Author Archives: Anthony Baker

About Anthony Baker

Husband, dad, pastor, artist, and musician. Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2006 (no joke!). Loves coffee (big time), good movies, and sarcastic humor. Holds a Doctorate in Ministry. Most importantly, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him! Matthew 5:16

Biblical Cooperation, It’s a Family Thing

Southern Baptists (I am one) believe that where there is no risk of theological compromise, we should seek to cooperate with fellow believers in Christ when seeking a common goal. We are supposed to be about doing the work of the Kingdom, not just our own church or denomination.

However, there are others who preach a “Doctrine of Separation” that forbids cooperation of any kind, even with members of the Body of Christ, when even the slightest difference is observed. It is with this unbiblical “Doctrine of Separation” that I take exception and want to dispel.

Therefore, I want to acquaint you with the following article I wrote in an effort to help promote biblical unity within the Church. It can also be found under a tab at the top of the main page.

Feel free to share the body of this post as you see fit. I simply ask that you include the source.


“The Doctrine of Separation Examined”
By: Anthony C. Baker, DMin

Introduction

During most major holidays, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving, it is customary for families to gather around a table to share a traditional meal. And, when looking around the typical table, it is not uncommon to find relatives, people who would normally never speak to each during the rest of the year, smiling and enjoying themselves. They do this because at the head of the table sits the patriarch or matron of the household, the one who brought them into the world. Out of respect for the parent, even the estranged siblings attempt to fellowship in peace. Sadly, this is not the case with many children of God.

The Doctrine of Separation, based on 2 Corinthians 6:17, has led many to avoid other believers, their brothers and sisters in Christ, despite the expressed desire of their elder Brother (Jesus) that they “be one” (John 17:11). Therefore, this paper will attempt to show that even though it is Christ’s desire for the family of God to be one, the doctrine of separation, as generally applied, is resulting in unnecessary, even destructive division, especially with Baptists. However, even though the author’s intent is to shed light on the divisive tendencies associated with the misuse of a particular teaching, in no way does he intend to promote the darkness-inspired synchronistic tendencies of the modern church; biblical unity within the family of God is the ultimate goal.

Definitions

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If one were to ask the average church member to define the Doctrine of Separation, or if one were to Google the term, the answers would initially be quite similar in nature. What most professing Christians believe is not much different from the rest of American society, simply because the term is associated with the oft-debated Establishment Clause within the first amendment to the United States Constitution.  There, the Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Therefore, when questioned, this is typically the first thing that comes to the mind of the average churchgoer. When asked if one is familiar with the Doctrine of Separation, if the response is “yes,” the definition is usually linked to the separation of church and state, a political issue.

However, there are some within the body of Christ that not only know how to define the Doctrine of Separation but take that definition to extremes. They use it to bolster a sectarian mindset which excludes from fellowship any that differ, even in the slightest way, and have gone to great lengths to separate from others who do not strictly observe certain “fundamentals” of the faith.

So, to begin with, let us look at some definitions. By doing that we may better be able to determine if the Doctrine of Separation is properly being applied by certain Baptists who refuse to co-operate with others.

What is the Doctrine of Separation? The Doctrine of Separation is a teaching based primarily on one verse found in 2 Corinthians. Below is the verse (17) in its immediate context.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? [15] And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? [16] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate [emphasis added], saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you (2 Cor 6:14-17 KJV).”

The idea is that in order to maintain a right relationship with God one must separate oneself, or “come out from among” anyone, or any organization, that would seem to be in accord, friends with, or even remotely associated the “unfruitful works of darkness.”

The Doctrine of Separation can be divided into two separate categories: ecclesiastical and personal. In order to understand how specific this doctrine can be, it might be helpful to read how one Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church defined ecclesiastical and personal separation in its doctrinal statement published on its website.[1] The following is a word-for-word copy of their definitions, and it is typical of most Baptist separatists.

Ecclesiastical Separation. We believe that we must stand up against and separate from all Apostasy, Liberalism, Modernism, Ecumenism, Charismatic influences, Neo-Orthodoxy, Neo-Evangelicalism, and Neo-Fundamentalism, as well as all groups, mission boards, organizations, churches, and cults that would compromise, cooperate and fellowship with such that do not uphold the historic Christian fundamentals of the faith as expressed by the Bible. II Corinthians 6:14-7:1; I Thessalonians 1:9,10; II Timothy 3:1-5.

Personal Separation. We believe that every Christian is to keep himself unspotted from the world, and in so doing must deny various practices, sinful habits, and worldly dress; and that a proper standard and example must be raised to the lost world and to weaker Christians. James 1:27; I Peter 2:11; Romans 6:11-13.

Notice that the call to be separate must include separation from both groups and individuals. It calls for strict standards of conduct and dress, prohibitions against working with other denominations, and an implied understanding of what exactly is correct behavior. The problem that arises, however, is when certain practices, habits, and dress are dictated by the church, not a Spirit-led conscience freed by grace. One man’s standard must then be applied to another, thereby legalistically judging him either fit for fellowship or to be labeled as “liberal” or “modern.” The application of this doctrine can become very legalistic, and below are three concerns which should be brought out.

Issues of Concern

First, the issue that causes most concern with the author is that in no place does the above standards of separation make an exception for the fact that sometimes members of the same family do not always agree. To totally separate one’s self from other believers, only because they have a different understanding or conviction for what constitutes “worldly dress” or “sinful habits” is a sin in its self. So often members of churches that prohibit women from wearing pants, for example, look at others who do with contempt. They do so because they believe that their own “dress code” is less “spotted by the world,” and thereby spiritually superior to the one which would allow “modern” and “liberal” dress. The author can vividly remember times from his own past when, all because a particular pastor’s wife was seen wearing pants to an evening service, the offending pastor and wife were deemed “liberal” and “not right with God.”

Another problem with the above list is that it does not take into account that many churches that do subscribe to conventions and associations, which may be liberal, are still autonomous and actually hold to the key fundamentals of the Baptist faith. And this is a key issue. There are certain fundamental truths of Christianity which cannot afford to be compromised, for if they are, then the compromiser can no longer be considered an orthodox Christian. What are the fundamentals of the faith that are non-negotiable?  According to Ed Dobson, Ed Hindson, and Jerry Falwell, there are five fundamentals that are at the heart of Christian Fundamentalism: 1) the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture; 2) the deity of Christ (including His virgin birth); 3) the substitutionary atonement of Christ’s death; 4) the literal resurrection of Christ from the dead; and 5) the literal return of Christ in the Second Advent. Don’t the separatists understand that within the community they are trying to reach there may be a congregation from a different denomination which still holds true to the above fundamentals?

Thirdly, there is the interesting fact that the fifth fundamental, one of the key beliefs of orthodox Christianity, the belief in the literal return of Jesus Christ (the second coming; or as some would define it: the Rapture) was never used by Paul as a litmus test for fellowship. What many have never stopped to notice is that in two specific instances the Apostle Paul dealt with believers who thought that the resurrection had already taken place (see 1 Cor. 15:12; 2 Thess. 2:2-3). In neither of these situations, Paul encouraged separation. “The Corinthian Christians were told in a clear, unmistakable command to ‘remove the wicked man from among yourselves’ in their assembly,” said Robert Lightner in A Biblical Perspective on False Doctrine in reference to the man guilty of immorality in 1 Cor. 5:13.[2]  He went on to point out that the “saints at Thessalonica were told also to ‘keep aloof’ [withdraw, KJV] from every brother who leads an unruly life…” Yet, “interestingly when Paul wrote to the same Christians in Corinth and Thessalonica concerning two specific doctrines which were being denied…he did not command to separate.” Why is it, then, that if such a key fundamental was believed back then, and Paul did not command the church to separate, do fundamentalists find it necessary to break fellowship with and label “liberal” and “modernistic” those who have a different view of eschatology?

Baptist History

Baptists (especially those of the IFB persuasion) are famous/infamous for their sectarian, separatist stands. Yet, even though they may be the largest group and the one to be featured more predominately in this paper, they are not alone. Within every denomination of believers, there are separatists. As a matter of fact, there are more denominations of Christianity in America than anywhere else in the world, and many of them were formed when separation was thought the only means to preserve orthodoxy. Each of these groups claims a biblical mandate (2 Cor. 6:14-17) to “come out from among” those who seem to be going in the wrong direction. The problem, however, lies not only in the ability to define but in the application of the doctrine. A careful look at the Scripture passages they use, especially in light of other words from the Apostle Paul and Jesus, show that separation from members of the same family may be necessary in extreme cases, but every attempt should be made to maintain fellowship at the Father’s table.

Baptists have had a long history of separating on the basis of key doctrinal issues, and for this we owe them a great debt of gratitude. Long before arguments over dress codes and Bible translations, the Anabaptists put their lives on the line over the issues of baptism, the mass, and an ecclesiastical, state-run church. They were the first separatists, for no longer could they accept the position of the Reformers. Unlike great men such as Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, the Anabaptists would have no part of a church that taught unbiblical doctrine. They felt the state church was a fallen church, and from such only separation was appropriate. In February of 1527, in a document called The Schleitheim Confession, Michael Sattler wrote:

“We are agreed [as follows] on separation: a separation shall be made from them and from the wickedness which the devil planted in the world: in this manner, simply that we shall not have fellowship with them [the wicked] and not run with them in the multitude of their abominations . . . To us then the command of the Lord is clear when He calls upon us to be separate from the evil and thus he will be our God and we shall be His sons and daughters.”[3]

In modern times, Independent Baptist churches were founded in the second half of the twentieth century as a response to a growing trend toward liberalism and ecumenism that was begun a century earlier by men such as Hegel (1770-1831), F. C. Baur (1792-1862), Frederick Schleiermacher (1768-1834), and Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923).[4] No longer was there a mother church from which to separate, as did the Anabaptists from the Reformed church (reformed, but not completely separated from the ecclesiastical ways of the Catholic Church). Now the call was sent out for all those who held true to the Fundamentals to separate themselves from those within. Those with liberal leanings were to be marked and avoided (Rom. 16:17-19). The peak of resistance toward modernism from “fundamentalists” came in the 1940’s and 1950’s with the rise of the Billy Graham and the New Evangelicalism. It was at this time so many militant steps were made toward separating from the world, worldliness, and any modern approach toward evangelism, especially if it involved working together with those who may have differed on a belief or two, especially when it came to music and Bible versions. Billy Graham did, and still does bear the brunt of many senseless attacks.

Billy Graham, the Enemy

If a poll were taken today asking people who they thought was the most important and influential religious leader of the last fifty years, one name would probably rise to the top – Dr. Billy Graham. Actually, the Barna Group recently did conduct a study of Americans and found that nearly twenty percent of adults identified Reverend Billy Graham as the “most influential Christian leader in the U. S. today.”[5] Ironically, however, it was Billy Graham, along with other Christian leaders such as J. Vernon McGee, Howard Hendricks, and W. A. Criswell (all conservative giants), that biblical separatists accused of “building bridges of compromise and apostasy by their middle-of-the-roadism.”[6]  Was Dr. Graham perfect? Did he make the best judgment calls in every situation? Of course not, and pity the man who thinks he is strong enough to stand in the places Dr. Graham has stood without succumbing to the flesh. Yet, it was considered unconscionable for Christians to try new methods of outreach, or work with leaders of other denominations, in order to reach greater crowds with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.

No, true to their heritage, fundamental, independently-minded Baptists could only see a devaluing of key, non-negotiable doctrines in favor of a more ecumenical approach to evangelism. So, from these men, especially Dr. Graham, fundamentalist Baptists broke fellowship. Even today, after all the souls that have been won to the Lord, there are Independent Baptists who still think Billy Graham is a liberal enemy of the church. For example, in 1992 this writer personally witnessed a Baptist pastor chastise a Romanian couple in their home (both of whom lost their engineering careers as a result of being publically baptized for their faith in Jesus) for nothing more than having an LP recording of a Billy Graham crusade. This arrogant American pastor would have never sat across the same table with Dr. Graham, or fellowshipped with those who did.

United Baptists

Not all Baptists have sought to separate, however. Some have sought to come together in unity for the cause of Christ. It is common knowledge that there is strength in numbers, and when it comes to Christian congregations, co-operation can lead to expanded ministry and encouragement. Even though the IFB churches in America have gained a reputation for being separatists, other Baptists have put aside minor differences for the common good, much like the family that seeks peace at the dinner table for the Father’s sake.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) makes up the largest Protestant denomination in North America. But in Canada, there is the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches who struggled for years before three separate denominations (the Maritime Convention of Maritime Baptists, the Free Baptists of New Brunswick, and the Free Baptists of Nova Scotia) formed the United Baptist Convention of the Maritime Provinces in 1906.  For a while, at least since the late 1800’s, many denominations had been pursuing unification, such as with the Canadian Baptists.[7] But there was and is a difference between the conventions, a difference worth noting. Baptists in America hold tenaciously to one of the most cherished fundamentals of Baptist doctrine, the autonomy of the local congregation. Canadian Baptists, on the other hand, possibly because of their monarchal heritage, allow the convention some control over the local congregation. For example, in order to be licensed and ordained to pastor a church in the NABC, the candidate must complete mandatory studies at a specific Canadian seminary, Acadia Divinity College.[8]

Most Independent Baptists consider conventions (like the SBC) to be unbiblical precisely because of their belief that all conventions assert control over local congregations. However, this is not the case with all, as seen above. For better or worse, many Christians felt that a unified Church was better than a divided one.  However, the practical result was a watering down of fundamental beliefs in order to keep from offending those seeking unity.  Strict standards of morality, which had been the norm for so long, were beginning to loosen; biblical inerrancy was being questioned, and mass evangelism was on the rise. The question of what was considered “essential and non-essential” came to the forefront of discussion. And even though attempts have been made by the author to co-operate in a community ministry with an IFB church, all efforts have failed. Because of the Doctrine of Separation, because it is believed unbiblical to co-operate with other believers who do not hold to all of the “fundamentals,” division continues.

Ecumenism

One of the great enemies of the Fundamentalists is Ecumenicalism. One of the big reasons, as could be inferred from previous reading, is that those who seek to unify the church as a whole, in many cases, want to compromise on key doctrines essential to Christianity, such as biblical inerrancy and the divinity of Christ. However, one ecumenical author made an astute observation that can tie directly into the discussion of “biblical separation.” In The Unfinished Reformation, Charles Morrison wrote how that he noticed a tendency by separatists to use the Bible to say what was “biblical” without actually proving it literally so. He said that “anything, however trivial or fantastic or commonplace, that one could dig out of the Bible by however ingenious a manipulation of its texts and words was claimed to be authorized by Christ, and was made constitutive of a church ‘founded on the Bible.’”[9]

Much of what divides believers and congregations is based on teachings supposedly founded on Scripture and considered “biblical,” yet, in reality, are only based on culture or personal opinion, or even worse, misinterpretation. One good example is the belief that a church “founded on the Bible” should expect its men to wear pants and its women to wear dresses. Anything different would be considered rebellion to God’s commands found in the Bible. Anyone found in rebellion should, therefore, be marked and avoided. Yet what does the Bible actually say? “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God” (Deut. 22:5). Here the Bible is used to enforce a cultural style. Nowhere does Moses say a woman should wear a dress and a man should wear pants. All it says is that the man and women should dress in ways that “pertaineth” to their respective gender. In other words, a woman should look like a woman, not a man, and vice versa.

Family of God

The family of God is much bigger than one denomination. Before there were conventions and associations, there was the church. Before the Anabaptists, the Calvinists, the Arminians, and the Modernists, there were believers who loved the Lord and worshipped in one accord. They weren’t known for their building programs or bus ministries. They didn’t split over the color of the carpet or whether or not the pews were padded; they just wanted to stay alive. Why is it that so many put such a high priority on denomination, rather than unity? Does unity have to be synonymous with compromise? What kind of compromise is it to dwell in peace with a brother or sister in the presence of a loved earthly parent, even when differences are known to exist? Does compromise for the sake of fellowship change relationship? If a stranger were to sit at the mensam gratias (Latin, “table of thanks”), would his presence at the meal change the blood flowing through his veins? No, it would not. And striving for unity in the family will not change the relation of the true child to that of the Father. Therefore, when and if we find a brother or sister in the same family of Christ, should differences we have, however striking, prohibit us from attempting to share in some common way?

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the churches of like faith in one community have met together every year for a Thanksgiving service. The author has participated in these services on multiple occasions. However, what has been lacking is any participation from the local Independent Baptist churches. Their absence is always noticed, and the message received is that all who are gathering must be those who would “compromise, cooperate and fellowship with such that do not uphold the historic Christian fundamentals of the faith as expressed by the Bible.[10] Their conspicuous absence sends a message that says, “We are more spiritual than you.” Their continual refusal shows the community at large that denomination is more important than family, fellowship, and the opportunity to show the world that we can be one in the Spirit, for that is where genuine unity exists.

The Prayer of Jesus

Jesus made it very clear, as recorded in the book of John, that He wanted the world to see believers come together in love. In a special moment Jesus even spoke of Christians today when He said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20-21). Our unity within the family of Christ is to be a form of evangelism, “that the world may believe.” And how arrogant are we when, in the face of an actual prayer of Jesus, we say that fellowship is impossible? First, where did Jesus mention the name of any denomination or association? All he spoke of were those in his presence and them “which shall believe on [Him] through their word.” Second, has there ever been a prayer of Jesus unanswered? Did Jesus pray “that they all may be one” in vain? The day may come when He has to force us to drop our labels and institutional names in favor of a discrete and secret meeting place underground. There, with no $20,000 sign flashing out front, the true family of God may have to get back to the way it was before the King James Version was printed.

Early Church Example

Francis Schaff, in volume two of History of the Christian Church, relates the following description of a people unconcerned with denominations, unaware of the “fundamentals,” but always ready to live in such a way that others knew they were not of this world. Quoting an unknown author describing the church in the early part of the second century, he writes:

The dwell in the Grecian or barbarian cities, as the case may be; they follow the usage of the country in dress, food, and the other affairs of life. Yet they present a wonderful and confessedly paradoxical conduct. They dwell in their own lands, but as strangers. They take part in all things, as citizens; and they suffer all things, as foreigners . . . They are in the flesh, but do not live after the flesh. They live upon the earth, but are citizens of heaven . . .They love all, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned . . .They lack in all things, and in all things abound . . .They are cursed, and they bless.[11]

Why is it that we cannot try to emulate that kind of spirit? Does anyone seriously think the same description could apply to the Christian church of today?

Thankfully, there are those within the Baptist church who understand that the prayer of Jesus for unity was not just words. Thankfully, there are some out there that are striving to work with believers across denominational lines in an effort to reach the lost and dying, while at the same time recognizing there are doctrinal differences which must be taken into account. These people are not in the business of compromising Truth; they are in the business of fulfilling the Great Commission. One such group of people is the Southern Baptists.

Conclusion

If more IFB churches could be made aware of how conservative the SBC has become, maybe they would stop labeling them as liberal and start working more closely together. It is in the Baptist Faith and Message of 2000 that an encouraging statement is made which tempers the Doctrine of Separation. Under section fourteen, entitled “Cooperation,” the following words can be found:

Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people [emphasis added]. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.[12]

Is this not what Jesus wants? Is this not the way the family of Christ should conduct its self? Oh that the body of Christ would come together in true, biblical unity! Even the “black sheep” of the family are welcome at the Father’s table.

One more thing…

Many who hold to a legalistic view of the Doctrine of Separation are regularly guilty of hypocrisy. How could this be? Consider the fact that many of the “separated” churches have active members, deacons, and pastors who are fully-participating members of fraternal organizations, such as the Masons and Shriners. The irony is that according to the writings of one of the “great” leaders and teachers of Freemasonry, Albert Pike (1859-1891), Christians regularly enter into binding agreements, oaths, and common works, even using the term “brother,” with men from any number of other religions, including that of the eastern cults! He said, “We belong to no one creed or school. In all religions there is a basis of Truth; in all there is pure Morality. And all that teach the cardinal tenets of Masonry we respect; all teachers and reformers of mankind we admire and revere.[13]

Family should come before fraternity, the Church before the Lodge; yet, how quickly some will deny fellowship with those clothed in the righteous of Christ, preferring unity with those wrapped in an apron.

Again, how ironic.

Footnotes

[1] Heritage Baptist Church, “Declaration of Faith,” http://www.heritageministries.com/doctrine.html

[2] Robert P. Lightner, “A Biblical Perspective on False Doctrine,” Bibliotheca Sacra (March, 1985), 20

[3] Ernest D. Pickering, Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church (Schaumburg, Ill.: Regular Baptist Press, 1979), 52.

[4] George W. Dollar, A History of Fundamentalism in America (Greenville: Bob Jones Press, 1973), 8-11

[5] http://www.barna.org/culture-articles/536-us-lacks-notable-christian-leaders

[6] George W. Dollar, 280

[7] Daniel C. Goodwin, “Maritime Baptist Union and the Power of Regionalism,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 2004.

[8] http://www.baptist-atlantic.ca/documents/ProceduresForOrdinationBrochure.pdf

[9] Charles Clayton Morrison, The Unfinished Reformation (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1953), 209.

[10] Heritage Baptist Church

[11] Francis Schaff, Ante-Nicene Christianity: From the Death of John the Apostle to Constantine the Great [A.D. 100–325], Vol. 2 of History of the Christian Church (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002), 9-10

[12] SBC, Baptist Faith and Message, 2000 (Nashville)

[13] Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, (Richmond: L. H. Jenkins) 311

Bibliography

Dobson, Ed, Ed Hinson, and Jerry Falwell, The Fundamentalist Phenomenon: The Resurgence of Conservative Christianity, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986.

Dollar, George W. The Fight for Fundamentalism: American Fundamentalism, 1973–1983. Sarasota: Dollar, George W., 1983.

Goodwin, Daniel C. “Maritime Baptist Union and the Power of Regionalism.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 41.2 (2004): 125+. Religion & Philosophy Collection. Web. 8 Apr. 2012.

Heritage Baptist Church. “Declaration of Faith.” http://www.heritageministries.com/doctrine.html (accessed April 9, 2012).

Lightner, Robert P. “A Biblical Perspective on False Doctrine.” Bibliotheca Sacra 142, no. 565 (January 1, 1985): 16­­­–22. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed March 17, 2012).

Morrison, Charles Clayton. The Unfinished Reformation. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1953.

Pickering, Ernest D.. Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church. Schaumburg: Regular Baptist Press, 1979.

Pike, Albert. Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Richmond: L. H. Jenkins, Inc., 1960

Schaff, Philip. Ante-Nicene Christianity: From the Death of John the Apostle to Constantine the Great [A.D. 100–325], Vol. 2 of History of the Christian Church. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002.

Southern Baptist Convention. “The Baptist Faith and Message.” http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp (accessed March 18, 2012).



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We’re Only Human (but we’re called to be holy)

Dr. Anthony and Valerie Baker

For many years I was under the impression that pastors were closer to God than the rest of us church goers. My father, already my hero, was a pastor, so thinking that way probably came naturally.

However, over the past few decades of ministry I’ve come to realize there is very little in the average pastor that’s different from anyone else. We have our times of frustration, moments of self-doubt, and occasionally mess up. We don’t have all the answers, nor do we know all the questions to ask. We are only human. 

Yet, what is true for the pastor is true for everyone; we are called to be holy. In 1 Peter 1:16 we read, “…be ye holy, for I am holy.” This is impossible, of course, without Jesus Christ living within us. He not only makes us holy (set apart) by giving us His life, but His life lived through us makes us more and more like Him. The new life we have in Jesus, living and working through us, along with our obedience to the Word of God, not only sets us apart from the world; it makes us capable of reaching the world!

This week someone asked me, “How do you preach?” “Well, I don’t scream hell fire and damnation, if that’s what you mean,” I replied. “However, I call sin what it is when I need to,” I continued. “But the big difference is that I try to preach like I’m the one sitting in the pew.”

Look, if you think I look down from the pulpit with a holier-than-thou attitude, trust me, I don’t. As a matter of fact, it is only by the grace of God that I am where I am. He has called me and gifted me for a specific role, but that doesn’t make me a better person, only one whose house is made of glass (figuratively, of course). Just ask my wife and daughters.

No, because I’m a sinner saved by grace, the call to be “holy as I am holy” is as convicting to me when I preach it as when I’m in the pew on the receiving end. The difference between the congregation and myself, as with any pastor, is that I have been given the responsibility to share the message faithfully and boldly. God is holding me accountable.

This Sunday don’t think of your pastor as a man who’s “preaching” at you; think of him as a fellow servant of God trying to complete the task before him with faithfulness to the message, even if it preaches at him.

He probably needs it.

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Critiquing “God Bless the U.S.A.”

Unlike so many ungrateful and uneducated, particularly the hate-filled liberal left and the creepy, cringe-worthy, pro-baby-killing activists, I love America!

Yes, I love my country! And just like Lee Greenwood, “I’m Proud to be an American!”

However, regarding Greenwood’s famous song, there are some points I’d like to address. It’s not that I dislike the song; it’s just the fact that Greenwood got a couple of things wrong.

Lucky Stars

Below is the first verse of “God Bless the U.S.A.” Let’s begin with that.

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife
I’d thank my lucky stars
To be livin’ here today
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can’t take that away

Truly, there are not many places on Earth where a person could start with nothing (more than once) and wind up a success. Yet, despite her detractors, America is a place exactly like that. Literally, the framework of this nation exists to encourage those on the bottom rung to strive for the top of the ladder.

So, yes, I’m proud to be an American, where not only am I free (for now), but so is everyone else. America is a land of second, third, and fourth chances!

However, it wasn’t luck of any kind that secured our liberties. Today, I thank my God to be living in this great nation!

The stars had nothing to do with it.

Stands for What?

Greenwood sings, “’Cause the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Well, that’s not the case anymore, is it?

There used to be a day when the Stars and Stripes meant hope, rescue, safety, and yes, freedom. Wherever the American flag was hoisted, freedom would be defended. But so many in this country have been lied to or are lying. They think the flag represents oppression, violence, subjugation, slavery, racism, etc., etc., etc.

Yet, they have the freedom to run their mouths without fear of losing their heads. Ironic.

Stars and Stripes or Rainbow?

That leads me to the second verse, or at least one line from it.

“Well, there’s pride in every American heart…”

Not so, Mr. Greenwood. Not so.

Oh, sure, I’d say that the majority of America feels a sense of pride for our nation, but these days there are more people praising Lenin, Che Guevara, and Mao Zedong than ever before.  

And then there’s the month of June. Anyone got “Milk”?

Where’d You Get That?

Finally, let me speak to a statement in the chorus. It is the highlighted one below.

And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me

And I’d gladly stand up
Next to you and defend her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land
God bless the USA

One of the biggest misconceptions concerns the source of true freedom. For that matter, I dare say most Americans fail to understand a very basic and fundamental reality regarding their freedom.

What most fail to understand is that our freedoms, the ones guaranteed in our Constitution and fought for everywhere from court rooms to battlefields, are from God, not government.

The “men who died” did not give us the right to be free: God did. It was our Creator who designed us to intrinsically long for liberty – liberty from oppression, slavery, and chains of any kind. God also gave us the liberty to accept Him or reject Him, which is at the heart of our First Amendment and the very reason the Pilgrims came here.

Our Constitution is not a document which grants freedoms. It is a document written to uphold and protect the inherent, self-evident liberties available to all.

As it was written, “We hold these truths to be self-evident” that we were created by our God with certain “unalienable rights,” among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Only in America, where these rights have been treasured and protected for so long, do we now have those who hate the very place that guarantees their right to preach its destruction.

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The Buffet Is Closed; the Glutton Is Angry

On Friday morning, the 24th day in the month of June, the Supreme Court ruled that the decision to allow or prohibit abortions belongs to the states, not the Federal government. In other words, the court overturned the original ruling made 49 years ago in the case of Roe v Wade.

Since Friday morning, all manner of protests and rioting has broken out.

Pro-choice/pro-abortion groups have taken to the streets in anger, not only threatening to do damage to buildings and people, but have actually firebombed pro-life facilities and pregnancy centers, attacked and defaced churches, threatened the lives of ministers and representatives, and even attempted to overrun the Arizona State House!

Needless to say, for those of us who’ve been praying for an end to abortion, or at least Roe v Wade, the battle is not over, nor will it ever be. Those who believe the lies of demons and curse the God who created them will never, ever back down, change their goals, or decrease the intensity of their fiery hate. The Enemy of all that’s holy has been feeding on the sacrifice of innocents, but now the buffet has been closed. He’s not willing to go on a diet provided by a limited number of States.

What we are witnessing right now in the streets of America is nothing short of demonic rage. Like the boy possessed by demons (Mark 9:17-27), we are experiencing the screams of agony that evil makes when it’s deprived of a host. Satan will not yield any ground without a fight, nor will he be silent, and you can count on every scream to be a lie.

Now is NOT the time to regret. Now is NOT the time to cower. Now is NOT the time to yield back the hill so many have fought and died on.

You may be afraid to speak out and share your beliefs because of the violence and hatred. The German Christians did the same in the 1930’s and look where that got them.

You may listen to the impassioned cries from those who’ve been defeated and feel that maybe, just maybe, should you speak out, your arguments would be trampled under the weight of demonic logic. Then I’d say, in the name of God, LEARN!

The real reason Roe v Wade lasted this long is because too many people were blissfully ignorant while it was being passed and too timid to actually swing a sharpened sword of Truth when the battles raged. If anything, for the last 49 years the bulk of the fighting has been done by only a few, the rest with blunt sticks and paper shields.

“Screw your courage to the sticking post,” Christian – and anyone who believes in the sanctity of human life – and “quit ye like men!” Millions of innocent lives have already been sacrificed on the altar of convenience, or maybe I should say “the altar of Molech.” Don’t let the lives of future millions be snatched away because we cower in the fray.

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VICTORY!

Roe vs Wade
OVERTURNED!

You be you,

but I am going
to
CELEBRATE!!!!

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Is It Really a Matter of Gun Accessibility?

President Joe Biden said today that he was “deeply disappointed” in the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The ruling struck down New York citizens from having to provide proof of need to have a concealed carry permit. As usual, he believes that this will only lead to more gun violence and death.

Biden believes that there should be less accessibility to firearms, not more. He is calling for all “Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Lives are on the line.” Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) of New York is said to have stated that the 2nd Amendment was written when all we Americans had were muskets, and that she is prepared to go back to muskets.

But is the accessibility to and the availability of firearms in America the reason for recent violence? Will stopping a New Yorker from carrying a 9mm pistol under his stop the next teen in black from illegally obtaining an AR-15? Will changing laws that allow law-abiding citizens to carry legally obtained weapons convince the average criminal to lay down his? Of course not.

I would say that it’s not the availability and accessibility that’s the problem; it’s what’s causing people to use them in ways they never did 40 years ago.

If you were to remove all the guns from America overnight, you would still have people who are bent on killing as many others as possible. And when they do, they will become stars overnight.

As I was thinking about this today, I began thinking back to the 90’s when all this really started. What caused that shooting at Columbine? What have been the common denominators between nearly all mass shooters? Was it simply the fact that they were able to get their hands on a weapon?

What I see as common factors are depression, isolation, feelings of futility, low self-worth, bitterness and hate toward the innocent. Where is all this coming from? Are guns making people this way?

No. But when you remove intrinsic and objective reality and truth from souls in search of meaning, acceptance, and genuine love, what you get is a dark, hateful void where honor, duty, responsibility, and love used to be.

When America was a nation with a collective vision and understanding of right and wrong based on moral absolutes, mass shootings were unthinkable. But now we are rearing generation after generation without offering objective truth while also promoting a technological culture in which the individual becomes the center of his own universe. In this universe, the other people are only in the way.

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What Does a Woman Look Like?

I have a strong feeling that this post is going to infuriate some people. It may even get me in trouble with somebody somewhere. However, I am going to mix metaphors, jump right in, and open a can of worms.

What does a woman look like?

By now you are probably familiar with the Matt Walsh documentary What is a Woman? If you haven’t seen it, you need to, because it seems to have made possible conversations many have been too afraid to have until now. And when you consider that just recently Bill Maher (on HBO) questioned the trans-gender community’s growing numbers, particularly with children, I think it’s time for me to point a few things out, too.

Let’s face it, the most influential and powerful women today are not biological women; they’re men who identify as women. Men who identify as women are stealing all the spotlight from the females who once fought for equality. They’re even showing that if you want to be the best woman you can be, you should be a man. You know, like Lia Thomas.

Lia Thomas (image credit: Yahoo News)

But thinking about Lia Thomas, why is it that Lia Thomas looks like a woman? I mean, why is it that Lia Thomas has long hair? Why does Lia wear makeup? Is it because “she” wants to look into the mirror and see someone besides his self?

Why is it that men who transition into women (which they’re really not; they just look like them), they generally go with the feminine look that is so stereotypical of natural femininity? Why not stay looking like the guy they are, just without the penis? Are appearances that important when what is really supposed to matter is what’s inside?

It just seems a little strange to me, that’s all. For so long there was a certain look that women were expected to have. Women wore dresses, had long hair, did their nails, and always had on some kind of makeup. They were expected to have higher, softer voices, hourglass figures, and shapely legs perched on high heels. But these stereotypes are the very ones biological women fought against. Who said women had to look a certain way? They could wear the pants in the family, too!

Have you ever heard of a Barbie Doll? Of course, you have. Go ahead, google “Barbie too feminine” and what you will find are articles going back nearly a decade that blast Barbie’s stereotypical looks.

Barbie reinforces the concept of heterosexuality because Barbie is very feminine. She has plump lips, well proportioned breasts and large hips. Moreover, she is often wearing skirts or dresses, high heels, earrings and make up. She defines how somehow (sp?) who is female should look and dress.

Anastasia Demakos, “Religion and Popular Culture” (Nov. 9, 2014)

So, then, why the long hair, Lia? Why does any trans female feel the need to LOOK female? And the same thing can be asked about women transitioning into physical copies of men.

But let’s not stop with transgender, let’s take this even further down the rabbit hole and ask why it is that, again, generally speaking, homosexual and lesbian couples so often mimic the heterosexual image? In other words, why are there often male and female counterparts?

Dare I say Ellen and Portia?

Could it simply be that the way God designed us is innate, not fluid or socially constructed, therefore no matter how much we want to dismiss the Creator, His design still bleeds through? It’s like His will for humanity’s relationships is a holy nicotine stain that no amount of paint can hide for long.

What does a woman look like? I guess that’s a difficult question if you can’t even define what a woman is. But are “tomboys” not women enough? Are they actually men in women’s bodies? Should biological women with facial hair, deeper voices, and a love for Stanley tools exchange their baby-bearing club cards for urinals and prostate exams?

Because, after all, REAL women get breast implants and lip plumping.

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“My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad” – a sermon

The following sermon was preached at Bethlehem Baptist, Warthen, GA, on Father’s Day, 2022.

Welcome and Intro

Good morning and happy Father’s Day!

Thankful to Be a Father

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I just want to say that I am thankful to be a father, and I’m so thankful that God gave me a good father on earth. My earthly father has gone on to be with the Lord, so I can’t introduce you to him. But if I could…my goodness, I am sure you would love him!

But today, I’m not going to reminisce about my earthly dad. Today’s gonna be about my Abba Father, God. …Opening Prayer

You know, I am so grateful that the Lord made me a dad. He gave me 3 beautiful daughters, two of which are here today…

But being a father has helped me to better understand, even if just by a little bit, the sacrifice that God made when He allowed His Son, Jesus, to be crucified.

Before I was a dad, it was impossible for me to understand a father’s heart. Therefore, it was impossible for me to understand the feeling of one of your children disobeying. It was impossible for me to understand what it feels like when children break your heart. It was impossible to understand the pain of having to discipline.

I was the type who would say “My children will NEVER do that” … or something like, “If my kid ever talked to me like that, well, I’d…” Then my daughters came along… That kind of changed things. Parenting is a lot different in person!

Being Tuff!

But when my girls were young, it was my responsibility to convince them that I was tough and could beat up anybody, particularly anyone they might date. As a matter of fact, for a long time I had the stipulation that before I’d give them away to some punk, I’d have to spar – fight – with the guy, first.

I don’t know how seriously they took me, but I do know that at least Katie told a few guys about it.

But let me tell you, I wasn’t joking! I felt like, if nothing else, it would be good to see what kind of guy would be watching over them when I wasn’t around. I guess the only reason Gus and I never sparred was because, “I pitied the fool!

I mean, he’s such a nice, caring, loving young man – why would I risk hurting him and scaring away the best offer she got?

But the whole reason I’m saying this is not because I want to talk about how tough I am… or what kind of award-winning fighter I was… how many boards I could break… how many people I sent away in tears …

NO! I brought all this up so that I could [dovetail] into a real “tough father comparison,” the kind we all experienced at some point when we were children…

“My dad can beat up your dad!”

There was the story of three boys talking about how talented their dads were. The first boy said, “My dad just wrote a few words on a piece of paper, sent it away, then somebody sent him $20 for it – they called it a poem.”

To that the second boy replied, “Oh, really? Well, my dad wrote 100 words, and somebody paid him $50 for it. They called it a story.”

A third boy heard all this and spoke up. “If you think that’s something, my dad’s got both your dad’s beat. He wrote some words down on a single sheet of paper and read it in church. It took 6 men to collect all the money.”

How many times did you ever get into something like that? It could’ve been that your dad was bigger, tougher, richer, smarter, faster, stronger, or whatever. Or, if you missed out on it as a kid, maybe you grew up and played the same game with other adults – my child is smarter than yours, or my child is more popular than yours.

Well, whether you played that game when you were young or not, that’s EXACTLY what we are going to be doing today!

Did you know that everybody has a father? I’m not talking about a man here on Earth – I’m talking about a different kind of father, a SPIRITUAL FATHER…one you are bound to take after, regardless.

I’d like us first to look at 3 different passages.

  • Galatians 4:6 – And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
  • Ephesians 1:2-3 – Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
  • 1 John 2:1 – My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Now, let’s look at the words of Jesus in John 8:44…

  • John 8:44 – Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Everybody in this world has a father, and it’s either God or Satan. There are no other choices. You are either a child of God, or you’re a child of the Devil. You have either been born again and adopted into the family of God, OR you are still lost without Christ, a stranger and an enemy of God.

Now, I get it…some people don’t like their fathers and refuse to acknowledge them. For example, you might be unsaved, still lost, still bound for a sinner’s hell, but you say, Preacher, I’m not like my daddy the Devil. No, God is not my Father, but I’m still a good person!

My daddy (the Devil) has a horrible reputation: he

  • hurts people,
  • destroys lives,
  • lies, swindles, steals,
  • causes illness, abuses women, kills babies,
  • gets people hooked on drugs, starts wars, and all kinds of stuff… but NOT ME! I’m nothing like him!

But what did Jesus say in John 8:44? You are “of your father the devil, and the lust of your father you will do.” As long as you remain in Satan’s family, you are going to be like him.

But you know what, no matter how bad a person can be, there’s always gonna be somebody who defends them. It’s like, “I know my son robbed that liquor store, but he’s a good kid! He didn’t deserve to get shot!

And no matter how bad a father can be to his children, there are still going to be those who want to play the “my dad can beat up your dad” game.

The World ain’t no different.

So, let’s go there!

“Preacher, your Abba Daddy ain’t nothin’! My daddy can beat up your Father any day of eternity!”

Really? Is that so?

Yeah! And I can prove it, too! Even from your so-called Bible.

Really?? OK, then, prove it! Tell us how BIG and BAD your daddy is.

Well, 1st of all, He waged war in Heaven! He took a third of all the angels away with him, then he destroyed God’s perfect little paradise on Earth and got his first perfect people to sin.

Now, he is so powerful that he commands those angels (demons) to make people do whatever he wants, like possess people…

  • Matthew 8:28 KJV – And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

He possesses people all the time. And when he does, he can make them hurt themselves, cut themselves, have convulsions, blind them, or simply make them crazy.

He destroys marriages, breaks hearts of parents, starves children, makes leaders greedy, and talks millions of people your Father loves into suicide.

Ever heard of slavery, genocide, torture, poison, pornography, rape, abuse, murder, human trafficking, concentration camps, war? All my daddy’s ideas!

He can also influence nations, fix elections, and offer every kind of pleasure you can think of. He even offered Jesus prestige and power – He could have been ruler of the world! – if He would have only worshipped him.

Yeah, preacher man, I’d say my dad could beat up your weak, harp-playing, cheek-turning, wuss of a Father. For crying out loud, He couldn’t even stop humans from killing his Son! What a loser!

What would you say to that? I think I’d say something like this…

I’ve got to admit, Beelzebubba, that’s pretty impressive. I mean, seriously, if I were nothing more than a fool, I’d be convinced your daddy is invincible. He sounds scary, that’s for sure.

However, I’m still confident – yes, I am persuaded – I know that I know that I know my Heavenly Father can kick your lying daddy’s rear.

As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be the first time, and it won’t be the last!

Oh yeah?? OH, YEAH!

The Holy Comeback

First things first: Let’s start with THE BEGINNING. As Bill Cosby famously said, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.” Your daddy wouldn’t even be here without my Daddy creating him! He even gave him his first job! It was a good one, too, but your loser dad went and messed it up when he got a big head and said, “I will ascend unto heaven, I will set my throne above the stars of God...”

What an idiot!

2nd, That war in heaven you talked about? The only reason your daddy left with a third of the angels was because he got his tail handed to him. Jesus said in Luke 10:18, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”  Gotta wonder how bad that hurt.

3rd, Yeah, your dad DID contribute to Adam and Eve sinning – got to give him that. But did you know that my Daddy was always a step ahead of yours?

A long, long time before your daddy played dress up in the garden, even before time began, he knew the moves Satan would make. It’s almost like my Father could look into the future, like He had a time machine, or something…but it’s better than that! He’s not limited by time and spaceHe created it!

Now that I think about it, it’s no wonder King David wrote so many songs about my Daddy, because He is worthy to be praised! How wonderful are all His works!

You know, a long time ago, your daddy came before my daddy and accused this poor guy named Job. Your dad couldn’t stand him because he seemed so perfect, so he sorta made a bet that he could make my Father’s servant curse Him. That’s when my Daddy came up with a phrase that Clint Eastwood used: “Go ahead, make my day.

Your old man couldn’t even whip a broken down, boil-covered, poverty-stricken human! Job NEVER gave in because even he knew your daddy wasn’t worth it. LOSER!

Now, granted, Job didn’t have it easy when your dad was messing with him, so he did have a lot of questions. But that’s when my Father gave him a lesson in reality. You know what reality is, don’t you? You don’t even know what a woman is!

In the book of Job, chapters 40 and 41, we read how…

  1. He laid the foundations of the Earth
  2. He created the measurements (the standards) to measure it.
  3. He hung the foundations of the earth on nothing.
  4. He shut up the seas
  5. He can make garments from clouds and cloth out of darkness
  6. He told the waves where to stop and go no further
  7. He causes the morning – He creates each sunrise
  8. He has walked the depths of the seas
  9. He opened the gates of death and hell
  10. He knows where light goes and darkness hides when the light comes
  11. He owns the treasures of snow and hail that fall to earth
  12. He cut channels for the overflow of rain and maid paths for the lightning.
  13. He causes it to rain
  14. He can even control the effects of the constellations; or even cause them to fly apart if He wants to
  15. He can number the clouds without weather radar.


Let’s get down to it, OK? Your dad is a conniving, selfish, prideful, hateful, pervert who lies about everything, including himself.

He probably never told you that my Father has never lost a fight and NEVER will. He has prepared a place for those He loves – His family – but He’s also prepared a place for your daddy.

The Battle Won

You see, your daddy was already beaten up by my Daddy a long time ago. It was the biggest beat down the world had ever seen! It was simply beautiful!!

It went down like this… My Dad came into the world that your daddy thought he controlled and was born as a tiny, week, helpless little baby child. Then, He walked around for 33 years as an easy target, but from the time He was a baby till He was 33, your loser daddy couldn’t lay a hand on Him. Not one! Then, to make it look more of a fair fight, my daddy held open his arms and said, “Go ahead, hit me.” Your dad hit and hit and hit. He beat my Daddy so badly that people said you couldn’t even tell He was human. Then, in what seemed like a fatal move, He simply laid down for the count.

Oh, my goodness, you should have seen the celebration. Out of the whole world, only 200 or so mourned my Daddy. The rest of the world and all the evil minions of your messed up dad partied like there was no tomorrow. But the thing is, your dad fell for my Dad’s plan and took the bait. And the best part of it all was that since my Dad wrote the rules for the fight, going down for the count meant the clock started at 3 days! 3 days later my Dad snatched the keys to death, hell, and the grave out of your dad’s quivering hands and walked victorious out of the temporary holding place they called a tomb.

Don’t you get it? For what, like 4,000 years or so, your dad planned and schemed to kill my Dad. He thought he was so smart. But your dad got played, Bruh! My Daddy beat up your daddy like no daddy has ever been beat before! And guess what, He’s going to keep beating him every time he comes around!

Illustration of my earthly Dad coming to my aid at K-Mart.

Back around 1990 I went out with a girl. I only went out with her once, and she never once mentioned that she had a boyfriend at the time. Like I said, we went on one date, no more, and all we did that night was go get something to eat and walk around a park and talk (which is when I realized I didn’t want a second date).

Well, fast forward to when I was at work the next day (I worked at K-Mart). While there, the girl’s brother came up to my counter in the sporting goods section and warned me that her boyfriend was really angry and was going to come by and beat my a**. Supposedly, he was a big guy. So what did I do? I picked up the phone and called my dad – the ex-bodybuilder, weightlifter, ex-moonshiner, and reserve Sheriff’s deputy who carried a Colt .357 magnum everywhere.

Funny how that when my daddy came to where I worked and sat in the parking lot, I wasn’t afraid of some bully one bit! All I had to do was make the call.

Church, don’t run in fear from the Devil; he’s just a lying blowhard who’s already been defeated by our Father in Heaven. However, when Satan starts threatening you, remember Who’s on your side! He’s always there.

1 John 4:4 – Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Let us pray.

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The Least of These

If you are already following my other blog, WallHoleCoverings.com, then you have probably already seen a post about this painting.

If you have not seen the other post, then please KEEP READING.

Last night I finished a piece I have entitled “The Least of These.” I based it on a photo I took of a Christian worker in a Muslim-owned brick kiln in Pakistan.

My hope is to raise funds to help buy people like this brother and his family out of debt and out of this literal slavery.

So many people in Pakistan live in poverty. Of the Christians that live there, the majority of them live in abject poverty. This is not simply a matter of choice, but opportunity. With a near 98% Muslim population in a Muslim country, the Christians are not afforded the same opportunities and are often forced to do the hardest work.

Those who work at the kilns are required to have their whole families live there in horrible conditions. They live there until the debt they owe is paid off. That, of course, is the catch. Most often, even though the goal might have been to pay off a small loan for food or medical expenses (usually no more than $200), families wind up working for generations paying off accumulated fees and additional loans attached to the little salary they receive.

Working with Grace Charity Schools in Toba Tek Singh, Punjab, I will be using funds raised from the sale of this and other paintings and prints to rescue these families from indentured slavery and help them start over.

For every gift from $20-$50, I will send you a simple semi-matte print in your choice of size (5″x7″ and up), shipping included.

For every gift OVER $50, I will send you an 8.5″x11″ Sommerset Giclee reproduction print.

For any gift of $75 or more, I will send you a signed and artist-enhanced Sommerset Giclee reproduction (I will enhance the print with actual paint).

Please click on the following link to visit Wall Hole Coverings if you would like to donate. You will see a PayPal link at the bottom of the post.

Thanks!

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What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?

The following is a near word-for-word transcript of sermon I delivered this morning, June 12, 2022, at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Warthen, Georgia.


I am sure by now most of you have heard that I was going to preach on something controversial this morning. This week I asked for prayer on Facebook live, because the subject matter is so sensitive. And do you want to know why I did that? It’s because we live in a world that is full of darkness and deceit and there’s an enemy who is fighting tooth and nail, fang and claw, to keep the truth of God’s Word hidden, and he has plenty of willing accomplices. These are they who “hold (or suppress) the truth in unrighteousness,” as spoken of in Romans 1:18.

  • Romans 1:18 KJV – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [suppress] the truth in unrighteousness;

Over the years there have been multiple cases of companies, everything from auto makers to drug makers, who have been sued and even prosecuted for withholding critical information such as defects or dangers. Anyone remember the Ford Pinto? What about Fen Phen? A lot of people died, and a lot of people were permanently hurt because somebody didn’t want to tell the truth. Billions of dollars were paid out. Worse, thousands of lives were either lost or changed forever.

So, what does the Bible say about the Christian, the man of God, the preacher, who knows the Truth, yet, for whatever reason, suppresses it, hides it, or simply never talks about it? To what court will he or she have to answer? Let me tell you, he will stand before the Judge of the universe and give an account!

  • Jeremiah 48:10 KJV – Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.

Unfortunately, there are several reasons why the truth is being withheld today; why what I’m going to preach about today is rarely addressed in public, much less from the pulpit.

  1. A lack of understanding – we are not confident in our knowledge of the subject, so we stay quiet or avoid discussion.
  2. Fear and intimidation. The threats are real.
  3. A faulty understanding of Scripture – bad theology – that attributes sainthood to the sinner without repentance and seeks unity through compromise.
  4. Sin is in the camp.

Well, let me tell you about my thoughts on those 4 points…

  1. I’ve done my homework. But that didn’t take much. I mean, one really doesn’t have to look far for evidence that men are men and women are women and that each was made for a purpose the other one was not designed for. But I’ve also gone to the Bible for answers to the lunacy running rampant in this world. And guess what, the answers are in there, so I’m ready to talk about it any time you want to drop the hat.
  2. Fear and intimidation? As President Biden so eloquently puts it, “Come on!” Who are we to fear when we are doing the will of God? Who are we to fear when we are speaking the truth? Those people we read of in the Bible were not included for our entertainment, you know; they are there for our instruction. How can we, with a good conscience, tell our children and grandchildren to be like young David, Daniel, or Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego?
    • How can we tell them to stand up to giants when we cower before lawyers and people who can’t decide which bathroom to use?
    • How can we tell them to be a Daniel and pray, even when the King says not to, even if it means the lions’ den?
    • How can we in good conscience praise Daniel’s three Hebrew friends for not bowing before Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue if we cower to every demand to affirm idolatry?
  3. As to the third reason why Truth is withheld – a faulty view of Scripture/bad theology and a desire to affirm every delusional definition of humanity, folks, all it takes is reading more than one verse, reading them in context, and avoiding the apologetic nonsense written by former Christians who’ve now found that the forbidden fruit isn’t that bad, after all. Most bad theology can be corrected by simply reading the Bible.
  4. And then, when it comes to sin in the camp, well, I have no idea if anyone here or watching from somewhere else is guilty.

    You may be like Achan in the Old Testament who took the forbidden treasure from Jericho and hid it under his tent. If so, that’s between you and God.

    What’s more likely, however, is that you know somebody with the bad theology and the hidden sin, and you’re more invested in it than you’d like to admit. As a matter of fact, you’ve even been wondering if God condemned that sin, or not? I mean, Achan was probably a great guy and loved his family, right? What was a little disobedience? Isn’t all sin the same? What would be wrong with simply letting him be who he is? Heck, think about all the church could do if he donated a little of that forbidden gold to the church!

Church, I do not want to be guilty of withholding the truth in order to keep the government happy, the activists happy, or even the church member happy. There may be a den of lions or a fiery furnace in our future, but I’d like to be remembered like Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo who said, “Even if our God does not deliver us from your hand, we will not bow.”

Now, before I say anything else, I want to remind you that we are to speak the truth in love. It is not my job to condemn anyone, only to love them as Christ loves them and gave His life for them. Therefore, when I say what I’m going to say, please understand that I don’t hate anyone. All I want to do is tell you the truth, even if it hurts, even if offends, even if it makes you mad. Because, when it’s all said and done, my job is to warn you the building is about to collapse – you have to decide get out before it’s too late.

Church, we are living in a day when the very creation of Holy God is under attack. We have so many people worrying about the climate and climate change, and maybe that’s a good thing, but God didn’t just create the world – he created man, “male and female created He them.”

In Genesis 1:26 we read that God said, “Let us make man in our own image…” Man, both male and female, was made in the image of God, yet today the very definition of Man is under attack. Let me tell you, when we think we are smarter than our Creator to the point of redefining and redesigning what was made in His image, we show that what we really hate is not ourselves, but God.

Folks, this is the month of June, the month that for so long was associated with beautiful brides. Now it’s a month dedicated to Pride. And sadly, too many church people have ditched the Bride of Christ at the altar and run of with the bride of Frankenstein. Churches and whole denominations that were once known for their piety and Bible study are now ordaining practicing homosexuals, lesbians, transgenders, and even those who can’t decide. The truth is no longer being taught and preached as the image of God becomes more distorted every day.

So, then, what does the Bible say about homosexuality? I’m not asking you what CNN says. I’m not asking you what a government agency says. I am not asking you what you read on the internet or saw on TV. What does the Bible say?

Well, because this is such a complicated topic and one that deserves a lot more discussion than what I’m able to cover today, I want to tell you what the Bible says based on 4 questions.

I. Is Homosexuality a Sin?

The first thing we need to do is clarify the question. As a matter of fact, it would be best if we break this single question down into two. The first one should be Is being tempted with same-sex attraction a sin? The second should be, “Is homosexual activity a sin?” This is a very important distinction, for being tempted to sin is not the same as committing the sin. If it was, we’d be in trouble.

  • Matthew 4:1 – Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (Jesus was tempted, but he didn’t sin.)

Satan has been tempting us since the beginning of time. And as it was in the beginning, temptation is not the sin; acting upon the temptation is. All of us are different in many ways, and what tempts you may not be a temptation to me. We are not all the same when it comes to what our flesh desires – some people like cottage cheese while I gag at the thought of it.

For whatever reason, though (sometimes biological, other times because of something traumatic that has happened, for reasons that are different from one person to the next), men and women, even boys and girls, sometimes find themselves attracted to others of the same sex. Frankly, this is how our culture is preying upon our youth – by capitalizing on their immaturity. But the fact is that the temptation is not the sin – acting upon it is.

So, the second part of that question should be “Is homosexual activity a sin?” If we are talking about two people of the same gender having sex, then yes, it is a sin.

Again, we are not talking about being tempted to do something; we’re talking about actually doing the thing. Some people may be born with a tendency toward violent behavior, but we don’t encourage them to go ahead and act upon those feelings because they were born that way, do we? No, the truth is pretty simple and not hard to find, IF WE ARE HONEST AND AREN’T TRYING TO HIDE THE TRUTH.

Let’s look at what Scripture says.

  • To begin with, there’s the story found in Genesis 19, the story of Sodom and the men of Sodom who wanted to rape the angels sent there to remove Lot and his family.
  • Leviticus 18:22 KJV – Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
  • Leviticus 20:13 KJV – If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them (in other words, it’s nobody’s fault but theirs).

So, as you can see in just these few verses, having sex with someone of the same sex is wrong in God’s eyes.

But that leads me to another question people ask a lot. . .

II. “If homosexual activity is a sin, then why didn’t Jesus talk about it?”

All I can say it that those who use Jesus Christ as an excuse to sin are either simply ignorant, or they know a lot of Christians are. Often, when debating a practicing homosexual, the Christian will find himself backed into a corner with “gotcha” questions. In actuality the answers to these questions are not that difficult, but the Enemy knows how to twist the truth, AMEN?

The homosexual (or ally) will set up the Christian by asking, “Do you believe the Bible?” The answer, of course, will be “Yes.”

Then the homosexual activist will go back to Gen. 19 and Leviticus 20 and ask, “So, do you believe homosexuals should be put to death?” Many times, this is where they get tripped up. Most believers will say “No,” but then that will set them up for not believing the Bible. IF they say “yes,” then, besides other reactions, the activist can ask, “OK, well then why didn’t Jesus ever talk about homosexuality? Jesus taught us to love one another, not kill each other, right?

What is the answer? How would YOU respond? DID Jesus say homosexual activity was a sin, or not? He didn’t have to!

Look, Jesus never said it was a sin to drive 100 mph in a school zone, but He did tell us to obey the laws of the land (not to mention loving our neighbor, which it’s hard to love your neighbor and drive 100 through a school zone).

And Jesus never specifically mentioned homosexuality, either. But what He DID say had wide implications for all types of sexual activity outside of God’s design. And what is that design? God created male and female, nothing in between, nothing flexible or fluid, as complimentary to each other, as examples for theological truths yet to be revealed. Look at the following verses…

  • Matthew 19:4-6 KJV – And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
  • Matthew 5:27-28 KJV – Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Even though our culture wants to shame and intimidate, even scare us into “affirming” same-sex relationships, Jesus never did. All He ever affirmed was the example set in creation. All other sexual activity, whether gay or not, if outside the bond of marriage between a male and a female is either fornication or adultery, both of which are clearly sin.

Now, let’s ask another question…

III. Is it a sin to be PROUD of who I am?

Like I mentioned at the beginning, June is Gay Pride month. If you didn’t know, first “gay pride” parade was held in 1970, 52 years ago. The parade was a follow-up to the Stonewall riots that occurred a year earlier in Greenwich, New York, at the Stonewall Inn (which, incidentally, was declared a National Monument in 2016 by Barak Obama).

Essentially, the police raided a gay nightclub to arrest some drag queens (men who dress like women), because at that time in New York it was illegal. While the police had people locked up in the paddy wagon, somebody whipped up the watching crowd and started throwing stuff at the police. The riot lasted 5 days.

Every year since 1970 there have been parades and celebrations in the month of June. The purpose this these celebrations is to not only draw attention to the abuse of homosexuals (which, by the way, is wrong, too), but also to affirm every aspect of sexual perversion. What used to be shameful, people are proud of and want us to know it.

But, again, is it a sin to be proud of who I am? I’m proud to be an American, aren’t you? I will be attending a 4th of July celebration somewhere this year. But the difference between being proud of who you are and “Pride” month is as simple as the reason for celebrating: sexual perversion.

Besides sacrilegiously adopting the symbol of God’s mercy (the rainbow) as their emblem, people who celebrate unrepentant sin and demand the respect of others is a dangerous sign. As a matter of fact, when a culture has gone as far as ours has to celebrate a sin…one that Jesus died so that we might be forgiven, not affirmed…is evidence that God is already in the process of pouring out judgement upon a nation. Turn to Romans chapter 1 and read with me beginning at verse 26.

  • Romans 1:26-27 KJV – For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

When we see a culture so full of sin, this particular sin, and not just the act of homosexuality, but the promotion of its acceptance as normal, we should mourn, not celebrate! Such things are only evidence that we’ve already been turned over, that this is just the beginning of judgement to come.

And in case you’ve ever been told that the real sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was being inhospitable, nothing sexual, I submit to you Jude 1:7…

  • Jude 1:7 KJV – Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Sodom and Gomorrah are an example to us.

This leads me to one last question, even though there are many, many more that could be asked…

IV. Can a homosexual be saved and go to heaven?

First off, I don’t want to go any further without reminding each and every one of us that if it wasn’t for the grace and mercy of God, every one of us would be in hell right now.

  • Romans 3:23 KJV – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Sexual sin is no different than any other sin in this way – it takes the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

But if you want to know (because you asked, right?), let’s turn to a few passages of scripture and read what they say.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 KJV – Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
  • 1 Timothy 1:10 KJV – For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

What these verses are saying is that those who live in unrepentant sin are, in fact, likely unsaved and in danger of hell. Notice that the tense of the verses is continual, active, on-going. But this doesn’t have to stay that way. And, more importantly, it is NOT saying that those who regularly practice and affirm homosexuality can NEVER be saved!

  • 1 Corinthians 6:11 KJV – And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

So, what does the Bible say about homosexuality? It’s a sin, for sure, and one that is an affront to the very plan and nature of God. However, there is no sin that the blood of Jesus Christ, accepted by faith with a repentant heart, can’t cleanse and wash as white as snow!

Homosexual sin is like any other sin; it’s a heart issue

  • Matthew 15:19 – For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…

And let me go one step further…homosexual sin is like any other sin in that if you walk in the world, even as a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, without the armor of God you are just as vulnerable to temptations of the culture and the lies of Satan as any lost person.

  • Galatians 5:16 KJV – This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
  • Ephesians 6:13 KJV – Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

INVITATION

Maybe you are struggling with sin in your life. Maybe it’s something other than sexual sin. Jesus offers forgiveness.

Maybe you or a friend or loved one is struggling with the grips of homosexual sin. And maybe, after all you’ve heard, you can’t see how God could understand what you’re going through.

Well, Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Thankfully, Jesus does understand how difficult temptations can be, but he is also the answer to those temptations.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV – Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

And even if you stumble after you’ve given your heart and life to Jesus Christ, does he cast you out? NO!

  • 1 John 2:1 KJV – My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Whatever your need, would you give it to God today?

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Filed under Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible, Bible Study, Culture Wars, Defining Marriage, Preaching