Sunday, August 19, 2012

Charles Simeon, Exhortation to Holiness not antithetical to the Gospel and Grace

Charles Simeon offers some sober warnings about a carelessness in how some preachers teach about the Gospel and grace, in relation to holiness and obedience.

How deluded they are who rest in Christian principles, without aspiring after Christian attainments— Such there have been in every age of the Church. Not that the Gospel has in itself any tendency to create such characters; but the corruption of men’s hearts will take occasion from the Gospel to foster sentiments, which are, in reality, subversive of its most fundamental truths. 

Many regard all exhortations to holiness as legal: yea, there are not wanting some who will maintain, that Christ, having fulfilled the law for us, has absolved us from all obligation to obey it in any of its commands. They affirm that it is cancelled, not only as a covenant of works, but as a rule of life. They profess, that the sanctification of Christ is imputed to us, precisely as his righteousness is; and that we need no personal holiness, because we have a sufficient holiness in him. 

Horrible beyond expression are such sentiments as these: and how repugnant they are to those contained in our text, it is needless to observe. That some who advance these sentiments are externally moral, and often benevolent, must be confessed: (if any be truly pious, it is not by means of these principles, but in spite of them:) but the great body of them, with, it is to be feared, but few exceptions, bear the stamp of their unchristian principles in their whole spirit and conduct. 

The whole family of them may be distinguished by the following marks. 

They are full of pride and conceit, imagining that none can understand the Gospel but themselves. Such is their confidence in their own opinions, that they seem to think it impossible that they should err. 

They are dogmatical in the extreme, laying down the law for every one, and expecting all to bow to their judgment: and so contemptuous are they, that they speak of all as blind and ignorant who presume to differ from them. 

Their irreverent manner of treating the great mysteries of our religion is also most offensive; they speak of them with a most unhallowed familiarity, as though they were common things: and so profane are they, that they hesitate not. to sneer at the very word of God itself, whenever it militates against their favourite opinions. “By these fruits ye shall know them;” and by these fruits ye may judge of their principles. 

True indeed, with their errors they bring forth much that is sound and good: but this only renders their errors the more palatable and the more delusive. They altogether vitiate the taste of the religious world, and indispose them for all practical instruction. They so exclusively set forth what may be called “the strong meat” of the Gospel, as to withhold all “milk” from the household of our God. In a word, they promote nothing but spiritual intoxication, and banish from the Church all spiritual sobriety.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention

Dr. Frank S. Page has named an advisory group to help the SBC navigate the issues surrounding Calvinism. I know many of the fine people he has appointed to the team. His goal is for these folks to "help him craft a strategic plan to bring together various groups within the convention who hold different opinions on the issue of Calvinism" and then to "develop a strategy whereby people of various theological persuasions can purposely work together in missions and evangelism." This is most welcome, IMHO.

I hope that some of the State-level SBC officials and others who have been attempting to wage an exclusionary campaign against Calvinism in the SBC will re-think their activities in light of what Dr. Page is so graciously doing here. Dr. Page is in print critiquing Calvinism but he also understands that some of the best and brightest (and a significant proportion of the younger generation) of the SBC are Calvinists, and that they are in complete accord with the historic Baptist tradition and the Baptist Faith and Message, and that they are aggressively committed to the Great Commission, evangelism, missions and church planting.

As a Bible-believing Presbyterian (PCA), I am so thankful for the SBC. Of course I love that many SBC Baptists have rediscovered their historic Calvinist roots, but I value the SBC for profound reasons other than that. I rejoice in the SBC commitment to inerrancy. I treasure the SBC's fidelity to the Gospel. I admire the SBC's focus on the Great Commission. I revel in the SBC's warm embrace of complementarianism. SBC Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike embrace these theological priorities. I revere Dr. Paige Patterson and love Dr. Albert Mohler too. I respect Dr. Malcolm Yarnell and Dr. Russell Moore. I appreciate Dr. Chuck Kelley and Dr. Danny Akin as well. I esteem Dr. Mark Dever and Dr. Johnny Hunt. And I could go on.

Friends, the SBC is hugely important to the rest of evangelicalism, and the vitality, unity and theological fidelity of the SBC is strategic for the well-being of robust Gospel witness here in the increasingly pagan Western world. I count you as a friend and ally, brethren of the SBC. Even if you think me to be suspect and dangerous because of my Calvinism and Presbyterianism (and, tell it not in Gath, my paedo-baptist convictions!), I love you still. And I pray for you. And I want you to prosper. And I thank God for you at every remembrance.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

David Felker and Ralph Kelley Ordination/Installation Tonight at 6 o'clock

Tonight, on this beautiful Lord's Day evening, we will ordain and install David Felker as our Minister of Young Adults, and we will install Ralph Kelley as our Executive Minister (he is already ordained). Afterwards we will all have an opportunity to welcome them at a reception in their honor in Lowe Hall. Make plans to be here for this very special occasion. We are thankful to God for His generous gift of these men and their families to us.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ordination and Installation, Sunday PM, August12, 2012


Please plan to join us Sunday evening, August 12, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. We will have a special service of ordination and installation for David Felker as our new Minister of Young Adults and a service of installation for Ralph Kelley as our new Executive Minister.

It will be a time to praise and thank God for the call He has placed on their lives, and the gifts that He has given our church in giving them to us.
There will be a reception in Lowe Hall immediately following the service.