Controversies in Baptist Life-October 30, 2013

Controversies in Baptist Life

Not a Silent People, Walter Shurden

Opening Conversation

  1.  “What is it in the Baptist DNA that leads to controversy?”
  2. The 4 Fragile Freedoms lead to controversy.
  3. Freedom leads to controversy.
  4. Our very design as Baptists leads to controversy.
  5. Yet we believe the positives outweigh the negatives.
  6. The biggest issue is how far is too far.  When does diversity become heresy?
  7. In the SBC one side longs for doctrinal uniformity and the other side longed for functional unison.

Controversy:  When Did Baptists Begin?

So where did we come from?  We have learned that 400 years ago 1609 we started in England.  We understand we have connections to Anabaptists in Europe (Radical Reformers).  We come from the Church of England and those who separated from that church.   We have talked about our messy story but there have been those who have questioned and disagreed with what we have discussed.

  • The Whitsitt Battle–  Dr. W.H. Whitsitt was president and professor of SBTS  and had to leave SBTS in 1899.  What was wrong?  He taught what I taught you but people didn’t like it.  This was an argument about how old Baptists were.  He traced us to the 1600s in England but others said we go back to the 1st century and are the true church.
    • He pointed to 1641 when Baptists began to immerse (we poured when we started in 1609).
    • He believed we ‘recovered’ believer’s baptism.
    • He believed it was wrong to trace ourselves to the first century.
    • Whitsitt faced attacks in state papers (Baptist papers).  People accused him of saying Baptists invented immersion which was not what he said.
    • The faculty supported their president.  They begged the convention to support him.
    • A resolution was passed at the KBC in 1897 against him and four other states joined in- LA, AK, TX and MI.
    • The SBC met in 1898 and the issue came up in Norfolk, VA.  There was a move to kick the SBTS out of the SBC.  The seminary could lose all her money.  SO Whitsitt left to save the school.  He then went to U of Richmond and taught until 1909.
  • Baptist Church Succession Movement
    • The “Father of Baptist Church Succession” was a minister named G.H. Orchard.
    • 1823 he found himself talking to a minister who said Baptists were more modern.
  • THE ISSUE– A true unbroken church from the NT or starting in the 1600s.
  • Landmarkism
    • J.R. Graves came on the scene in TN.  He died in 1893.
    • He was the leader of the Landmarkist view.
    • This lead to folks who would not allow non-Baptists to preach in their churches, accept baptism from anyone, etc.
    • In Graves day folks were competitive and denominations were trying to prove they were the best/closest to the NT.
    • This view spread as ministers moved to other places but it is centering in KY and TN.

Controversy:  What about the Heathen?

  • Does God want us to take the gospel to the world? The Mission controversy.
  • The Anti-Missionary Movement
    • This controversy rocked between 1820-1840 before the SBC existed.
    • Yet in this frontier were we grew those Baptists moved to become anti-missions. Wow.
  • American Frontier brings jealousy
    • Organized missionary work began in 1814, Baptists were doing missions.
    • Luther Rice helped lead to the Triennial Convention.
    • Luther traveled around the nation to rally the cause.
    • 1820-1830 the anti-missionary movement hit a high.
    • Major reason- jealousy.  The frontier preachers were uneducated and some couldn’t read.  They were jealous of these guys from the East and didn’t trust these educated guys.
    • The Urban East VS the Frontier.
    • FIRST—This was really a suspicion of ministerial education.
    • SECOND—This was also a suspicion of ministerial organizations.  Are they really taking the money for missions or for themselves? Where is this money going?  This didn’t want to see churches lose their independence.
    • Money- big issue.  Baptists disagree about how to spend it.
  • The impact of Calvinism
    • IF you buy into this then you have a backing to walk away from missions.
    • C has always been in many Baptist churches.  Usually modified and allowing missions but hard core didn’t allow it.
    • Birth of Primitive Baptists.
    • Popular C preachers like Daniel Parker.  The 2 Seed in the Spirit Predestinarian Baptists.

Controversy:  What about other Races?

  • Slavery- the SBC started over this issue.  As many denominations divided over slavery the SBC did.   We never reunited with those in the North.

–        Can missionaries have slaves?

–        Is slavery Biblical?  Folks used the Bible on both sides.

–        Denominations divide!

–        Baptists have had wrapped up their identity with being Southern.

  • Civil Rights-Didn’t end with slavery. Baptists have poor history with race relations. 

–        How are race relations today?

–        How do we confront racism?

–        Hispanic, Asian, etc?

Controversy:  What about other Denominations?

  • Baptism– do we accept it from other denominations?
  • Communion- open, closed, or close?
  • Sharing pulpits
  • These issues come up because of Landmarkism  and other ideas from our past. 
  • Baptists tend to have a close system.
  • We didn’t relate to other groups much.  Fear of liberalism. 
  • This goes back to uniformity of doctrine versus functionality.
  • Can we work with those we disagree?
  • The culture is changing more folks are coming into the church that are not Baptist and this is leading to many conversations.

Controversy:  What about Theology? (Theology , Genesis, and Moderate/Fundamentalist Battle)  Mainly in the1029’s

–        Higher Biblical Criticism, Evolution/science issues, Change in culture brings controversy.

–        Fear of education.  Fear of liberalism.

–        The publication of the Fundamentals.  Five points published and sent out for ministers to read.

  • Divinely inspired and inerrant Bible
  • Deity of Jesus and virgin birth
  • Substitutionary atonement
  • Christ’s bodily resurrection
  • Personal, preminnial and imminent second coming.

–        Most Fundmentalists left the NBC.  Many other groups started.

  • Genesis Controversy

–        How do we read this in light of science and history?

–        Broadman Bible controversy

Controversy:  New Battles

  • Homosexuality, Calvinism, Charismatic Gifts, More political battles, Church and national politics, Alcohol, Emerging Church

Labels

Fundamentalist, Conservative, Moderate

Liberal

Southern Baptist Convention conservative resurgence/Take Over

The unity of the SBC since its founding in 1845 has been basically functional rather than doctrinal. The founders wrote: “We have constructed for our basis no new creed; acting in this matter upon a Baptist aversion for all creeds but the Bible.” Baptists have generally avoided authoritative statements of doctrinal belief (creeds). The creed becomes a list of beliefs one must subscribe to in order to belong. Instead, Baptists historically have used “confessions of faith” arrived at by group consensus instead of imposed by higher authorities. “The new denomination was not to be united by theological uniformity.” The unifying reality “was missionary, not doctrinal, in nature.”[7]

An alternative vision was announced by conservative movement leaders from 1979 to 1987. In a formal statement, they declared their commitment to “doctrinal unity in functional diversity,” placing an emphasis on strict doctrinal uniformity.[7] Conservatives argued that their beliefs did indeed represent a consensus among Southern Baptists. These individuals felt that while early Southern Baptists agreed on basic theological issues, by the 1970s many of these beliefs had come under attack in schools owned and operated by the Southern Baptist Convention.[1][8][9]

Controversy chronology

1976. Paul Pressler, a Houston judge, and Paige Patterson, then president of Criswell College in Dallas, met in New Orleans and planned the political strategy to elect like-minded conservative/fundamentalist Convention presidents and in turn members of SBC boards. The strategy was extremely successful.[2]

1978. W. A. Criswell and Adrian Rogers (both now deceased), along with Judge Pressler and Paige Patterson, met with a group of determined pastors and laymen at a hotel near the Atlanta airport to launch the resurgence/takeover. They understood William Powell’s contention that electing the president of the Southern Baptist Convention was the key to redirecting the entirety of the denomination. The Atlanta group determined to elect Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, as the first Conservative Resurgence president of the Convention.[3]

1979 Houston convention. The 1979 SBC meeting in Houston, Texas[18], produced two important developments:

  1. The concept of Inerrancy. Southern Baptists applied a new word, “inerrancy, ” to their understanding of Scripture. Since 1650 the adjective most used by Baptists to describe their view of the Bible had been “infallible”; however, the term “inerrancy” had been implied in the 1833 New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith (“truth without any mixture of error”) in wording that, by this time, had already been incorporated into the 1925 and 1963 editions of the Baptist Faith and Message. The word “inerrancy” was also used by the prominent Southern Baptist scholar A. T. Robertson in the late nineteenth century. Some Reformed theologians in Europe had utilized the term “inerrancy” in the same way that North American theologians used “infallibility.” Many conservative leaders championed the word “inerrancy” in this phase of the ongoing controversy—a phase that would later become known as the “inerrancy controversy.”
  2. Orchestration from the sky boxes. Also coming out of the 1979 Houston Convention was a well-organized political campaign, using precinct style politics, to wrest control of the SBC. Such tactics were not completely unprecedented; Jimmy Allen had openly campaigned for the office just two years earlier. Judge Pressler and theologian Patterson were accused of directing the affairs of the 1979 meeting from sky boxes high above the Summit where the SBC was meeting. Pressler said such accusations were false.[9] The election on the first ballot of the more conservative pastor Adrian Rogers began the ten-year process. Ever since that meeting, the right wing of the denomination has prevailed in the SBC elections. There has been an unbroken succession of conservative-fundamentalist presidents. Each has appointed more conservative individuals, who in turn appointed others, who nominated the trustees, who elected the agency heads and institutional presidents, including those of the seminaries.[3] Throughout the 1980s, Conservative Resurgence advocates gained control over the SBC leadership at every level from the administration to key faculty at their seminaries and slowly turned the SBC towards more conservative positions on many social issues. By early 1989 nearly every one of the SBC boards had a majority of Takeover people on it.[2] The book entitled The Fundamentalist Takeover in the Southern Baptist Convention[2] cites the following as further key events in the resurgence:

1984: The SBC voted in Kansas City to adopt a strongly worded resolution against women in the pastorate. The rationale cited was that “man was first in creation and the woman was first in the Edenic fall.”[19]:p.159

1987: The president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, resigned after the trustees voted to hire only faculty members who follow the Baptist Faith and Message.[2]

1987: The SBC voted in St. Louis to adopt a report from “The Peace Committee” that had been set up in 1985. The report identified the roots of the controversy as primarily theological, and called on Baptist seminaries to teach in accordance with the Bible.

1988: At the SBC Convention in San Antonio, a resolution was passed critical of the liberal interpretation of the “priesthood of the believer” and “soul competency.” Moderates and liberals accused conservatives of elevating the pastor to the position of authority in the church he serves.

1990: Roy Honeycutt, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, was accused by a twenty-five-year-old new trustee of “not believing the Bible.” The trustee cited some of Honeycutt’s own writings as evidence. This same trustee would later become chairman of the seminary board shortly after Resurgency leader Al Mohler became president.[20]

1991: At their October meeting, the Foreign Mission Board trustees voted to defund the Baptist Theological Seminary in Rüschlikon, Switzerland.

1992: Keith Parks, president of the Foreign Mission Board, retired. In his thirteen years as president, missionaries entered forty new countries with a total of 3,918 missionaries.

1992: Lloyd Elder, president of the Sunday School Board, resigned under pressure and was replaced by former SBC president Jimmy Draper, a staunch conservative. A total of 159 employees retired (voluntarily or involuntarily) in November 1992.

1993: Al Mohler was appointed president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1993 and “and hailed as a hero of SBC fundamentalism.”[21]

1994: Russell Dilday, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth for fifteen years, was fired abruptly and trustees changed the locks on the president’s office immediately, thus denying him access. The day before, these same trustees gave Dilday a favorable job performance evaluation.[22] These trustees sent letters to pastors and directors of missions to explain their reason for firing Dilday, saying he failed to support the resurgence at the Convention and that he held liberal views of the scripture.

The Seminary faculty disputed these charges. In a March 22 statement:  “During his administration, his doctrinal stance was completely consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message statement, which is the seminary’s article of faith. The theology faculty affirms Russell H. Dilday for leading the seminary with a spirit of Christlikeness and a desire to be inclusive with regard to the finest theological and biblical perspectives represented in the Southern Baptist Convention. We deeply regret his firing as president of the seminary.”[22]

1997: In October a forty-year staff member was fired at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for writing a private letter to the President of the SBC disagreeing with a statement he had made while speaking in chapel. Also in October 1997, a professor of systematic theology at Southwestern Theological Seminary was relieved of his teaching duties because he “voiced dissent about actions of the administration of the institution.”

1998: In June, Paige Patterson was elected president of the SBC without opposition. The man who helped plan the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention was now its leader. Jerry Falwell, who had criticized Southern Baptists in the days of moderate-liberal rule, attended his first SBC Convention as a messenger along with others from his church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Also the SBC amended the Baptist Faith and Message by adding a complementarian statement about male-priority gender roles in marriage, including an adverbial modifier to the verb “submit”: a wife is to “submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband,” followed by a lengthy description of a husband’s duty to “love his wife unconditionally.”

2000: The SBC adopted a new Baptist Faith and Message statement. Baptist historian Dr. Walter Shurden says this 2000 version, used as a creedal statement by SBC agencies, elevates the Bible to a position above that of Jesus himself and downplays the doctrines of priesthood of each believer and local church autonomy.[23] Conservatives contend that the statement accurately reflects the beliefs of most Southern Baptists.

2002: Jerry Rankin and the IMB trustees began requiring missionaries to sign their assent to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Many missionaries resigned, and the requirement was said to “undermine missionary morale.”[23]

2004: The Southern Baptist Convention withdrew as a member of the Baptist World Alliance(BWA).

2005: The Baptist World Alliance celebrated its 100th Anniversary in Birmingham, England, with 13,000 Baptists from throughout the world. Absent was its former largest member group, the Southern Baptist Convention. BWA leaders prayed “that unity may one day be restored.”

Liberal and moderate reactions

Liberal reaction

A relatively small group of congregations split away in 1987 to form the liberal Alliance of Baptists. With more than 2,000 individual members in 2010, 32 domestic and international mission partners, and 130 affiliate congregations the Alliance is an organization of Baptists promoting what they call progressive theologies, radical inclusivity, justice-seeking, ecumenism, and mission partnerships around the world.[24]

Moderate reaction
   

In 1990, another schism occurred in which a large number of moderate congregations formed the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), originally organized as a “convention within the convention” to support causes not controlled by the majority within the SBC.[26]

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is a quasi-denomination in that it ordains both men and women as clergy, has theological seminaries which it directly sponsors and which support the moderate-conservative biblical interpretations of the CBF. It is a fellowship of Baptist Christins and churches who share a very similar passion for the Great Commission of Jesus Christ and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. As of 2010 there were approximately 1,900 churches affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. It was partnering with 15 theological schools, 19 autonomous state and regional organizations and more than 150 ministry organizations worldwide. Based in Atlanta, the CBF has an annual budget of $16 million.[27]

The exodus of these dissenting elements allowed for additional changes to the convention which culminated in yet another round of significant changes to the Baptist Faith and Message[28] at the 2000 SBC Annual Meeting.

In addition to the groups mentioned above, additional new entities have come into existence to champion what liberals and some old-line leaders believe to be historic Baptist principles and cooperative spirit abandoned by SBC leaders. These include the Baptist Center for Ethics, Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM), the national news journal Baptists Today, the Associated Baptist Press, Smyth & Helwys Publishers, some fourteen new Baptist seminaries and divinity schools, and other entities. Ironically, many supporters of these new entities used to accuse conservatives of “disloyalty” when they used non-SBC literature and supported non-SBC schools.

State conventions react

Because each level of Baptist life is autonomous, changes at the national level do not require approval or endorsement by the state conventions or local associations. The majority of state conventions have continued to cooperate with the SBC. However, the state conventions in Texas and Virginia openly challenged the new directions and announced a “dual affiliation” with contributions to both the SBC’s Cooperative Program and the CBF.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), the largest of the Southern Baptist state conventions, did not vote in 1998 to align itself with the CBF, despite some reports to the contrary. The BGCT did allow individual churches to designate their missions dollars to a number of different missions organizations, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. One of the stated reasons for doing so was their objection to proposed changes in the 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message,[28] which the BGCT said made the document sound like a “creed, ” in violation of historic Baptist tradition which opposed the use of creeds.

In a reversal from the national convention (where the moderates and liberals left and the conservatives/fundamentalist resurgents stayed), many Texas conservatives (fundamentalists) formed their own state convention, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Local congregations either disassociated completely from BGCT or sought “dual alignment” with both groups. Yet, other congregations (the vast majority conservative but not fundamentalist) solely align themselves with the BGCT. The BGCT is the much larger of the two state conventions, and universities such as Baylor only receive money from the BGCT. Similarly, fundamentalist-conservative Baptists in Virginia formed the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.

The Virginia and Texas SBC Executive Committees receive and distribute funds from two conventions—one the traditional/original convention (BGAV and BGCT) and one new one that is only SBC (SBCVA and SBCTX). The Missouri SBC Executive Committee declined to receive money from the new more moderate Missouri group. They said it was not in Southern Baptists’ best interest to cooperate with another group opposed to the conservative leadership of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Individual churches in the newer convention may contribute to the SBC directly.

Assessments

The American denominational landscape has experienced significant shifts in recent times, but one major story stands out among them all—the massive redirection of the Southern Baptist Convention. America’s largest evangelical denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention was reshaped, reformed, and restructured over the last three decades, and at an incredibly high cost.

– Albert Mohler, an architect of the Conservative Resurgence[3]

…the takeover issue was never whether Baptists believed the Bible. The issue is and has always been Creedalism and Fundamentalism. Baptists have always been basically conservative, believing the Bible to be true, trustworthy, and authoritative. There have been individuals who deviated from that mindset but they did not last long among us. They went on to other movements in the Christian family.

– Jimmy R. Allen (President, SBC, 1978-79)[29]

Critics of the takeover faction assert that the “civil war” among Southern Baptists has been about power lust and right-wing secular politics. Dr. Russell H. Dilday, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1978 to 1994, has analogized what he calls “the carnage of the past quarter century of denominational strife in our Baptist family” to “friendly fire” where casualties come as a result of the actions of fellow Baptists, not at the hands of the enemy. He writes that “Some of it has been accidental, ” but that “some has been intentional.” He characterizes the struggle as being “far more serious than a controversy, ” but rather a “self-destructive, contentious, one-sided feud that at times took on combative characteristics.”[30]

Former president of the SBC Jimmy R. Allen writes that the resurgence/takeover leaders searched for a battle cry to which Baptists would respond. They found it in the fear that we were not “believing the Bible.” They focused on the few who interpreted the Bible more liberally and exaggerated that fact. Allen’s assessment is that “It was like hunting rabbits with howitzers. They destroyed more than they accomplished.”[29]

A spokesman for the new leadership of the SBC, Dr. Morris Chapman, claims that the root of the controversy has been about theology.[31] He maintains that the controversy has “returned the Southern Baptist Convention to its historic commitments.” Speaking as president of the “new” SBC’s Executive Committee, Chapman cites as examples some of the Conservative Resurgency’s claims:

  • Baptist colleges and seminaries were producing more and more liberalism in writing, proclamation, and publication
  • The adoption of a hermeneutic of suspicion which elevates human reason above the clear statements of the Bible
  • The continued influence of many teachers and leaders who did not hold to a high view of Scripture.

While resurgence/takeover architect Paige Patterson believes the controversy has achieved its objective of returning the SBC from an alleged “leftward drift” to a more conservative stance, he admits to having some regrets. Patterson points to vocational disruption, hurt, sorrow, and disrupted friendships as evidence of the price that the controversy has exacted.”Friendships and sometimes family relationships have been marred. Churches have sometimes been damaged even though local church life has proceeded for the most part above the fray and often remains largely oblivious to it. No one seriously confessing the name of Jesus can rejoice in these sorrows, ” Patterson writes.”I confess that I often second guess my own actions and agonized over those who have suffered on both sides, including my own family.”[12]

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The Faith Family Portrait…Is it Picture Perfect?-October 28, 2013-Annual Meeting

The Faith Family Portrait…Is it Picture Perfect?-October 28, 2013-Annual Meeting

It is getting to the time of year for many families to take pictures to give at the holidays or as Christmas Cards.  Many churches too have directories that feature the families of the church.  It is wonderful to look at these pictures and see how each family has changed but also remained the same.  Just like with these personal snapshots or directory pictures they give us a glimpse over time of these families.  So many families will put on their “Sunday best” and comb the children’s hair and get ready to put their best foot forward for a few moments.

As a pastor I have often wondered what it might look like to the congregations if they  could see themselves every Sunday morning.  It is a weekly snapshot that your pastor sees each and every week.  Just like those pictures, you can dress up them up however you want but that will not change reality.  Somethings will remain the same and some will change (good or bad).  The family in those photos, unless you are a twin, each will bear some similar appearance to the ones who helped to give them life.  This is true for both our families and our family in Christ.

If you have flipped through the afternoon television you may have noticed shows about family and fatherhood.  I do not recommend spending a lot of time watching them.  I did find a sound bite that made sense to me.  A young woman was trying to get this man to admit he was the father of her child.  Although most of the studio audience and the viewing audience could easily see his resemblance to this pretty little girl he was in denial.  The host of the said to the young man that he had the results of his paternity test, and DNA doesn’t lie.  DNA doesn’t lie!  What is the DNA of Christ in us as the family of faith?

Jesus doesn’t allow room for ambiguity, either with His DNA, His Identity, or His legacy.  Jesus makes is clear who He is and where He is from.  John’s gospel begins describing the deity of Christ before creation, dwelling with God, and culminates in verse 14 of chapter 1.

“14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

He came from the Father and lives with us.  In seeing His glory it is like the glory of the Father.  If seeing is believing Jesus is the real deal.  The Son was full of the Father which is grace and truth.

“17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”  John 5:17-18

I love here that Jesus’ defense of Himself for healing on the Sabbath is that God can heal on any day He chooses.  That healing is the work of God and I am just working in the family business.  It is important to note for me they never seem to quest seem to question how is it that Jesus is able to heal but why and when, Jesus’ defense is always the How.  It is because of His DNA.  The Pharisees were mad about the Sabbath breaking, but ready to kill over perceived blasphemy.  In calling God his Father, Jesus was saying that He and the Father were one in the same.

As the narrative speeds up later in John

30 I and the Father are one.”-John 10:30

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’[a]? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”-John 10:36-38

Jesus offers as His proof things that only God could do.  Is it the possible that to one looking in that they can be so angered by pride, position, or tradition that they are unable to see the picture clearly.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know[a] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.-John 14:5-14

Everything that Jesus is and has done is revealing of His identity as God’s.  Folks the DNA doesn’t lie, He is God’s Son.  Our DNA is the fact that the substance is the same.  It is also possible like first story of the talk show to have the same DNA but have not come to terms with the identity that DNA reveals.

In our culture today most children take on the surname of the Father.  It not in our time this would have certainly been true in the time of Jesus, that the identity came from the father.  A young boy would likely be in the same profession of family business.  Think of names like Millers and Smiths.

Identity is so important because this is the issue of belief.  A person could be born of royalty and separated from birth and without knowledge of the DNA would likely not believe it, and miss out on the benefits of the kingdom, or worse they could have the DNA proof and still not trust that this is their identity.

At this point in the sermon it would be good to note that Jesus is the truest picture of God revealed to us.  Jesus very life demonstrated and embodied all of who God is.  Jesus is the centerpiece of all of human history.  He is the one that reveals to us the truest picture of God and also God’s desire for a relationship with us.  His very life and teaching demonstrates that the family portrait is intended to include more family members, some that either do not know their DNA or know it but don’t identify with it.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  Romans 8:14-17

Children are a manifestation of love.  The Son’s appearance in the world is a manifestation of the love of God in the world.

3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  1 John 3:1

It is the great love lavished on us, that we are called children, because we are.  People don’t see the family resemblance because they have never sen our Father.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

Don’t bicker or fight with one another as children about who is the favored child.  Do not participate in family feuds but understand that our DNA in the blood of Christ makes us God’s children and co-heirs to the kingdom.  Let our identity be formed by the true image and picture of our Father found in Jesus Christ.

The family portrait is also about legacy.  Legacy is about continuing to do the work of our Father in the Family business with our brothers and sisters the way He demonstrated it to us.  The legacy is tied more to our substance-DNA, our identity, than just did the work get done.  In the family of faith we must work together as Christ.

It is Christ that holds all together, it is His sacrifice that gives us a common DNA in His blood.  It is in Christ’s life that we find the reality of what it is to be a Son and Daughter of God lived out.

Just as in these portraits there will be change with time, but there is always a visual similarity.  The faith family portrait includes all believers understanding that what makes us family is not if we all look the same but that we share the same blood, given a clear understanding of our identity as children of God.

The Faith Family Portrait is a body, ONE, but has  many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:12

In regards to the Associate we can call each other brothers and sisters but we won’t truly live like it.  Until we believe that we are all connected by DNA in the blood of Christ we will never truly be brothers and sisters.

Praise to the Giver of All Good Things-October 27, 2013

Praise to the Giver of All Good Things-October 27, 2013

Psalm 65

What is it that God desires?  God desires that His name will be praised, and that His work would be completed or fulfilled.

We praise God for His Salvation, His creation, and His bountiful, fruitful, blessing.

God answers prayers gives forgiveness and the ability to approach God’s house.

All men will come.  When we were OVERWHELMED by sins, you forgave our transgressions.  It is important here to consider that most of us think we can manage our lives and that we have our sins under control.  This is perhaps one of the greatest barriers to finding full delivery from our sins.  We do not want to acknowledge that we have a sin problem.  When we push back the idea that there is or could be sin in our lives, we are most likely not going to give that sin to the only one who can do and has done something about it.  It is in this that we come to appreciate and understand the greatness of our praise is magnified when we understand the fulness of God’s grace.  He forgave our sins by paying them in full.

We are blessed that He chose and brought near to live in your courts!  What a blessing to know that He chooses us, loves us, saves us, and desires for us to dwell where He dwells for us to be in His courts, the courts of the kingly place.  There is no bad place that is in the presence of the Lord.  The Lord and His goodness reign forever.

When we are filled it is not by our own hand or power but is because of the greatness and bounty of God.

The creativity that God uses at creation is the same creativity that God uses for Salvation.  Creation reveals the awesome deeds of God and they are the praise of the Lord.

The focus is always on God.  It is God that created, redeemed, loved, and provided a way for salvation.  God is the gracious host who invites us to live in His house and eat at His table.  Nothing is beyond God’s dominion, power, and sovereignty and all of creation praises its maker and so should we.

We convinced that today that we have or should have things, “under control.”  If this is true then people  are tempted to praise themselves and not God.

“the loss of wonder, the in ability to sing songs of praise about the reliability of life, is both a measure and cause of our profanation of life.” -Walter Brueggemann

Who is the only on our praise is due.

It is not us, or the government of the United States or any national power or ruler that rules the world.  God rules the world!  Citizenship in the reign of God allows persons to look beyond mere national security to the one who is the security of all the ends of the earth.  It is our great God that desires and deserves our praise.