by Ken Hamrick
This will be a series of informal posts chronicling my quest to understand and engage Jonathan Edwards on the ideas of necessity and certainty, and to establish where Andrew Fuller departed from Edwards’ view. In this, I’m seeking to expand the argument made in the paper, “Fuller & Inability: A Centrist Response to Tom Nettles.”
Edwards defines necessity in the following way:
Philosophical Necessity is really nothing else than the FULL AND FIXED CONNECTION BETWEEN THE THINGS SIGNIFIED BY THE SUBJECT AND PREDICATE OF A PROPOSITION, which affirms something to be true. When there is such a connection, then the thing affirmed in the proposition is necessary, in a philosophical sense; whether any opposition or contrary effort be supposed, or no. When the subject and predicate of the proposition, which affirms the existence of any thing, either substance, quality, act, or circumstance, have a full and CERTAIN CONNECTION, then the existence or being of that thing is said to be necessary in a metaphysical sense. 
He treats necessity and certainty as the same thing Continue reading
Next week, I’ll be headed to Charleston, SC, where this year’s annual Partnership Mission Coordinator’s meeting will take place. Mission leaders from across the nation will converge on this historic city for several days to learn from one another, and collaborate in ways that will help us better equip churches to be more effective on mission.
Over the years, much debate has ensued over the usefulness of what we call “short-term missions.” Since much ink has been spilled over this particular issue already, I won’t belabor that particular point, but will refer you to a great resource on the subject put together a few years back by Robert Priest, my academic colleague at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. If you are interested in the history of short-term missions (the current expression of which dates back to around 1949), and a thorough and honest evaluation of its global impact, there is no better resource. Continue reading →
As we near the coming of the Lord, we should be more focused than ever before. As our 50,000 plus churches and congregations partner together in gospel causes, the time is now for us to rise up like never before.
I want to ask you to consider these four things with me in 2015.
1. Personally, collectively, and cooperatively, we need to own the Great Commission.
As Southern Baptists, our missional vision is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations. There is not one of us that can escape this vision, not because it our vision as Southern Baptists, but because it is the vision of Jesus Christ for each of us as His disciples.
When I challenge us to own the Great Commission, I mean we must own this responsibility personally. Continue reading →
Christians are supposed to have an impact on the world in which we live. Like the followers of Jesus in Acts 17:6–7, present-day followers of Jesus should be turning the world upside down. However, when we think about turning the world upside down for Jesus, we often think we must live “radical” lives. That is, we need to sell our Chevrolet, give up movies, and relocate to the Bolivian jungle in order to engage nomadic peoples who’ve never heard the gospel. That is the real way we make a serious impact.
Tony Merida has a different perspective. In his book Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, Tony calls Christians to a new normal: “Most gospel ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality” (9). If we can understand this, then we might see an “‘ordinary movement’ that involves ordinary Christians, not just ‘super Christians,’ who live on mission in the rhythms of everyday life.” Continue reading →
How I know it’s nonetheless real.
Megan Hill/ December 31, 2014
The December issue marks two years since we launched Testimony, CT’s back-page feature spotlighting stories of conversion to Christ. One of our most popular features, we’ve heard from ex-atheists, ex-Muslims, and ex–bank robbers, from football stars to LDS Church escapees to media pundits visited by Jesus in a Taiwan hotel. We celebrate both the dramatic and the normal, day-to-day ways Jesus reaches us, precisely because it is Jesus doing the reaching. In Christ, no testimony, including the following from Megan Hill, is unremarkable. — Katelyn Beaty, managing editor, CT magazine Continue reading →
by Ken Hamrick
The theology of Andrew Fuller, as set out in his greatest work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, is centrally located between those Calvinists who see sinners as walking corpses—no more able to believe than a dead body is able to raise itself from the dead—and those of the other side who see sinners as fully enabled by God’s grace to choose (their will being the determining factor). To Fuller, men are able to believe, but will nonetheless remain unwilling until God does a supernatural work of grace to reverse their unwillingness. Regeneration only causes a man to do what he otherwise could have and should have done but refused. This puts the feet of the universal gospel offer on much more Biblical ground, and removes much of the repugnance of the Calvinist doctrine. The gospel is to be preached to all men because all men do have the ability—and the warrant—to embrace it; and that gospel would save any who do—even the unelect if they would but be willing. Continue reading
What’s the status of the church and how might we share the gospel in this time? | Ed Stetzer
There’s an idea that Christianity in America is dying. No serious researcher—not one—thinks that. However, I still am surprised that some people think this. (For a quick analysis, see this article.)
Facts are our friends, in this and in every situation, and what do the facts really show about the situation?
The Unchurched Are Open
A few years ago, LifeWay Research did some significant research on the faith of young adults to see where they stood. Here are a few stats from that study: Continue reading →
It’s been just over eight months since my husband and I brought our sweet baby boy home from the hospital. Memories of what life was like before his arrival are faint. We can’t imagine our day-to-day without his crinkled-nose smiles or his excited shrieks of delight. Life as a family of three is our new normal, and while being a mommy to our little one is more exhausting than I thought possible, it is also more joy-filled and abundant than I expected. This deep joy of motherhood, however, is also mingled with sadness; sadness because the time is soon approaching when our days will no longer be filled with this little one’s sweet shrieks of delight. My heart aches knowing that while we have been able to enthusiastically cheer on his first attempts to crawl, it is unlikely that we will be able to experience his first steps, first words, or his first day of school. Continue reading →
PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) — What’s the best Christmas scent? Is it cinnamon? Pine? Nutmeg? No, it’s much better than those! The “aroma of Christ” is something every Christian spreads like a sweet perfume.
Read carefully: “But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” 1 Corinthians 2:14-15.
How are you handling extra stresses of the Christmas season? Continue reading →
by Mike Nichols
During the past few months, rhetoric from both sides of the Michael Brown shooting has been stated and restated, renewed once the grand jury found the officer who shot Brown should not stand trial.
That rhetoric was again stated and amplified by Eric Garner’s death and subsequent similar outcome through a Staten Island grand jury. We have shouted screamed at one another, to our equal irritation. We have done nothing to resolve our difficulties, not settled our differences, and failed to find answers that are satisfactory to anyone.
During these four months, FBI statistical averages tell us that 1,452 more young black men died violently, and 1,350 of them died as the result of violence against them by other black men.
During that same four months, people in the U.S. have become polarized in their opinions and thoughts about people of other ethnicities. Many white people have blamed the black community, particularly their leaders who continue to cry out for civil rights justice, for obscuring their own difficulties with charges of racism and institutional bias. Continue reading
NASHVILLE (BP) — President Obama’s opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba may fuel an already-vibrant evangelistic movement there, or it may fuel a repressive regime, Southern Baptist leaders and pastors said in voicing divergent opinions to Baptist Press.
“Our prayer is that the Cuban church planting movement continue to expand. The Cuban people are very receptive to the Gospel,” Kurt Urbanek, IMB strategist for Cuba, said in a statement to BP.
“We praise the Lord Jesus Christ for the spiritual awakening in Cuba which has seen over 500,000 Cubans come to saving faith in Baptist churches during the past 13 years,” Urbanek noted. Continue reading →
This is part 2 of a four-part blog series on racial and cultural diversity. The material here is excerpted from a book I have coming out next year called Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send. Be sure to read part 1 here.
A church can achieve remarkable unity-in-diversity when each member elevates his or her “third race.”  Think of your “first race” as whatever race or ethnicity you happen to be, and the “second race” as whatever races you are not. The third race is the new man that God has made you in Christ.
When you become a Christian, you don’t cease to be your first race, but you become a part of a new race, a third race. In that third race you find a unity with others who share it that supersedes any differences that come from your first races. Continue reading →
Summit, I’m consistently blown away with how generous you have proven to be over the past two years. When we began our “All-In” initiative in 2012, we pledged together to give over $30 million toward the mission of God at our church. We still have a few weeks left in December, and I think we can get to $33 million.
As a church, it has always been a joy to me that we give so much of our money away to missions. We give toward missions opportunities directly, as we recently did by helping to re-launch ReCity, an organization that serves the most disconnected youth in our community. We also give to the International Mission Board (IMB), the agency through which we send out most of our church planters. Continue reading →
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — As a local church pastor, I am thrilled when I get to share the vision of how Southern Baptists are praying and working to reach the world for Jesus Christ. When I share with our people this grand vision and how our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is significant to what we are doing around the world, they immediately join in helping fund this vision.
With world crises occurring daily and the severity of lostness ever increasing, we have no other choice as Southern Baptists than to do all we can to take the Gospel to every person in the world. Continue reading →
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (BP) — Lily was scared for her life but didn’t know why.
It should have been a happy time, after the 25-year-old had been invited by her best friend to be inducted into a position of honor in their religion.
The ritual — which some of the religion’s leaders charged as much as $10,000 to conduct — was being offered to her “free” because she was told she was someone the spirits favored.
But Lily tossed and turned the night before the ritual, pierced with foreboding that what was being offered wasn’t real or true.
“If there is a true God, please protect me,” she thought before falling asleep. Continue reading →
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Imagine over 6,000 people groups — spanning billions of individual people — who have yet to even hear that God loves them. Some of them have never even heard the name of Jesus.
Meanwhile, Jesus has given us, as His followers, a clear command: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, HCSB).
We call this command the “Great Commission” and the Gospel the “good news” of what God has done in Christ. We owe this Gospel to the world. As Paul said in Romans 1:14, we are “obligated” to tell the nations this good news. Believers this side of heaven owe the Gospel to lost men and women this side of hell. Continue reading →
Glenn Stanton shows how friendship and biblical fidelity belong together.
Karen Swallow Prior/ December 5, 2014
Not long ago, a former student of mine wrote an article for The Atlantic describing his experience coming out as gay at Liberty University, the evangelical school where I teach. He described how, after confiding his secret to me, I responded by saying, “I love you.” After the story was published, I received messages from across the country, some taking issue with my response, some affirming it. Either way, the messages indicated that assuring a gay student at a Christian university that he was loved was somehow remarkable. Continue reading →
Pastor Randy White of First Baptist Church, Katy, Texas, has recently written that he doesn’t understand the response of many Evangelicals to racial division in places like Ferguson, Missouri. You can read the whole article and his confrontation of Matthew Hall, who works for Southern Seminary and the ERLC. I do not want to address White’s entire post (way too much there) or get into disagreements about what specifically happened in Ferguson, but I do want to look at one thing that he says that is important for every Christian to consider.
He asks, “Is racial reconciliation a demand of the gospel?”
“Hall begins answering his question about what the big deal with race is all about by telling us that, “all Christians should be mindful of the gospel’s demands for racial reconciliation and justice.” This kind of talk has become common in post-modern church-world. If we make it one of the “gospel’s demands” then we can’t really question it. But I will. Is racial reconciliation a demand of the gospel? Seems to me that racial reconciliation is a good thing and is a social issue, not a doctrinal or theological issue, and certainly not a “gospel demand.” If there is something Biblical that expresses racial reconciliation as a gospel demand, I’ve missed it.”
This is really troubling. Revelation 7:9-11 tells us that around the Throne will be people from every tribe, nation, people, and tongue. So, obviously God sees ethnicity as a real thing that is good and not a barrier and the RESULT of the Gospel is that it will transcend human divisions and create ONE people in Christ. Continue reading →
by Dr. Jason Lisle and Mike Riddle […]
The Bible instructs believers to have answers when challenged by any and all who oppose the Word of God.
A football coach recruited the best defensive players he could find. His strategy was to have the best defense in the conference. All through the season the opposing teams were unable to score many points. When the season was over his team posted a record of zero wins, ten losses, and two ties. How could this happen? The answer is they had no offense.
A Christian Game Plan
This is where many Christians are in their efforts to witness to unbelievers. The Bible instructs believers to have answers when challenged by any and all who oppose the Word of God (defense—1 Peter 3:15). The Bible also instructs believers to bring down all strongholds and anything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (offense—2 Corinthians 10:4–5). Sadly, while many Christians lack the knowledge to challenge unbelievers (offense), they also lack a defense. Continue reading →
Ten years ago, as a church, we began to ask what it might look like to be a blessing to our city. We were studying through the book of Acts, and came to this passage in Acts 8: “The crowds paid attention with one mind to what Philip said, as they heard and saw the signs he was performing . . . so there was much joy in that city” (Acts 8:6–8). When we asked ourselves if there was “much joy” in Raleigh-Durham as a result of our presence there, we believed the answer was “no.” So we resolved that with God’s help we would become a blessing to our city—to demonstrate Christ’s love to them, to bring his healing to the places in our city that needed him most.
We’ve grown a lot since that time, and I’ve seen God’s hand in so many stories of lives changed and communities impacted by Christ’s love on display. As I look to the future of our local outreach, I’m excited about what God will continue to do as he uses us to love, edify, and build up our community. Continue reading →