Comparison Between Particular and General Baptists

I recently read this book which documents how Baptists throughout the past few centuries have been known as men of the 41HUukthTrL._SY300_book. Whether a man was a general or particular Baptist, a common thread through them was a high and proper regard for the Word of God. This is, one hand, a most encouraging book, as it shows how Baptists have been faithful to the Word of God in face of opposition from within and without the camp of Christ. On the other hand, it is a reminder that sin yet inhabits the saints of God and some will be led astray – and worse: there are false brothers within the camp and some will be shown by their works and doctrine to be no child of God. Heart-breaking as it is, such false ones must be treated as such and not as brothers. Perhaps God will yet bring them to repentance and faith. Our call is to be faithful to the message He has given us and not curry favor with men.

It is a very good book – I was surprised by it. One excellent tool in this book is the chart below, documenting the differences between these two main groups of Baptists: those who hold to the particular redemption that Christ applies only to the elect and those who hold to a general redemption in which Christ died for all men.

Comparison Between Particular and Genera – L. Russ Bush

Pastoral Evangelism and Equipping – Bob Selph

Here is the sixth in a series on Pastoral Theology from Reformed Baptist Seminary. This is the fourth message from Bob Selph. In this session, he speaks of the need to evangelize within our neighborhoods and also how to teach our people how to evangelize. I appreciate the simple approaches that Bob challenges the listener to use in reaching the lost. The basic message for the lost is summed up in three words – GOD SAVES SINNERS!

Our prayer is that it will be both an encouragement to pastors or future pastors and even to those who serve in other aspects of ministry but not necessarily leadership roles.

Who is My Neighbor?

In Luke 10:25-37, a young lawyer approaches the Lord Jesus Christ and asks how he may inherit eternal life. The Messiah knowing all things asks the young man what the law says is necessary. Interestingly enough, the lawyer responds with the correct answer, namely, one should first love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, and mind. He concludes by remembering that he is also to love his neighbor as himself. Christ acknowledges the answer with the rejoinder that if the lawyer does this then he will live.

Had the story ended there, we might have concluded that the lawyer was well on his way to being a true believer. But the next section reveals the real problem within the heart of the young man. Instead of accepting the words of Jesus, he continues by asking, “But who is my neighbor?” Luke the physician reveals an interesting note under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The lawyer asks this because he seeks to justify himself. In other words, he wants to be able to pick and choose who he accepts as his neighbor.

good-samaritan-came-to-him

The Lord then relates one of the most famous parables to reiterate to this young man steeped in the law of Moses what it meant to love your neighbor. In the end, Jesus brings the man to the point where he has to acknowledge that the person who is the true neighbor is the one who is willing to step outside his own comfort zone to reach out to those who are in need. A true neighbor is also the person who is willing to help those who cannot help themselves or even reciprocate.

So, how can we apply this to our own lives? I am glad you asked. Let me see if I can share some of my thoughts about the process of finding out both who are neighbor may be and also what kind of neighbor we are being.

dirty water

It is easy for many to get misty-eyed when they see the need for clean water in Africa, or the need for better medicine at the orphanages in Central America, or the need for massive food supplies to be delivered to the starving masses in Darfur in western Sudan. There is nothing wrong with this, and is actually quite commendable. Unfortunately, there are some who would see pictures of babies with bloated bellies and would simply turn a blind eye just like the priest and the Levite did to the poor man who had been robbed.

However, in this age where social justice is the buzzword on the lips of many, including pastors and churches, I am afraid that we have relegated our vision to just seeing neighbors as being those who are far away in other lands. In our desire to overcome our own feelings of guilt about having been born in America, we seek to fulfill the commands of Christ to love our neighbor by showering the poor parts of the world with money.

Again, there is nothing wrong with helping those who are much less fortunate than ourselves. The danger comes when we seek to justify ourselves because of what we have given and NOT because of what we must be doing. It is much easier to give money to dig a well than it is to go overseas and dig the well yourself. It is much easier to give “x” amount of money to feed the hungry than it is to fix plates of sandwiches and go help in a homeless shelter. It is also easier to send money than it is to travel abroad and be forced to look into the eyes of hundred of children that you cannot possibly feed and then sit down with your family to enjoy a nice meal simply because you have been blessed with the resources to buy good food.

On another vein of social justice, we can even find ourselves taking up certain causes that anger or provoke us such as abortion or the death penalty or socialized medicine or whatever. We attack those who are not like us or do not agree with us, and we are driven with the idea that we must get everybody else to love their neighbor by holding a sign or railing on the internet or posting videos, etc.

In reality, we have failed to recognize our own failures to keep the law of God and that is to love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no third command to love ourselves. The New Testament assumes that we do this very well.

While these aspects of concern may show that we live like the Good Samaritan and try to help those who are downtrodden, I am afraid that we have often forgotten that the Samaritans were the people right next door to the Jews. They were not on “the other side of the pond.” These were two groups of people who would see each other, sometimes on a weekly or monthly basis just walking up and down the dusty roads of Judea and Samaria.

In my own life, I have found it easier to see my neighbor as the “foreign mission field.” Our family has had the privilege of serving in ministry on three continents, but I wonder how much effort I have spent or how much effort do I spend or even how much effort am I willing to spend in order to show that I desire in my heart to fulfill both of the greatest commandments?

Within my local confines, I have neighbors who are Roman Catholic, or Mormon, or some other cult. I have neighbors who do not go to church and may not recognize the name of Jesus Christ apart from its usage as a curse word. It is quite probable that in my desire to see abortion outlawed that I have overlooked those who may be hurting from past sin within my community. We live in a country that prides itself on the saying that every man’s home is his castle. We step inside after a long day at the office, close the gates, raise the drawbridge, fill the moat with water and alligators, raise the flag on the ramparts, and then retire to our living room or lounge to watch the latest sitcoms. After a great amount of time wasted in frivolous activity, we peek out our windows and dare the world to invade our spaces.

I am convinced that we have failed in recognizing that our neighbors are neighbors not just because they live on either side of our brick and mortar homes. They are neighbors because they are in need of help just as much as those who live in Third World countries. The couple next door may not need food or assistance in paying for their clean water, but if they do not know the Lord, they are in grave danger. They have been systematically robbed by the designs of the evil one. Their homes have been attacked and assaulted by humanistic philosophy and vain traditions of men.

Dear reader, our neighbors are just like the man lying on the side of the road to Jericho. They need to be helped. They do not need, nor do they want, us to look down our noses with the air of religiosity as though we are accomplishing great things for the Lord because we send a small part of our resources overseas. These neighbors need to know that we are about more than helping out at a shelter, or picketing an abortion clinic, or railing on the world in whatever way makes us feel good about ourselves. All we are doing is acting like the young lawyer and trying to justify ourselves.

Our neighbors need us to let down our guard. We must learn to be approachable in a way that we can be ready to give an answer to any who ask of the reason of the hope that is in us, AND to do so in a way that shows a heart and a life that is filled by meekness and fear.

Too often, many who claim to know Christ think that they are fulfilling the Great Commission by sending stuff or by relegating the actual work to the pastor, elders, or missionaries. The truth is that each one of us are called to obey Christ. Every true believer must seek to be a servant to others just as the Good Samaritan did to the Jew who fell on hard times on the road to Jericho.

It is interesting to note that we are never told what the reaction was of the man who was robbed. The reason is not really relevant, because the Samaritan was going to help out whether it was appreciated or not. The man who was robbed might have turned right around after getting better and started belitting those dogs, those heathen, those Samaritans again. The Good Samaritan took it upon himself to help the man, bind his wounds, took him to an inn, paid for his medical care, and even promised to return and pay more money if that is what it took to get the man better. There was no cause nor desire on the part of the Samaritan for reciprocity. We are not even told that the man he helped thanked him for all he had done.

Today, I want to encourage each of you to think about our own lives. If we are doing nothing, then we must seek forgiveness from our Savior for not fulfilling the second of the greatest commandments. Maybe we are doing a little but have forgotten about the neighbor beside us. Again, we must remember that those around us are in far greater need than a meal or clean water. They are dying. Their house is burning down very quickly and soon they will face eternity. We have the words of life that can bring hope and to sit inside our little castles and let others throw out the life preservers is a great sin.

It is time that we stop attempting to justify who we are, who are neighbors may be, and simply learn to love the world around us just as Christ did when He walked this Earth. We all have neighbors, and our ultimate privilege and responsibility is to look beyond our own pettiness and selfish ambitions and see how we can learn and act upon the principles found in the account of the Good Samaritan.

The Savior closed out His teaching session by asking the lawyer who of the three (priest, Levite, or Samaritan) was a true neighbor. The lawyer responded that it was the one who showed mercy. The greatest show of mercy that we can do to others is to reveal to them that Jesus Christ is alive, to reveal to them that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and then to reveal to them that our love is genuine for them and we do not desire for them to face the wrath of a thrice-holy God when they pass from this life into the next.

Shepherding the Flock – Bob Selph Video

Here is the fifth in a series on Pastoral Theology from Reformed Baptist Seminary. This is the third message from Bob Selph and deals with shepherding the flock and starts with 2 Timothy 4. This is an epistle that was written to be an encouragement from Paul to Timothy, and serves to encourage elders and leaders within the church today.

1 Peter 5 reminds us, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over [God’s] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”

Our prayer is that it will be both an encouragement to pastors or future pastors and even to those who serve in other aspects of ministry but not necessarily leadership roles.

The Pastor and Church Discipline

Here is the fourth in a series on Pastoral Theology from Reformed Baptist Seminary. This is the second message from Donny Martin. Church discipline is never easy and while necessary for the purity of the local church, it should be approached with much grace and humility. Far too often, church discipline devolves into a verbal slugfest rather than a means whereby the local church seeks to bring full restoration to a fallen brother or sister in Christ.

“Church discipline is the church’s Christ-given kingdom responsibility to teach, mature, reform, correct, and restore its membership through the means of instruction, mutual body life ministry, correction and censures that range from preaching and teaching, through suspension from the Lord’s Supper, to expulsion from the fellowship of Christ’s visible church.”

Our prayer is that it will be both an encouragement to pastors or future pastors and even to those who serve in other aspects of ministry but not necessarily leadership roles.

Forgiveness For Mothers Who Murder Their Children

I am asking our readers who care about the lives of unborn children to watch the video below. Tony Miano just released a video which I believe rightly strikes the balance between compassionately calling abortion what it is, murder, and proclaiming that there is forgiveness for murderers in Jesus Christ. Please take fifteen minutes of your day to watch this and then share it with everyone you know.

The Re-Evangelization of Rome??

The world undergoes change every single day. Some changes are for good, but many prove to be detrimental at best. This last week has produced many noteworthy events.

1. Cyprus has decided that every person who has a bank account should forfeit amounts up to almost 10% of what you own. This has transpired because of greed and poor fiscal management within the government.
2. Obama is making a trip to Israel but has no expectations that they will accomplish anything.
3. North Korea continues to rattle sabres and threaten the world with destruction through the use of possibly a single nuclear weapon.

This and more dominates the headlines in our newspapers, but the one aspect that many might have missed took place in Rome. No, I am not talking about the election of a new pope. That was an expected event. No, I am not talking about the election of a new pope from someplace outside of Europe. That was also expected to a large decree especially considering that 40% or more of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics come from Central or South America.

What caught my attention was some of the first words from the first ever pope that hails from the ranks of the Jesuit order. Before we speak about those words though, a brief history lesson might be in order.

The Jesuits were founded by Ignatius Loyola of Spain. He was from a noble family and after founding the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), he would ultimately become the order’s Superior General.

Further, the Jesuits were the primary tool used by the Catholic Church during the Spanish Inquisition to persecute and murder tens of thousands of true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. This order has long been held as the military arm of the Roman Catholic system.

The Jesuits sought to “evangelize” the world by subjecting entire countries through whatever barbaric means possible to the teachings of Rome. The Bible was deliberately kept from the people and even many priests knew little more than the doctrines with which they had been indoctrinated in their training. Anybody caught reading or studying the Scripture for themselves was subject to torture on the rack or other brutalities up to and including outright murder.

Through fear of physical harm to the body, as well as the teachings that enslaved the spiritual soul of men and women, the Jesuits were instrumental in ensuring that the Roman Catholic system would have a steady influx of funds and wealth for her coffers.

When soldiers sent from the courts of Europe “discovered” the New World, they came with a show of arms and required the local populations to accept the heresy of Rome at the point of a sword. Women and children were sexually abused, some were tortured, while many would be put to death – ALL in the name of Jesus Christ. The priests leading the charges were in many cases from the Society of Jesus or Jesuits.

What a way to evangelize! Will you convert or would you rather be abused or murdered? Today, the poor peoples in many lands, but primarily Latin and South America, have been under bondage to the evils of Rome. Her priests continue to be abusers and her teachings are nothing short of heresy. She preys on the innocent and all who get in her way eventually feel her wrath.

Visit the hinterlands of Mexico, Columbia, Peru, or Bolivia, and declare yourself as an evangelical devoted to the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will face immediate opposition and evangelical missionaries in these countries are still struggling and have suffered at the hands of the local peoples who have been incited to anger by the priests of the Roman Catholic Church.

Fast forward to this last week with the election of the new pope from Argentina. Argentina, a land that was settled by immigrants from Europe over the last almost two centuries. Argentina, a land that has ruthlessly murdered all the native inhabitants by several hundred thousand at the lowest estimate. Argentina, a land that holds many in poverty while her people watch the Roman Catholic church grow richer and richer at their expense. Yes, this is the same Argentina that the new pope hails from.

The new pope has chosen the name of Francis as a way to honor Francis of Assisi. Francis of Assisi, the priest who preached heresy and was known for baptizing and preaching to birds and animals. Francis, from Argentina, has declared that he desires to represent the poor of the world. However, I do not think that we will ever see the Catholic church giving her vast treasures back to the peoples from whom they were stolen through the last 1500+ years.

The words the new pope stated though should strike a chord in the heart of every true believer. In his words, he desires to evangelize the world and to “re-evangelize” the areas of the world that they are a predominant force. Remember that at the heart of this very fallible, very sinful, very depraved man from Argentina is the fact that he has long been a cardinal of the order of Jesuits.

I am afraid that there will be many, even in evangelical circles, who will laud this man and the work that he says he wants to accomplish for the poor and downtrodden of the world. They will claim that he is a brother and knows Christ just as they declared about John Paul II and Theresa of Calcutta.

In the meantime, the Catholic machinery will move into action once again against the peoples of Latin and South America. Evangelicals will come under fire for their teachings, and some may even face martyrdom all for the sake and testimony of Jesus Christ.

The harsh reality is the truth of Scripture does not line up with the teachings of Rome. Jesus Christ said that He alone is the way, the truth and the life. Further, He made it clear that nobody could get to God unless they go through Jesus Christ.

However, Rome has duped her followers into believing that they can pray to the saints, or to Mary for deliverance. She has told them that they can do penance and somehow atone for their own sins. She tells them at every mass that the death of Christ was not a one-time sacrifice and that in order to be assured of a short time in Purgatory that they must each physically and literally eat and drink of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. She teaches her priests to ignore Scripture because the end justifies the means. She leads her people astray and when they die, the priest solemnly atones to the gathered crowd that they have departed to be with God, but must first do time in a non-existent location called Purgatory. More money and more masses are encouraged so that the people foster a false hope that their loved ones will be able to escape the fires of hell.

Sadly, while many will go to serve as “missionaries” to these gospel-deprived lands, those who go will not be taking the truth with them. More and more will be encouraged to be led astray into the Roman Catholic system with the rallying cry to follow the first Latin American pope.

However, all of that is to be expected. Rome is not stupid and she will use whatever means necessary in order to not only attempt to keep her share of the market, but to also gain more converts. For 1500+ years of her existence, she has ruthlessly, barbarically, and coldly gathered millions to follow her teachings. Constantine, who was the first pope of Rome (NOT PETER), started the process by mixing paganism with Christianity. The result dominates many lands today in what is known as syncretism. Rome does not care who you worship during the week as long as you play your part in the theatricals of the mass and give of your wealth to ensure that she grows richer.

Yet, the reality is that there are many in our neighborhoods who are being led down the same primrose path. You may find an increase in social events being led by a local priest. There will even be further attempts to draw more back into the fold from mainline Protestant denominations. You can be sure that they will adopt more of our language, and they will declare that they teach the same truths we do. The truth though is very dark, and for many, the light will be extinguished as they go into a lost eternity. An eternity that was declared to be the way of God, but that was nothing more than the figment of the imagination of a group of men who are no more concerned about their own souls than they are the souls of those who follow them.

My challenge to those of us who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb is this – what are we going to do to reach out to lost within our own circles? Will we stand idly by while the priest continues to lead our friends and co-workers down the path to hell? We each have a calling to tell the truth, no matter what it costs. May our heart’s desire be to pray for those trapped in their sin and religion, to pray for those who serve at great cost to life and limb as they share the truth in the face of great opposition, and to pray that God will burden our hearts to see beyond the trappings of religion and look for a people who need the Lord.

I have family and friends who are caught in the traps of Catholicism. My heart breaks for them for they have been indoctrinated very well. They believe that they are correct and that heaven awaits their arrival regardless of the truth that they have flaunted the Word of God in favor of the teachings and leading of depraved men.

Who is my neighbor? Jesus made it clear that the Good Samaritan was the type of neighbor we are to be. We must care for others from a social aspect, but not at the expense of the preaching of the gospel. We must be willing to reach out to others when nobody else is willing. We must care enough to forget about our own self-importance and remember that each person we meet will face eternity very soon. Many will blindly walk the broad road to destruction while very, very few will find the path to life.

May it not be said when we stand before Christ that we allowed ourselves to become an obstacle to any to find the path to life.