Religious Freedom-October 23, 2013

Religious Freedom-October 23, 2013

Matthew 22:15-22; Romans 13:1-7; Revelation 13:9-10

Religious Freedom

“The historical affirmation OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar.”-Walter Shurden

Religious Freedom

  • Matthew 22:15-22
  • Romans 13:1-7
  • Revelation 13:9-10

Religious Freedom

  • Lessons from history

-Our founders had experiences with state established religions

-The Adoption of the Bill of Rights

-The Constitution

-Baptist’s influence on the Bill of Rights

 The Witness to Religious Freedom

  • The teaching of individualism is what validates religious freedom
  • Many throughout history have supported religious freedom

-John Smyth and Thomas Helwys-17th Century

-Roger Williams, Obadiah Holmes-17th Century, USA

  • 18-19th Century-Baptist stood up for religious freedom-John Leland, Isaac Backus
  • 20th-Century Baptists-George Truett, James Dunn

The Foundations of Religious Freedom

  • This view that people should have a right to believe without force, to practice their faith on their own free will, to spread their faith without anyone telling them no is a new and modern view.  It hasn’t always been this way.
  • People have used the Bible to argue against Religious Freedom.
  • This view of Religious Freedom is the Biblical view!

-The nature of God

-the nature of humanity

-the nature of faith

The Meaning of Religious Freedom

  • Freedom of Religion is a commitment to complete religious freedom and not religious toleration.
  • Religious liberty must be for all and not just the majority-even non-Christians!
  • Religious freedom means separation of church and state and not accommodation of church with the state.

-Church above the state-medieval era.

-Church under the state-communism.

-Accommodation of a particular church with the state-Anglican church in England

-Separation of church and state-American Model

Baptists today and threats to Religious Freedom

  • A danger exists in thinking there is no danger.
  • There are many who disagree with separation of church and state.
  • Another danger is the confusion of citizenship with discipleship

Controversies Today

  • Prayer in schools
  • Public dollars for religious causes
  • Religious symbols in civil contexts
  • The debate about a “Christian” America
  • Religious Freedom exists to insure each person’s right to worship and serve God
  • The way to win people to Christ is not by force

 

 

October 20, 2013-How Shall We Live? By the Words of Life!

October 20, 2013-2 Timothy 3:14:4:5

How Shall We Live?  By the Words of Life!

261-Wonderful Words of Life

338-How Firm A Foundation

294-Have Thine Own Way

Continue in learning that we will become more convinced day-by-day in faith.  These are the things found in the holy Scriptures, which point us (teach us) about salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

It is Paul the old Pharisee telling young Timothy that he was once convinced of something different but after studying the scriptures (not his traditions stance) that he began to see that God’s word was pointing toward Jesus as the Messiah.  Paul tells Timothy he was fortunate because he had been taught this since a very young age.  You can always confirm truth with the word of God.  Salvation has come to you and to me through faith in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is God-breathed, because it is God breathed it is useful.  The word of God is always useful it is not life a self-help book, because if any of those worked there wouldn’t need to be so many.  It is a book about God’s help, God’s strength, and God’s provision.  It is the only true place to go for direction.  If you do not know your true location it will be hard to find direction.

There is always a debate about teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.  There is no true teaching, rebuking, correcting or training in righteousness that does not also condemn the instructor, unless the source of these goes beyond the instructor to the true source of all.  If the source is not found in our Holy God, then it may teach, rebuke, correct, and train but it will not be in righteousness.  There is only One righteous and so we must trust as the source, not our ideas or opinions or trends but we must trust the steady word of the creator of the universe.

These four things listed here are not meant to be negative although there will be many who want to think of them this way.  There is a purpose for all of this teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness to firm up and strengthen our relationship with God, so that we do not point people back to us or our opinions but to God Himself who receives the glory.  The purpose then is to strengthen our relationship with God and others.  “So that the man (woman) of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

So that the man (woman) of God may be thoroughly equipped.  This first part indicates that this is for the Christian, for the believer.  Often part of the problem is we want to think that rebuking, correcting, is for people worse than us, which in most cases then we to turn to chastising unbelievers.  Let’s start by saying that it is not for them that this passage was written.  You can’t expect an unbeliever to live, act, and love like a believer, because they are not believers.  But the question may be are believers themselves living, acting, and loving this way?  This ought to help us to better demonstrate the wonderful grace of God to them.

Man and woman of God we have been given God’s word first to point us to the saving work of God through Christ Jesus and then to equip us for His good works of service by using His word for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.  There are also many Christians who believe it is the job of the Pastor to do these things, and I am not qualified.  What we are really saying is we are not equipped to do this or that.

The truth is the word of God equips us and that’s why we must spend more time than just a cursory glance through the Bible.  Don’t get me wrong daily devotions are not bad, but they should not take the place of longer readings, studying, meditation, and journal writing.  Take time to write down what you think this scripture meant to the original audience, to our world today, and then to you personally.  You will find that this type of reflections will begin to grow your hunger for God’s word.  Our discernment as we read it will increase, and we will find more value in God’s word because you have more invested in it, and that investment will pay off.

Paul charges Timothy in the presence of God and Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and kingdom.   Paul instructs Timothy

  1. Preach the Word-it is how the world will learn of God’s great love in Christ and His Salvation.
  2. Be prepared in season and out of season-this is about a lifelong love for God’s word, do not just be prepared in season (like at church, an evangelistic event, or mission trip), but also out of season (anytime) like at the bank, grocery store, work, coffee shop, library, vet’s office, pizza place, or any place or time that you might encounter someone who is dealing with life.
  3. Correct, Rebuke, and Encourage-with great patience and careful instruction-correction and rebuking should always been done in such a way as to also encourage.  Far too often we want to correct or rebuke but are not quick to encourage.  The most effective corrections and rebukes are themselves really not condemnations but encouragements to do something differently or to refocus us to Christ and His ways.  This should also be done with careful instruction.  Careful instruction does not happen without good equipping.

Why is any of this important you might be asking yourself?  What is the deal with this crazy preacher?  It is important because a time is coming and is here when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Sound doctrine is not something that we put up with but grow to love.  It is about growing in maturing in Christ.  Obedience is not something many want to practice.  People will then put around themselves the prophets that will echo their empty words back to them.  They will echo because they are hollow, and the people will set before themselves those who will give words of comfort not words of life.  If you think about it the most often times we hear people speak of “words of comfort” are for grieving a death.  We should be cautious to have comfort as our primary goal, comfort may temporarily alleviate the symptoms of pain but the underlying reality must be dealt with by the only who is able.  An echo is different from having the fullness of God speak through you.

The wisdom received from this approach will only go as far as man’s wisdom or even less the limited desires of a few.  Telling people what they want to hear is not wisdom, unless what they want to hear is from God, anything else is not wisdom and will not lead to life but to death.  Paul just reminded Timothy and us that we should trust the wisdom of the one who is the judge.  If you were to do something to break the law and have to go to court and stand before a judge, it is not a wise or valid defense to say “well my neighbor said it was ok” or “everybody else is doing it” or “it made me happy and therefore it is ok.”   How far do you think these defenses will go?  Are they wise?  It is concerning that Paul is writing this to Timothy who is young in the ministry about believers.  Could this possible be true of believers?…before you think too much about that answer just remember who is the judge and that God’s word is truth.

Too many have, are, and will turn away from the Lord and His truth.  They will turn to myths because they medicate the conscious, making us numb to the disease (dis ease) within while it continues to rot and waste the life we could have in Christ.  Looking for a quick fix and not the cure may bring the illusion of comfort while the reality of death is at the door.  Many would like to live with a pleasant illusion than to face the reality and find life one both sides.

As for Timothy and us…

  • Keep your head in all situations-If not it will betray the wisdom and confidence we have in Christ
  • Endure hardship-tough times will come trust God
  • Do the work of an evangelist-share the gospel
  • Discharge all the duties of your ministry-complete the ministry you are called to.

Church Freedom-October 16, 2013

Church Freedom-October 16, 2013

Romans 12:1-21

Church Freedom

  • We need to understand church freedom.
  • We need to remember we are in the “Free Church” tradition.

Free to Follow Voluntarily

  • Early Baptists were concerned with the nature of the Church.
  • This is the idea behind Believer’s Baptism.
  • Emphasis on Local Church and Universal Church.

-Universal Church-all Christians.

-Local Church-Individual Churches

Free to Govern Obediently

  • Baptists wanted no outside control of local churches.
  • Responsibility must be present.
  • Baptists do practice democratic church polity.
  • Baptist churches are free to govern autonomously.

-They can plan their own style of worship.

-They can determine their own membership.

-Map their own mission strategy.

-Call their own ministers.

-Elect their own ministers.

  • Local Churches do not work together with common goals/projects.

Free to Worship Creatively

  • There is no “Baptist” way to worship.
  • Laity are involved in worship.
  • Baptism and communion/Lord’s Supper are the only two ordinances.  Ordained by Christ Himself.  Matthew 20:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25; Romans 6:3-4)

Free to Minister Responsibly

  • Should be inclusive-all races, gender, classes.
  • All members are ministers!
  • Jesus is our model-Philippians 2:7

Final Thoughts

  • For Baptists the individual is always central, but the individual is always in community.
  • When Baptists determined to baptize only people who have personally something that all Christians need:  they formed the church into an intentional faith community.
  • While other churches attempt to discern the will of the Lord for them in other ways, Baptists try to do so by allowing all members to share in the decision-making process.
  • Baptists believe that, because all believers are priests, it is the duty of all church members to determine the forms of worship that are most appropriate and meaningful for their congregation.
  • Because all believers are priests, all are called to participate in the ministries of the church.  Ideally, each member should participate in the ministry(ies) for which she or he has some gift.

 Final Thoughts

  • Church Freedom like Soul and Bible Freedom needs RESPONSIBILITY!
  • We must guard this freedom, teach it, stress it, practice it, or we will lose it.