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Book 1, Chapter 8: The credibility of Scripture sufficiently proved in so far as natural reason admits

Section 12. Proofs from Church history. I. Perpetual consent of the Church in receiving and preserving the truth. II. The invincible power of the truth itself. III. Agreement among the godly, not withstanding of their many differences in other respects.

Section 13. The constancy of the martyrs. Conclusion. Proofs of this description only of use after the certainty of Scripture has been established in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

Section 12. Proofs from Church history. I. Perpetual consent of the Church in receiving and preserving the truth. II. The invincible power of the truth itself. III. Agreement among the godly, not withstanding of their many differences in other respects.

Add, moreover, that, for the best of reasons, the consent of the Church is not without its weight. For it is not to be accounted of no consequence, that, from the first publication of Scripture, so many ages have uniformly concurred in yielding obedience to it, and that, notwithstanding of the many extraordinary attempts which Satan and the whole world have made to oppress and overthrow it, or completely efface it from the memory of men, it has flourished like the palm tree and continued invincible. Though in old times there was scarcely a sophist or orator of any note who did not exert his powers against it, their efforts proved unavailing. The powers of the earth armed themselves for its destruction, but all their attempts vanished into smoke. When thus powerfully assailed on every side, how could it have resisted if it had trusted only to human aid? Nay, its divine origin is more completely established by the fact, that when all human wishes were against it, it advanced by its own energy. Add that it was not a single city or a single nation that concurred in receiving and embracing it. Its authority was recognised as far and as wide as the world extends – various nations who had nothing else in common entering for this purpose into a holy league. Moreover, while we ought to attach the greatest weight to the agreement of minds so diversified, and in all other things so much at variance with each other – an agreement which a Divine Providence alone could have produced – it adds no small weight to the whole when we attend to the piety of those who thus agree; not of all of them indeed, but of those in whom as lights God was pleased that his Church should shine.

Section 13. The constancy of the martyrs. Conclusion. Proofs of this description only of use after the certainty of Scripture has been established in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

Again, with what confidence does it become us to subscribe to a doctrine attested and confirmed by the blood of so many saints? They, when once they had embraced it, hesitated not boldly and intrepidly, and even with great alacrity, to meet death in its defence. Being transmitted to us with such an earnest, who of us shall not receive it with firm and unshaken conviction? It is therefore no small proof of the authority of Scripture, that it was sealed with the blood of so many witnesses, especially when it is considered that in bearing testimony to the faith, they met death not with fanatical enthusiasm, (as erring spirits are sometimes wont to do,) but with a firm and constant, yet sober godly zeal. There are other reasons, neither few nor feeble, by which the dignity and majesty of the Scriptures may be not only proved to the pious, but also completely vindicated against the cavils of slanderers. These, however, cannot of themselves produce a firm faith in Scripture until our heavenly Father manifest his presence in it, and thereby secure implicit reverence for it. Then only, therefore, does Scripture suffice to give a saving knowledge of God when its certainty is founded on the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit. Still the human testimonies which go to confirm it will not be without effect, if they are used in subordination to that chief and highest proof, as secondary helps to our weakness. But it is foolish to attempt to prove to infidels that the Scripture is the Word of God. This it cannot be known to be, except by faith. Justly, therefore, does Augustine remind us, that every man who would have any understanding in such high matters must previously possess piety and mental peace.

[1] Exod. 24:18; 34:29; 19:16; 40:34; Numb. 16:24; 20:10; 11:9

http://www.vor.org/rbdisk/html/institutes/index.html

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This one by far describes American Churchianity across all denominational lines… especially here in the south.

Pay special attention to the crew instructions beginning at 6:50.

Check out the shout out to    Hyles Help for Halitosis      at 8:58

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Raging against “Churchanity

Churchanity: the cult like practice of attending “church” three times a week merely to sing six congregational songs, give a laundry list of wants, needs, whinings and problems to God, hear two “special” songs, take up an offering, and sit through three sermons (spoon-fed to the congregation so no-one has to think)… and feel like we have been good “Christians” and worshipped because of it. Yeah buddy, we do God such a favor don’t we? Ummm-hum, that will cause people to grow won’t it? Grrrrrr!

It grieves my very soul to think that this milk toast, anemic, anorexic practice we call “Church” has anything to do with Jesus Christ. Where did we come up with this idea that every service has to be a lecture? Does anyone study his or her Bible? In the Synagogue we see Jesus and Paul, the Scripture was read and then it was discussed… The modern abomination is for the hired gun to mount the pulpit and lecture to everyone for 30-45 minutes and get out in time to be first in line at the restaurant. Sometimes a passage of Scripture is read, and then never referenced again in the lecture. Many times Scripture or a passage is merely used as proof text to under gird the point the “professional” is trying to make from the pulpit. (taking text out of context)

Then there is the idea that there is a difference in “Preaching” and “Teaching” as if there is an either/or aspect to them. This idea that Preaching is for the pulpit and teaching is for the Sunday school room is pure bunk! Most preaching is the hired gun spoon-feeding (or bottle feeding) the flock. There is no opportunity to discuss the “message” or sermon. It is accepted that the hired gun is on a higher spiritual level and a better “Christian” so he is above questioning and his word is “directly from the throne of God.”

Additionally there is the, “all we need to know is right here in our 1611 King James Bible! The 1611 was good enough for Saint Paul…it’s good enough for me.” (I have actually heard that statement “preached” by some Independent, Fundamental, Baptist preacher on a local “christian” radio show.) Then scripture is interpreted in light of 2009 instead of the century in which it was written.

In conclusion, if that is all there is to Churchanity, and we are not growing, and being educated in the Church about church history (good and bad) about doctrinal soundness and the differences between essential and non-essential issues… then we deserve to be ridiculed as cult members following a myth religion.

So what do we do? How do we make the change? How do we touch a world that sees these issues in us (who claim to be Christians) better than we do ourselves? How do we make a difference? How do we break away from “Churchanity” and show the world around us the Jesus Christ who is revealed in Scripture? How do we throw off the traditionalism of Churchanity and be true followers of Jesus Christ?   I don’t want mediocre churchanity any longer, I want a radical world changing fellowship with fellow believers in Christ who are living Philippians 1:27-28, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”

It is a sad commentary that we look on the pews of our modern day churches as a “mission field”, which speaks volumes to our misconception of the Biblical Church mandate. We have watered down the Gospel to the point our churches are filled with lost people… who think they are saved… only to occasionally find out they aren’t. Modern Evangelistic methods have us inviting the lost to come to church where they will get under the sound of the hired gun [i.e. Professional Preacher] and get saved. We present such a weak anemic, anorexic version of the Gospel that everybody is saved… just ask him or her. That begs another question,  “Why do we think we have to make the gospel presentation so over simplified?”  Jesus never made it easy… look at how he addressed Nicodemus, or the rich young ruler. So the result is our churches are full of posers and wanna-be’s that are living a lie… I know I was one.
So where did we get this idea that three sermons or lectures a week constitutes going to “Church?
I may offend everyone but this idea that Church is just a lecture series doesn’t add up. More and more it seems that the lectures are the requirement for giving the pastor a paycheck. Or the other side of that coin, we are paying the pastor to preach and we expect him to preach… we want the three sermons we are paying him for. How much learning takes place in a lecture? Facts can be given and ideas communicated, and truth can be told… but it is limited one-way conversation! How does a pastor feed the flock and take care of it if all there is… is a lecture? If the pastor cannot have conversation with the congregation and answer the “Why” questions to at least the second degree… How can the average pew sitter learn to give an answer for the hope that is in them?

When did “Church” become this one-way conversation?
Someone asked me about 1 Timothy 5:18 stating it is proof for freeing the pastor from “from worldly labor, that he may focus on his teaching ministry.” Paul went to great lengths to support himself in the ministry, so I’m not sure he was advocating for the paid “Professional” preacher. Especially in the IFB and IFBx movements there has been too much abuse of the paid Professional position. This creates a slippery slope that becomes a vocation. And when you have a small church what does the “Pastor” do with all that extra time on his hands???
But I digress…
… where do we get the idea from, that attending three sermons a week (the lecture series) constitutes feeding the flock (or going to Church)? How can there be learning and growth in one-way only conversation? Don’t get me wrong, I have not arrived, I do not know it all and I appreciate good expositional preaching (hard to find in the rusted buckle of the Bible Belt) and I appreciate godly men who are apt to preach/teach. I am just fed up with what passes for “church” these days. Where is the, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” That takes a hands-on approach and may include lecture… but is not left exclusively to lecture.

I’m still wrestling with this issue and I cannot reconcile what passes for modern day church and modern day Christianity with what I find in the Bible. And I realize it starts with me… I’m having a Jacob moment here wrestling with what is and what ought to be.

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Independent, Fundamental, Baptist …..bunker-ism

For some time now I have been wrestling with several issues that are “Church” related and I have finally come to a few conclusions about where I stand on them.  Not long ago I asked everyone to comment on the words I posted: Independent, Fundamental, Baptist, and some others.  The answers I got back were about what I had expected.  Mostly negative.   My own thoughts on those terms and definitions were about the same.  The original definitions were not what they mean today.  I could mostly agree with R.A.Torrey and those old-timers on how they defined the terms back then, but what the movement has become today is poison to the soul.  The Independent, Fundamental Baptist has become synonymous with spiritual tyranny, and modern Pharisee-ism.  If you don’t look like us, walk like us, talk like us, listen to the same music we do, cut you hair like we do, believe in the end times like we do, and believe that the 1611 King James Bible is the only English version, and the only true version of the Bible… then you cannot be ‘right with God.’  To all this I say, “Horse feathers!” 

     Recently we had a group in at ‘church’ that showed us a glimpse of how “Church” ought to be.  There was praise music and hymns, which truly prepared our hearts for worship.  There was Scripture reading that pointed our minds in the direction of the message to come so that by the time we arrived at the message we were ready for the word of God.  The Exposition of God’s word was like going to Golden Corral after rooting around in Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard!

      The only thing that would have made it better would have been if the Scripture had been ESV, NKJV, or NASB.  The strict adherence to KJV, even if only to say it is the ‘preferred” version is to leave an anchor smack dab in the middle of the IFB harbor.   (Don’t get me wrong; I believe that the KJV is a beautiful English Translation of the Scriptures.  I grew up on the KJV but dogmatic adherence to the KJV is an unnecessary restriction of the Gospel message.)  It is not the KJV version I have issue with, it is the ignorant, militant, arrogance with which the KJV camp declares you cannot be “right with God” unless you only preach out of the KJV. Here is a link to a prime example of ignorant, militant, arrogant, anti-intellectualism:   http://amazinggracebaptistchurchkjv.com/Download99.html

Once you start down that slippery slope of legalism this is where you end up.  So, we need to get over our cultic adherence to the KJV as some, “you can’t be right with God unless you only use this bible,” standard.  Too many are making a Bible version out to be essential doctrine…  Again, to this I say, “Horse feathers!” Get over it.  I do agree with John Piper, make sure the Bible you use has all the words in it… so preach from a word-for-word translation not a thought-for-thought.  (But even then, to say one can’t be saved by reading God’s word as found in the NIV and others is poppycock! “Horse feathers” to that as well.)  God has used his word in many different translations to bring men, women and children from all tribes and tongues to repentance and saving Grace.

     Now most of this note has been to make a stand against the movement known as Independent, Fundamental Baptist. ” Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”  Luther said these words as he stood against what he knew to be error in doctrine and practice in the Church of his day.  I feel the same way regarding the way church is practiced in the IFB world.  The IFB model says anyone can preach so long as they “say” they are called to be a preacher; then go on to make  a major emphasis on the difference in the “pew” Christian and the full-time “man of God.”   There is a mystical veneration that is shown toward the “man of God” aka “God’s anointed“(Read Ephesians 4:8-16, the emphasis is not on the ‘gifts’ but on why the gifts were given and what they are to be used for) …and all the congregation is to be in submission to this super saint.  (horse feathers)

      Ok, let’s unpack all that.  For the most part the little Independent Baptist churches have a pastor that is usually, not formally trained in any of the disciplines (literature, language, grammar, leadership, logic or philosophy) that one would associate with the gifts of teaching. If they are trained it is at an IFB college where they are trained in the IFB way.  This model perpetuates an anti-intellectual mindset that is killing Christianity. All they  really require is the calling to “full-time” service.  (“Full-time service” in the IFB model means preaching is one’s chosen or ‘called to’ vocation.  i.e. a full time paycheck.) Last time I checked every believer is called to “full-time” Christian service. 

Which brings us to the IFB “man of God” myth.  Last time I checked if you are a born again Child of God then you are a “man (or woman) of God.”  The IFB Model creates a Christian Caste system where there are different classes of Christians.  Basically it is the IFB version of Roman Catholicism, only the pope is localized -vs.- the centralized version found in RC.  The Biblical model is that God has, “…gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Ephesians 4:11-14    Nowhere in the Scripture do we find some mystical anointing that creates a special Christian “Priesthood” apart from the general Ambassadorship and Priesthood all redeemed Saints of God are called to.  According to Scripture, all we who believe are Priests and Ambassadors of and for our God and His kingdom.  Some are gifted to be able to preach/teach, and some to sing, and some to help, and some to administrate but all to minister! 

What IFB bunker-ism leaves us with is a “one-man rule” model;  where the “anointed one of God” is not to be questioned (especially not from the congregation, ie.”Touch not god’s self anointed”).  Much like the Charismatics, while the “man of God” is behind the “sacred desk” his words are “God breathed.”  This in turn either leads to the “man of God” becoming a tyrant without accountability to anyone but God… or it leads to a power struggle in the church.  I have seen both.  Usually this leads to a split and more often than not those who leave will toss a rock down the street and wherever it lands… they start a new IFB Church (instead of finding an existing Church family to plug into.)   The biblical model for church rule is in multiple elders who have the gifts to lead, preach/teach (the pastor is required to be gifted to both proclaim and explain) and shepherd the congregation.  No one man should ever have the absolute power in a church… that leads to guys wearing sunglasses preparing you some special kool-aid.  It is the breeding ground for cult like practices that are killing Christianity in America. (Think Jimmy Swaggert, Ted Haggard, Jim Baker, Jack Hyles

So, having said all that, “what do I now do?”  I know that I am going to make a stand to purge all IFB practices my family is exposed to, wherever I find them.   I want to see radical Biblical Christianity in practice.  It is not to be found in the experiential form of church that is the mainstay of the IFB movement.  That is, where the people are looking for someone to preach ‘hard‘ to them, and step on their toes.  (In the IFB world this is the manifestation of “good” preaching, having one’s toes stepped on.)  Such experiential “churchanity” allows the hearer to rely solely on the experience and not have to read the Word of God and think about the word of God.  It is the ability to warm the pew, have the message spoon or bottle-fed to you, get burped and have a warm fuzzy about having gone to church that week.  The experiential ‘churchanity’ undermines the “Sufficiency of God’s Word.” 

I want to have to stretch for the message… I want to have to reach up and grasp the fruit of truth, not have it pre-chewed and regurgitated on me.  So, I am drawing a line in the sand and like Luther here I stand.  My family and I choose to follow the path of the Reformed Theology first, and then Baptist if it is available as reformed.  Sola scriptura – Sola fide – Sola gratia – Solo Christo – Soli Deo gloria

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http://theresurgence.com/driscoll_what_is_the_church

 

 

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Amen…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

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