Sunday, December 05, 2010

Southern Baptists, the Baptist Faith and Message, and Elders

So I'm working on a lesson on polity for church tomorrow, specifically on how individuals in the congregation have the right and responsibility to be involved, and I came across a posting from August of 2009 that has been bugging me.  The gist of it is that the Acts 29 documents and the BFM documents church planters sign are mutually exclusive because Acts 29 indicates an elder "governed" model while the BFM indicates the use of "democratic processes", and therefore it is inconsistent to sign both.

To be clear, I am not a church planter and I have not signed either, though I do support the BFM.  I don't dislike Acts 29 either, it's just not relevant in my current ministry context.  That said, I have struggled with this idea that "democracy" and "elder governance" are mutually exclusive, philosophically or otherwise.

As a bit of background, the Episcopal Church, in simplest terms, is set up almost completely like the American system of government.  There is a bicameral house, there are representatives in those houses chosen by the regional representatives, and the regional representatives are chosen by the individual congregations through a voting process.  They even have a 9-year term "Executive Branch" in the Presiding Bishop or Primate.  The founders of the USA were also largely involved in the development of the Episcopal Church, crafting a framework for their religious views that maintained all that is Anglican without the ties to England.  Therefore the similarities are not only expected but remarkably apparent (which is why I am surprised it took me this long to figure that out!).

Everyone would readily agree, upon consideration, that American politics use a democratic process.  Sure, it's a representative democracy, not a "pure" democracy, but anyone can see that the daily running of a nation could not function in a "pure" democracy either.  What troubles me is that Southern Baptists can agree that the US is a democracy, but that "democratic processes", as the BFM stipulates can only be a pure democracy, as the writer of the aforementioned blog post seemed to be saying.

I am not arguing that we adopt Episcopal-style representative polity that is also democratic.  I am arguing that we should be careful what we say "democratic processes" means.  Does the BFM state "pure" democracy only? No.  Does it mean that?  I have no idea, but I doubt it.  If that is what was meant, many SBC churches could not in good conscience agree.  I would suppose that the wisest and safest interpretation is that which allows "democratic processes" to truly be "processes", that is, there is a recognition that there may be more than one sort of democratic process that is biblically consistent and there is no distinction made in the BFM itself what the specifics of such a multiplicity of processes actually are.

If that is the case, then an Elder-led (or governed, providing the Elders are elected by the congregation) model is perfectly consistent with the BFM.  Let's give each other a bit of grace and flexibility when we start pointing out what is "consistent" and what isn't, what do you say?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Youth Notes on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

1. TRINITY—God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being.—FULLY DIVINE
a.   Gen 1:2—The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
b.  Job 26:13—HS is the wind of God that can work changes in this world
c.   Psalms 139:7-12—Tells us HS is everywhere
d.  Matt 1:18—while Mary was a virgin “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit”
e.   Luke 1:35—Angel says:“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”
f.   Matt 12:28-32—Jesus testifies that he casts out demons by the “Spirit of God”
2. Nicene Creed
a.   by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man…
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets
b.  Matt 3:16—descending dove—definitely from the Father J (also Mark 1:10-11)
c.   John 14:26—But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you
d.  John 15:26—“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
e.   Galatians 4:6—And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
f.   Philippians 1:19— for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance
g.   Romans 8:9—You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
3. Inspiration
a.   2 Timothy 3:16; All Scripture is breathed out by God
b.  2 Peter 1:21—For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
c.   Revelation 1:10;  I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day,
4. Illumination (Teacher)
a.   1 John 5:6—… And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
b.  John 14:26—But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
c.   John 16:13—When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
5. Exaltation of Christ
a.   John 15:26—“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
b.  John 16:14—He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
1. Conviction—of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment
a.   John 16:8-11
                                                    i.    8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
2. Calls to Savior
a.   Revelation 22:17. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
3. Regenerates (makes us able to understand the things of God inc. the Bible)
a.   Titus 3:4-7
                              i.    4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
4. Baptizer into Body of Christ
a.   I Corinthians 12:13—For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
5.    Cultivates Character (sanctification)
a.   Hebrews 9:14—how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
b.  1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
                                                     i.    For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
6.    Comforts Believers (Comforter/Helper/Counselor)
a.   John 14:16-17
                                                      i.    And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
b.  John 15:26—“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
7.    Bestows spiritual gifts
a.   Joel 2:28-32
                                                   i.    28 And it shall come to pass afterward,
     that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
     your old men shall dream dreams,
     your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female servants     
     in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  31The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 32And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.  For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
b.  1 Corinthians 12:3-11,13;
                                                    i.    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
8.    Seals unto redemption
a.   Presence in believer = guarantee that God will bring believer into fullness of stature of Christ
b.  Ephesians 1:13-14—In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
c.   Ephesians 4:30—And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
d.  1 John 4:13; By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
9.    Enlightens and Empowers in worship, evangelism and service—The Believer and the Church
a.   Matt 4:1—Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil
                                                      i.    Mark 1:12—The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
                                                    ii.    Luke 4:1—And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.
b.  Matt 12:28—But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
c.   Luke 4:18-19
                                                     i.    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”
d.  Matt 28:18-20
                                                      i.     18 And Jesus came and said to them,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
e.    Romans 8:26-27
                                                     i.    26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  (prayer)
f.   Galatians 4:6—And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (worship)

Spiritual Disciplines

Some verses to consider:
Hebrews 12:1-2
[1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Psalm 1:1-2    
[1] Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
            nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
[2] but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 5:3
            O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
                        in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

Psalm 63:5-7
            [5] My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
                        and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
            [6] when I remember you upon my bed,
                        and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
            [7] for you have been my help,
                        and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Mark 1:35
            And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

Abandoned (largely)
Prayer—lists or topics or people or Bible verses
Meditation—not emptying but fill w/ God
Bible Study/Reading
Bible Memorization
[Church Discipline]
[Worship] and Worship
Silence and Solitude
 [in brackets indicates corporate discipline practices]

Practice:  Read a whole book through—Titus is a good one to start, short, easy.
Practice:  Read one verse and think on it alone for 5 min.—James 1:5 is a good one.
Practice: Memorize one verse—again, James 1:5.
Practice: Pray for 5 min.—your school, family, church, or friends are great personal things to pray for, the government, the economy, the unsaved, missionaries, and Bible translators are other great things to pray for.

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