Refuting the Hebrew Roots Movement

Image result for hebrew rootsYesterday in our study of Colossians 2:16-23, we addressed an issue that has resurfaced in Christian circles over the past 15 years: the resurgence of the Judaizing heresy. A careful reading of the New Testament clearly reveals a persistent problem in the early church. A Gospel-minded church would be planted, only to see Jewish teachers enter the congregation and demand that Gentiles obey the Mosaic Law. This error was refuted multiple times in the New Testament (cf., Mark 7:19; Acts 15:1-35; 2 Corinthians 3:4-18; and the entire letter to the Galatians, just to name a few) and for centuries it collected dust as a long-forgotten heresy.

But Solomon was right, their really is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In the internet age the Judaizing heresy has made a comeback. And it’s growing with a vengeance. Although a few ministries have offered a helpful response to this heresy (like here, here, and here), the truth is this the burgeoning movement has largely slipped under the radar.

By God’s grace that has not been the case at Poquoson Baptist Church. Nearly two years ago, God led our deacons and myself to draft an comprehensive response to the Hebrew Roots Movement. Completing this document forced us to think deeply about Scripture, Christ, the Gospel, the Law, Gentiles, the nation of Israel, and much more. We strove to be rigorously biblical in our application of the truth of God’s Word to each of the major tenets of the Hebrew Roots Movement. It is my prayer that God would use the principles of His Word to protect you from this false teaching (Ephesians 4:14).

And before you read any further, let me just tell you what a joy it is to serve alongside a group of deacons who are willing to protect Christ’s sheep from false teaching, even when it hurts. Soli Deo Gloria!

INTRODUCTION

 The Hebrew Roots Movement is  a grass-roots approach to New Testament interpretation that aims to better understand and obey the Scriptures.[i] The movement as a whole is suspicious of traditional Orthodoxy and suggests the solution is a return to our Hebrew roots in at least three areas:

  • Return to Hebrew roots in order to better/rightly understand Jesus.
  • Return to Hebrew roots in order to better/rightly understand Scripture.
  • Return to Hebrew roots in order to better/rightly understand how to please God.

An emphasis on the Jewish culture into which Jesus was born and the New Testament church was formed can be helpful. Nevertheless, the popular teachers within the Hebrew Roots Movement often resort to an overemphasis on these roots, resulting in a skewed vision of Jesus, the Scriptures, and the church. Adherents of Hebrew Roots teaching generally believe that New Covenant Christians are required to obey the Mosaic Law in a fuller sense than most Christians have practiced throughout church history.

This document presents a doctrinal response to the Hebrew Roots Movement from the leadership of Poquoson Baptist Church. We begin each section with a brief excerpt from our Theological Profile, showing that the positions outlined herein are not spurious but in line with what we have previously believed. The affirmations in each section are intended to explain positively what we believe. The denials are meant to refute specific teachings within the Hebrew Roots Movement. The footnotes provide some source material for these false teachings, as well as additional dialogue on the knottier theological problems. In summary, the leadership of Poquoson Baptist Church renounces certain teachings of the Hebrew Roots Movement, as outlined below, as departing from sound doctrine and obscuring the simplicity and purity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

CHRISTOLOGY

There is only one living and true God, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, supremely holy, supremely good, supremely just, supremely wise, and absolutely sovereign. He manifests Himself to us in three eternal persons – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, distinct in personality and role, yet of one substance, undivided in essence, and equally divine.

—Theological Profile, Poquoson Baptist Church

1.1       We affirm that in His incarnation Jesus was born a Jew (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). We affirm that understanding Jesus’ Jewishness can be helpful in our efforts to understand Him. We deny that understanding His Jewishness is essential to understanding Him,[ii] since God the Son existed in eternity past prior to His incarnation (John 1:1-5, 8:58; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-20).

1.2       We affirm that understanding who Jesus was in history is important. We deny that there is any difference between the “historical Jesus” and the “Jesus of doctrine.”[iii]

1.3       We affirm that Christians are to aspire to Christ-likeness (Romans 8:29, 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). We deny that this refers in any way to an adoption of external Jewish culture or rituals.[iv]

1.4       We affirm that Jesus obeyed the full intent of the Mosaic Law (John 8:46; Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:15).[v] We deny that His perfect obedience requires a continuation of the Mosaic Law in the same sense for New Covenant people (cf., Mark 2:23-28, 7:19).[vi]

1.5       We affirm that Jesus is the Son of Man (Matthew 8:20), a title meant to reveal His Deity (Daniel 7:13; Mark 14:61-64). We deny that the main point of this title is to emphasize Jesus’ Jewishness.[vii]

1.6       We affirm that Jesus is a Rabbi. We deny that the rabbis of His day were equivalent to Him (Matthew 22:29).[viii] Rather than appealing to Moses’ authority or an ancient Jewish teacher, Jesus appealed to His own authority (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44).

1.7       We affirm that Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:1; John 1:34, 49). We deny that this term is meant to convey that Jesus is merely “the king of Israel.”[ix] Rather, we believe that this title refers to Jesus’ Deity and His position as the second person in the eternal godhead.

SCRIPTURE

The Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety are the only written Word of God, divinely inspired, authoritative, and inerrant in all that they affirm (whether speaking of moral values, history, science, or any other realm of knowledge) and are the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Any view which attributes to the Scriptures a lesser degree of inerrancy than total is in conflict with the Bible’s self-testimony in general, and with the teaching of Jesus Christ in particular. The authoritative revelation of God ceased upon the completion of the New Testament and no such revelation is given by God today.

—Theological Profile, Poquoson Baptist Church

2.1       We affirm the clarity (Deuteronomy 30:11-14; Luke 24:25-27) and sufficiency of Scripture (2 Peter 1:3; 2 Timothy 3:14-17). We deny that Christians need Jewish archaeology, Jewish culture, or Hebrew Roots Movement books to understand who Jesus is or what He expects of His people.[x]

2.2       We affirm the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, that only Scripture is authoritative (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21). We deny that this means we should abandon commentaries, books, sermons, creeds, councils, confessions, or catechisms that help us to understand the Scripture rightly.[xi]

2.3       We affirm the value of the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We deny that the Hebrew Roots Movement contains better interpreters of Scripture than Jesus or the Apostles (Luke 24:44-47; Colossians 1:28).

2.4       We affirm that the sixty-six books comprising the Old and New Testaments are the only books that can legitimately be considered Scripture. Only these books are inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and necessary. We deny that books like the Didache and the Apocrypha are in any way equal to Scripture.[xii]

2.5       We affirm the validity and usefulness of many modern Bible translations. We deny that so-called Messianic Bible translations are inherently superior, or are essential to understanding the Scriptures. We reject the tendency of some of these translations to omit or alter words or phrases that contradict their doctrinal presuppositions.

GOD’S PEOPLE

Salvation is entirely the gift of God, given solely by His grace to His elect, whom He chose before the foundation of the world, not as a result of works of any kind, but according to His mercy and purpose. Salvation is freely given by God to those who have faith in Jesus Christ, who trust, receive and rest entirely upon His finished work on the cross. The very faith to believe is itself purely a gift of God. Regeneration, faith, justification, sanctification, and glorification are all aspects of salvation.

—Theological Profile, Poquoson Baptist Church

 3.1       We affirm that God’s primary dealings with His people in the Old Testament period were workings among ethnic Jews. We affirm that God still has plans for the future of many ethnic Jewish people (Romans 11). We deny that God has two peoples (ethnic Jews and Christians), but believe that in Christ both Jews and Gentiles are now one people, the Church (Galatians 3:14-29; Ephesians 2:11-14; Romans 3:29-30, 4:16, 11:11-24, 15:8-13; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Although we may disagree on God’s future plans for national Israel, we agree that His plans for Gentiles do not include an incorporation into the Mosaic Covenant.

3.2       We affirm that New Testament Christians sometimes observed Jewish traditions, rituals, feasts and days (Acts 9:20, 14:1, 16:1-3, 17:2-3, 18:4, 21:20-28, 24:14-16). We deny that New Testament Christians always kept these observances (Acts 6:8-15, 11:2-3, 15:1-35; Galatians 2:1-5, 11-14).[xiii] We further deny that Christians observed these traditions out of obligation, but affirm they did so for the sake of reaching Jews with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

3.3       We affirm that the people of God were never exclusively national Israel, but those who by grace through faith believed the promises of God (Romans 2:28, 9:6; Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:3). In other words, even in the Old Testament not all Jews were redeemed (Romans 9:6-8) and some Gentiles were (Ruth 1:16; Hebrews 11:31). We deny that there are two ways of justification or sanctification, one for Jews and another for Gentiles.

3.4       We affirm that the most widespread and recurring false teaching in the early church was a Judaizing heresy, akin to the modern Hebrew Roots Movement (Galatians 2:3-5, 4:8-11; Philippians 3:2; Colossians 2:16-17; 1 Timothy 4:1-4; Titus 1:10-11). We deny that the early church’s concern with this heresy was merely a concern about legalism. The early church was not concerned with a legalistic abuse of the Mosaic law, but with the very notion of returning to the law after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

3.5       We affirm that many Jewish people since the Incarnation have rejected Jesus as the Messiah. We deny that this is because Christians wrongly obscured the Jewishness of Jesus.[xiv] Rather, the Jewish people were looking for the wrong kind of Messiah because they didn’t (and don’t) understand the Scriptures (Matthew 12:3, 12:5, 19:4-6, 21:42, 22:29-31; Luke 24:25-27; John 5:39). Furthermore, they rejected the gift-righteousness Jesus offers because they were seeking righteousness through law-keeping (Romans 9:32).

3.6       We affirm that the desire to see ethnic Jews believe in Jesus as Messiah is good (Romans 10:1). We deny that ethnic Jews are best won to Jesus by promoting adherence to the Mosaic Law, but by preaching the Gospel.

THE LAW

A believer is not under the law, in the sense that he will not be condemned for violating the law since that debt was paid in full by Christ. However, a believer is not exempt from the law. The moral laws of God have never been rescinded, nor are they subject to either temporal or cultural re-interpretation. While a believer will not suffer eternal condemnation for violating such laws, he will be subject to the temporal consequences of sin, he will grieve the heart of God, and will suffer loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ.

—Theological Profile, Poquoson Baptist Church

4.1       We affirm that the Mosaic Law was given to accomplish three purposes under the Mosaic Covenant. (1) The first purpose of the Mosaic Law was to separate the Jewish and Gentile peoples, thus keeping God’s people untainted by the pagan practices around them. We deny that this ethnic separation is still necessary today (Galatians 3:14-29; Ephesians 2:11-14; Romans 3:29-30, 4:16, 11:11-24, 15:8-13; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

4.2       We affirm that (2) the second purpose of the Mosaic Law was to reveal the utter inability of God’s people to obey it (Matthew 3:7-10, 5:20; John 7:19; Acts 7:53, 13:38-39, 15:10-11; Romans 3:20, 5:20, 7:7-12; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 7:19). We deny that God’s people were ever able to keep His law (John 7:19; Romans 2:17-3:18). [xv]

4.3       We affirm that (3) the third purpose of the Mosaic Law was to increase sin, thus further highlighting our need for Christ (Romans 5:20; Galatians 3:19). We deny that this means God condones sin or is the author of sin (James 1:13). The problem is human sinfulness, not the Law (Romans 7:8, 11, 14, 17-18, 24).

4.4       We affirm that the Mosaic Covenant was never meant to be permanently binding for the people of God (2 Corinthians 3:4-18; Galatians 3:15-4:7). We deny that this means the Mosaic Law was flawed or faulty. The problem lies in human sinfulness. We further deny that the temporary nature of this covenant means it contains no lasting value for the New Covenant people of God. Moral principles from the Mosaic Law can help us to better understand God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and how we should live.[xvi]

4.5       We affirm that the Mosaic Law is still good, insofar as it is properly understood and applied (Romans 7:12; Galatians 3:21; 1 Timothy 1:8). We deny that it is properly applied by adherents of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

4.6       We affirm the classic Protestant understanding of the threefold use of the law. (1) We believe the law is useful today in its ability to restrain sin by keeping people from doing what they should not (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Timothy 1:8-9). We deny that all the civil laws and penalties of the Mosaic Covenant should be enforced by civil governments, since no government exists that is led by God the way national Israel was initially governed.

4.7       We affirm that the law is useful today (2) in its ability to reveal sin by exposing our utter inability to keep it (Matthew 3:7-10, 5:20; John 7:19; Acts 7:53, 13:38-39, 15:10-11; Romans 3:20, 5:20, 7:7-12; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 7:19). We deny that God’s people were ever able to keep His law (John 7:19; Romans 2:17-3:18).[xvii]

4.8       We affirm that the law is useful today (3) in its ability to instruct us about the character of God and His demands for holiness. We deny that God’s expectations for New Covenant holiness constitute a demand for obedience to the letter of the Mosaic Law (Romans 2:29, 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

4.9       We affirm that God demands His people to adhere to the spirit of the law, which is fulfilled through love (Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Matthew 7:12, 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28; John 13:34, 15:12; Romans 2:29, 10:4, 13:8-10; 2 Corinthians 3:4-18; Galatians 5:14, 6:2; James 2:8-12; 1 John 3:23, 4:21; 2 John 5). We deny that New Covenant people are obligated or encouraged to obey the letter of the law in all areas.[xviii]

4.10     We affirm that Jesus fulfilled the law but did not abolish it (Matthew 5:17-20). By saying this, Jesus did not mean that each specific law would stay exactly the same (cf., Matthew 19:3-12 and Deuteronomy 24:1-4). He meant that the purpose and message of the Law and the Prophets would remain the same. The Law and the Prophets pointed to Him and were intended from the beginning to be fulfilled by Him (John 1:17, 1:45, 3:14, 5:39, 5:45-47; Luke 24:44-47).

4.11     We affirm that the movement away from adherence to the letter of the Mosaic Law is evident in the New Testament, even among ethnic Jewish Christians (see Scripture references in 4.12). We deny that this shift began under Constantine or during any other era of church history.

4.12     We affirm that certain food laws, rituals, sacrifices, feasts, festivals, and special days were mandatory observances for the nation of Israel under the Mosaic Covenant. We deny that those laws are still binding for the New Covenant people of God (Ephesians 2:15). This includes circumcision (Romans 2:25-29, 4:9-12; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 2:3-5, 5:2-6, 5:11, 6:12-15; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11), food laws (Matthew 13:1-20; Mark 7:1-23; Acts 10:9-16, 15:1-35; Romans 14:1-23; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, 10:23-11:1; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; Hebrews 9:9-10, 13:9), and the observance of certain days (Mark 2:23-28; Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5-6; 1 Corinthians 5:7, 16:1-2; Galatians 4:10; Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 4:1-11). Furthermore, we affirm that those who seek to live under these laws are accountable to obey the entire Mosaic Law perfectly (Galatians 3:10, 5:3; Romans 2:25; James 2:10).

THE GOSPEL

Man in his corrupt nature, being in bondage to sin and under the curse of the law, has no means of redeeming himself and attaining communion with God through his own efforts, and is justly worthy of Hell. But God, though under no obligation to do so, chose to provide a way of redemption for mankind whereby mankind could again enjoy communion with Him. In the perfect expression of His grace, God sent forth His Son who clothed Himself with humanity, being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. Jesus Christ was, and is, fully God and fully man, inseparably joined in one person yet without mixture of natures. He lived a sinless life and freely offered His own life, suffering crucifixion on the cross, as a substitutionary, atoning sacrifice for sin. His sinlessness made Him the only acceptable sacrifice for sin. He suffered, died, and was buried, and on the third day He physically, bodily rose from the dead. It pleased God to promise forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to Himself to all who would trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. There is no other way of salvation provided for mankind except by the grace of God through faith in His Son.

—Theological Profile, Poquoson Baptist Church

5.1       We affirm that Jesus taught us to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15). We deny that He said “Repent of your sins, and obey the Law of Moses.”[xix]

5.2       We affirm that God has related in various ways towards Jews and Gentiles at different points in redemptive history. However, we deny that salvation has ever come by any means other than by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans 4; Ephesians 2:8-9).

5.3       We affirm that Old Testament saints were redeemed by grace through faith in the Christ to come (Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11). We affirm that New Testament saints are redeemed by grace through faith in the Christ who has come (Ephesians 2:8-9). We deny that there are two ways of salvation, one for Jews and one for Gentiles.[xx]

5.4       We affirm that God required sacrifices in the Old Testament to temporarily cover over the sins of His people while pointing towards the coming of the ultimate sacrifice (Leviticus 16). We deny that these sacrifices had any ability to permanently atone for sin. (Hebrews 9-10).

5.5       We affirm that Jesus was the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice to satisfy God’s righteous wrath against human sin (John 1:29; Acts 8:32; Romans 3:25; 1 Peter 1:18-19). We deny that sacrifices are still required for God’s people in the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:13-14, 10:11-18).[xxi] The only sacrifice remaining for the people of God is the living sacrifice of sanctified lives (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 13:15-16).

———————————————————————————————————-

[i] For a helpful introduction to the Hebrew Roots Movement, see https://gotquestions.org/Hebrew-roots.html

[ii] Jacob Fronzak, Yeshua Matters: Putting the Jewish Rabbi Back at the Center of Christianity. (First Fruits of Zion: Marshfield, MO, 2015), 16. Ibid., 30-31.

[iii] Ibid., 17. By distinguishing between the “Jesus of doctrine” and the “Jesus of history,” Hebrew Roots teachers are casting suspicion on the classic teachings about Jesus as historically taught for two thousand years of church history. They are suggesting that understanding Jesus through the lens of recent archaeological discoveries, etc. is more beneficial than understanding what the church has historically taught about Jesus Christ.

[iv] Ibid., 24-25.

[v] One particular area of apparent disobedience to the Mosaic Law is Jesus’ practices of touching those who were ritually unclean (cf., Matthew 8:1-4). The Mosaic Law prohibited touching the ritually unclean (Leviticus 5:3), since clean people would become unclean through contact with the unclean. Jesus turned the Mosaic order on its head, since when He touched the unclean He did not become unclean, but they became clean. Nevertheless, the New Testament writers can still boldly proclaim that Jesus is guiltless in regards to the law (Hebrews 4:15) because He obeyed the intent of this law, which was to protect the clean from becoming unclean. Furthermore, by healing the unclean in this way Jesus obeyed the Mosaic Law’s self-summary in Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

 [vi] Yeshua Matters, 18, 68-69.

 [vii] Ibid., 49-58.

 [viii] Ibid., 70.

[ix] Ibid., 99-104.

 [x] Ibid., 33-34.

 [xi] Ibid., 46.

 [xii] Ibid., 77.

 [xiii] Ibid., 17.

[xiv] Ibid., 137.

 [xv] Ibid., 47-48.

[xvi] For example, note the way Paul uses principles from the Mosaic Law and applies them to Christians: Deuteronomy 19:15 and 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19; Deuteronomy 13:5, 17:7, 17:12, 21:21 and 1 Corinthians 5:13; Deuteronomy 25:4 and 1 Timothy 5:18.

 [xvii]Yeshua Matters, 47-48.

 [xviii] This clearly applies to the civil and ceremonial laws of Moses. The exception would be what are sometimes called the moral laws. Although this distinction is not explicitly mentioned in the Scriptures, its existence is self-evident. Tom Schreiner explains it this way: “The difficulty in distinguishing between various parts of the law is often overplayed; in many cases it is clear what segments of the law are moral norms that relate to the church directly, and which areas of the law have been fulfilled in Christ and are no longer practiced.” Tom Schreiner, The Law and Its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, 1993), 177.

 [xix] Yeshua Matters, 57.

[xx] Ibid., 88.

 [xxi] Ibid., 94-95.

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How To Prepare For This Sunday, 05/20/2018

Prepare for this Sunday’s sermon by reading Colossians 2:16-23. Last week we dove into the powerful reminder that we can be confident in Christ because the cross sets us free. We talked about how the cross frees us from sin’s bondage, sin’s guilt, and sin’s power. However, the reality is we are not yet free from the presence of sin or the temptation to sin. In other words, the war may be over but the battles are still raging. This Sunday I hope to show you that if you’re confident in Christ you won’t battle your sin with worthless weapons.

 

Here’s a few specific ways to prepare for Sunday:

1) Pray and ask God to work in you for His glory.

2) Read and meditate on Colossians 2:16-23, our text for Sunday’s sermon.

3) Below are the songs we’ll be singing on Sunday. Click on the links to learn any you don’t know so you’re prepared to sing.

I See the Lord

His Mercy is More

Your Grace Is Enough

There Is None Like You

To God Be the Glory

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How To Prepare for this Sunday – 05/12/2018

Prepare for this Sunday’s sermon by reading Colossians 2:13-15. Two weeks ago we introduced the massive significance of what it meanHow s to be in Christ.  Last Sunday we dug deeper into that reality, seeing that because Gentile Christians are in Christ, the sign of circumcision applies to them even though they’re uncircumcised. This Sunday we’re going even further into this mysterious reality, observing how we we are united with Christ by what He accomplished on the cross. In other words, we can be confident in Christ because the cross sets us free.

 

Here’s a few specific ways to prepare for Sunday:

1) Pray and ask God to work in you for His glory.

2) Read and meditate on Colossians 2:13-15, our text for Sunday’s sermon.

3) Below are the songs we’ll be singing on Sunday. Click on the links to learn any you don’t know so you’re prepared to sing.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Come As You Are

I Cling to the Cross

Defender (Call Upon the Name)

O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing

 

See you Sunday!

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Thinking Deeper About Baptism

For those of you who missed yesterday’s sermon, we discussed the two signs of circumcision and baptism from Colossians 2:11-12.

In the sermon I talked about how tempted we are as 21st Christians to ignore the sign of baptism in particular. We do this by ignoring the importance of baptism, thinking that because baptism doesn’t save it must not be all that important. We do this by ignoring the instructions for baptism, it should be for believers, by immersion, and into the church. And we do this when we ignore the intent of baptism, it is the local church affirming the believer’s profession of faith (much like the U.S. Government affirms your citizenship when they give you a passport).

In our Sunday evening service we had a vibrant Q&A discussion about baptism. A number of questions were asked about certain types of baptism (e.g., baptism in the Jordan River, baptism on the mission field, baptism outside of the church, etc.). I did my best to answer these wonderful questions last night, but as I reflected on my answers later last night and this morning I remembered something that would have been helpful to share.

Many theologians ask two key questions when dealing with specific baptism questions: was it a true or false baptism? and was it a regular or irregular baptism? Let me explain:

True or False Baptism

What constitutes a true baptism? First, the baptized individual must be a genuine believer (Acts 2:41). Baptism is a public profession of faith, so if the individual being baptized is not a true believer he or she has not been truly baptized. Second, the baptism must be by immersion. Again, many other denominational traditions would disagree with us, but this is central to what we believe as baptists. The word baptism means to dunk or plunge into water. Third, the baptism must be Trinitarian. Jesus clearly commands us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20). Now, things can get a little sticky here. We could insist that when the individual was baptized the baptizer said “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” as he was plunging the baptizee into the water. But I don’t think Jesus’ point was a verbal formula that we repeat like an incantation. I think His point was genuine baptisms are administered by those with genuine belief in the nature of God. Or, to put it another way, in order for a baptism to be true, it must be a baptism by a true church.

Our Mormon friends, for example, agree with us that baptism is for believers and by immersion. But because of their heretical views about the Trinity and the nature of Christ (among other things), we would reject them as a true church. Therefore, someone coming for membership at PBC who had been baptized into the Mormon church would need to be truly baptized at PBC since his baptism was a false baptism.

In sum, true baptisms are for believers, by immersion and in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Any baptism that falls outside these bounds should be considered a false baptism. Individuals pursuing membership at PBC (or sister baptist churches, if they’re thinking clearly about baptism) should be denied membership until they are truly baptized.

Regular or Irregular Baptism

To complicate matters a bit further, distinguishing between true and false baptism is not enough. It’s also helpful to distinguish between regular and irregular baptism. Here we’re thinking primarily about where an individual was baptized. A regular baptism is a baptism into a local church. With the exception of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, this is the clear pattern of the New Testament. Everywhere else we see baptism we see it either explicitly or implicitly into a local church. So a regular baptism would be a baptism that occurred with your local church. The point is not whether you were baptized in a church building, but were you baptized with the people who make up a local church.

What then is an irregular baptism? In our day there’s a host of examples:

      • A husband and wife being baptized together in the Jordan River

      • A new convert on the mission field being baptized in a pond by the missionary who led him to Jesus

      • A young man being baptized in a church he has no intention of joining

      • A soldier being baptized by her chaplain while deployed overseas

      • A believing child being baptized in a swimming pool with family and a few friends

Notice that none of these baptisms fit the regular pattern for baptism in the New Testament of being baptized into a church. That is not to say, necesssarily, that these are false baptisms. In order to determine that, we need to put it all together using the above two categories as a grid.

Putting it All Together

Using the grid above, we end up with four types of baptism. A true regular baptism is a believer’s baptism by immersion in a true church. This accounts for probably more than 90% of the baptisms I’ve seen in my ministry.

But there’s also true irregular baptism. Here the individual was truly baptized as a believer by immersion, but perhaps she was baptized at home with her family, or in the Jordan River with her husband. Although we wouldn’t encourage that type of irregular baptism, we wouldn’t reject it either.

Then there’s false regular baptism. We can think of lots of examples here. Johnny was baptized in a Baptist church before he truly believed the gospel. Sally was baptized by sprinkling as an infant in her parents’ Presbyterian church. Billy was baptized by a church that denies the Trinity. Each of these baptisms are false baptisms, but for different reasons.

Finally there’s false irregular baptism. These baptisms neither fit the requirements for Trinitarian baptism by immersion for believers nor the general pattern of baptism into a local church.

Why It All Matters

I know a lot of this may seem like splitting hairs, but let me encourage you that thinking deeply matters for at least three reasons.

1) I hope to encourage you.

If you’re wrestling with your own baptism after something we discussed on Sunday morning or evening, I hope you’ll find something in hear helpful. Just because you were baptized in an irregular manner does not necessarily mean your baptism wasn’t a true baptism. We’re you baptized by immersion as a believer in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit? Than you have been truly baptized.

2) I hope to educate you.

The truth is, some of us have never thought this deeply about baptism. Even after over a decade in ministry, the depth of my convictions on these issues has only come recently. Thinking deeply about baptism is, ironically, just not something many Baptists do. That’s unfortunate, and a significant departure from our Baptist forebears. We are Baptists after all, so we should not be unashamed to think clearly and biblically about baptism.

3) I hope to equip you.

Many of you will have conversations with one another about baptism that I will never be privy to. Many of you have friends and family that are trusting in false baptisms. Perhaps you have a relationship with a new believer who’s thinking about baptism. I hope that there’s something you’ve gleaned from this discussion that will help you to help somebody else.

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How To Prepare For This Sunday – 05/06/2018

This Sunday, we’ll be continuing our journey through the book of Colossians. You can prepare for this Sunday’s sermon by reading Colossians 2:11-12. In last Sunday’s text Paul explained the massive significance of what it means to be in Christ. This Sunday, we’ll discover how he burrows deeper into that reality, telling a group of Gentile Christians that because they are in Christ the sign of circumcision applies to them even though they’re uncircumcised. How? Because Christ has made them alive through their faith in the Gospel, which they have publicly professed through the sign of baptism. This Sunday we’re going to dive deep into the signs of circumcision and baptism, striving to avoid the twin pitfalls of misreading or ignoring the signs.

 

Here’s a few specific ways to prepare for Sunday:

1) Pray and ask God to work in you for His glory.

2) Read and meditate on Colossians 2:11-12, our text for Sunday’s sermon.

3) Below are the songs we’ll be singing on Sunday. Click on the links to learn any you don’t know so you’re prepared to sing.

Ancient of Days

He Will Hold Me Fast

All I Have Is Christ

Great Are You Lord

 

See you Sunday!

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Christian Websites I Recommend

Image result for uncle ben peter parkerUncle Ben once told young Peter Parker that with great power comes great responsibility. Okay, so maybe it’s the most overused superhero quote of all time, but it still rings true. Especially in the digital age. The advent of the internet has proven a powerful gift to the church. Yes, it’s broadened access to a world of evils, but it’s also broadened access to a wealth of wonderful, gospel-centered resources to equip the church.

That said, just because somebody has a slick website doesn’t make them legitimate. Just because we have this powerful tool to share the gospel, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t exercise responsible discernment to ensure we’re utilizing helpful and faithful resources.

So with that in mind, here are some of the Christian websites that I recommend to you. Now of course, a recommendation here does not mean (1) that I recommend everything every posted on every site, nor does it mean that (2) I reject everything I haven’t listed here. It simply means that I commend these resources as helpful insofar as they are faithful to Scripture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Okay, here goes!

 

9marks.org

9Marks is a ministry of Mark Dever, the pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. It’s centered on what Dever calls the nine marks of a healthy church. You’ll find tons of helpful articles on church membership, church leadership, discipleship, and much more.

 

albertmohler.com

Albert Mohler offers fantastic cultural commentary from a Christian worldview. Be sure to check out his daily podcast, The Briefing.

 

cbmw.org

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood helps Christians think biblically on issues related to sex, gender, marriage, and family.

 

challies.com

Tim Challies is an independent blogger who writes a number of helpful articles focusing on things like personal holiness, local church ministry, and Christian discernment. I especially enjoy his A La Carte articles which feature a daily round-up of the Christian blogosphere. I’ve also greatly benefited from his plethora of book reviews.

 

desiringgod.org

Desiring God features the preaching and teaching resources of John Piper, among others. Few have awakened me to the glory of God’s sovereignty like Piper has, so I highly recommend the many resources from this ministry.

 

erlc.com

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention is on the front lines of many of the ethical and cultural issues of our day. Led by Russell Moore, one of my favorite Southern Baptist preachers, this ministry is invaluable for the Christian who wants to think carefully and clearly about the toughest issues in our culture.

 

ligonier.org

This is the ministry of the late R.C. Sproul, a Presbyterian pastor who faithfully and powerfully taught God’s Word. There’s a wealth of material here.

 

thegospelcoalition.org

The Gospel Coalition is a collection of resources from a host of gospel-centered pastors, teachers, authors, and bloggers. There’s literally tons of good stuff here.

 

Okay, these are just some of my favorites. What websites have proven helpful to you?

 

Image Credit: http://marvel-movies.wikia.com/wiki/File:Uncle_Ben.jpg

 

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How To Prepare for Sunday, 4/29/2018

 

 

This Sunday, we’ll be continuing our journey through the book of Colossians. Even though Christ died to set us free, Colossians 2:8-10 warns us that even Christians can return to the bondage of slavery. I hope to show you both the dangers of captivity and the way to remain free.

 

 

Here’s a few specific ways to prepare for Sunday:

1) Pray and ask God to work in you for His glory.

2) Read and meditate on Colossians 2:8-10, our text for Sunday’s sermon.

3) Below are the songs we’ll be singing on Sunday. Click on the links to learn any you don’t know so you’re prepared to sing.

You’re Worthy Of My Praise

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Revelation Song

Crown Him With Many Crowns

See you Sunday!

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How To Prepare For This Sunday, 04/22/2018

 

This Sunday, Eddie Francis will be preaching the Word to us as we continue to learn the results of confidence in Christ. you can prepare for this Sunday’s sermon by reading Colossians 2:6-7.

Although I won’t be with you on Sunday, I’ll be “with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ ” (Colossians 2:5).

 

 

Here’s a few specific ways to prepare for Sunday:

1) Pray and ask God to work in you for His glory.

2) Read and meditate on Colossians 2:6-7, our text for Sunday’s sermon.

3) Below are the songs we’ll be singing on Sunday. Click on the links to learn any you don’t know so you’re prepared to sing.

The Lion and the Lamb

Come As You Are

There Is A Redeemer

The Stand

O God, Our Help in Ages Past

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The Joys of a Multi-Generational Church

Image result for old youngPoquoson Baptist Church is a special place in many ways. It’s filled with generous, loving people who are hungry for the Word of God. It’s membership consists of saints who are happy to follow leadership grounded in truth. But perhaps what makes PBC so special to me is that it’s a multi-generational church. It’s not a church for young people or old people. It’s a church for all people. 
 
Last week we laid to rest PBC’s oldest living saint, a dear woman named Bonnie. Even at 95 years old, Ms. Bonnie was a regular participant in our morning worship gatherings. She attended weekly with her sister at her side, and loved to spent her Sunday afternoons talking with her son about the preaching and the music from the worship service.
 
Ms. Bonnie didn’t know all the songs we sang, and certainly didn’t like them all. As delirium began to overtake her on her deathbed, she told me she sometimes wished we didn’t use so many “ornaments” in our Sunday music. Apparently she was the old school kind, happy with a piano and a hymnal.
 
Nevertheless, Ms. Bonnie didn’t allow her personal preferences to keep her from experiencing the joy of the Lord in her worship. And she didn’t allow it to keep her from encouraging the next generation. One Sunday a few months ago she came to me and remarked just how much she loved hearing my 7-year-old son sing loudly in the worship service. That encouraging comment became the source of a deep relationship with Ms. Bonnie until her final days. In fact, I even wonder if God allowed Ms. Bonnie to live one final year (long after she was ready to go to heaven), just so she could have that special relationship with me and my son.
 
It’s wonderful to reflect on these things when eulogizing a departed saint. But how can we continue to cultivate this type of multi-generational environment in our church? Is there anything we can do to ensure this culture doesn’t die with the departed? Here’s a few suggestions:
 
1. Emphasize Biblical Discipleship
According to Titus 2, effective discipleship in the local church hinges on a multi-generational congregation. The older need to teach the younger. By emphasizing the necessity of biblical discipleship, your church will highlight the beauty and the importance of every saint, regardless of age.
 
2. Minimize Segregation
Too many churches are far too segregated for anything like Titus 2 disicpleship to take place. The babies are in nursery, the kids are in children’s church, the students are in youth group, and on and on it goes. Instead of a highly segregated worship service, churches should strive to maximize the times when everybody is together. Yes, it’ll be messy. No, it won’t be “cool.” But God will use it for your good and His glory.
 
3. Minimize Style
Often the churches with the least amount of generational diversity are those churches that maximize style. The churches teeming with young people often feature sophisticated lighting, expert stage performers in trendy clothing, adding up to a loud, bold, worship experience reminiscent of Friday night’s rock concert. The churches filled with gray-haired saints often feature throwback styles, filled with hymnals, Southern Gospel tunes, pianos, organs, choirs, and funeral home decor. The tragic result of both extremes is that by maximizing a style that appeals to one generation, another generation feels exiled. In the end, both extremes have a membership united by style over substanceAlthough it’s far easier said than done, churches should strive to downplay style so that style isn’t what unites us.
 
4. Diversify Leadership
The churches that reach both the young and the old are usually the churches where both the young and the old are given opportunities to serve and lead. Take a look around your congregation. Who’s in positions of leadership? Who’s on the stage during the music portion of your service? Who’s on your elder and deacon boards? Who’s on staff? Who’s teaching Sunday School classes or leading small groups? If the people filling these positions are primarily either young or old, you shouldn’t be surprised if the congregation begins to reflect its leadership. Young churches seeking to reach the elderly should rely on the wisdom of age in positions of leadership. Similarly, older churches seeking to reach the young should equip them to lead.
 
Christian, there’s joy and beauty in an multi-generational church. Is your church a place where a 95-year-old lady and a 7-year-old boy can worship the same God with the same song in the same room? Is it a place where a 95-year-old saint can encourage and be encouraged by a 7-year-old boy? 
 
Sure, we’ve got work to do. But I’m thankful that, by God’s grace, Poquoson Baptist Church is a multi-generational church.
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© M. Hopson Boutot, 2018

Image Credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27207219

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How To Prepare For This Sunday, 04/08/2018

This Sunday, we’ll be continuing our series through the book of Colossians. We’ll be zooming in on verses 28-29 of Chapter 1, and what Scripture can teach us about faithful preaching. Although a sermon about sermons might seem dull to you, watch this week’s video here to see three reasons why this should matter to every Christian.

Here’s a few specific ways to prepare for Sunday:

1) Pray and ask God to work in you for His glory.

2) Read and meditate on Colossians 1:24-29, our text for Sunday’s sermon.

3) Below are the songs we’ll be singing on Sunday. Click on the links to learn any you don’t know so you’re prepared to sing.

Blessed Be Your Name

Lead Me to the Cross

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)

Blessed Assurance

All Glory Be to Christ

See you Sunday!

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