Saturday, April 22, 2017

"The Inspiration and Authority of the Old Testament" by Bob Gonzales

As usual, Bob Gonzales offers excellent teaching. He gives an overview of the Biblical doctrine of the inspiration and authority of Scripture, with special emphasis, of course, on the inspiration and authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. He covers 1) the Self-Attestation of Scripture, 2) the Self-Authentication of Scripture, and 3) the Spirit's Saving Authentication of Scripture.

I never fail to learn from Bob, and I hope you will find his teaching a blessing to you as well. Also, be sure sure to check out his personal blog It Is Written. as always, we welcome your comments or questions.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Is God Selfish to Seek Worship and to Act for His Own Glory?

The following post was a Lord's Supper message given by Ben Murphy, with whom I am privileged to serve as an elder at Immanuel Baptist Church.

In 1998, during my first semester at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, I was in a car accident and was taken from the scene of the accident to the hospital in an ambulance. While I was in the ambulance, I began to witness to the EMT that was taking care of me. After I had begun to share with him about the Lord, he said he believed in helping others, but that a God who wanted and required others to worship Him would be a selfish God. I was very surprised by this objection to Christianity. I had never heard something like this before. I cannot remember how I answered his objection at the time. I think I included in my answer that I enjoyed worshiping God and living for Him.

In 2010, Carrie and I attended Passion, a Christian conference for college students with several college students from our church, where we heard John Piper preach the sermon, Is Jesus an Egomaniac? In this sermon, Piper tackled similar objections to Christianity raised by Erik Reece, C.S. Lewis before his conversion, Michael Prowse, and Oprah Winfrey.

The objection by Erik Reece was that Jesus’ words were egomaniacal when he said, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me" in Matthew 10:37. In other words, Reece claimed that such a statement would reveal that Jesus was selfish, obsessively caring too much about Himself and not enough for others.

Piper rightly argues from Scripture that God is indeed God-centered, and that everything that God does including our salvation is for His own glory, but this does not make him egomaniacal or selfish because God is most glorified in showing His grace toward us, and because we find the completion of our joy in praising Him.

Although I agree with Piper's sermon and his conclusion that it is good and right for God to be God-centered and that we benefit from His God-centeredness, my intention today is not to repeat what he has already said but to answer the objection differently. Yes, it is right for God to be God-centered and to seek His own glory because, as Piper says, the apex or highest point of His glory is His grace and the apex or highest point of our joy is praise. But there is another reason that God's God-centeredness and desire that others love Him first and worship Him is not egomaniacal or selfish. God is unique in the sense that He is triune, and, therefore, when He acts for His own glory, He is also acting for the glory of another.

The Father acts for the glory of the Son, and the Son acts for the glory of the Father. Consider Philippians 2:9-11, "Therefore God [the Father] also has highly exalted Him [Jesus, who is God the Son] and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” God the Father seeks His own glory through the glory of God the Son--Jesus. He exalts Jesus and gives him the name above every name so that Jesus will be worshiped. Jesus, who said in Matthew 10:37, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me" is bringing glory to God the father when men worship Him and love Him more than their father or mother or son or daughter because Jesus is the image of the Father (Hebrews 1:3), and the Father is glorified through the exaltation and glorification of the Son. Remember, Jesus said in John 14:9, "He who has seen me has seen the Father."

Now I want you to consider that when God gave Jesus for our salvation, He sent Him because He loved the world, but His ultimate goal was not our salvation, but the glory of His Son Jesus Christ through our salvation. And when Jesus died for our sins, He died for us, but ultimately He was dying for us because He loved the Father and wanted to obey, please, and glorify Him by laying down His life for the sheep.

John 10:15-18 says, "As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."

John 10:27-30 says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one."

From these verses, we can observe that the Father gave the sheep to Jesus as a gift of love and Jesus responded by dying for the sheep that His Father gave Him. The Father loves Jesus and is pleased with Him because He laid down His life for the sheep, which the Father gave Him. Jesus laid down His life willingly in obedience to the Father's command. Jesus’ love for the sheep and willingness to die for the sheep is an expression of His love and obedience to the Father. Indeed the whole of our redemption is an outworking of the loving relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

Now let's examine John 17:1-5. "Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: 'Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."

Jesus is asking the Father to glorify Him [the Son] through his death, which would give eternal life to all of those whom the Father had given Him to redeem. He is asking the Father to glorify Him so that He might glorify the Father by redeeming those whom the Father had given Him. Once again, we see that Jesus is acting for our salvation for His own glory so that, through His own glory, the Father might be glorified. We also see in Jesus' prayer that the Father's purpose for sacrificing the Son for our eternal life is to glorify His Son. But when the Father answered Jesus' prayer, did the Father glorify the Son so that He would also be glorified? Yes, He glorified the Son so that He the Father would be glorified through the glory of the Son and also so that they might share in the glory, which they had together before the world was. So the Father and the Son were working together for mutual glory, each seeking not only their own glory but the glory of the other.

In this we see that the Father's greatest love is not for us, but for His Son, and the Son's greatest love is not for us, but for the Father. Our salvation is the means by which the Father loves and glorifies the Son and the means by which the Son loves and glorifies the Father. Does this truth diminish the reality of God's love for us? Certainly not! God the Father's love for us is bound up in His eternal love for His Son and in His eternal passion for His Son's glory, and God the Son's love for us is bound up in His eternal love for the Father and in His eternal passion for the Father's glory.

Let me conclude with an analogy. A human father should love his wife more than his children, and his love for his children and even their very existence is a result of the expression of his love for his wife, yet his love for his children is also very great and real. In the same way, God the Father and God the Son are our co-parents. We belong to them because of the priority of their love for each other. Their love for us is great because it is bound up in their love for each other. Indeed, the immeasurable passion and fire of their love for each other fuels the fire of their love for us so that everything good in our lives is an outworking of their eternal relationship.

As we share in the Lord's Supper today, remember that Jesus laid down His life for you because you were the Father's gift to Him, and that His love for you is the expression and result of His eternal love for God the Father and God the Father's eternal love for Him.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Captive to the Word of God

Stuart Brogden has given us an excellent resource on what it means to be a Reformed Baptist in his book Captive to the Word of God: A Particular Baptist Perspective on Reformed and Covenant Theology.

This book has the perfect title. Though Baptists are not the only one’s who affirm Sola Scriptura, in my opinion, they are the most consistent in following out this principle when it comes to the liberty of conscience.

In fact, liberty of conscience is at the heart of what it means to be a Baptist. Liberty of conscience requires a separation between church and state, and this separation requires a distinct view of covenant theology. Historically, Baptists have rightly understood that the church, the Kingdom of God, and the covenant of grace consists of believers and believers alone. This understanding impacts their doctrine of the local church and its authority. That is, God has not subjected the government or the doctrine of the local church to any higher authority than the Word of God. These distinctives impact the membership and discipline of the local church. And, these distinctives, as Brogden explains, even impact the practice and worship of the local church. 

Baptists do not simply have a few distinct and unrelated doctrinal beliefs that distinguish them from other denominational traditions, but rather their distinctives—that identity them as Baptists—are interconnected and flow from their belief in Sola Scriptura. 

Brogden masterfully explains and builds a Scriptural case for these important distinctives. Along with several helpful appendixes, the book is divided into four sections: Section 1 explains what Baptists believe on the ordnances and the nature of the church. Section 2 explains what it means to be Reformed. Section 3 explains the distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology. Section 4 concludes with how these Baptist distinctives influence the everyday life of the local church.

Though Brogden covers a lot of ground, he remains thorough. This book is not an overview or an introductory work. Each section is well argued and defended. In this book you will find a formidable defense of credobaptism, Baptist Covenant Theology, liberty of conscience, the five solas, and the purpose and use of confessions. These could have easily been stand alone books, but having them grouped together makes for a valuable resource.

After reading this book, I have become more grounded in my own beliefs and more grateful for our Baptist heritage. As I say in my endorsement, “In my opinion, this helpful work needs to be required reading for all Baptist seminary students. In fact, everyone who wants to know what it means to be a Baptist should read this book. Since I love the historic Baptist faith, I love this book.”

You can order the book here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Psalm 32 – Happiness Through Forgiveness (Teaching Outline)

Introduction: The first word of this psalm is blessed, from the Hebrew word ’esher (אֶ֫שֶׁר), which refers to the true happiness that one can only find through a right relationship with God. The Reformation Study Bible thus correctly asserts in a footnote on the use of ’ešer in Psalm 1:1 that it is “A stronger word than 'happy'; to be 'blessed' is to enjoy God's special favor and grace” (p. 755).

Such true happiness is the theme of this psalm, and, as we examine the psalm, I will highlight seven things that David teaches us in it about true happiness in the LORD.

I. True Happiness Is Found in Complete Forgiveness

This truth is stressed in verses 1-2:
NKJ Psalm 32:1-2 Blessed [אֶ֫שֶׁר, ’esher] is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed [אֶ֫שֶׁר, ’esher] is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
In describing the need for forgiveness and the nature of forgiveness, David uses three distinct words for sin and three distinct words for forgiveness.

1. Three Words for Sin

First, the word translated transgression (vs.1) is the Hebrew pesha‛ (פֶּ֫שַׁע), which basically refers to “rebellion” or “revolt” (Holladay #7004, BibleWorks). As Alexander Maclaren once wrote:
You do not understand the gravity of the most trivial wrong act when you think of it as a sin against the order of Nature, or against the law written on your heart, or as the breach of the constitution of your own nature, or as a crime against your fellows. You have not got to the bottom of the blackness until you see that it is a flat rebellion against God himself. (British preacher, 1826-1910, as quoted by James Montgomery Boice, Psalms, Vol. 1, p. 278)
This is what David realized so clearly on yet another occasion when, after the affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, he said to God, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight – that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (Ps. 51:4).

Second, the word translated sin (vs.1) is the Hebrew ḥaṭā’āh (חֲטָאָה), which conveys the idea of “missing the mark” and here refers to failure to live up to God's holy standard (TWOT #638e, BibleWorks).

Third, the word translated iniquity (vs.2a) is the Hebrew ‛āvōn (עָוֹן), which refers to a conscious or intentional offense, or to guilt incurred by such an offense (Holladay #6147, BibleWorks). Here David seems to have in mind God's not holding us guilty for such offenses.

These three words used by David seem to be aimed at giving a complete picture of our sin. This picture includes open, conscious rebellion, as well as any sin that falls short of God's standard (which would include sins of omission as well as commission), and it also includes the guilt that such sinning brings upon us.

After using these three words to express sin in such a complete manner, David seeks to be just as complete in his description of forgiveness, as we shall see next.

2. Three Words for Forgiveness

First, the word translated forgiven (vs.1) is the Hebrew nāśā’ (נָשָׂא), which literally means to “lift, carry, [or] take” (TWOT #1421.0, BibleWorks). Here the word is used to refer to taking away sin, to having sin “lifted off” of the sinner. Sin is thus seen a burden that is removed, and for this reason the word may be used to speak of sin as forgiven.

Second, the word translated covered (vs.1) is the Hebrew kāsāh (כָּסָה), which means to “cover, conceal, hide. In a few places used in the sense of 'forgive'”(TWOT #18.0, BibleWorks). The imagery is of our sin being forever hidden from God's sight.

Third, the word used to state that God does not impute sin (vs.2a) is the Hebrew word ḥāšaḇ (חָשַׁב), which means “to reckon” (HALOT #3295, BibleWorks) or “to count” (TWOT #767.0, BibleWorks) something as belonging to someone. This same word is used of God's acceptance of Abraham:
NKJ Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted [חָשַׁב, ḥāšaḇ] it to him for righteousness.
It is worth noting here that Paul refers to both Genesis 15:6 and Psalm 32:1-2 in Romans. After concluding that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law (3:28), Paul goes on to argue:
NKJ Romans 4:1-8 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness [Gen. 15:6].” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin [Ps. 32:1-2].” 
Thus, when David spoke of God's forgiveness as His not imputing our sin to us, he implied also that it involved God's imputation of righteousness instead, and that by faith.

3. The Point of the Three Words for Sin and the Three Words for Forgiveness

The three words for sin accompanied by the three words for forgiveness seems to indicate that the totality of our sin receives the totality of God's forgiveness. And this is only by the grace of God, not by any merit of our own. Yet this is in response only to genuine repentance, as David indicates in the second half of verse 2:
NKJ Psalm 32:2b And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
David emphasizes that we cannot fake true confession and repentance. We can only receive God's forgiveness when the confession and repentance is sincere, and when we hold nothing back!

With this in mind, we move on to the second point.

II. True Happiness Is Hindered When We Try to Hide Our Sins

This truth is stressed in verses 3-4: 
NKJ Psalm 32:3-4 When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
Here David describes the depressing and debilitating effect that his unconfessed sin had upon him, and he does so in at least three ways.

First, David had not only emotional (“groaning”), but also physical, effects from unconfessed sin. He describes the physical effects when he says “my bones grew old.”

Second, David was continually plagued both by the unconfessed sin and by the accompanying symptoms. He says these things troubled him “day and night.”

Third, David had these ailments as a result of God's discipline, which he indicates when he says to the LORD, “Your hand was heavy upon me” (vs.4a)

That we, too, may be disciplined by God in this way is clear from the example of the church at Corinth:
NKJ 1 Corinthians 11:26-30 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
Consider also the assertions of James and the author of Hebrews on the matter:
NKJ James 5:14-15 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
NKJ Hebrews 12:5-8 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.' 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
Application: In what ways do we try to hide our sins from God? Perhaps we 1) blame others, or 2) lie about our sins, or 3) try to justify our sin, or 4) try avoid thinking about it at all. But will any of these things work? I wonder how many of us may be struggling with depression or some physical ailment due to a stubborn refusal to deal with our sins by confessing them to the Lord and receiving His forgiveness.

III. True Happiness is Experienced Through Confession of Sin

This truth is stressed in verse 5:
NKJ Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged [יָדַע, yāḏa‛] my sin [חֲטָאָה, ḥaṭā’āh] to You, and my iniquity [עָוֹן, ‛āvōn] I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess [יָדָה, yāḏāh] my transgressions [פֶּ֫שַׁע, pesha‛] to the LORD," and You forgave [נָשָׂא, nāśā’] the iniquity [עָוֹן, ‛āvōn] of my sin [חֲטָאָה, ḥaṭā’āh]. Selah
In these verses we will see that David repeats the three words for sin as he offers three expressions of contrition.

1. Three Words for Sin Repeated

Observe that David repeats each of the three words he had earlier used in verses 1-2 to describe sin. He uses the word translated sin twice. He uses the word translated iniquity twice. And he uses the word translated transgression once, although we should observe this time that it is plural – transgressions – which indicates in this context that David is thinking not just of one particular sin but of all of his previously unconfessed sins.

2. Three Expressions of Contrition

First, when David said that "I acknowledged my sin," he used the Hebrew word yāḏa‛ (יָדַע), which simply means “to know.” But here the Hiphil form of the word is used with the sense of “let someone know something” (HALOT #3570, BibleWorks) and thus is translated to show that David acknowledged his sin to the LORD. He did not keep the knowledge of his sins pent-up inside; he openly acknowledged them before God.

Second, when David said, "my iniquity I have not hidden," the word he used for hidden is the Hebrew kāsāh (כָּסָה), which means to “cover, conceal, [or] hide” (TWOT #1008, BibleWorks).

There is a play on words here, for David has used the same word that he used earlier is verse 1 to describe God's “covering” (forgiving) his sin. In other words, David is making the point that, as long as he “covered” (hid) his sins, he could not experience the joy of God's “covering” (forgiving) them!

Third, David refers to an internal dialog, to his decision to fully confess his sins, when he writes, "I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.'" So, he made the firm decision within himself to openly confess his sins to the LORD, and this was no spur of the moment decision, made impulsively or without thought or sincerity.

3. The Point of the Repetition of the Three Words for Sin and the Three Expressions of Contrition

David used these poetic repetitions, known as parallelism, along with the change from the singular transgression to the plural transgressions, to show that he fully confessed his sins. David came clean and quit harboring sins in his heart. And no sooner had he declared his intention to fully confess than he was forgiven! God's forgiveness was immediate, as David declared when he simply wrote, "And You forgave the iniquity of my sin." How ready God is to forgive us our sins! As David wrote in another psalm:
NKJ Psalm 86:5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.
We, too, should be ready to confess our sins, since our heavenly Father is so ready to forgive them!

IV. True Happiness is Contagious Among God's People

This truth is stressed in verses 6-7:
NKJ Psalm 32:6a For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You in a time when You may be found;
The words for this cause may mean “because of this everyone who is godly shall pray to you,” meaning that because of the happiness he has found through repentance and forgiveness others will also be led to do the same. David – as the King of Israel – is conscious of the example he sets for others.

It may also be translated as in the ESV: “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you....”  Understood this way, David is calling directly upon others to follow his example. The main point is the same, however, namely that someone who has found such happiness becomes contagious, and he wants others to have the same happiness!

David's experience should encourage others that God is ready and willing to forgive them even now. But the phrase in a time when You may be found also indicates that a time may come when God may not be found! So, David doesn't want anyone to put off seeking the forgiveness of the Lord. Recall in this regard to words of the Prophet Isaiah:
NKJ Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”
With this in mind, let us return to the text of Psalm 32:
NKJ Psalm 32:6b-7 Surely in a flood of great waters they shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround [sāḇaḇ, סָבַב] me with songs [or shouts, rōn, רֹן] of deliverance. Selah
First, notice that with forgiveness comes a confident assurance that God will protect and preserve from harm. Although David had before experienced great pain due to unconfessed sin, he now looks forward to peace and assurance in even the most difficult of circumstances!

Second, notice that David speaks of the songs of deliverance that will surround him. I take these to be the songs of the others that he has expected will also seek God's forgiveness. Thus David has spoken expectantly of the way in which his testimony will impacts others, and now he thinks of the way in which their testimony will impact him in return. And David clearly sees this encouragement as one of the ways in which God will preserve him from trouble.

Question: Do you and I have such a contagious joy that comes from a deep awareness of our sins and of how much God has forgiven us? Are we moved to share this joy? If not, consider the additional words from David in Psalm 51:
NKJ Psalm 51:7-13 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.”
Let us not be like the one who “is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9). Instead, let us seek a deeper appreciation of God's forgiveness and a more ardent desire to share this message of forgiveness with others.

V. True Happiness Includes God's Guidance for the Repentant Sinner

We find this truth in verse 8-9:
NKJ Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
This last part of this verse may be translated a slightly different way, as in the NASB:
NAU Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Here David tells us more about God's response to his confession, which is not only forgiveness but also a promise to guide and teach him in the future, so that he may avoid getting into such a fix again!
NKJ Psalm 32:9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.
If we are to receive God's promised guidance and teaching, we must not be stubborn – as David had been before the repentance he has recorded here! God desires us to be teachable before Him. We must not be like those who will only respond when they are forced to, but we should be like those who come near to God willingly and with eagerness.

VI. True Happiness Comes Through Trusting God and Experiencing His Love

This truth is found in verse 10:
NKJ Psalm 32:10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the LORD, mercy [ḥeseḏ, חֶ֫סֶד] shall surround [sāḇaḇ, סָבַב] him.
David has left the sorrows of the wicked behind and now looks forward to the continued experience of God's grace, which shall surround him just as we have seen that the songs of deliverance would surround him (vs. 7). The repetition of the same Hebrew word here shows that for David there is a connection between the two. We are always a part of a community through which God desires to work in our lives.

VII. True Happiness is Expressed in Worship

This final point may be seen in verse 11:
NKJ Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; and shout [rānan, רָנַן] for joy, all you upright in heart!
First, observe that the righteous here are not those who have not sinned, but those who have been forgiven their sins by the grace of God and who by faith have not had their sins imputed to them (recall verse 2).

Second, observe that David had earlier spoken of his expectation of being surrounded by songs [rōn, רֹן] of deliverance, using the noun rōn to refer to these songs of worship. But now he uses the related verb rānan to encourage the shouts/songs of worship to begin. Just as there is no time like the present to seek God's forgiveness (“in a time when [He] may be found” vs.6), so there is no time like the present to get started praising Him for His marvelous grace!

David's wonderful experience of God's grace toward him again overflows in worship that is contagious. Anyone who has truly known this deep and complete forgiveness of which David has spoken cannot help but worship. And they cannot help but desire that others share this forgiveness and join them in worshiping the LORD.

Conclusion: As James Montgomery Boice reminds us:
This was Saint Augustine's favorite psalm. Augustine had it inscribed on the wall next to his bed before he died in order to meditate on it better. He liked it because, as he said... “the beginning of knowledge is to know oneself to be a sinner.” (Psalms, Vol. 1, p. 277)
Do you know yourself to be a sinner? If so, then I pray that you will also know the forgiveness of God that comes through repentance and faith. I pray that you may know the happiness that comes through the forgiveness that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.
NKJ Ephesians 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace ....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Churches, Get a Calvinist Pastor! by Tom Nettles

Earlier today the Founders Ministries blog posted an article by Tom Nettles entitled Churches, Get a Calvinist Pastor! Here are the reasons Tom listed that churches should seek Calvinist pastors:
1. A Calvinist firmly believes in the divine inspiration of Scriptures.

2. A Calvinist firmly believes the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.

3. A Calvinist firmly believes the doctrine of substitutionary atonement.

4. A Calvinist firmly believes in religious liberty.

5. A Calvinist firmly believes in missions and evangelism.

6. A Calvinist firmly believes in Christ-centered preaching.

7. A Calvinist firmly believes in holiness of life.

8. A Calvinist firmly believes in regenerate church membership.
I recommend reading the article, with which I happen to agree, because I am convinced that the Doctrines of Grace are revealed in Scripture.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Patrick's Life and Missionary Labors by Michael Haykin

This video is presented at the Reformed Baptist Seminary website. Here is the description:
For many St. Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is mainly about food and alcohol consumption. One would think Ireland’s patron saint was a monk who partied a lot and got drunk. But behind the legend and myth, there’s a real Patrick who was “intoxicated” with a life of serving God and spreading the gospel. If you’d like to learn about the man behind the myth and his real mission, check out the lecture below by Dr. Michael Haykin on “Patrick’s Life and Missionary Labors.” This lecture is part of the curriculum for Reformed Baptist Seminary‘s course on The Early Church
Thanks to Bob Gonzales for letting us know about this free resource.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

10 Most Popluar Posts Over the First 10 Years

Back in November I posted an article entitled Ten Years of the Reformed Baptist Blog, in which I briefly rehearsed the purpose and history of the blog. Today I thought I might share the top ten posts over the first ten years of the blog, dating from the first post on November 17, 2006 to November 17, 2016.
1. The American Revolution: Was it Biblical? (Saturday, February 06, 2010)

2. Disappointed in John Piper's Judgment About Doug Wilson (Friday, June 26, 2009)

3. The Three Best Books in Defense of Believer's Baptism (Thursday, March 29, 2007)

4. Michael Marlowe's Review of the NET Bible (Friday, December 08, 2006)

5. John MacArthur on the "Rape of Solomon's Song" (Friday, April 17, 2009)

6. Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matthew 7:24-27 Teaching Outline) (Tuesday, October 08, 2013)

7. Reformed Baptists Address the Family-Integrated Church Movement (Friday, October 16, 2009)

8. Response to the House-Church Movement: Conclusion (Thursday, March 19, 2009)

9. Why I Call Myself a Reformed Baptist (Thursday, July 02, 2009)

10. The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism (Wednesday, May 05, 2010)
Apparently 2009 was a pretty good year for the blog, since five of the top ten posts come from that year, although the post entitled "Why I Call Myself a Reformed Baptist" was given its own page after drawing so much early attention and appreciation, so perhaps it made the top ten for that reason as well. I have to admit, though, that a couple of these came as a surprise to me. Anyway, thanks to all of our readers for a great first ten years! And thanks be to God, most of all, for His grace! Soli Deo gloria!

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Free Audio Download of 'The Gospel Call and True Conversion' by Paul Washer

This month's free audio download from is The Gospel Call and True Conversion by Paul washer. Here is the description from the product page:
The apostle Paul gave the gospel the first place in his preaching, endeavored with all his might to proclaim it clearly, and even went so far as to pronounce a curse upon all those who would pervert its truth. Yet how sad it is that many, even among those considering themselves evangelicals, have reduced the gospel message to a few trite statements to be repeated, and view conversion as a mere human decision. In The Gospel Call and True Conversion, Paul Washer challenges such easy believism as he examines the real meaning of things like faith, repentance, and receiving Christ. He also deals extensively with the effects of saving grace that God promises in the new covenant; namely, the creation of new hearts and new people. 
I haven't yet read or listened to the book myself, but it looks like it would be a good one, and I thought our readers would like to know about it. If you download it and listen to it, perhaps you could let us know what you think in the comments below.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith – 5th edition

If you haven't yet purchased the recently published 5th edition of A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith by Sam Waldron, or if you would like another copy to give as a gift to someone else, then now is the time to take advantage of the great discount price offered at Grace and Truth Books. Here is a brief description of the book:
Long awaited, this 5th Edition of Dr. Samuel Waldron’s work is the definitive version, now in hardcover.
Modern Christianity is awash in a flood of doctrinal relativity. Satan and his forces love the imprecision and ambiguity which are rampant in our day. As C. H. Spurgeon observed, “The arch- enemy of truth has invited us to level our walls and take away our fenced cities.”
This exposition was originally published in 1989 to mark the 300th anniversary of the publication of the Second London Confession, which also became known as the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. Today, Reformed Baptists worldwide hold this Confession in high esteem and many churches continue to regard it as their official statement of faith. In this extensive exposition, the author Sam Waldron shows that the 1689 Confession is a masterly statement of the historic Christian faith. He writes in a direct and lucid style that will help ministers, students and laymen alike to a clear understanding of this Confession and to its relevance and application to our modern age.
Right now Grace and Truth Books is offering the book for just $23.95, so pick up your copy soon. This is one of those books every Reformed Baptist ought to have.

Monday, February 20, 2017

"A Curious Clue About the Origins of the New Testament Canon" by Michael Kruger

Over at the Canon Fodder blog -- which is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs -- Michael Kruger has written an intriguing post entitled A Curious Clue About the Origins of the New Testament Canon, in which he highlights evidence from 2 Corinthians 3 regarding the concept of a canon of Scripture and the formation of the New Testament canon. Here is a portion of the post, which follows evidence from passages speaking of the Old Covenant as something that is written:
These passages indicate that covenants were largely conceived as something written or read; i.e., something in a book.  It is precisely for this reason that warnings were given not to change the text of the covenant (Deut 4:2), and there were concerns about it being in the proper physical location (Ex 25:16).

If so, then what shall we make of Paul’s statement in 2 Cor 3:6 that he and the other apostles are “ministers of a new covenant”?

Given Paul’s statement in 2 Cor 3:14 that we just noted, it would be natural to think that Paul has in mind a new set of written documents that testify to the terms of the covenantal arrangement in Christ.

As Carmignac argues, “In order to use the expression ‘Old Testament’ he [Paul] must also be aware of the existence of a ‘New Testament.’” Carmignac even goes further and suggests that this ‘New Testament’ may have had contained a number of books in order for it to be parallel with the Old.

The likelihood that Paul views the new covenant as having written documents increases when we make the simple observation that Paul is claiming for himself this distinctive covenantal authority within a written letter to the Corinthians. And scholars have observed how this very letter functions as a “covenant lawsuit”against the Corinthians.
I recommend reading the entire post. I also highly recommend Kruger's book Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books, which is the best book I've read on the subject.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Five Lessons Learned from Practicing Church Discipline" by Tom Hicks

Today Tom Hicks posted an excellent article on the Founders Ministries blog entitled Five Lessons Learned from Practicing Church Discipline. In it he offers some lessons he has learned from practicing church discipline over more than ten years of pastoral ministry.

Tom says that he has learned or had reinforced for him the fact that he is a greater sinner than he knew, that anyone can fall into great sin, that it's possible to move too quickly or too slowly in practicing church disciple, that pastors need to know the whole counsel of God, and that a full pastoral ministry is vitally important.

I recommend reading the article in order to hear some solid, Scriptural wisdom about each of these points.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A 12th Dead Sea Scrolls Cave Discovered

Some of our readers may already have seen the reports of a discovery of another Dead Sea Scrolls cave by archaeologist Randall Price, which brings the number to twelve. The cave includes finds of Neolithic remains, including arrowheads and knives, broken jars which would have contained papyri, and small fragments of parchment and papyrus (see photo by Randall Price at left), as well as at least one linen used for wrapping scrolls. The Logos Academic Blog has a nice article on the find here.The article also holds out hope for the discovery of a thirteenth cave in the near future:
It is hard to believe it, but Price and his team seem to have discovered a twelfth cave, something Scrolls scholars have been dreaming about for sixty years. And not only that, Price thinks there may even be a thirteenth cave near the Qumran ruins.
Unlike the newly discovered Cave 12, the mouth of the suspected thirteenth cave is concealed — which means there is a chance that it has not been looted. If that is the case, more texts could be discovered. If that happens, who knows what new things we might learn?
Such a discovery would be very exciting indeed!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

"Can A Christian Lose Their Salvation?" Debate

Here is the description posted on YouTube:
Watch as Trent Horn of Catholic Answers and Dr. James R. White of Alpha and Omega Ministries debate the theology surrounding the topic: "Can A Christian Lose Their Salvation?" This debate was moderated by Michael O'Fallon on January 18, 2017. Sovereign Alliance sponsored the event at the 2017 G3 Conference in Atlanta, Georgia with over 1,300 audience members in attendance.
Of course, I think James White was on the right side of this debate.

Friday, February 03, 2017 Offers Good Prices on e-Sword Resources

Regular readers of this blog will remember that I have been a long time user of e-Sword (alongside BibleWorks) and cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a free Bible study software program that rivals many that you would have to pay for and is better than most. This program also makes basic word studies a breeze and has been of great use to those in my congregation to whom I have recommended it. In fact, they often tell me that they love the layout and how user-friendly the program is. There is not a very steep learning curve with this program, so most anyone can catch on to it quickly, and there is a complete set of training demos available.

Regular readers may also recall that I have previously recommended as a great place to find many excellent free resources, as well as helpful support, for e-Sword. I have also pointed out the free ESV resources available for e-Sword. Today, however, I would like to recommend as a good place to buy premium e-Sword resources. They offer a number of outstanding Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries for very good prices. Here are some of the modules I have purchased and used over the years and which our readers may find helpful:
Holman Christian Standard Bible
New King James Version
Ancient Christian Commentary, 29 Vols (Tom C. Oden, Editor)
IVP Bible Background Commentary OT & NT (OT: John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas , NT: Craig S. Keener)
IVP New Testament Commentary Series, 20 Vols. (Grant R. Osborne, D. Stuart Briscoe, and Haddon Robinson, Editors)  
New International Commentary of the Old Testament, 25 Vols. (Robert L. Hubbard Jr, General Editor)
New International Commentary on the New Testament, 18 Vols. (Gordon D. Fee & Joel B. Green, Editors)
The Preachers Commentary 35 Vols (Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Editor)
Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Manners & Customs
To give some idea of how good the prices are (and there are regular sales as well), consider the cost of one of the more expensive modules, the New International Commentary of the Old Testament (NICOT), which currently lists for $139.99. That sounds expensive until you think about what it would cost to buy the set in book form, which is currently listed on Amazon Prime for $1,353.00, although other sellers offer it for as little as $948.00, which may not include shipping. And, by the way, one would currently have to pay $984.99 for the Logos Bible Software version of NICOT.

To further highlight the difference, right now I am studying to teach through Proverbs, and one of the commentaries I am using is the excellent two volume set by Bruce Waltke, which is part of the NICOT set. For both volumes in book form (which I own), I would have to pay $90.58 right now through Amazon Prime, and it would cost $74.87 in Kindle format. But I can own the entire Old Testament set for $139.99 and make use of it in e-Sword wherever I can take my laptop. That is something to think about.

If you are a regular e-Sword user, as I am, you may want to check out some of the resources at It may be well worth your while.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Wisdom of Obeying Your Parents (Luke 2:39-52 Teaching Outline)

Introduction: One of the central passages of the New Testament concerning Jesus' obedience is found in Philippians 2. In it the Apostle Paul sets forth Jesus as our example of obedience:
NKJ  Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Here Paul says that believers are supposed to have the same mind as Jesus had when He obeyed His heavenly Father even to the point of death. This means that we are supposed to have the same obedient attitude in our hearts that Jesus had. But, due to His having taken on humanity, Jesus had to learn this kind of obedience just as we do. This is what the author of Hebrews tells us when he writes:
NKJ  Hebrews 5:8 ... though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
In the context of this statement, the author of Hebrews has Jesus' suffering in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross primarily in view, but we know He began to learn obedience and to suffer long before that, in part because the passage before us today tells us so. In this passage we can see how Jesus is an example of obedience for us both toward His earthly parents and toward His heavenly Father. We will examine each of these aspects of obedience, but we shall do so with a particular emphasis upon the importance of believing children seeing in Jesus Christ a special example for them.

I. Jesus Sets an Example of Diligent Obedience Toward His Earthly Parents vs. 51

This can be clearly seen in the first part of verse 51:
NKJ  Luke 2:51a Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject [ὑποτάσσω, hupotássō] to them ….
The Greek word Luke uses here to describe Jesus as being subject to His parents can be used of involuntary obedience, where someone is forced to submit to someone else and do what they say. It is later used this way by the 10:17 when the seventy disciples return from their preaching mission “with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject [ὑποτάσσω, hupotássō] to us in Your name.'”

But here in Luke 2 this Greek word is used to describe voluntary obedience, where someone submits to someone else because he wants to. In other words, Jesus willingly obeyed His parents. He didn't do so begrudgingly and with a sinful attitude like the demons who obeyed the seventy disciples! Sadly, however, there are many children who obey their parents like the demons obeyed instead of like Jesus obeyed. They have a bad attitude and only obey because they have to instead of obeying because they want to honor their parents as Jesus honored His parents. In this way He obeyed one of the Ten Commandments that God spoke directly to all children. It is the same one that the Apostle Paul later commanded children to follow:
NKJ  Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey [ὑπακούω, hupakoúō] your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 'Honor [τιμάω, timáō] your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise….
You see, when you obey your parents as Jesus obeyed His parents, you honor them. This means that you show them respect and treat them as though you think highly of them.

Notice also that the commandment tells children to obey both of their parents, not just their fathers or their mothers, but both their fathers and their mothers. And this is just what Luke says that Jesus did. He says that Jesus was “subject to them” (italics mine), meaning both Joseph and Mary.

Sadly, there are many children that don't do this. For example, maybe their mother has to tell them that they will be in big trouble when their father gets home in order to get them to obey. But this should never happen! You should never have to be threatened by punishment from your father in order to obey your mother. When this happens it just shows that you do not honor your mother as you should, as Jesus honored His mother Mary by obeying her just as he obeyed Joseph.

But what about when your parents do something wrong or treat you unfairly? Or what about when it is hard to obey them because they don't seem to understand your point of view? Well, I think you can find encouragement from Jesus' example here as well, because you can see that He understands what you are going through when it is sometimes hard to obey your earthly parents.

We see in verses 48-50 that Jesus knows what it is like to be misunderstood by His parents.
NKJ  Luke 2:48-50 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” 49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
Mary was not being fair when she scolded Jesus for staying behind and talking with the teachers in the Temple. She and Joseph should have known that He was supposed to be about His heavenly Father's business, but they clearly did not understand this. Nevertheless, Jesus went back home with them and obeyed them anyway.

But this leads to another way in which Jesus understands what you might sometimes go through as young people who are called to obey your parents, for Jesus knows what it is like to be midway between following God's will for His life and that of His parents.

Again, Jesus' parents ought to have understood that He must be about His Father's business. After all, they both knew who His true Father was! But we have seen in this passage that Jesus had to learn to balance His desire to follow His heavenly Father's will with His obligation to obey His parents who struggled to understand. This is a part of what it means when Luke later says that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (vs. 52). This leads us to our next main point.

II. Jesus Sets an Example of Diligent Obedience Toward His Heavenly Father vs. 49, 51-52

We have already seen how diligent Jesus was to obey God even as a child. This is what He was talking about when He responded to his parents as He did in verse 49:
NKJ  Luke 2:49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?”
He clearly expected them to know that His Father's business was the top priority of His life. But, as we have seen, in the face of their misunderstanding, He graciously submitted to them and obeyed them, and in doing so obeyed His heavenly Father in continuing to learn as a dutiful and loving earthly son ought to do.

In fact, I would submit to you that Jesus learned obedience to His heavenly Father even better through learning obedience to His earthly parents. As a child, Jesus had to grow just like the rest of us. And, even though He never sinned or disobeyed His parents, He still needed to learn as He grew more and more about what it meant to obey His parents, and sometimes this even meant that He had to suffer being treated unfairly by them.

Conclusion: As we conclude our examination of this passage, remember again the verse from Hebrews:
NKJ  Hebrews 5:8 ...though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
The ESV Study Bible notes give a good explanation of the meaning of this verse:
Jesus, though fully divine, was also fully human. he learned obedience through what he suffered. Though always without sin (4:15; 7:26) and thus always obedient, Jesus nevertheless acquired knowledge and experience by living as a human being (cf. Luke 2:40, 52), and he especially came to know firsthand what it cost to maintain obedience in the midst of suffering (see notes on Heb. 2:9; 2:10; 2:18; 4:15). As Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52), successive temptations were no doubt more difficult to deal with (cf. Luke 4:12), and as he obeyed his Father in the face of each temptation, he “learned obedience,” so that his human moral ability was strengthened. (BibleWorks)
Do you want to learn to obey your heavenly Father as Jesus learned to obey Him? If you do, then you must start with learning to obey your earthly parents just as He did. In doing so He left you a good and encouraging example. But if you struggle, then pay attention to what it says in verse 40:
NKJ  Luke 2:40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Even though you will never be perfectly and sinlessly obedient as Jesus was, through His saving work you can have the same grace of God upon you that was upon Him! And you, too, can increase “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (vs. 52).

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Aquinas Is Not A Safe Guide For Protestants" Debate

Toward the end of last year and the beginning of this year there was a minor, although interesting debate on The Aquila Report , a conservative, Presbyterian news and commentary website. The debate began with a two part series of articles by Dewey Roberts:
Aquinas Is Not A Safe Guide For Protestants: Reading Aquinas with care and caution (October 16, 2016)
Aquinas Not a Safe Guide for Protestants – Part 2: Why Aquinas is not a theologian you should closely study or follow (November 3, 2016)
In these articles the author also repeatedly points out the close affinity between the ideas of Aquinas and the teaching of Federal Vision theology (FV). In fact, he was led to read Aquinas because of the way FV proponents had been citing his teaching. At any rate, these two articles were then followed by a response from Travis James Campbell:
Should Ole Aquinas be Forgot and Never Brought to Mind: A Response to Dewey Roberts’ “Aquinas Not a Safe Guide for Protestants” (December 11, 2016)
This article then led to a response from Dewey Roberts:
Aquinas Is Still Not a Safe Guide for Protestants: A rejoinder to “Should Ole Aquinas be Forgot and Never Brought to Mind?” in the discussion on Aquinas (January 8, 2017)
There has not yet been another article posted in this debate, at least not that I have seen. However, I do encourage reading the articles that have been posted. In my opinion, both men raise some very important issues, but I have a definite affinity for Roberts' point of view. What do you think?

Friday, January 13, 2017

2016 "What is a Reformed Baptist?" Poll Results

Twelve months ago I began a poll on the blog. I asked those who identified themselves as Reformed Baptists to respond to the question, "What is a Reformed Baptist?" I ran the poll for one year, and I supplied four options for answers that I think basically sum up the various groups or individuals that I have found to be using the term. Here were the four possible answers:
To regard oneself as a Reformed Baptist, one must ...

1) adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology.

2) adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology and to Covenant Theology.

3) adhere substantially to the Baptist Confession of 1689 (e.g. modify regarding Impassibility).

4) adhere strictly to the Baptist Confession of 1689.
More than three hundred people responded to the poll over the past year (306 to be exact), and here are the final results:
13% say that one must adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.

25% say that one must adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology and to Covenant Theology in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.

42% say that one must adhere substantially to the Baptist Confession of 1689 (e.g. modify regarding Impassibility) in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.

20% say that one must adhere strictly to the Baptist Confession of 1689 in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.
As I explained when I first posted the poll, I have regarded "substantial adherence" to the Baptist Confession of 1689 as adherence to the theology contained in it, but not such strict adherence that modifications or refinements are not welcomed if deemed Scripturally appropriate. I recognize that there is a fair amount of debate as to what "substantial adherence" should mean, but I hoped I had phrased the question in such a way as to clarify what was intended for the purpose of this poll. The word substantial was taken primarily to mean being largely but not wholly that which is specified, but it was also intended to emphasize agreement concerning essential doctrinal matters while allowing differences on some matters deemed less essential to Scriptural orthodoxy. For example, I explained that one might be willing to modify the confession with regard to such things as the proper understanding of the Regulative Principle of Worship, Divine Impassibility, or the proper nature of Sabbath observance. The term modify was used simply with the meaning make one or more partial changes to. I included the example of Divine Impassibility, in particular, since that is a current topic of debate in which some are arguing that a modification in the statement of the doctrine -- not a rejection of it -- should be allowed, and some are arguing against it. At any rate, with these points in mind, I would like to make several observations regarding the results of the poll.

First, the poll revealed that a strong majority (87%) of self-identified Reformed Baptists think that simply holding to Calvinistic soteriology, together with the Baptist distinctives that are presupposed in the respondents, is an insufficient basis for properly regarding oneself to be a Reformed Baptist. In fact, only 13% thought that this was sufficient. So, there is a strong consensus that a Calvinistic Baptist who holds, say, to Dispensational Theology, should not properly be regarded as a Reformed Baptist, a fact that should not come as a surprise.

Second, the poll revealed that a majority of self-identified Reformed Baptists think that one must hold to the Baptist Confession of 1689 (whether strictly or substantially) in order to properly be regarded as such. However, this majority was only a 62% majority, which means that well over a third of self-identified Reformed Baptists (38%) do not think that one must hold to the Baptist Confession of 1689 at all in order to properly be regarded as such. This, too, is not surprising. As I pointed out in response to a previous poll conducted back in 2008, this state of affairs reflects the historical fact that not all of those who have called themselves Reformed over the centuries would necessarily adhere to the English confessions written in the 17th century. For example, there are many Reformed of a Presbyterian stripe that would not adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith (such as the many Dutch Reformed and those springing more directly from this background). So, it should not be surprising that many Reformed Baptists should similarly regard the 1689 Confession, which so closely reflects the Westminster standard, as being too narrow a definition of the term Reformed as applied to them. In other words, the poll results in this regard are well within the limits of what one should expect, at least if one has a fair knowledge of the history of Reformed theology, together with a basic knowledge of what has become the Reformed Baptist movement. The former indicates more flexibility in the use of the term Reformed than with reference strictly to the Westminster tradition, and the latter indicates more flexibility in the use of the term Reformed Baptist than with reference strictly to the 1689 Confession.

Third, the poll revealed that, among those who regard holding to the Baptist Confession of 1689 as essential to properly identifying oneself as a Reformed Baptist, a majority think that only substantial subscription should be required. In fact, more that twice as many held this view rather than the view that would require strict subscription. There were 42% of the respondents who would say that one must adhere substantially to the Baptist Confession of 1689 over against only 20% who would say that one must adhere strictly to the Baptist Confession of 1689 in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist. These strict subscriptionists, then, apparently make up a rather small minority among self-identified Reformed Baptists. It is also noteworthy that, given that the example used to differentiate between substantial and strict subscriptionists was a willingness to modify the Confession with respect to the doctrine of Divine Impassibility, those who hold the strict view concerning this doctrine are also in the minority. To be sure, this poll is not at all scientific, and we do not settle doctrinal issues by taking a poll anyway, but it is nevertheless remarkable that a majority think that a modification in the statement of the doctrine -- not a rejection of it -- should be allowed. As with the other results of the poll, so also this result is not surprising, since there have been differences among Reformed theologians concerning this doctrine for some time. However, I don't doubt that this result will come as a surprise to some, since those who hold the strict subscriptionist view have been so vocal of late and have perhaps left the impression that they are actually in the majority.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Sam Waldron's Interview with Dr. Curt Daniel on Hyper-Calvinism

Sam Waldron recently posted a four part blog series containing an interview with Curt Daniel concerning the issue of Hyper-Calvinism. Here are the links to each post:
Interview with Dr. Curt Daniel (part 1 of 4)

Interview with Dr. Curt Daniel (part 2 of 4)

Interview with Dr. Curt Daniel (part 3 of 4)

Interview with Dr. Curt Daniel (part 4 of 4)
As the interviews reveal, Curt wrote his doctoral dissertation at the University of Edinburgh on “Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill” back in 1983. Curt has expert knowledge of the issue, as well as of the history and theology of Calvinism in general. In fact, I also highly recommend checking out Curt's teaching series on The History and Theology of Calvinism.