Monthly Archives: June 2007

A Conversation with John Owen

Me: John, what should be our motivation when we seek to oppose sin?

John: “When a man rights (amends) against his sin only with arguments from the issue or the punishment due unto it, this is a sign that sin has taken great possession of the will, and that in the heart there is a superfluity of naughtiness (James 1:21)” (pg 93)

Me: So you’re saying that our only motivation for holiness should not be the consequences of our sin?

John: “Such a man opposes nothing to the seduction of sin and lust in his heart but fear of shame among men or hell from God, is sufficiently resolved to do the sin if there were no punishment attending it; which what it differs from living in the practice of sin, I know not.” (pg 93)

Me: Any examples from Scripture to help us think about these things?

John: “So did Joseph. How shall I do this great evil, says he, and sin against the LORD, my good and gracious God? (Gen. 39:9) And Paul, The love of Christ constrains us (2 Cor. 5:14), and Having received these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all pollution of the flesh and spirit (2 Cor. 7:1).” (pg 93)

Me: Amen brother! So how do we handle the tension between being converted and renewed and yet still battling with sin in our lives?

John: “These are the evils that believers may fall into and be ensnared with, not the things that constitute a believer. A man may as well conclude that he is a believer because he is an adulterer, because David that was so fell into adultery, as conclude it from the signs foregoing, which are the evils of sin and Satan in the hears of believers.” (pg 96)

Me: So, you would say in Romans 7, we are dealing with a regenerate Paul?

John: “The seventh chapter of the book of Romans contains the description of a regenerate man. He that shall consider what is spoken of his dark side, of his unregenerate part, of the indwelling power and violence of sin remaining in him, and, because he finds the like in himself, conclude that he is a regenerate man, will be deceived in his reckoning.” (pg 96)

Me: In other words, we should not be comforted that we sin too, just like everyone else?

John: It is all one as if you should argue: A wise man may be sick and wounded, yea, do some things foolishly; therefore, everyone who is sick, and wounded and does things foolishly is a wise man…If you have evidences of your being believers, it must be from those things that constitute men believers.” (pg 96)

Me: So, it seems like you’re saying that to truly mortify sin, one must first be a believer and secondly this action must take place by the Spirit?

John: “There is no death of sin without the death of Christ.” (pg 79)

(All quotes taken from Overcoming Sin and Temptation, edited by Justin Taylor and Kelly Kapic.)

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Key Texts on Elders

At my church, by God’s grace, we are seeking to see 2 Timothy 2:2 in action among young men training for ministry and all those seeking to honor God by fidelity to His Word.

We want to make sure that we pass along some of the core elements that should be present in a New Testament Church today. One of those basic elements includes the New Testament’s teaching of a plurality of elders. The following texts are helpful in thinking about how elders should be qualified, how they should function, and how they relate to the congregation as a whole. As we move through more doctrinal elements, I’ll post key texts that give us direction on being biblical in the way we “do church.”

In Every Church

There were elders in every church (not just an elder in a bunch of house churches in a city). The fact that Paul is establishing elders in every church and moving on weighs against multiple “sites” or “campuses” who are ultimately under a single elder. These texts seem to argue against Papal and Episcopal forms of church government, even those found among Baptist churches in the multi-campus movement.

ESV Acts 14:23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

ESV James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Qualifications (see also the charts below)

Paul gives explicit instructions regarding elders, who must be “able to teach” (1 Tim 3:2) and orthodox—“holding firmly to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to instruct in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Tit 1:9).

ESV 1 Timothy 3:1 ff The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

ESV Titus 1:5 ff This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you– 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

In Every Region

The New Testament indicates that anywhere churches were planted, every church had elders. These references to elders are made in a way that shows that this reality—that the churches had elders—was assumed and needed no discussion or explanation.

All the churches Paul and Barnabas planted on the first missionary journey, Acts 14:23

Jerusalem Acts 15:2

Ephesus: Acts 20:17–38 (1 Timothy 3:1–7; 2 John 1:1? 3 John 1:1?)

Philippi: Philippians 1:1

Crete: Titus 1:5

“the twelve tribes in the Dispersion”: James 1:1; 5:14

The dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia: 1 Peter 1:1, 5:1–5

Elders/Overseers/Pastors

The terms “elder” and “overseer” (bishop) are used in a way that indicates that they overlap in meaning in the New Testament, and the pastoral imagery from which we derive the title “pastor” also overlaps with the use of these terms. Thus, the New Testament seems to indicate that an “elder” is an “overseer” (bishop) is a “pastor.”

Acts 20:17–28: “elders of the church . . . shepherd the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers”
Titus 1:5–7: “appoint elders . . . . For an overseer”
1 Peter 5:1–4: “I exhort the elders . . . fellow elder . . . shepherd the flock . . . exercising oversight (plural participle) . . . when the Chief Shepherd appears”

Church Offices

1 Timothy 3 seems to lay out qualifications for two offices in the church, elder and deacon, and this is confirmed by Paul’s greeting to the “overseers and deacons” in Philippians 1:1. What we see in Acts 6 gives us a good model of how elders and deacons should serve, even though Acts 6 doesn’t call the seven deacons, and even though the Apostles, not the elders, are appointing the seven to serve. The following observations are instructive:

1. The congregation is asked by the apostles to identify men, whom the apostles will then appoint for the work. This points to elder-led congregationalism: initiative from the leadership, input from the congregation, approval by the leadership.

2. The Apostles seek help in service that they might devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. Pastoral ministry is prayer and the ministry of the word.

Qualifications for Elders in 1 Timothy and Titus

Elders in 1 Timothy Elders in Titus
3:2, above reproach 1:6, 7, above reproach
3:2, husband of one wife 1:6, husband of one wife
3:2, sober-minded
3:2, self-controlled 1:8, self-controlled
3:2, respectable
3:2, hospitable 1:8, hospitable
3:2, able to teach 1:9, hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in
sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it
3:3, not a drunkard 1:7, not . . . a drunkard
3:3, not violent but gentle 1:7, not . . . violent
3:3, not quarrelsome 1:7, not be arrogant or quick tempered
3:3, not a lover of money 1:7, not . . . greedy for gain
3:4–5, manage his own household well . . . care for God’s church 1:7, God’s steward
3:4, with all dignity keeping his children submissive 1:6, children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination
3:6, not a recent convert
3:7, well thought of by outsiders
1:8, a lover of good
1:8, upright
1:8, holy
1:8, disciplined

Qualifications for Deacons and Deaconesses in 1 Timothy 3

Deacons in 1 Tim. Deaconesses in 1 Tim.
3:8, dignified 3:11, dignified
3:8, not double tongued 3:11, not slanderers
3:8, not addicted to much wine 3:11, sober
3:8, not greedy for dishonest gain
3:9, hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience 3:11, faithful in all things
3:10, tested, serving if blameless

3:12, husband of one wife
3:12, managing children and household well

(HT: Jim Hamilton)

What’s New from 9 Marks?

Nine Marks Logo

Read Jonathan Leeman’s editor’s note below and check out the whole thing here.

Editor’s Note

Seems like there’s been quite a hullabaloo over the gospel lately.

A man named Chalke, echoing a McLaren, echoing a Green and a Baker, echoing a number of feminists, used the words “divine child abuse” to talk about the cross. In response, two major British evangelical institutions refused to let Chalke speak, thereby cutting ties with a third institution that has Chalke on its board.

A book called Pierced For Our Transgressions responded to Chalke, which in turn provoked a heavy-weight named Wright to enter the ring, pound the book, and defend Chalke.

The conservative blogosphering bleacher-sitters then jumped to their feet and started quarrelling with one another over whether or not Wright is one of them. Another heavy-weight named Piper now promises to leap in soon with a book that says “no” and argues that Wright is “harmful to the church and to the human soul.” Meanwhile, the U.S. counterpart to the British publisher that printed Pierced decided not to touch the book, telling the enquiring yours truly that the book “doesn’t add anything to the conversation.”

Those evangelicals. Always squabbling with one another instead of doing the work of the ministry. Isn’t that what this is?

Well, what does Jude mean when he says “to contend for the faith”? What does Peter mean when he says “be on your guard”? What does John mean when he warns a church to not “even greet” false teachers? What does Paul mean when he says to let anyone with an alternative gospel—my goodness—”be eternally condemned”?

Until this world is ended, the gospel will be challenged from places high and low. It will be tweaked and twisted, denounced and denied. And most fundamentally, Christ calls local churches—not seminaries, not presbyteries, not synods, not theologians, not publishers, and not even eJournals—to defend the gospel. It’s the people in the pews and the pulpits whom these apostles address.

Insofar as God permits, this issue of the 9Marks eJournal aims to equip local churches and pastors to do just that—defend the gospel. The sweet news is, defending the gospel means meditating on it. Start with Powlison, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

–Jonathan Leeman

Trading Oxen in for Priests

Are you humble? No, this is not a trick question. Have you ever thought about the marks of humility? This Sunday at Redeemer we will see at least three marks of true humility as we consider Uzzah and Michal from 2 Samuel 6. At the end of this passage David completely humbles himself before the Lord and makes the astonishing statement: I will make myself yet more contemptible than this…(v.22). How does this selfless, God-centered attitude come to be? Is it natural? The answer to that is a resounding no!

This week we will see three marks of humility exhibited by David—a knowledge of sinfulness, repentance and a fear of Almighty God. We see early on that David has completely ignored the clear instructions on how the Ark of the Covenant should be carried (also cf. Num. 7:9; Deut. 10:8). David’s pragmatism results in the death of Uzzah, as he tries to protect the Ark from falling. David’s response to this disaster is telling of his heart: “And David was afraid of the Lord that day (v.9).” We read of David’s repentance as the Ark is properly moved to its final destination.

Does David’s attitude and response parallel your own? Are there areas in your life where you are replacing God’s clear commands for more convenient measures? This week we will see the devastating results of a careless attitude with respect to God’s holiness. Are there areas in your life that might result in disaster for those around you if you continue down a path of detached indifference? Are you humble enough to become undignified before others and to confess sin or admit to a gigantic failure? Join us this week as we seek to tremble at His Word and thereby attract the divine gaze of God Almighty.

May God help us all to be more undignified every day…

The Deadly Rewards of “Success”

Success can be a very dangerous and complicated matter. We should strive to be successful in all our endeavors, shouldn’t we? But the manner in which that success is measured and the means by which it is attained hits at the core meaning of true greatness. Often times what we see as success, God may view as failure—completely opposed to His plan. How can we tell? How can we measure true greatness?

This week at Redeemer we will be considering David, King of Israel and Judah from 2 Samuel 4-5. We will see a misguided attempt at success as Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, is murdered in pre-meditated fashion. What is more telling is that his killers bring his head to David expecting a reward. They receive a reward alright, but I don’t think it was what they were expecting. Where does your path of “success” lead? What reward are you expecting?

So, what is David’s secret to success? Does he possess uncanny leadership qualities, a driven, can-do attitude? Our answer comes in 2 Samuel 5:10: And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him. This truth has defined David and will continue to do so throughout his life. It is evident when he goes to battle and when he protects the Lord’s anointed and their families. However, this does not mean that David’s life is without deception or sin, as we will see this week and in coming weeks as well.

What effect does success have on your life? Can you identify ways in which God has directed your path? What reward awaits you? Join us this Sunday as we beseech the Lord of Hosts for His presence and guidance.

New Sermons from 2 Samuel

Jim Hamilton has begun a new series on 2 Samuel. If you are a preacher wondering how to approach Old Testament Narrative, or you are a believer who struggles with applying the Old Testament to your life today and relevant issues of our time, check out these sermons!

It’s a joy to sit under Gospel-centered, preaching from the Old Testament! Click here to access these sermons.

Titles and Scriptures of sermons:

1 Samuel–Fnding Jesus in 1 Samuel

1 Sam 31-2 Sam 1–How the Mighty Have Fallen!

2 Samuel 2–David and the Man of Shame

2 Samuel 3–David, Joab, and Abner

New Sermons from 1 Timothy

Thanks to the labors of the Saints at Baptist Church of the Redeemer, 3 new sermons are available from my series on 1 Timothy. You can access them on the sermon audio page of this blog or here.

Sermon Titles and texts:

1 Timothy 5:1-16–Gospel Ministry: Meeting Needs

1 Timothy 6:11-16–A Charge to the Pastors

1 Timothy 6:17-21–Be Rich in Christ

Reflections on the SBC Annual Meeting

This past week, I was blessed to be a messenger from my church to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX. The meeting conjured up many thoughts in my mind, but much of that has already been addressed here and here. It was a joy for me to be able to spend some uninterrupted time with my fellow elder and all his famous friends.

I’ll just make two comments (my two cents) about the convention:

1. I was convicted about being a Southern Baptist for nearly 10 years now, and this being my first convention. Real direction and business takes place at this meeting and the churches drive those decisions and directions! Churches are represented by messengers, some 8,000 were present. I have done my share of complaining and bemoaning the negative aspects of the SBC, but I never really attempted to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. The greatest example of this, in my opinion came from Mark Dever. He sat there with about 10 of his staff and interns from his church carefully listening and explaining to them the “ins and outs” of every motion and resolution. Dever was probably one of the more articulate persons on the entire room, yet he did not make his way to a microphone. He sat quietly, instructing his students and voting on all the issues. That was inspiring to me! May God raise up an army of pastors like that to influence the future of the SBC!

(Side note: if you read Denny B.’s blog, you’ll see the disappointing results of the resolution on church membership integrity. However, I think you’ll agree that even if the resolution had passed, church discipline and meaningful membership are not going to just “poof” into action. The real change comes when pastors are educated and influenced by healthy churches modeling a biblical ecclesiology.)

2. I was encouraged by Voddie Baucham’s message at the Founders Breakfast on Tuesday morning. His message can be found here. The seven areas of repentance he called for were regenerate church membership, church discipline, biblical exposition, biblical church planting, family discipleship, biblically qualified leadership and Christian education. I had to look around and make sure that I was at the right place (the SBC Annual Meeting?)! Praise God for his words to us!

All in all, it was a great experience, and Lord willing, our church will be bringing more messengers next year in Indianapolis to vote for Dr. Mohler for president!

May God bring revival and renewal to the hearts and minds of Southern Baptists!

Hope in the Evening News?

Watching the late night news can be discouraging to say the least. How many times have you listened to the stories of murder, child abuse and war and thought to yourself “Things just seem hopeless?” Perhaps you’ve recently been involved in a family tragedy or loss that has left you bereft of hope. What can we be hoping for in this life?

Tragedy is not a novel concept pertaining only to modern times. It was birthed in the Garden of Eden as Adam and Eve fell into transgression causing the stain of sin to run deep into the fabric of the human race. But hidden in this tragedy was a hope: “…he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel…” There is hope and salvation hidden in the face of tragedy and judgment!

This week at Redeemer we will be considering David, Joab, and Abner from 2 Samuel 3. This passage begins with an update on the struggle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent in Genesis 3:15-16: There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker (3:1). Throughout the text of Scripture we see the working out of God’s promise to defeat evil, but as we’ll see this week, the effects of the fall can cause us to miss the end of the story. David will be faced with a serious offense from his own ranks as Joab takes justice into his own hands. How will David respond? How can we take things into our own hands, forsaking our trust in God to fight our battles? How do you respond to tragedy and loss in your life? Do you cling to the hope of God’s victory, or have you been blinded by the present evil that we are faced with every day? Join us this week as we look to God’s promises for encouragement and hope!