Monthly Archives: July 2014

Jason Meyer at KBC

By God’s grace, we had Jason Meyer preach at Kailua Baptist Church yesterday (listen here). Jason is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He succeeded John Piper after Piper had preached there for 33 years. He and his wife, Cara, are a godly couple.

Jason was here for a 9Marks conference on Oahu. He and Greg Gilbert did a wonderful job preaching on the gospel and conversion. A big “thank you” to the Waterhouse Lecture Series for sponsoring that conference, and letting Jason preach at our church.

Having heard Jason preach, and having had a few conversations with him over the weekend and seeing into his heart, I just want to say how blessed I am to know that God chose him to succeed John Piper. John Piper has been a man God has used to shape me more than anyone else. I figured no matter who the next man was, it would be a step down, and I would probably never listen to Bethlehem Baptist sermons ever again. I was wrong. Jason is extremely gifted. He is a man full of wisdom and of the Holy Spirit. He has now moved into my list of favorite preachers to listen to. I am comforted to know that the evangelical world will have Jason Meyer as one of its great leaders for many years to come if the Lord wills.

You should consider becoming a Presbyterian, part 2

Here is why I have considered, multiple times momentarily, becoming a Presbyterian:

  1. The continuity of Scripture- God had a covenant people in the OT. Everyone in that covenant people was commanded to give the covenant sign (circumcision) to their sons. God has a covenant people in the NT. Is there a connection between these two covenant people or not? Is the Church a completely new thing God just thought up after Israel fails over and over? Is the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31 something that God thought up during the lifetime of Jeremiah? If your answer is yes, no, and no, then I think you believe in a  basic continuity between the OT and the NT. In that case, since the Old Covenant people gave the covenant sign to infants, the assumption should be that the New Covenant people will also give the covenant sign (baptism) to infants.
  2. The fact that God works through covenants- Presbyterians are most centrally linked with Covenant Theology. This is a discussion for another day, but every Christian will find him/herself along the spectrum of Covenant vs. Dispensational theology. Because the latter has morphed, some of the differences are not as definite anymore. Still, “covenant” is a category I did not ever think much about before reading and listening to Presbyterians. Now, I cannot not see it in the Bible.
  3. The meaning of the sacraments- Are baptism and the Lord’s Supper more about what Christians do or more about what God has done? Maybe it’s an unfair question, but they are gospel signs, and the gospel is most definitely about what God has done to save. If so, then it makes sense that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are like accepting God’s promises to save us. Circumcision seemed to be an acceptance by Abraham that God was going to save him and his offspring. If there is continuity between the Old and New Covenants, then baptism could easily be seen as  the acceptance that God will save believers and their offspring.
  4. Problem passages for Baptists- Acts 2.39 says the promise of salvation is “for you and your children” (sounds similar to circumcision). Acts 16.13-15, Acts 16.33, and 1 Corinthians 1.16 all refer to whole households being baptized (if I see a basic continuity in Scripture, it follows that the households includes the baptism of infants, if there were indeed infants). 1 Corinthians 7 refers to the children of believers being sanctified (v14, fits really nicely to see baptized children as being holy/set apart from the world by parents, while pagan children are not). Ephesians 6.1 commands children to obey parents (no distinction is made between believing and unbelieving children; no distinction between children we see as part of the Church, and those we do not; perhaps it is because every child in the church is baptized, and therefore a part of the church automatically).
  5. History- Zwingli and Calvin, Owen and Baxter, Edwards and Whitfield, Ryle and Lloyd-Jones (yes, not sure any would technically be Presbyterians, but infant baptizers nonetheless). Westminster Confession of Faith. Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield, Francis Schaefer. Today, R.C. Sproul, Ligon Duncan, Tim Keller, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson, Michael Horton, John Frame. Westminster Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary. The list goes on and on.
  6. Practical reasons- it would be nice to not worry about whether someone needs to be re-“baptized” or not. It would be nice to not be blocked in automatically with many Baptists who are either Dispensational or Fundamentalist or Arminian or passionate about right-wing politics or against eldership or Cessationist or all of the above or some combination thereof (no disrespect, just not my cup of tea, and it seems to be a barrier in many conversations). It would be nice to not have my conscience pricked when someone baptized as an infant might partake of the Lord’s Supper at our church.

I hope that gives you a good idea of why I have wrestled. I will attempt to think honestly and biblically about each of these, and hopefully you will get a sense as to why I am much more convictionally Baptist now.

You should consider becoming a Presbyterian

I don’t remember the exact moment or day, but there was a period when I was in seminary (a Southern Baptist seminary) in which I considered becoming a Presbyterian. I had grown up in Assembly of God and Foursquare circles, and had only recently been in Baptist circles. All of those streams, however, are baptistic (those who believe baptism is exclusively for believers). I learned about many great gospel preachers who baptized infants, like Luther, Calvin, Owen, Edwards, Whitfield, Lloyd-Jones, and many more. I had no idea that infant baptism could mean anything but the belief that your child was saved through the act. I was naive, which meant I was in no position to say “how could someone baptize their infant?” As I learned about their arguments, I began to wonder, “have we (Baptists) got it all wrong?” I considered it, and occasionally have my moments still, but I instead became a much more convictional Baptist.

My experience is limited, but here is a trend I have noticed: many baptistic Christians have grown up that way, and are ignorant of Presbyterian theology. As Reformed theology becomes more and more popular again, many are being introduced to many of the great paedobaptist preachers of the last 500 years.  Then I see two things happen: Many become Presbyterians (it seems there’s about a 10-1 ratio of former-Baptists to former-Presbyterians, am I wrong?). The rest continue to use naive arguments to remain baptistic. I would prefer neither to happen. In fact, I think the latter feeds the former.

My contention in the next few posts is that if you are baptistic, you should (if you haven’t already) consider becoming Presbyterian. If you don’t ever consider it, you don’t understand their arguments. They are strong. But after you consider it, then you should consider the Baptist counter-arguments, and remain baptistic. Though these are bonafide secondary issues, I do believe these are primary issues for  the local church. So I do believe there are missional implications, and that God is glorified in these conversations.

Are miraculous spiritual gifts for today? part 4

Some examples of prophecy in the Bible to show that prophecy is completely from God, miraculous, infallible and authoritative, BUT not adding to Scripture:

1 Samuel 10.25: Samuel actually wrote the duties of the Israelite king in a book. It was probably an exposition and application of Deuteronomy 17. It certainly is not recorded anywhere in Scripture.

2 Samuel 12.1-12: Nathan prophecies to David, telling him a parable about a wicked rich man, so that David will be convicted of his sin with Bathsheba. The prophecy is obviously recorded in Scripture, but when Nathan said it (the actual prophetic event) he was not speaking Scripture.

Acts 21.10-11: the same would apply to Agabus’ prophecy. He was a prophet; he made an authoritative claim that came true. But he was not speaking Scripture. The prophetic event is recorded in Scripture.

1 Corinthians 12-14: the church in Corinth also had prophets who prophesied, though their prophecies are not found in our Scriptures.

What is the point here? It seems a bit naive to argue that prophecy cannot exist simply because the canon is closed.

At the same time, it cuts against the very nature of prophecy to say that present day prophecy is fallible, as Wayne Grudem might say. A thorough study of prophecy in the Bible shows that prophecy, much like we might conceive of true preaching, is the authoritative proclamation of God’s Word meant to convict, edify, comfort and exhort God’s people.

To Cessationists, please do not let bad Charismatic practices influence your interpretation of Scripture.

To Continuationists, please do not let a prosperity theology creep into your understanding of how God chooses to give certain gifts (i.e. more faith, more pursuit, more earnestness, etc. equals more miracles).