annual feast.
The king feared that this annual journey would lead to reconciliation among his people with the southern kingdom’s residents, thus, leaving him as a king with no subjects.
So, he decided to establish places of worship more convenient for the people but, specifically, more advantageous to his own personal ambitions. One location was built in Dan in the northern most area of Israel and another in Bethel in the southern most area of Israel.
Bethel was located about 25 miles from Samaria which was Israel’s capital and only 10 miles from Jerusalem which was Judah’s capital. Ironically, Bethel also means house of God.
Let’s take a look at another term in the first half of verse 10:
You could read about the wickedness of Jeroboam II’s family but all you need to do is examine the name that his parents gave to him.
Jeroboam I, which we have already discussed, was a wildly wicked king by which all other kings were judged. If a king was good (and there were a few), it was said, “He walked in the ways of his father David.” On the other hand, if he was a wicked king (and there were many), it was said, “He walked in the ways of Jeroboam,” in reference to the idols established in Bethel and Dan.
The parents of Jeroboam II named their son after this guy. Think of it this way. What could you tell about a family if they named their first born son, “Adolf Hitler Johnson the second?”
Consequently, Jeroboam II was a wicked and evil king.
Finally, look at this other name, Amaziah:
Amaziah was not just a priest, but by the article “the” used in the text we know that he was more than likely the high priest of Bethel.
Notice that the text is dealing with the high echelon of Bethel. These men are not just your next-door neighbors; they were the high officials with power.
I. AMAZIAH PROSTESTS (10-13)
A.) Complaint to Jeroboam (10b-11)
We will learn much more about the prophet Amos later on, but for now just know that he was a prophet delivering God’s message in Bethel in the midst of pagans.
Let’s read verses 10b-11
“Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is unable to endure all his words. For thus Amos says, Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.”
“Amos has conspired…”
Amaziah tells the king that Amos “conspired” against him and the country. Another words, he attempts to blame Amos with political treason, in order, to silence his message.
However, Amaziah fails to realize that the message of God was never designed to mobilize rebels to overthrow governments; instead, the message mobilizes God’s grace to overthrow rebellious hearts.
Our message is not intended to affect cultures but the men who live in them.
So, here’s what happened, and you may have experienced something like this before. Amaziah hears Amos’s sermon, doesn’t like what he says at all. He then tweets on twitter and post on facebook nasty messages about Amos. He then sends his buddy, the king, a private chat message about what Amos said. Then, he de-friends Amos. Have any of you all ever experienced a similar reaction to your preaching? He is on an all-out-campaign against Amos.
“in the midst of the house of Israel”
The word “house” here is referring to a specific place rather than the metaphorical “house” of Israel.
The way we know this is by the usage of the word “midst” in the verse. He is referring to the pagan worship at the temple of Bethel that King Jeroboam I established for public worship.
So, what is the big deal about that? The implication here is that Amos went straight to the root of the problem, right into the temple at Bethel.
He boldly took the message straight to those who needed it–right into the lion’s den.
His conviction to the message of God trumped any danger, threat, or persecution he may have received. How about you today? How is your conviction? How is your dedication to the calling that God has placed on your life?
For thus Amos says, Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.”
Amaziah sites the two elements of Amos’s message that are bound to get the kings attention: war against the kingdom and violence against its king.
Amaziah, however, exaggerates and perverts the message. While Amos did predict the fall of the kingdom, we never read that Amos stated the king would die by the sword, only that God would “rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” in verse (9) indicating violence but not death.
Furthermore, Scripture gives no indication that Jeroboam died in battle or was murdered. Even of David, it was said that the “sword would never depart’ from his house, but he did not “die by the sword.”
This in and of itself should be enough to encourage us to tell the message given to us. We must constantly be telling and retelling the message of God to ensure its clarity.
If you don’t tell your story, Hollywood will. If you don’t tell your story, the media will. If you don’t tell your story, the ACLU will. If you don’t tell your story, someone else will use their own words on their own terms.
If Christians do not define themselves by the gospel, non-Christians will define us by their standards.
B.) Complaint to Amos (12-13)
Let’s read verses 12-13
“Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah and there eat bread and there do your prophesying! But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal residence.”
“Go, you seer,”
Amaziah was mocking Amos by calling him a seer. He is saying go you seer, who thinks you can see into the future. Go, flee from here.
Amaziah, like much of our world today, will tolerate evangelism and missions as long as it’s done in the privacy of our own homes and churches.
“flee away to the land of Judah”
He wants him out! He is saying that Amos has no right or authority to spread this message in Bethel.
Another words, when Amos left Judah, his authority ended. The world is telling us today that our message of biblical morality, biblical salvation, sanctity of marriage, the life of unborn babies isn’t welcomed and to keep that within the privacy of our own homes.
Just as Amaziah has complained to the king and to the messenger, the world is complaining to us, the state, the government, and congress that we have no right to preach our Christian convictions. They are saying FLEE FROM US!
“and there eat bread”
The word here translated “bread” was an idiomatic expression for “earning a living. Amaziah’s remark was a cut-throat attempt to incorrectly judge the integrity of God’s prophet, Amos.
His accusation accused Amos of being in the ministry for the money. He was coming to Bethel to stir things up and grab a big pay check before he leaves.
How absurd. I mean how many of you decided to go into ministry for the money? I doubt many ministers decided to go into ministry to receive your $28,000 a year package. No, we could do just about anything else under the stars and make more money than being in the ministry.
This was definitely an unwarranted criticism of Amos.
“there do your prophesying”
Amaziah was okay with Amos preaching his message in Judah, just not in Bethel.
Many of you are hearing the culture tell you, by both words and actions, take that message back inside your church or back to your Judah. That message may work for you and yours, but it doesn’t belong here. So what does Amos do; packs his bags up and cowers back to Judah, decides that he doesn’t want to offend anybody and changes his approach? No, he becomes even bolder.
“But no longer prophecy at Bethel”
What if Amos had listened to the words of Amaziah, who would he be serving? When we disobey the command of God to tell the message, we inadverantly become servants of someone else.
When you don’t tell the message of God, you are not only not doing the will of God, you are doing the will of a world empowered by the forces of Darkness.
Your silence makes you a loyal subject of the Devil.
“sanctuary of the king” and “royal residence”
Amaziah is blending state and religion. He attempts to justify his opposition to Amos’s message by declaring that Bethel has their own state religion and he better not interfere with it.
II. AMOS PROFESSES 14-17
A.) Defense of his Message (14-15)
Now, we come to one of the most powerful and beautiful verses in the Bible. Amos defends his message. You may have wondered why I did not share with you about Amos while defining the other key words in this text. It is because I wanted to wait until he spoke.
Let’s read verses 14-15.
“Then Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock and the Lord said to me, “Go prophesy to My people Israel.”
“Then Amos replied”
After Amaziah professed, it was time for Amos to profess. He did not cower and leave. He became bolder for God’s message, as His messenger.
“I am not a prophet”
This statement may seem a little odd or yet just down right wrong. Amos are you really saying that you are not a prophet? You sure have a funny way of showing it. You are walking around Bethel prophesying like a pro.
Amos does recognize himself as a prophet just not a professional prophet, as one seeking out the call. This was, in light, of Amaziah claiming that he was in it for the money. He is saying look, “I did not seek this calling out, God sought me out for the calling.”
“son of a prophet”
He further refutes the accusation of being money hungry by saying he is neither a son of a prophet. Another words, he is declaring to Amazing that he was not a volunteer but a draftee into prophetic service.
Pastor, have you ever stopped to consider why you are in the ministry?
Let me remind you, it’s because you, like Elijah, have a holy fire in your bones that could not be quenched. You, like Paul, encountered the risen Christ while doing your own thing. You, like Amos, had a holy ambition in your heart that no amount of crop tending could match.
And today, that same undeniable force that drew you into the ministry, now seeks to empower you to share God’s message in new and even bolder ways.
“herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs”
At first glance, one may assume that Amos was telling Amaziah that he was just a poor, lowly farmer.
But actually farming was quite a lucrative enterprise. Wealth in the OT was not measured in dollars and cents, but in sheep and cattle.
Therefore, Amos was telling Amaziah that he had no financial reason to prophesy at Bethel or in Judah. Again, if you went into ministry thinking you would rake in the dough, you are highly depressed right now.
“took me from following the flocks”
This was the same terminology used when David was divinely chosen as king.
The offices of king and prophet were legitimate only by divine election.
Remember, those who stand against the message of God do not stand with His authority but you do. You were anointed preachers of the Gospel by the most high God, they are not. They may have the force of Hollywood, or governments, or courts, but not of heaven.
“Go, prophesy to my people”
This is interesting. (1) This is the same language used to describe the call of David. (2) The word “go” and “prophesy” were the same term used by Amaziah to order Amos out of Bethel in verse 13.
So, God said, “Go prophecy to my people,” and Amaziah said, “God prophecy somewhere else.”
Does this not sound like today? Our culture and world declares the exact opposite of what our Lord said. So, what will you do? Amos wouldn’t back down and neither should we.
B.) Delievery of his message (16-17)
Let’s read verses 16-17.
“Now hear the word of the Lord: you are saying, “You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you speak against the house of Isaac.” Therefore, thus says the Lord, “Your wife will become a harlot in the city, your sons and your daughters will fall be the sword, your land will be parceled up by a measuring line and you yourself will die upon unclean soil. Moreover, Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.”
“Now hear the word of the Lord”
This phrase introduces a tone of urgent judgment. The backing and origination of this word possesses divine authority.
Resistance to the message should not create less proclamation but more.
“Israel…house of Isaac”
Amos reinforces his assertion that his message was for all of Israel, north and south, and all of it is Yahweh’s domain and the proper territory for His true prophets, even though Amaziah rejects it.
Amaziah saw his people as being exempt from the rules and message of God but they were not and Amos declares it. “Israel” referred to either all of Israel or just Northern Israel, however, the house of Isaac included Judah as well.
Because Amaziah attempted to prohibit the message of God, the following prophecy is given:
The Curse of Amaziah
(1) His wife will become a harlot in the city
(2) His children will fall by the sword
(3) His land will be parceled up by a measuring line and
(4) He himself will die upon unclean soil (he will be taken to exile)
With himself captured in exile, his sons dead, and his possessions confiscated; his wife would have no choice but to become a “harlot in the city.” In other words, the curse was total and God’s message continues.
Just to restate the fact for clarity and confidence… “Oh, and by the way, Israel will in fact be going into exile.”
In my opinion, our country will soon become anti-Christian to the extent we have never seen or experienced before.
Many of you have been praying for revival in our country. I suspect revival may come but not like we may imagine or even desire. I believe revival will occur once more in our country not by means of just another Great Awakening but by means of persecution.
I foresee preachers being arrested and thrown in jails for preaching truth. I foresee Christians being persecuted by means of torture and beatings like many of our brothers and sisters around the world face daily.
At this point, repentance will come; the churched will be cleansed and renewed. And, the church will be strengthened and grow substantially.
How Will We Respond:
(1) Develop Conviction within Our Calling
(2) Preach the Word with Boldness (Not our stories or illustrations)
(3) Go to the root of the problem with the gospel in our towns, cities, states, and nation with love, grace, and boldness
(4) Never give up hope in the gospel!
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well,let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.” And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Even though, you may lose everything, be beaten, persecuted, tortured, or killed for your boldness and conviction of the gospel, you will look back over your life and say, “Jesus was worth it all!”
When you leave, do so with a renewed conviction within in your calling!
“Do the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ Affect Evangelism?”
by Ronnie Rogers, pastor
Trinity Baptist Church
Pastor Rogers also is the author of a powerful book titled “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist: the Disquieting Realities of Calvinism.” Rogers’ testimony is that he decided to leave his commentaries behind and study the Bible, solely, for what God has said about salvation. Bible study, along with prayer, led Pastor Rogers to abandon Calvinism.
Some Calvinists aver that ideas like limited atonement, unconditional election, and selective regeneration really make no difference in the nature of the evangelistic endeavor, i.e., these are tertiary or irrelevant to the proclamation of the gospel. To wit, God being secretly pleased to withhold salvation from a vast proportion of the humanity that He created does not affect the nature of propagating the gospel.
Click the link below to hear Evangelist Appelman’s 13.5 minute treatise on the Holy Spirit’s ministry. His message is timeless and timely. Listening to Appelman may be the best 13.5 minutes you have invested this entire week.
Baptism by Fire, by Hyman Appelman
Read about Appelman’s life, conversion and evangelistic ministry below.
Evangelist Hyman Jedidiah Appelman, 1902-1983.
Written by: Unknown (edited, SBCToday)
“During his life, Appelman’s schedule of meetings left one breathless. It was hard to find a day in 45 years when he was not preaching somewhere. An average Appelman year would see some 7,000 first-time professions of faith. By 1969 he had seen over 345,000 total decisions for Christ, with some 270,000 uniting with churches and over 125,000 rededications by Christians.”
by Walker Moore
Awe Star Ministries
Whenever I pass a rack of magazines, I notice the trend of putting teasers on the covers, like “41 Ways to Eat Ice Cream without Gaining an Ounce” or “13 Ways to Recycle Old Pantyhose.” Some of these catch my attention more than others. I realized that to be in vogue, the title of my article should contain a number with some kind of intriguing hook. So I present, “Six Things You Should Never Discuss with Your Children.” If you want to raise dysfunctional children, these are the six things you should never talk with them about.
On the “Traditionalist Statement”:
Some Friendly Reflections from a Calvinistic Southern Baptist
by Nathan Finn, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Historical Theology & Baptist Studies
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
When the “Traditionalist Statement” was published in May 2012, I confess I had mixed feelings about the document.1 On the one hand, I believe that confessional statements (and similar documents) are helpful tools for various groups of Baptists to more clearly communicate their convictions. This is especially important in a tradition that has never been defined by a single, authoritative confession along the lines of the Westminster Confession of Faith for Presbyterians or the Augsburg Confession for Lutherans. Furthermore, there is little doubt that the nature of soteriology is an area in desperate need of clear communication by Southern Baptists on all sides of this discussion. I am grateful to Eric Hankins and others who drafted, signed, and promoted the Traditionalist Statement. We need more documents like this, not less.
On the other hand, I had several concerns about the Traditionalist Statement. For starters, I disagreed with some of the positions put forward in the document. If the vision set forth in this manifesto represents a traditional Southern Baptist view of soteriology, then I am definitely not a traditional Southern Baptist; this is a somewhat depressing thought for one who spends much of his time studying and teaching others about Southern Baptist history. Second, I was concerned about the widely circulated rumor that some of the signatories of the Traditionalist Statement wanted the SBC to formally adopt the statement as some sort of litmus test for our agencies and boards. Whether this was merely a blogosphere conspiracy or whether there was at least tentative talk of a litmus test is still very much in dispute, depending upon whom you ask. Third, I was disappointed at some of the rancor that was displayed by folks on both sides of the debate, especially on the internet. The polemical heat did not seem to bode well for Southern Baptist unity.2 Finally, I feared that the Traditionalist Statement would provide an occasion for distraction from our primary task as Southern Baptists: cooperating together to play our part in fulfilling the Great Commission.3
I have been asked to offer some friendly reflections on the Traditionalist Statement from the perspective of a Calvinistic Southern Baptist.4 Because of my understanding of soteriology, I disagree with most of the affirmations and denials in the Traditionalist Statement. I have a different understanding of the relationship between Adam’s original sin and subsequent human sin, the nature of free will, the meaning of election, the intent of the atonement, and the efficaciousness of grace. I would also nuance the section on the gospel differently than the Traditionalist Statement. While I agree that all people are “capable of responding” to the good news, I also believe that sin has so blinded humanity that nobody will choose to believe the gospel without the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit. I have no qualms with the words in the articles on eternal security and the Great Commission, though I recognize I bring different theological assumptions to these articles than the framers of the Traditionalist Statement.5 I could not sign the Traditionalist Statement in good conscience because I do not believe it accurately summarizes the biblical understanding of salvation.
As a Calvinistic Southern Baptist, I respectfully disagree with the soteriological convictions held by my Traditionalist brothers and sisters in Christ. I see no need to say much further on this point. Rather, in this short essay, I will focus my reflections on the document’s Preamble, since this section speaks more to the occasion for and potential uses of the Traditionalist Statement. I share these thoughts out of a sincere desire to see better understanding, closer cooperation, and a greater sense of spiritual unity among Southern Baptists with differing opinions about election, the intent of the atonement, and the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in salvation. As I wrote in a previous essay,
The Calvinism issue is not going to go away, so Southern Baptists must be willing to discuss and debate openly the doctrines of grace in an effort to be biblically accurate and perhaps come to a greater theological consensus in the years to come. If we are to move toward a more cooperative future, we must all be committed to defending and commending our particular convictions, but not at the expense of either our cooperation with one another or our personal sanctification.6
It is in this spirit that I engage with the Traditionalist Statement’s Preamble. I want to pose two questions to those who helped draft the Traditionalist Statement or who resonated enough with the document to affix their signatures to it during the summer of 2012.7 I hope my Traditionalist friends will receive these questions in the spirit they are being asked.
What Makes Traditionalists Traditional?
Like many observers, I confess I was a bit confused that the authors and early signatories of the document in question chose to call their views “traditional” and identified themselves as “Traditionalists.” I have a theory about this approach, which may or may not be true (please correct me if I am missing something). I think that Traditionalists are upset that many Calvinists …*
1The full title of the document is “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.” It was published at the blog SBC Today, available online at http://sbctoday.com (accessed September 6, 2013).
2I was pleased at how Executive Committee President Frank Page brought together representatives from both perspectives to craft a winsome consensus statement. While real differences remain, it seems the document drafted by Page’s committee has helped bring about a more mature and Christ-like tone to the discussion. See “TRUTH, TRUST, and TESTIMONY IN A TIME OF TENSION,” SBC Life (June–August, 2013), available online at http://www.sbclife.org/Articles/2013/06/sla5.asp (accessed September 6, 2013).
3On the latter point, I helped to draft a response to the Traditionalist Statement by the contributors to Between
the Times, the faculty blog of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. See “‘A Statement of the Traditional Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation’: A Brief Response,” Between the Times (May 31, 2012), available online at http://betweenthetimes.com. (accessed October 21, 2013).
4When asked to clarify my views, I describe myself as an evangelical Calvinist. As an evangelical Calvinist, I combine an evangelical understanding of conversion and mission with a Calvinistic understanding of soteriology. Earlier generations of Baptists described views like mine as “Fullerite,” after the famous English Baptist pastor-theologian Andrew Fuller. For more on Fuller and “Fullerism,” see Peter J. Morden, Offering Christ to the World: Andrew Fuller (1754–1815) and the Revival of Eighteenth Century Particular Baptist Life, Studies in Baptist History and Thought, vol. 8 (Carlisle, Cumbria, UK, and Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster, 2003), and Paul Brewster, Andrew Fuller: Model Pastor- Theologian, Studies in Baptist Life and Thought (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010). My use of the Calvinist label should not be construed as my approbation of Reformed pedobaptist understandings of ecclesiology, the sacraments, or the relationship between church and state.
5I offer this qualification because I respect the principle of authorial intent when it comes to interpreting confessions of faith. This means I recognize that the words of a confessional statement must be interpreted in light of its framers; I am not free to interpret their statement according to my own understanding. This seems to be the position that has the most interpretive integrity and shows neighbor love to the framers of a confession of faith.
6Nathan A. Finn, “Southern Baptist Calvinism: Setting the Record Straight,” in Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue, ed. E. Ray Clendenen and Brad J. Waggoner (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007), 192.
7Before the list of signatories was taken down in July 2012, the Traditionalist Statement had garnered over 800 endorsements, including six former SBC presidents and two sitting seminary presidents. See “Framers of TS Re- move Signatory List,” SBC Today (July 14, 2012), available online at http://sbctoday.com/2012/07/14/framers-of-ts- remove-signatory-list/#more-8906 (accessed October 21, 2013). The signatories list was subsequently posted and is available online at http://connect316.net/signers (accessed November 28, 2013).
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NOBTS Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry.
SBCToday reprinted with permission the above excerpt.