"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

A Southern Baptist Statement of Cooperation

The gospel is the story about Christ, God’s and David’s Son, who died and was raised and is established as Lord. We as Southern Baptists join together to proclaim the good news that God's Kingdom has come in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord and Messiah, in fulfillment of the Word of God.

The gospel we declare evokes faith, repentance and discipleship --- its accompanying effects include the forgiveness of sins, justification, reconciliation, adoption, wisdom and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Southern Baptists accompany our proclamation of the gospel with cooperative works of compassion and mercy for those in need or distress.

We strive to advance Christ’s kingdom on earth with the confession, proclamation, and application of the good news. The Bible is undoubtedly central to our cooperation, but Jesus Christ is the center of it. Therefore, we resolve to cooperate with one another, affirming the essentials of the gospel and our Baptist identity in these five doctrines:


(1). We affirm the authority, sufficiency and reliability of God’s infallible revelation to man in both His written Word and the Living Word Jesus Christ.
(2) We affirm both the full humanity and deity of Jesus Christ.
(3). We affirm Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners, His resurrection from the dead, and His gift of eternal life to all who are in relationship with Him by grace through faith.
(4). We affirm the Baptist distinctive of believer’s baptism by immersion for those who have come to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
(5). We affirm that those apart from a relationship with Christ will face God’s judgment.

The sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Baptist Confessions, including the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, are only guides to interpreting the Bible, and have no authority over the conscience. We Baptists have historically differed in interpretation on finer points of doctrine not essential to Christian faith and Baptist identity. Yet, with all our differences on secondary issues, we as Southern Baptists desire to cooperate in ministry because of our love for the gospel.

Therefore, we intentionally put aside our differences on secondary issues for the sake of cooperative gospel ministry. We desire unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, but charity in all things. This statement of cooperation defines the necessary essentials which must be affirmed in order to participate in the cooperative ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention.

We desire to send to the world and our evangelical brethren through this statement of cooperation a sure and certain message: It is the gospel that unites Southern Baptists, and what unites us is greater than anything that might potentially divide us.

Forty Important Days Ahead for Me

November 15, 2006 marks the one year anniversary of the IMB Board of Trustees adoption of the new policies on a private prayer language and baptism.

December 6, 2006 marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of this blog.

For the next forty days, until December 6, 2006 I will be taking a sabbatical from blogging. Tomorrow, Sunday, October 29, 2006 will be my last major post until December 6, 2006.

Three important things are on the horizon in the next forty days for me:

(1). Tomorrow's post entitled "A Statement of Cooperation for the Southern Baptist Convention" expresses hope for the future of missions and ministry cooperation in the SBC.

The post will represent a small attempt to offer a constructive document that helps initiate the conversation on how we can keep our collective focus and excitement on the gospel of Jesus Christ as we cooperate together in Southern Baptist kingdom ministry. Rather than getting bogged down in theological minutiae, the "Statement of Cooperation" will help us join hands around our affirmation of the essentials of the Christian faith and Baptist identity. The Statement of Cooperation will list five basic articles necessary for Southern Baptist cooperation.

I am indebted to Dr. Michael Bird New Testament Lecturer, Highland Theological College,Scotland, United Kingdom, and Joel Willitts, Assistant Professor of New Testament at North Park University in Chicago, and to their soon to be published manifesto Solum Evangelium: Renewing Evangelicalism with the Evangel. These two like-minded, theologically conservative inerrantists desire to see a revival among all evangelicals, but recognize that cooperation around the essentials must first begin within respective denominations before there can ever be a revival in the evangelical world as a whole.

They have graciously dialogued with me to help articulate the importance that conservative Southern Baptists will, as Carl Henry says, 'major on the majors.' With their permission the "Statement of Cooperation" will be built upon some of the concepts formulated by these two Baptist scholars in their manifesto.

(2). On December 5th, 2006, there will be a Baptist pastors and Christian leaders roundtable discussion held at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, Rev. Dwight McKissic, Pastor.

Topics to be covered at the roundtable are as follows:

(a). There will be an announcement regarding the dates, time, place, speakers, and topics for the Baptist Conference on the Holy Spirit to be held in April of 2007.
(b). There will be an exploration of the possible formation of a Sandy Creek – Charlestonian Baptist Fellowship open to all Baptists for the specific purpose of assisting Southern Baptist church planters and missionaries who are conservative inerrantists but are now excluded from participation in Southern Baptist missions and ministry.
(c). Discuss and dialogue how the SBC can return to her historic openness to all Baptists and address contemporary issues in Baptist life, identify solutions, and develop action plans for the future.

If you would like to be a part of this Christian leaders and pastors Roundtable on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (lunch will be provided), please RSVP at (817)468.0083. All are welcome.

(3). During the next forty days I will be focusing on two key events for me personally.

I plan on concluding the manuscript for my next book entitled "The Gospel According to Jonah: What To Do When You Feel A Million Miles Away from God." The chapters are done, but the transitional portions of the book and the final edits have not yet been completed.

In addition, I will be traveling overseas to dedicate the new construction at our orphange in India. Our church member, Sister Josna, does a phenominal job caring for over 1,000 children who will impact the nation of India in the years to come because of their Christian upbringing in our orphanage. I will also be spending some time with our IMB personnel in the region.

I reserve the right to blog again during this time period if the Lord impresses me to do so, but I anticipate enjoying the next forty days apart from blogging.

I close by thanking all of you who have made this past year and the over 300 posts a very eventful year in my life. Tomorrow's post is only a beginning for the dialogue, and my prayer is that it will lead to profitable and edifying discussion among all who participate.

In His Grace,


Wade

The Sharp Two Edged Sword Called 'Consistency' in the Demand for Absolute Conformity in the SBC

Yesterday the comment section of Art Roger's blog contained this interesting comment from Bill Brown:

"New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote their own statements of faith, because when they were formed the Southern Baptist Convention did not have one.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary adopted Southern's Abstract of Principles when it was formed.

Until very recently New Orleans, Southern, and Southeastern's faculty signed ONLY their institution's (respective) statement of faith. Southwestern, Golden Gate, and Midwestern's faculty signed the current version of the Baptist Faith and Message.

After one seminary president pushed behind the scenes to have all International Mission Board missionaries to subscribe to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (this was shortly after the Southern Baptist Convention adopted the BF&M 2000), and to be subject to scrutiny as to their fidelity to the BFM 2000 during the term of their service, International Mission Board executives pointed out that 3 of the 6 seminaries did not require faculty to sign the Baptist Faith and Message.

The presidents then had the trustees adopt the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as a secondary doctrinal standard and faculty had to sign both.
"

Seems to me like a lot of people have been doing quite a bit of signing in the last five years. I don't necessarily disagree with the principle of employees signing a document that expresses one's general affirmation of foundational Biblical principles of the gospel --- there must be some standards of the Christian faith, without a doubt.

But the problem arises when there is a demand for conformity on the non-essentials. Cooperation within a convention is killed when that happens. When major confessions around which we cooperate are loaded down with doctrines that are not essentials of the Christian faith or Baptist identity, then everyone within the Southen Baptist Convention loses.

Again, we should require conformity on the essentials, but every confessional document will contain items that are not essentials of the Christian faith and the historic disctinctives of Baptist believers. Remember, Baptists have always been known as 'people of the Book,' and our inherent Baptist values of religious liberty, free dissent, and freedom of conscience, have been the forces that insure we consistently base our distinctives on the Bible, and not tradition, and if we do happen to fall into the trap of traditionalism, courageous Baptist dissenters have always been there for us to provide correction.

There must be room for some allowances in those areas of NON-ESSENTIALS to the Christian faith and historic Baptist identity or we better change the name of our funding mechanism to the 'non-cooperative program' since there is no need for cooperation in complete uniformity. In short, there must be some flexibility within the SBC regarding doctrinal interpretations over the non-essentials in order for us to continue to expand our ministries to reach the world for Christ.

The demand for absolute creedal conformity can also become a two-edged sword that cuts deeply those who once thought they wielded it. Without flexibility over non-essentials in our statements of faith, a whole lot of good people could be fired, terminated, excluded, and shipped to Siberia, (sorry, just had to throw that one in :) --- right now!

Let me illustrate to you what I mean.

I wish in this post to only address those employees of Southern and Southeastern Seminaries. Your employment is directly tied to your affirmation of the Abstract of Principles, which you signed upon your employment. As you know, your respective seminary's charter contains this fundamental law:

"Every professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall be considered, by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds for his resignation or removal by the Trustees."

The future employment of every employee of Southern and Southeastern, by charter and bylaw, is dependent upon an adherence to the Abstract of Principles. Every employee has affirmed by personal signature his or her agreement of, and practice in accordance with, the Abstract of Principles.

Many would say that integrity demands employees either live completely and totally by the Abstract of Principles because they signed them, or they should voluntarily resign from their positions if they choose not to abide by the Abstract of Principles. If they can't totally and completely affirm all of the Abstract and refuse to resign, then the trustees should move to terminate in accordance with the charter. And who could argue? It's a matter of integrity.

Okie dokie. Now that I'm getting in the groove of thinking like a few of my fellow bloggers on this issue, it's time to put this principle into practice. :) Let's take a look at those things which our SBT and SEBT professors should and should not be doing and believing according to the document they personally signed called The Abstract of Principles.

(1). First, every professor must drink wine at the Lord's Table in fulfillment with his contractual obligations.

Article XVI states, "The Lord's Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine."

Let's not argue about how many brain cells might die when one drinks wine at communion, one's integrity as an employee of the institution is at stake.

If a professor objects by saying, 'Culture' has changed! I know that our Southern Baptist forefathers were drinking wine at communion in 1858 when the Abstract was written, but modern Southern Baptist's don't drink wine at communion! One might understand the professor's thinking, but should it not be expected that a written caveat to the professor's affirmation of the Abstract might be found, possibly right next to his signature? If not, some might say integrity demands he resign. :) Hmmm.

(2). On Sunday, the Lord's Day, the professor had better have not ever gone to a ballgame, or even watched one on television (including in the privacy of his home), or read a secular book, or watched a movie from Blockbuster, or participated in any other 'worldly' amusements or he has violated his contract and the Abstract.

Article XVII states, "The Lord's Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.

No excuses here. His employment is determined by by his unqualified compliance. If a professor has violated this Article, both the charter and personal integrity demands the employee of SBT or SEBT resign. :) Hmm.

Those two were just for grins: Now comes the serious stuff.

(3). A professor better affirm and teach that God graciously elects from before the foundation of the world only some, not all, of the guilty human race for salvation, and that His election of some sinners is not because of anything foreseen by Him, but purely because of His free and sovereign grace.

Article V states: "Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life -- not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ -- in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified."

(4). A professor better believe and teach that the Spirit's regenerating work precedes a sinner's faith, and this regenerative and effectual Spirit work leads to the sinner believing. Further, he better believe that when the Spirit regenerates and the sinner believes, all other graces (repentence, perserverance, etc . . .) are guaranteed.

Articles X and XIII state, "Saving faith . . . is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness." "Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end . . ."

(5). A professor better believe and teach that God alone justifies the ungodly by free grace, and not because of anything they have done, including faith.

Article XI states, "Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal of sinners . . . not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ

What I have written in this post is a logical deduction using the arguments of those who demand 'doctrinal accountability' and 'personal integrity' for those who 'sign' confessions, creeds, or statements of faith.

I am not advocating that the professors who have 'violated their integrity' be terminated. I am simply showing the absurdity of not giving freedom to Southern Baptists to express disagreement in those confessional areas that are non-essentials of the faith. There are some Southern Baptists (maybe one hundred out of 16 million) who would actually believe and do everything the Abstract of Principles demands.

I personally believe that employees of any SBC agency should be able to sign the Abstract and write down where they personally disagree, and unless it is a violation of an essential of the Christian faith and the historic understanding of Baptist identity, we should allow them to keep their jobs.

But I will abide by the wishes of others regarding this issue. I just hope that not too many people listen to those who demand absolute conformity and uniformity, without caveats, when signing confessional documents or a bunch more people will be without jobs in the SBC. :)

I keep having this image in my mind of King Saul falling on his own sword.

Let's keep the doctrinal requisites for our cooperation in the SBC as broad as possible. Let's cooperate around a high view of the nature of Scripture, an evangelical belief in salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, our historic Baptist identity (believer's baptism, religious liberty, etc . . . ) and the coming judgment for sinners who reject the only Savior given to men.

I think we might actually be able to continue to expand the kingdom of Christ through our Southern Baptist ministries if that kind of gentle, understanding spirit characterizes our love for one another and our cooperation with each other.

Does anybody else see the logic in what I am saying, or am I whistling in the wind?

:)

Have a great day.


In His Grace,


Wade

The Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible Bible Is Sufficient for Me (Part II)

Yesterday I pointed out that the BFM 2000 and the Abstract of Principles of Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary teach two different things regarding the consequences of Adam's sin. The Abstract teaches that all men are condemned on the basis of one man's sin (Adam), while the BFM 2000 teaches that all men are condemned not by one man's sin, but by their own, personal sin upon reaching the age of accountability (or as the BFM 2000 states, 'as soon as they are capable of moral action').

I chuckled when I read a couple of blogs that called for my resignation as an IMB trustee, another that proceeded to call me duplicitous and a few other choice adjectives, and then laughed out loud at a comment from a Baptist pastor who is not even Southern Baptist who said I was attempting to split the convention.

I couldn't help but chuckle. One of these days they may learn that I am in this for the long haul and it might be better to try to understand the point I am making.

This is my point. I made it yesterday, but some seemed to have missed it. I give it again in bold letters:

"I believe that there is room for Southern Baptists who believe both interpretations. Some Southern Baptists believe condemnation is because of Adam's one sin, and others believe that no condemnation comes until there is personal, actual sin. I think the 'tent' is big enough for people who hold to these two different interpretations on this point of doctrine which is not an essential of the faith."

Let me point out, again, for the third time in two days the important sentence on yesterday's post:

I THINK THE TENT IS BIG ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE WHO HOLD TO THESE TWO DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS.

The tent is the SBC.

Of course, some are attempting to say that there is no difference between the two documents. All right. Let's say, for now, that there is no difference.

Let's ask Dr. Mohler and Dr. Patterson: "Gentlemen, since there is no difference between the Abstract and the BFM 2000 what do these documents teach about the fall of Adam? Do they teach . . .

(1). All men, including infants, are under condemnation because of Adam's sin, even if they never personally and actually sin (as in the case of infants who die in infancy)? or . . .

(2). All men, including infants, are under condemnation only when they are capable of moral action and choose to sin personally ('the age of accountability') and no human being is under condemnation for the sin of Adam?

These two statements are not saying the same thing. Which one of the above statements reflects the teaching of the Abstract of Principles and the BFM 2000 if they BOTH teach the same thing?

How would Dr. Patterson respond to the question 'what does the Abstract and BFM 2000 teach about the consequences of Adam's fall'? How would Dr. Mohler respond to the question 'what does the Abstract and BFM 2000 teach about the consequences of Adam's fall'?

Did anybody else hear these two men debate in Greensboro besides me?

These men do not agree on this point of doctrine. I would also propose that the Abstract and the BFM 2000 are contradictory on this point of doctrine, but I will let those who have signed both documents clarify for me which statement above best reflects the teaching of both documents. :)

BUT DON'T MISS THE POINT: HERE IT IS --- AGAIN!

People in the SBC believe different things about the gifts, ecclesiology, soteriology, eschatology, etc . . .

It is the BIBLE that should be our rule of faith. It is the BIBLE that is inerrant, infallible, and sufficient for our study, memorization, mediation and application.

But two conservative, godly evangelicals can come to DIFFERENT conclusions after READING THE SAME BIBLE about doctrines that are not essentials of the Christian faith.

THERE IS ROOM IN THE SBC FOR MORE THAN ONE INTERPRETATION!

For some reason there are people who are being very deceptive in the blog world by trying to make it look as if I am advocating liberals (those who deny the inerrancy of the Bible) have a place at the table of leadership in the SBC.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I was asked via a comment on my blog "If you had the power..would you place an indvidual into a position of influence in the SBC...who believed and lived the Bible to be inspired, infallible, authoritative, sufficient...but truly believed that the Bible is not inerrant?

I responded: Short answer: No.

Anyone who says I am attempting to broaden the tent to include those who are not 'inerrantists' is the problem. All they can do is shout, "He's a liberal!" or "He wants liberals at the table."

No. Not at all. Liberals who deny the accuracy, authority and reliability of the Word of God would be better off in leadership in another convention. It's not that they are not brothers in Christ, and it's not that we wish them harm, they just don't represent what we believe about the Bible.

But in my mind angry Fundamentalists who wish to exclude fellow evangelical conservatives who disagree with their interpretations of the sacred text don't deserve SBC leadership positions either.. If a Fundamentalist demands you interpret the sacred text as he does, and calls you neo-orthodox or 'moderate' or 'liberal' if you don't, then he (the Fundamentalist) is the one who does not deserve leadership in the SBC.

Irenic conservatives must lead the SBC, and a shift is happening.

For Fundamentalists with a capital F it is painful, and the more they see it happening, the more they shout and scream.

By the way, I love Fundamentalists! I mean it. They just seem to have a hard time loving me, and the only thing they understand is someone with courage who will stand up to them and say, "The Bible is authoritative and sufficient and the perfect guide for faith and practice --- and I will not accept what you say is 'truth' just because you say it --- you must PROVE it from the text. And if you don't prove it to my satisfaction, then I will not change my mind. By the way, it is not important to me that you change your mind either --- let's work together."

For some reason that is hard for some to comprehend.

There are at least two interpretations on the gifts (cessationists and continualists), there are at least two interpretations on soteriology (Calvinism and Arminiansm and everything in between), there are at least two interpretations on ecclesiological government (congregational and elder rule), there are at least two interpretations on separation of church and state, there are at least two interpretations the authority and credentials of the baptizer, there are at least two interpretations on the consequences of Adam's sin, etc . . . I could go on, and on, and on . . .

WE MUST BE VERY CAREFUL THAT WE DON'T GET TO THE POINT WHERE A DISAGREEMENT OVER THE INTERPRETATION OF THE DOCTRINES CONTAINED IN THE SACRED TEXT SEPARATE AND EXCLUDE ONE GROUP OR THE OTHER.

I would like to close with a very practical thought from my father, Paul Burleson, who has had the benefit of pastoring Southern Baptist Churches for over fifty years:

"For many years of pastoring, long before and during the resurgence, I always led our congregation to affirm two things in the opening of our constitution and bylaws. One was a...commitment to the holding of the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, and inerrant in the original manuscripts, Word of God. [This being important because a confidence in the inerrancy of those original documents gave cause to seriously translate from the earliest manuscripts we have to get the best translations.]

A second was a...commitment to the BF@M INSOFAR as and as LONG as it was and remained true to the text of the scripture. This permitted us to differ with a minor point or two without being argumentative or being unbaptistic about it. This also allowed our folks to see the difference in the authority and nature of the BF@M in relation to the Scriptures themselves.

We believed this gave guidance to the people to practice their study of the Word with real conviction as to it's integrity and to appreciate our Baptist doctrinal heritage without elevating it to a level of sacredness reserved for Scripture alone.

I think personally that that is a good way to hold both in proper appreciation."


Couldn't have said it better, Dad.

In His Grace,

Wade

The Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible Bible Is Sufficient for Me

Southern Baptists have historically been people of the book. We have consistently stated that the Bible is 'authoritative and sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.'

In the last five years there has been a push for trustees, employees and administrators of Southern Baptist agencies to sign the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 to affirm their agreement with this modern confession of Southern Baptists or be removed from service.

It is my understanding that employees of Southern Seminary and Southeastern Seminary are asked to sign both the BFM 2000 and The Abstract of Principles which governs both institutions.

The charter of both seminaries contains the following statement that continues to be a part of the 'fundamental laws.' "Every professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall be considered, by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds for his resignation or removal by the Trustees."

I have four questions:

(1). Would you be surprised to know that the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 contradict each other on a point of doctrine?

(2). Would integrity demand that professors, who by contract and charter must affirm and teach according to the Abstract of Principles, simply refuse to sign the BFM 2000 because it contradicts what the professors believe on just one or two points of doctrine that are not essentials of the faith?

(3). Is it reasonable, and should it be expected, that seminary professors might be allowed to sign the BFM 2000, expressing general affirmation, but write down their disagreement on a couple of points of doctrine that are not essentials of the faith?

(4). If it is considered reasonable for number (3) to happen, would it not be logical and consistent to allow all signers of the BFM 2000 to do the same?

Let me give you an example:

The Abstract of Principles, which every professor and employee at Southern Southern and Southeastern Seminary must sign, has an excellent statement on the fall of man.

VI. The Fall of Man (The Abstract of Principles)

God originally created man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.

The abstract teaches that every descendent of Adam is 'under condemnation' even though they are not 'actual transgressors.'

In other words, infants are under 'condemnation' by God because of Adam's sin, even though they have not yet personally sinned.

This seems to be very consistent with the teaching of the Apostle Paul who said, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

However, the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message clearly teaches something different:

III. Man (The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message)

Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 teaches that the descendents of Adam are not under condemnation 'until' they are capable of moral action.

In other words, according to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 nobody is actually condemned for the sin of Adam, but rather, condemnation comes as a result of one's own personal, actual sin.

In other words, infants are 'innocent' before God and not under condemnation until they are capable of moral action and 'choose' to sin, and are then placed 'under condemnation.'

Now, I frankly believe that there is room for Southern Baptists who believe both interpretations. Some Southern Baptists believe condemnation is because of Adam's one sin, and others believe that no condemnation comes until there is personal, actual sin. I think the 'tent' is big enough for people who hold to these two different interpretations on this point of doctrine which is not an essential of the faith.

What really puzzles me is the inconsistency by some Southern Baptists.

The inconsistency of at least one seminary professor who is very vocal about the 'integrity' of the signers of the BFM 2000 when he himself believes and teaches a doctrine that is contradicted by the BFM 2000 (or at least in his contract of employment has 'signed' that he believed something different than what is written in the BFM 2000).

The inconsistency of those who label as 'moderate,' 'liberal,' or 'neo-conservative' anyone who questions anything in the BFM 2000, but then fail to realize that the charter for Southern Baptists' mother seminary teaches a doctrine contradicted by the BFM 2000.

The inconsistency of those who belong to a convention that has historically affirmed the Bible the sole and sufficient authority for faith and practice, but then act as if a confessional document is on par with the Bible itself.

I believe in the inerrant and infallible Word of God. I treasure it as the authoritative and sufficient expression of God's revealed will for man. I study it. I memorize it. I preach it. I live it.

My conscience is bound to it.

When I am asked to affirm a human document, I will. But I will not hesitate to show where I believe it is not in line with the Word of God.

By the way, when it comes to the consequences of Adam's sin I affirm the Abstract of Principles and believe the BFM 2000 to be in error on this point of doctrine.

Only the Bible is without error. Man's interpretation of the Bible is fallible.

The man who can't admit he may at times be wrong in his interpretation of the sacred text is the man undeserving of leadership in the SBC. He won't know how to be humble and gracious with those who disagree with him.


In His Grace,



Wade Burleson

A Fly in the Holy Water and an Enemy at the Gates

Oklahoma is filled with Southern Baptist pastors that are both bright and biblical, and they make me proud to be an Oklahoma Southern Baptist. Several of these pastors blog, and do a great job of causing me to think --- deeply.

One such pastor is Paul Littleton of Faith Baptist Church, Sapulpa, Oklahoma. His blog -- caught in the middle -- is a must read, including this post from a few weeks ago.

"I was talking to a friend recently who told me an interesting story about the fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Turks. I've done a little research and haven't been able to confirm the story historically, but even if it is nothing more than legend it makes a profound point. [It's possible that the point is even stronger if the story isn't true since that would mean that people tell this story for the explicit reason of shaping ideas and behavior rather than just relating some interesting history]

It's said that while the Ottoman Turks were breaching the walls of Constantinople the people were inside debating a theological issue. The question was this: 'If a fly lands in holy water, does the fly make the water unholy, or does the water make the fly holy?'

Meanwhile, the Turks invaded and overthrew Constantinople raping and pilliging the city. One fact that is historically true is that The Church of Holy Wisdom was soon converted into a mosque.

I often think that the evangelical church, and my denomination in particular, is busy debating things that may in fact have some limited theological value, but we do so to the neglect of much weightier issues around us. The North American continent is one of the very few places in the world where Christianity is on the decline. Meanwhile we debate whether or not we can cooperate in missions and education with people who might pray in tongues in private, whether we show enough gratitude to denominational leaders of the past and present and whether a person who drinks alcohol without getting drunk has committed an unholy act. It should be no surprise if we get sacked by an army of Turks."


In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

P.S. I originally saw Paul's essay referred to in Todd Littleton's blog.

International Mission Board Trustee Meeting, St. Louis, Missouri, October 30-November 1, 2006

The next International Mission Board Trustee meeting will be held Monday through Wednesday, October 30-November 1, 2006.

The meeting will be held at:

The Renaissance St Louis Hotel, Airport
9801 Natural Bridge Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63134
Phone: 314-890-3101

Monday, October 30

11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Executive Committee Lunch

1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Chairman's Council

1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Trustee Forum

3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Regional Committee Process

4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Regional Committee Process

Note: The Regional Committee Processs takes the place of the old Personnel Committee subgroups A,B, and C. Official approval for appointment of missionary candidates are now made by the respective regional committees.

6;15 - 7:15 Trustee/Staff/Appointee Dinner

7:30 - 9:00 Regional Committee Process

Tuesday, October 31

7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Glossolalia Ad Hoc Committee Breakfast: Paul Chitwood, Kevin King, Mike Smith, Simon Tsoi

Baptist Ad Hoc Committee Breakfast: Bill Curp, Andy Johnson, Sam Morgan, Herman Pair, Blake Withers

7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. General Administration Subcommittee Breakfast; Leadership Development Subcommittee Breakfast. Global Strategy and Research Subcommittee Breakast.

9:00 - 12:00 p.m. Administration Committee; Finance Committee; Mobilization Committee; Missions Personnel Committee; Overseas Committee

12:00 - 1:30 Lunch (everyone is on their own for this lunch).

1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Plenary Session (Open to Public: Hotel Ballroom).

6:30 p.m. Appointment Service

The Appointment service will be held in conjunction with the Missouri Baptist Convention at the Show Me Center, Cape Girardeau, 1333 N. Sprigg. Directions: From 1-55 take the second Cape Girardeau exit heading eastbound, which is William Street. Stay on William Street 4 miles until you come to the Sprigg Street intersection and turn left. The Show Me Center is 2 miles down on the left side of the street.

Wednesday, November 1

8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon Plenary Session (Open to the public; Hotel Ballroom)

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

The Criswell Theological Review Interview with Tom Hatley

I was recently contacted via email by Dr. Denny Burk, Professor of New Testament at Criswell College. He brought my attention to the new issue of the Criswell Theological Review and an interview conducted with Tom Hatley, former Chairman of the International Mission Board. He said that I was mentioned prominently in the interview and asked that I respond. He graciously said he would link my response to their web site.

I wrote back and thanked Dr. Burk and expressed my strong objection that a theological journal would publish such an interview without publishing responses from Dr. Rankin and myself. I believe that every trustee should abide by the new policy that forbids the public disparaging of a sitting trustee, and my responses are simply an attempt to bring my perspective to the issue at hand. I had equal concern between the new baptism and tongues policies of the IMB, but the Criswell Journal only addresses the new tongues policy.

You may read the interview for yourself at www.criswelljournal.com. I will respond to specific statements with which I disagree with Tom Hatley. I think everyone knows that I am a conservative inerrantist who does NOT have the gift of tongues, nor desires it.

(1). Tom Hatley said: “What caused trustees to address this issue (a private prayer language) were complaints from some (not a majority) of our regions. Sources included some of our missionaries, complaints from pastors and seminary teams returning from mission trips, and observations by trustees returning from mission trips. Our President and some staff, however, dispute such problems, at least on the level claimed by these trustees.”

My response: This is the problem. We had (at the time) trustees in position of leadership who seemed to be undermining the President and his vision for our agency. This feels to me, from a corporate standpoint, to be a very dysfunctional situation. The President and staff of the IMB are disputing that there is a problem, while trustee leadership is saying there is a problem. The questions that the Southern Baptist Convention ought to ask are:

(a). Who were those trustees who said there was a problem on the field? I have no knowledge of who they were, and would like to visit with them (some may have already rotated off the Board). Many trustees have never had the opportunity to even be on the field with our missionaries. I think it would be appropriate for those trustees who felt there was a problem to make themselves known publicly. I am a trustee and I have never heard anyone say these things, but I am open to learn. I also think it would be interesting to see how many of these trustees were in leadership at the IMB and their connections to other agencies.

(b). Where is the documented evidence that these trustees have provided to the IMB President and staff that such problem exists on the field and that staff has not appropriately dealt with it (date, location, personnel, etc . . . )? I have asked for this information from the time I heard about the new policies, and have yet to receive it. I do not believe it exists. The President himself has denied in public meetings that there is a problem on the field that was not being handled appropriately under the old policy.. Nobody should be able to make such outlandish statements about problems without evidentiary support.

(c). The old policy forbad the promotion of speaking in tongues ‘publicly.’ The old IMB policy sought to restrict the speaking in tongues publicly, just as the Apostle Paul sought to restrict it. But the new policy now enters into the prayer closet of the missionary and asks the question “Do you speak in tongues in your prayer life?” Why? What is private should remain private. The missionaries are the ones being forced to make it public.


(2). Tom Hatley said: “(The Apostle Paul) would have no problem serving with the IMB (under the new policies)”.

My response: I truly don’t understand that statement.

The Apostle said, “I thank God I speak in tongues more than you all” (I Corinthians 14:18), and he said, “Forbid not the speaking in tongues.” (I Corinthians 14:30).

The Apostle Paul would be not make it through the initial consultation with the IMB.

(3). Tom Hatley said: “This IMB policy does not restrict the miracle of Pentecost, where real languages were spoken. Today we can identify language through technology. If someone has the gift of tongues they should not restrict it to the closet. What a waste that would be. If it is of the Lord, then find the language or languages you have and take a one way flight to the country where that language is spoken. The IMB will send you there if you can pass the body/mass index standards and health exam”.

My Response: According to Tom Hatley, tongues in the Bible is ONLY a language that human beings can understand. It is a known language, a real language, one that can be identified through technology.

Tom’s view that tongues were always known languages is an interpretation. There are other conservative Southern Baptists who disagree. Dr. Sam Storms, an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, writes eloquently refuting this interpretation,

“(a) To begin, if tongues-speech is always in a foreign language intended as a sign for unbelievers, why are the tongues in Acts 10 and Acts 19 spoken in the presence of only believers?

(b) Note also that Paul describes various "kinds” or “species” of tongues" (gene glosson) in 1 Corinthians 12:10. It is unlikely that he means a variety of different human languages, for who ever would have argued that all tongues were only one human language, such as Greek or Hebrew or German? His words suggest that there are differing categories of tongues-speech, perhaps human languages and heavenly languages.

(c) In 1 Corinthians 14:2, Paul asserts that whoever speaks in a tongue "does not speak to men, but to God." But if tongues are always human languages, Paul is mistaken, for "speaking to men" is precisely what a human language does!

(d) If tongues-speech is always a human language, how could Paul say that when one speaks “no one understands” (1 Cor. 14:2)? If tongues are human languages, many could potentially understand, as they did on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:8-11). This would especially be true in Corinth, a multi-lingual cosmopolitan port city that was frequented by people of numerous dialects.

(e) Moreover, if tongues-speech always is in a human language, then the gift of interpretation would be one for which no special work or enablement or manifestation of the Spirit would be required. Anyone who was multi-lingual, such as Paul, could interpret tongues-speech simply by virtue of his educational talent.

(f) Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 13:2, Paul refers to "the tongues of men and of angels." While he may be using hyperbole, he just as likely may be referring to heavenly or angelic dialects for which the Holy Spirit gives utterance.

Gordon Fee cites evidence in certain ancient Jewish sources that the angels were believed to have their own heavenly languages or dialects and that by means of the Spirit one could speak them (The First Epistle to the Corinthians, pp. 630-31; see also Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, p. 223). In particular, we take note of the Testament of Job 48-50, where Job's three daughters put on heavenly sashes given to them as an inheritance from their father, by which they are transformed and enabled to praise God with hymns in angelic languages.

Some have questioned this account, however, pointing out that this section of the Testament may have been the work of a later Christian author. Yet, as Christopher Forbes points out, "what the Testament does provide . . . is clear evidence that the concept of angelic languages as a mode of praise to God was an acceptable one within certain circles. As such it is our nearest parallel to glossolalia” (Prophecy and Inspired Speech: In Early Christianity and Its Hellenistic Environment, pp. 185-86).

The fact that tongues are said to cease at the parousia (1 Cor. 13:8) leads Anthony Thiselton to conclude that it cannot be angelic speech, for why would a heavenly language terminate in the eschaton (see his First Corinthians, pp. 973, 1061-62)? But it would not be heavenly speech per se that ends, but heavenly speech on the part of “humans” designed to compensate “now” for the limitations endemic to our fallen, pre-consummate condition.

(g) Some say the reference in 1 Corinthians 14:10-11 to earthly, foreign languages proves that all tongues-speech is also human languages. But the point of the analogy is that tongues function LIKE foreign languages, NOT that tongues ARE foreign languages. Paul’s point is that the hearer cannot understand uninterpreted tongues any more than he can understand the one speaking a foreign language. If tongues were a foreign language, there would be no need for an analogy.

(h) Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 14:18 that he "speaks in tongues more than you all" is evidence that tongues are not foreign languages. As Wayne Grudem notes, "If they were known foreign languages that foreigners could understand, as at Pentecost, why would Paul speak more than all the Corinthians in private, where no one would understand, rather than in church where foreign visitors could understand?” (Systematic Theology, 1072).

(i) Finally, if tongues-speech is always human language, Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 14:23 (“If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?”) wouldn't necessarily hold true. Any unbeliever who knew the language being spoken would more likely conclude the person speaking was highly educated rather than "out of their mind.”

My conclusion, then, is this: NT itself provides no support for the idea that all expressions of it were necessarily human languages actually spoken by some people group. ” Sam Storms.

I, Wade Burleson, as a SBC pastor and duly appointed trustee of the IMB, respect both views. The issue I have is when people who affirm one particular interpretation seek to remove from participation and ministry in the SBC those who hold to the other view. This is what I call narrowing the parameters of cooperation within the SBC.”

(4). Tom Hatley said: ”My reasoning (for not appointing Wade to a committee) was that many had been offended and felt betrayed by Wade. Many on the board feared their comments in a meeting would end up on a blog, out of context, and under attack. They had good reason for such fears. Adding to the uneasiness was the fact that when such offenses were made known to Wade he would not apologize, nor offer a change in tactics. It is hard to be a trustee and a public critic of the trustees at the same time.”

My Response: This is the beauty of blogging. Every word, sentence, paragraph and post remains on the internet since last December. I think that any fair-minded person who reads this blog will see that I have fastidiously done three things:

(a). I have never attacked a person, but expressed my love and respect for everyone, including former Chairman Hatley.
(b). I have been fastidious to report only those things that are public and have never violated any confidential information.
(c). I write very intentionally, represent my perspective, nobody else’s, and will not change tactics because I believe the SBC is a better convention with MORE information about what is going on in our agencies --- not less.

(5). Tom Hatley said: ”A second reason for my decision regarding Brother Wade is that he was not handling sensitive information well, even before his blogging began.”

My Response: I am the chairman of two foundations, I have served two terms as the President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, I have presided over Executive Sessions of several board meetings, and I have led countless training sessions that instruct others on how to deal with the matters of privileged and sensitive information. I understand how to handle sensitive information, and would propose that Tom’s general accusations, without evidentiary support, are without basis.

(6). Tom Hatley said: “When this passed at the committee level a demand was made by Wade Burleson and Dr. Rankin that this must be voted on at the full board level. I think they thought that with the public pressure that was brought upon the board that the vote would be different. Instead the vote was nearly 75% in favor of the policy.”

My Response: I cannot speak for Dr. Rankin because we never discussed this issue of full board approval. I can only speak for myself. I take my trusteeship very seriously and before I attended my first meeting, I read every word of the IMB bylaws. I realized after my first trustee meeting, when I heard about the new “guidelines” or “policies” that the Personnel Committee had approved the previous meeting (corporate law makes no distinction between policies and guidelines), that they did not have authority to pass policy without full Board approval. I had been appointed to the Personnel Committee, and when I told the chairman that the committee did not have authority to pass policy without full board approval, I was told that I did not know what I was saying. Subsequently, the attorney issued an opinion that I was correct. Of course, I was subsequently removed from the Personnel Committee.

Tom Hatley is asked by the editor: One of the concerns of the younger pastors, especially those trying to do evangelism in a postmodern context, is that by narrowing the doctrinal lines on secondary issues, the SBC is moving out of the mainstream of evangelicalism and is becoming the new voice of fundamentalism. Would you agree with this characterization, and why or why not?

(7). Tom Hatley said: ”I do not agree. I think Southern Baptists as a whole have not significantly moved at all. I do feel that evangelicalism is drifting left and as it drifts we will appear to be less in the mainstream due to no fault of our own. . . . seminaries and I have a great deal of confidence in these young pastors. Most are not like the few that have of late made a name for themselves by stirring strife among the brethren. Most have no SBC agenda but only the desire to build a doctrinally sound, missions-minded, soul-winning church.”

My Response: I do not know to whom Tom is referring, but if it is me, he is greatly mistaken. I have no personal desires for leadership in the SBC. I have never sought a position of service in our state and national conventions. I am committed to see that we do not lose this young generation of young pastors by becoming the bastion of Fundamentalism to the neglect of the gospel and the people in need of a Savior.

(8). Tom Hatley said: ”At the core of recent criticism is the theory that trustees are part of a conspiracy of a few people in the Convention who are trying to control everything in the Convention, including the replacement of Dr. Rankin.”

My Response: I would be happy to be proven wrong that there has been no manipulation in the past of the Nominating Process of the Southern Baptist Convention by sitting trustees seeking to appoint their replacements by contacting, vetting and bringing on board like minded trustees. I would be happy to be proven wrong that a sitting agency president of one of our SBC institutions not attempted to control the doctrinal requisites, personnel hiring, and future direction of the International Mission Board, in contradistinction to the sitting President of the IMB. I would be happy to be proven wrong that a certain few who are in control of the trustee system of our agencies are attempting to bring uniform conformity on interpretation of doctrines NOT addressed by the BFM 2000. I would be happy to be proven wrong in all these areas and will await the official report of to the Southern Baptist Convention on these matters by the IMB.

It is my belief that many of these problems have been corrected since last May. The trustee meetings since then have been filled with praise reports, prayer requests, and mission work. As you are aware, I have said nothing in the meetings. There is no need. We are doing the work the SBC has called us to do.

My Conclusion:

I want to thank the Criswell Theological Review for linking to this response.

I have not spoken for Dr. Rankin at this time, believing that he does far better representing himself than others who try to do so.

The Lord’s continued blessings to the Southern Baptist Convention, and may we be forever vigilant against narrowing the parameters of cooperation within the SBC.

In His Grace,



Wade Burleson

Proposed Distinctives of the Southern Baptist Convention

Rob Pengra is a new church strategist with NAMB and a church planter in the Portland, OR. He sent me an email yesterday that gave me an idea.

Below is a proposed document that would help people understand the identity of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is borrowed on the whole from an evangelical denomination that I am leaving unidentified at this time in order to put the focus on what it might look like as a Southern Baptist document. Words and sentences have been changed to reflect our unique identity. This is for discussion purposes only.




Proposed Distinctives of The Southern Baptist Convention

"In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, charity. In all things, Jesus Christ." -- Chrysostom


1. The Southern Baptist Convention is inclusive not exclusive.

The great heritage of the Southern Baptist Convention churches includes the fact that fellowship and ministry opportunities with each other are are based solely on on our common faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, trusting in Him alone for the salvation of His people. Participation in the ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention by members of cooperating churches requires commitment to sound doctrine as expressed in our Baptist Faith and Message. However, a Southern Baptist church member is not excluded from participation because he or she does not agree on every fine point of doctrine. Within the Southern Baptist Convention, there is allowance for legitimate differences of understanding in some areas of doctrine.

2. The Southern Baptist Convention is evangelical but not isolationist.

The Southern Baptist Convention was birthed in 1845 out of a heritage of commitment to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture and a missionary zeal. Autonomous members churches have deep convictions based on the authority of God's Word, but we do not draw battle lines over minor points. Nor do we make minor issues of doctrine a test of fellowship within the convention. We intentionally seek to cooperate with every Southern Baptist church for the purpose of cooperative ministry, and refuse to isolate ourselves from one another over disagreements on minor points of doctrine.

3. The Southern Baptist Convention is ecumenical in spirit though not in structure.

We believe in the spiritual unity of all God's people, though not necessarily in structural union with them. We join with other Christians and other denominations of like precious faith in common goals and ministries to accomplish the Great Commission. But we believe that there is strength in diversity and that it is important to preserve our Baptist distinctives. Our foremost concern is unity of spirit with our Lord, with each other and with other Christians.


4. The Southern Baptist Convention believes in liberty with responsibility and accountability.

We believe in Christian liberty, but freedom always has its limitations. Responsible Christians do not abuse freedom. The Apostle Paul wrote forcefully about Christian liberty in the book of Galatians. He shattered the legalists with the doctrine of grace. But in First and Second Corinthians and Romans, the apostle also rebuked believers when liberty was abused. He declared boldly the principles of Christian liberty but spoke with equal forcefulness about Christian accountability. The Southern Baptist Conventionc desires to preserve our freedom in Christ and encourage our church leaders and people to be responsible, godly men, women and young people who desire to live under the control of the Holy Spirit, in obedience to the principles and precepts of God's Word and in harmony with God's will for life as revealed in the Scriptures.

5. The Southern Baptist Convention believes in both the rational and relational dimensions of Christianity.

We believe the Scriptures must be applied to our individual lives with warmth of heart, warmth of message and warmth of concern. We believe it is essential to have solid biblical content in our doctrinal understanding of faith, but it is equally important to have a dynamic, vital relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son and to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sound Christian doctrine must be coupled with dynamic Christian experience. Ours is a ministry of love and reconciliation.

6. The Southern Baptist Convention affirms the right of each local church to govern its own affairs.

The Southern Baptist Convention is committed to a the autononomy of the local church. We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Head of the Church and that every local church has the right, under Christ, to decide and govern its own affairs.

7. The Southern Baptist Convention recognizes that the highest authority is the local church.

The strength of our convention lies within the local church. We are a convention of churches who cooperate together with no ecclesiastical authority. Christ is the head of the church, and the churches that compose the Southern Baptist Convention give direction to our denominational leaders and agencies.



Do you think a statement similar to the one above would be helpful in the SBC?

Have a great weekend.

In His Grace,


Wade

Who's Your Favorite Team? The Yankees?

I wish to begin this post expressing my appreciation for Dr. Paige Patterson. I am grateful for his love for Christ and his leadership within the Southern Baptist Convention over the years. I have appreciated the way Dr. Patterson has graciously and publicly affirmed Dr. Mohler, a man who is President of a sister agency (Southern Seminary) but is miles apart from Patterson soteriologically. Dr. Patterson's personal affableness with Dr. Mohler during the debate at last year's Greensboro's Pastors Conference is well worth imitation by us all.

I say these heartfelt words about Dr. Patterson at the beginning of this post because there are some who erroneously believe that if one expresses written disagreement with Dr. Patterson then he must be either against Dr. Patterson, or worse, his enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth as far as I am concerned. I am grateful Dr. Patterson is a Southern Baptist and wish him, his family and his ministry at SWBTS untold blessings. I believe we are a better convention because of Dr. Patterson's involvement.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WE FACE IN THE SBC

The Southern Baptist Convention has so much going for her. I do believe, however, that there is a huge problem that is like an internal cancer. It will eat at us from the inside out unless we diagnose it, do all we can to convince the family (all Southern Baptists) that the disease is real, and take decisive, intentional steps to cut it out before we die from it.

There are some in the blog world, but particularly in the mainstream media, who are trying to color the current controversy in the SBC in terms of Calvinists vs. Arminians, or Charismatics vs. non-Charismatics, or Landmarkers vs. non-Landmarkers, or Abstainers vs. Moderationists or Conservatives vs. neo-conservatives, etc . . .

These issues are not the root problem in the SBC. There have been preachers and people within the SBC who have held to different sides of each of the above named issues since the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845.

The current problem we face in the convention is an attempt to make everyone conform to, and affirm completely, ONE uniform interpretation of the above named issues. There are some in leadership who see themselves as the guardians and gatekeepers of doctrinal purity, and feel it their calling to either remove Southern Baptists from leadership who don't side with them, or at least to prevent any Southern Baptist from serving as a trustee or employee of an SBC agency who disagrees. Not all of the above issues are in the current dialogue, but it is certain that, given time, they all will be.

The demand for conformity of interpretations of the sacred text is the problem. The controversy among us is not about what the text is, it is about what the text says. The problem we face is not about a belief in the inerrancy of Scripture, but in the sufficiency of Scripture. In other words, there is not agreement in interpretation --- but that's not bad. Diversity is the middle name of Southern Baptists.

The Cooperative Program only works when diverse and different churches, pastors, and people COOPERATE. If we continue to narrow the definition of what it means to be a Baptist, and demand conformity on doctrinal interpretations of the text that are not addressed by the BFM 2000 in order to serve, we should change the name of the Cooperative Program to the Non-Cooperative Program. I feel Dr. Patterson desires this conformity, and seeks to use his influence to bring it about.

A QUOTE THAT REVEALS DR. PATTERSON'S MINDSET

There is an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram dated Wednesday, October 18, 2006 where Dr. Patterson is quoted extensively about his position on tongues and his SWBTS trustee, Dwight McKissic, who speaks in tongues privately. There is a very memorable line toward the end of the article that I believe illustrates Dr. Patterson's desire for the SBC.

"I have opposed [speaking in tongues] for all of these years because I think it's an erroneous interpretation of the Bible," Patterson said. "Southern Baptists traditionally have stood against what we feel like are the excesses of the charismatic movement. All we're doing is restating where we've always been."

Baptists are "the most intense advocates of religious liberty," Patterson said, defending the right of other Christians to believe in speaking in tongues.

"But don't wear a Yankee uniform when you play for the Mets," said Patterson

I love this quote.

It made me chuckle when I read it. It's one of the things I like about Dr. Patterson --- you never have to wonder what he thinks.

ONE DAY THE YANKEES WON'T HAVE ANY FANS LEFT TO SEE THEM PLAY

If we accept Dr. Patterson's view regarding the SBC we will eventually die as a convention. How will we die? In numbers of people who are called Southern Baptists.

We will not stop narrowing when the private prayer language issue is over. We will not stop the narrowing when we forget about the new demand that believer's baptism be performed by a Southern Baptist or a 'church' that believes in eternal security (I still don't understand how a 'church' baptizes somebody). We will continue down this slippery slope of narrowing to the point that we demand what a 'true' Southern Baptist should believe about soteriology, eschatology, ecclesiology, etc . . .

I think SBC pastors are already disconnected from their congregations. Nobody in our churches cares if somebody prays privately in tongues, as long as that tongues speaker doesn't disrupt the worship of others, or demand that everyone have the gift.

Nobody in our churches cares if a person was baptized in a Southern Baptist Church, evangelical church, freewill church, congregational church, etc . . . as long as they followed the Lord in believer's baptism.

Nobody in our churches cares if somebody drinks, as long as that person isn't controlled by it or becomes drunk and puts his life and other lives in danger.

Nobody in our churches cares if a person is a Calvinist or not; they just want to know if their fellow church members love Christ. Nobody cares if their brother in Christ is a historic premillenialist or a dispensationalist.

And I could argue that solid, evangelical conservative scholars throughout the centuries have argued both sides of the above issues from the Scriptures.

But there are certain Southern Baptist pastors and denominational leaders who do care about these things. They care a great deal.

In fact, they care so much about these issues that they say, "If you don't agree with us, then you are not truly a Southern Baptist and should not be in leadership positions. In fact, you ought to ask yourself if you should even be a part of the SBC. Go join a Pentecstal Church. Go become a Presbyterian. Go join the Methodists. Go somewhere else if you can't affirm our interpretations of the text."

In other words, "Don't wear a Yankee uniform when you play for the Mets."

DR. PATTERSON'S VIEW OF THE SBC IS THAT OF ONE TEAM (the Yankees) --- MY VIEW OF THE SBC IS ONE LEAGUE WITH MANY TEAMS (Major League Baseball).

If the Southern Baptist Convention is like the Yankees, then churches must look the same, act the same, believe the same, etc . . . (just like the Yankees can have no facial hair, must wear the same uniform, etc . . .)

But if the Southern Baptist Convention is like the Major Leagues, then churches can have their own identity. They will not look the same, play the game the same way, have the same goals, or even finish the season in the same place, but they will all be servants of the same Master, Jesus Christ (just like the teams in the Major Leagues are all different but all play the same game --- baseball).

We are narrowing our Major League Convention down to a professional baseball team.

We are booting out of the ballpark those who aren't Yankees. We don't want Mets. We don't want Astros. We don't want Cubs. We want Yankees.

Someone will say, "But we can't boot anybody out of the SBC --- people leave on their own." Yes, you are right, but if there is one thing people in this country should know it is that "Taxation without representation will always lead to a revolution." To take Cooperative Program funds from churches, but then refuse to appoint their missionaries, will lead to a revolution. For the convention to appoint a trustee or an agency head who speak in tongues privately, but then to say, "We don't want you because what you believe or practice is harmful to the churches" is doing all you can to tell a man he is a Met at heart and should not be playing for the Yankees.

DR. PATTERSON HAS THE RIGHT TO NARROW SWBTS BUT NOT THE IMB

The trustees of SWBTS hired Dr. Patterson. The President of any agency has the perogative to set the agenda, policy and guidelines that he desires --- or at least he should.

Trustees should follow their President, or if they can't, they should terminate him. It is obvious that the trustees at SWBTS are overwhelmingly in support of their Presdient on his doctrinal positions regarding cessationism. Even though Dr. Patterson's views go beyond the BFM 2000, he has the right to establish policy that bars continualists from teaching at his school. Southern Seminary in Lousville follows what is called "The Abstract of Principles," a document that goes well beyond the BFM 2000 in demanding conformity in soterological views of professors who teach at Southern. It is Southern's perogative, and Dr Mohler's, to do this. In other words, each seminary can establish doctrinal requisites that go beyond the BFM 2000.

There are five other SBC seminaries.

SBC churches and theological students will vote with their wallets and pocket book as to which seminary is the best.

It will be very interesting to see enrollment numbers in the years to come.

A narrow ideology that forbids dissent and demands conformity, and most importantly, ignores the sufficiency of Scripture in matters of faith and practice and emphasizes tradition as in "Southern Baptists traditionally have stood against what we feel like are the excesses of the ________ movement" is ultimately the death knell of the institution.

We'll see for whom the bell tolls. I predict record enrollment numbers at Southern in the coming years and declining enrollment at Southwestern. It does not have to be that way, and I hope that I am proven wrong. Frankly, what Southwestern Seminary does is the business of the trustees, and not mine. Most of our young men and women at Emmanuel go to Southern or Golden Gate.

However, the International Mission Board should not set doctrinal requisites that EXCEED the BFM 2000.

There is only one mission board in the Southern Baptist Convention --- not six. You can't choose which misson board you are going to use.

The IMB facilitate CHURCHES WHO SEND THE MISSIONARIES.

THE IMB exists to support the churches, and without the churches there is no IMB, for that matter, there is no SBC.

When you narrow the parameters of cooperation to make the entire SBC look like the ONE team (the Yankees), you will lose the support base for the COOPERATIVE PROGRAM.

By the way, my church probably does not look like the church Dr. Patterson would pastor. I'm not saying his church would be wrong and we would be right --- we would just be different from each other. Further, I would NEVER demand that Dr. Patterson's church, were he a pastor, look like mine.

"Who's your favorite team? The Yankees?"

Dr. Patterson will tell you that you should be a Yankee to be a Southern Baptist. I am saying you can be a member of any of the teams in the Major Leagues and simply cooperate with the rest of us to make the Major League Convention the best possible Convention we can be. We can do it! It's called cooperation.

What I can't figure out is why this Met's man is being asked to wear a Yankee's hat.

We are all playing the same game.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

A Perfect Rule for Faith and Practice

R.B.C. Howell was an early leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, serving as the second President of the newly formed Southern Baptist Convention, and holding the office of President of the SBC for a record eight terms.

In Dr. Howell's book, The Evils of Infant Baptism, he shows quite clearly that infant baptism cannot be supported by the Word of God. He then writes eloquently on the sufficiency of God's Word.

"'The Word of God is a perfect rule for faith and practice.' To this maxim every evangelical denomination professes to bow with entire submission. It avows the scriptures to be not the supreme authority only, but also the sole authority, in all that pertains to religion. It repudiates all tradition. It looks to to the Fathers of the church of whatever period, except in so far as they are sustained by the divine word. It relies exclusively upon the scriptures. If any doctrine or practice be there clearly taught, it must be received heartily, and fully. If otherwise, you dare not admit it. 'The word of God is a perfect rule of faith and practice.'" (R.B.C. Howell, "The Evils of Infant Baptism," Baptist Heritage Press, Watertown, WS, Reprinted 1988).

Well said Dr. Howell. It seems that genuine Southern Baptists are those who believe God's Word to be supreme and sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.

What should we call those in our convention who don't hold tenaciously to this principle that the Word of God is a perfect rule for faith and practice? Are they evangelicals? Are they Biblicists?

They sure can't be called Southern Baptists in the tradition of Dr. Howell. :)

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

Irenic Conservatives Had Better Wake Up and Let Their Voices Be Heard

Last night I spoke to Dwight McKissic.

He gave me permission to tell you about it. I will not give you all the details of the conversation, but I feel you need to know the reason for the call.

Dwight had requested I give him a call because he was troubled -- deeply troubled. When I reached him in his office I found his tone soft and his spirit heavy. Dwight's wife was with him. He put me on the speaker phone so she could hear the conversation. They felt I might know what they were going through.

Dwight was ready to quit.

This pastor of a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Texas Convention no longer felt welcome in the Southern Baptist Convention.

He had just sat through his first trustee meeting at SWBTS where white papers were distributed that in effect defined who was welcome at Southwestern in terms of a private prayer language.

Dwight McKissic, a conservative Southern Baptist pastor, a leader in the African American Christian community, a man who believes the Bible from cover to cover and affirms the BFM 2000 found out that he was not welcome at SWBTS.

The narrowing of the definition of what it means to be a Southern Baptist continues to occur.

Bear in mind that what happened at SWBTS yesterday is not a Southern Baptist Convention action. It is an institutional action.

Bear in mind as well that when the press releases are issued today regarding the action taken at the SWBTS trustee meeting there will be people who say, "Southern Baptist institutions can do as their trustees please."

That's true, but as I discovered when I opposed doctrinal policies and guidelines at the IMB that I felt went beyond the convention doctrinal statement (the 2000 BFM) --- not to mention the Bible --- I was told, "But the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has already passed a similar policy!"

It's as if the narrowing occurs slowly, one agency at a time, until people say, "It can't be wrong because everybody's doing it."

As I've said on many occasions I do not have a private prayer language, but I sure don't mind having in SBC leadership or on the mission field those Southern Baptists who do --- particularly since the Bible says we are not to forbid it (I Cor. 14:39).

I would consider myself an irenic conservative.

I don't mind people in leadership in any of our agencies who have a continualist view of the gifts. I would oppose the forced resignation, termination or attrition through non-promotion of those who have a private prayer language. I oppose restricting the service of God-called Southern Baptists simply because they have a gift of the Spirit that I don't possess.

Most of all, I oppose the demand that everyone conform to a particular doctrinal interpretation that goes beyond the BFM 2000. Once we start down this slippery slope of doctrinal conformity it will not stop until everyone who happens to disagree with those in control are ultimately excluded.

Fellow peace-loving, conservative Southern Baptists who believe the Bible and who can work with other conservatives who also believe the Bible but interpet some passages differently, had better wake up.

We are dying as a convention.

It is not a sudden death. It is slow and tortuous. We keep defining who is and who is not a 'true' Southern Baptist, and we continue to exclude conservative evangelical Southern Baptists who believe the Bible completely, but don't see eye to eye on different interpretations of the sacred text.

We are on the verge of collapsing from within. If we don't stop this narrowing of the parameters of cooperation and fellowship we will end up a small sect within fundamentalist Christianity. I am beginning to believe that some would not mind if that occurred.

Not for a minute do I believe this is the desire of the majority of Southern Baptists, but it's now time for voices that have been silent to be heard.

There are some of us in trustee positions who are now saying, "Enough is enough! We must allow for differences, we must appreciate one another's uniqueness, and we must not divide in fellowship and cooperation over doctrines that are not essential to the faith."

However, those of us who are trying to stop the doctrinal narrowing within our convention are now being called the problem.

Dwight McKissic was told by some yesterday that he was the problem.

He has been asked by a few SWBTS trustees to resign "for the sake of unity."

Dwight loves the SBC. He is not a trouble maker. He is shocked at the strong reaction (what he would call 'overreaction') of those who have risen to speak against him, or those like him.

Now it's time for Dwight to hear from those support him.

Dwight. Don't resign.

You can't.

Southern Baptists need you.

The kingdom of Christ needs you.

We appreciate your gracious spirit. We affirm your love for the Word of God. We join you in your desire to reach your community, yes the world, with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We admire your strong stand for truth.

Dwight McKissic, don't step down.

You are not the problem. You are not the cause of division.

You are part of the solution for healing in the SBC.

Perhaps you have come into the kingdom for such a time as this.


Make no mistake. The people who are seeking to exclude people like Dwight are the ones DEMANDING that everyone interprets the Bible the way they do. Irenic conservatives are at peace with their conservative brothers in Christ who disagree.

We must work hard to remain a convention where all evangelical conservative Baptists who believe the Bible are welcome to participate and cooperate in every aspect of convention ministry.

We are losing future leaders by the hundreds in the SBC because of our demand for doctrinal conformity on third tier doctrines. There is time for healing to occur, but we must act quickly. Will you be a part of the healing process?

Why don't you take a moment and write a note, or leave a comment to let Dwight, his wife, his family, and his church know that there are thousands of Southern Baptists who are glad to call them friends and fellow Southern Baptists.

You may reach him at . . .

Rev. Dwight McKissic
Cornerstone Baptist Church
5415 Matlock Road
Arlington, TX 76018

Phone: 817-468-0083
Fax: 817-468-0309
Email: cbc1983@airmail.net

Or you may leave a comment here. Dwight doesn't have a blog, but his daughter will copy the comments for him to read.

Dr. McKissic's passionate and articulate response to the narrowing of the doctrinal parameters of cooperation at SWBTS and other agencies is here.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

Outsiders Can Be Encouragers of the Insiders

(Please note: The following represents my personal views and do not necessarily reflect the official position of any board, agency or other leader of the SBC).

There is a tendency in any movement, including true evangelical movements of God, for there to be an overemphasis on one area of Christian ministry to the neglect of other important areas of ministry.

One could argue that the Reformation began with an emphasis on justification by faith, but the corresponding lack of emphasis on Christian unity, as evidenced by the wars between the Reformers and the Catholics, and the eventual break in fellowship between like-minded Reformers over interpretations regarding Communion (Luther and Melancthon), give illustration to the fact that sometimes we end up 'throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater' when we try to correct a Christian doctrinal or behavioral problem.

The Church Planting Movement within the International Mission Board has brought some appropriate correction to IMB strategy in reaching the world with the gospel. The desire to reach the nations for Christ is in the forefront of our minds, and reaching out to unreached people groups through CPM is working.

But I would issue a caution that we don't unilaterally neglect established work in countries where the IMB has had a presence for years. While maintaining an emphasis on missions and evangelism we must remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who have established Christian churches in their native homelands, many of which were begun by the efforts of our former FMB missionaries.

For instance, in Japan our IMB missionaries are considered to be 'gaikokujin', which means 'outsiders.'

No matter how deeply immersed in Japanese culture the American missionaries are, they will always be considered 'gaikokujin.'

There are, however, tens of thousands of Japanese Christians among the 127 million Japanes who are 'insiders.' Granted, the work by Japanese nationalists has not been near as evangelistic and mission minded as it could have been over the last several decades, but that doesn't mean it can't change.

The Great Commission of our Lord includes the words 'make disciples' and our IMB missionaries on the field would be serving the kingdom well by making disciples of those national Christians who have already come to faith and are working in established churches.

New churches are great. Apostolic missionaries from the IMB are needed. But it would not be a waste of SBC time or resources for our missionaries to be pastors, teachers, instructors, and helpers to those nationals who are in Baptist churches already.

I realize that you cannot pour new wine into old wineskins, but I think we might could be more patient with the some of the old wine until it matures instead of throwing it out. (Maybe this is not such a good analogy in SBC circles :) ).

The old proverb that says if you catch a fish you can feed a man for a day, but if you teach a man to fish you feed his family for a lifetime applies. I think we must think long and hard before we turn our backs on established Christian work among nationals in the countries in which we have a presence. Some of our brothers in Christ among the nationals could use our encouragement, our support, and our love.

As I try to place myself in the shoes of our missionaries, I believe we must be careful that we don't turn them into a factory machines that churn out numbers of new converts and new works so that the powers that be are satisfied, but instead allow the Spirit of God to work in and through our missionaries to support both the established works of the countries in which they serve, and also be used of God to establish and new works.

These are just my thoughts and they are given for dialogue purposes only.

In His Grace,


Wade

Worthy of Our Reflection

When an institution or person lives by principle there is an inherent consistency of logic. When an institution or person lives for power there is an inevitable corruption within leadership.

Israel The Trip of a Lifetime, March 13-24, 2007

I would like to invite you to join Rachelle and me for a trip to Israel next March 14 through 23, 2007. We have a wonderful group of people going with us and have room for an additional twelve people.

I am exciting about our trip for several reasons. We will be flying direct from the United States to Tel Aviv, Israel, and we will be guided by my good friend, Uval, who also happens to be an Israeli paratrooper. He will be giving us the historical, geographical and military perspective regarding the nation of Israel and I will be giving the Bible studies throughout the ten days.

As always we will be staying in the five star hotels of Israel and all meals and tips are included in the price. Cost is $2890 from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma or, a little less if you would like to meet us in Atlanta, Georgia for our transatlantic flight.

The ten days are guaranteed to be absolutely unforgettable.

For more information and a color brochure that gives all the details of the trip please call Barbara or Carolyn at Emmanuel (580-237-0602) and they will send out a brochure ASAP.

This will be my seventh time to go to Israel and those who have gone with us will testify that we have a wonderful, informative, and fun time.

The registration fee of $350 holds your seat for the trip, and final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. Arrangements can be made for people who will be traveling without a spouse or a roommate.

Hope you can join us!

In His Grace,

Wade

Style Over Substance Destroys

During the Jewish trial that led to the crucifixion of Christ we read this interesting verse:

"By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover." (John 18:28).

These religious leaders were greatly concerned to maintain their external purity while they were in the process of seeking the execution of the Son of God! They wanted to be able to participate in the sign of the coming Messiah (the Passover), but were blind to the very presence of the Messiah who had already come.

How easy this can happen. We concentrate on the superficial, external elements of faith while neglecting the primary issues of the heart. We can get caught up in the ceremony and the ritual of church and miss the internal transforming power of the Christ.

We are diligent to perform a weekly worship service but we pay little attention to Christ transforming our hearts in daily living.

We talk in spiritual "lingo" (ex. bless you my brother, praying for you my friend, etc . . .) and "look spiritual" to those around us, but we remain indifferent and unloving to those who are actually hurting around us.

We can smile and talk about loving one another from the pulpit, yet rip a brother apart with our pen or our words when we are outside the environs of the Church.

We can talk about the importance of putting God first in our lives but never even consider God's will in our decision making.

May God give us all the ability to put the focus on our own hearts, and avoid the trap of emphasizing the externals to the neglect of the weightier issues of life --- our own hearts.

In His Grace,


wade

The Gospel in Genesis The Substance of God's Word

When Jesus taught in the synagogue people made a fascinating observation about him, "He teaches as one having authority, and not as the scribes . . ." (Matt. 7:29). The word authority in Greek is "exousia" which is a compound word that means "out of 'being' or 'substance'." In other words, Jesus' teaching was full of substance or "meat."

We pastors would do well to follow our Lord's example. Lives are changed not be the glitz and fluff of motivational coaches, but by systematic and expositional teaching of God's Word that is filled with substance.

Below are the five messages on "The Gospel in Genesis" series. The Psalmist declared, "Sweet are thy Words unto my taste" (Psalm 119:103) Notice, he says God's Words are sweet unto his "taste" --- not his hearing. The Word of God is food for the soul, and blessed are those believers who are satisfied with nothing less than the substance of God's Word.

The Gospel in Genesis

Message 1 Adam: The Doctrine of Representation

Message 2 Abel: The Doctrine of Propitiation

Message 3 Abram: The Doctrine of Justification

Message 4 The Angel: The Doctrine of Sanctification

Message 5 The Ark: The Doctrine of Glorification

Have a great weekend.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

The Gospel in Genesis The Ark: The Doctrine of Glorification

One of the most fascinating stories in the entire Bible is that of Noah and the ark. It captures the attention and imagination of both young and old.

It is a story worth trusting . . . some find it difficult to accept Noah and the ark, but nothing in the Word of God is beyond our trust. “God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips, acts with a hand that never fails” C.H. Spurgeon.

It is a story worth telling . . . to kids, adults and any interested student of the Bible. It is worth telling for a couple of reasons.

(1). It answers many scientific questions . . . which I address in my exposition of the book of Genesis, and,

(2). It answers many spiritual questions . . . which will be my focus in this post.

The story of Noah and the ark tells us how God took a people for himself, sheltered them from His righteous judgment, and brought them over to the other side into a brand new world.

Baptist theologian Wayne Grudem says glorification is "... the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own."

Glorification is the logical conclusion to the drama of God's redemptive plan.

Rather than focus on the details of the process of glorification (which are not abundant in Scripture), I desire to focus on God's faithfulness in effectually bringing His children to glory.

Again, the story of Noah and the ark can be seen as a "type" or a "picture" of God taking people through the judgment to a new world. The analogy will fall short if anyone tries to glean information about heaven by comparing it to the world after Noah's flood. Thought heaven is a common theme in the Bible, any description of heaven by the inspired writers is modest at best.

I think one of the reasons that God withholds information regarding heaven from His children is the same reason we hold dessert from our kids until after all the vegetables have been eaten. I remember one day being shown by my mother my favorite dessert, "oreo cookie ice cream pie," only to be told I could only have a piece once I ate all my vegetables. I took a great many shortcuts, including stuffing a couple of carrots in my pockets and the asparagus in the pot that held the plastic plant, in order quickly get to the dessert.

There is a glorious new world that awaits us on the other side of judgment, a world beyond our comprehension --- and it is guaranteed that we will arrive safely.

To those who say, 'But it is hard for me to see the concept of glory in the story of Noah and the ark," I would respond, "The glory is in the faithfulness of God to bring us to the other side." In every page of the Bible we are directed to the beautiful faithfulness of God.

Augustine said that the Scriptures once seemed rude, and unpolished, in comparison to Cicero’s adorned style, because he (Augustine) did not understand the Bible’s interiora (inward beauty). But when “my mind was illuminated to understand them, no writing appeared so wise or even eloquent.”

Let's see if our eyes can be opened a little to the beautiful type of God's faithfulness as seen in the flood.


I. THE FLOOD pictures God’s judgment upon those who rebel against Him . . .

“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming Son of man be” (Matt. 24:37). When Peter describes the coming judgment he compared it to the flood in Noah's day (II Peter 3:5). The day of wrath teaches us that . . .

(A). Man is accountable to God for his conduct . . .

“The wickedness of man was great . . . and the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created” (Gen. 6:7). God has the right to command His subjects, and He will righteously judge those who have rebelled against Him.

(B). God will punish (destroy) the man who rebels . . .

This destruction is both of the body and the soul. Jesus Himself describes this: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

This punishment for sinners is receiving the unrestrained and unmitigated wrath of God. Jesus Himself urged his listeners to "Flee from the wrath to come." The flood that destroyed the world is Noah's day is the wrath of God poured out against the wicked, and it is a picture of the wrath of God which will be revealed against the wicked on the coming day of judgment.

II. THE ARK pictures God’s plan of salvation for sinners in need of deliverance . . .

There are at least seven types in the ark that point us to Jesus Christ and His work.

(A). God initiated and revealed the design for the ark . . . it was not man’s initiative. God told Noah how to build the ark. So it is with redemption. No man ever would have comprehended that God would come and die for sinners.

(B). The ark is made of gopher wood (v. 14) . . . it is called “cypress wood” in NIV. Cypress wood is called “eternal wood.” Modern excavators are dredging up cypress wood in the bottom of the Mediterranean. The wood is not rotten and is as hard as rock. That which secured life Noah was a tree. So too the Bible says, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, 'Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13).

(C). The ark became a refuge from divine judgment (Gen. 7:1) . . . just as everyone in the ark was saved from God’s wrath, those who are in Christ are saved from wrath to come.

(D). The ark provided security because of the “pitch” (v.14) . . . the ark was made watertight by this “covering” of pitch. So too, the atonement of Christ covers us.

“Zetteth” is usually the word for "pitch" (tar) in the Bible, but here in Genesis the word translated pitch is the Hebrew word “kapher” --- translated 'atonement' in other places of the Bible. What seals us in Christ is His atonement or covering of our sins.

(E). The ark had one door (v. 16) . . . Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:9).

(F). The ark had one window (v. 16) . . . it was a high window, so one could not look out and see the corruption of the world. Our affections are to be on things above.

(G). The judgment fell on all not inside the ark . . . as it will on those without Christ. "Kiss the Son lest he be angry" (Psalm 2:12).

III. THE MAN who entered the ark pictures everyone who trusts Jesus Christ and is delivered to the other side of judgment.

God told Noah, “Make thee an ark.” God is saying to you, “Make thee an ark.”

He tells us how. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (delivered)” (Acts 16:31).

As hymnwriter Ray Palmer wrote:

When ends life’s transient dream,
When death’s cold sullen stream over me roll;
Blest Savior, then in love, fear and distrust remove;
O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!


We began this series by seeing because of Adam's rebellion every human is condemned by God. But then we saw that God sent the last Adam, Jesus Christ, to represent His people by bearing our sins. Just as we are condemned for the disobedience of one man, we are saved by the obedience of another Man.

We saw that the reason the death of Christ is our only hope is because a holy God must be propiated by the shedding of blood. "The wages of sin is death," and for a just God to be satisfied, a death must occur. God sent His Son as a propitiation for all who will believe on Him so that God might remain "just and the justifier of the ungodly."

We saw that when a person trusts in Christ he is treated by God "just-as-if-he-fully-obeyed" and is cared for by God every single day of His life, for He has been set apart for a Divine purpose (sanctified).

We close by rejoicing that heaven is a guarantee because when God places us "in Christ" He shuts the door, and it is Christ that carries us from this world to the next.

I hope you have enjoyed the series. Feel free to use the messages any way you desire.

In His Grace,


wade