December 1, 2017
From the desk of Bro. Billy
Many of us were blessed to spend time with Pandu Madala, Director of the Victory Baptist Association (VBA), in Gudivada, India. Pandu serves Christ among the largest unreached people group population in the world. South Asia consists of approximately 1.5 billion people with only 2% professing Christ.
Check out this fact sheet on South Asia produced by our IMB:
Our Lord has given us the blessing to partner with Pandu in the spread of the gospel in India through our Pedals for Pastors initiative. Pandu requests medical mission teams from our area to travel to India and engage in ministry and evangelism in partnership with VBA. He also needs financial help purchasing Bibles for new converts. Last year VBA distributed around 90,000 gospel tracts with approximately 9,000 people.
Thanks from the Puckett family.
The Puckett family, in Southeast Texas, wanted me to extend their heartfelt gratitude for our work in restoring their home after flooding from hurricane Harvey. Our Lord used us to redeem their home, may he also redeem their souls and give them an imperishable home with him in glory. The Puckett’s write, “Thank you very much for what you did to help us after the hurricane. We would not be in our home today without your help. Thank you for the gifts you sent and for allowing Billy Jr. to come work on the house.”
Brewton-Parker students ready to serve
Several Brewton-Parker students have expressed interest in opportunities to serve. Below is a list of BPC students who are available to supply preach or lead worship on an occasion or for interim.
Steven Collins – preacher/pastor, 478–363-3869, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Steven will graduate soon and is looking for God’s assignment for he and his wife)
Nathan Pristavec – preacher, 912–996-5851, email@example.com
Hunter Young – preacher, 706–836-3173, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Covington — worship leader, 912–547-7227, email@example.com
Joseph Duke – worship leader, 229–425-6666, firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida Irma Disaster Relief Trip
Our Florida Disaster Relief Mission Trip was blessed. We had around 10–12 people on the trip (some came for part of the trip). We connected with First Baptist Church, Middleburg. FBC Middleburg connected us with three families that experienced substantial flooding during the storm. We were able to remediate their homes and infuse hope into them in the midst of their discouraging situation. Christian Walton was on the trip and commented, “I learned how it feels to truly be the hands and feet of Jesus.” Guiding your people into missions is truly one of the greatest disciple making tools at the pastor’s disposal.
November 6, 2017
I believe I may have worked myself into a doctors visit recently. I started by gutting my parents flooded home in Texas and then gutting flooded homes in Florida after Irma, along with trying to keep up with teaching and grading papers and working on the DBA budget and annual meeting, the prison ministry, … and the list goes on. You’re probably familiar with what I’m talking about, most ministers are. Upon return from Florida, I find myself in the doctors office. I’ve had to slow down. I’m not completely still, but even slowing down gives you a little margin to reflect. I’ve had several thoughts on recent developments.
First, I need to obey the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for me, I wasn’t made for the Sabbath. I need to heed the wise commands of my Heavenly Father. For one, I don’t make the world go round. God does. Two, If I’m down, physically and spiritually, then I’m not much use to anyone.
Second, turns out, I don’t want to be sick and I don’t want to die. I’m not as “ok” with enduring sickness, suffering and death as I thought I was. At first, I felt disheartened. I compared myself to Peter, who told Jesus he would die with him, but it turned out, at that point, Peter wasn’t really ok with suffering and dying for Jesus. Peter didn’t know where he was in his relationship with Christ, but a difficult situation revealed to Peter the truth about himself.
But after I considered things further, there’s a sense in which I’m not supposed to be content with the state of death and suffering of this present age. Death and suffering are a result of sin and Satan and the brokenness of our world. I’m not supposed to be “ok” with that. I think I’m supposed to be saddened over it, fight against it and long for the fullness of redemption that will be ours at the revealing of the sons of God.
That being said, I can think of no better reason to use up my body than on mission for kingdom purposes. We have the opportunity to offer our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, for the joy set before us. Our bodies are going to ache, break and eventually, wear out. If I live long enough, I will eventually have a bad back, decaying teeth, weakening eyes and thousand diseases and futilities will bring me to my grave. It is the result of sin, Satan and the brokenness of our world. It comes to us all, it is inevitable, but the cause for which I live, suffer and die, that will make all the difference.
According to news reports, on this past Sunday, 26 of our brothers and sisters at First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs in Texas were killed by a gunman as they gathered to worship. I certainly pray that this horror does not happen again, but we draw comfort in knowing that these brothers and sisters met Christ in worship. May we all be worshipping our Lord when we cross the Jordon into that great Sabbath rest.
The moral of the story: Worship! Work hard for the kingdom. Be spent on behalf of the King, but be wise and obey the Sabbath. In the end we will be better able to live and die well, if we do things God’s way. I pray you enjoy the holidays and worship well.
September 1, 2017
Christ referred to us as his body. The
members of our physical body have a special kind of union with one another. They have a connection that goes beyond unity. When I think of unity, I think of a collection of different parts that are organized and work together to accomplish a task. A mechanical watch, for example, is a collection of separate parts that are organized to keep time. If one were to disassemble the watch, each part could exist independently from the others.
The church, however, is not merely assembled parts, placed together to accomplish a task. The church is a body, and the members of a body are living, and they impart life to one another. Separated, the members of a body will die. My fingers, toes, heart and lungs, with their special functions and abilities, are designed to be life giving. As each member of the body of Christ walks in the Spirit, we contribute something life giving to the other members of the body.
I’m encouraged by the life giving relationships that we have within our Association. Over the past 7 months, many of you have breathed spiritual life into me through our discussions, prayer and serving together. Our Association has the potential for more and deeper connections, and that is a very exciting and energizing prospect. My hope and prayer and work is increased fellowship among the saints, so that we might impart spiritual life and vitality to one another.
July 17, 2016
The SBC and the Atonement
At the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention our denomination affirmed a resolution regarding Penal Substitutionary Atonement. A compact version of the resolution might read like this:
“Whereas in recent days numerous voices have attacked the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement; and have publicly labeled penal substitution ‘evil,’ and indicative of ‘the Father murdering a son’; and Whereas God is perfect in His justice and love; and the denial of penal substitutionary atonement in effect denies the holy and loving God the exercise of His justice, the overflow of which in a sinful world is the outpouring of His just retributive wrath; and Whereas the denial of penal substitutionary atonement constitutes false teaching that leads the flock astray; and the Bible teaches that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” of sin; now, therefore, be it resolved, that the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirm the truthfulness, efficacy, and beauty of the biblical doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement as the burning core of the Gospel message and the only hope of a fallen race.”
Penal Substitutionary Atonement has several facets. Each person is guilty of transgressing a law or commandment of God. In order to be just, God, the cosmic judge, must punish the guilty law breaker. God’s holiness demands that he respond appropriately to the law breaker. The appropriate punishment for a finite being who has desecrated something of infinite worth is the death penalty and eternal imprisonment.
In the Old Testament, the idea of transferring guilt and punishment from one party to another is established in the sacrificial system. The punishment merited by the guilty party is transferred to the animal, which would then be slain. The sacrifice is a substitute, receiving the punishment due the guilty party and dying on behalf of the transgressor. The sacrifice atones for the crimes of the guilty party and satisfies the wrath of the judge.
The disposition of God towards unbelievers is one of the primary points on which the discussion centers. The scripture teaches that while we were yet sinners God loved us and died for us. Part of the standard pitch in southern baptist evangelism is, “God loves you,” and “God wants to save you.” The question is, what does God want to save you from? Death and hell, the consequences of your sin? His wrath and anger? Is God angry at humankind and ready to pour out his wrath, or is he loving, longing for a relationship? You can see the potential for confusion.
I’m confident that those who stand against penal substitutionary atonement disdain the depiction of God as a cosmic deity that is angry at us and will pour out his wrath on us unless his justice and wrath is appeased by a legal transaction, a blood sacrifice, and from his own child no less. The God of PSA is not commensurate with their idea of a loving heavenly Father.
Alternative understandings of the atonement are akin to the Christus Victor model or the Governmental Theory. Through his life, death, burial and resurrection, Christ overcomes the power of sin, overthrows Satan, breaks the chains of death and makes a path for humankind to reconnect with God by breaking through all of the obstacles that hinder a right relationship. Christ’s perfect blood washes away our sin. The life, death and resurrection of Christ is restorative, not punitive and retributive. Christ did not become our sin and then God crush him so he doesn’t have crush us. Christ’s perfect obedience breaks through the obstacles that stand in the way of each of us having a right relationship with God. We only need to place our faith in Christ to begin the restoration process which will culminate fully in the heaven.
I certainly agree that Christ disarmed Satan and defanged death. The blood of Christ washes away my sin and send it to the bottom of the ocean, never to be remembered again. I also think we find PAS in the teaching of the Scripture as well. Romans 3:21–26 appears to present a cosmic problem, God cannot declare sinners justified and remain just himself. God cannot pass over sins. The relational dynamic of the atonement presented in Romans 3 lends itself to a penal substitutionary model. Through the work of Christ, God remains just while declaring sinners righteous through faith. Isaiah 53:10–11 also appears to support the view of PSA, “…it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” Regarding wrath, John 3:36 comments, “ Whoever believe in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him,” and Romans 5:9 says, “since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
Our understanding of the work of Christ will impact our preaching and evangelism. Consider the tracts we sometimes use in evangelism. When we get to the part in which we discuss humanity’s “problem,” the Eternal LIfe tract utilizes a drawing of a person being burned by fire. On the other hand, the 3 Circles Life Conversion Guide, which seems to have some popularity today, focuses on the idea of “brokenness” as the problem of the human condition. Because of the fallen condition of man, our relationship with God, others and the creation is broken. The work of Christ ultimately restores all relationships.
The gospel message can sound like a mixed message regarding the work of Christ in the atonement. The Christian worldview answers our big questions, “What am I? Why am I here? What is the problem? What is the solution?” The Church must do its best to communicate all the dimensions of the work of Christ, in the fullness of its vast and marvelous grandeur. May our Lord enable us, by the power of his Spirit, to effectively proclaim the fullness of the love of God in the work of Christ.
June 26, 2017
Southern Baptist Convention: Resolution #10
The Southern Baptist Convention is always a wonderful time of fellowship and encouragement. I attended this year’s convention in Phoenix, AZ. Our convention is basically a two day business meeting. The convention is a very public event that is covered by many news publications.
My committee chair and mentor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was Dr. Jeff Riley, professor of theology and ethics. This year Jeff was on the convention’s Resolution Committee. Resolutions are submitted by pastors and leaders for adoption by our denomination. A Resolution is a statement adopted by the convention that publicly expresses our thoughts and general disposition regarding a matter of particular importance. The Resolution committee sifts the resolutions to identify those that are well written, represent the spirit of our denomination, are timely and deal with issues that have not been thoroughly covered in recently adopted resolutions. The Resolution committee received and considered 12+ resolutions this year. The Resolution Committee decides which resolutions to bring forth for the consideration and vote of the messengers in the general assembly.
This year proposed resolution #10 was submitted by Texas pastor Dwight McKissic. Resolution #10 denounced “white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as of the devil.” Sounds good. However, the Resolution committee chose not to bring the resolution to the general assembly for vote. Why? Could be because Southern Baptist are sympathetic to the white supremacist agenda. However, while we were having dinner together after the first day of the convention, my friend Jeff Riley told me that Resolution #10 was not brought to the general assembly because it was not well written, using inflammatory language and repudiating not only “white-nationalism,” but sentiments of nationalism and patriotism generally speaking. Jeff also noted that Southern Baptists have addressed the issues of racism through resolutions passed at our past three conventions. “In recent resolutions the Southern Baptist Convention called on ‘all Christian men and women to pray and labor for the day when our Lord will set all things right and racial prejudice and injustice will be no more’ (2014); expressed continued grief ‘over the presence of racism and the recent escalation of racial tension in our nation’ (2015); and urged fellow Christians to discontinue using the Confederate battle flag, acknowledging that it is a symbol of hatred, bigotry, and racism, offending millions of people’ (2016).”
Pastor McKissic, the author of Resolution #10 requested for the general assembly to vote on allowing his resolution to come to the general assembly. The assembly voted and denied the resolution the opportunity to come to the general assembly. Was this a vote in favor of the alt-right movement and white supremacy? No, not even a passive affirmation of racism. No southern baptist, at any point, argued in favor of the alt-right agenda. The assembly did not vote down a well written resolution that made a stand against discrimination, but instead simply voted not to bring to the floor a poorly written resolution covering the issue of racial discrimination, which we have addressed recently.
However, a media storm ensued, proclaiming that Southern Baptists are torn over racial discrimination and the alt-right movement. The Resolutions Committee was reconvened and the Resolution Committee wrote a resolution repudiating the alt-right and white supremacist ideology and requested a vote by the general assembly to allow this new resolution to be brought to the general assembly. The general assembly voted to allow the new resolution on the floor and the next day, the general assembly voted, almost unanimously, to adopt the resolution.
I’m not insinuating that Southern Baptists do not have racism and discrimination in our past, nor would I argue that we all have repented and turned away from racism and discrimination and these ugly, anti-gospel sentiments can no longer be found in our denomination. However, I am confident that, regarding resolution #10 at this year’s convention, we were not being sympathetic to the ideology of white supremacy.
So what do I take away from this event? One, a watching world is eager to place the label of racists on Southern Baptists. We can respond by saying “we don’t care what you think about us,” but that is not true and we should care because we are to live in such a way as to adorn the gospel and be ambassadors for Christ. Two, we certainly must be vigilant and intentional to guard our reputation. Because of our past, we need to be very clear and even very public on where we stand regarding the gospel and our love for all the ethnicities of this world. We certainly must be faithful to the truth of the gospel and vigilant and intentional about the work of the gospel. Your congregation will follow you in this matter. Teach them that the love of Christ breaks through all barriers.
Consider also this article in Christianity Today