The Trinity: What the Big Deal?

In one of our recent Adult Bible Fellowships we discussed the doctrine of the Trinity in relation to specific cults and I thought it may be helpful to give a lengthy quotation as to why it’s important to believe it the Trinity:

Why is the church so concerned about the doctrine of the Trinity? Is it really essential to hold to the full deity of the Son and the Holy Spirit? Yes it is, for this teaching has implication for the very heart of the Christian faith.

First, the atonement is at stake. If Jesus is merely a created being and not fully God, then it is hard to see how he, a creature, could bear the full wrath of God against all of our sins. Could any creature, no matter how great, really save us? Continue reading

Thoughts from a Former Youth Pastor (part 2 of 2)

Sometimes when you’re in the role of youth pastor there are things that need to be said, but you really can’t. It may come across as harsh or even my motives might not be right even though I’m speaking the truth. These thoughts are meant to be a help to parents and I trust you understand the spirit with which they’re written: love and concern for you and your family. (part 1 can be found here)

Punish by taking away something else. From time to time a parent would tell me that their teenager needed punishment. The punishment was to keep them away from youth group on Wednesday night and/or the paintball activity on Saturday. Now I certainly understand withholding a teen from paintball, skiing or even bowling, but Continue reading

Baptist Distinctives: Autonomy & Priesthood

We are first and foremost Christians. We understand that heaven will be filled with many who did not hold to the name Baptist, yet they have trusted solely in Jesus Christ alone by faith. We do not limit our name to Christian for Christian does not describe all that we are, we are Baptist Christians. We believe the Baptist distinctives most closely align with the church as described in the New Testament:

  • B iblical authority
  • A utonomy of the local church
  • P riesthood of all believers
  • T wo ordinances (believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper)
  • I ndividual soul liberty
  • S eparation of Church and State
  • T wo offices of the church (pastor and deacon)
  • S aved church membership

Autonomy of the Local Church

  • each local church selects its pastoral leadership, determines its worship, decides financial matters and other church related decisions without outside control or supervision
  • recognizes no governmental control over faith and religious practice
  • rejects denominational control over local congregations

We may choose to voluntarily fellowship with colleges, mission boards, para-church organizations and even other local churches, but those entities do not nor cannot govern the direction of a local church. One phrase that may be helpful is that the New Testaments teaches: independence as well as interdependence. That is, local churches may come together to accomplish greater things together than what would be possible singularly (e.g. sending missionaries).

The Scriptural precedence for autonomy can be seen Continue reading

Thoughts from a Former Youth Pastor (part 1 of 2)

I can write this because I am no longer a youth pastor. Right? No hidden motives or secret agenda because it no longer affects me. These are things I have wanted to say, but couldn’t for fear of wrong motives, being unkind or not being spirit-filled. I write these things to be a help to parents and teens (if teenagers read blogs).

Spiritual health not robotic Christianity is the goal. I’m fearful that at times we put the “cart before the horse.” Somehow hoping that if they dressed just so or combed their hair this way that eventually we would be able to reach their heart. I understand in a youth group setting that sometimes teenagers may not dress according to the accepted norm. If the sum-total of our relationship is correcting a teen on his external apparel than we have lowered Christianity to a low that none of us would want to stoop. More importantly, that low Christ warned the Pharisees (see Matthew 23). The goal of spiritual health is Continue reading

Baptist Distinctives: Biblical Authority

Each Thursday for the next few weeks we’re going to look at our Baptist distinctives. Some would seek to run from the name because of others who hold the same name. Yes we do have “relatives” in our Baptist family that have caused embarrassment or even a shame to our name, but we stand in a long-line of Bible believers, men and women, who have faithfully lived the Christian life. We do not believe ourselves to be the only Christians, but we do believe the Baptist distinctives are those truths which most accurately reflect the New Testament teaching on the local church. Other denominations may hold to one, two, three or even four of these beliefs, but historically only Baptists have held to all 8 distinctives. These distinctives are as follows:

  • B iblical authority
  • A utonomy of the local church
  • P riesthood of all believers
  • T wo ordinances (believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper)
  • I ndividual soul liberty
  • S eparation of Church and State
  • T wo offices of the church (pastor and deacon)
  • S aved church membership

Continue reading

God’s Love and Justice: A Point of Tension or Perfect Unity?

Millard J. Erickson gives some great insight into the misunderstanding that God’s love and God’s justice are in some way at odds with one another.  Here are a few of his ideas distilled:

The idea that this tension exists results from defining these two separately.  It is derived from outside sources, and is not a biblical teaching.  

God is a unified being whose personality is a harmonious whole.  His attributes should therefore be defined in the light of one another.  Thus, justice is loving justice and love is just love.  Therefore, love is not fully understood unless it is seen as including justice.   If love does not include justice, it is mere sentimentality. 

 The idea that love is simply granting what one desires is not biblical.  Giving someone what would make him or her comfortable for the moment isn’t always the loving thing to do.  This would be an emotional reaction to a situation.  Love is much wider in scope. 

 “Justice is simply love distributed” – Joseph Fletcher.  Justice means that love must always be shown.  It is love for all one’s neighbors presently and in the future.  It is a loving concern for the welfare of all humanity, a passion for doing what is right by your neighbor. 

 ATONEMENT = God’s love and justice in perfect unity.  At the cross justice and love are not woven they are one.   Jesus through righteousness provides for both the demands of God’s justice and the desire of God’s love (that man be restored to fellowship with Him). 

God is both just and loving and has Himself given what He demands.

What is a Healthy Church Member?

Health takes discipline. Health takes work. Health takes self-denial. Health takes grace. Health takes love. Health takes honesty. Health takes relationship.

It’s easier to be unhealthy. Bottomless bowl of chips. Limitless soda pop. More pie, please. A Hallmark movie later (or Sunday afternoon football game) and a downed tub of bean dip: it sounds like fun, but the ramifications of regularly living life like that would be devastating. So are the ramifications of living an unhealthy spiritual life as a believer. The physical body is as healthy as its members, and so the church body is as healthy as its members. What are practices for a healthy believer?

Loves Listening for God’s Voice. Have you trained yourself to listen to God’s voice? Continue reading