Category Archives: KBC updates

Reflections on our church retreat

We just had our second annual church retreat/camp. We were blessed to be able to bring a speaker from my former church for the second straight year. Pastor Ryan Fullerton brought great teaching on building a culture of evangelism. A few reflections:

  • I pray every single one of our members have these words ringing in their ears in every relationship with non-Christians: connect-God-man-Christ-response
  • I pray for every single one of our children to be saved, and that we have a culture that says, “I welcome advice in parenting”
  • Preaching the gospel to yourself is how you will persevere in this life, and we cannot expect to be effectively evangelistic if we are not rejoicing in our own salvation
  • Ryan Fullerton is still my favorite preacher in the world

Listen to his Sunday sermon here

Why weekly Lord’s Supper

We recently moved to weekly Communion on Sunday mornings. The two best reasons I have ever heard for not doing it weekly:

  1. It will become less special
  2. In order to really guard the Table, we should do it less

Regarding number 1, is there really anything else that we treat like that? Regarding number 2, is there really anything else we treat like that? For both, I think the answer is to just do it well every time. I try to kiss my wife goodbye everyday when I go to work. As long as I really mean it, I think it is a valid kiss. And even sometimes when my mind is not as fully there as it should be, it is still a good thing.

To those I will add one more possible reason for not doing it weekly: in Calvin’s Geneva, the civil government did not allow it. Ok, maybe in that case, that is a good reason to not do it weekly.

Outside of that, there are a lot of reasons to do it every time the church gathers for worship on the Lord’s Day:

  1. It appears to be the NT pattern (Acts 2.42, Acts 20.7)
  2. As often as you do it, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Cor 11.26). I repeat, as often as you do it, you proclaim the death of Christ!
  3. It forces Christians to examine themselves every week
  4. It helps non-Christians in attendance see who the Body of Christ is, and understand they are not a part of it yet
  5. It is the central benefit to church membership- anyone under the discipline of a church should be barred from the Lord’s Table; taking the Lord’s Supper once a month is like barring everyone three times a month

I could go on and on. It really comes down to what you think “this is my body” and “this is my blood” really means. Unless you say “I think Jesus meant this is not his body and blood,” I think you always give up a good thing if you do not practice it on any given Sunday.

What exactly is the Lord’s Day gathering?

What it is not:

  • an evangelistic rally of some sort- any church who makes Sunday morning more geared for the non-Christian than it is for the Christian is at best a parachurch ministry
  • the church- we often say “let’s go to church” on Sunday morning. We kind of know what we mean. Or do we? Any church who thinks of “church” as mainly Sunday morning is confusing a little bit what the church does versus who the church is

What it is:

  • the main gathering of the church (Acts 20.7)
  • a mixed gathering in most places I know of, where it is mostly the church, often mixed with visiting Christians looking for a church, and almost always mixed with some unbelievers who either think they are Christians or are looking into Christianity
  • a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28)
  • the main time of the week where the flock (Christians) are to be fed, pray together, fellowship, and break bread together (Acts 2.42)
  • a great time for unbelievers to be saved (1 Corinthians 14.25); the church should evangelize 7 days a week, and they should not depend on the preacher to evangelize their friends, and Sundays are mainly for Christians to get fed. BUT, it is still a perfect time for the unbeliever to hear a skillful delivery of the gospel, and to see what the gospel does to the Church.
  • It is a time of worship! It is for God. It is to please Him. It is to approach and engage the living God in exactly the way He desires to be worshiped. Every decision about Sunday morning that does not begin with God in mind is a decision starting off on the wrong foot.

What we try to do on Sunday morning is make it so for God, that it will automatically be foreign to the unbeliever. If an unbeliever ever feels right at home in our worship gathering, something is seriously missing. One of the things we have been trying to communicate recently to guests is that if they are not a Christian: 1) We are so glad they came! 2) Until they become a Christian, they can only observe worship; they cannot truly participate.

May the Lord increase the number of His worshipers on the Lord’s Day!

Immanuel Network

Last week I got to spend time with my old church, Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. If you have not heard of Ryan Fullerton, you need to add him to your podcast list. He is an anointed preacher. And I mean Lloyd-Jones-type anointed.

But Ryan is just one of 14 pastors at Immanuel. They have led that church toward greater and greater health and vitality over the years. They continue to grow, and continue to be a great blessing to me many years after leaving there.

They started the Immanuel Network a few years ago, and this year was the first year we had an open conference, where about 100 of us gathered for a conference on what gospel-loving church life looks like. The Immanuel Network is a partnership of like-minded churches and leaders around the world, who all were sent out by Immanuel Baptist at some point in time. Including Immanuel, there are currently 5 partnering churches in the network (KBC is one of them). There are also 10 partnering individual ministry/church leaders spread around North America. There are also 8 or 9 missionaries spread out around the world. Everyone in the Network is Reformed and Baptistic. This past year there were 7 churches planted around the world through this network!

KBC is a Southern Baptist church. We are also affiliated with The Gospel Coalition. But I am probably most excited to be a part of the Immanuel Network. One simple reason: I can trust EVERYTHING that happens in our network will be faithful. We are not the only faithful network out there, but in God’s providence this is the actual network He has placed me in, with brothers and sisters around the world I actually know personally and love. And I am so thrilled that over time my own church will get to know them and pray for them, and be prayed for by them more and more.

For more info on the Network: http://www.immanuelnetwork.org

Why is the mode of baptism so important?

Lord willing, and to the praise of His glorious grace, we will be baptizing two young men in a  couple weeks. At our church, we make sure we completely immerse someone in water. Unless someone is completely immersed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I am inclined to say it might not be Christian baptism. Many of my professors from seminary would say it much stronger than that. And I understand. Either way, everybody should think the mode, or the method or the form, of baptism is important.

Why do Baptists care about the mode of baptism so much?

  1. Westminster Confession of Faith says “Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.”–mind you, it was Presbyterians who wrote this, who largely disagree with Baptists on the mode of baptism. But we all believe Christ appointed something “until the end of the world,” and that something means a lot of good things for the believer. We should want to do exactly what Jesus commanded when it comes to the sacraments.
  2. Related to this, the word “baptize” in the Bible clearly means either to immerse or dip or wash. Paedobaptists believe “wash” can include sprinkling. Baptists are famous for over-emphasizing “immerse” as the only meaning of that word sometimes. I have been guilty of that. But I do assert that “baptize” means “immerse.” It can mean other things, but it does also mean “immerse.” And if burial with Christ is really meant to be communicated in baptism (Rom 6.4), then immersion is a fine form, is it not? Some argue that Jesus was buried above ground, therefore, you do not have to “bury” someone under water. Even if Jesus’ tomb was above ground, I am fairly confident you could not see any part of his body sticking out of the tomb. In other words, he was buried! Because of all this, why not err on the side of caution when it comes to one of Jesus’ sacraments, and immerse?
  3. When Jesus says “be baptized” regarding baptism, it is the equivalent of him saying “take and eat” regarding the Eucharist. Some have argued that for Baptists to care about mode so much means they should never have grape juice for the Lord’s Supper! Nice try. We can argue about what “fruit of the vine” means later, but that is an argument about outward elements, not mode. We all agree water is the outward element in baptism (please tell me we all agree on that!). But the issue in this post is mode. The equivalent of “be baptized” in baptism is “take and eat” in the Lord’s Supper. Do you think Jesus cares whether you actually put elements in your mouth and swallow in Communion? Then you should equally care whether you are immersed or washed or sprinkled.

To not care about the mode of baptism is like saying “I’m going for a run” and then walking, or “I’m going to kiss my wife” and then shake her hand. To not care about the mode of baptism is to not care about what baptism is. And if you do not care about what it is, it is probably because you do not care enough about what it means.

Thankfully, there are probably millions of believers who do not care much about anything I’m talking about here, yet because of God’s grace, will receive all the benefits of the Son, and baptism, through their faith in Him.

What if someone has a hard time discerning if they are a Christian?

We have several youth in our church, by God’s grace, who are finally following the call of baptism/church membership. They are all in the middle school/high school age range. Other youth are contemplating. There are other adults who attend our church who are contemplating the call to baptism as well. The one hang up for many of them–either what has caused them to delay baptism until now or what is causing them to delay baptism still: they are not sure if they are a Christian.

It is an issue that seems foreign to the NT (not struggle for assurance, but a struggle at the front end of the Christian life to know if one is a Christian at all). I have several guesses as to why this phenomenon might be happening. I will just focus on one reason why this is a strange phenomenon, and one reason why I think this is happening, and one way to remedy this:

Why this is a strange phenomenon:

To say “I’m not sure if I’m a Christian” is a lot like saying “I’m not sure I’m a human” or “I’m not sure if I’m American” or “I’m not sure if I like ice cream.” The only way those questions would be valid questions, respectively, is if you did not know what  a human was, if you did not know what was required to be an American citizen, or if you did not know what true pleasure was! In other words, for someone to not know if they themselves are a Christian, there is a lack of teaching in the home, a lack of teaching in the church, an over-thinking of the individual, or a combination thereof.

One major reason this phenomenon happens in the U.S. in particular:

There is too much emphasis on personal, free will. Period. Too much emphasis on me believing, too little on God saving. Too much emphasis on my personal decision, too little on God’s decision to save by electing, calling, justifying, and sanctifying. Too much emphasis on my experience of conversion, too little on the work of the Spirit in blowing where He wishes. Too much emphasis on me coming forward when I’m ready, too little on God calling me. If I am focused on my experience of salvation rather than the Jesus Christ of salvation, it will always be shaky.

One way to remedy this:

Trust the means of God’s grace to save. Then trust the God of all grace in salvation. Trust the preaching of the Word, the right administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the faithful practice of church discipline. Trust that God uses those to save and sanctify.

Then trust God will keep His promises to His sheep forever. For instance, God promises a new heart. So when someone can walk through our doctrinal statement and say “yes, yes, yes, yes,” but then turn around and say “I’m not sure if I’m a Christian,” I then appeal to their new heart and ask, “what do you want?” Instead of focusing on the solidity of their faith (which those with weak consciences will never feel solid) by asking, “what do you believe,” I would rather test their affections: What do you love? What do you think of Jesus? Will you follow Him? Will you repent of this or that? It is a matter of getting individuals focus off of themselves on onto Christ.

Why church and state separation is so crucial

Recently one of our Sunday School teachers made this statement: “I think those who kill unborn children should be killed.”

I agree. In the same way any murderer deserves to be killed (Genesis 9.6). From what I heard, some of the pushback in the class revolved around how it is not the church’s decision to punish evildoers, and how we should have compassion on sinners on this side of the cross.

In response to the idea that the church is not supposed to decide the punishment of criminals, I agree. It is God’s decision. And He has stated in His Word that murderers should be killed for their crime. So when I say I think a murderer should be killed, I am only agreeing with God (for the record, I think the application of Genesis 6.9 is capital punishment, whatever form that may take in a given government). I am not saying that the church should kill murderers. That is ridiculous. But I am saying that the right thing for the government to do is to punish evildoers (Romans 13.4).

In response to the idea that we should have compassion on sinners on this side of the cross, I agree. We, the church, should have compassion on sinners. We should pray for the salvation of all sinners. However, it is not the role of government to have compassion on sinners. Just as the church should not decide on how criminals should get punished, the church should not decide how criminals should not get punished either. There is no such thing as a Christian nation, except for the church (1 Peter 2.9-10).

So pray for less crime. Pray for the state to be harsh toward criminals to curb sin in the world. And pray for all those on death row to hear the gospel, believe, and spend eternity with us!