A church not in friendly cooperation with the SBC cannot seat messengers. What must a church do in order to be in “friendly cooperation” and thereby to seat messengers? Among other things, such a church must have “a faith and practice which closely identifies with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith.”
This local-church non-connectionalism simply says that two churches can do something together without taking on any responsibility before God for the other church…
This idea is woven into Article XIV (“Cooperation”) and Article XV (“The Christian and the Social Order”) of The Baptist Faith & Message. Those articles remind churches that it does not compromise a church’s faith to cooperate with other churches who differ theologically.
Quoting from the Baptist Faith & Message, he elaborates:
“Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people.”
“Cooperation is desirable…when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.”
Thus, so long as the ACTIVITIES do not violate conscience, the mere cooperation does not do so.
Let me say, first of all, that I agree with all of this. But as I was reading it, I also thought there might be one false implication worth warning against. This is not an implication that Bart embraces in his thread. It’s just one that some readers might be tempted to draw themselves. Here it is. While it is true that Southern Baptist churches in friendly cooperation may have many theological differences among them, it does not follow that all theological differences are therefore a matter of indifference to our cooperation.
Article 4 of the SBC Constitution has something profound to say about cooperation among our churches. Here it is:
While independent and sovereign in its own sphere, the Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, associations, or convention.
There are two parts to this, and both are crucial. Let’s take the second part first. The second part guarantees the autonomy of local churches. The SBC does not have authority over any Baptist church (or any other church for that matter). Those churches really are independent and may run themselves how ever they see fit. Hopefully, they will order their congregations under Christ’s Lordship as revealed in Holy Scripture. But even if they do not, the SBC has no authority over those churches to make them do or believe anything.
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“If You Should Suffer for Righteousness’ Sake” – (1 Peter 3:8-17) – Words from Peter to the Pilgrim Church (Part Seven)By Kim Riddlebarger — 9 months ago
In modern America, Christians are thought be self-righteous spoil-sports who reject science, deny people the right to marry and sleep with whomever they want, and who think we alone are right. The reality is that if you identify yourself as a Christian you will encounter similar situations to those Peter is describing. People will curse and revile you because they hate Jesus and all he stands for. We must be prepared to give a defense whenever challenged, and yet to do so in the right way. The good news is that Jesus is still Lord, we are still his elect exiles, we are sprinkled with his blood, set apart for his purposes, and heirs to all of his promises. And we know this to be true because of a bloody cross and an empty tomb.
It is foolish to attempt to deny reality. The fact is Christians are going to be misunderstood, mistrusted, and persecuted precisely because we are believers in Jesus Christ. Those unbelievers, secularists, and pagans we encounter do not understand our faith in Christ. They feel no need whatsoever to believe in Jesus, and when they do understand what we believe, they openly reject it–especially Christian teaching about salvation being found only in Jesus (an exclusive truth claim), as well as Christian teaching about sexual ethics. Whenever this conflict between Christians and unbelievers occurs–and it will–how are we to respond?
In chapter 3 of his first epistle, Peter instructs us to seek to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ in such situations, rather than focusing upon responding to any personal insults directed our way. Christians must learn how to deal with those who have power over us in the civil kingdom without being afraid of our oppressors, who will themselves answer to our Lord. We must learn to respond in such a way that we continually point those who are contentious toward us back to the suffering servant, Jesus. According to Peter, Christians must be prepared for these encounters with both the right answers and the right attitude.
Setting the Context
In our series on 1 Peter, so far, we have made our way into chapter three and we are presently considering Peter’s instructions to Christians of the Diaspora. To set the context, recall that Peter’s epistle is sent to a group of Christian exiles in Asia Minor, who have been displaced from their homes by a decree from Claudius, the previous Roman emperor. Peter begins his letter of encouragement to these struggling sojourners by reminding them that God has caused them to be born again, they have been set apart (sanctified) by God, and therefore sprinkled by the blood of Jesus–ensuring their sins are forgiven. Also, Christians are to live holy lives before the Lord so as to silence those critical of our faith.
Peter reminds his hearers that although they are facing difficult times from their pagan neighbors, in God’s sight, these people are elect exiles, a chosen race, and spiritual house, indwelt by the Spirit of the living God. Although they are citizens of Rome, they simultaneously possess a heavenly citizenship and are heirs to all the things promised them by God. But their heavenly citizenship will inevitably bring them into conflict with the unbelievers around them, and so the apostle seeks to prepare his readers to deal with those who reject Jesus, and who do not understand why Christians believe and do the things they do.
In 1 Peter 2:11-3:7, Peter addresses three of the main elements of the Greco-Roman household code–an unwritten code dating back perhaps to Aristotle, and which defines a number of the social relationships upon which Greco-Roman society was built. These relationships include the authority of civil government, the relationship between slaves and masters, as well as the relationship between husbands and wives. Christians too believe that these matters are important and God has addressed a number of them in his word. Yet, in each one of these societal relationships, and under current circumstances, Christians have little power or control. Peter’s readers were facing tremendous persecution from their pagan neighbors as the elect exiles of the Diaspora of Asia Minor.
Throughout section of his epistle, Peter exhorts Christians to submit to the Roman civil authorities, even those governors then persecuting Peter’s readers–except in those cases where civil authorities demand that Christians violate the will of God. When this happens, Christians are to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). In order to make things bearable, Peter instructs Christian slaves and servants to submit to their masters, even if their masters are cruel. Finally Peter exhorts Christian wives to submit to their husbands, even if their husbands are not Christians. At the same time, Peter insists that Christian husbands not view their greater physical strength as a reason for believing their wives to be inferior–as the Greco-Roman household code held. Rather, Christian husbands are to see their wives as weaker vessels who require “understanding” (the knowledge that wives are to be treated as taught in Scripture), and who are worthy of honor–which means to be treated with the same respect to which all divine image bearers and co-heirs with Christ are entitled.
Christianity is Subversive
In the light of Christianity’s conflict with various aspects of the Greco-Roman household codes, we forget just how revolutionary Christianity was in the first century–especially in regard to sexual ethics and to societal relationships. In all three of these cases he mentions, Peter urges Christians to respect lawful authority and submit to it upon two grounds; 1). We submit to those in authority over us in order to be a witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, who demonstrated great humility in those times he suffered and was persecuted, and 2). We submit to those over us to deflate or remove any objections those in authority over us might have, so that Christians receive better treatment from the hands of those who oppress them.
In verses 21–25 of chapter 2, Peter paraphrases the prophecy of Isaiah 52:13-53:12, which speaks of Jesus as the “suffering servant” of the Lord, whose example we are to follow. Peter writes,
. . . to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Since vengeance belongs to the Lord, Christians are not to retaliate in anger against those who persecute them. Instead, Christians are to follow the example of Jesus, and endure our suffering patiently, knowing that Jesus’s own suffering preceded his resurrection and ascension.
Beginning in verse 8 of chapter 3, Peter concludes his discussion of the Christian’s relationship to the Greco-Roman household code (going back to chapter 2:11) by summing up what a Christian’s attitude should be toward those who persecute them during difficult times. Peter then lists those things Christians ought to do so as to encourage and strengthen one another during the difficult times such as those Peter has been describing. The apostle confirms and illustrates these points by appealing to the words of Psalm 34–a Psalm to which Peter alludes throughout and quotes in this section of his letter.
A Unity of Mind
In verses 8-9, Peter writes, “finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” When Christians manifest these qualities within the church, as well as in their dealings with those outside the church (especially those persecuting them) Christians are not as prone to division, and will mutually encourage one another–something very important during times and trial and persecution.
The first matter on Peter’s list is “unity of mind.” Christians are exhorted to be like-minded, which means they should believe the same things, and work hard to avoid division within their own ranks. Sadly, struggling and persecuted Christians are prone to division because during trying times people’s sinful behavior shows itself in seeking to do things their way, while ignoring the circumstances of others. This is one of the reasons why “confessional” Protestant churches have extensive doctrinal standards as a means of being “like-minded.” Our own doctrinal standards are known as the “Three Forms of Unity,” because Reformed churches unite around confessing particular doctrines.
Next, Peter instructs Christians to be sympathetic to one another. Paul expands the meaning of this a bit in Romans 12:15, where he writes, “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Christians should strive to put themselves in the shoes of their brothers and sisters, and genuinely care about the needs of others. Churches will be filled with people, who at any given time, are experiencing the great joys of life (marriages, births, anniversaries) while others endure the dreaded events of life (job loss, sickness, and death). These are things of which we are to be aware, and we are to respond accordingly. We “rejoice with those who rejoice,” and we “weep with those who weep.”
Peter also exhorts Christians to demonstrate “brotherly love” (philadelphoi). Peter’s main point here is that the church is the New Israel, and its members share a common brotherhood which unites us in deep and powerful ways–for many of us, our bond to our brothers and sisters in Christ can be deeper than our ties to family members. A church family is a wonderful thing. As God loves us in Jesus Christ (vertical), so too we are to love all those who are likewise the objects of God’s love (horizontal). This kind of brotherly love is not a shallow demonstration of love typical of much of American Christianity–those kumbaya moments when we just wanna hug everybody–but is manifest in concrete acts on behalf of others. We love our brothers and sisters when we watch their kids when there is a need, when we send meals or words of encouragement when someone is ill, or when we help those who need help (which is why we have deacons). This is not only a blessing to God’s people, it is a powerful witness to those outside the church who are watching our every move.
Christians are to have a tender heart, which is closely related to sympathy. A tender heart alerts us to the needs of others. In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul ties this kind of tender-heartedness to forgiveness, which we are to extend to others who have wronged us, and which we receive back in return from those whom we have wronged. In Ephesians 4:32, Paul writes, “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
By Chris Thomas — 2 years ago
Left dormant for too long, left to the buffeting effects of wind and rain, waiting out the scorching summers and unattended winters, my faith begins to stink. I had foolishly thought that time would be the vehicle of sanctification, that being an older Christian would automatically make me a more Christ-like Christian. But it hasn’t. The veneer on my faith looked uncomfortably like the veneer on our shack.
The excitement ebbed away with my first breath. Now, to be honest, I’m not an overly excitable guy; I’m fairly reserved in my displays of emotion, but I had been undeniably excited, that much was clear. But not any more.
A week or two earlier, my wife and I had purchased on old van, circa late 70’s, that had been permanently parked on a slab of concrete, wrapped in old corrugated iron, and had numerous little extensions tacked onto it over the last 30 years or so. Our intention was to make some small renovations, tidy it up, and use it as a beach house retreat for family holidays, and as a place for others in need of some Sabbath rest to have an inexpensive break away. The location is stunning. Nestled among the Australian bush landscape, overlooking a quiet stretch of water that winds its way out into the Pacific Ocean, sits our little shack. In my mind, the primary vision was wrapped in all the potential, the finished product, the place where I and others could rest. Of course, somewhere in the back of my consciousness was the annoying voice of the realist the dwells within, “You got a fair bit of work here, mate. It’s not going to be easy.”
I’d say that my sense of expectation was most akin to the hopes and dreams of my youth—full of visions for how thing will be, without giving much thought for the journey required to get there. I recall the zeal of my early 20’s, the vision I’d constructed of my victorious Christian life, the ministries I’d have transformed, and maybe even built. I remember thinking about how much easier my Christian life would be when I was older, when I’d conquered youthful lusts, had overcame the temptations that assailed me, and looked more like Jesus than I did then. I guess I must have thought that with enough time, things would get better, as though the passing of years would, in and of themselves, achieve something that I longed for.
But now, here I am looking at my Beach House—the passing of time had not been kind. Of course, there was a kind of rustic charm, a weathered patina that told a story of the years that etched themselves into it—yet there was no mistaking it, more time was not the cure for what ails my crumbling little shack.
By Kendall Lankford — 10 months ago
Sometimes, the Lord will lay it on your heart to do something you usually would not do. To get outside your comfort zone, follow Him into the uncomfortable, and declare His Gospel in ways you could not imagine. Be open to whatever He calls you to do, be engaged in His Kingdom at every level, and pray that we will see it expand.
As a wild-eyed, inquisitive young lad, I often found myself in very precarious situations. With a couple of green acres of the Piedmont plot to plod around and enough imagination to get me into a heap of trouble, it’s a wonder I made it out of childhood alive. From crashing bicycles, catching black widows in dixie cups, climbing and falling out of trees, and pouring gasoline into the underground nests of unsuspecting miner bees, my younger years were filled with all sorts of unsupervised and unsafe adventures.
If there was a limit, I was the one testing it. If there was a line, I was usually crossing it. If there was some cue the average person was supposed to pick up on, I was oblivious to it. And, on more than one occasion, my grandpa dutifully came outside delivering a message that likely originated with grandma, saying: “Kendall, don’t you think you’d better leave well enough alone?” The point he was getting after was that my life’s homeostatic balance hung in the balance of my next move. A nervous grandma was inside shuddering over the safety of her pride and joy, and a man who wanted to please her had detected that “well enough” was somehow in danger. The status quo was being threatened. Peace and vitality were in jeopardy, and the one accosting it all was me.
As an adult, I realize there are many occasions where “leaving well enough alone” is good. We do not need to poke every sleeping bear, throw rocks at every bee hive, or go to war with every enemy. Sometimes doing nothing is the exact right thing to do, and knowing when that applies takes wisdom and discernment.
Yet, there are other times when doing nothing would be morally wrong, strategically unwise, or giving into cowardice. In truth, there are some hills we need to die on, some enemies we need to face, and some risks we need to take. Again, wisdom and discernment are required here.
In what follows, I would like to sketch out why I cannot leave well enough alone when it comes to Satan Con coming to Boston.
If you are unfamiliar, the largest Satanic conference in human history will be hosted on April 28-30 by The Satanic Temple right in our backyard. In this article, I will provide a few reasons why I am going to Boston, preaching the Gospel on the streets, handing out tracts, and praying like crazy that someone down there will be delivered from darkness and rescued by the Light of the World. As you read this article, I hope it will also encourage you, and by that, I mean to give you the courage to find creative ways to get involved in Jesus’ great mission where you are.
Sometimes, you cannot leave well enough alone because
God is Sovereign
When I heard that the largest Satanic conference in human history was coming to Boston, my first thought was gratitude that I would not be there. I do not go to Salem in October, I do not watch horror movies with occult rituals or pagan symbolism, and I am certainly not inclined to be a stone’s throw away from a burgeoning bevy of Baphomet’s best buddies in the belly of Bean town. I stay away from such things because, you know, leaving well enough alone, right?
But as I thought about it, I realized I was acting in fear. You could have invited me to preach in any church in New England, storm any library, or skydive out of any plane, and I would have relished the opportunity. But, intentionally traveling to a gathering of secular Satanists had unnerved me.
I was then reminded that God is sovereign over all things, which means He has the right, power, and ability to control all things. Nothing occurs outside His administration, governance, and will. Because of that, even Satan cannot afflict us unless He has divine permission to do so (Job 1). His absolute sovereignty is the reason demons shudder (James 2:19). This is why they necessarily obey Him when He issues forth commands (Matthew 8:31-32). And this is also why unclean spirits cannot even speak unless King Jesus allows it (Mark 1:34).