Morning Story and Dilbert
September 24, 2016
There were a hundred hints of Autumn in the wind when I took my dogs outside this morning. The air was cooler and drier than it had been for months. The Queen Anne’s Lace and Black Eyed Susan’s seemed to be shivering in the September Sun. Our puppy, Fluffy was carrying around a freshly fallen leaf in his mouth. Overhead a flock of ducks seemed to be debating whether or not it was time to head south. I breathed in deep and smiled. This was my favorite time of the year. I closed my eyes for a moment and was amazed when a thousand Autumn memories mixed and mingled in my mind.
I was a four year old carrying an armful of colorful leaves into the house to give to my Mom. I was a young boy riding my bike down a hill with the…
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PEOPLE’S POLITICAL PLATITUDES
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
Every four years, the country suffers the deluge of political platitudes in sufficient quantity to ensure voter weariness. But, it is expected, and among those who actually think, most of the grand promises are taken with a grain of salt. However, in this context, it is troubling to note an apparent lack of understanding about the history of the nation and its relationship to God. It is oft heard that “America needs to return to God!” or some similar statement of the same import, except in recent political rallies where He has been booed. Really?
Looking back, in the early days of this country, Baptists were imprisoned for nothing more than preaching Bible truth. They were taxed against their will to build church houses of Protestant denominations. To be sure, the Lord’s churches have enjoyed a tremendous degree of freedom here, and flourished therein, but most of those freedoms came about because God blessed the consistent, pressing efforts of His people. Moreover, this also was not without undesirable repercussions.
So, in the general context of religious life, America is noted as a “Christian” nation. However, the persistent rejection of foundational ethics of Judeo-Christian origin, moral, ethical, and religious standards have been in more of a nose dive than on a slippery slope.
The bottom line is that as a nation, America has never been in step with God. The platitude of “America needs to return to God” would better be stated, “America needs to turn to God.”
It is still true that Satan is the god of this world. His power is such that he offered the kingdoms of this world to Jesus if only He would worship him. Was the offer legit? Surely it was, and had to be in order for it to be a temptation.
But it is demonstrably true that God had and has much to do with this country, much more than the country has to do with Him! It is lamentable, but Bible students have read the last chapter of the Holy Book. The sinking of nations into the cesspools of sin is a precursor to the return of Jesus. Meanwhile, how nice it would be if leaders would learn that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people!” Prov. 14:34 Still, it is not recommended that anyone hold his breath until this happens. When the voting is done reality continues until the next four year period. Truly, those who know God should pray for our country.
A very apt application. Relieved from suffering from the heat, weight and cares of this world. Come to the Lord. May He give you rest from the weight of the world.
Morning Story and Dilbert
Vintage Dilbert September 12, 2012
A long lost sheep, Shrek, became famous several years ago when he was found after hiding out in caves for six years. Of course, during this time his fleece grew without anyone there to shorn (shave) it. When he was finally found and shaved, his fleece weighed an amazing sixty pounds. Most sheep have a fleece weighing just under ten pounds, with the exception usually reaching fifteen pounds, maximum. For six years, Shrek carried six times the regular weight of his fleece. Simply because he was away from his shepherd.
This reminds me of John 10 when Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd, and His followers are His sheep. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I think Shrek is much like a person who knows Jesus Christ but has wandered. If we avoid Christ’s constant refining of our character, we’re going to accumulate extra weight in…
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William Andrew Dillard
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF “ABBA”
In contrasting Old Testament and New Testament covenantal life, notice how Paul details it quite clearly in Romans Chapter Eight. The possibility of saved people walking after the flesh is real and warned against in strong terms. The warning begins in Verse One which restricts the “no condemnation” status to a spiritually correct walk. The possibility of that occurring is underscored in Verse Fifteen, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” What is the significance of “Abba?” Think with me for a moment!
“Abba” is a Hebrew term which translates as “Father” in English as indicated in the text. This is a new term for first century church members who were largely Jewish. They formerly called upon the Creator as “Lord God” and that always in fear as they learned their sinfulness in contrast to the total righteousness of God. They had a long history of learning the severity of the Law, and the punishment associated with breaking it. So, the term “Abba” or “Father” is new and peculiar to the New Covenant.
The spirit of the Old Covenant was one of bondage. The Spirit of the New Covenant is one of loving endearment, and an understanding of the Lord God of the Old Testament now as “Our Father.”
This reality is directly attributable to the Spirit of adoption so noted in the text. But to the English reader, “adoption” is a legal term which denotes admitting one to a family as a legal heir who is not such by birth. This is NOT what is meant by the text. The term “adoption” here is a translation of the Greek word “Huiothesia” which mean to place in the position of a mature son. That position of maturity in spiritual matters is intricately linked to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the pillar and ground of the truth, even the same body on which the Holy Spirit came to take up tutorial residence on Pentecost, Acts 2. Therefore, the term is not a term of relationship, but a term of position.
How blessed are modern, dedicated, members of New Testament Churches! Here, they are led to spiritual maturity by which they are enabled to make correct decisions and judgments as the bride of Christ in the absence of the bridegroom. We do not cower before Him as the stern Lord God, but humbly bow before our loving Heavenly “Abba!”
5. The Fundamentals of the Church
We do not hesitate to say that the doctrines taught by the churches of the New Testament days are identical with the doctrines taught today by true Baptist churches. These constitute their distinguishing marks by which Baptist identity has been known across the centuries back to our Lord’s day on earth.
Across the centuries Baptists have believed and taught all the fundamentals of the Scriptures, thus making the Bible the man of their counsel. In sum, these teachings include:
Salvation by grace without any admixture of meritorious works (Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 11:6; Titus 3:5).
Congregational form of church government, as already discussed in this message.
Immersion in water as the Scriptural mode of baptism (Acts 8:38, 39; Rom. 6:4).
Christ as the sole head over His church (Mark 12:10; Eph. 1:21-23).
The Bible as the sole written guide and standard of authority in religious affairs (2 Tim. 3:16,17; John 5:39).
The right of private judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15: John 5:39).
Freedom of worship, of conscience and of speech. The early Christians avowed and taught religious liberty. Tertullian, a Christian writer of the second and third centuries said:
“Every man should worship according to his own convictions: one man’s religion neither harms nor helps another man. It is accuredly no part of religion to compel religion.”
Justin martyr, a Christian writer of the second century, said:
“Religion cannot be imposed by force; the matter must be carried on by words rather than by blows.”
It is an honor to Baptists that, while they have endured persecution for truth’s sake, they have never persecuted others for their faith. Indeed religious freedom is a trophy of Baptists.
Separation of church and state (Luke 20:21-25).
Baptists in every century have championed the cause of religious freedom. They have contended for separation of church and state, but not the separation of God and the state: that the one should not control the other, but both church and state should work harmoniously for the betterment of each. There can be no absolute freedom of religion where there exists a union of church and state. God is over all.
Individual priesthood of all believers (Heb. 4:14-16; Rev. 5:10; John 14:13).
Every believer has a right to approach God for himself. He is his own believer-priest, going to God through Christ alone for himself (I Tim.2:5). It is a sin to pray to any saint living or dead.
In addition to these nine points of fundamental tenets, Baptists believe and teach the doctrines of inherent depravity (Eph. 2:3); the convicting and converting power of the Holy Spirit in connection with the word of God (Acts 16:14); the security of the believer (John 5:24); a restricted Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42; I Cor. 11:17-20); the blood atonement of Christ (II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 2:9) as essentially related to His virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:23); our Lord’s resurrection from the grave (Matt. 28:1-6); His ascension back to heaven (Luke 24:51); His personal and visible and premillennial second coming (Acts 1:11; Matt. 24:37-39); a bodily resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:51-53); and eternal hell for the incorrigible wicked (Luke 16:19-26); and an eternal bliss in heaven for the children of God (Rev. 21:1-14
4. The Form of Church Government
Baptists are backed by the Scriptures in their claim of a congregational or democratic form of church government, all the members having an equal voice in the administrations of the church’s affairs. This form of church government is proved by the following facts:
- A whole church voted in the election of an apostle to succeed Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26).
- 2. A whole church acted together in the election and ordination of the first deacons (Acts 6:2-6).
- A whole church acted together in sending forth missionaries (Acts 13:1, 2; 14:26, 27).
- A church as such is authorized to receive members (Romans 14:1).
- 5. A church as such is authorized to dismiss members for bad conduct (I Cor. 5:13; II Cor. 2:6; II Thess. 3:6).
The Corinthian church expelled from her membership an incestuous man by majority vote. “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment which was inflicted of many” (II Cor. 2:6). The word “many” comes from an original word meaning “majority.” This shows beyond any reasonable doubt the church maintained a democratic form of government.
- The congregational form of government is supported by the fact a church is complete within itself and is independent. Other congregations are not necessary for the being of a church, but they may contribute to its well-being. In Acts 16:5 we note that members of a church went abroad and established like churches: “And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.”
- The fact Christ recognizes a church as being the highest ecclesiastical tribunal on earth supports the congregational form of government, Matt. 18:17a, 18: “And if he shall neglect to hear them (the one or two witnesses) tell it unto the church…Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This authority was committed to a local congregation as a whole, thus showing that all the members should have a voice in any transaction
That is the Baptist system of church government – all members of a church being equals in a perfect democracy. They may not be equals in material possessions, or talents, or resourcefulness, but in authority under the Lord.
Other forms of church government, as taught by certain denominations, include the episcopal and presbyterial forms. By the episcopal is meant a church governed by bishops; and by presbyterial is meant a church is governed by presbyters or elders. These teachings arose after the close of the apostolic period, hence not taught in the Scriptures. They take away from the churches adopting such such systems their autonomous rights, whereas the congregational form of government necessarily implies three things: first, equality of the members touching their voice in the governing affairs of the congregation; second, independence of each church, as already mentioned; and third, each church is amenable only to the Lord in the conduct of its affairs.
LABOR AND LIGHT
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
It is the Labor Day weekend. A foreigner might get the wrong impression from the way our phrases and titles are framed. It is not a special day to labor, but a day to rest from labor and reflect on the blessings of labor, and the God-given ability to do it. There are similarities between labor and light that come to mind. Think about it!
God’s people are to labor, in fact with much difficulty, to have and to walk in light, letting the light of their spiritual life shine in a darkened world. But we do not have a specific day set aside to just reflect on our Christian labor. Perhaps there is a reason for that. Perhaps it is because like resting from labor on Labor Day, we tend to cease from our Christian labor every day. Presently, the hourglass of time is fast running out of sand, and it is so important that spiritual labor be renewed. And just what might that be? Simply put, it is receiving light and walking in light. After all, “There’s a call comes ringing over the restless wave: send the light, send the light!” Jesus is light, and He is life. The repetitive biblical admonition to all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is to walk in light. It is there that we have fellowship with Him. It is there that our life reproves the darkness of sin and rebellion toward God. Moreover, we are not left to guess how such a walk is to be accomplished. David of old said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. John put it this way in I John 1:6-7: “If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
To walk (manner of lifestyle lived) necessitates action. Too many church members have made a profession of faith, but are doing little to nothing as a labor to advance in the light Jesus brought to men, and in which He continues to walk. How appropriate then it would be to not only be thankful for the ability to labor on this holiday, but to be thankful for the opportunity to labor spiritually; to walk in the light of truth as a workman who needs not to be ashamed, but who is able to rightly divide the word of truth.