Section 7 of The Baptist Faith and Message deals with the two ordinances of the church, which are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It says this regarding baptism: “Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.”
This week, we will be looking at God’s purpose of grace, beginning with election. In its section on this subject, The Baptist Faith & Message states,
“Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners.”
This statement builds on last week’s study on salvation, where we walked through each of these aspects of salvation and saw that the Bible attributes all of salvation to God alone (feel free to look back at the first four days especially).
The observance of Holy Week dates back at least to the 3rd Century, when Christians were encouraged to fast from any activities considered to be “of the flesh.” The week leading up to Resurrection Sunday - or “Easter” - was to be utilized in somber reflection of sin, sacrifice, and the cross of Christ. By 438 AD there were laws that shut down the courthouses in Rome for two weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday.
Our hope is to reclaim this Holy Week as an opportunity to reflect on our own sin and to encourage us to be people who are marked by repentance and a deep faith in our resurrected savior. We are “People of the Resurrection.” We are those who have trusted in a resurrected savior and received new life in him. Let us, this week and every week, proclaim with our words and our deeds that we are the “People of the Resurrection.” We are encouraging families to utilize their time in family Bible Study to take an in depth look at the last week of Jesus’ life from the gospel of Matthew.
In Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Whitney rightly claims, “No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture.” This discipline is most important and, at the same time, is quite broad. This week, we will be focusing on a few of the ways that we can discipline ourselves to take in God’s Word.
We are going to spend the next several weeks taking an in depth look at spiritual disciplines. In his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Don Whitney defines spiritual discipline this way: “The Spiritual Disciplines are those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth. They are the habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times.” While there is not a formula that is guaranteed to promote spiritual growth, there are things that mature Christians do regularly which the Spirit can and does use to grow us into the image of Christ.
The spiritual discipline of serving is one that is often overlooked. We think of prayer, evangelism, reading the Word, worship, even fasting; but we should also be disciplined and determined to serve. In his book, Spiritual Disciplines, Whitney reminds us that “God’s Word has no place for spiritual unemployment or spiritual retirement or any other description of a professing Christian not serving God.” As Christians, we are all expected to serve – that’s part of the reason we were set free from sin and death!
Noted writer William Arthur Ward once wrote: “Whatever gets your goat gets your attention. Whatever gets your attention gets your time, Whatever gets your time gets you. Whatever gets you becomes your master. Take care, lest a little thing horn in and get your goat.” In short, where our minds and hearts are focused is what we give our effort and worship to, so let's make sure it's worthy of that. We are in a day when the word “worship” gets thrown around a lot and practiced oftentimes poorly or incorrectly. We we miss the true definition of and reason for worship. The spiritual discipline of worship is not a simple feat, nor is it something to take lightly. We look this week at how to better hone ourselves in mind and spirit to worship the living God, the only One truly worthy of worship.
There are many difficult things that have come as a result of the recent coronavirus, but God has also given us a precious gift as a result of the cancellations that have occurred… time. Our hope is that families, and specifically dads, would redeem this time by committing to use a portion of it to study God’s word. Our church staff has prepared Bible studies over the attributes of God which will be released daily. Our conviction is that any time spent in God’s word is profitable. Our hope is that you would read the passages and discuss the questions as a family in order to understand better who God has revealed himself to be in his word.
We know human words fall short when we talk about God being “Three in One” in describing and explaining who God is; but what we do know is there is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. In focusing on what we believe as followers of God, we will be looking this week at how the Bible describes each part of God the Father in His roles and actions for ordering all life and giving structure to it.
The God of the Bible is Trinitarian in nature, meaning that there is one God who perfectly exists in three distinct persons. Last week we looked to the scriptures to examine the first person of the Godhead, God the Father. This week we will look to the scriptures to examine the second person of the Trinity, God the Son.
The Holy Spirit is perhaps the least understood person of the Godhead. This week we will examine the work of the Holy Spirit as it is revealed in the Scriptures.
This week we will look at the special creation that God made – us! We are made in His image, both male and female. With that comes an inherited genetic makeup, as well as a spiritual makeup, that is created by God but only truly completed through our relationship with Christ.
The Baptist Faith and Message says this with regard to the doctrine of salvation:
“Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense, salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”
This week we will be looking to the scriptures to shape our thinking with regard to the various components of salvation.
If you hear words like “doctrine” and “theology” and start feeling overwhelmed; don’t. Doctrine is simply what we believe. Theology is simply the study of God (which should inform belief, which should in turn inform how we live). We all study God and the things of God to some degree, and we all have beliefs that we hold because of that study. The good news is that God has not left us in the dark when it comes to learning and believing what we ought but has revealed himself to us in Scripture. Because we have a God who speaks, we can learn about God (theology) and form proper beliefs (doctrine). This week we are going to take a look at the doctrine of Scripture, using The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as a guide. (If you’re unaware of this document, it is the SBC’s confession of faith, stating what we as a denomination believe about key topics.)
This week, we will be looking at the church, how it is formed and what its purpose is. The Baptist Faith & Message points to the church as both “an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel” as well as “the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed.” Let us see in Scripture how we can have a healthy view of God’s church.