Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update for November Meeting

November 8, 2008
10:00 AM-12:00 Noon
Camp Barakel
located on M-72 west of M-65 east of M-33
Fairview, MI

Speakers - Pastor Brian Tidd, Big Rock Church, Atlanta, Michigan
Pastor Tim Steiner, Calvary Baptist, Mikado, Michigan
Pastor Jeremy Lee, Twining Baptist, Twining, Michigan

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

Camp Barakel will be providing lunch for us at this meeting. There is no charge for attending any Reformation Society Meetings, and we do not take offerings. However, donations for the lunch Camp Barakel will be preparing would be welcomed. All donations will go to Camp Barakel. Please, let us know if you will be attending and how many will be with you so that we have an accurate count for food preparation. This meeting is open to all: pastors, elders, deacons, and lay persons. Please, send your RSVP to 5700ken@centurytel.net or call 989-735-2262.

In additon, this session will be video recorded. CD’s will be available at $7.00 each. Please, see Chuck Peterson (the man behind the camera) for orders and payment.

The format at this meeting will be the Reformation Bible Study where each speaker is expected to faithfully exegete and explain his exegesis to the group in the allotted time without collaborating with the other speakers. The point of this exercise is not to proclaim our own opinions or debate but to unfold the mind of God from the Scriptures. Since this Bible Study is not meant to be preaching, the speakers must avoid all exhortations and admonishments. After all three speakers finish, those in attendance will question the speakers but not debate or argue. All attendees are expected to study the text (Romans 10:17) before our meeting. Finally, we will arrive at conclusions (application) as a group.

Directions: The meeting will be at the East Side Dining Hall at Camp Barakel. For directions to Camp Barakel go to http://www.campbarakel.org/. Once you are on our property proceed north for a half-mile. The first building you'll come to is the camp office. Go past the office and proceed down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, take an immediate right. You will pass a house on the left. Continue going forward; the road will curve sharply to the left. Following the curve, you can either proceed up the hill and park in the circle drive, or you can follow the lower road around the back and park in the small lot behind the building. The first big building will be the dining hall. We will be meeting in the upper level.
North East Michigan Reformation Society Council and contact people.

Pastor Jeremy Lee Pastor Chair jlee@avci.net
Pastor Jeff Ryan cbcrc@lhi.net
Chaplin Larry Teal dlteal1@verizon.net
Lay Leader Ken Clouse 5700ken@centurytel.net

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Biblical Defense of Monergism

Baptists bristle at the teaching of baptismal regeneration (i.e. baptism is necessary for salvation). It is inimical to our cherished belief that we are saved by faith alone. But, does the popular Baptist viewpoint on regeneration fare any better than baptismal regeneration?

The popular belief amongst Baptists is that a person is (regenerated) born again after or simultaneous to the time he places his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Thus, one’s faith is the cause of regeneration. Some opponents of the popular Baptist view point call this “Decisional Regeneration.” Thiessen expresses this point of view well: The new birth is conditioned on faith in the crucified Christ.[1]

However, “Decisional Regeneration” fares no better biblically than baptismal regeneration. The Bible nowhere teaches that regeneration is conditioned on faith. In fact, it teaches that God alone apart from the will of man, whether by faith or baptism, causes the new birth.

John 3 is one of most well known passages on regeneration. In this text, Jesus explains to Nicodemus the necessity of the new birth: No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again (John 3:3 NIV). Born again could also be translated born from above as well as born again. Leon Morris argues that John wants us to understand the word in both senses. Obviously, if one is born the first time, then he also experiences a birth from God, he is born again. John apparently wants us to understand both ideas in this one word. In other passages where this word is used, it is translated as above and is clearly referring to God (See John 3:31, 19:11; James 1:17). From this, one may conclude that being born from above means that the source for new birth is from God, which is the expression that John uses in John 1:13 to describe the new birth.

In this verse, John makes absolutely clear that the human will is not involved in the new birth but that it is brought about by the work of God. Some may attempt to argue that verse 12 teaches that receiving Jesus is the cause of the new birth. However, verse 12 says no such thing. It only affirms that those who received him will become children of God. It does not comment on how the birth of the child of God occurs. John saves his explanation for this in verse 13. It is here that John teaches man’s will is not involved in the process of the new birth. Moreover, James adds that God is the one who chooses to give us the new birth (James 1:18). Since God causes the new birth and chooses to give birth to persons apart from their will, faith cannot be a condition for regeneration because faith involves the human will.

Because most Baptists believe that born again and saved are synonymous terms, they also think that regeneration is synonymous with being saved. This mistake causes most of the misunderstanding about regeneration and it cause. However John 3:3 aids in clearing up the confusion. Jesus says here in order to see the kingdom of God one must be born again. Unger’s Bible dictionary defines the kingdom of God as “all created intelligences…who are willingly subject to God and thus in fellowship with him.” One could easily sum up this definition: the kingdom of God is all who are saved. If this is the true meaning of the phrase in this context, then Jesus is telling Nicodemus that in order to be saved one must first experience the new birth. In addition, Titus 3:4 teaches that regeneration is the means to salvation when it says “he saved us through the washing of the new birth.” Clearly, regeneration cannot be the same thing as salvation if it precedes it and is the means to salvation.

Regeneration is only beginning of the blessings of salvation purchased by Christ. Salvation also includes justification, sanctification, glorification, adoption, conversion and union with Christ. While the other blessings of salvation may be conditioned on faith, regeneration is brought about by God and not the human will. Regeneration is the initial act of God whereby he imparts a new nature in a sinner; as a result of regeneration, the regenerate person accepts the Gospel and is saved. Thus, properly speaking regeneration has no condition; however, salvation is conditioned on faith.

Thus, whether one teaches Baptismal or Decisional Regeneration, he is in error. The correction for both of these errors is to accept the biblical view of regeneration that God acts on the heart of man independent of his will in order to change his sinful will so that he savingly repents and believes, and by this means God saves him.

[1] Theissen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology (Eerdman’s 1999) pg. 280

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A New Response to Dr. Malcolm Hester

I want to share a letter with everyone that I wrote to the Dr. Fox and the CCCBBC administration today. I realized that the way I said things in my initial letter was wrong. Since I posted that letter for everyone to read, I want everyone to see my apology.

Dear Dr. Fox and CCBBC administration,

Because of the Conference on the Challenge of Calvinism, I sent a response to you requesting that you be more considerate of others with different opinions. Since I sent that response I have been involved in discussion online about the conference with others including Dr. Hester, He pointed out in one blog that accusing CCBBC of unfaithfulness to its confession was offensive; consequently, I went back to read what I wrote and realized how harsh the wording of my critique was.

Just as I was quick to respond to the conference initially, I want to apologize to the administration, faculty, and specifically, Dr. Hester for those remarks. Unfortunately, I did not realize at the time how harsh this section of my letter was. I had often wondered why CCBBC was so averse to Calvinism, yet held to a moderately Calvinistic confession. Instead of asking about what seems to me like an inconsistency to be cleared up, I accused and was not slow in passing judgment. I look forward to further discussion on the New Hampshire Confession with Dr. Hester online to clear this matter up.

Again, I am sorry for calling into question the integrity of the administration and faculty at CCBBC. I cannot expect tolerance for myself when I use such accusatory language.

To those who may not be familiar with the New Hampshire Confession a link to it is provided: http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/1833newh.htm.

For background on the confession see: http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/abcon.htm

Also, consider Mark Dever's article on this confession: http://www.founders.org/journal/fj61/article1.html.

Read the original story: http://www.founders.org/blog/2008/09/concerns-about-challenge-of-calvinism.html, http://nemireformationsoc.blogspot.com/2008/09/disturbing-news-from-my-alma-mater.html

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church