Truth Warrior

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Priesthood of Every Believer

The series we are currently working through here at The Earnest Contender (and with the Adult Bible Fellowship class I teach at my church) is called "The Biblical Distinctives of Baptists". There is an acrostic that we are following. You can see it below on the "bookmark". This post will cover the letter "P" in the word BAPTIST.

I’ll not soon forget, if ever, a message entitled “How I Became a Catholic Priest,” by the thunderous preacher, Dr. Earnest Pickering. He didn't mince words over what he called “priest-craft”. It is used by many cults which esteem men to a place of such religious stratosphere it could make one’s ears pop and cause the nose to bleed. I agree with him, the importance placed on a “special class of men and/or women” is nonsense and is not supported by the New Testament! The word "Priest" is defined as "one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God."

The word “priest” appears in not less than 846 verses in the Bible (AV). It appears first
In Genesis 14: 17-19; It seems that God had at least one priest before Aaron came along;

“…the king of Sodom went out to meet him [Abram] after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth…”

Later God made this conditional promise to Israel:

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. (Ex. 19:5-7)
I am a Baptist priest! In fact every believer today is a priest of God, no matter what denomination or creed. But what is our basis for being priests? A better question would be, “Who is the basis for our priesthood?” It is none other than the great high priest, Jesus Christ Himself! When Jesus hung suspended between Heaven and earth on the cross, the curtain of the holy of holies was rent in two from top to bottom. He opened the access to God, and the Bible declares that all who trust in the finished work of Christ are priests. Priests may enter into God’s presence directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and people. There is no other mediator! As priests, we also have the responsibility and great privilege to study God's Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God, whether we are a preacher or not.1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 5:9, 10

There are priests in this age! Biblical Baptists (as well as many other bible believing groups) agree with the New Testament that every person who is “born again” is a priest unto God. You, my brother or sister are a priest! How are you exercising your priestly duties?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Earnest Contender Goes to the Pumpkin Farm

Friday, October 14, 2005

New Testament Authority and Our Baptist Distinctives

According to E. T. Hiscox, A Baptist historian from yesteryear,
“It is on all hands conceded, that from the days of the Apostles to the Reformation, there existed congregations and communities of Christians separate from the prevailing and dominant churches… these separate communities maintained their distinct existence, worshiped by themselves, and served God according to their understanding of the Scriptures and the dictates of their consciences.”

These kind of churches, that held to New Testament authority, are most commonly called Baptists. Throughout history, since the time of Pentecost, there have been such churches. Perhaps they were known by other names (Messalians, Euchites, Montanists, Novatians, Paulicians…etc.) and/or some peculiar doctrines.
We are studying the Biblical Distinctives of Baptists. These distinctives as presented in an acrostic B-A-P-T-I-S-T (refer to my post entitled “the bookmark” to see them all listed.) Modern day Baptists (NOT modernist) arrived at these distinctives through careful study of the Bible. That is why these teachings are more precisely called the Biblical distinctives of Baptists and not Baptist distinctives. In other words, these teachings are common among Baptists because individual Baptist churches have consistently and independently discovered them in the Bible and held to them, not because some group of Baptist leaders composed the list and then imposed the distinctives on local churches. (Remember … there is no ecclesiastical hierarchy in an autonomous group … and we know that the “A” stands for Autonomy of the local church.)
Church groups other than Baptists have held some of these Biblical distinctives, and one may even find churches that hold all of the distinctives but do not call themselves Baptist. Such groups are "baptistic" but for some reason they choose not to be identified as Baptists. On the other hand, some churches naming themselves Baptist are not truly Baptist because they no longer hold the historic Baptist beliefs or even the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Baptists are people of the Book above all else ... and Baptists enjoy a priceless heritage of generations who have exalted God's Son, our Savior and have proclaimed God's inspired Word.

“The Baptist name is not a point of organizational pride but a meaningful descriptor of a doctrinal position.” -D. Anderson

The fundamentals of the faith are the most important doctrines.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Book Mark!

The series we are currently working through here at The Earnest Contender (and with the Adult Bible Fellowship class I teach at my church) is called "The Biblical Distinctives of Baptists".

My aim is to encourage a greater understanding of what the name Baptist means:

  • Baptist, not just in name, but by conviction of the biblical truths presented
  • Baptist, not just in conviction, but also by name

My wife, Rose, designed this bookmark for those in our class. If you click on it, you may see the details. I invite your comments ... especially regarding the statement on the back of the bookmark.

Just in case you can't read the graphic (let me know if you can or can't), these are the 8 points of the acrostic that we have been covering:

  • Biblical Authority
  • Autonomy of the Local Church
  • Priesthood of All Believers
  • Two Ordinances (Baptism & Communion)
  • Individual Soul LibertySaved (regenerated) Church Membership
  • Two Offices Only (Pastor & Deacon)
  • Separation of Church & State

And here's the paragraph of text from the back, that I was looking for feedback on:

The term BAPTIST is more than a church "label". As an acrostic, it delineates a set of convictions. Some churches or groups are BAPTISTic, but not identified with the BAPTIST label. Conversly, a group may hold on to the label after abandoning the convictions.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Autonomy of the Local Church

Let's get back to our study on the Biblical Distinctives of Baptists. We have covered the "B" which stands for Biblical Authority (I discussed different ways that Baptists might approach the Bible, but we should all agree that it has Authority.) Now we will move on to the "A" ...

The Autonomy of the local church is one of the premiere distinctives of biblical Baptists. Very few churches can lay claim to this one. Most main line churches eschew it, yet it is what Baptists believe best represents the New Testament pattern for local churches. The words “autonomy”, “independent”, and “sovereignty”, all mean “self- rule” or “self- governing”. In other words, biblical Baptists have no outside ecclesiastic control. No hierarchy of any kind. No district superintendent. No Synods, General Assemblies, Bishops, Cardinals, or Popes. Biblical Baptists are distinctly autonomous in their human government. However, even though biblical Baptists are autonomous they do follow an authority structure.

The question is, “Who is in charge then?” Bishop (overseer), pastor (shepherd), elder (presbyter), are three words that describe the pastor who is designated in Scriptures as an officer (1Tim. 3:1), but the pastor does not control a biblical Baptist church. So called elder rule is not the best model to follow. The deacon is a helper of the pastor and the servant of the church, and is also designated in Scriptures as an officer (1Tim. 3:10), but deacons are not in control of a biblical Baptist church (If God permits I will cover the subject of these two, possibly three offices in a later post). The Church (including the pastor/s, the deacons, and the congregation) has the final say in the official business of the church (as we will see). In fact biblical Baptists have both a Congregational and Presbyterian model of government, yet the church is not in control of a biblical Baptist church.

Yes, the Church disciplines its own members (Matt.18:15-17).
Yes, the Church appoints its own deacons (Acts 6: 1-7).
Yes, the Church sends out its own missionaries. Missionaries are accountable to the Church (Acts 13:1-3; 14:26, 27).
Yes, the Church judges and restores its own members (1Cor.5:1-5, 12, 13; 1Cor.2:5:7).
Yet each Church is accountable to God (Rev. 2-3) this is a hint to our question.

Getting back to the question, “Who is in charge then?” The answer is found in the Bible. The Bible (God’s Word) is the authority, no mater how we approach it, and we read (in Eph. 1:22 and Col. 1:18) that Christ is the Head of the church. Godly pastors, deacons and church members directed by Jesus Christ Himself, the Head of the church by His Holy Spirit working together to go in God’s direction. There are biblical guidelines to follow; God is not saying, “OK. You take over from here, best of luck to you.” Each church member must be tuned into God through His word and prayer. The authority resides in the total membership under the control of Christ. The natural consequence or privilege is that each member has greater responsibility for the conduct and direction of the church than members of other hierarchal groups. I will touch on these responsibilities in the priesthood of every believer. Does your local church follow this model or some other form? What duties do you have that contribute to your local fellowship?

“What a lovely and delightful relationship exists between pastor, deacons and people when all are subject to Christ the Head.” (Dr. Paul Jackson, National Representative of the GARBC from 1960-1969)

The best expression of Christian fellowship is within a Bible believing church!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Two Roads Graphic: Explained


The two roads graphic is a custom design that my wife created for me when I was teaching a course on Systematic Theology. It really looks good on an overhead. She is working on figuring out graphic/photo additions to blogs. In the mean time I will share with you what it is. It is a picture of a road that comes to a fork. The name of the road is Read the Bible then it branches off in two directions. The right side exit ramp is The Covenant Theology Freeway. The left side is the entrance ramp to The Dispensational Highway. That’s the road less traveled nowadays, but it is the way I choose or am predestined to go.

On the Covenant freeway there are some landmarks. The first landmark is the Christological or Soteriological approach to the Bible: looking for Christ or salvation in every text. The next landmark is Allegorical interpretation … which tends to spiritualize and look for “deeper hidden meaning”. Then we come to a stop sign because this approach has led us to the conclusion that Israel and church are the same, “the church has replaced Israel”.

On the Dispensational Highway there are also some landmarks. The first is the Doxological approach to Scripture: finding God’s glory in every text. The next landmark is the plain and normal interpretation to discover the intent or meaning, “It means what it says…” We then come to a yield sign that reads, “Israel and the church are separate”
I hope this explanation helps to clarify the poor display.


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