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.
The life of the believer in Christ has foundation in Him alone for He alone is our Source. When we are born physically into our earthly families there is a position of birth which is uniquely ours. We are either the first, second or third born and so forth. Upon being ‘Born Again’ into the Kingdom of God we find ourselves as being Heirs of Christ.
“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5)
“the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,” (Ephesians 3:6)
“By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;” (Hebrews 11:6)
“so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)
As Citizens of the United States we are guaranteed certain Inalienable Rights under the Constitution of the United States of America. (Granted there are some questions about that fact at this present moment). As a Citizen of whatever State within the Union that you might live, those Rights are extended. (However, if you are fortunate enough to have been born in Texas we walk and talk differently because ours is The Republic of Texas).
Distinctive Baptist Beliefs:
Nine Marks that Separate Baptists from Presbyterians
Distinctive Baptist Belief #9:
Decisional Conversion/Gospel Invitations (not Confirmation)
By Dr. Lemke, Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology, Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
This series has attempted to delineate historical doctrinal differences between Baptists and Presbyterians. Most of the nine points I have addressed were explicitly held by the Particular Baptists in contradistinction from the Presbyterian or Reformed theology from which they separated themselves. These, then, are distinctively Baptist beliefs. The first Baptist distinctive I addressed was a cluster of interrelated beliefs — soul competency, priesthood of all believers, and religious liberty. The second Baptist distinctive addressed was the age (or state) of accountability; the third Baptist distinctive I addressed was believer’s baptism (or “the gathered church;” and the fourth Baptist distinctive was baptism by mode of immersion, the fifth Baptist distinctive (in contrast with Presbyterian Calvinism) was baptism and the Lord’s Supper as symbolic ordinances, not sacraments; the sixth Baptist distinctive addressed congregational church polity (in contrast to Presbyterian elder rule); the seventh Baptist distinctive, examined the autonomy of the local church and how it is not a hierarchical denomination; and the eighth Baptist distinctive, I described the two scriptural officers (Pastor/Bishop/Elder and Deacon) and how they are not three (Pastor/Bishop, Elder and Deacon). The ninth and final Baptist distinctive that I will discuss is the importance of human freedom at conversion and how that undergirds the rationale for decisional conversion offered through gospel invitations.
Distinctive Baptist Belief #9:
Decisional Conversion/Gospel Invitations
One basic fault line between most Baptists and Presbyterians regards the ability of sinful humans to respond to God. The BF&M repeatedly affirms human freedom to respond and to make decisions. The “future decisions of His free creatures” are foreknown by God; and God’s election to salvation “is consistent with the free agency of man.” Persons are created by God “in His own image,” originally “innocent of sin” and endowed by God with “freedom of choice.” Even after the Fall, “every person of every race possesses full dignity.” Salvation “is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.” In regeneration the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus,” and repentance “is a genuine turning from sin toward God” and faith is “acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.” The picture that emerges from the BF&M is that while sinful humans certainly cannot save themselves by any combination of good works, God requires persons to utilize the freedom of choice He created within them to respond to His gracious offer of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.
Theological Vocabulary Thursday
The Free Offer of the Gospel
By Ron F. Hale, Minister of Missions, West Jackson Baptist Church. Jackson, TN
Does God have a universal saving will that desires the salvation of all people who will believe, or was our Lord’s atonement only sufficient for some?
Should the Gospel be preached to all indiscriminately with the purpose of calling everyone to repentance and faith?
Is God’s love and saving desire equal or unequal? Does God extend effectual (saving) grace to one group and a common grace to the other?
Is salvation sure and certain of all whom God gave to Christ before the foundation of the world and is in no way conditioned on a sinner responding to the preaching of the gospel?
Is the gospel invitation just a modern method instituted by Evangelist Charles Finney in the 19th century and has no biblical support?
These are questions that relate to the “free offer” or “well meant offer” of the Gospel. The aim of this article is give some definition to the term, share different perspectives, add some personal views, and ask more questions.
By Bob Williford, Cooperative Program Missionary for the Arkansas Baptist Convention.
The word “backslider” or “backsliding” does not appear in the New Testament. But in the Old Testament we often see the witness of God against Israel as having backslidden. The Jews continually turned their backs on Him. That is why they were instructed to make all of those blood sacrifices for sin in order to restore their relationship with the God (Jeremiah 8:9).
The Christian has received the one time sacrifice of Christ and therefore requires no further sacrifice for his sin. God purchased our salvation for us and because we are saved by grace through faith it is impossible for the believer lose salvation (2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 6:4-10).
Christians do sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8), but the Christian is not identified by a life of sin, “I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (2 John 2:14).
Theological Vocabulary Thursday
Libertarian Free Will: Jesus’ Reaction to Jerusalem’s Rejection Reflects the Father’s Reaction
By L. Manning Garrett III, Ph.D., Pastor, East Laurel Baptist Church, Jackson, TN
Regarding last week’s article, “Two Versions of Free Will in Southern Baptist Life,” there were several comments pertaining to my reference to Jesus’ reaction to Jerusalem’s rejection of Him in Matthew 23: 37-39 and Luke 13:34-35. One respondent observed that it is not clear why nonCalvinists think this episode in Jesus’ life counts against Calvinism. I will show why I think this text supports the idea that Jesus believed that the Jerusalemites had libertarian free will — they rejected Him but could have accepted Him.
Calvinist compatibilists will argue that the Jerusalemites are responsible for rejecting Jesus because they were acting on their deepest desire: they wanted to reject Jesus. Further they will argue that the Jerusalemites “could not have accepted Jesus,” while libertarians claim that the Jerusalemites had the real option to accept Jesus but chose to reject Him. NonCalvinist libertarians and Calvinist compatibilists differ with respect to whether or not the Jerusalemites had the real option “to desire to accept Jesus.”