…To Know the Love of Christ…

“Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3:13-21  (KJB)

This was the apostle  Paul’s prayer for the Ephesus Church, and all saints of God.  Let it be my prayer for the Lord’s Church where I serve, and all the Body of Christ.

For God So Loved the World…

Within the Southern Baptist Convention there is a great controversy over Calvinism and Arminiamism.  I only use these because in the end they are the extreme side of both ends.  I know that my little bit will not help the debate, but it will be my two cents nevertheless.

Calvinism is based partly on the teachings of John Calvin, a reformer; born in 1509 and died in 1564.  I am not a follower of John Calvin, nor would I call myself a Calvinist, but neither am I an Armenian.  Just to get to the nitty gritty of the matter Calvinism teaches the sovereignty of God in salvation, and there is no Biblical problem with that.  No one can be saved except the Spirit of God draw an individual to God (John 6:44).

The problem with this belief is when it is carried to the extreme by living as though there is no human responsibility in taking the message of the gospel to the lost of the world.  We are commanded by Jesus Himself to “go into all the world…”  Many of those who have fallen into this lie will say that this is spoken only to the disciples, or apostles of Jesus and has no merit for today’s believers.  I guess the rest of Scripture, then, has no merit for us.  That is the only conclusion one can reach with that belief.

The extreme calvinist will tell you too that God only sent Jesus into the world to die for the elect; thus the title of this post.  According to Strong’s Concordance “world” is from the word “kosmos, cosmos” which takes in all of creation, the universe, and every thing and everyone upon planet earth.  Especially those made in His image and after His likeness, but He does not leave out the rest of His creation.  The extreme calvinist will also deny the freewill of man.

Yes God is sovereign in salvation of mankind.  No Christian can deny that and believe Scripture; however, one cannot deny that Christ came and died, was buried, and rose again from the grave, that “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  To deny that is to deny the Scripture as well.

It is my understanding that the extreme of Arminianism is that an individual can of his/her own will decide to be saved.  The logical conclusion of that is; if one can on their own merit decide to be saved, in their own time, place and way; then, they could at any time, any place, and any way they choose decide not to be saved as well.

What amazes me about the sovereignty of God is that God saves by His discretion and grace; and that His will is and will be done no matter what we may say or do.  The sovereignty of God, and the freewill of man are both taught in Scripture.  To deny one or the other is to deny the Word of God.  They work together to accomplish the will of God on earth and for His glory.

In the end neither one of these man made soteriologies are going to get anyone to God or heaven;

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

As Baptist we need to agree that the Scriptures are true; and that we do not understand all there is to know about God, His sovereignty, or His salvation by grace.  We are called to trust and believe on His Son, His death, burial and resurrection.

Let us get together, and get it together.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Not all the elect will hear

To give some background for the above title I will tell you that my wife, some of our family and I attended an ordination to pastoral ministry in a Primitive Baptist church on Saturday.  It was a blessing to see our son ordained into the ministry with the questions and the pressure that was put on him.

I decided there that I would not be considered a good candidate for the Primitive [Old] Baptist beliefs, or ordination.  My answers to many of those questions would have been rejected flat out.  The questions as to “Who does God love?” and their acceptable answer for that question is “Only the elect”.  According to my Bible we are told that God so love the world, that He gave His only Son.

Any way the thing that really caused me to question is the title statement, “Not all the elect will hear”, and I took that to mean the gospel.  Does that mean the “elect” as they call them will be in heaven anyway?  Again according to Romans, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17); that means they will hear.  God will send a messenger to his “elect” that they might hear.

I do not call myself a “Calvinist”.  I do believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation.  It is solely a work of God; and somehow by grace God gives enlightenment and life for faith, and the faith, to hear, believe and receive eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ.

But “Not all the elect will hear”.  That puzzles me.

-T.A. Blankenship

Baptist Succession in 1838

“It is not expected that we should give a church history in this limited essay. All that will be done is to glance at the existence of the church in each successive century ; and we shall only be able to notice where the true church flourished in one or two places at the same time. . . . Owing to the different languages of those nations where the followers of Christ have lived. and to the asperities of their opposers, the church has been known by the name of Baptists, Anabaptists, Wickliffites, Lollards, Hugonots, Mennonites, Hussites, Petrobrusians, Albigenses, Waldenses, Paulicans, etc.; and to oppose image worship, infant baptism, transubstantiation, and the unwarrantable power of the Pope, have ever been characteristics of this people. . . . 
We should keep in mind that nearly every question has two sides; and while the controversy between us and the pedobaptists respects church origin, we are happy to have their full concession that they are recent dissenters from the Roman Catholics; and that the Baptist church is not only the true church of God, but that for her ‘it is easy to trace a succession of witnesses for Jesus Christ against His rival at Rome.'” 
(The above quote is from “The Convert’s Guide to First Principles” by Israel Robords, pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Haven, CT.  It was published in 1838, to instruct a large number of new converts in the church from a recent revival.  The quote is from pages 78, 79, 97, and 98 of the book.  Notice that in 1838 you have a New England pastor referring to a Baptist “succession” and a “true church.”  This is just further proof that J.R. Graves and the Landmark movement did not teach anything new in Baptist history.  A special thanks to Bro. Steve LeCrone for finding this important quote.  Note: The last sentence of the quote includes a phrase from Brown’s Bible Dictionary, p. 152. ) 

Letter From a Director of Missions

The following is the monthly letter our Barry County Southern Baptist Associational Director of Missions, Jerry L. Williams, wrote for the Monthly Newsletter. I pray you will hear his heart.

“Look not thou upon the wine when it is read, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” (Proverbs 23:31-32)

“I do not believe that our Lord contradicts Himself in His Word, do you?

‘I also believe that when His word states, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright…” that that is referring to when the wine is fermenting.’

‘I am sharing this because it seems that today there are some ministers in SBC and MBC that believes it is alright to drink alcoholic beverages. I never thought that we would hae to deal with this issue in Southern Baptist life, but I guess I was wrong.

Now I know that there are some in our churches that probably drink and think nothing of it, but that doesn’t make it right and I feel that they are wrong in doing it. Look at what he alcohol industry has done to the lives of so many; deaths, ruined families, homes, marrigaes and on and on I could write.

The Acts 29 and Emerging Church movement claims to be “theologically conservative and culturally liberal.” Alcohol, Acts 29 and the Missouri Baptist Convention…, below is an excerpt from the St. Louis Post Dispatch:’

“As Tolliver (MBC Interim Executive Director) was speaking, another group of pastors gathered at a lake house a couple of miles away, drinking Red stripe and Fat Tire beer, watching football and talking shop: the influence of music in their worship services, their inner-city social justice efforts, the challenge of having so many new babies in their congregations.”

“The young men are part of Acts 29, a network of more than 100 emerging churches across the country that have a conservative theology but a more liberal take on some aspects of the culture than do traditional Southern Baptists. The group’s focus is on starting more new churches. The Journey in south St. Louis is one such church, and there are others in the State — St. Charles, Eureka, Hannibal, Columbia and Ozark.

Our MBC Executive Board met last Dec. 10, 2007 in part to discuss their concerns about alcohol use and alcohol-based evangelism strategies within the greater Missouori Baptist family. They concluded by taking significant action on the issue.

In an historic move members of the board voted by a nearly 3-1 margin to cut off state convention Cooperative Program support to Acts 29 Network churches/church plants in Missouri. The vote does not impact MBC churches who, on their own are assisting Acts 29 churches.

The controversy over Acts 29 began when one church, the Journey, started holding regular discussion sessions in a bar where some participants drank alcohol. The “Theology at the Bottle Works” (the name of the bar).

I agree with Roger Moran when he stated, ‘One of the most dangerous and deceptive movements to infiltrate the ranks of Southern Baptist life has been the Emerging/Emergent Church Movement”.

I will be bringing a message this month at our worker’s conference dealing with this issue. May we as Barry County Southern Baptist stand firm on our doctrine, the Word of God, and the teaching of abstinence when it comes to the use of alcohol beverages.

My we send our number of messengers to this years MBC in October and stand with our State Executive Board Members and what they did in Dec. 2007. Let’s go and vote with them to hold the line on this movement within our convention.”

Bro. Jerry

The Barry County Southern Baptist Association has sent a letter to the Executive Board of the MBC voicing the approval of their December 2007 actions.  We do fully support this action of the Board, and will continue to do so.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Drawing the Lines

More and more of those who profess to be followers of Jesus, and are Baptists, are leaving the Baptists distinctives in order to draw more people.  When we get away from those Baptists teachings which make us Baptists we are no longer Baptists.

If you do not want to be Baptists then go join, or become a part of a church that you can believe with them, but don’t join a Baptist Church and try to get it away from our distinctiveness.  If you don’t love us please leave us.  We will love you anyway.

The following is a quote from a former editor of the former State Baptist Paper, Word and Way,  R.K Maiden, and was posted on a group list I am part of:

“Open communion churches in the south are as scarce as hen’s teeth, and alien immersion churches are almost as scarce. Southern Baptist churches have, so far, consistently and firmly declined to enter into any kind of compromising, entangling, interdenominational alliance. But what of the future? Will the New Testament hold its grip on Southern Baptists through the next fifty or one hundred years? The rising tide of ecclesiastical liberalism will eventually reach the borders of the South and slowly overflow it. . . Fifty or a hundred years hence may show marked changes among Southern Baptists. Unless there is a strong backfire against it, ecclesiastical liberalism will eat into the South. R.K. Maiden, 1926 (R.K. Maiden was editor of “The Word and Way” Missouri Baptist newspaper from 1896 to 1929 and was a leader among Missouri Southern Baptists. In the above quote Maiden hit the nail right on the head. There have been marked doctrinal changes among Southern Baptists in the eighty-two years since he wrote these words. If we are going to see doctrinal renewal come to Southern Baptists we must stand against ecclesiastical liberalism and preach and teach Baptist distinctives to our congregations. The quote is from pages 50-51 of Maiden’s 1926 book “The Rising Tide of Ecclesiastical Apostasy”.)

Posted on the Landmark Southern Baptist Group List, by Ben Stratton

We do not need to be eccleiastically identical with other denominations to get along with them.  The best thing Baptists can do for the world and others is maintain our identity with the Bible as the Word of God, stand on our doctrines and teachings.  If we fail to do that then, we are not worth having around.  Think on these matters for a while before you begin throwing them out the door.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

What ‘All Things Baptist’ is About

There has been much discussion among Baptists  concerning the Bible, the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention since the Renewal which began in 1979, and even more recently discussion concerning policies of our International Missions Board, and the Trustees policies on the appointment of new Missionaries.

These things are grievous to me.  I have no problem with discussing these matters, however, much of the discussion is leading toward the taking of the SBC into ecumenicalism, and away from the doctrines of Baptists and Southern Baptists in particular.

When I find the time I will be writing articles concerning Baptists distinctives.  It has long been held by Baptists that the Bible is our only creed, and I whole heartedly agree.  We have adopted articles to which we cooperate for the purpose of missions and ministry to our fellow churches, and members through local Associations, State Convention and the National Convention.  The local church is the place where ministry is conducted.  The Association, the State Convention and the National Convention answers to each atonomous local church, through messengers who are sent to the meetings of each entity.

Let me let it be known up front.  I am not an authority of Baptists History, nor polity, but as I write the coming articles I can and will be dependent upon those who have gone before me.  There are many things which we Baptists had better open our eyes to.  One of them being; WE ARE NOT CALLED TO BE POPULAR, BUT WE ARE CALLED TO BE FAITHFUL.

The Bible is our creed.  There are things we must learn from our Baptist forefathers, but not worship them. 

I am Tim A. Blankenship, Pastor of Carr Lane Baptist Church in Southwest Missouri.

Baptist Faith and Message – The Scriptures

In this article I will write about the Scriptures, or otherwise know as the Bible, the Holy Bible.  The first statement made in this article is the first statement of Southern Baptist Statement of Faith called the “Baptist Faith and Message”.  It has Scripture references with it.

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21.”

One of the references given is from 2 Timothy 3:15-17, and is probably the most known among Southern Baptists and probably all Baptists.

“… That from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV).

As Baptists we believe that the Scriptures are the Word of God.  If anyone only believes that the Bible only “contains the Word of God”, then they are not truly Baptists.

By the Word of God we can know God, His heart, His passion, and we can know that He loves the human race.  We also can know that Scriptures are profitable for doctrine, ie., teaching; for reproof, ie., the exposing of error and heresy; for correction – that is setting forth of discipline in the church; and for instruction in righteousness – showing the people the things which will be pleasing to God and will glorify Him.

A second portion of Scripture I want us to look at is 2 Peter 1:19-21:

“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for the prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  2 Peter 1:10-21 (NKJV)

When we study the Word of God we can rest assured that there will be no portion of it to contradict, lead us astray, or bring shame to our lives, or rob the glory that belongs only to God.  Not one verse can stand on its own, nor can one man’s interpretation of any one verse stand alone.  The verses of Scripture  must be understood in the light of the whole.

When you trust God and His Word, you have nothing to fear.  If we fear God we need fear nothing else.

I am Tim A. Blankenship