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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Faith Promise Giving - Is It Scriptural?

"Faith promise giving" is a modern-day fund raising system. It goes beyond pledging. According to it, a person is supposed to promise on faith to give a sum of money that he does not have (nor expect to have) and have the faith that God will supply it so he can give it (seemingly presuming that if you make such a promise "in faith" that God is obligated to "cough it up" for you). This is more than an apostle required, as Paul said that God would accept according to what a man has (II Cor. 8:12).

The Baptist Bible Fellowship was the first group which I heard promoting "Faith Promise Giving". I do not know if it originated with them, but they have been one of the foremost promoters of the idea among independent Baptists. Here are some quotes from a pamphlet distributed by them - A Faith Promise Offering? by Granville LaForge. "The Faith Promise Offering is a free-will offering collected weekly in your church to provide the finances for worldwide missions (p.1)." "First, It is a promise to God. Observe carefully this is not a pledge to the church...However, may we hasten to say that your promise to God should be as binding if not more binding than a pledge to an organization. Secondly, it is an act of faith. You are promising to give beyond your present ability to give...It is simply trusting and believing God to supply the amount He impresses your heart to promise (p.2)." "WHY SHOULD I GIVE A FAITH PROMISE OFFERING?...First to express loving obedience to His commands. (pp.3,4)." "How can I determine what God wants me to give? Ask God, with a submissive will: 'Lord, what will thou have me to do?' If you are truly willing to do His will, He will impress your mind with the amount He wants you to give. The amount He indicates may be beyond your personal ability, but remember this verse: 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.' Mark 9:23 "FOURTH, SUBSCRIBE TO THAT AMOUNT ON YOUR FAITH PROMISE CARD. (p. 8)." "FIFTH, SET THIS AMOUNT ASIDE WEEKLY AND GIVE IT...Knowing that if it is God's will for you to give this amount weekly it then simply becomes a matter of good stewardship to give it as He has led you to promise. NOTE: God never commanded us to do something He will not enable us to do! (p.9)."

Promoters of the Faith Promise usually insist that it is based on Scripture -- "The Faith Promise method of giving is described in detail for us in II Corinthians 8, 9, and 10 (pp. 1-2)." The excerpts from this pamphlet (and many other writings that are available) show that it is a very detailed system, and, for the BBFI at least, "You are promising to do something for an entire year, fifty two weeks without fail (p. 3)." [Most Faith Promise promotions find their scripture base in II Corinthians 8; most want a promise made for a year; most emphasize this as a promise to God rather than a pledge to the church, implying it is not binding, but then turn around and say that a promise to God is even more binding than a pledge to the church.]

Although this may sound good to those unfamiliar with God's Word and its interpretation, the proof texts of the faith promise system are scriptures stretched beyond reason. To begin with, the system is built on a faulty foundation. There is no New Testament teaching of two ways of giving: tithes which are owed to God and offerings over and above the tithe which are not owed but freely given. All we have belongs to God. We are stewards of it all. Even the Old Testament tithing proof text (Mal. 3:8) states that the robbers of God were robbers "in tithes AND offerings." How so, if only the tithe belongs to God?

Faith promise giving might hide behind such shaky use of scripture, since it is between a man and God, if not for a fatal flaw -- it violates scriptural principles of giving.

First of all, it violates the principle of giving "out of that which ye have (II Cor. 8:11)" This principle rules out pledging OR promising what we do not have, and faith promise giving is exactly that -- promising to give what you do not have. God accepts our gifts according to what we have, not according to what we do not have (II Cor. 8:12).

Secondly, faith promises violate I Cor. 16:2, which teaches us to give as God has prospered us. God only asks us give out of that with which He has blessed us. Faith promise giving asks us to give that we hope or expect God to bless us with.

Faith promise giving denies us the prospect of giving sacrificially, as did the Macedonians (II Cor. 8:14). While seemingly calling for sacrificial giving, the faith promise system actually promises that God will supply extra funds to you in order for you to keep your pledge to Him. David said, "Neither will I offer...that which doth cost me nothing (II Sam. 24:24)."

To make a faith promise to perform a certain amount of giving for a year, when we know not what shall be tomorrow (Jas. 4:13,14), seems an act of foolishness rather than an act of faith...

...Let us cheerfully give out of what we have as God has prospered us, and leave off the faith promises.

Note added 10/5/2008: Through recent research on the internet I found Faith Promise giving originated with Oswald J. Smith, a Canadian non-denominational preacher of Presbyterian background. He was also an evangelist, hymn writer and author. Its origin is some 1900 years too late.

"Dr. Oswald J. Smith was the originator of the idea of a Faith Promise offering for missions. For many years he was pastor of The Peoples Church in Toronto, Canada, where he challenged that congregation to raise $1 for missions for every $1 they spent on themselves." -- from A Faith Promise Offering, Oswald J. Smith, p. 2

Monday, March 27, 2006

In Memory: Darrell Mark Burress

Mark Burress died Saturday March 25 as the result of being hit by a drunk driver. He was 48 years old. He was a principal at Peaster High School in Parker County, Texas and a Primitive Baptist preacher. He is survived by his wife Susie, six children and a granddaughter, as well as a host of friends and other family. May God comfort and care for his loved ones.

"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord..."

Father of six killed on I-30
Peaster Principal Killed In Crash

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Jair - a Judge in Israel

"He had thirty sons." - Judges 10:3-5 - If the listing is chronological, Jair's judgeship followed that of Tola, and the nation continued to enjoy the blessings of God and the subsequent peace and quietness resulting from Gideon's decisive defeat of the powerful Midianites. It also suggests that the people had not resorted to their former idolatrous practices, otherwise they would not have been enjoying the blessings of God. Jair "had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys." Horses were ill suited to Israel's mountainous terrain, and little used before the days of King Solomon. Anciently, the horse was used in war. God would warned that Israel's king "shall not multiply horses for himself" (Deut 17:16). Israel was to trust God for victory, not horses. Each of Jair's sons had a town named for him, which collectively were called, "Havoth Jair," towns of Jair. All of this suggests that Jair was a man of wealth, and had attained the status of a prince. He probably had several wives, and it was a common practice for a ruler to give his sons towns, or make them judges over the towns. As with Tola, little more is known of Jair. His greatness was not attained in some spectacular military exploit. He rose from obscurity, and wisely followed the godly example of Gideon and Tola who judged Israel before him. He sought no personal notoriety. He served God and Israel in quietness and humility for twenty-two years. At the time Israel was enjoying one of the longest periods of peace in its history. The years that Gideon, Tola, and Jair served Israel total eighty-five years. The tranquility was marred only by the localized three year reign of terror by Abimelech. To rule in times of peace and prosperity may require greater wisdom and patience than in time of war. During peace and material prosperity, the people tend to be more critical of leaders. In time of national danger, they are more united, and have one important goal: defense of the nation. They do not have time to enjoy the luxury to "pick" the leader apart.

Interestingly, the Greek form of Jair is the New Testament Jairus. (Mark 5:22.)

-- by O. H. Griffith, 01/28/03

Thursday, March 23, 2006

"Full-time" Christians

A tragedy of modern American Christianity is that Christian service has become so exclusively associated with the church building. The average Christian seems to think that his attendance at and participation in church services comprises the total extent of his service to God. We have also created the unbiblical distinction of "full-time" and "part-time" Christian service.

God ordains that all His people be in "full-time" service, and almost all of that service is performed outside the church building. We have the daily opportunity and responsibility to take up our cross and follow Christ -- on the job, in school, at home -- wherever we are is the place of service!

May God grant that we the reject the notion of "part-time" Christian service and begin to recognize His calling beyond the four walls of the church house.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Christ the Chief Good

Christ the Chief Good (Song of Solomon 5:10)

Compared with Christ, in all beside
No comeliness I see;
The one thing needful, dearest Lord,
Is to be one with Thee.

The sense of Thy expiring love,
Into my soul convey;
Thyself bestow, for Thee alone,
My All in all, I pray.

Less than Thyself will not suffice
My comfort to restore;
More than Thyself I cannot crave,
And Thou canst give no more.

Loved of my God, for Him again
With love intense I’d burn;
Chosen of Thee ere time began,
I choose Thee in return.

Whate’er consists not with Thy love,
Oh, teach me to resign;
I’m rich to all intents of bliss,
If Thou, O God, art mine.

— Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Brazos River/April Fools Singing

What: SACRED HARP SINGING
15th Annual Brazos River Singing

Date: Saturday, April 1, 2006, d.v.

Location:
Community Hall
101 N. Chappell Hill
Brenham, Texas

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Book: 2000 Cooper Revision

For more info: Gaylon Powell

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Things that accompany salvation

Oh, believe me, it is a great mistake to suppose we should be happy in heaven, if God were to save us from hell, and take us there, without a great change wrought upon our spirits. Yet this is one of the delusions of the day. Carnal sinners are asking God to save them; and on their death beds send for a minister to pray for them, whereas if God were even to grant their requests, their salvation would be no boon. ... But if we have got the things that accompany salvation, we are given a new life, as well as a new heart. We are not content with mere doctrine; we want experience—we want the Lord to bring home His promise to our hearts—we want the blood applied, we want to realize more of the new creature within, and are never, never satisfied with ourselves, but always longing after holiness, though feeling we never attain to it. — William Parks (1809-1867)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tithing

"Biblical Principles of Giving", by John W. Robbins, was posted by Bro. Hoyt Sparks on his e-mail discussion list. I especially liked how Robbins points out that "giving for the sake of giving" is not inherently good. Here is part of what he wrote:

"...there is no particular virtue in giving per se, as many people seem to think. It is only giving to the glory of God that is not sinful. Showing hospitality to false teachers, as John points out, is an evil deed. Furthermore, when the consideration is giving to the poor, rather than to teachers, it is not the giving of a cup of cold water that Christ commends, but the giving of a cup of cold water in his name. Even the simple act of giving a cup of water to a person in need must be done explicitly in the name of Christ. Even charitable giving — giving to the poor — must meet a doctrinal test in Scripture. Giving per se is not a virtue. Only giving to the glory of God is...The thinking of churches and churchgoers has been so corrupted by altruism that they think that giving is good and commendable for its own sake...This altruism, this notion that giving per se is good, is the result of a theological Liberalism that does not recognize the Biblical doctrines of private property, Christian self-interest, and doing everything to the glory of God.

Conclusion
This brief look at the Biblical principles that must guide a Christian's giving has brought several to light:


1. Each person actually owns his own property;
2. No church or religious organization has a claim to the property of others;
3. There is no moral duty to give merely for the sake of giving;
4. All giving, which is commanded by God, is to be done to the glory of God;
5. Only giving done in the name of Christ is commended by Christ; and
6. Giving to persons or organizations that do not teach the doctrines Christ taught is sin.

The entire article may be found here: Biblical Principles of Giving

Monday, March 13, 2006

Can We Change What We Are?

Sin, in all its various forms, is [the soul's] natural element. To make man the direct opposite of what he originally is—to make him love God instead of hating Him—to make him fear God instead of mocking Him—to make him obey God instead of rebelling against Him—to make him to tremble at His dreadful majesty instead of defiantly charging against Him—to do this mighty work, and to effect this wonderful change requires the implantation of a new nature by the immediate hand of God Himself! Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to doing evil. - from the writings of J.C. Philpot (1802-1869)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Washing the Saints’ Feet, John 13

I'm working on a book about the history of feet washing among the Baptists, so with my mind on the subject, I thought I'd post this here. The brief of Matthew Henry's commentary is not meant to imply that he believed in feet washing as a rite. I just thought his comments were good and appropriate. More can be found here:
Matthew Henry Commentary, John chapter 13

Washing the Saints’ Feet, (Common Meter)

Thou, dying Lord, once did descend
Before the saints of old.
By such an act so did commend
That which the saints were told.

From Thy blest lips gave words so true
When Thou hadst took Thy seat,
“If I have done this task for you,
Then wash each other’s feet.”

So when we stoop before a saint
To wash his precious feet,
We with our frames a picture paint -
A message dear and sweet.

A message of our Lord who once
To earth did condescend;
To bear upon a cursed tree
The sins of dying men.

So here within Thy Church, O God,
We would desire a seat;
To eat Thy flesh and drink Thy blood,
And wash each other’s feet.

(© 1994, by author) permission granted for use with proper credit of author and a suggested mention of this site.

According to Matthew Henry, the feet washing was:
1. Sure evidence that Jesus loved them -- "having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."
2. A demonstration of His humility -- "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God" yet he "began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded." Cf. Mark 10:45
3. A sign of spiritual washing -- "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all."
4. An example for His disciples -- "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Anointing with Oil - James 5

James 5:14, 15 - "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up..."

A quite popular interpretation among Baptists is that the oil here in James 5 refers to using medicine in conjunction with prayer. I see this as a pragmatic and possibly fright-driven interpretation -- because of faith healers and charismatics we flee to the opposite extreme.

I do not believe the oil here is application of medicine because: (1) it would make physicians of the elders; (2) it would recommend oil as a universal remedy for sicknesses; (3) it is the prayer, not the oil, that is credited with healing power; and (4) it is the Lord, not the oil, that raises the sick from his bed.

If so, how would this be practiced? James is not turning the church gathering into a charismatic healing meeting. "Let them call." If a believer calls for the elders, then the elders go and anoint with oil and pray over him/her. The symbolism of oil in the Bible is associated with the Holy Spirit and also setting apart.

What think ye?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Baptists and the Apocrypha

What is the Apocrypha? The books known by most Baptists and Protestants as the Apocrypha are fourteen extra books included in manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate. These are also found in the Greek Septuagint. There is some variation in what Protestants, Roman Catholics the Greek Orthodox consider to be the books of the Apocrypha.

The fourteen books as found in my King James Version 1611 (Thomas Nelson Publishers) are: I Esdras, II Esdras, Tobit, Judith, The Rest of the Chapters of the book of Esther (usually called Additions to Esther), The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch (the Epistle of Jeremiah appears as Chapter Six of Baruch), The Song of the Three Holy Children, The History of Susanna, The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon, The Prayer of Manasseh King of Judah, I Maccabees, and II Maccabees.

Should we read and study them? Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox accept them as inspired. Since we do not recognize these books as inspired, what should be our relationship to them? On one extreme are those who advocate that we should read them in order to understand the Scriptures, almost making them an interpreter of Scripture. On the other extreme are those who advocate must not read them at all, rather avoiding them like the plague.

The testimony of our forefathers in the 1689 London Confession of Faith (which follows the Westminster 1647) is good advice. They wrote, "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon or rule of the Scripture, and, therefore, are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings."

Approach the Apocrypha cautiously, as you would any human writing. These books are not inspired. They contain mixtures of truth and error, historical accounts and fanciful tales. Unless you are willing to swear off reading all human writings (including this blog and whatever you just wrote!), then do not say we cannot read them. On the other hand, do not imply that we must read them in order to understand and interpret the Scriptures. The Scriptures are given by inspiration of God and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness and completely furnish us.

1689 London Baptist Confession

Monday, March 06, 2006

A typical Baptist worship service?

"The order of the worship and government of our church is: first, we begin with a prayer, [and] after[ward] read some one or two chapters of the Bible, give the sense thereof, and confer upon the same, that done we lay aside our books, and after a solemn prayer made by the first speaker, he propoundeth some text out of the Scripture, and prophesieth out of the same, by the space of one hour, or three quarters of an hour. After him standeth up a second speaker and prophesieth out of the same text the like time and space, some time more some time less. After him the third, the fourth, the fifth, etc. as the time will give leave. Then the first speaker concludeth with prayer as he began with prayer, with an exhortation to contribute to the poor, which collection being made is also concluded with prayer. This morning exercise begins at eight of the clocke and continueth unto twelve of the clock; the like course of exercise is observed in the afternoon from two of the clock unto five or six of the clock, last of all the execution of the government of the church is handled." -- From Champlin Burrage, The Early English Dissenters in Light of Recent Research, pp. 176-177

This old record is taken from a letter written by Henry and Anne Bromhead in 1609. Some spelling and old letter fonts were changed.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Smith Memorial Singing

The Smith Memorial Sacred Harp Singing will be held Saturday, March 11, 2006, at the New Harmony Community Center in the New Harmony Community northwest of Tyler, Texas.

The singing will begin at 9:30 a.m, and we will sing until 3 p.m.

For more info, and directions see http://singings.texasfasola.org/annual/smith_memorial.html

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sandy Creek Church, North Carolina

The following history was written in 1980 by the church clerk of Sandy Creek Primitive Baptist Church -- originally known as Separate Baptist and "mother" of many Baptist churches in the South.

A Brief History of the Sandy Creek Primitive Baptist Church (1755 till 1980)

Here is a brief history of Old Sandy Creek Primitive Baptist Church, located in the north eastern part of Randolph County, North Carolina, 20 miles southeast of Greensboro, North Carolina, four miles west of Liberty, North Carolina, off of 49-A.

Morgan Edwards, the earliest historian, was at Sandy Creek in 1772, says that the work existing from Elder Shubal Stearns and fifteen other souls, 16 years early (November 22, 1755), spread so rapidly from Sandy Creek that by 1775, the church had spread her branches southward as far as Georgia, eastward to the sea and the Chesapeake Bay, and northward to the water of the Potomac. It, in 17 years, became a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to 42 churches, from which sprang 125 ministers. Semple, next in age, 1810, says ... soon after Elder Stearns’ arrival at Sandy Creek November 22, 1755, he and his companions to the number of 16 were constituted into a church called Sandy Creek and to which Elder Stearns was appointed pastor. In this little church in the wilderness, there were, besides the pastor, two other preachers, viz: Joseph Breed and Daniel Marshall, neither of whom was ordained. Thus organized, they began a work, kindling a fire which soon began to burn brightly indeed. Shubal Stearns came into Guilford County, now Randolph, at Sandy Creek and began a work that is almost without parallel. In 1829, Hassell wrote, as of now, more than a thousand churches existing which arose from this beginning.

The first meeting house built in 1762 was 26 x 30. The old log meeting house was built around 1802. The present frame house was built in 1946. The first deed to the property at Sandy Creek was made in 1822 by Wm. Welborn. It consisted of one acre or more of land and was filed for registration on December 29, 1885, before W. J. Teague, Register of Deeds.

On the second Lord’s day in August, 1835, our predecessor protested “against all the new institutions of the day which they do believe is not founded on the scripture, among which were the Baptist State Convention, the Missionary Society, the Sunday School, and other societies which had come into existence. As a result of the declaration, the church withdrew from the Sandy Creek Association and joined the Abbott’s Creek Union Association: the church continued in this association for 124 years. The church now stands independent.

In 1902, membership had dropped to only one member, a Vedelia E. Jones who died in 1909. From about 1904 till 1909, no services were held. It is said, however, that she refused to accept the closing of the church and continued to come and sit on the steps of the old building each meeting day and sang the old hymns she loved so well.

In 1926, services were resumed and, in 1929, the church was reorganized back into a church body and has continued ever since. Elder Gurney E. Nance serves as our pastor.

We were prone to agree with the statement “This is a church where time stands still.”

HISTORY NOTES

In the early part of the church history, our records are lost, but we do have the first original deed. It was not lawful in North Carolina at the time Sandy Creek was organized for churches to own land.

The old Log Meeting house once had a balcony which some say was used for slaves. There are two doors and two windows. The stand or pulpit is pinned together with wooden pegs.

About 1905, the “Original” Head Rock of Elder Shubal Stearns was removed from his grave by a Missionary minister. The present stone is misleading. The Primitive Baptists, at this time, have been unable to find the original stone. Stearns’ original head rock was native stone on which was carved “S.S. 1771”.

In 1951, the Department of Conservation and Development tried to establish Sandy Creek Baptist Church as a historical shrine, but the church refused to turn over to the state the old deed. The Old Baptists believed the old building is to be used for worship of the Lord only.

In July, 1979, the State Professional Review Committee placed for study Old Sandy Creek Primitive Baptist Church for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. We have seventeen members. We hope each reader will pray that our endeavors walk in the old paths may continue.

Hal Younts, Church Clerk
Climax, North Carolina

Friday, March 03, 2006

United Baptist history

Brother David White of Missouri has built a nice United Baptist history site. Stop by and pay a visit if you're interested in the history of Baptists in the United States:

United Baptist Associations - Past and Present

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Church before Pentecost

It is a fairly common opinion that the church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts ch. 2). Below are some of the reasons that I believe that the church was started before Pentecost. These may seem simplistic, but it doesn't take too much to satisfy a simple mind like mine.

1. The church is referred to before Pentecost, both by the word "church" (Matt. 16:18; 18:17) and by its figurative names - flock, bride, house, etc. (Luke 12:32, cf. I Pet. 5:2; John 3:29, cf. Eph. 5:22-31; Mark 13:33-36, cf. I Tim. 3:15).
2. The English word "church" is a translation of the Greek word "ekklesia", which means a called-out assembly. Jesus disciples were both called-out and assembling with Him before the day of Pentecost (e.g. Matt. 4:19; John 1:35ff).
3. The apostles were set in the church (I Cor. 11:28) and this occurred before Pentecost (Matt.10:1,2; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13).
4. The ordinances were instituted and observed before Pentecost (John 4:1,2; Matthew 26:26-30).
5. John the Baptist prepared a people ready for the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:17), not for the day of Pentecost.
6. The church was commissioned before Pentecost: first the limited commission of Matt. 10:1-4 and then the extended commission of Matt. 28:18-20.7. Jesus sang in the church before Pentecost (Heb. 2:12; Matt. 26:30).
8. The last days refer to the church age, and the last days were in existence during Jesus' ministry (Heb. 1:2).
9. There was church discipline before the day of Pentecost (Matt. 18:17).
10. The church had a business meeting before Pentecost (Acts 1:15-26).
11. The Lord added to the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41-27), so there had to exist a church for people to have been added to it.
12. There is no reason to suppose that the church could not exist with her visible Head present.
13. Nothing in scripture indicates the church was or had to be started on Pentecost.