Saturday, February 28, 2009

College with a Purpose

College with a purpose
We have a college at our church. That is no new revelation to most of the folks reading this blog, but it might be a revelation to many that the college is open to anyone who would like to know more about the Scriptures and the Christian faith.
We don’t want to limit it by age, in fact, if your child can sit still without disturbing the other students, that child is welcome. If you have a small child, sit near the door, and if need be, take the child out when the disturbance becomes evident. We don’t want to limit anyone who would like to sit and learn.
It is not a floor for open debate, but honest questions are certainly welcome. It is not a church service, it is a college class. However, we bathe each class with prayer, we open with prayer and close with prayer. The Scriptures are held up as our final standard for all discussions.
The teachers are men educated in the Scriptures, not novices. Some have been Pastors of churches, some are deacons, others, faithful members of a local assembly that holds to the Scriptures as their final authority. All are born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and profess this in both word and life.
The cost is relatively inexpensive. In fact, if a person wants to attend and honestly cannot afford to attend, we will work with them in any manner that is reasonable to insure that they can continue their studies. If you would like to sit in on the class and just listen, that is free. Come as often as you like. All semester if you would like. We want the Word to be taught to all who wish to receive it.
Yes, it is a Baptist College. We make no apology for that either. We are not an arrogant group that says, “if you are not Baptist, you cannot attend”, but rather, if you can handle a baptistic lean on certain subjects, you are welcome as well. For instance, if you sprinkle, and call it baptism, you are welcome. However, don’t come to class expecting to use that class time to indoctrinate the rest of the students on covenantal theology.
Yes, we are Sovereign grace, or doctrines of grace. Again, if you are an arminian, and pleased with your position, you are welcome to attend as well. “No, Servetus, you will not be taken out and burned. We stopped that almost two semesters ago, so relax.” However, again, you will not be allowed to take the floor and filibuster for your position on election.
We want you to enjoy the class, learn, and go away challenged to take the Word of God and see if the things that have been taught are in fact scriptural. Study to show YOURSELF approved.
If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to hear from you concerning any interest. I can mail you a catalogue and application as well, just send your address and specific request.

Monday, February 23, 2009

When Method matches the Message.

When Method Matches the Message

The pulpit was ablaze and one could almost feel the emotions being poured forth from the podium. Bible open, hand uplifted, the message was solid, the words were pure, and no man dared dispute him. When we attend conferences and revivalist meetings, often times we come away with more than a strengthened resolve and encouraged heart, we come away with a false sense of methodology. Here is how this works: The preacher preaches a strong line on the family, the importance of the Scriptures and loyalty to church. We see the size or we perceive that the size, of the ministry he is involved in to be large. One leaves believing that preacher is a family integrationist by the great importance he places on the family unit. He even says, "I am a husband first, a preacher last." That sounds so good, in fact we begin to repeat the mantra, (even though we may have not been living it out in our own lives.) That is the conundrum. When does our method match our message.

For what it is worth, I have committed to making sure the church I pastor does not fall into the trap of fluff. I know, one man's fluff is another man's ministry. What one preacher calls fluff, another calls "useful method". Whether it be preaching, music, bus ministries, awana clubs or basket weaving, we tend to spiritualize the acts and suggest that in and of themselves, they are fine, as long as the end justifies the means. "Hey, the fact of the matter is evident: we are trying to get people to come to church, right?" Wrong. We are trying to preach Christ and Him crucified. Those who come to church ought to be the ones who Christ has already called to himself. Only the Saved can worship in Spirit and Truth. Yes, the world can worship, no doubt. But they cannot enter into the holy of holies and worship the one true God. Without the Spirit of God, there is no true worship. Yet, we bend all we do in the church many times to accommodate those "without the Spirit." We put fluff in place to make them comfortable, and hope they stick around long enough to "get saved." The church no longer goes, but rather sends out invitations.

What am I wanting in Worship? I am wanting what God wants in worship. Not what I want. If I got what I wanted, and if I were pleased with what I had, without regard to God's direct desires, I am only worshipping my own self-interests.

It is a hard thing for a preacher who loves to preach, to know that he could amp up the music just a bit, change the format to be a bit more man centered, and provide a few more "community based" activities to draw in a crowd. "Hey, I have never stopped preaching the same message!" But when, dear preacher, does the "Method match the Message". If you say you love families, why do you divide them? If you say you love the Word, why does it get supplanted by the emotionalism of the music ministry? If you say that Preaching is the primary activity in a church, why then is the pulpit secondary, or even further down the list of what is promoted in the church? Because we know, the lost world will not say, "Hey, I hear that they have a great pulpit ministry down there at Emmanuel, lets go check it out!"

Dr. Bruce Bickel states in his book Light and Heat"With the increase of communication equipment and an emphasis on communication skills, Bible studies, small groups and sharing are increasingly sought as the route to revitalizing the church, while faith in the pulpit fades and grows dim. Consequently, more emphasis is being placed on methodology and less on the message." Again, When does the Method match the Message? The answer is clear, "When it brings people in, and not before."

So, preachers fill their pulpits each week and proclaim, "I will not compromise the message from this pulpit, you can boot me out, but I am standing on the word!" The congregation shouts "AMEN!, but don't you dare allow your message to affect the methodology we practice here." The message, some suppose belongs in the pulpit, along with the messenger, but the method belongs to us, the people, "Why, that is the whole reason we are here!" I know Emmanuel has not arrived, but I want to be on the correct train, heading in the right direction.

Let us have a strong defense of the Word of God, but let us be careful not to diminish that with a low esteem of the message. We show a disregard and low esteem of the message, when it does not translate from out of the pulpit, to the methods practiced in the church. Crowds or not.

Monday, February 16, 2009


It is evident, even to the casual observer that "orthodoxy" or what we believe and "orthopraxy" what we practice, are in conflict today. I have heard numerous people both young and old say, "Well, I believe this or that", about a particular subject, but they live opposite of what they claim. There is a very complicated word for that, one which may take some real understanding for us to grasp, "Hypocrisy". Many today are calling for a combination of the two words by suggesting that to intermingle the words will allow us to live in a way we want, and believe what we want, even if the two worlds collide. A frightening divergence from this is, "Well, it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as we all get along". Again, this is an abandonment of established orthodoxy leaving us with nothing more than a hollow religiosity, that is as empty as the heads of those practicing it. Before long, the Bible will be tossed aside for methods that "produce results". Oh, sorry, that is already being done. The end now justifies the means. It doesn't matter what you do to build the church, just build the church. The more people we have to preach to, the bigger the pond to fish in, the better chance we have of seeing converts. My question would be, "converts to what?" An empty practice, that has no foundation? A religion of mere outward appearances that is like the whitened sepulchers in Jesus' day, that were only full of dead men's bones?Thus, in the spiral downward, reach out and grab hold of truth, orthodoxy that has been the stabilizing factor for as long as God has been giving his word to mankind. Take the Bible as truth, for that is what it is: a non-negotiable set of standards for man.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

“Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?”
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon 1834-1892
An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.
From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough So it would have been if He had added, "and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel." No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.
Then again, "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry" (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.
Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt" (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy---something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.
Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, "Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow." Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.
In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, "Come out, keep out, keep clean out!" Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.