Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Conference Speakers Schedules

     I have always wondered why a pastor who hosts a conference would announce the slate of speakers who have accepted invitations to preach but will not inform those considering attending who will speak when. If there is a lady speaking to ladies such an announcement is made. If there is someone speaking to young people such an announcement is made. However, with a slate of speakers who will preach to preachers and others in attendance such information is typically withheld, at least among Independent Baptists.
     I have always wondered at the logic of such thinking. Decades ago I attended several huge annual conferences hosted by a very big church, with female speakers and times announced, and with youth speakers and times announced, but no information was released concerning who would preach to the pastors and church members in attendance. Be there at 7:00 PM, but you will not be told who the speaker is.
     I have even called host churches at large conferences held in the upper Midwest and on the West coast to ask if the schedule for the conference has been set. When informed that it has been set, I have asked who of those invited will preach when. I have always been told that information is not available. When I ask why it is not available I have never been given an answer.
     Why, I wonder, is such information available to the women attending the women's session and the young people attending the youth session, but is withheld from the men (including pastors) attending the plenary sessions? In what other setting are people invited to attend a conference and are told the place and times of the conference, but are not told the times when speakers are scheduled?
     I wonder about the Baptist distinctives that I so heartily embrace, not the least of which is soul liberty. Am I not responsible to God for my spiritual condition and the choices I make? Or am I so incompetent that I need to be dealt with in a paternal and condescending way?
     Don't get me wrong. I don't lose sleep over this issue. However, I do occasionally miss out on a speaker I would enjoy hearing but for my unwillingness to sit through someone who I am not wiling to invest my time to hear.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Revisiting Oprah's Golden Globes Comments

     I just listened to Oprah's speech from the Golden Globes again. I did not watch the Golden Globes but did hear snippets of her comments later on the local news channel and have something I would like to express.
     She was impeccably dressed. Her presentation was what one might expect of a professional who has enjoyed great success in front of a television camera. She is a masterful communicator.
     But what did she actually say? Her obvious political mantra as she tests the waters for a presidential run will be something along the line of "There is a new day." You have to have a catchy phrase to run for president.
     However, I have some questions.
     What will this person who persuaded the country to vote for Barack Obama do differently than he did?
     Will she divide us as certainly as President Obama divided us?
     And what was the point of her comments made to a room full of people who are either themselves Harvey Weinstein wannabes or women who enabled Harvey Weinstein to get away with what he did to so many women for so many years?
     After all, everyone in the room knew what Harvey was doing with those women, including Oprah. Yet she and they did nothing.
     It will be interesting to watch things develop, not from the perspective of how good was her speech (the serpent in the Garden was a good speaker, Adolf Hitler was a good speaker, and V. I. Lenin was a good speaker), but from the perspective of how her leftist, pro-abortion, George Soros friendly, New Age religion, socialist agenda affects the country.

God's Word Was Not Given To You, You Were Given To God's Word!

     Sometimes Christians are not careful enough in our study of God's Word, causing us to sometimes miss important gems of profound truth. Such is the case in Romans 6.17, where Paul writes in the last half of the verse, “...but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”
     The wording here is a little rough for most of us to easily understand with caution, but attention to two phrases will greatly clarify what Paul is saying. When he refers to obeying from the heart, he is contrasting in the minds of his Roman Christian readers the difference between someone who is depending upon Christ for his salvation and someone who is depending upon the Law of Moses to give him standing before God.
     Later on, in Romans Paul will point out that “with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness.” Paul’s Jewish opponents were depending on mental and intellectual responses to the dictates of the Law to merit salvation, not a genuine relationship with the Savior, which is an issue of the heart. So, Paul’s Gospel is superior to the Law in that while it is certainly not anti-intellectual, it is not only intellectual. 
     Paul’s Gospel has to do with the entire being of the believer, not just your intellect and not just your will. What are the implications of this reality? There are two: 
     First, you are not a Christian just because you decided to become a believer. Remember, the miracle of the new birth has to take place for someone to be born again, and no one tells God when to work a miracle. 
     Second, you are not a believer just because you embrace as true the facts of the Gospel. Remember again, the miracle of the new birth has to take place. 
     That said, the Jewish person might still see salvation apart from the Law as opening up the opportunity for lawlessness. He would think that no longer being under the Law meant no structure, no guidelines, and no direction in the Christian life. That would be spiritual anarchy! And no doubt he would liken salvation by grace apart from the Law to the only other situation he had ever seen in his life without the Law . . . the Gentiles. And what sinfulness they exhibited. 
     The next phrase has to do with “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Pick up a commentary and you will see a great deal of discussion about this phrase. If it’s a good commentary, that is. Let me summarize what Paul is trying to get across to his readers at this point. 
     Though the word order is somewhat difficult to follow, Paul is pointing out to his readers that no sinner come to Christ has been left without guidance and direction after having come to know Christ and not being under the Law. We who are come to Christ have been delivered to an authoritative body of truth which should guide our lives. 
     But note that our verse says believers were delivered to “that form of doctrine.” Notice. It was not that form of doctrine which was delivered to believers. God’s Word has not been given to us! We have been given to God’s Word, so that we might conform to it as Jell-O to a mold, conforming us to the image of Christ.
     This speaks to a serious problem among Christians today. So many professing believers do not understand that God’s Word has authority over them and that we have been delivered to Scripture so that we will be conformed by God’s Word to Jesus Christ.