The Wells of Salvation for Church and Family – Isaiah 12:3
At this conference we will continue the work of rebuilding the most powerful of God’s earthly discipleship and evangelism engines – The Church and the Family. How is this possible? It is possible when church and family life are joyfully watered from the wells of salvation, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation,” (Isaiah 12:3). This text identifies the thread that we will pull throughout this gathering.
There will also be a pre-conference:
Church Leaders Conference
What does it mean to shepherd the church of God? At this church leaders conference we will attempt to explain some of the critical matters that must be attended to by shepherds.
When it comes to ethnic diversity, one of the most common refrains in our culture is that 11AM to 12Noon on Sundays is the most segregated hour of the week. Such statements understandably raise important questions about our churches and ministries and whether they are focused enough on ethnic diversity.
However, African-American pastor Voddie Baucham, who leads Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, is concerned about our culture’s incessant push for diversity–what he calls “cherished pluralism.” In a recent interview with Ministry and Leadership, the magazine of Reformed Theological Seminary, Voddie offered some very helpful insights:
Q: How does the church adapt to the multicultural, multiethnic world we now live in?
We are at a place of cherished pluralism in much of modern American Christianity, and it’s dangerous. For example, you see one church with two different ethnicities, and another church with four different ethnicities, and you think the one with four different ethnicities has to be doing a better job of church, right? It may be, though, that that’s the neighborhood they are in, and they are no more welcoming or loving to people different than them. Or those four different ethnicities are broken up in four different pockets and they are not sharing community like they ought.
So, I’m very cautious about the push for diversity. I desire that all people would hear the gospel and be saved, that God would bring to his church all those whom he would call. The minute I start playing the diversity game, I’m in danger of stepping over certain lost people in favor of other lost people because I need to ramp up my ethnic diversity quota. And that’s usually problematic.
Q: How is it problematic?
In a number of ways–first, because we change our priorities. Instead of being set on faithfulness, now we’ve added another category. Faithfully preaching the gospel and seeing God bring whoever he brings is no longer enough. Now we have too many white people being saved, or too many black people being saved. Now I’m a failure because as the gospel is being preached and as God is drawing people, they don’t look like what we think we ought to look like. It’s not a biblical category of measuring success.
If there’s a problem with our not being welcoming or with being prejudiced toward people, then that’s sin, and we need to deal with that. But our goal is faithfulness in the gospel.
Q: It has been said that 11Am to noon on Sundays is the most segregated hour in our country. How valid is that statement, and how much of a concern is it?
Is it a valid statement? Probably. Is it reason for alarm? No, because people tend to go to church with people who are like them, and that’s always been the case. I don’t think we are seeing today what we saw in the 40′s and 50′s, where people were segregated because they were refused entrance. That’s simply not the case. So is the statement true? Sure, it could be. But is it better in those other hours of the week when people are together because they are forced together?
Inherently, in that statement, we’re saying that the church is wrong and awful because we are not seeing the demographic breakdown that other institutions are seeing during the week…Now we’re thinking we’re inferior to an institution that is forcing diversity on people, and that is simply not the case. If there’s sinful separation, that’s a problem, but the fact that people tend to congregate with people who are like them in a variety of ways is not necessarily a problem.
WHAT IS A REFORMED BAPTIST CHURCH? by Bill Payne.
Describes five characteristics of a Reformed Baptist Church, namely The Scriptures, Preaching, The Doctrines of Grace, Evangelism and Worship.
William E. Payne was pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Burlington, Ontario, Canada, and editor of Reformation Canada, a Baptist magazine designed to assist the recovery of the cause of Reformed doctrine and practice in Canadian evangelical Baptist churches.
On episode 34 of our podcast, we interview Pastor Todd Gill and Pastor David Shiflet about the Family-Integrated Church [both are pastors of Family-Integrated Churches].
We ask questions such as:
What would you think of someone who told you that they had made arrangements to move to a new planet, and then asked if you knew if the atmosphere was breathable? Or that they were on their way to a new country, but they were not sure if there would be any food there that they could eat, and did you have any recommendations? You would look at them as if they were mad! Air to breathe and food to eat: surely these are your first considerations when planning such a significant step, not the questions that you worry about once the business of getting there has been accomplished!
So why is it that year after year, professing Christians students (and their parents) plan their intellectual, academic, professional or social development (or invest in the development of their offspring), and only subsequently ask whether or not their souls will receive faithful and loving care in the only environment on earth that Christ has ordained as the normal means for the lasting health of his people?
Well the basic answer is simple. Denominations or associations are not there in the Bible. The New Testament talks about churches – individual local churches. But it never suggests that they should be linked together in any formal way. The local church is the only institution that Christ and his apostles instituted and authorised. And we are not free to improve on their design. If Christ had wanted the churches to be linked together by some formal structure, he would have said so. And the apostles would have done it. They didn’t. That should be the end of the matter…
Maintaining real independence is an act of faith. It’s a declaration that, however small our resources, we trust the Lord. The apostle Paul wrote to the little church in Philippi, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”(Phil 4:19). And we believe that promise! We may be tempted to believe that we need to join some larger grouping. But God has never authorised us to look for help in that direction. So we trust the Lord himself, in answer to our prayers, to supply the needs of this church, in his own way and his own time. We believe he can give us the wisdom to make God-honouring decisions. He can give us the funds to complete the work he’s given us to do. He can give us the protection we need in the face of the world’s hostility. He can give us the gifts we need to serve him in our generation. The Lord has given no promises to denominations or associations. But he’s given great promises to us and to every local church which remains faithful to his word. We trust him to keep them.
[HT: Jeremy Walker]
Stephen Rees has been a pastor of Grace Baptist Church (Stockport) since it was founded in 1984.
Stephen has lived in Stockport since he was eight years old. He grew up in Heaton Moor and went first to Didsbury Road Primary School, then to Manchester Grammar School. From there he went to Cambridge University and studied classics and theology. He came back to Stockport, lived in Edgeley and worked for a while as a schoolteacher before becoming a full-time preacher.
I had the privilege of sharing speaking responsibilities with Carl Trueman. Carl delivered three talks on the importance of creeds and I had the honor of preaching three sessions on Christian love. I highly commend Carl’s talks for their articulation of the theological, historical, and practical importance of confessions of faith.
You can see videos of the sessions here. You’ll also find last year’s talks from Greg Beale and Ralph Davis on the Old Testament.
First Session: Carl Trueman, Why Confessions?
Second Session: Thabiti Anyabwile, The Church: Saints loving Christ
Third Session: Carl Trueman, Confessions and the Reformation
Fourth Session: Thabiti Anyabwile, The Church: Saints Loving Saints
Fifth Session: Carl Trueman, The Contemporary Scene and Confession
Sixth Session: Thabiti Anyabwile, The Church: Saints Loving Sinners
Q and A Session: Questions and Answer Session
In recent years Calvinism has become cool again in many evangelical circles. Popular evangelical preachers and authors like John Piper and John MacArthur have fueled interest in “the doctrines of grace” or “five point Calvinism.” Many mainstream evangelical churches now claim to some degree or another to be “Reformed” or to promote “Reformed” theology. I cannot help but think, however, that there is often no small degree of what might be called false advertising in that claim. I say this knowing that many of my Reformed Presbyterian friends might well say the same thing about “Reformed” Baptists altogether, since we do not embrace some things that they hold as essential to the Reformed faith, like infant baptism or highly structured connectionalism among churches. That might be a good topic for a future essay. For now, however, allow me to suggest five ways in which a “Reformed” Baptist Church will differ from an evangelical church which, for the moment at least, has embraced some measure of a Calvinistic view of salvation.
A Reformed Baptist Church will be:1. Confessional…2. Covenantal…3. Cessationist…4. Regulative in Worship…5. Sabbath-keeping…
All 30 of Greg Nichols new Doctrine of the Church lectures free online here
Lectures on the definition of the church, church and state, associations, worship, benevolence, evangelism, and more
Course orientation and overview.
Survey of testimony of Westminster Confession, Savoy Declaration, and the 1689 London Baptist Confession concerning the church.
Survey of the biblical testimony to the concept of the church, Part 1
Survey of the biblical testimony concerning the concept of the church, Part 2
Survey of the biblical testimony concerning the concept of the church, Part 3
Survey of the biblical witness concerning the concept of the church, Part 4
Summary of the biblical data and its implications for our definition of the church.
An exposition of the general concept of the church.
Biblical foundations of the church: its predestination and redemptive-historical portrait.
The majestic identity of the church: Christ’s body, bride, and posterity in its covenant community and its gospel identity.
The church as God’s kingdom, the messianic theocracy.
The local church and its associations.
The messianic institution of the church.
The evangelical constitution of the church (or church membership).
The government of the universal church and the government of the local church.
The offices of the local church: the eldership and the deaconate.
The office of the deacon and the women’s auxiliary service; the various gifts with which the Spirit endows the entire church.
God’s mission and Christ’s vision for the church.
The corporate worship of the church.
The ordinances of the church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
The corporate prayer of the church.
The corporate nurture of the church.
The church and corporate benevolence.
The church and corporate discipline.
The church and its evangelistic task.
The signature or marks of the church.
The relationship of the church to the state.
The church’s spiritual warfare.
The destination of the church as militant and triumphant; God-honoring churchmanship.
Review of final exam material and Q&A session.
Dr James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, Pryor, OK, 24 August 2013.
He decided to sit down to give us some of his thoughts about the modern American seminary situation and I decided to grab some footage with my iPod Touch. I’m glad I did.
Professor Greg Nichols summarizes the biblical data about the church and provides a definition of the church that is Reformed, Baptist, and (most importantly) biblical.
The church is Christ’s saved society…
Dr. Gonzales’ intro to the video:
Pastor Greg Nichols recently delivered thirty lectures on the doctrine of the church for Reformed Baptist Seminary. Several of his introductory lectures include a detailed exegesis and analysis of the 113 NT passages where ἐκκλησία (ekklesia) the primary Greek term for the church, occurs. Then he devotes an entire lecture to collating the data of the analysis and developing a definition of the church that is Reformed, Baptist, and (most importantly) biblical. Much of the rest of the course expands on and expounds the various facets of this definition.
p.s. I almost put this as the “Friday Funny” cause there are some good laughs to have through this lecture, but the majority of it is serious, educational, and edifying so I didn’t want to take away from that. Either way, good stuff.
Over at his blog Pure Church, Thabiti Anyabwile fills us in one something new he is involved in:
I love hanging out with pastors, talking about preaching, church, books and the like. And I love talking a little smack with my friends. Put the two together and you have a wonderful time of fellowship, fun and edification.
That’s why I’m thrilled to join two of my best friends and favorite people, Pastor Louis Love of New Life Fellowship Church (Vernon Hills, IL) and Pastor Anthony Carter of East Point Church (Atlanta, GA), in launching a new website called The Front Porch.
What’s The Front Porch about?
We’re about “conversations about biblical faithfulness in African-American churches and beyond.”
We do a lot of laughing… a fair amount of celebrating… and some probing reflection. We do it all because we love that part of Christ’s Church called “the Black Church” and we want to see her thrive, building on the best of her history and reforming weak spots according to the word of God. Tony captures the spirit behind TFP here. The three of us share some of our hopes in this video:
Perhaps you grew up in a house or a neighborhood where people gathered on the porch for the day’s events, a cool drink and a little encouragement. If so, you know what we’re after. If you’re looking for edifying conversation and a lot of laughs with the great and glorious family called “the Church,” then join us on The Front Porch!
They already have lots of resources at their new site so join them on The Front Porch!
Over at the IRBS blog, Dr. James Renihan explains:
On September 1 , we were delighted to sit under the ministry of Pastor Jeff Oliver who spoke at the 2009-10 Academic Year opening service of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies… here is Rev. Oliver’s lecture revised for posting on our website. Prepare to be challenged and encouraged. His address was titled: The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Confessionalism Adrift Amid the Siren Cries for Relevancy. This is Pastor Oliver’s [3-part] transcript…
What follows below, was developed from an address given to the theological students of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies and other associate guests at the commencement of their new academic year 20009/2010 on the campus of Westminster Seminary California in Escondido.
So, more particularly, what does it mean to be a Reformed Baptist; what is a reformed Baptist church?
Who gets to decide what it means to be reformed or to be a Reformed Baptist?
The biblical, historical, and confessional truth is that numbers and church programs are very poor performance metrics of God’s blessing. When it comes to describing what it is that makes a church a “true church” the Reformed have always agreed that it is the preaching of the Word, the right administration of the sacraments and the exercise of church discipline. Never has confessional reformed Christianity acknowledged numerical success to be a mark of a true church.
Our reformed confessional standards are the only reasonable basis for a stable definition of reformed theology, piety and practice. That’s why all those who are called to be ministers of word and sacraments in reformed churches need to be taught thoroughly the reformed faith and be able and ready to confess and proclaim and teach the faith once delivered to the saints. This is the task of the ministry.
Pastor Jeff Oliver was born and raised in Darlington, North East England and was converted to Christ at the age of 11. He obtained his undergraduate degree at Manchester University in 1983 and subsequently pursued a career in private industry. After twenty years in business Jeff was called to the gospel ministry. He studied at Westminster Theological Seminary in California in Escondido, California where he received a Master of Divinity Degree in May 2006. He was ordained and installed as Pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Placerville on July 7 2006 and commenced his ministry on August 14 2006. Jeff and his wife, Jane were married in April 1993 in Jane’s home town of Kilmarnock, Scotland. More…
When we choose to absent ourselves from the gathering of the saints we may well be the victim of one or more of Satan’s lies… The gathering of the saints matters. May we not carelessly neglect it.
At the Reformed Baptist Fellowship blog, Pastor Jim Savastio explores the importance of gathering for corporate worship by looking at three lies the Devil uses to deceive Christians. You can read the full post here.