Decem­ber 1, 2017

 

From the desk of Bro. Bil­ly

Pan­du Madala

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:

https://www.imb.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/SA_FastFacts.pdf

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, scollins@bpc.edu

(Steven will grad­u­ate soon and is look­ing for God’s assign­ment for he and his wife)

Nathan Pris­tavec – preach­er, 912–996-5851, npristavec@bpc.edu

Hunter Young – preach­er, 706–836-3173, hyoung1@bpc.edu

Jeff Cov­ing­ton — wor­ship leader, 912–547-7227, jcovington@bpc.edu

Joseph Duke – wor­ship leader, 229–425-6666, jduke@bpc.edu

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

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/june/southern-baptists-racism-alt-right-five-things-you-need-to-.html