Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Odds and Ends

No word on the missing 'Burb yet (thanks for asking, Annette). The insurance company said they'd wait 30 days before considering it a write-off. We've been trying to remember what we left in the thing. Not much, thankfully. Josh realized on Tuesday morning that his math book was in the Suburban. That's inconvienent, but not a tragedy in his world.

Speaking of tragedy, Juanita and I have been talking about the fact that it is not a big deal to lose our Suburban. We appreciate the concern that people have expressed to us, but this is not in the same league as a serious illness, injury or even a house fire. It's a little bother in the grand scheme of things.

Jumping to another topic, I recently did a brief post on baptism. Two commenters unknown to me asked good questions. Ntutak asked about our church recognizing a different mode for believer's baptism. This is a tough one for me personally. I don't represent Terry Stauffer as pastor, but Edson Baptist Church. Of course I represent Jesus Christ and His Word, but in that I am not any differernt from other Christians. As a representative of Edson Baptist, I have to stand by our statement of faith, which says immersion is baptism.

Laura asked about infant baptism. Are Christians who have only been baptized as infants living in disobedience? The short answer to this is, "No," but they couldn't be members of a Baptist church (barring innovative exceptions in some churches). That's not the end of the world, contrary to the opinion of some Baptists - including Baptists that she has apparently encountered (maybe that's what you get for living in Louisville).

I will make an exception to that disobedience answer, however. If a person has been baptized as an infant and is convinced theologically that this is the biblical position, then they should seek out fellowship in a Gospel-teaching paedobaptist local church. If an infant-baptized person is convinced that baptism of disciples alone is the biblical pattern, then they ought to go ahead and be baptized. If they are a Baptist by conviction and unbaptized, then they obviously are living in disobedience to Christ. This should be obvious, but I hope it answers the question.

As an addendum to this subject, let me recommend one of the best conversations that I've heard on cooperation among Christians. In this program, the Together for the Gospel friends - particularly Dr. Mohler - distinguish between different kinds of Christian cooperation. The MP3 is available for free at the 9 Marks website. The link is here. You can stream or download it.

There is an important tension to be maintained between a healthy, disciplined local church and a celebration of Christian unity across traditions. It is not always easy to know where that line lies.

I'm still having a hard time getting blogging time in. I did most of this post back on Tuesday, now here it is Saturday and I'm just getting it done. Life just gets in the way.

The distraction certainly isn't hockey. My Oilers are in the tank. Josh is quite philosophical about the Ryan Smyth trade. He likes the fact that they have 3 first round draft picks coming up (one from the Smyth trade), and Ryan O'Marra is nothing to sneeze at (15th in the 1st round in 2005). Robert Nilsson (the other Smyth component) and Rob Schremp have been going great guns with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins. The future should be interesting. They're playing Calgary tonight. Josh is rooting for them to get a goal. Just one goal. He's fully expecting them to lose tonight. Can't say I blame him.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Burgled 'Burb

Between the time Juanita took the car to church this morning and the rest of the family and I came out to the Suburban, someone had run off with it. That was about a 10 minute window of opportunity.

Yes, I was a bad boy and left it running with the doors unlocked, but can't a guy do that in a small town on Sunday morning?

I guess not.

We've never experienced a stolen vehicle before, so we're off on a new adventure.

We won't be taking the Suburban, though.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


If life is a highway, I think I just pulled off the 401 near Toronto on Canada Day weekend.

It hasn't been unbearably busy, but things have been hopping. I like to think of myself as a mellow fellow, but I do get stressed about things more than I usually admit.

Juanita has chronicled some of the happenings on her blog, including our daughter Emily's baptism. That was a good day!

The next day we went downhill skiing at Silver Summitt, a neat little hill about an hour north of town (it was big enough for us!). Juanita and Anne didn't do the downhill thing, but it was the first time for Emily, Petra, Josh and dad. I must admit, I wasn't too impressed for the first bit, but once I got the hang of it, it was lots of fun.

We had our church annual meeting last night. It went very well. I always get nervous about annual meetings, but they haven't been a problem here in Edson. Still, that is the reason that I've been uptight lately. We're thankful for our church. We have a lot of fine people here. I do hope we can stay for a long time. 10 years in September. So far, so good.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Baptism Primer

This is a handout that I wrote this morning for our church. Any feedback as to how I can improve it would be appreciated, though I do want to keep this one short.

Question and Answers about Baptism*

Edson Baptist Church

What is baptism?

Baptism is an English word taken from the Koine (common) Greek word baptizo (Koine Greek is the language in which the New Testament was written). Baptism means to dip or immerse. We know this by comparisons with the common usage of the word in Greek from the time the Bible was written and from the context of the New Testament itself.

Baptism is the step of obedience commanded by Christ for believers who have experienced regeneration (new life) from God. Jesus said,

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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

Baptism of disciples (those who follow Jesus) is assumed in the New Testament. When people repented of their sins and confessed Christ as Lord and trusted Him as Saviour, they were baptized (compare Acts 2:37-41, 8:12, 19:5, etc.).

What purpose does baptism serve?

  • Obedience / Submission to Jesus Christ: Jesus said that His disciples were to baptize disciples. Jesus Himself submitted to baptism in order to identify with sinful people, even though He Himself is without sin (see Matthew 3:13-17). Christians submit to baptism out of reverence for Christ. This reason alone should be enough of a motivation for a believer to be baptized.
  • Testimony to God’s salvation: Baptism is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. It speaks of what God has done for sinners in Jesus Christ. The New Testament uses spiritual language to describe baptism by the Spirit of God: 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 (1 Corinthians 12:13, compare Matthew 3:11). Baptism is a physical act of obedience to and identification with Jesus Christ that illustrates a prior spiritual work of God in the heart and mind of the believer. One of the messages of baptism is washing, the cleansing of sin. Note the Apostle Paul’s testimony to his own experience of baptism. He was told, “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” Acts 22:16. Baptism says, “I am changed because of what Christ has done for me.”
  • Identification with Jesus Christ. Examples of the principle of identification through baptism:
    • When the Children of Israel went through the Red Sea with Moses at the time of the flight from slavery in Egypt, they identified with God’s message through Moses that they would be delivered to the Promised Land. See 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (note phrase “baptized into Moses”).
    • When the Jewish people heard John’s call for repentance in preparation for the coming of the Promised Deliverer (Messiah), they identified with his message by being baptized by him in the Jordan River. See Matthew 3:1-6.
    • Christian Baptism is identification with Jesus Christ and the reality of His death and resurrection for our salvation and eternal hope. Read Romans 6:3-5. When we are baptized, we are saying, “Jesus died to purchase my forgiveness with His blood, Jesus rose so that I might live a new life forever with Him.”

When we identify with the work of Jesus through baptism, we are demonstrating what the Christian message is all about. Baptism is like a sermon written in water. It tells the story of what God has done for sinners. Sinners who repent and believe may have their sins washed away, die to their old futile lives and live forever in joy.

  • Christian Love and Unity: Baptism is entrance into unity with Christ and unity with Christ’s people in the church. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 (see also 1 Corinthians 12:13 quoted above).

Must a person be baptized to be saved?

Water baptism is a work that we may perform. As such, it is inconsistent with biblical teaching to say that you cannot be a Christian unless you have been baptized. Salvation (being forgiven and counted righteous through faith in Christ’s finished work) is by grace through faith, not works. “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.” Ephesians 2:8-9

When Peter preached the Gospel to Cornelius and his household, they were baptized by the Holy Spirit before they were baptized in water (though they were baptized immediately afterwards). By this, the Holy Spirit is pointing to the fact that salvation is a sovereign act of God, not a reward for obedient behaviour (compare Acts 2:37-38 and Acts 10:43-48).

There are some passages that appear to point to the necessity of baptism for salvation:

  • Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” Acts 22:16
  • Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ 1 Peter 3:21

Note that in both of these passages baptism is connected with an appeal to Jesus Christ (his name and his forgiveness, that is, a good conscience before God on the basis of Christ’s work). As a bare act, baptism does not save. Water baptism is a demonstration of the believer’s appeal of faith to God for salvation.

Who should be baptized?

Baptism is for those who believe the gospel. The gospel is the good news that God’s Promised Deliverer has come to bear the penalty for our sin (for all have sinned). Jesus died in our place so that we might have peace with God. Jesus demonstrated his power over death by His bodily resurrection from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). This resurrection is a pattern for us. We who have faith in Christ’s promise of eternal life, secured by His righteous death and bodily resurrection, will be raised to live with Him one day (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

What about infant baptism? Is that a legitimate form of baptism?

Though we rejoice in the common ground that we share as Baptists with many believers in other denominations that practice infant baptism (Presbyterian, Reformed, etc.), we only recognize believers’ baptism as legitimate baptism.

The reason for this is our conviction that the New Testament teaches that baptism is for disciples alone. If you have more questions regarding infant baptism, we recommend that you read an online document entitled “A String of Pearls Unstrung” which is available online at http://www.founders.org/library/malone1/string.html.

*All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Wise Words in Hard Times

True Christianity shines in the hardest times of life. Like a lot of people, I watched the recent illness of Dr. R. Albert Mohler with concern. I'm glad he has recovered and is back in the saddle, but what happens when Christians pray and people still die? Dr. Mohler addressed his illness in a thoughtful way more than once recently, and he did answer the question about prayers for healing that are not answered as we desire. Here are some links:

Dr. Mohler’s Commentary on his illness.

Time article with Dr. Mohler

Opening Convocation at SBTS

In this convocation address, Dr. Mohler talks about his illness and reviews an excellent testimony of a leader who did not recover from his illness, Dr. James Montgomery Boice, the former pastor of Tenth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Dr. Boice died of cancer in 2000. Here is a link to his testimony before his church, the testimony that Dr. Mohler cites in his address at SBTS.

Dr. James Mongomery Boice testimony

Consideration of these matters is worth our thought, prayer and conversation in good times. Grace in times of crisis is not accidental, nor is it purely a matter of temperament. We need to cultivate a good theology of suffering and, more importantly, a healthy appreciation for the goodness and sovereignty of God in the good times so that we will be ready when the trials come.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Look - Sunday Hymn

This week, I'm going to post a link to Bob Kauflin's blog, Worship Matters. He writes on a new/old hymn (read the post to understand that description) that has astonishing lyrics. Bob links to a free MP3 download, too!

Have a blessed Sunday!