• WANTED: A New Denominational Metric

    by Shawn Merithew on March 23, 2015

    tEREUy1vSfuSu8LzTop3_IMG_2538The metric system never really caught on here in the United States. Most all of us learned it in school, and though we are reluctant to admit it, it is a much better system. A thousand millimeters makes a meter, and a thousand meters makes a kilometer. Could conversions be more simple? But using the metric system is like having to speak the Spanish I learned in high school — it’s difficult and unnatural for me. It doesn’t matter if I have a hard time remembering how many feet are in a mile; I like the ease and comfort of what I’ve always known.

    When we talk about how we measure health or success in our Southern Baptist Convention, we also have a system of measurement that we find quite comfortable. Amidst all the information we record on our annual church profiles, there are three main measurements that seem to define church health: number of members, number of baptisms, and number of dollars given to the Cooperative Program. Any church with an upward trajectory in these three units of measure is labeled ‘Missional’ and the pastor is automatically qualified for upper echelon leadership in the SBC. This is just how we think. It doesn’t matter that this system isn’t exactly biblical and that it frequently hides an underlying pandemic of unregenerate membership. These units of measurement are comfortable, easy to track, and they are what we’ve always known. (more…)

  • Why is Denying Justification such a Serious Error?

    by Tom Hicks on February 23, 2015

    JustificationThe doctrine of justification by faith alone on the ground of Christ’s imputed righteousness remains under direct attack in various quarters. Reformulations of the doctrine among proponents of the New Perspectives on Paul (Sanders, Dunn, Wright) as well as men such as Dan Fuller, Norman Shepherd, and Peter Leithart have dangerously distorted the biblical teaching.  As someone who wrote his PhD dissertation on the doctrines of justification in Richard Baxter and Benjamin Keach, I am convinced that modifying the biblical doctrine is a serious theological error. As a pastor of a local church, I have observed how the doctrine of justification humbles the proud, strengthens the fainthearted, gives assurance to the fearful, encourages vulnerable and motivates self-sacrificing love. To deny this doctrine is to deny the very heart and power of the gospel. May the Lord bring theological clarity on this doctrine for the sake of His own glory and for the good of His beloved bride. (more…)

  • What is Contentment?

    by Tom Hicks on February 12, 2015

    Rare JewelI’ve been reading Jeremiah Burroughs classic book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, and wanted to share a bit of it here.  If you haven’t read this book, let me encourage you to get it and read it.  American culture fosters discontentment and all the miseries and heartaches that go along with it.  Discontentment is coveting what we do not have, longing for it, believing that if we have it, then we will be satisfied.  To be content is to obey the 10th commandment, “You shall not covet” in the power of Christ and the gospel of grace.  Here are 20 ways that Burroughs describes contentment:

    “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil 4:11). (more…)

  • The Difference Between the True Christian and the Hypocrite

    by Tom Hicks on January 22, 2015

    Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 5.24.12 PMHow can you tell whether you’re a genuine believer or a false professor? One of the best books describing the true nature of conversion is The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie. The great Puritan theologian, John Owen, highly commended it and wrote, “The author [of The Christian’s Great Interest] I take to have been one of the greatest divines that ever wrote; it is my Vade-mecum [that is, “handbook”], and I carry it and the Sedan New Testament, still about with me. I have written several folios, but there is more divinity in it than in them all.”

    Consider what William Guthrie says in chapter 5 of his book about the differences between the true Christian and the hypocrite. Here are some ways in which the hypocrite may be like the Christian. (more…)

  • Why are we having special topical and thematic studies in Sunday School?

    by Tom Hicks on January 20, 2015

    StudyOn February 15, we’ll begin having special topical and thematic study classes during the Sunday School hour that will work very much like MIT did on Sunday evenings. After 10 weeks of special studies, we’ll switch back to the expositional model of Sunday School. Later in the year, we’ll introduce another 10 weeks of special studies, and then we’ll switch back again. So, why are we doing this? What are the reasons for the change? Consider these four reasons. (more…)

  • Answering Some Objections to Sabbath Day Observance

    by Tom Hicks on November 19, 2014

    SabbathIn a previous post, I briefly sketched the Bible’s doctrine of the Sabbath day. Like nearly every doctrine of the Christian faith, the doctrine of the Sabbath is controversial among some Christians today. In this post, I’ll try to answer some of the most common objections to Sabbath observance.

    1. New Testament Passages. Those who say Christians are not obligated to observe the Sabbath day often point to four key New Testament passages to make their case: Romans 14:1-9, Galatians 4:10, Colossians 2:16, and Hebrews 4:3-10. Let’s consider these one at a time. (more…)

  • What God Requires of the Church: Sabbath Day Observance

    by Tom Hicks on November 7, 2014

    SabbathIn previous installments of this series, we’ve been considering “what God requires of the church.”  Here’s the series so far, in case you missed any of it:

    1. Individualism vs. Christ
    2. The Ordinary Means of Grace
    3. Participation
    4. Evangelism and Missions

    In this post, we’ll examine what the Bible teaches us about the time of public worship. We know that the Bible teaches us Who the assembled church should worship (in the first and second commandments), and it teaches us how to worship Him (in the second and third commands). But few people understand that it also teaches the assembled church when to gather for worship (in the fourth commandment). If we lose the doctrine of the Sabbath, the fourth of the Ten Commandments, then we also lose the time to receive God’s ordinary means of grace and to obey all God has commanded us to do as a church. Our church’s confession of faith, The New Hampshire Confession of 1833, plainly teaches that the Sabbath is a perpetual and binding command for local churches under the New Covenant. Our church has corporately confessed this confession. All of the pastors and deacons agree that its teachings are biblical, and all members must agree to be taught in accordance with it. It says:

    Chapter 15, Of the Christian Sabbath

    We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, or Christian Sabbath; and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes, by abstaining from all secular labor and sinful recreations; by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private and public; and by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God.

    (more…)

  • Orthodox Presbyterianism vs the “Federal Vision”

    by Tom Hicks on October 10, 2014

    BookI’m writing the following piece because the so-called “Federal Vision” is of interest to some among us for various reasons. What follows is a descriptive account of some of the differences between the the most consistent expressions of the Federal Vision and orthodox Presbyterianism. I’ve chosen not to name the theologians I have in mind in this short post, though I plan to interact with one of them in the future. I haven’t provided documentation for the differences listed here, though they have been confirmed as accurate by two men who hold this system, even if they wouldn’t have chosen to use all the words I have used. I have not attempted a Scriptural rebuttal here, though the final section does provide a short critique. (more…)

  • Your Pastors Pray for You

    by Tom Hicks on October 8, 2014

    Pastoral PrayerEach time the pastors of Morningview Baptist Church gather for our elders meeting, we make it a point to spend much time in prayer together for the church and for members of the church. My favorite part of our prayers together as pastors is praying for members by name and for requests that they’ve specifically mentioned. (more…)

  • How can we know if our children are Christians?

    by Tom Hicks on October 6, 2014

    parentsChristian parents want our children to know Christ because we want what is best for them. Many parents, however, struggle with how to know whether their children have come to a saving knowledge of Christ. While there’s no way to give a complete answer in a short blog post like this, I’ll try to offer you a handful of basic principles. No child gives evidence of salvation in a vacuum. These are things a child has to learn from faithful parents who teach him the Word of God. And these are lessons of the heart that only the Holy Spirit can truly teach. A child may certainly be saved before his parents can see it, but there are some evidences that point to our child’s salvation.  (more…)

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