Friday, May 30, 2014

1.                   Jesus is Lord

Baptists believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, the Creator of all that exists. John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (E.S.V.) Verse 14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” Jesus was not a mere human being, nor is he some kind of lesser deity. He is fully God, equal with God the Father.
There are other passages that affirm the divinity of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Colossians 2:9 says, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Because Jesus is our God and our Creator, he is also our Lord. Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus also deserves our full allegiance because he is our Savior. By his death and resurrection he purchased our salvation. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Indeed, salvation, forgiveness of sins and eternal can only be found in him. Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus said in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 20:30-31 says, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Because of who Jesus is and what he has done for us, we should obey him above all other authorities. We are to obey our governing authorities as Paul says in Romans 13:1, but Jesus is our ultimate authority, both individually and in the church. Every area of our life should be submitted to him. He is Lord over our business practices, our relationships, our leisure activities and our church life.

Question:            Is the Lordship of Jesus Christ stressed enough in your church?

Friday, May 23, 2014


                I have been a Baptist all my life. I have a cradle roll certificate from a Baptist church. My father and grandfather were Baptists.  I graduated from a Baptist Bible College and seminary. I am an ordained Baptist minister and I have been a pastor in several Baptist churches. This may be why my son asked me to blog about Baptist distinctives.
                It is not surprising that I thought that I had a pretty good idea of what it means to be a Baptist. However, when I looked up Baptist Distinctives on the internet, I found surprising results. One common idea was to use the acronym B.A.P.T.I.S.T.S. to outline eight Baptist distinctives.

                Biblical Authority
                Autonomy of the Local Church
                Priesthood of the Believer
                Two Ordinances: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
                Individual Soul Liberty
                Saved, Baptized Church Membership
                Two Offices in the Church: Pastors and Deacons
                Separation of Church and State

This sounded too American to me so I looked up a Canadian Baptist website (
and found a slightly different set of distinctives.

1. Jesus is Lord
2. The Word of God is the Authoritative Rule of Faith and Practice
3. The Priesthood of All Believers
4. A Believers’ Church
5. Believer’s Baptism by Immersion
6. Congregational Government
7. Separation of Church and State           
                It does not use the handy acronym, but it is more in line with what I have always believed. This is the set of distinctives that I will be commenting on in this blog.

Question:            What do you see as the major difference between these two sets of distinctive?

Friday, May 16, 2014


                Sola Deo Gloria (the glory of God alone) is the last of the five solas of the Protestant Reformation that we will be dealing with in this blog. It means that everything that we do should be done for the glory of God alone. There should be no pride or self interest involved. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This, of course, is a lofty, but impossible goal. Pride and selfishness dominates our motives and our actions. However, it is a worthy goal.
                For the glory of God alone means that we should not be striving to get rich. It means that we should not be seeking power. It also means that we should not be striving to please other people. Paul says in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Seeking the praise of other people is incompatible with seeking the glory of God.
                Sola Deo Gloria was used by famous composers like Handel to indicate that they were dedicating their work to God. This past December I listened to a concert of Handel’s Messiah and definitely felt that God was being glorified. Unfortunately, God is not always glorified in our churches. Power struggles and church splits are clear examples of that.

Question:            Does your church do everything for the glory of God alone?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


                Sola Gratia (grace alone) is easily the most important of the five solas. Sola fide (faith alone) may have been the rallying cry of the Reformation and the most well known of the five solas, but it is based on sola gratia. We are saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” It is God’s grace that saves us and not our faith. Faith is simply the way that God has chosen to appropriate his grace. This is a very important distinction. Our salvation does not depend upon our ‘own doing’ whether that means our own works or own our faith or even our own decision to confess Christ. Note the past tense. We have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” We have been saved by God’s love, mercy and grace. To try to earn our salvation in any way is to deny the grace of God. Galatians 5:4 says, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”
                We are all sinful creatures standing before a holy God. Romans 3:23-24 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Even though we are unrighteous, we are declared righteous (justified) by the grace of God. It was while we were sinners that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). In both Ephesians 2 and Romans 3 Paul uses the term gift. He uses it again in Romans 6:23 which says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. God’s grace is a gift. It is not earned in any way. Otherwise, it would not be a gift. We cannot earn God’s favour.  
                Grace is the essence of the Christian gospel. We have no other message than the message of grace. Grace is unique to Christianity. No other religion is based on grace. They are all based on people earning the favour of God or the gods by devotion or works. Grace is so fundamental to Christianity that many songs have been written about it. John Newton’s Amazing Grace is probably the best known song about God’s grace, but there are many others. Also, Christians have written books about grace. Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace is an excellent book on the subject. I am also writing a book about grace, but I have no idea when it will be published.

                Because our salvation is based on God’s grace and not our works, our faith or our decisions we can have assurance that we have been saved. We may fail in our efforts, but God’s grace will never fail us.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


A godly mother is hard to find.
A woman like that is one of kind.
She is far more precious than gold.
The one who finds her has wealth untold.

Her children say they are richly blessed.
Her husband thinks that she is the best.
Hers is a beauty that never fades.

She is a gift that God has made. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

                Solus Christus (Christ alone) was another doctrine that was emphasized during the Protestant Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church had many intermediaries between God and man. People prayed to the saints and Mary. Their salvation was mediated through the church by the priests and the sacraments. Martin Luther and others argued that salvation was through Jesus Christ alone and that he was the only mediator between God and man.
                There is a great deal of scriptural justification for this argument. Salvation is indeed found only in Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (ESV) He also said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” Acts 4:11-12 says, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
                The Bible also makes it clear that Jesus is the only mediator between us and God. We do not need to go through priest, saints and/or Mary to speak to God.1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through him [Jesus] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Hebrews 9:15 and 12:24 both say that Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant. Under the old covenant, people did have to approach God through a system of priests and sacrifices. This was symbolized by the temple curtain which separated the Most Holy Place, which only the high priest could enter, from the rest of the temple. That curtain was torn in two when Jesus was crucified (Luke 23:45).
                Jesus is the only way to God because he is God. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Because he is the Son of God, all who believe in him become children of God (verse 12).  John 20:31 says, “These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you may have life in his name.” Romans 5 says that we have peace, justification and life through Jesus Christ.
                  One of the things that people find offensive about Christianity is its exclusive claims. We do say that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and salvation. That means that salvation cannot be found in any other religion. Indeed, salvation is not found in Christianity as such, but in Jesus Christ. Eternal life comes through a relationship with a person, not through any religion. In Galatians, Paul pronounced a curse on anyone who would preach another gospel (Galatians 1:6-8).
                It is in Jesus’ name that we have access to God. Because we are sinful creatures, we cannot approach God on our own. We must come through Jesus Christ. In John 14:14 Jesus said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” In John 16:23 he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”

Question:    Why do people pray “in your name,” instead of “in Jesus’ name”?