Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Great Debate over Baptism and the Covenant (11 CDs)

The Great Debate over Baptism and the Covenant (11 CDs)

Linking this CD series by William Einwechter here as I felt this was a very convincing (and influential) series on the Scriptural foundation for believers baptism. This is an issue that, as a former Presbyterian, I've become strongly convinced is what Scripture defines Baptism is to be.

I was baptized as an unrepentant 3-month old in a liberal Presbyterian church in Philadelphia roungly 37 years ago, and in thinking back, I have to wonder where was the blessing of observing/experiencing this ordinance directly? I knew nothing of the joy of sharing a testimony and experiencing the waters of baptism, or of experiencing the symbolic death of the old self ("having been buried with him in baptism" Col. 2:12) and being raised up by the pastor out of the water, the pastor symbolizing Christ's redemptive role lifting me out of sin and into a newness of life. I loved my adult baptism, and the richness and symbolism of that ordinance has such importance in my love for God.

I just don't see infant baptism in scripture. I don't see how a man on a desert island could find a Bible, read it, learn it, and then somehow find the principle of sprinkling babies in this text (well, unless an R.C. Sproul Study Bible washed up on the shore...)

But most foundational, I can't see how infant baptism isn't a gross violation of the regulative principle. How can a practice that isn't explicitly defined in Scirpture be taken and instituted - and then even further, be called a sacrament? How can paedobaptists even know that God's grace will be imparted to a sinful, unrepentant infant? Isn't that somewhat akin to a Landmark church saying that they will host a "revival" on a certain day of the week - in other Words, just like paedobaptists, how can they know when and where the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit will take place? And I for one have known quite a number of people who, baptized as infants, have had no issues with walking away completely from their faith, with only a "half-sacrament" in place.

Anyhow, The Great Debate over Baptism series by William Einwechter is exceptional and informative and I would urge anyone who is divided on the issue to look into this series.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

9 Marks of a Healthy Church

Just finished reading "9 Marks of a Healthy Church" by Mark Dever, which was one of the lending books offered at our church's last family camp that I had a chance to check out. I was curious to read this from some various things I've heard about the book, in addition to my familiarity with the 9Marks website and some of Mark Dever's MP3 resources that I've downloaded from that site. I've appreciated his teaching and interview series, so it was great to actually read this book (which I worked into various lunchbreak reading times at work...)

9 Marks presents an excellent systematic breakdown of nine core principles that ideally should be foundational to a genuine church of Jesus Christ. Right off the bat the first mark is expositional preaching, and to me that's so refreshing to see this addressed foremost. During my time church-hopping it was such a drain to find church after church presenting topical teaching with very little Scripture actually used. Dever's emphasis on the exposition of scripture is so refreshing, and how I'd personally love to see this book fall into the hands of so many churches throughout the Woodlands area...

Further marks include sections devoted to the Gospel, evangelism, church discipline - all sections an excellent reference manual of key elements that the church should not be without. Even from my own lazyman lay perspective I was really convicted that not only are these fundamental elements that must be a Biblical church, but the emphasis becomes to examine the church that we are a part of to see if the church work is adhering to these principles (which, praise the Lord, the church I'm currently a member of is... in fact, I wouldn't have had this book to read (see Mark 8... erm, the ninth mark of 'Nine Marks', not Mark chapter 8.... :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Biblical Overview

Very high-level overview of the Bible from some recent sermon notes from Pastor Justin:

Genesis 1-2
- Creation
Genesis 3 - The Fall and the beginning of redemption
Exodus - Leaving Egyptian captivity/into the wilderness/God gives the Law on Mt. Sinai
Leviticus - Handbook of holiness
Numbers - a book beginning and ending with counting. Joshua and Caleb spy out the land. 40 years in the wilderness.
Deuteronomy - Moses, nearing death, redelivers the law.
Joshua - Entering the promised land. Israel used as God's instrument of justice.
Judges - "Everyone did what was right in their own eyes"
Ruth - introduction to the chronology of David
I-II Samuel - Introduces David
I-II Kings - Rise and fall of the Israelite kings. Emphasis on sin.
I-II Chronicles - Record the same history. Emphasis on good kings and good actions. Written a generation later.
Ezra/Nehemiah - The time after Babylon captivity. The Temple walls rebuilt during a time of the reign of the Persian empire.
Esther - the brave queen
Job - Faithfulness when suffering
Psalms - songs of David and others
Proverbs - Wisdom of Solomon
Ecclesiastes - Exceptions to Proverbs. "Everything equals nothing aside from God."
Song of Solomon - a love poem
Books of prophets - Israel wasn't keeping their covenants
Gospels - God's King is here!
Acts - Acts of the Holy Spirit
Rest of NT - explaining what just happened.