Beware the sin of nationalism

Bro. Dave Black, a professor of Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, spoke up in his Sunday School class at Bethel Hill yesterday. He made a statement with, in his words, “something of the sensation of a man about to jump off a cliff with a cannonball tied to his leg. But it was a point I felt I had to make, especially in view of all the American flags flying everywhere on the church campus — it being Memorial Day weekend.”

Here is what he had to say about the experience in his blog at daveblackonline.com

Our God is a color blind God, I said. I added: Our God is a dollar blind God. Our God is a status blind God. And then I said this: Our God is a nation blind God. To say or to imply that America is somehow a “holy nation” is, in my humble estimation, blasphemous. The household of God (to which I belong by God’s grace) is the only holy nation on earth. It includes in its membership all Christians of all ages, all nationalities, all levels of social strata, all levels of intelligence. The lesson is clear. From the moment of my conversion to Christ, and from the moment of your conversion to Christ, we have been in fellowship with every other Christian in the world, be they American or Ethiopian or Chinese or Iraqi or Iranian. The Bible tells us “we are all one in Christ Jesus” — and that includes our guest speaker this morning who came to us from southern India.

It is here, on the national level, that we are called upon to demonstrate to a lost world the reality of our fellowship. We are bound together by a unity that goes far beyond mere geography or nationality let alone hobby or personal interest or political affiliation or denomination. Only when we learn to see ourselves as this kind of a holy nation, only when we learn to treasure that kind of fellowship, only when we experience this kind of trans-national love, will we fulfill our vocation as saints.

Beware of the sin of nationalism, my friends. A Christian is a citizen of a heavenly commonwealth because he or she belongs to the holy nation of the people of God. This, and this alone, is the only Christian nation. Other nations may contain Christians, and they may be influenced to one degree or another by Christian principles, but there will never be a Christian nation except the people redeemed by the blood of Christ.

I pray believers everywhere will begin to adopt this kind of kingdom mindset and abandon the worldly nationalism that so easily entraps us.

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The Ultimate Sacrifice (a repost)

“Everything is wrong.”

In the Church in western culture we have completely abandoned Biblical instruction for raising young men and women. We have turned our children over to secular authorities who are antagonistic toward the things of God.

Don’t believe it?

Watch this and see if you don’t change your mind…

Unity BECAUSE of differences

As Christians we frequently say, “We should be unified despite our differences.” Arthur Sido explains the more appropriate statement should be, “We should be unified because of our differences.”

His recommendation?

“So find some other Christians who disagree with you (not to fight with them or convert them!). Get to know them. Let them get to know you. See what happens. I can virtually guarantee you that your life in the Body of Christ will be richer for it!”

Good advice.

On my heart today…

“Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” — Hebrews 13:13-14

The Key to Unity

The number one benefit to studying for years at seminary is this…

I now know how much I don’t know.

Before seminary I knew there were a few things I didn’t know about Scripture. But, I thought with a little brushing up I’d just about have everything down. I was wrong. I studied subjects I didn’t even know existed. I studied hermeneutics, the Synoptic Problem and how we received the Canon. I learned about the Remonstrants and the Synod of Dort. I engaged in the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism and was introduced to Greek and Hebrew. And at the end of it all I carried away this one very important lesson…

I don’t know squat.

It’s ironic, really. When I knew less I was more confident in my knowledge. Now that I’ve learned so much, I realize just how much I have left to learn. A deep study of theology seems to provide two new questions for every one answer. Now, I never was a big fan of math, but even I can figure that one out. I have discovered that as we go deeper into our study of God we will likely discover that the task becomes more difficult. There will be more and more things over which believers disagree — count on it. I have also discovered that those who go deeper tend to become more and more amiable in their disagreements with other believers because they have discovered for themselves just how difficult is the task of serious Bible study.

There are, of course, doctrines over which there can be no compromise. The virgin birth, the resurrection, and the substitutionary atonement of Christ are non-negotiable. Without them there is no Gospel.

However, on other matters it is possible for Christians to have honest — and friendly — disagreements. It’s what Paul Himes calls, “How to disagree without being a jerk.

Very good advice.

Meaningful Church Membership

Consider the following scenario:

Mr. Christian invites Mr. Unsaved Friend to come with him to church on Sunday. Mr. Unsaved Friend declines the offer. And what is his excuse?

Well, take your pick…

  • “That church is full of hypocrites.”
  • “I’m just as good as any one of those church members.”
  • “I’m already friends with about half of your members and they never go to church, why should I?”

And, to be fair, Mr. Unsaved Friend has a point. The Church in America has become so lax concerning church membership that our rolls are filled with marginal and absentee members — many of whom are likely unregenerate. This is a very real problem and it is our fault. Why? Because when a person comes forward during an invitation seeking membership we typically vote on them on-the-spot without ever giving consideration to a serious examination of their professed faith. We don’t have our elders examine them. We don’t insist they agree to our doctrinal statements. We don’t have them participate in a trial membership whereby they can be observed by the existing members for evidence of true faith. We just have a vote — which is nothing more than a mere formality — and then jot their name on our roll. Done.

We can now go tell our community that our church is growing.

And we wonder why Mr. Unsaved Friend sees hypocrites and worldliness in us. It’s because we’ve invited it in. All of this begs the question, can anything be done?

You bet it can.

The 9Marks website has a wonderful series of articles on this very topic — what I’d call the keys to meaningful church membership. It addresses a series of serious questions concerning church membership:

It goes on and on. I highly recommend these articles. They are challenging, necessary, and will make most of us quite uncomfortable as they hold our traditions and practices up against the light of Scripture.

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