To the Hypocrite, Religious Leaders

“Serpents, generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matthew 23:33

These words spoken by Jesus is from the heart of the God-Man Jesus Christ.  They are spoken through most of the twenty third chapter of Matthew.  He calls them, serpents, vipers, hypocrites at least nine times.  Now He tells them they speak poisonous words.  They bind people in legalism, and make their converts more a child of hell than themselves (v. 15).

O how we as pastors and preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).  O how all of those who are born again need to realize that in Christ Jesus we have been made free from the demands of the law, because the law is within our hearts and minds to do it.

From the Pulpit Commentary on Matthew 23:33…

“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers; γεννηìματα ἐχιδνῶν: offspring of vipers. Our Lord repeats the Baptist’s denunciation (Mat_3:7). They were of devilish nature, inherited from their very birth the disposition and character of Satan. So Christ said on another occasion, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth” (Joh_8:44). How can ye escape? Πῶς φυìγητε; the deliberative conjunctive, How shall ye escape? Quo mode fugietis? (Vulgate). There is no emphasis on “can” in the Authorized Version. What hope is there now of your repentance? Can anything soften the hardness of your hearts? The Baptist had spoken more hopefully, “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” But now the day of grace is past; the sin against the Holy Ghost is committed; there remaineth only the fearful looking for of judgment.
The damnation of hell; literally, the judgment of Gehenna; judicio Gehennae (Vulgate); i.e. the sentence that condemns to eternal death (Mat_5:22). The phrase is common in the rabbinical writings (see Lightfoot). “Before sinning, we ought to fear lest it be the filling up; after sinning, we should trust in a truly Christian hope that it is not, and repent. This is the only means to escape the damnation of hell; but how rare is this grace after a pharisaical life!” (Quesnel). Hypocrisy is a bar to repentance.”

May hypocrisy be cast out of my heart. May hypocrisy be the enemy of my heart, my mind, and my life.  May hypocrisy be cast out and trod under our feet.

Teaching Baptists Distinctives

The following is by John A. Broadus on The Reason to Teach Baptists Distinctives:

I. Reasons Why Baptists Ought to Teach Their Distinctive Views
1. It is a duty we owe to ourselves. We must teach these views in order to be consistent in holding them. Because of these we stand apart from other Christians, in separate organizations – from Christians whom we warmly love and delight to work with. We have no right thus to stand apart unless the matters of difference have real importance; and if they are really important, we certainly ought to teach them. We sometimes venture to say to our brethren of some other persuasions that if points of denominational difference among evangelical Christians were so utterly trifling as they continually tell us, then they have no excuse for standing apart from each other, and no right to require us to stand apart from them unless we will abjure, or practically disregard, our distinctive views. But all this will apply to us likewise unless we regard the points of difference as having a substantial value and practical importance as a part of what Christ commanded, and in this case they are a part of what he requires us to teach.

And this teaching is the only way of correcting excesses among ourselves. Do some of our Baptist brethren seem to you ultra in their denominationalism, violent, bitter? And do you expect to correct such a tendency by going to the opposite extreme? You are so pained, shocked, disgusted, at what you consider an unlovely treatment of controverted matters that you shrink from treating them at all. Well, the persons you have in view, if there be such persons, would defend and fortify themselves by pointing at you. They would say, “I am complained of as extreme and bigoted. Look at those people yonder, who scarcely ever make the slightest allusion to characteristic Baptist principles, who are weak-kneed, afraid of offending the Paedobaptists, or dreadfully anxious to court their favor by smooth silence: do you want me to be such a Baptist as that?” Thus one extreme fosters another. The greatest complaint I have against what are called “sensational” preachers is not for the harm they directly do, but because they drive such a multitude of other preachers to the other extreme — make them so afraid of appearing sensational in their own eyes, or in those of some fastidious hearers, that they shrink from saying the bold and striking things they might say, and ought say, and become commonplace and tame. And so it is a great evil if a few ultraists in controversy drive many good men to avoid sensitively those controverted topics which we are all under obligation to discuss. The only cure, my brethren, for denominational ultraism is a healthy denominationalism.

2. To teach our distinctive views is a duty we owe to other fellow-Christians. Take the Roman Catholics. We are often told very earnestly that Baptists must make common cause with other Protestants against the aggressions of Romanism. It is urged, especially in some localities, that we ought to push all our denominational differences into the background and stand shoulder to shoulder against Popery. Very well; but all the time it seems to us that the best way to meet and withstand Romanism is to take Baptist ground; and if, in making common cause against it, we abandon or slight our Baptist principles, have a care lest we do harm in both directions. Besides, ours is the best position, we think, for winning Romanists to evangelical truth. Our brethren of the great Protestant persuasions are all holding some “developed” form of Christianity — not so far developed as Popery, and some of them much less developed than others, but all having added something, in faith or government or ordinances, to the primitive simplicity. The Roman Catholics know this, and habitually taunt them with accepting changes which the church has made while denying the church’ authority, and sometimes tell them that the Baptists alone are consistent in opposing the church. We may say that there are but two sorts of Christianity –church Christianity and Bible Christianity. If well-meaning Roman Catholics become dissatisfied with resting everything on the authority of the church and begin to look toward the Bible as authority, they are not likely, if thoughtful and earnest, to stop at any halfway-house, but to go forward to the position of those who really build on the Bible alone.

Or take the Protestants themselves. Our esteemed brethren are often wonderfully ignorant of our views. A distinguished minister, author of elaborate works on church history and the creeds of Christendom, and of commentaries, etc., and brought in many ways into association with men of all denominations, is reported to have recently asked whether the Baptists practise trine immersion. A senator of the United States from one of the Southern States, and alumnus of a celebrated university, was visiting, about twenty years ago, a friend in another State, who casually remarked that he was a Baptist. “By the way,” said the senator, “what kind of Baptists are the Paedobaptists?” Not many years ago a New York gentleman who had been United States minister to a foreign country published in the New York Tribune a review of a work, in which he said (substantially), “The author states that he is a Baptist pastor. We do not know whether he is a Paedobaptist or belongs to the straiter sect of Baptists.” Now, of course these are exceptional cases; but they exemplify what is really a widespread and very great ignorance as to Baptists. And our friends of other denominations often do us great injustice because they do not understand our tenets and judge us by their own. As to “restricted communion,”for example, Protestants usually hold the Calvinian view of the Lord’s Supper, and so think that we are selfishly denying them a share in the spiritual blessing attached to its observance; while, with our Zwinglian view, we have no such thought or feeling. These things certainly show it to be very desirable that we should bring our Christian brethren around us to know our distinctive opinions, in order that we may at least restrain them from wronging us through ignorance. If there were any who did not care to know, who were unwilling to be deprived of a peculiar accusation against us, with them our efforts would be vain. But most of those we encounter are truly good people, however prejudiced, and do not wish to be unjust; and if they will not take the trouble to seek information about our real views, they will not be unwilling to receive it when fitly presented. Christian charity may thus be promoted by correcting ignorance. And besides, we may hope that some at least will be led to investigate the matters about which we differ. Oh that our honored brethren would investigate! A highly-educated Episcopal lady some years ago, in one of our great cities, by a long and patient examination of her Bible, with no help but an Episcopal work in favor of infant baptism, at length reached the firm conviction that it is without warrant in the Scripture, and became a Baptist. She afterward said, “I am satisfied that thousands would inevitably do likewise if they would only examine.”

But why should we wish to make Baptists of our Protestant brethren? Are not many of them noble Christians — not a few of them among the excellent of the earth? If with their opinions they are so devout and useful, why wish them to adopt other opinions? Yes, there are among them many who command our high admiration for their beautiful Christian character and life; but have a care about your inferences from this fact. The same is true even of many Roman Catholics, in the past and in the present; yet who doubts that the Romanist system as a whole is unfavorable to the production of the best types of piety? And it is not necessarily an arrogant and presumptuous thing in us if we strive to bring honored fellow-Christians to views which we honestly believe to be more scriptural, and therefore more wholesome. Apollos was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, and Aquila and Priscilla were lowly people who doubtless admired him; yet they taught him the way of the Lord more perfectly, and no doubt greatly rejoiced that he was willing to learn. He who tries to win people from other denominations to his own distinctive views may be a sectarian bigot; but he may also be a humble and loving Christian.

3. To teach our distinctive views is a duty we owe to the unbelieving world. We want unbelievers to accept Christianity; and it seems to us they are more likely to accept it when presented in its primitive simplicity, as the apostles themselves
offered it to the men of their time. For meeting the assaults of infidels, we think our position is best. Those who insist that Christianity is unfriendly to scientific investigations almost always point to the Romanists; they could not with the least plausibility say this of Baptists. And when an honest and earnest-minded sceptic is asked to examine with us this which claims to be a revelation from God, we do not have to lay beside it another book as determining beforehand what we must find in the Bible. Confessions of faith we have, some older and some more recent, which we respect and find useful; but save through some exceptional and voluntary agreement we are not bound by them. We can say to the sceptical inquirer, “Come and bring all the really ascertained light that has been derived from studying the material world, the history of man, or the highest philosophy, and we will gladly use it in helping to interpret this which we believe to be God’s word;” and we can change our views of its meaning if real light from any other sources requires us to do so. There is, surely, in this freedom no small advantage for attracting the truly rational inquirer. But, while thus free to search the Scriptures, Baptists are eminently conservative in their whole tone and spirit; and for a reason. Their recognition of the Scriptures alone as religious authority, and the stress they lay on exact conformity to the requirements of Scripture, foster an instinctive feeling that they must stand or fall with the real truth and the real authority of the Bible. The union of freedom and conservatism is something most healthy and hopeful.

4. There is yet another reason —one full of solemn sweetness: To teach our distinctive views is not only a duty to ourselves, to our fellow-Christians, and to the unbelieving world, but it is a duty we owe to Christ; it is a matter of simple loyalty to him. Under the most solemn circumstances he uttered the express injunction. He met the eleven disciples by appointment on a mountain in Galilee; probably the more than five hundred of whom Paul speaks were present also: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The things of which we have been speaking are not, we freely grant, the most important of religious truths and duties, but they are a part of the all things which Jesus commanded; what shall hinder us, what could excuse us, from observing them ourselves and teaching them to others? The Roman soldier who had taken the sacramentum did not then go to picking and choosing among the orders of his general: shall the baptized believer pick and choose which commands of Christ he will obey and which neglect and which alter? And, observe, I did not quote it all: Go, disciple, baptizing them, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Shall we neglect to teach as he required, and then claim the promise of his presence and help and blessing?

Let us as Baptists be faithful in the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures, from which we gather our Baptists Distinctives.

Posted by T.A.

A Word Of Assurance…

There is many a time that preachers can become discouraged, down-hearted, and just plain ole depressed. All people have those moments, and the men God calls to proclaim His Word are definitely no different.
The prophets were given God’s message to proclaim to God’s people. Jeremiah the prophet of God is known as the “weeping prophet”; because his heart is so often broken, and his eyes come to tears because of the backsliding of the people. There are times he doubts, fears, and is troubled, and God always comes through with words to encourage him; though sometimes, those words may also be disturbing.
Take for example the following:
“Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.” Jeremiah 5:14 (KJV)
The man of God who proclaims the Word of God should do so with the burden of God’s Word on his heart; yet with joy knowing that God will complete His Word – it will be fulfilled. Many of the words of the prophets and the prophecies we have written in God’s Word comes across many times as being negative; however it is all proclaimed with a positive outcome in sight.
The prophet wept over the sins of his people, proclaimed the message of God’s Word with power and conviction; and at the expense of his life’s comforts and his life.
Look at God’s Word to Jeremiah; “Because ye speak this word…”. God is declaring Jeremiah faithful in preaching. “…Behold, I will make My words in thy mouth fire…”. Fire burns; it burns the fuel that is added to it; and where there is no fuel the fires dies out. Again, God commends Jeremiah for speaking “My words in your mouth…”. The ‘words’ being fire means that God will accomplish what the prophet has spoken. It is very discouraging to the preacher to know that he is preaching God’s Word, and feel that God is not moving in the messages. When the preacher/prophet sees God moving in the lives of people, and is hearing God promising him that He will accomplish His Word; that encourages and blesses the preacher.
One of the sad things about the message of the preacher is knowing that it will affect people differently. Some will leave with anger concerning the message, and in most cases God will still continue working to cut away, the burn away the dross, and deal with that sin or sins in that life. Others will hear the preacher preaching the Word of God, and believe, and begin practicing the Word which they have heard.
The words in the mouth of the prophet made fire… and God continues, “…and this people wood…”. Wood is fuel for the fire. This is a sad element of the prophet of God. That God through this preacher would devour this people in their sins. It brings no pleasure to God’s prophet; but pain. Yet, there is this fulfillment of knowing that God is accomplishing His purpose and glory through this painful message.
Be assured pastor and preacher of the Word of God; God will accomplish His word. Every word will be fulfilled; and God will be glorified. He is glorified in the message of the cross of Jesus Christ; His Word has been fulfilled in the death of Christ, His burial, and His bodily resurrection. Preach Jesus; His cross, burial, and bodily resurrection.
-Tim A. Blankenship

Newsletters On Alcohol and the Christian

The following is from the October edition of the Barry County Southern Baptist Association’s Newsletter.  Brother Jerry Williams is our Director of Missions, and he introduces David Baker.  Read and hear these important words that Christians of the day need very greatly to heed.

A NOTE FROM YOUR DOM

I recently received a Newsletter from FBC of Belton, MO where Bro. David Baker is pastor. I would like to share with you his article entitled, “Should a Christian Drink Alcoholic Beverages?”

He writes, “Strong drink? What does the Bible actually say? The reason the issue of alcoholic drinks or beverages being appropriate for the Christian is even debated, is that most of our pastors, theologians, and other Christian leaders simply do not understand the Biblical text.

We have several problems that have led to a clear misunderstanding of the text. The first, our seminaries and Bible schools, have not required that our young pastors are adequately trained in Biblical languages. Second, many our most renowned theological commentators on the text entered into this debate with a clear bias, they were imbibing or were looking for an excuse to continue using alcohol as a beverage. As a result, they interpreted the text in error. Third, the approach of many pastors and scholars to hermeneutics have been flawed by a lack of textual and historical knowledge. Fourth, we have allowed the trends of our modern culture to affect our practical application of the text. Fifth, we greatly underestimate the power of sin.

Many pastors are guilty of accepting popular ideas about the Bible, particularly presuppositions, which upon a more objective analysis of the text, are simply not true. In my own case, after undergraduate studies in classical Greek, and nearly four years in Biblical Greek, I came to the conclusion that we must examine the text as it is, not with the intent of establishing cultural acceptance. It was my good fortune to study under one of the finest Greek scholars ever produced in Baptist life, certainly not a Biblical conservative, but a brilliant teacher. I have also been fortunate in becoming acquainted some of our current Greek and Hebrew scholars, particularly with the work of the late Stephen Reynolds. Dr. Reynolds earned his Ph.D. in Biblical and oriental languages at Princeton University where he studied under the teaching of Henry Gehman, Phillip Hitti, and Harold Bendes. He also worked in the field of Biblical archaeology under Dr. William Albright. He is known for his articles in Baker’s Dictionary of Ethics which is edited by Dr. Carl F. H. Henry. Dr. Reynolds published the most exhaustive study on this subject I have seen in 2003 called The Biblical Approach to Alcohol. This book was a project of the Lorine L. Reynolds Foundation, a foundation committed to issues of Biblical translation.

Stephen Reynolds says, “The fact is there is no evidence anywhere that Jesus ever drank a single drop of alcohol.” He goes on to examine every Biblical text with a rigorously objective hermeneutic, and draws the conclusion that the Biblical evidence overwhelmingly supports the position of total abstinence from alcohol beverages. He also notes the historic bias of many theologians on this issue, and he comments concerning his own exegesis, “I am, however, rather confident that they cannot be proved contrary to sound rules…” After years of my own study on this issue, and after carefully examining Dr. Reynolds work and conclusions, I am deeply convinced that the only consistently Biblical position on the matter of beverage alcohol, is total abstinence. This is the position that I hold without apology, and expound consistently.

Baptists have historically held to the position of total abstinence. While I am aware that there are those who deny that more ancient Baptists held to this position, my own study indicates that the earliest Baptists in North America were amazingly consistent in their opposition to the sale and use of intoxicating drink. Even without the knowledge available to us today of the Biblical languages, our forefathers saw the terrible toll of alcohol on the culture, and condemned it for practical reasons. We should at least have this much common sense. I have listened to the arguments favoring the use of alcohol patiently. I am not convinced. I believe the text, rightfully interpreted, is clear. If there are those who hold otherwise, I shall say with John Huss, “Mighty is the truth, and it will prevail.” David Baker

I too believe and practice total abstinence and am totally convinced that it is the Biblical position.

I stand with Bro. Baker and will continue to preach against the use of drinking alcoholic beverages.

Bro. Jerry-DOM

Let me end by asking this question as a matter to provoke some serious thought.  There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of testimonies of former drunks, and alcoholics and social drinkers who upon coming to faith in Jesus Christ immediately turn away from alcoholic beverages; it puzzles me greatly and makes me wonder seriously why some Christians and Christian preachers want to say “It is okay to drink beverage alcohol”.  How can you do that?  How is it right when those who have come out of it have given it up, and see the evils of it?

If you can stand in the pulpit and tell people “God doesn’t hold you guilty for drinking alcoholic beverages”, and someone in your congregation ends up an alcoholic or a drunk, and they kill someone while driving drunk; are you guiltless?

-Tim A. Blankenship