Thursday, December 18, 2008


A special thanks to Grace Frye for sharing this video on her Facebook page. To all of those families involved in "Homeschooling" their children you may enjoy this video.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reformed Baptist

What do I mean by Reformed Baptist?

By D. Wayne Layton

To some the term “Reformed Baptist” is an oxymoron. It is like saying “I am a Presbyterian Baptist” others may argue. Traditionally many of those who identify themselves in the “reformed” camp often practice infant Baptism, hold to Covenantal Theology, and practice a Presbyterian form of church government. However the term “reformed” is not exclusively the characteristic of secondary doctrines such as Baptism, eschatology, or church polity.

The term “reformed” is a distinction brought about by the reformers of the sixteenth century. The core of the Reformation was a recovering and a reemphasizing of fundamental primary Biblical truths. The hallmark doctrines that were recovered during the reformation are often described as the “five solas.”

1. "Sola Scriptura" ("Scripture alone" as the authority for life and practice in the church).

2. "Sola Gratia" (God's sovereign "grace alone" as the reason for our salvation without any actual or potential human merit).

3. "Sola Fide" (justification by "faith alone" and no human works).

4. "Solus Christus" (salvation through the Person and work of Jesus "Christ alone").

5. "Soli Deo Gloria" (all things ultimately for "the glory of God alone").

These five Biblical concepts were the pillars upon which the foundation of the Reformation was built. Key reformers such as Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli had divergent views concerning Baptism and Communion, but were in agreement with the five core principle doctrines of the Reformation. The Reformation was focused on recognizing the absolute sovereignty of God in all things. So to be identified as “reformed” is to communicate that you are in agreement with the five pillars of the Reformation, the “five solas” or in short, the absolute sovereignty of God.

The term “Baptist” primarily refers to individuals who affirm believer’s baptism by immersion. Many of those who describe themselves as Baptists do not share the same view on the sovereignty of God, church polity, and eschatology. However, the common distinction among Baptists is the practice of immersion following regeneration.

A “Reformed Baptist” then is person committed to the five pillars of the Reformation and believer’s Baptism by immersion. The “Reformed Baptist Churches” are a group of independent local congregations committed to historic Christianity and in particular, historic Baptist principles. They may vary on secondary doctrines but agree on the primary doctrines of the Faith.

In essentials unity
In non-essential liberty
In all things charity
- St. Augustine

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Advent candles have been a part of the church for hundreds of years. The exact history of this event is not very clear, but it appears that this practice developed to encourage the church to think about the excellencies of Christ’s first Advent. Usually there are four Sunday’s in December prior to Christmas thus four candles are used as object lessons of significant truth and the fifth candle is lit on Christmas day.

Though this December there are only three Sunday’s we will still have a candle each Sunday and then light the final candle on the final day of the year Wednesday the 31st during our candlelight prayer and communion service. Please feel welcome to join us. Below is the theme and Scripture verses that we will be using this Christmas season.
May God bless you and grant you a truly Merry Christmas.

Advent Theme: The Angelic Announcements

1. Zechariah

Luke 1:16-17 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

2. Mary

Luke 1:30-33 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

3. Joseph

Matthew 1:20-21 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

4. Shepherds

Luke 2:10-11 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

5. Empty tomb

Matthew 28:5-7 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Lamentations 3:22-23 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

Faithfulness is a rare virtue these days. In our culture if things are not going smoothly in your marriage, then it is permissible to jump ship rather than weather the storm. The sacred vows of commitment were apparently only a ceremonial exercise to many people. Though faithfulness is not modeled well in our society it is the hallmark of God’s character.

In Lamentations 3:22-23 Jeremiah is in the midst of writing a lament for the people of God. They have been disobedient and are reaping the just judgment for their actions. In the midst of their punishment Jeremiah is encouraged as he considers the faithfulness of God. At times men are cruel, unfaithful, and unloving. Not so with God. God is always a merciful God.

Just as the sun shines forth on the earth in a renewed vigor every day, so God’s mercy beams forth in new rays of mercy every morning. Faithfulness may be a rare virtue in our cultural surroundings, but it is a regular part of the celestial world.

When looking for a model of faithfulness, perhaps we should set our sights a little higher.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

God's Purpose


Anglican hymn writer John Newton wrote in a letter: 'God often takes a course for accomplishing His purposes directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe. He brings a death upon our feelings, wishes and prospects when He is about to give us the desire of our hearts.'

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Job: Suffering and Loss

James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Job lost everything: his wealth, his health, and his ten children. All swept away in one satanic storm. Reduced to a heap of flesh, ashes, and tears—rebuked by friends and jeered by strangers—righteous Job wrestled over the purpose and presence of God in the midst of unbearable pain.

The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God

Saturday, October 11, 2008

All Israel Will Be Saved

Daniel’s 70th Week

Daniel 9:26-27 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

At first reading this passage is a bit confusing. It may be helpful to read it in context before reading commentaries on the passage. This passage is often understood with respect to the interpreters eschatological view. If you see a future Israel then verse 27 and following are future events. If you believe that there is no future Israel then verse 27 has already happened. I happen to be in the former camp.

One of the reasons I see a future for Israel is that future restoration is not only portrayed in the OT but it is also promised. The Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants are all everlasting unconditional promises. These covenants have not been fully realized. Another reason to believe that there is a future Israel is because the NT points to that and specifically declares it in Paul’s exhaustive treatment in Romans 9-11.

Romans 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Romans 11:25-36 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” 35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

If you take the plain sense of the text and understand that there is a future Israel then the mysteries of Daniel 9 become increasingly clear. Daniel predicted that the Messiah would be “cut off” or killed. The time was calculated to the day he walked into Jerusalem on 9 Nissan AD 30. (for further details see Sir Robert Anderson’s The Coming Prince)

There is a mysterious pause in the timeline between the 69th and seventieth week. This pause in the events is the church age.

Ephesians 3:9-10 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;
to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

The rapture of the church will close the church age. It will mark the ‘fullness of the Gentiles” and God will glorify His name by restoring His people Israel. The unfolding of the seventieth week of Daniel is resumed in the Book of Revelation.

Romans 11:26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Message from Heaven?

"But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”" (Luke 16:31)
Recently Don Piper, the author of 90 Minutes in Heaven spoke about his experiences at a church in Knoxville, TN. A member of the church that was in attendance in that service gave me the audio of the message. They had previously told me about his planned appearance and were really excited about the event.

I have mixed emotions when responding to things like this. My first reaction is to be skeptical and critical. My second reaction is to be careful not to crush the heart of the person that finds spiritual value in unverifiable anecdotal experiences. In the end we must balance the fine line of truth and love.

"but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—" (Ephesians 4:15)

I listened to the audio of the message given to me and my suspicions were confirmed. Don Piper is a sincere person who really believes that he went to heaven, but I do not. It is more likely that he had a dream or a hallucination. Even if Don Piper did actually go to heaven and was permitted to speak of it (unlike the apostle Paul who did go to heaven and was told that it was not lawful to speak of the experience 2 Corinthians 12:4) what value would it be to the church or to the community?

In the audio message I heard Don Piper said the reason he was given the round trip ticket from earth to heaven and now back to earth was so that he “could go and tell people that heaven is real and that Jesus is the way.”

I have several fundamental problems with this reason listed below. Perhaps after reading this you can send me more or tell me what I am missing.

1. The Scriptures verify the reality of heaven. Experience is not a higher witness. [Psalm 138:2]
2. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, not by anecdotal experience. [Romans 10:17]
3. We can be fooled by experience. God’s Word is more sure than our experiences. [2 Peter 1:19]

It is the Word of God that will bring faith and faithfulness. It is alive and powerful [Hebrews 4:12] and it will accomplish what God intends it to do. [Isaiah 55:11]

Most people naturally think that if someone comes back from the dead to tell about the realities of the afterlife, then many will believe. However it will take a supernatural work of God’s grace to cause belief in the unbeliever. The means by which God has chosen to dispense His grace is directly through the proclamation of His Word, the gospel [1 John 1:1-4].

In fact, Jesus dealt directly with this hypothetical situation in Luke 16. His conclusion is as follows.

"But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”" (Luke 16:31)

Review of 90 Minutes in Heaven

Monday, September 15, 2008

Eat and Drink Jesus

"Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." (John 6:53)

On Sunday evenings we are doing a verse by verse study of the Gospel of John. Last night we discussed John 6:52-59. This passage is often misunderstood as a reference to the Lord’s Supper.
It cannot be about communion for the following reasons:

1. Because Lord’s Supper was not instituted till the night before He was betrayed.

" For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;" (1 Corinthians 11:23)

2. Because Jesus was addressing unbelievers in John 6 [the superficial crowd from the feeding of the 5,000 and the skeptical crowd from the religious elite called “the Jews”]. while the Lord’s Supper is for Christians only.

" 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." (1 Corinthians 11:27)

3. Because the eating and drinking spoken of in John relates to salvation, while the eating and drinking that is part of the Lord’s Supper relates to remembering Christ’s work of salvation.

"Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:54)

4. Because the Lord’s Supper does not produce the same kind of results alluded to in John 6. The eating and drinking in this text yields a special union with Christ.

"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." (John 6:56)

So if eating and drinking Christ is not about the Lord’s Supper then what is it about?
I suggest that it is about a deep commitment to Christ. The context of this passage discusses what it means to have faith in Christ. Jesus concludes by calling for a radical commitment to Him. We even have an expression in this culture of describing our fanatical devotion to something as “we eat, drink, and breathe…” Or in this part of the country I have often heard the expression “my blood runs orange” to describe ones appreciation of the Tennessee Volunteers.
Likewise eating and drinking in John 6 is an expression of our devotion to Jesus.

James Montgomery Boice shared a fitting illustration that provides clarification to this passage. It was so meaningful for me I thought it was worthy to repeat in its entirety.
If Jesus has not become as real to you as eating and drinking, let me suggest that you do something similar to that which a bride does in promising herself to her husband. Before the ceremony the bride can do anything she likes. In fact, if she wants to, she can even cancel the whole wedding, for she can decide even at 1:58 that she has made a mistake and cannot go through with a 2:00 ceremony. However, when the ceremony begins she comes to the place where she speaks her vows and, on the basis of those vows and those of her husband, is pronounced a wife, his wife. She is now no longer her own. At the same time, her groom pronounces his vows to her, and he becomes hers no less than she becomes his.

Apply this now to him who is the faithful lover and bridegroom of the church, and to you and me who are his bride. It is he who has courted us and wooed us. We did not choose him. It is he who has pronounced the vows first of all. His vows were pronounced in eternity long before the foundation of the world. He said, “I, Jesus, take you, John Smith (Mary Jones, or whatever your name may be), to be my wedded wife. And I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful husband, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, for time and for eternity.” We looked up into his loving face and eyes, believed his promise, and repeated his vow.

In the case of the church something great happened between the speaking of this promise by Christ and our repetition of it. Between his vow and our vow, Jesus went to the cross where he paid an infinite price for our sin, purchasing us so that we could be free of sin, guilt, and shame as we come to him. We see his sacrifice. With that in mind we repeat, “I, sinner, take you, Jesus, to be my wedded husband. And I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful wife, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, for this life and for eternity.”

That is what faith is. That is what it means to eat Christ’s flesh and drink his blood. It is to commit yourself to him. It is to accept his promise and pledge on your behalf and to repeat his promise, vowing to be his for eternity. If you have done that, you have done the most important thing there is to be done in this life, regardless of what you may already have accomplished or may yet accomplish. If you have not, you should know that today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of your union with Christ, if you will have it so.

James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John : An Expositional Commentary, Pbk. ed., 525 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2005

"Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." (John 6:53)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Palin on the value of life


"For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well." (Psalm 139:13-14, NKJV)

The VP pick of Sarah Palin by John McCain apparently has stirred the waters of excitement for the GOP. According to Real Clear Politics the bounce received from the GOP convention has sky rocketed the Republican ticket to a lead in the political polls. Of course the only poll that counts is the one on the day of the election.

Palin is a conservative Republican whose traditional values will resonate among conservative evangelicals. Perhaps for the first time in this election season the GOP has given hope to those give moral values a primary consideration when choosing candidates.

The fact that Palin choose to give life to her child with Downs syndrome may help highlight the value of human life to our citizens. Kirk from Pittsburg, a caller to the Rush Limbaugh radio program, shared with Rush about a campaign stop meeting with the McCain family and the Palin family. The caller, was thrilled to meet them, but even more so to know that Palin understands the unique blessing of all children regardless of their disabilities.

You see Kirk is also a parent of a Downs syndrome child. He brought his daughter Chloe to the event and when Palin spotted her she asked if she could hold her, then picked her up and gave her a hug.

Human life is always valuable because it is uniquely made in the image of God.

"But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:16, NKJV)

Rush Limbaugh Article