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Category Archives: Bible Study

We Live If Ye Stand

Pastor Roy Johnson

Pastor Roy Johnson

Last Friday night, God called another special man home to heaven. Dr. Roy Johnson was my first pastor. Of course, I was completely unaware of the fact at the time, but his influence was far-reaching. The Lord saved my parents a month before I was born at Messiah Baptist Church in Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. Johnson pastored. We were only there for a year, but God used his ministry to give my parents a solid foundation in biblical teaching that gave them a good start in spiritual discernment.

We came back to Messiah years later, during the first of my teenage years, but Dr. Johnson had retired by that time. Our fellowship was renewed when he joined the church my parents were members of a number of years ago. Over the past few years, I’ve been blessed by letters, an occasional phone conversation, and visits. I’ve had opportunities to talk to him about ministry issues, and just life in general. 5 years ago, Dr. Johnson was on my ordination council when I began pastoring Grace Baptist Church. I’m grateful to have been influenced by a man who has served the Lord faithfully for many years.

Dr. Johnson

Dr. Johnson

I was blessed to be able to take part in his funeral service yesterday (September 12). I played the piano for the congregational music, and my wife and I sang “New Grace”. The preacher who gave the message mentioned Hebrews 12, where it is said of Adam, “he being dead yet speaketh.” He asked all the preachers in the audience to stand. There were probably 30 preachers and missionaries in attendance whose lives had been touched by Dr. Johnson! That’s only a small sampling of all the others scattered around the globe. As I thought on this, I was once again reminded of a verse that holds a special place in my heart.

“And now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”

     — I Thessalonians 3:8

One of my greatest memories of my time at Crown College in Powell, Tennessee was the baccalaureate service on the Sunday evening prior to my graduation. It was a great relief: 4 years of schooling were over! I learned much in those years, developed many friendships, and met and married the love of my life. Out of hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of listening to Bible classes, sermons, etc., the message Clarence Sexton brought that night from I Thessalonians is the one that has stuck with me since. Maybe it was the timing of the service, but I think it was the content of the message that made such an impact. I remember the outline he used (I may have a word off, but I think it’s the same!).

Pastor and Evangelist Forrest Keener

Pastor and Evangelist Forrest Keener

The point is this: As long as we remain faithful to the things we have been taught, those who taught us continue to live. Paul could not remain constantly with the Thessalonians. But while they heeded his instruction to take heed for the coming of the Lord, and continued in faith and charity, he would remain with them through their obedience. I’ve been blessed to have known many faithful preachers of the gospel who have passed on. I think of several college professors who taught me much: Keith Kiser, and his love for the Word of God; Richard Worsham, and his tenacity and desire for God to work through the ministry of the church; Forrest Keener, with a steadfast focus on the great truths of God’s Word; Jim Gaylor, and his tenderness for God’s people; Roy Johnson, with a real pastor’s heart; and others that have been a personal encouragement to me.

If we are to be faithful, how must we stand?

Stand Convincingly.

There are many who are wishy-washy in their beliefs. They never want their positions to be nailed down.

When it comes to the great truths of the gospel, we must be grounded in conviction. There are too many issues of great importance that require a solid biblical answer. When dealing with the world, we must take strong positions on the issues of our day: child murder, the desecration of marriage, the culture of death, the glamorization of sin, etc. Even among believers (and professing believers) we must be willing to stand on important things: the centrality of the gospel, the sufficiency of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures, the nature of God and man. We must seek to establish scriptural convictions and drive them a mile deep.

Stand Compassionately.

Far too often, those who lay claim to strong convictions are unable to draw the line between those who are active rebels and scorners, and those who are simple fools, blindly following the culture. Jesus was not afraid to castigate the religious hypocrites who made their proselytes two-fold children of hell, but never fail to take note of the mercy he expressed to sinners. Yes, there are times when faithful Christians must be bold in condemnation of wickedness. There are also opportunities to minister by compassion. That does not indicate a need to compromise biblical conviction, but requires an understanding of the fact that the people of God are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We must stand with conviction, but may we do so with great compassion as well.

Stand Continually.

There are many who begin. Take the parable of the seeds and soils. Many receive the Word with joy, but soon the enthusiasm is choked out by the cares of the world. One who stands fast must have a life marked by patient endurance. Demas started, and seemed to be strong. But he soon forsook the ministry, having loved the world. Judas was one of The Twelve. The other disciples seemed to have trouble believing that he would be the betrayer. Yet he had a part in the crucifixion of our Lord. But consider the testimony of those who endure to the end! Jeremiah was told that his preaching would be resisted. Yet it is Jeremiah who writes of mercies that are new every morning toward the end of his life! Job was assaulted by great trial. But he recognizes God’s hand in it all: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Joseph endured years of mistreatment before God lifted him up. Moses experienced 80 years of the school of hard knocks before God used him to deliver Israel. Abraham waited 99 years for the son of promise. Yet in each of these, God proved Himself faithful.

You see, the emphasis is not on the perseverance of the man. We are certainly instructed to apprehend. But we must not be focused on the fact of our faith. Rather, our life is tied up in the OBJECT of our faith. We can stand continually only because Christ has gone before us! It is he who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, and is now set down on his throne. Because He lives, we too shall live. What mercy it is that he has not only given himself as an example, but also given us faithful men for us to follow as they followed Christ.

I’m grateful for each of the special people that have influence my life. Some have gone on to glory. Others remain on this earth. May we stand fast in the Lord, that the cloud of witnesses may live on through our faithfulness.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Bible Study

 

No Fault Found in Him

daniel-in-the-lions-denI’ve been thinking a lot lately about our relationship to the government. Early this year, there was a big brouhaha over gun control, which, thankfully, did not result in greater restrictions. Yet. No doubt that will happen at some point, but I’m grateful for our current liberty.

Most recently in my thought process was the New Mexico Supreme Court decision, in which it was stated that a photographer has no right to refuse services to a “commitment ceremony” involving two homosexual participants based on religious conviction. Justice Bosson stated in his opinion that religious compromise is “the price of citizenship.”

Certainly, numerous other examples could be stated which challenge every Christian. We have been commanded to be in subjection to the authorities God has placed over us. At the same time, we ought to obey God rather than man. This is a difficult topic for all believers. It is not one which should be approached lightly, and deserves much prayer, study, and prior determination.

Peter writes that governments are appointed for the punishment of evildoers. Throughout history, that has largely proven true. Even godless governments tend to enforce laws that uphold the Ten Commandments: do not murder, do not steal, etc. Granted, they do not uphold them for the right reason (glory of God), and they are selective by ignoring the First Table of the Law, but they do punish genuine evildoers. Paul also writes in Romans 13 that rulers are not a terror to those who do good works. Once again, that is generally true. Obedience to the law, as a whole, means that one has nothing to fear from his government (political considerations aside for the moment!).

Ultimately, what is the responsibility of Christians? I believe the basic principle is stated clearly in the book of Daniel. The young Hebrew had been given much authority and influence in the kingdom. By the reign of Darius, Daniel’s wisdom and spirit had been noted by many in positions of power, especially the king. Daniel 6 notes that Daniel was placed at the top of three presidents who were directly accountable only to the king. Yet he was hated by those under him. This was certainly because of his heritage as one of the exiles. As a foreigner, from a conquered country, how could he rise to such prominence above natives of the land?

Those other governors did their absolute best to trap Daniel. They watched his life, no doubt with the lawbook in hand, seeking to find him in violation. But they could find no fault in him. His lifestyle was blameless, both in moral character and in obedience to the laws of the land. Yes, he perfectly followed the legal system of a pagan culture. And we complain about our laws! He was found faithful, not by a group of peers, but by his enemies. What a testimony he had.

Since the princes could not find Daniel in violation of the law, they had to find another way to snare him. Daniel 6:5 tells us of their plan:

We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

Ultimately, the only fault they could find in Daniel was by manufacturing a law that would punish Daniel’s faithfulness. They recognized his absolute conviction by recognizing that a law in contradiction to God’s would force Daniel’s disobedience. They went to Darius and tricked him into signing a law against petition to any but the king. The law was signed, Daniel was found in violation, and he was cast into the den of lions. We know how God chose to deliver Daniel and glorify Himself.

That should cause us to consider our own lives. If we are honest, most of us would have to admit that one trying to find fault would probably not have to go to these lengths. That’s a convicting thought! On the other side of it, using the same tactics the princes used with Daniel may not work simply because we would obey the law rather than suffer the consequences.

May God grant us the wisdom and character of Daniel.

Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. (Daniel 6:4-5)

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Bible Study, Daniel, Devotional

 

A Chiastic Structure of Redemptive History

I’ve been doing some thinking on the chiastic structure of the Bible. If you’re not familiar with chiasmus, you should be – check it out on Wikipedia. It is a fascinating device that is often found in the text of Scripture, and can help clarify difficult parallelisms. 

A     Before time – the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world to redeem a people to Himself

     B     At the beginning of time – the Garden of Eden, in perfection, with man who was created in the image of God, but with the ability to sin

          C     During time – God reveals a covenant to save His people – progressively [to the Jews] through Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets

               D     The Law demands perfect righteousness

                        X     The center of all History is the event of the Lamb slain

               D’     The perfect righteousness of the Law is fulfilled

        C’    During time – the New Covenant, as the fulfilment the old, is fully revealed to the people of God, Jew and Gentile alike through the writings of the apostles

   B’     At the end of time – the New Heavens and the New Earth, where that “Garden” is restored, and our nature is restored, this time lacking the ability to sin because of that Lamb slain!

A’     After time – the eternal worship of the Lamb slain by those whom He redeemed

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Bible Study, Doctrines of Grace

 

The Author of Hebrews

ms2648 Hebrews 4:8I have recently begun preaching a series through the book of Hebrews.  This is not an easy undertaking, as I recognize that Hebrews is considered one of the most difficult books in the New Testament.  However, it is the direction toward which I felt God leading me.  The challenge of it will keep me on my toes, as I desire to be faithful to the message that God has given to His people.  It is a difficult book, but is is also an amazing book.  Along with the difficult passages to interpret, it also contains some of the clearest passages in Scripture on God’s preservation of His people, and on the high priestly ministry of Christ.

As I began the study, I reviewed and considered my opinion regarding the human author of Hebrews.  I was prepared to spend 15 or so minutes discussing possible authors, and the reason for my own thoughts on the subject.  However, as I continued studying the issue, I came to a completely different conclusion.

As you read each of the epistles, they begin with a greeting from the human author (recognizing, of course, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit resting squarely underneath each).  For example:

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, -Romans 1:1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. -James 1:1

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: -II Peter 1:1

The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. -III John 1:1

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called. -Jude 1:1

Get the picture? It’s the same for each of these epistles (and most of the others). But, when we come to the epistle to the Hebrews, the pattern seems to be different:

God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

-Hebrews 1:1-2

Why would God see fit to change the format from other epistles, and, on top of that, not clearly indicate from whose pen these words flowed? I believe the answer is very simple: the format is the same!

The truth is that nothing in God’s Word is done arbitrarily. Many times we may not understand God’s reason for the way something is expressed, but we must come to this Book with the presupposition that it has very definite purpose and meaning. The introduction to the book of Hebrews is no different. In this case, I believe that God is simply emphasizing the fact that He wrote the book! The message is spoken clearly in the first few lines. It is simply that God hath spoken by His Son. The theme is then developed that He is better than the angels, and as such, we must pay attention to His Word. All of the warnings in this book flow from that truth. All of the exhortations given are true because He hath spoken by His Son.

Therefore, we see that the familiar pattern for the epistles has not changed.  God simply emphasizes divine authorship in a special way with the opening phrases of this wonderful letter.

When I came to this realization, I put aside my opinions concerning the human author.  I still have an opinion, but I no longer think it matters!  I was ready to argue it, and perhaps I still will, but it is not the issue to focus on.  Rather, let us remember that God wrote the book, and it is for this reason—not the supposed authorship of Paul, or Apollos, or Luke, or whoever else you may think penned it—that we must read it, study it, memorize it, mediate on it, and heed it.  May God illumine us with His Holy Spirit to understand His word and obey it!

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Bible Study, Hebrews, Inspiration

 

Brief Commentary on Ephesians 2:1-7

Ephesians 2: The chapter begins, “You who WERE DEAD in trespasses and sins.” What does dead mean? Simply a sentence of death? God told Adam that he would die IN THE DAY that he ate of the tree. Did God mean what He said? Notice what the death is – not you WILL be dead BECAUSE OF your sins, but you WERE dead IN trespasses and sins. This is speaking of a spiritual REALITY, not simply a physical picture. Just as verse 6 tells us that we ARE sitting in heavenly places WITH Christ – not simply a future promise, but a present spiritual reality, even though it is not yet physical (that will be in the ages to come!).

What is the fruit of this deadness IN sin, i.e. spiritual death?

Verse 2 – “ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air.” Walking according to the world is not what CAUSES that death (as you are trying to make it say), but the result of the death that we were already partakers of. BECAUSE we were dead in sin, we walked according to the way of life of the world system. We walked according to the devil, BECAUSE of who we already were – dead in sin. We already were children of disobedience – we had no desire to do that which is truly pleasing to God (don’t confuse morality/conscience with true spirituality).

Verse 3 – “we all had our [behavior] in times past in the lusts of our flesh” – that is, whatever our flesh wanted, in which, according to Paul, dwells NO good thing “”fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind;” – “desires” could be translated “will”. In other words, our will was bent toward the flesh and our understanding, which is devoid of any spiritual understanding prior to regeneration. That’s the problem with our will – yes, it is free to do whatever is in our nature. And it did – not that which is pleasing to God, but that which is according to the world, the devil, and our own flesh.

“and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” – our NATURE (inborn quality, not just a “habit” that we grown into) was children of wrath. The word “children” used here emphasizes natural birth. That is we were born into wrath; it is our nature, what we deserve. That paints a bleak picture. We can’t escape that wrath ourselves, by any good we try to do, or by any decision we make, because we don’t desire those good decisions to begin with.

“But God” – what wonderful words! “who is rich in mercy” – mercy is not just “withholding the punishment I deserve”, which is the definition commonly given, but is something active which God bestows which we are unworthy of. Most of the OT uses of the word “mercy” are a word which is translated in the ESV “steadfast love”. From my study of the word, that’s a beautiful translation, and very apt for the word. NT usage is not precisely the same, but very similar in many ways. Notice that, even here, the mercy is connected with His love: “for His great love wherewith He loved us” – A side note here: who is “us”? It is a pronoun used often throughout the epistles, and very important!

What did that great love cause Him to do? “Even when we were DEAD in sins” – nothing we could do about it, not even “belief” would change that condition, just as Lazarus could not raise himself from the dead!

“hath quickened us together with Christ AND hath raised us up together” – What is quickening? Is it merely the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us? No. That may be involved, but that’s really a different aspect of salvation, directly connected to justification. Yes, they’re related topics, but mixing them up only leads to confusion (look at how the Roman Catholics have made such a mess of salvation by mixing up justification and sanctification – which are also related, but must be properly understood!).

The phrase, “hath quickened us together with” is actually one word in the Greek. A clear reference is being made here to the resurrection of Christ. What was Christ resurrected from? The DEAD! Was He merely under a sentence of death? Did He merely swoon in the grave and had to be made alive? That’s nonsense! The clear meaning of the word is that LIFE was imparted to something that was DEAD! We were quickened and raised up “together with” Christ! This is not a death sentence that was torn up and nailed to the cross (although yes, that also happened according to Colossians 2!) – this is a dead corpse having life breathed into it! As a result of this life that has been given, we are now SEATED WITH Christ in the heavenlies – that’s not just a promise of what is to come, but a present spiritual reality (just as spiritual death was a reality before quickening), as proof that in the ages to come we will experience the exceeding riches of his grace that has been extended to US (there’s that pronoun again!).

A very apt OT illustration of this truth is found in Ezekiel 37. It is argued that this has nothing to do with salvation, and is only dealing with a physical restoration of Israel to the land. What nonsense. If that is the explanation of OT prophecy, it is very shallow. Note verses 12-14 of that chapter: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your GRAVES, and CAUSE you to come up OUT of your GRAVES, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD when I have OPENED your GRAVES, O MY PEOPLE, and brought you up out of your GRAVES, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live…” That’s far deeper than simple restoration to a physical land. That’s a spiritual reality! If you read Ezekiel without seeing Christ in the book, it will be very dry and meaningless. If you read this book without NT interpretation, you will completely misunderstand the book! It is an illustration of God breathing His spirit into dead bones, causing them to live! That is exactly what He did for me.

Praise His holy name! His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts – this is an impossible work without a supernatural Saviour!

 
 

A Journey in Grace

This article certainly does not cover everything (either doctrinally or experientially – I just hit on some of the high points), but perhaps it will help some understand where God has brought me!

First of all, understand that I am not a follower of John Calvin. He was just a man, who taught some great truths concerning the Word of God, but was also guilty of error. The doctrine that I believe has come straight from the Bible, with no input from Calvin whatsoever. I do not call myself a Calvinist, because I believe that it is a much misunderstood and misaligned term. Be careful of labeling people – if you wish me to accept the label of “Calvinism”, then you must accept the label “Arminian”, because you disagree with at least 4 of the “points of Calvinism”!

While teaching through the gospel of John in my teen Sunday School Class back in 2003, I came across some key passages that made me pause and question some things. Most notably, these included the following passages:

 John 5:19-25

19 – Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 – For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

21 – For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22 – For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

23 – That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him. 24 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come

into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

25 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

I noticed verse 21, and asked the question, “What does it mean that the Son quickens whom HE WILL?”

Coming to John 6, we find the following:

John 6:37-40, 44

37 – All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

38 – For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

39 – And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

40 – And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

44 – No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Here I thought, “But I’ve always been taught that the Father draws ALL men. How can this be if ALL whom the Father draws DO COME to Christ? Does this mean that not all men are drawn in the same way?”

Let me tell you, this caused me great consternation. However, I just couldn’t accept this thought, as it was against what I had been taught throughout my life. I studied it, but couldn’t find any way around it that truly did justice to the text and the context. So…I just ignored it, and taught around it!

Then, I was struck by Jesus’ words in John 10:26: But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

That was no problem until I compared it with the words of verse 16: And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Now it is clear that the Pharisees were not His sheep because they were not saved. But it is obvious that in verse 16, Jesus is speaking of those who are not yet saved! Why then was there a distinction made? These thoughts began to make me question some things that I had been taught concerning salvation and free-will.

As time went on, I became increasingly more agitated with the state of evangelism in our church, as well as others. So much emphasis was placed on “soulwinning”, i.e. getting through a 5 minute presentation of the “Roman’s Road”, and getting the prospect to pray the “sinner’s prayer.” Why is it that we were getting so many people “saved”, but when we attempted to follow-up on them, we had very poor results? Could it be that they had never been converted? But they prayed, and said they were sincere! This always troubled me greatly. It seemed to me as though salvation produces a true change in a life – I knew that I had experienced this conversion!

I began a Master’s degree program through Andersonville Theological Seminary. I began the course in Ephesians. Before the course, I read through the book, and was struck by the strong language concerning God’s having “chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” and being “predestinated unto the adoption of children.” I was struck by the thought that there are only two ways of understanding that: either God chose me because He knew I would choose Him, or He chose me because of His love and mercy. I didn’t like it, and tried to resist it, but as I listened to Dr. Hayes teach on this passage, I couldn’t help but think that his teaching was twisting the scripture, and trying to get around a clear understanding of the text (he was basically teaching the first option I mentioned).

I was not yet fully convinced of the doctrine of election, but couldn’t help seeing it clearly taught throughout the scripture. I began to notice in my Bible reading that the words “calling”, “election”, “chosen”, etc. were sure used a lot in the Bible! And they were clearly referring not to an abstract concept, but to those who belonged to God.

These thoughts were forming in my mind, and causing me to truly think about what the grace of God truly meant, and how salvation truly came to sinners.

In 2007, I came across two passages that were real turning points in my thinking. One was Acts 13:48, which reads, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”

That was incredibly clear! I immediately went to my Greek lexicons and commentaries to see if I was just reading it wrong. It was very clear what “ordained” meant, and the fact that the “Gentiles” mentioned here were the objects/recipients of that ordaining, not the subject/cause of it. I could not avoid a statement such as this, which is given without any other explanation – obviously, Luke was writing as if all should know this truth.

The second “turning point” was when I “discovered” Romans 9. This chapter was astounding to me. I read a few commentaries that tried to pass the chapter off as dealing with a “national election” of Israel, but, once again, that was an obvious twisting of the text. It was very clearly speaking of the salvation of individuals. Placed in context with the message of the latter part of chapter 8, there was no other explanation than that God had, according to His will and mercy, chosen His own that He might receive the glory!

When I began to understand these doctrines, it struck me that I was dangerously close to what I had heard preached as “Calvinism”, which was, in my mind, a killing doctrine and a heresy. But I didn’t get it from Calvin – just from reading the Bible! I began to wonder if I was going “off the deep end”. I wondered where I would fit in, as I would obviously not fit in the ministry in which I was currently serving! I began reading Spurgeon, and came to the astounding discovery that what I was coming to believe the Bible was teaching, Spurgeon also taught quite clearly! Someone gave me a copy of Arthur Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God”, and I realized that it was exactly what I had seen the Bible teaching.

The more I looked into Baptists of old, the more I discovered that most of the men I have heard exalted actually taught the doctrines of grace. I discovered that it was NOT a killing doctrine, as most of the leaders of the modern missionary movement were firmly committed to the sovereignty of God in salvation. An understanding of election is not a deterrent to evangelism, because Christ gave us the command to preach the gospel. Rather, it is an encouragement to know that we are “fishing in a stocked pond”. We have a guarantee that men will be saved, because God is working in their hearts, effectually drawing them to Himself.

This was the solution to the problem of faulty evangelism. Evangelism is not about knocking on a door, spending 5 minutes on a “Romans Road” presentation, and getting them to pray a “sinner’s prayer”! It is about preaching the gospel to sinners. It is not our job to use psychology or anything else to make the message palatable or interesting. We must be faithful to proclaim the whole counsel of God, and trust the Holy Spirit to do His work of convincing men of sin and drawing them to the Saviour. We are not trying to get men down an aisle, but trust God to do the saving work. We are not trying to use sales tactics, such as “removing obstacles”, but proclaim Christ – who IS a stumblingblock (a major obstacle) to the unregenerate — unless GOD takes the scales from their eyes. This understanding should give even greater evangelistic fervor, as God has promised that His Word would not return void!

Still wondering where I would fit in, I met a pastor in Oklahoma who pastored a Sovereign Grace Baptist Church. So there were Baptists who had survived the decisional regeneration heresy promoted by Charles Finney! There was actually an entire network of independent Baptists who remained true to their roots of biblical teaching. They still held to the old Baptist Confessions of Faith that taught the doctrines of grace. Through Pastor Smith, God led us to the church where I am now pastoring.

What I believe I have not come to by reading commentaries or books by men (although they have been helpful in articulating my position). It was by reading the Bible that God brought me to a fuller understanding of His marvelous grace. This took place over a period of about 5 years as God opened my eyes to the truth of God’s marvelous Sovereignty.

The following is a list of passages that may be helpful if you are interested in a further study of this subject (and I am also available for email or phone conversation):

 

Deuteronomy 29-30

Isaiah 10

Isaiah 53 (vs. 10-11)

Ezekiel 36

Psalm 136

John 3

John 6

John 10

John 17

Romans 3

Romans 8:28-chapter 9

Ephesians 1