Parson to Person
The question arises from time to time, but recently more often: is there bias in Baptist churches and literature against baptism? The question does not mean to indicate that Baptists are openly critical of or disdainful of baptism, rather they purposefully push it into the background or omit discussing it to avoid conflicting discussions with others not of our stripe. Think a minute!
One evidence is a lack of underscoring its significance from pulpits. Ministers may feel intimidated by former waves of heresy surrounding the ordinance resulting in ministers being labeled in unfavorable ways. That may not be the case also, but whatever it is, there is a widespread toning down of its meaning, importance, and beauty.
Another evidence shows up in literature. The spiritual new birth is heavily emphasized, which is good, but to indicate that one has all that is important, or that there is full leadership accessibility of the Holy Spirit in rebellion or neglect of divine instructions regarding proper baptism and subsequent fellowship in a true New Testament church is to negate the very thrust of the New Testament itself. Whom do we fear, God or man? Whom do we seek to not offend by this subject, God or man?
When Baptists are biased against the joyful presentation of baptism are they ashamed of it, or do they think to win others by cunning deception in matters of truth?
Baptism has long served as the door to church membership predicated on the new birth. If Baptists are not seeking to win folks to proper New Testament church membership, they are not ministering the New Testament purpose. The new birth is as old as Adam’s sin in Eden, and while the New Covenant is predicated upon it, so was the Old Covenant as well. To fail in these matters is to fall into the practice of abandoning new believers to the clutches of heretical religious organizations as so many modern “evangelists” do.
It is important to emphasize the will of God for every new believer of the gospel. Pentecost is fundamentally important. There is an office work of the Holy Spirit to and in the Lord’s church whose benefit the unbaptized, unchurched miss. If the ordinance were not absolutely important, it would not be the consistent teaching of the New Covenant. Let such scripture verses as Luke 7:30, Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:38, and Romans 6:1-5 be revisited, and indelibly impressed in hearts and minds.
On the other hand to be boastful tends to create carnal elitism. There is a thin line but a definite line between a sense of thankfulness for one’s understanding and blessings, and a sense of arrogance or superiority that one may have over another.
Then let us witness of full truth in love for the Lord and His purpose, but be quick to attribute all of these things to the goodness of God which all may have who will believe and follow Him.
SELL ME THIS POWER
In biblical Christianity there is power! Saints sing of it often in such hymns as “There Is Power In The Blood.” Repentant lost people rejoice in it at the altar of their heart. Saints who are wise reject the time consuming offerings of the world in order to know Him and the POWER of His resurrection as did St. Paul as he told the Philippians.
Jesus said that all power is consolidated in Him as He commissioned the church in Matthew 28:18-20. Just before ascending, He told His church that they would receive power after that the Holy Ghost was come upon them. According to Acts 2, they certainly did. But it was not a temporary power. It was an age long power to be resident in New Testament churches; power sufficient to bring them through the age with the proper testimony of God, and His love for the world.
But power is one of the objects of the sinful, greedy world which sees material advancement as the purpose of life. Thus the very existence of understood power draws men either to God and Salvation or to Satan and the ladder of materialism and creature comforts.
Such was the case of one Simon the sorcerer as noted in Acts 8. It is interesting to note that Simon was a long time practitioner of sorcery. Doubtless, he accumulated a considerable amount of wealth with it. However, the introduction of Bible Christianity in Samaria was mightily blessed of God so that many were saved and baptized. Make of this what you will, the Bible declares that Simon also was saved and baptized. Simon then continued with Philip, drawn by the miracles which he did.
Some days later Peter and John were dispatched from Jerusalem to Samaria who prayed for them, and laid hands upon them, and they received the Holy Spirit that had come upon the church in Acts 2. Simon was impressed, so impressed that he offered the apostles money to have their power conferred upon him. Peter minced no words rejecting the request, and directing him to repent of such wickedness, 8:22-24.
Unarguably, the apostolic years were filled with extraordinary displays of holy power as credentials of holy men in the absence of the New Testament. But with its completion, focus is shifted more precisely upon the church of the Living God. It is the pillar and ground of the truth under the constriction of the Holy Spirit and the eternal Word. In these things there is staying, aggressive, authoritative, energetic power from heaven. Surely, the world remains filled with satanic inspired charlatans, who emulate Simon saying, sell me this power that I may accumulate wealth through deception. But, as it was then, so it is now. The gifts and calling of God may be only enjoyed God’s way. They are not for sale.
April 27 – Sacrifice of Fools
Ecclesiastes 5:1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.
Keep thy foot while going to worship God. This is the thought of Moses and Holy ground. This is the idea of reverence and respect for the idea of meeting God here. Fruitful and acceptable worship is what is under consideration here. Would this mean that God does not accept any way we desire to worship God? Absolutely, a serious study of worship in the Old Testament and the New Testament is needed to find God’s way of worship. To keep your foot means to be careful of your conduct when coming into the presence of God. A place of worship is a sanctified place because of the presence of God. If we were meeting outside under a tree, the very presence of God demands a reverence because His presence sanctifies that ground just as much as the ground at the burning bush.
Hear the word. Be ready to draw near with great desire to hear and obey the call of the Lord in salvation, surrender, and service. The Word is precious indeed and much needed today. The inward devotion of the spirit will direct our outward worship in a manner that is approved and loved by God. The Word should convict us as to the worship that is acceptable, not based upon our desire but based upon what the Word has revealed to us about the character of God and the desire of God for a proper and acceptable worship.
The sacrifice of fools would be a sacrifice that is unacceptable to God. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were not to be sick, lame or blind. What are we offering that comes under the heading of “the sacrifice of fools? Some offer out of ignorance, others out of convenience, and yet others offer out of emotion. Knowledge of God’s Word should guide our sacrifice of worship to God.
A reverent sincerity is always appropriate. Obedience is always acceptable.
April 26 – Lack of Knowledge
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
The great tragedy today is a Lack of knowledge. We have simplified our knowledge of the Bible to a few simple slogans that express a small amount of knowledge about the Bible, God, Christ and the life we are to lead. We have not only dumbed down the secular education today but have also dumbed down Christian education. We have reduced the knowledge and discussion to a few favorite slogans leaving out the teachings that do not appeal to the masses. We are not teaching about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are not teaching the truths of the Church and what a Church is and the Churches responsibilities as the administrator of the kingdom of God.
This Biblical Knowledge has been rejected because it would convict. It has not only been rejected but also has been ridiculed as something that is not applicable to today’s lifestyle. This is a term that simply says, “I do not want to live a separated life from the world.” “I want to claim to be a Christian and yet do worldly things and have worldly attitudes.” There is a rejection today of a separated life that stands out and is outstanding.
God said, “I will also reject thee.” This was written to Israel, yet is just as applicable today as it was in Hosea’s day. The claim is that Israel has forgotten the law of God. That is true today also. We are not under the law of Moses but we are under God’s law of “study to show thy self approved.” We are under the law of “love thy neighbor as thyself.” We are under the law of “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.” We are under the law of “put off concerning the former conversation the old man.” We have the law of holiness, “so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.”
Here is a warning for this day as it was in the days of Israel. I will forget thy children. Certainly, we see that warning coming to fruition today. We are losing our children to the world. When the world is brought into the Church, we lose the children to the world. Church truths are no longer taught to our children. They are certainly involved in activities yet the shallowing teaching of the Word of God enables them to embrace some of the sinful practices of the word. Then they stray. What a mess we have created, trying to entertain to create interest instead of driving the teaching home for conviction.
May we get back to teaching the Word.
APRIL 20 – The Blessedness of Unity
Psalm 133:1 A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
Unity, often discussed, difficult to attain. Unity is so important in the work of the Lord. There are times where dis-unity causes the work of God to be hindered. Unity promotes and encourages the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We should be united in Sentiment. Sentiment is a tender feeling or emotion for others that are engaged in the work of the Lord. It is that part of mankind where joy is shared by all and death is mourned together and those that leave our union brings great sadness. This sentiment is coupled with a union of feeling. This feeling brings a confidence among those that are in union. When we are in union with sentiment and feeling, we will be united in effort. When we are united in effort, the Lord’s work will be accomplished.
Church union is very important. The Church must be united in the teachings of the Scriptures. We must agree on core doctrines that relate to God, Jesus, and the Church. Without this union on Scripture, there is division which hinders the work. Unity is strength. Where there is unity there is strength to do the work. Unity brings happiness. When all are pulling the yoke together we have a unity of purpose that brings us together to pursue a goal. Where there is unity, there is love. A love that overshadows the work that is done for the Lord. Through all of the discussions on God, Church, and Doctrine, we should have unity even in our disagreements.
May we unite for the sake of the work of the Lord.
APRIL 11 – Man’s Inventions
Ecclesiastes 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
Man was created. He was not birthed in the beginning and he did not evolve. Man was created in innocence. He had not committed sin and did not know sin. He was upright in stature and practice of living. It is mans own invention that brought sin into this world. Man is responsible for his own failings because he trusted himself when confronted with the sin of disobeying God. We are the same today. We are a rebellious and disobedient people ready to turn away from the path God has given us and chose a path of sure destruction.
What are our inventions? A way of salvation that is not God’s way. It is the way of mans own thoughts and imaginations. Never forget that salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing that man can do. Baptism is a pictorial ordinance that shows the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and identifies us with Christ. It has no part of salvation but does show obedience. Man has devised a preferred baptism that is convenient and does not show anything related to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Man has invented a Lord’s Supper that knows not the design nor the purpose of this ordinance. There are some “so-called churches” today that have so marred the Bible doctrines that they can no longer be recognized as Bible doctrine.
Man’s inventions have led us so far away from the Word of God that only lip-service is rendered. Man has even invented new ways of “persuading converts” through entertainment and persuasion. They now are making converts that are condemned to the abyss of hell because it is lip service to salvation because of persuasion. The Holy Spirit is not involved but the salesmanship and entertainment that is bringing into contact with religion, yet they have never been convicted and repented.
God’s way has always been better.
THE CHURCH THAT LIVED IN SATAN’S SEAT OF POWER
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
Twice, our Lord made mention that the church at Pergamos lived where Satan’s seat was, Rev. 2:13.That in itself made the message most interesting. It was my privilege to visit this place several years ago. What I saw is burned into my memory for as long as I have one. Just what was the power of Pergamos. Think with me!
The city was characterized by politics, religion, industry, and health services. Located in western Turkey not far inland from the Aegean Sea, two rivers ran near the city, and one of the most complete libraries of the ancient world containing over 200,000 volumes was there. The word “Pergamos,” according to some linguists, means a high walled city, which Pergamos certainly had. It hosted a great walled citadel, with magnificent idol temples, and one of the steepest amphitheaters in the world. From this mountain part of the city one can see for miles in any direction, allowing ample warning of any approaching enemy. Others think the name comes from the Greek word for marriage with an intensive prefix meaning “thoroughly married,” as in full submission to the forces of the world (Satan).
The political winds of Pergamos were largely passive. They had pursuits of life more important to them than politics, especially on the international scene. So, whether Greeks, Romans, or whoever was in power, they acquiesced to them to continue their pursuits. Thus, it became a significant city to all. They were a city of much idol worship with temples rivaling those of Ephesus. They were also the first city to be known as a city of emperor worship, having a temple to Augustus Caesar.
In industry, they were the first producers of parchment. The very word “parchment” came from “Pergamos.”
In health services, they were worshippers of the mythological god “Asklepios.” It was symbolized as twin or two-headed snakes, a symbol that remains with the medical community. They were into Psychiatry and became a sort of hospital city. Roman soldiers suffering depression were sent there with a full year of leave to heal. Once there they enjoyed entertainment at the city’s two amphitheaters. bathed in the natural hot springs, and spent some time at night walking through great underground tunnels while required to shout constantly whatever was on their mind. “Psychiatrists” would listen in at strategic points and formulate a plan of therapy for them. If they were not well in a year, Rome would have the soldiers executed. It was quite an incentive to heal.
The church at Pergamos witnessed, was persecuted, and yielded up several martyrs, resisting the doctrine of Balaam, and actions of Nicolaitanism which The Lord said He hates. It sounds a lot like today. May God help us to do as well or better than this ancient church did. Satan’s seat did not die with ancient Pergamos.
MARCH 23 – This is the way
Isaiah 30:21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
The Lord has given us a way to walk. We don’t have to worry about finding the path He has laid for us. It is plainly written in the “Book of Life”. This “Book of Life” is also our “Book of Living.” There is no need for us to seek a way of living, it is laid out for us. While we are on this track, it is also the “Book of Worship.” There is no need to search out how to Worship God, it is not by our wants, it is not by our desires, but it is the way God has laid out for us.
The way that is laid out here is by getting rid of our idols. I know we generally consider idols to be those carved items that pagans bowed down to. Yet we have idols in our lives that we worship. What is an idol? An idol is anything that takes us away from the worship of God. It does not have to be a carved icon, it is anything that takes us from the worship of God.
May we consider the idols in our lives. When our children that are involved in sports that take that family out of their church worship, it is an idol. The parents have made that sport more important than worshiping a righteous and Holy God. This is a lesson to the children in that family that there are worldly things more important than worshiping God. If a hobby such as golf or woodworking keeps us from worshiping on the Lord’s day, that is an idol. If fishing or deer hunting takes you away from the house of God, that is your idol. There is no excuse for these idols in our lives. When family comes and keeps you away from worship, that family has become your idol.
Here are the results of your idol worship. Those that see you involved with sports on a Sunday testifies to all those there at the event, all of the teams and teammates, and all of the coaches, that God is not important enough to you to be in the house of God. You have testified to your lost friends and neighbors that you are no different from them. You have testified to your Church that it is not as important as your worldly activities. When your singing group takes you out of your Church service, even if you are singing at another Church, you have testified that you worship your singing and it is not as important as the service you are to render to your Church.
The call is to get rid of your idols. The call is to be faithful to your Church and Serve it with all your heart.
FEBRUARY 22 – Ichabod
1Samuel 4:21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
God gives instructions that are complete. All we have to do is look for them. David in wanting to move the ark to Jerusalem did not ask the proper way to move it. Tragedy struck. In the days of Eli, his sons removed the ark from the place that had instructed to put it. Tragedy struck. The two sons died in battle. The ark was taken and when Eli heard the news, he fell backwards and broke his neck and died.
Exodus_25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. Notice here that God revealed plainly where He would meet the people. The door of the tabernacle is used in Exodus and Leviticus many times. The Cloud that God was in came to the door of the tabernacle and when the people saw it they worshiped.
When the Ark was taken into battle, the Glory of the Lord and his presence was no longer in the tabernacle. He no longer came to the door. We need the presence of the Lord when we worship. I cringe when ever I hear “The Lord showed up today.” That statement lends the idea that the Lord is not necessarily there every time we worship Him. That begs the question – are we worshiping him according to the way He wants us to.
I do not want to see the Glory of the Lord depart from His Churches. We need to seriously examine our doctrine, who we are worshiping, and how we are worshiping. Are we preaching all the doctrine or keying on one and subjugating others to minority positions? Are we worshiping God or our selves and telling God he has to accept that worship. Are we worshiping the way God tells us to worship.
If it is all about us, then there is nothing there for God.