Tag Archives: Reformed

The Fall of Preacher-Heroes

Today I am starting to write short blog posts -so that I can put a milestone when I come across something significant . And today I am commenting regarding Pastors Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney -both Calvinists and both disciplined or no longer as esteemed by the church or organization they started.

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I have downloaded a lot of time Mahaney’s guide books on Small Group discipleship and Driscoll’s series messages and I still have it my portable hard disk. Though not accessed as often as it used to.

They were expository and very narrative in their presentations of Scripture. And very relevant and cultural-specific. Their churches were also elder-led too.Though not under the Westminster Standards or the Three Forms of Unity- they are confessional and very orthodox in their Confessions of Faith/Statement of Beliefs. Both are members of the Gospel Coalition and is under its Foundational Statements. So where did they go wrong? i propose the following -where others have already mentioned (I am not original on these):

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  1. Authoritarian style of leadership -leading to arrogant behavior and style.
  2. No functional or organizational accountability to other  body of ministers -other than their local elders.
  3. Blurring of ethics -in the use of lewd language, sinful cultural media, plagiarism and use of church funds to self-promote oneself (more of Driscoll )
  4. Unrestricted continuationist world-view -without the proper reining of the Scriptures and other fellow believers/leaders -leading to prophesies and visions and searching of both inward sins and others as well. I do believe in a Holy Spirit-led ministry -but I am more now cautious in these aspect because the movement is not self-critical of its excesses and weirdness. Nobody can criticize it from wihtin without being branded as as cessasionist.
  5. Calvinist worldview (which is large and deep and exhilarating) -without  a healthy self-doubt and humility. We should have been confident of the Word and the Gospel -but we should be  monitoring and assess ourselves regularly of the tendency to take ourselves as infallible.

And that is why that Driscoll and Mahaney -did not only fall from heir leadership -they also dragged the name of the Lord, His word and the Reformed and Sovereign Baptist or Evangelical churches in dishonor.

Hold On, Press On

I will be preaching this today at Sovereign Grace CRC-BF Homes,  Paranaque:

Philippians 3:1-21

Hold On, Press On

Outline

  1. 1.     Beware (Phils 3:1-4)
  2. 2.     Loss and Gain (Phils 3:5-11)
  3. 3.     Press on , Hold On (Phils 3:12-16)
  4. 4.     Imitate Me (Phils 3:17-21)

Fallen Condition/ Redemptive Focus:

  1. Instead of on holding onto Christ Jesus Only- tempted to be confident on past achievements, associations, racila background, or even knowledge
  2. Instead of Fear- to venture forth in Faith – in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ

Intro:

I am now 48 years old…when I was young ..I was converted at UST Hospital with 42 to 43 degrees Centigrad fever and Dengue Fever in 1981..and then I became Calvinist after a year…and even became immediately  embroiled in a controversy with a elder-candidate about his Arminisanism – usually hidden behind a supposed OT Election view…We are branded as trouble makers –and there is a truth to that since we are young and brash then …and sometimes a firebrand –as I am still…

And I thought that I can end my days being a former- disciple by the Vanderbilts, De Young and Kwantes…even a godson in marriage of Pstr Doy Castillo and an ordained ruling elder for 14 years of a Presbyterian church and I can take comfortable life as an engineer of Meralco…but God can turn your life upside down and make you hear Him again amidst the pain and death and sickness-my own. And so I am making up for lost time to help other CRC churches starting with San Pedro CRC…and now I am honored that at least for today I will be here to –I hope –encourage you all.

As a church and as a nation we are in crossroad..and to face so many challenges…and though we are small –we must make choices that will have significant effects on people we still have influence-our family and friends…

The old pestilential errors are still there and now mascarading behind a veneer of good PR image…and we might be lulled to disarming ourselves..though we wish charity for all…we wish true salvation to all…not out of convenience or untruth. We are Reformed so we can serve the greater Evangelical churches and Christians in this time.

  1. 1.     Beware (Phils 3:1-4)

(Phil 3:1 [ESV])

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

 

(Phil 3:2 [ESV])

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

 

(Phil 3:3 [ESV])

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh-

 

(Phil 3:4 [ESV])

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:

Sometimes, we –church leaders and pastors must be repetitive..like our fathers..for we are concerned of those under our care and so Paul started at v .1 that these things he will be saying id for their safety…their protection . and what are thesethings?

It is about the Judaizers, the source of our righteousness, what the future holds on , what we the mature ones should be doing ..and how should we see about those who left because of their compromise with the world.

In v2, Paul equate those of the Judaizers with those outside the kingdom…outside the church for he called them dogs, evil workers and mutilators –like that of mention Leviticus 21:15 that the Mosaic led nation was warned about…for they are …more concerned of outward religion instead of what is real in their hearts.

In v3 So Paul defined for us –what Gentiels under Christ…under the New Covenant – not under the Sinai Covenant – we should be.

Slide5

One of my interests is checking on how divergent the theologies of Armstrongism and the Seventh Day Adventist on their preoccupation with Food, Festivals and Laws of the Mosaic Covenant..and sometimes I just smile when Evangelicals and even Reformed Christians try to do what ther are doing .

For the past 10 years there is a new rage from the works of James Dunn and NT Wright aboiut how we Protestants misinterpreted Paul and their contention is that Justification is about the acceptance of Gentiles in the New Covenant of Jesus. That the whole Judaizing heresy is not abut Justification per se but acceptance within the covenant community. There is  truth in their allegations…and that the preoccupation of 1st century Christians with Jewish boundary markers are disloyalty with the Messiah Jesus.

We are no longer defined if we sacrifice at the Temple or that we even make animal sacrifices..nor observance of Sabbaths, Food Laws or the annual Festivals or whatever is related to the Temple sacrifices. For they are shadows..the reality is in Jesus…his Person and Work. Not just Justification but also our sanctification is first and foremost in Jesus and the Holy Spirit He sent to us –starting at Pentecost.

For we the true circumcision..in our hearts…we worship in Spirit and Truth –who was given to us…we take pride in Jesus our Savior and Lord…And we don’t take any confidence in our flesh- our achievements or who we are in this world. We rely only in Jesus. And this is the key chord in the music he will be playing in chapter 3.

  1. 2.     Loss and Gain (Phils 3:5-11)

 

Confidence in the Flesh

(Phil 3:4 [ESV])

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:

 

(Phil 3:5 [ESV])

circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;

 

(Phil 3:6 [ESV])

as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Coram Deo – Alpanay NeH- Before God…words that means –we are actors in a stage..now it depends to whom we are presenting to..our audience . Is it this world?

Or men? For we are here for the One audience we need to please..whether in a jeepney or here infront of you? Do I try to please you my brothers  and sisters or Him who sits on the throne?

In v5 – Paul –tries to stooped to their level –for arguements sake –for He has much to be confident in the flesh…for he was not hastily circumcised when he was already old but since birth –on the 8th day as required by the Law. He is from the Nation of Israel-an Israelite…both of his parents are Jews- Hebrew of Hebrews, from the tribe of Benjamin who remains loyal to Kingdom of Judah and did not secede from it and went to the Northern Kingdom.

Slide7

And as for the Law- in its exacting demands – in ritual purity, Sabbath observation, food laws, and temple sacrifices –he is a member of the strictest sect –Pharisees…the seperated ones- and was mentored by the esteemed Gamaliel. Iand interms of righteousness demanded by Law and the Sacrifices- he is blameless- without fault-

He in fact boasted that his zeal is real –for he pursues the followers of that blasphemer and criminal and accursed Jesus to the ends of the  earth. Not until he encountered the Risen Lord at Damascus and realized that there is an alien righteousness coming from Jesus.

This is what it amounts to- if Law is without Christ Jesus….zeal not according to knowledge..and there are still many in our times who will demand you this or that as if Jesus has not come and died in the cross and was not resurrected from the dead and now at the right hand of God-reigning and interceding for us.

Loss and Gain

(Phil 3:7 [ESV])

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

(Phil 3:8 [ESV])

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

(Phil 3:9 [ESV])

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-

(Phil 3:10 [ESV])

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

(Phil 3:11 [ESV])

that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Slide9

Verses 7 to 11 is interesting from a business point of view..for it speaks of loss (forfeiture) and gain (financial gain) and then even went to the other extreme of considering it or accounting as rubbish- dug- waste given to the dogs.

In v7 he considered all things –yes all things – as loss …and then at v 8 he speaks of gain-assets  because of knowing Jesus Christs- which is to him is of supreme worth –to the next level in our lingua, nothing can compare to it …so that he can have that righteousness that comes from trusting Jesus..and so he continues in v.9 that he wants to experience the powerr of resurection in this life—which comes from his living connection to Jesus. This is not merely Justification but also our sanctification-our Christian living- from day to day.

And then he spoke of something crazy – “and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” – becoming conformed with him.

Thisis possible because Jesus is the 2nd Adam, the Life giving Messiah who gave us the Spirit for this life and the life to come. And this is available to Christians- Jews and Gentiles alike.

So many time during Milenyo, Ondoy and Maring-Habagat our house in San Pedro is inundated by floods-as high as almost waist deep inside in the house –and through the years I had accumulated some books in my mini library…and so many times some lower level books were wet and destroyed…

And last time I know the floods are not abating..and so the Lord called me to surrender them all and rely only upon the basic relationship with Jesus..and so I relented – for thsi is my treasure on earth- the Vanderbilts knows this.

And then He reminded me of a Scripture ..out of context –I think J – of these clause “the cloak and the parchment “ from Paul’s last words to Timothy…and then the flood stopped rising…But I need to surrender all..my knowledge..my treasure …so that I will know this intimate knowledge of Jesus..

And so with my recent bout with my diverticulitis..He might not heal me completely but He wants me to hold onto Him whatever happens.

Salvation is free..because Someone paid for it…but we cannot pretend that we can still do something about it… we must surrender all-consider all things loss…and learn to hold only to Jesus. We must learn to let go . The New Covenant is defined by a newer loyalty.

When Douglas Macarthur came to Japan – it is no longer just the Emperor that people should have loyalties to…it is to the American Caesar or Shogun that they should be loyal to as well … To us it is more – it supplants, it replaces totally our earthly allegiance – No king but Jesus.

During Lord Supper –when we eat the bread and drink the cup..I am reminded of  a scene from a movie- Highlander – starred by Chris Lambert and Sean Connery who belongs to a race called Immortals – there was a scene where Lambert- was sipping the wine and je was remembering what is happening in that year…maybe he reign of a Napoleon ..or his defeat at Waterloo.

What do you remember when you drink the cup- we should remember His death and His resurection –yes and primarily yes…but as those with Him..we must also raise a toast to the goodness of our Lord-through the years…the years of pain of sorrow, of pain, pf our isolation , of being misunderstood- for he stood by our side . And through the joys, the fellowship, the triumphs , the times when we were together as one brethren ..before the dark days when we are now outsiders…For The Lord is good and always to be trusted…in death and resurrection.

Just a digression-have you observe that the death of Jesus for Christians –cannot be divorced or seperated from His resurrection for them? –meaning the intent and extent of His work at the cross is packaged with His Rising form the grave and that this is applicable in totality to Christians…not just Justification but also sanctiifcation.

There is no atonement without a change in life in a person regenerated by the Spirit…we cannot soeak of Jesus dying for all and then deny that His resurerection is only for definite number of people. Itis either all or it is definite –it cannot be both.

Back again- I always felt that sometimes I preach a hard gospel-and it is okay is this will be my first and last invitation to speak here J. For I speak of a gopel that expects the dead i spirit to rise again and hear His voice, A gospel that expects those in prison to sing praises to God, a gospel thatexpects those in pain and in sorrow to endure and trimuph by serving others- not minding the limitations imposed by sickness in us, a gospel to those defeated, hurt by those they love – to rise in victory and by offering his tender mercies to those who failed to remember her anymore. But this is our God.

  1. 3.     Press on , Hold On (Phils 3:12-16)

(Phil 3:12 [ESV])

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

(Phil 3:13 [ESV])

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

(Phil 3:14 [ESV])

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

(Phil 3:15 [ESV])

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

(Phil 3:16 [ESV])

Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

 Slide11

We take pride that we are Reformed and that we know more of the ways and mind of our Lord in this world-even before our understanding that there is one consistent way of salvation through  to the ages –as in our Covenant Theology- or that there is a present and future reign of Jesus in Amilinealism , or that a local church or its association should be governed by a Presbyterian church govt., or that God is present even the lives of unbelievers  -even a reprobate –in our doctrine of Common Grace- we are known for the doctrines of Grace – the TULIP-

If we know that there is nothing in us that merits salvation and nothing in us that God has not done before – even before the foundation fo the world without any condition or any any of our foreseen works or faith in us- that He loves us so because of HisLove for His Son- who died and rose and is now reigning King and Priest and will come again  for us –and the world and He sent the Spirit as well sending preachers and sharers of the Gospel –so that our minds can be opened and our spirit be brought to life – and thus we are justified at one time with a faith that He gaves us thru the Word..we take steps to living for His Son..and through ups and downs- we will be sure pf our heavenly inheritance- for not even this world or its god- the devil –nor even us can frustrate the Eternal design and Purpose of the Father of giving a proplr to His Son-Jesus Christ.

If we know this – why then our defeated look..our inaction to share the gospel- to be bold in taking the world again…the elect will be only reach by the spoken Word.We will examine what Paul want us to Hold On and Press On.

From v 12 to 14-Paul addresses those more mature in faith- in the Christian life- He rminded them –that like him- They have not yet actively obtained nor passively was prefected of that perfection before the Lord- but that we must continue to press on knowing more and more of Jesus and his calling to us in this world- we must remember that this a call heavenward –to God –and this is part of being a Christian.  We must remember this as our target for we might forget. It must be our mark- our crossline in our scope.

In our office we have a 3 year goals, annual goals and then the quaterly goals so that we might not lose trackor be distracted.

We must forget our past achievement s – so as to root out pride and be lax or no longer venturing forth.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

And we must strive in all our might- our whole heart, mind and strenght must strive  to lay hold of Jesus as we are held by Him …We must not let go and be bamboozled by fear of defeat or irrelevance.

Others may think otherwise..saying it is time to rest..to be out of the limelight..to lay low… Maturity does teach us-NOT to hug the limelight  BUT instead to be in the forefront- NOT to be succesful…BUT to be faithful to the ONE calling us- everyday…For we have not yet arrived in heaven yet nor we have the resurrection body yet…

We must live consistent lives and not eventually falls by the wayside and forget who we are. Walking the same  rule- same mindset- we continue t serve the One Lord.

There is a tv series of a Chemistry teacher –Mr White –who when he learn he is dying from lung cancer- instead of redressing his life- turn bad- Breakig Bad- instead use his knowledge of chemistry in making high grade shabu and which involves later in the series- murder and so many evils-until he died.

I am reminded of Ka Freddie Aguilar too…sayang…

There is a real danger here..Jesus died sometime AD 30 and Paul will sometime 67AD-and maybe He wrote these epeistles when he was imprisoned around 62 AD. 30 years is a long time –waiting for the Lord to avenge against His old covenamt nation and against the Mighty Roman Empire. And we might also think now also. It is a call to perseverance…Those who ears…hear…

A christian-a true christian should not be eaten by despair and succumbed to the world. If you think otherwise- Paul is confident –that God will reveal-confront  you later of this.

As Spurgeon said here-“Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Let us keep all the good that we have received; let us not give up the truth that we have learnt; let us not leave the way along which we have traveled so far; and let us keep together, let perfect unanimity prove that the work of grace is going on in one as well as in another.”

 Slide13

 4.     Imitate Me (Phils 3:17-21)

(Phil 3:17 [ESV])

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

 

(Phil 3:18 [ESV])

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

(Phil 3:19 [ESV])

Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

(Phil 3:20 [ESV])

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

(Phil 3:21 [ESV])

who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

 We need heroes in this life…those who we can model our lives…those we can see striving and standing up for compassionand truth..and in V17 Pauls mentioned to them to mirror his life in theirs..As Paul follow Jesus..so should they also follow Jesus and imitate Paul in his stance in the Gospel..and be not scared to submission by the power and those in authorities…

I am glad that my mentor and spiritual father – Ps Maas- hold onto his last breathe as a Christian, pastor and husband to Mom Eloise. With sickness he got from here..he remain –in his weakemed body – as a model for us to the end.

Though there is this display of power in the Empire and then of societal acceptance amongst the Jews- we have our own political order-a commonwealth- a citizenship-not of this world.

And we might be tempted to forsake that of we cannot see..and what might we be then:

V19 Pauls says – weeping and lamenting for those he had once been with – that they became enemies of the cross of Christ. That their stomach or vowels is now their God- they are only following their creaturely needs and desires- this world concerns- food, shelter and what we might call as our needs. We might even hide our base and foul desires with a cloak of religiousity or the mantle of church authority.

Then instead of being  ashamed of our new associations or job or activities – we dull our conscience by saying it is permitted –nay –even desirable…for we can see this in those celebrities who take pride in the sins they put themselves..Charice…Freddie Aguilar…Alcoholics…Gangs who rapes and killed young women…here in Las Pinas or Los Banos or Leyte or Samar…

Our mind are trapped in this earthly existence. And we thought that our hope is here and now-and we must grasp it by our own wisdom and our efforts. Adn we are so wrong….

What would you do?

When the love of a woman had gone cold- will you trun to someone warmer or will you listen to the whiper in your ears –saying  -You are my child…see I love you so taht I gave my one and beloved Son for you..

When your Father –who you have known so many years- is now sick and is now dying and heaving his last breathe – Will you remember –that there is a Ftaher that does not dies nor will leave you nor forsake you as an orphan in this world..

When the brother you seek –was not able to help you in your financial problems..will you remember him who sticks closer than a brother – the Firstborn over Creation -who is always besides you whether you recognize Him or not – in you pain and  sorrow until you win in faith.

Someday these lowly bodies will be transformed- no more be ashamed of our sickness or handicaps. We will be like Jesus glorified bodies. We will use the energy that He will use in His Second comingin subduing the  whole creation and all its rebels- to trasform us.

By then we will no longer live by Faith- but we shall see Him fac-to-face. What would you do now knowing there is still a future for us-a heavenly hope for us?

Conclusion:

  1. We must be in full confidence in the identity we have in Jesus
  2. We must trust not on ourselves or what this world offers- but inly in Jesus
  3. We must act as mature – holding onto what we have learned and yet continue topress on the claims of Lordship in this dying world.
  4. We must remain a people of Hope…That Jesus will come again and with Him we will be resurrected in glory.

Change of Blog Name-Walk by Grace thru Faith

Forgiveness_Chinese

Because of my commitment to believer’s/disciples baptism that I chose to change my blog name from Critical Time to Grace Thru Faith –without neglecting the Reformed emphasis on all of life is Grace. But since it is not really Justification if man does not receive the gift of salvation without faith.

But as I continue in my spiritual journey I realize that  being justified is not the complete story of our salvation – there are people out there that will enslaved us again –to the Law, to works-oriented Christian life –to forgetting our adoption in Christ. Not relying in the resurrection power of Jesus but in trying to kill the old self-the flesh with earthly weapons-instead of relying in the power of the Holy Spirit.

As I was preparing the message for the youth service of San Pedro CRC last 1st week of July- I stumbled upon this outline from Ephesians 5-which is:

I. Walk in Love

2                      And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3                      But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

4                      Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

II. Walk in the Light

8                      for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

9                      (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),

10                   and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

III. Walk in Wisdom

15                   Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,

16                   making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

17                   Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

 And so I expropriate it to my blog-calling it “Walk by Grace, thru Faith” regaining the perspective of a life live as well in Grace –and not just in Faith for salvation- i.e. from beginning from Grace (in eternity)to this life now-and then at our final Justification –which is eternally secured because of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The theme of that July message was on Honoring Parents- and because :

  1. The Lord says so-it is His claim on our life
  2. It is proper and right because in our natural life –even unbelievers honor their parents.
  3. Because it insures that our life will be long and well (quantitatively and qualitatively    

So –it-the Word of God really surprises me when I prepared that message –I also realize that walking in love means being committed to purity in life and tongue and sexual fidelity,  living in the light means that I consider –goodness,righteousness and truth. And that wisdom is making sure that every  opportunity is considered as witness to Jesus. The Lord be praised for His unexpected gifts to us.

To My Children

I will be doing a new series here that will tackle teachings that are important to me-and maybe used by them in finding their home church-especially when I am already gone:

I. Trinity; Christ-God and Man; Scripture; Justification by Faith Alone

II. Plurality of Leadership; Reverent and Contemporary Praise and Worship Music; Order of Worship; Plurality of Stewardship and Administration; Spiritual Presence in Lord’s Table

III.Sanctification by Faith and Spirit; New Covenant Grace Giving; Lord’s Day not Sabbath; Assurance-part of Faith/ Marrow-Free Grace;Law of Christ

IV. Sovereign Grace; Common Grace/Presence; Reformed Lordship in All Life; Anabaptist Powerlessness.

V. New Covenant Theology;Baptism of Disciples; Covenantal Continuity and Discontinuity; Children-Holy to the Lord

VI. Eschatological Pluralism; Partial Preterism; Here and Not Yet; Kingdom of God; Physical Return of Jesus Christ

VII. Redemptive-Historical-Grammatical Hermeneutics; Reason and Revelation -in Harmony; Whole Person Interpretative Scheme

Who is Reformed?

 

This is my reply to a post by Rev Noli Malibuyo at : http://www.twoagespilgrims.com/doctrine/?p=28

My problem with our Reformed brethren is that they want to restrict more what is already restrictive term. What is its goal? faithfulness? John Macarthur is leading many evangelicals and baptist into an understanding of salvation that glorifies the grace of God in Christ. What more do we like him to do? Make sure that others baptized their infant children? -when we in the Reformed paedobaptist camp does not know how to rear our children so that they will trust the Lord Jesus as their Savior and Lord when they grow up?

The LBCF Reformed baptists is as old as the WCF-at least same generation. Some of original Anabaptist were predestinarian in theology and yet we hounded them like pigs and drown them as one.

Do we now glory in the fact that Calvin relentlessly and without impunity hounded Servetus with incriminating evidence to the Catholic authorities just because Servetus mentioned in the side of a book of Calvin that “anyone who believes in baptizing infants has a demon” . I know we defended Calvin that he only did this things because he is a man of the times-and therefore we should not be proud of it-and instead be sorrowful and repentant about it. Do we now use this to demarginalize our Reformed Baptist brethren again?

Or so that all of us will have a restrictive view of RPW? Or that we will be all amilllenialist in a Dutch ghetto-where we are fearful of the betrayals and unfaithfulness of those around us?
Or we glory in the law for our sanctification instead in the grace of God? Or should we glory in our confessions when we use it to obscure the glory of Christ in the Word fo God? Or we hold to ahistorical covenant theology instead of the biblical covenants (plural)?

The fact that we are many last Jan 29-30, 2010 , with many differing eschatologies/ecclesiologies/sacramentologies and yet united in the gospel and grace of Jesus Christ should be cause for joy. We should be known for that-and be respectful of those who joins us away from a Semi-Pelagian Churchianity.

I am a confessional Reformed holding to the Three Forms of Unity since 1982. I know my Berkouwer,Kuyper,Bavinck,Turretin,Olevianus and others. I just felt sorry that instead of uniting within the banner of the Grace of God-we need other qualifications to be Reformed.

Me a Baptist? Maybe somewhat, sometime ago-not anymore

Baptist in history are heroes of the faith. They suffered so much misunderstanding,persecution, pain and death from Catholics, Reformed, Lutheran and Anglicans. They suffered because they believed in a regenerated congregation who believes in Jesus Christ with a living and informed faith. Many-within the Roman Catholic church- entered through the church by forced conversion or through their kings-mass conversion. It also means mass baptisms.

Baptism of Clovis in Reims: http://www.museehistoiredefrance.fr/index.php?option=com_oeuvre&view=detail&cid=205

I am only commenting with my experience here in the Philippines. Good Baptists usually used the term Evangelicals or Christians to describe themselves. Those who remain Baptist in name are almost always synonymous with “fundamentalist, separatist”. Other good Baptists want to prefaced their label with a descriptive “Reformed”.

I have some qualms with the term “Reformed” if it instantly refers to a covenant theology with a flatline view of the covenant-like that of the Reconstructionist or the Federal Visionist. That is why I am using the term “New Covenantal Reformed” to show that my view is historical-which means it begins with Noah and Abraham-and not with Adam. I see Adam as the first representative of man- but I am still weighing the term “federal head” since Augustine understanding of original sin does not necessitates a covenantal transaction. Not all Reformed theologians advocates the Westminster -type of covenant theology. But I am not dispensational (though I with some appreciation of their view of discontinuities about the land,people and temple-as well as the law) and neither I am not anti-covenantal. But I don’t want to be identified as a modern-day Baptist because of the following:

1. Creedless-There are some advantages of being without a confession or statement of faith -meaning you can easily follow the Scriptures -wherever you and your church decided that it is what Scripture teaches. However if a church does not have a statement of faith-who says if a teaching is an aberration or truth? If you will be conducting a discipleship or basic course on doctrines-which ones are important? If there will be questions within the church-who will tell if someone is in danger of falling away from the faith?

2. Singular Leadership- Presbyterian,Reformed and some Baptist and evangelical churches have plural elderships. This reflects the singular headship of Jesus Christ. This also reflects New Testament (especially Pauline) Christianity. This tendency for singular leadership tends to mimic, in a local church setting, -the papacy. He is the one who decided the direction, doctrine and discipline of members. Some churches were able to weather this situation because of the servant of its pastors  and/or the vigilance of its members or board of deacons.

3. Culture-bound-I am not a  member of a Protestant Reformed Church-so I am not against the doctrine of common grace/presence. But I believe in the doctrine of the antithesis. I see culture and the media through the lens of Reformed Theology of -creation,fall,redemption and consummation. It is the sieve that I use whether a thing,activity or idea maybe redeemed and used for His glory. I am also missional and believe in contextualization (based on the Lausanne Covenant) or incarnational-type of evangelism and missions. But seeker-friendly? I would not used that word since Romans 1-3 as well Ephesians 2 prevents me to see that depraved-unregenerated man will ever seek God on his own. So most of these churches will use these resources with minimum theological resources. It is only through the defensive stance of the Holy Spirit that they are not engulf inside this secular quicksand.

4. Unbiblical evangelism-not knowing about the total depravity of man and that unregenerate man will only resist the gospel-these churches will resort to gimmicks, manipulation, coercion and tickling the ears of their hearers. Though we are told by our Lord not to be a stumbling block to others coming to Him (meaning there are behaviors,attitudes and actions we must avoid doing or being) -He also told us to share the gospel in a way that will not reduced its demand on men to eb truly His disciples. Using manmade methods will surely result to man’s disicples -not Jesus’.

5. No exposition of God’s Word-not confident of the power of the Gospel and Word of God to change peoples’ lives-they resort to topical preaching -which is geared towards the shallow diagnosis of man’s needs. Result? there is almost a famine of God’s Word in these churches.And the problem is -they don’t know that-because their speakers-are great speakers-but their manna is not from heaven. It may inspire them for a while. It may alleviate them for a while. But it will not be the living water-nor the bread from heaven.

6. Unconcerned about children’s biblical education-since they think that their children will have an adult commitment around 12 to 18 years old-they neglect to catechize and teach the bible-using the bible itself-their own children. This is not true with reformed Baptists though-I have talked with Pastor  Noel Espinosa and he believes that we should not set the minimum age when a child may understand the gospel and trust the Lord Jesus for their salvation. But amongst baptists-they will treat their children with coloring sections and activities instead of delving into bible segments and doctrines. I thought they should be more aware and concerned of their children’s education-but they are not. So the Baptist I admired does not live in my neighborhood or immediate surroundings. Understanding the bible through a covenantal lens may correct this neglect.

7. Unaffiliation/ unaccountability- I do not believe in hierarchical or sacerdotal church government. Nor do I believe in one-man church leadership. I believe in multiple leadership in a local church-and the local church and its leaders accountable collegialy to a group of Christians for their doctrine,practices and finances. If I don’t believe in the Pope in ROme-much more for a pope inside a local church.

8. Barging in worship-I don’t believe in a wooden worship-meaning you already know what will exactly happen each week-nor I believe in totally unstructured public worship. We worship in Spirit and in Truth. And we worship in an order that glorifies God. Worship that lifts up men and their group is not good worship. Worship must points to the great themes of the Scripture-Creation, Fall, Redemption and the New Creation. Most evangelical churches just barges into the throne of Grace without even being led by the Word-nor we are made conscious of our unworthiness except for the work done by the Lord Jesus at Calvary. They just barge in.

So I rather be labeled with a long set of descriptors-Born Again Christian, Lausanne Covenant-Evangelical, New Covenantal and Missional Reformed (Kuyperian,Van Tillian, Vossian and Schaefferian).

Eating My Humble Pie

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I would like to express my deepest regret for being wrong about my fellow Reformed Christians. Though the doctrine of infant baptism or credo baptism is significant to both of us- It is not the Galatian heresy I thought a year ago. We may disagree about it and make it a test of membership-but to me it is no longer a matter of fellowship.

I just learn that after a year being a member of a fundamental baptist church-that I have more in common with Reformed Christianity than with a regular Baptist.And the issue I raised a year ago regarding believer’s baptism-whichI still hold especially from a new covenantal view -is in fact unknown from regular baptist. It does not even register on them. They don’t see the bible as a covenantal document! Thus the traditional covenant view maybe flat line-the regular baptist is non-existent. I rather based my hopes on the view of Geerhandus Vos or Meredith Kline to explain the progressive nature of biblical covenants than to wait for baptist christians to awaken from their stupor.

If a Christian parents wants to baptize his child-I am open to it as long as he understand it as a way to acknowledge Jesus lordship on his life and his family and that grace is always primary-and not our works or even faith. But yes -faith is important-that is why if someone, baptized in his infancy,-wants to rebaptize in his adult years-I will not posed any objections-as long as he believes that this is his response to Jesus’ Lordship and will not be repeated again in his adulthood.

Is this based on the covenant of Abraham? Yes- for faith always works outside -by showing works that prove his faith is real. Whether it is  in his life or those he loves. Is this disobedience to the precise command of our Lord? -No- for there is no direct command not to baptize children-and there is also no direct command that adults who were part of the covenant when they were children-not to be baptized anymore when they reached the age of reason. Our turbulent history bears witness to the injustice done by our Reformed forefathers to the Anabaptist and Baptist brethren. It also bears witness to the lack of steady doctrinal stand and clarity amongst baptist church which goes against confessional Christianity.

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Is this a novelty? I think the elders of Bethlehem’s church also thought about this but did not push through at the last minute. Better to raise the Reformed flag (chastised by history on its narrowness) than to raise a Baptist flag that has  no historical roots. Later post will provide the details of what I missed on being Reformed.