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What I Read Online – 12/20/2012 (a.m.)

20 Dec
    • As 2012 draws to a close are you, conscious of God’s great love and faithfulness to you in Christ (Lamentations 3:22,23; Hebrews 13:5), determined to be faithful to the Lord, His Word, and His Church? (Proverbs 20:6) Will your life and your marriage be a real example and encouragement to believers around you, not of perfection, but of faith, integrity, faithfulness and the grace of God? May the Lord do a work in our lives that makes us long-term

       

      encouragements in His Church

    • Though Baptists agree on the necessity of a profession of faith for Christian baptism, there is considerable disagreement as to whether baptism should be restricted to those of a particular age. This article builds upon two key assumptions of credobaptism and of the concurrence of baptism, church membership and participation at the Lord’s Supper to argue that baptism is appropriate for those who are at the stage in life where they are taking on adult responsibilities independent of parental authority.The responsibilities of church membership are inappropriate for children, and therefore the entry point of church membership should be delayed until adulthood. This is not to suggest that even very young children cannot be genuine disciples. Rather, the appropriate locus of their discipleship ought to be the family, rather than the church.
    • Unless pastors are willing to have difficult and unpopular conversations with young people and their parents, churches will face ever-downward pressure upon the age of baptism until the distinction between paedobaptists and credobaptists will be blurred. The theology of the grounds of baptism might remain different, but the place of baptism within the discipleship of that child, who may grow up even unable to remember their baptism, will be practically identical
    • As Mark Dever once said in a sermon to which I am much indebted in this paper, “Such pressures for baptising younger and younger believers could only be resisted by pastors who are convinced that there are clearly biblical reasons for not doing this.” [7]
    • Just as faith-producing Spirit baptism is the door to membership of the invisible body of Christ, so public water baptism is the door to the visible church
    • Christians across the centuries have recognised this. The question of “whom should we baptise” was identical to the question “whom should we admit to church membership
    • My assumption is that baptism and church membership come together, or, more precisely that baptism is the Christian entry ritual into public identification with Jesus Christ (Rom 6:3) and with his body the church (1 Cor 12:13
    • Baptism without church membership is like getting married and returning to the parental home (without your spouse!). The Lord’s Supper before baptism is like sex before marriage. The Lord’s Supper without church membership is like sharing a bed with your wife but not actually sharing a life with her
    • We are neither to doubt the sincerity of a child’s profession of faith, nor the boldness of their request for baptism. Every step to profess faith in Christ should be verbally and prayerfully encouraged but not immediately certified by baptism
    • Though children can live as disciples of Christ from when they are very young, much of the discipleship of the young is training for the future responsibilities of adulthood. When a child expresses a premature desire for such responsibilities, whether it be a sexual relationship, leaving home, stopping their education and getting a job or being baptised, they should always be encouraged in recognising that this is a good thing that they should desire for the future, but that the present will be a time of preparation for that, not a time to prematurely grasp at it. Much of discipleship of the young is to be the learning of patience and humility, both of which will be aided through delaying baptism until adulthood
    • All professions and evidences of faith should be met with encouragement and prayer, without parents feeling that it is their responsibility to tell their children that they are most certainly credible
    • If anything we should delay longer not shorter than the past. We often hear that children have to grow up so quickly today. This may be the case compared to the 1950s in terms of exposure to the world. However, in terms of responsibility, children are caused to grow up less quickly, particularly in the West, than their Victorian forebears. How many of the 12 year olds baptised by Spurgeon would have been in full-time employment, for example?

       

    • The younger a professing believer, the longer one should wait in order to discern whether faith is genuine, particularly those children who have believing parents. Children are both designed and commanded in the Scriptures to obey their parents, and to follow them. Without ever questioning the sincerity of a child’s profession of faith, we would be unwise to underline it in baptism until sufficient evidence is given that this is a faith that is owned by the child. In most circumstances it will be very hard to distinguish a healthy desire to trust and follow parents from a Spirit-wrought desire to follow the Lord Jesus, and it will be unhelpful to attempt do this. We should teach children what it means to follow Jesus, and how to find full assurance of salvation in him without declaring their faith real in baptism
    • If a mere profession of faith is required rather than a credible profession of faith then baptism, designed by the Lord to be a great aid in the assurance of the believers’ faith, will offer false assurance to many
    • All this leads me strongly in the direction of concluding that the appropriate stage of life in which someone should take on the responsibilities of baptism, membership and the Lord’s Supper is when they are taking on other adult responsibilities. I don’t want to put an age on this because different teenagers take on adult responsibilities at different ages.

       

    • We regularly withhold God’s blessings from our children because we do not think that they are appropriate blessings for children
    • In the end we must have far more concern about whether children are in the invisible, eternal church, than at what age they are admitted into membership in the visible, temporal church. We should share the gospel with children, we should encourage them to repent and believe, we should encourage parents to take an active interest in their children’s discipleship and encourage all fledgling signs of faith. We should teach children to grow in the grace of evangelism, service and love within the community. We can and should do all this without baptising them.
    • This learning curve does not need to wait until teenage years. When visiting a member of the church in hospital I will often take one of my children with me as I visit, read the word, listen and pray. This is good both for the congregation member I am visiting and for the child. Within the life of the church there are some areas of service that are restricted to members of the congregation, but there are many that are not. Teenagers and younger children have helped serve within the corporate gathering of the church in many ways from serving refreshments afterwards, to helping with the public address system, to playing a musical instrument, to helping with childcare. It is appropriate to give growing responsibilities and opportunities for service without the weighty responsibilities or holding the power of the keys, or even drinking judgment upon oneself.

       

    • Sadly, debates in the past have often been characterised by more heat than light. Claims that the Bible provides “no basis for infant baptism” or that “Baptists are proof-texters who neglect the redemptive-historical hermeneutic” rarely persuade. In truth, debates have all too often been characterised by an uncharitable ignorance of the opposing side’s view. It is hoped that this issue of Foundations will go some way to addressing popular misconceptions
    • The distinction between primary and secondary issues is one that has Scriptural warrant (1 Cor 15:3) but which is prone to mislead if taken beyond its original Scriptural context. Baptism is often said to be secondary because it is not a gospel issue – we can hold different views on baptism without denying the gospel of grace. That is true, and something that all Protestants would want to affirm, but describing baptism as a secondary issue gives the misleading impression that it is relatively unimportant or non-essential for the health of the church. This is incorrect because, while not a gospel issue, baptism certainly is an ecclesiologically-determinative issue
    • Therefore it is impossible to be indifferent about baptism without being indifferent about the nature, constitution, health and purity of Christ’s bride
    • There is more good theology in some of these individual books than in many pastoral libraries. We should be thankful and get at least of few these big books
    • Every so often, I have conversations with some single guy or another who has his eyes on a great young lady but is concerned that he’s not “all that attracted to her”. Basically, he’s worried that if he pursues this woman he’s going to wind up spending his life in the nightmarish prison of a long-term, committed love relationship with someone that he doesn’t find to be extremely physically attractive.
        1. Have you looked in the mirror lately? It’s unlikely that the paunch hanging over the waistband of your cargo shorts represents her idea of masculine perfection. And even if women are less hung up on physical appearances, you’re probably not the romantic and emotional connection she’s been dreaming of her whole life either. We’re all making compromises here, Jack.
        2.   It could also be that all of the porn you’re looking at is warping your perception on this matter. You know that women don’t actually look like that, right? The virtuous, godly, stay-at-home wife with the body and moves of a porn star doesn’t exist anywhere except in your mind.
        3.   The Bible says if you choose a wife based on appearances rather than character, you’re a moron (Proverbs 31:30).
        4.   We can choose to be attracted to our spouse. We don’t need to let beauty be defined by Madison Avenue or the Internet. Just because our culture declares something to be beautiful or unattractive doesn’t make it so. The Bible tells us to delight in our wives and their bodies (Proverbs 5:18). Your wife should be beautiful to you because she is your wife.   
    • If you find a woman who loves Jesus, whose company you enjoy, and who will be a faithful companion through the joys and trials of life… you should probably marry her. If she’ll have you.
    • is not possible to build a culture around a denial of God-given standards, and then arbitrarily reintroduce those standards at your convenience, whenever you need a word like evil to describe what has just happened. Those words cannot just be whistled up. If we have banished them, and their definitions, and every possible support for them, we need to reckon with the fact that they are now gone. Cultural unbelief, which leads inexorably to cultural nihilism and despair, is utterly incapable of responding appropriately to things like this, while remaining fully capable of creating them. In the prophetic words of C.S. Lewis, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
    • At the beginning of the book are 9 pages of endorsements from Christian leaders, including men whose model of church would appear to be anything but vertical. Bill Hybels and Rick Warren are the gurus of church growth while Steve Furtick’s Elevation Church hardly models strength and verticality. Yet these men, and others like them, endorse Vertical Church. Meanwhile, these men are often endorsed by MacDonald in return, whether in the pages of this book or elsewhere. I simply can’t understand how MacDonald could pen a book like Vertical Church and ignore the appalling contradictions of T.D. Jakes, a man who holds an unorthodox understanding of the Trinity and who preaches the prosperity gospel in place of the true gospel. Yet he is a man MacDonald has befriended and defended. It boggles the mind.
    • Vertical Church is a book with both strengths and weaknesses—very helpful strengths and very dangerous weaknesses. If you are looking for a method to follow, I would certainly not recommend it for that purpose. However, if you are looking for examples to consider and evaluate, and if you can thinking discerningly to embrace what is helpful and reject what is so very unhelpful, you may well find the effort rewarding.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 20/12/2012 in Current Issues

 

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