The Right Agenda

During his report to the messengers at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, AZ, Dr. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, was questioned from the floor about the seminary pushing a “Calvinistic agenda.”

Dr. Akin’s response?

“Southeastern has one agenda: It is called the Great Commission. We are committed to the final marching orders of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe His last words are meant to be lasting words, so any agenda other than that would be the wrong agenda. As long as I’m there, we’re going to be about joining hands with Southern Baptists and taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth to fulfill the final marching orders of the Lord Jesus Christ — the Great Commission.”

Well said, Dr. Akin.

Well said.

The Wisdom of Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (June 19, 1834 – January 31, 1892) was an English Baptist preacher who remains highly influential among Christians today. Known as the “Prince of Preachers,” he was a strong figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition. He defended the Church in agreement with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, and opposed the liberal and pragmatic theological tendencies in the Church in his day.

In his lifetime, Spurgeon preached to approximately 10,000,000 people. He was the pastor of the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London for 38 years. He was a prolific author of many types of works including sermons, an autobiography, a commentary, books on prayer, a devotional, a magazine, poetry, hymnist, and more. In his writings and sermons is a wealth of wisdom from which we can benefit. Consider…

“Free will I have often heard of, but I have never seen it. I have always met with will, and plenty of it, but it has either been led captive by sin or held in the blessed bonds of grace.” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 

Who defines marriage? (a repost, sort of)

Note: This bulk of this post originally appeared on March 4, 2008. The introductory paragraph has been changed to fit the context of June 2011.

The state of New York has officially legalized gay marriage. Now, it is always heartbreaking to see sin defended and celebrated as if it were not only legitimate but also honorable, but it’s not new. This should not be surprising to anyone. You can always count on sinful men to behave sinfully. The Bible makes this abundantly clear.  We should not be shocked when we see news reports to that effect. Neither should we get bent out of shape when sinful men feign to declare something evil as good.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! — Isaiah 5:20

Quite frankly, I could not care less what the state of New York has to say about the definition of marriage.

canofworms.jpgDon’t get me wrong, I firmly stand with the Scriptural teaching concerning the sinfulness of homosexuality and the definition of marriage, but I think conservative, orthodox Christians are making a terrible mistake in arguing the theological points with politicians. To argue the theology of this issue is to miss a much, much larger point and accept a premise we ought to reject.

Liberals have been pushing for federal government recognition of same-sex marriages and “civil unions” while conservatives have advocated a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman consistent with Scripture. This fight has spilled over into the state level — as recent events attest. However, fighting the battle in this context assumes that the state has the authority to define what is and is not marriage — and it does not.

Marriage was instituted by God, Himself. He created it. He defines it. The state has no more authority to define marriage than it does to define salvation. The matters are just not open to debate. God has spoken. It is settled.

I really could not care less whether or not any state recognizes my marriage to my wife. It’s not open to their scrutiny. What matters is whether or not God recognizes our marriage. Do our brothers and sisters in Christ see our marriage as consistent with Scripture? Did our church authorize our union? These are the things that matter. I’ve always wondered why marriage licenses even exist. Marriage does not belong to the state so why does the state need to issue permission in the form of a license to anyone? It’s ridiculous.

Most Christians would agree that the issue of salvation is a more important theological issue than same-sex marriages. We don’t have state licenses for salvation. The state does not recognize anyone’s conversion. Why not? Because it’s not their business.

I have friends who adhere to different religious beliefs than I do. I can share my faith with them and they with me. But we don’t try to force our beliefs on one another through the power of state coercion. If we did we’d cease to be friends. Our freedom to choose for ourselves how we will conduct our lives is paramount in a free society.

weddingrings.jpgI don’t mind if two men get “married” in a ceremony by someone professing to represent God as a priest or pastor. I think they should be free to do that and the state should butt out. Is that form of “marriage” an abomination before God? Yes. Will I recognize their “marriage” as legitimate? No. No more than I will recognize someone’s professed salvation through Buddha. But, according to 1 Corinthians 5:12, it is none of my business to judge those outside the church for their sinful behavior. God handles that. I am accountable to my brothers and sisters in Christ and am to hold them accountable in turn.

But we all should agree on one point: In matters of theology — whether it concerns salvation or marriage or whatever — politicians should never be allowed to operate under the illusion that they are the ones who define such matters.

They are not.

What is the Bible about?

 

The wisdom of A.W. Tozer

Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, Bible conference speaker, and spiritual mentor. In his writings and sermons is a wealth of wisdom from which we can benefit. Consider…

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” — A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God

I would summarize it this way — If having unity is our objective we will miss God, if knowing God is our objective we will have unity.

The Milky Way

Jeff Noblit, pastor of Grace Life Church of the Shoals in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, warns against the Milky Way that has engulfed many churches in America…

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