Author Archive

Authentic Christianity

Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Managing Editor of the Southwestern Journal of Theology and Director of the Center for Theological Research at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, contributes these thoughts on Authentic Christianity, and offers two articles addressing this subject from the Journal available at no charge to the readers of SBC Today –
When Hope Screams: Learning How to Suffer as Sons from the Book of Hebrews” by Ched Spellman, and
Seeing Jesus Clearly: A Sermon from Mark 8:22-23,” by Josh Smith.

The desire of believers to display real faith through appropriate action is rooted in the witness of Scripture and exemplified in Christian history. Jesus Christ asked this haunting question of those who wished to identify themselves as His disciples: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” The Lord proceeded to illustrate the difference between two types of disciples with an architectural metaphor. One disciple comes to Christ, hears His words, “and acts on them.” This one is praised as having penetrated to “the rock” and built his house upon Him. This one is an authentic disciple, manifesting his beliefs in action. The second type, however, hears the Lord’s words, “and has not acted accordingly.” The second disciple is not founded upon the rock, so that when judgment comes, “the ruin of that house was great.”  The second disciple is a hypocrite, a person whose actions do not match his claims. These are the two disparate options present to those who hear Christ: authentic discipleship or hypocrisy.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus employs an agricultural metaphor to make a similar point, proceeding one step further by demonstrating that the ability to be authentic is itself grace in action. The Father is the “vinedresser,” His Son is the “vine,” and the Son’s disciples are the “branches.” If a disciple would live, he must abide in communion with the vine, for love, the divine gift of life, moves through Him. The vinedresser will prune His branches to help them grow properly and produce good fruit. The production of fruit, or good works, naturally occurs as part of the flow of life from within the vine. If a branch does not abide in the vine and produce the fruit of loving obedience, it will be treated appropriately as refuse for condemnation. Divine love, expressed in the flood of divine grace through Christ, has determined human fruitfulness in good works to be the proper expression of the faithful reception of divine grace. In Christ’s theological system, if we dare describe Jesus’ teaching thus, there is no contradiction between grace and good works, for divine love empowers human obedience.

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The Things Mothers Teach Us

This article by Dr. Crosby appeared in Baptist Press this week, and we secured his permission to share it with our SBC Today audience as well.

David E. Crosby, Pastor, First Baptist, New Orleans, LA

King Lemuel decided to share with the world the wisdom he had garnered during his ascent to the throne. These “sayings” of King Lemuel are the things “his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). Restated this means that the king learned his really important lessons from his mother.

Maybe Lemuel’s mother was unusually wise and articulate. But I suspect that the king learned these things from his mother for the same reason that many of us found our mothers to be our best teachers: mothers love their children.

One night I was privileged to handle bedtime for the three preschool daughters of my eldest daughter. As I was tucking them in they started to plead, “Back scratch! Back scratch!”

“Okay,” I said, and I scratched their backs, but I could not perform the task precisely as their mother did, and they all fell asleep feeling slightly deprived.

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Top 10 Blog Posts of the Week

This is a list of 10 recent blog posts which we found interesting.  That we found them interesting doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with or endorse the ideas presented in the posts, but that we found them to be intriguing and thought-provoking.  (They are listed in no particular order of interest). Please post your comments to discuss any article that strikes your interest. If you have recent blog posts to nominate, please send the link to

My Prayer for My Enemies,” by Brad Whitt on his blog, proposing his biblical response about how Christians should deal with the defeat of their enemies, in the wake of the Osama bin Laden killing.

Muslims Still Need Jesus,” by The Seeking Disciple in the Savedbyfaith blog, with a refocus on the need for reaching Muslims (and other lost persons) for Christ in the wake of the Osama bin Laden killing.

Baptist Identity?  Assembly of God Identity? Denominational Identity in an Ecumenical World,” by Dave Miller in SBCImpact, which opens a discussion on the issue of Baptist identity, and proposes something near Dr. Mohler’s theological triage to mitigate “unessential” doctrinal beliefs.

Why Your Faith Is Secure:  Salvation Is of God, Not of Us,” by Steve Lemke in the SBC Tomorrow blog – the first of a series of six articles by Dr. Lemke arguing for the security of the believer.  Just follow the link at the bottom of each article to go to the next article.  This is an “oldie but goldie.”

The Gift Has Rules:  God’s Requirements for Salvation (John 3:17-19),” by Deidre Richardson in the Center for Theological Studies blog, with an exposition of John 3:17-19.

Is it Time?,” a five part series by Tim Rogers on the Southern Baptist in North Carolina blog, questioning whether there is still a place in the SBC for traditional Baptists. It’s a longer series, but well worth reading through.  Here are the links:  Part 1Part 2,  Part 3Conclusion Part 1, and Conclusion Part 2.

The Chicago Agreement and Local Churches,” by David Rogers in the SBC Impact blog, with a commentary on an agreement brokered between various campus ministry groups.  Do you agree with these para-ecclesiological guidelines?

Releasing the Missional Manifesto,” and “Musings on the Missional Manifesto, Part 1,” by Ed Stetzer on his blog, releasing the “Missional Manifesto” he and others are endorsing in connection with the Exponential Conference.  What do you think about this affirmation? and


The Centrality of Worship in the Scripture

Ed Steele, Associate Professor of Music, Leavell College, New Orleans, LA

Worship is central to the Scriptures from the beginning to the end. Worship is central to understanding the Old Testament. Man and woman were created by God for fellowship with each other and with Him. Since we live in a post-Eden world, we cannot know what it must have been like to walk and talk with God without any hindrances. But for those who have a saving faith and knowledge of the Lord Christ, such an unhindered walk will be part of what heaven is like. Whatever such a walk was, it must have been unhindered worship as well. There are a number of wonderful texts that trace worship in detail, but our purposes here allow me to just highlight a few.

Consider the first sacrifices offered to God: those of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. One was accepted and one was not. Since this predates any of the Jewish sacrificial system, one must look deeper than the fact that one of the offerings was with blood and the other wasn’t. Timothy Pierce (Enthroned on Our Praise: An Old Testament Theology of Worship. Broadman and Holman Academic: Nashville, 2008, 36) observes that Abel gave the first born, while Cain just gave of the land’s produce, implying a lack of intentionality. Worship had not been commanded but grew out of the relationship with God in the garden. Wrong worship led to tragic outcomes. Worship continues to be central to the message.

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The Study of Specialized Words relating to Theology">Thursday is for Theological Terminology:
The Study of Specialized Words relating to Theology

Ron F. Hale, Associate Pastor, West Jackson Baptist Church, Jackson, TN

Definite Atonement . . . (also known as Limited Atonement and Particular Redemption)

One definition: “The belief that Christ bore the wrath of God for God’s elect alone. God, the Father, chose certain persons to be His children, and on the cross the Son died for those persons alone. This is the “L” of TULIP. It is often referred to as the fifth point of Calvinism; if one is a four-point Calvinist, or Amyraldian, this is the point that is denied” (Shawn D. Wright, “Glossary of Some Important Theological Terms,” in the book, Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue, Nashville: B & H, 2008, 281).

The Case For Definite Atonement

James Montgomery Boice and Philip G. Ryken argue in their book The Doctrines of Grace (p. 31):

What Reformed people want to say by these words is that the atonement had a specific object in view, namely, the salvation of those whom the Father had given the Son before the foundation of the world, and that it was effective in saving those persons. Thus it would be better to call this doctrine definite atonement, or particular redemption.

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