Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cultivating Holiness

Our friends at the Mid-Michigan Reformation Society recently hosted a meeting with Dr. Joel Beeke. Follow the link to hear "Cultivating Holiness." Dr. Beeke is the pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Church and president of Puritan Reformed Seminary Puritan Reformed Seminary both in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Accepting Those Who Differ: Lessons On Unity From Romans 14 And 15

One of the issues that I have longed struggled with is how to maintain unity among believers. Because Christians believe in absolute truth, we often struggle to get along when we disagree on what the truth is. Doctrinal disagreement has long separated believers from one another.

Unfortunately, one of two wrong responses to doctrinal disagreement is often chosen: accepting everyone regardless of their beliefs or separating with everyone who does not agree with you in entirety. My position has been that unity is achieved when believers agree on the essentials of the faith, that is, those truths which define Christianity (the authority of the Bible, Christ's atoning death, physical resurrection, salvation by grace and faith alone, etc.). Other doctrinal disagreements while important do not destroy unity; however, I have had a difficult time establishing this view from Scripture. This link was helpful in providing a biblical foundation for dealing with those whom we disagree. Footnote number 12 is especially helpful.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Jesus You Can't Ignore

Too often today Jesus is pictured as peace loving hippy who traveled around preaching love. While Jesus certainly loved peace and was the most loving person who ever lived, the contemporary portrayal of Jesus is myopic. In light of this, John MacArthur's book "The Jesus You Can't Ignore" provides a much needed biblical balance.

Jesus resembles in MacArthur's book an Old Testament prophet. He confronts the religious elite of his day with passion, zeal, and often with harsh words. MacArthur develops his portrayal from the many confrontations that Jesus faced in the Gospel accounts of his life. Twice Jesus forcefully cleansed the temple in Jerusalem. When accused of breaking the Sabbath, Jesus did not back down or alter his ministry in any way; rather, he boldly claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath. Even Jesus most beloved sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, was a severe polemic against Pharisaism.

MacArthur argues that "the practical lesson regarding how we should conduct ourselves in the presence of false religion is consistent throughout: corruptions of vital biblical truth are not to be trifled with, and the purveyors of different gospels are not to be treated benignly by God's people. On the contrary, we must take the same approach to false doctrine as Jesus did..."

I recommend this book highly. It is an easy read, a sober reminder of the need to stand for the truth, and a biblically accurate portrayal of Jesus and his ministry.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

"The Jesus You Can't Ignore" is available for purchase @

Monday, November 2, 2009

In Defense of Pastoral Leadership

Recently, a friend, Arthur Sido at "A Voice Crying in the Wilderness", has posted on his blog his own views and the links to others supporting the view that there is to be no human authority within the local church. The NEMRS affirms the view of church leadership expressed in the Westminster and London Baptist Confessions concerning the leadership of the local church. While these confessions differ in the details concerning church leadership, they both agree that the elders of a church are its leaders appointed by Christ to govern the local church.

Two words of caution are in order. First, ecclesiology is not something that Christians ought to divide over. It does not rise to the same level of importance as other doctrines such as theology proper or soteriology. In these areas of theology, we are in full agreement with Arthur, and we consider him a fellow laborer. In addition, many of his critiques of modern church methodology are valid and very much worth listening to (Hence the reason we have a link to his blog). Second, we do not affirm the traditional view because it is traditional nor do we affirm it because it is in our confessions. We affirm this position because we believe that it is the biblical view.

We believe that elders have been given the responsibility to lead the congregation God has placed them over. Paul describes elders as those "who rule" (1 Tim. 5:17). The Greek word used here is defined by BAGD to mean "1. to be the head of, rule, direct 2. care for, be concerned about, give aid." One may be tempted to argue that the second meaning is the one Paul intended. However, this same word is used in 1 Tim. 3:4, 5 to describe the duty of a father in his home. I doubt our friend would be willing to argue that men are only to care for their homes rather than lead their homes because he believes in male leadership in the home. In addition, the term elder itself was used to describe the leaders of Israel. These passages make it obvious that elders are to lead the church similarily to the way fathers are to lead the home.

The writer of Hebrews also says: "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God" (13:7). The word translated leaders is defined by BAGD as "a leader, guide...leaders of religioius bodies." In Acts 15:22, this same word is used of Paul and Barnabas, who were obviously leaders in their local church.

Other biblical evidence includes: the term bishop or overseer implies spiritual oversight, Timothy and Titus are both commanded by Paul to command their congregations (1 Tim. 4:11, Titus 2:15) implying authority, Paul told Timothy that he did not allow women to teach or exercise authority over men (This passage is used to rightly disqualify women from being elders), and Peter refers to elders as shepherds, which was a term used for a leader of Israel.

Bbilically, it is clear that elders are the persons Christ has apppointed to govern his church. Of course, no elder has the right to lead any congregation contrary to the rule of Christ, the Head of the Church. Therefore, elders are not the absolute authority in a church. Elders must submit to the absolute authority of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church