For the time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

— 2 Timothy 4:3-4

In every age, among all peoples, the truth of God’s word has been under assault. The event that precipitated the Fall of man was the direct contradiction of the clearly spoken word of God by the serpent.  “Indeed, has God said . . .?” From that awful event in history when Adam and Eve were deceived by lies and rejected truth, and all of the human race inherited Adam’s sin until now, truth has been called into question. Timeless truths that were once thought unquestionable are now scoffed at with regularity. For example, Moses wrote, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). While the Genesis account of creation has been routinely ridiculed, it seems to be a recent development to deny that there are two (and only two) sexes — male and female. The Supreme Court of the United States in Obergefell v. Hodges ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. President Obama recently issued a directive that public school transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms of their choice, regardless of their God-given gender. Lawmakers in the State of Massachusetts recently passed a law allowing use of restrooms based on gender identity.

How did society come to so readily accept moral relativism on such a large scale? To answer this question, it is reasonable to assert that society itself is not to blame. It is not surprising for lost men to behave like lost men. Perhaps, those to whom truth was entrusted are to blame. Paul admonished young Timothy to “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13-14). However, rather than guarding the treasure, some theologians tarnished it by elevating experience above truth. While many are responsible for the proliferation of religious experientialism, it was Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) who influenced a generation of religious thinkers to believe that a person’s experience and feelings is the guide to religious truth. But if experience itself is the standard, how will a person know if he is being deceived? Paul wrote, “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). Indeed, things have proceeded from bad to worse and truth is in peril — even in the professed Church of Jesus Christ.

Some theologians tarnished the treasure by elevating experience above truth.

It is imperative the the Church “continue in the things we have learned and become convinced of” (2 Timothy 3:14). The things which we have learned and become convinced of are those truths written in Holy Scripture. Every great confession of faith begins by acknowledging that Holy Scripture is true, infallible, sufficient, trustworthy, and is “the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000).  Scripture is the supreme judge.  No creed or confession can claim to be the “all-sufficient, certain and infallible rule or standard of the knowledge, faith and obedience” (1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith).  All confessions and creeds are subservient to Scripture. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for correction, for training in righteousness.” Whatever your confession, it is not inspired. However, a biblical confession is essential in this day of religious experientialism. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, perhaps the greatest Baptist preacher in history, had this to say in reissuing the 1689 London Baptist Confession to the London Metropolitan Tabernacle in 1856:

“We accept the same (the Confession), not as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby we are to be fettered, but as an assistance to us in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness. In this confession, the members of our church will have a body of divinity, of concise, scripturally-based doctrine; and, by means of scriptural proofs, they can be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them.”

Spurgeon recognized that while Scripture was the supreme standard by which all creeds should be tried, a confession was nevertheless necessary to assist the Church in matters of controversy. While it sounds very spiritual to sing the oft-repeated refrain, “No creed but the Bible,” the fact is “The most radical denials of biblical truth frequently coexist with a professed regard for the authority and testimony of the Bible.” The great Southern Baptist statesman, B.H. Carroll said, “There never was a man in the world without a creed. What is a creed? A creed is what you believe. What is a confession? It is a declaration of what you believe. That declaration may be oral or it may be committed to writing, but the creed is there either expressed or implied. The modern cry, ‘Less creed and more liberty,’ is a degeneration from the vertebrate to the jellyfish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy. …It is a positive and very hurtful sin to magnify liberty at the expense of doctrine.”

The conclusion of the matter is that we must guard the treasure that has been entrusted to us.  More to come . . .

Exodus 20:26  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

The title of this post is borrowed from chapter nine of Dr. Albert Mohler’s excellent treatment of the Ten Commandments, Words From The Fire.  Mohler makes the case that the worst possible lie we can tell is about God.  If our theology is wrong we are, in essence, lying about God.

As we think about our responsibilities as it relates to the Ninth Commandment, we understand that not only should we not bear false witness against God, but we also should refrain from bearing false witness against our neighbor.  In the broader sense, the Ninth Commandment forbids lying, but the primary focus of the commandment is witness.  Consider question 112 of the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q: What is required in the ninth commandment?

liars-all-aroundsA: That I bear false witness against no man, nor falsify any man’s words; that I be no backbiter, nor slanderer; that I do not judge, nor join in condemning any man rashly, or unheard; but that I avoid all sorts of lies and deceit, as the proper works of the devil, unless I would bring down upon me the heavy wrath of God; likewise, that in judgment and all other dealings I love the truth, speak it uprightly and confess it; also that I defend and promote, as much as I am able, the honor and good character of my neighbor.

The Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of this commandment clearly forbids lies and deceit, but does so in the context of protecting the good character of my neighbor.  God is Truth and cannot lie, and His children should always tell the truth.  That includes telling the truth about my neighbor.

This command is especially important when engaging others in social media.  It is easy to forget this commandment when passionately defending a theological or political position.  There are times, of course, when it is right and profitable to engage in debate.  Jude urged his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (v. 3).  However, while contending for the faith, Christians should not bend, overstate, or twist the truth.   Simply tell the truth and let the facts speak for themselves.

How should the Ninth Commandment govern our interaction with others?

  1. Never Compromise Truth.  Psalm 86:11 reads, “Teach me thy way, O Lord, that I may walk in thy truth; unite my heart to fear thy name.”  Jesus prayed for his disciples, “Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:17).  God is truth, his word is truth, and he requires his children to be truthful.  Solomon wrote, “Buy truth, and do not sell it” (Proverbs 23:23).
  2. Speak The Truth in Love.  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “Rather, speaking the truth in Love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph 4:15).  The context of this passage is unity in the Body of Christ.  In verses 2 and 3 of the same chapter, Paul admonishes the Ephesians to “bear with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Truth is spoken not to win an argument or for the purpose of tearing down our brothers and sisters in Christ, but to edify the body so that it may grow and “build itself up in love” (Eph 4:16).
  3. Refrain From Gossip and Slander.  David wrote, “O Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tent?  Who shall dwell on thy holy hill?  He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart; who does not slander with his tongue, and does no evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor” (Psalm 15: 1-3).  A gossiping and slandering tongue has ruined the reputation and good name of many.  Gossip and slander is a violation of the Ninth Commandment.  Christians should be absolutely certain that what is spoken about others is a veritable witness.
  4. Realize That Not Everyone Who Disagrees With You Is a False Prophet.  In a zealous pursuit of truth, it is tempting to label persons with whom we disagree as heretics or false prophets.  Indeed, false prophets were a danger in the first century church and they remain a danger today.  The Apostle Paul gave false teachers no quarter: angry-bloggerI am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9).  Men who pervert the gospel of Christ should be dealt with quickly and severely lest they lead the people of God astray.  However, some bloggers are quick to ascribe the label of false prophet to people with whom they disagree over tertiary matters of methodology.  For example, it makes me cringe to see a young pastor stand to preach while wearing an un-tucked shirt, jeans with holes, and flip-flops, but that doesn’t make the young man a false prophet.

The Ninth Commandment mandates that we speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  May we commit ourselves never to bear false witness against our neighbor by slander, gossip, falsely impugning motives, or blatant lying.  May our speech be governed by the Ninth Commandment as well as the words of Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.

A Reading List For 2015

January 7, 2015 — 1 Comment

booksGene Veith said, “One thing, however is certain: Reading can never die out among Christians. This is because the whole Christian revelation centers around a Book.” Serious reading is a lost discipline.  There is no shortage of distractions to keep us from reading.  We can tweet, text, and email away our lives without giving any time to God and His Word or cultivating the discipline of reading good books.  Thoreau said, “Read the best books first or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”  The books on my 2015 reading list may not be the best books, but they are good books and I they will be a blessing to you. Continue Reading…

Dr. Russell Moore

Dr. Russell Moore

In recent days, the term “family values” has taken a beating.  In response to the recent Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage, ERLC President Dr. Russell Moore wrote, “Regardless of what happens with marriage, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, it often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it.”  This sparked a useful and friendly email exchange in which one of our elders, Paul Haines, addressed the topic with some of our young men.  With his permission, I have compiled his email correspondence into a post in which addresses some his concerns with Dr. Moore’s article.

Paul Haines

Paul Haines

While there are some good things that Moore said, there are a couple of issues I have with Moore’s article. I will limit it currently to the “family values” issue, since this is what you sent to me.  While I do not believe that “Family Values” is the gospel by any stretch of the imagination, “Family Values” are very important and should not be downplayed.

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The article below is written by Bro. Earl Blackburn, Senior Pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Bro. Earl is the author of Covenant Theology: A Baptist DistinctiveJesus Loves the Church and So Should You, John Chrysostom, contributed to the book Denominations or Associations, and numerous periodicals including The Founder’s Journal, Reformation Today, and Banner of Truth, and has authored several booklets published by Reformed Baptist Publications including Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Overview, Unconditional Election, Why You Should Join A Church, and Which Church Should You Join.

A slightly edited version of this article is scheduled to appear in the March 14 edition of the Baptist MessageIt is posted here, by permission, in its entirety.

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