Scriptures and Statements

  • Text: Titus 3:7-8
  • Series: We Believe, Pt. 1
  • Date: Sunday, July 8, 2018 – PM
  • Venue: Trinity Baptist Church – Seminole, Oklahoma
  • Speaker: Jared Byrns
  • Audio: mp3

Tonight we’re going to be in Titus chapter 3. We’re going to look at two verses in Titus tonight that sort of set the stage for this series that I want to try to undertake throughout the summer—and probably into the fall as well—on Sunday nights.

This last Thursday night after I got the kids to bed, I sat down and finished writing the first draft of my master’s thesis, and the whole point of it has been to go and compare what the different religions say about Jesus Christ. Don’t be confused by that: not different denominations. It’s not like what do the Baptists say, what do the Lutherans say, what do the Presbyterians say? But what do the different religions say? Because my understanding is the Jesus of Mormonism, for example, is very different from the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of Islam—You know, Jesus is mentioned a ton of times in the Quran, but the Jesus of the Quran is very different from the Jesus of the Bible.

And as I’ve spent the last six months doing this research and doing the writing—and I finished the first draft, but the final chapter—you know, I came to the conclusion that one of the things we need to do as evangelical churches is get away from the idea that doctrine is a four-letter word. I’ve heard—and I know a lot of other people in ministry who have heard—’You know, we don’t need to focus so much on doctrine, as long as we love Jesus.’ Which Jesus you love is a doctrinal question. And I think there’s a lot of Biblical illiteracy in our country. I think there’s a lot of illiteracy in our churches of the things of God, because too often I think we are willing to forego the deeper things of God, the deeper things of doctrine in favor of tickling the itching ears. Paul wrote about that in one of his letters to Timothy; he talked about people having itching ears.[1] They wouldn’t want to hear the truth. And one of the things that I wrote about in here is that we as evangelical churches need to do a better job of making sure our people understand the truth of Who Jesus is—and understand it not as an abstract idea, but understand Who He is and the impact that that has on our understanding of salvation.

You know, you start messing with Who Jesus is, and you get off the rails on the doctrine of salvation real quick. And that has grave consequences for us. The pastors need to know Who does the Bible say Jesus is, and they need to be able to train the people to know who Jesus is. What does the Bible say about Jesus versus what does Oprah, for example, say about Jesus? They’re not the same thing, and we need to be prepared to recognize that, and we need to be prepared to share the truth. We need to be prepared to explain to a world who’s very confused, Who Jesus is.

And so this came back around to the idea of we need to train people in the truth, in the basics. The more I’ve thought about that, the more I realized it’s not just the truth about Jesus, but it’s all the truth that affects our understanding of who Jesus is. It’s all the basics of the message, and I don’t think there’s ever a wrong time to train us in the truth, the basics of what the Bible teaches and the things that we believe. And so over the next, as I said, several weeks, we’re going to be studying what do we believe. Now, there’s no way I could cover all of that in one series, but the point is, these are some of the basic things that we believe. Who is God? Who is Jesus? What do we understand the Bible to be? What is the way of salvation? What is our responsibility as the church? Some of these basic questions that we as Christians—and in particular we as Baptists—believe.

And I’m not coming at this from a standpoint of, ‘These things are right because we’re Baptist, and we say so.’ Just because the Baptist Faith and Message says it doesn’t make it true. The Baptist Faith and Message—which, if you don’t know, is the name of our doctrinal statement, as Southern Baptists—those things are true insofar as they are accurate reflections of what the Bible teaches. That’s part of what we’re going to talk about tonight. At no point should you interpret any of this as saying, ‘Well, because the Southern Baptist Convention said it, that’s the way it is.’ Now, hopefully, the Southern Baptist Convention is taking its lead from Scripture and saying, this is what we understand the Bible to teach.’

Now, look with me if you would real quick at Titus chapter 3. We’re going to look at two verses here. This is right after Paul has explained to Titus all throughout chapter 3, really, I think, the beauty of salvation because he starts out in chapter 3 talking about how wicked we are, how far we fall short of God’s standard for us. And then he says, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done.”[2] He’s talking about the Gospel here.

Okay, so he ends up in verse 7, saying, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” And this is our message, that God has justified us by His grace and that because of that we are heirs of eternal life. Now, justified means we have a clean slate before God. It means that this account where God looks and sees all the sin that we’ve done—and if you can imagine that it’s written down and there’s an account somewhere, a ledger where God’s keeping track of all your sins. I can only guess at how many filing cabinets it would take to contain my ledger. But God has looked at that and said, ‘That’s no longer being held against you. You have a clean slate. The ledger book is empty.’ That’s justification.

We’re justified not by our works, not by our goodness, but he says, “Justified by His grace.” Just because God is gracious enough, because God is kind enough to look at us and say, ‘You deserve death. You deserve destruction. You deserved separation from me, but instead, I’m going to justify you, and I’m going to not hold any of this sin against you. Not because you’ve earned it, but because Jesus paid for it and I’m good enough—I’m kind enough to give you that gift.’ We are justified by His grace, and then we’re made “heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” He gives us eternal life, which again, we do not deserve. I know me. The more I understand about myself, the less impressed I am with myself. I know my sin. I know what I deserve from God, and it’s not eternal life. And yet God looks at us and says, ‘Because I’m kind and because Jesus paid for your sins in full I’m going to give you eternal life.’

So what he’s talking about here is the message of the Gospel. And he says the message that the church preaches, this Gospel that the church preaches—because he is writing to a young pastor here—He says, ‘This is important.’ This is what he’s emphasizing all throughout chapter 3 is the Gospel.

And then we get to verse 8, and he says, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” Okay, he’s talking about the Gospel in verse 7—all the way through verse 7. He’s talking about the Gospel and then in verse 8 he says, “This is a faithful saying.” That means this is a teaching that is trustworthy. This is something that you can take to the bank. He’s assuring Titus; he’s saying, ‘I want you to realize that when, when you’re proclaiming the Gospel—when you heard the Gospel, and you responded to the Gospel, and now you are in turn taking the Gospel to others, that what you are teaching is God’s truth. It is a faithful saying.’

And what he’s doing here is, he’s encouraging Titus to believe the truth. Folks, this whole series is going to be about the fact that it matters what we believe. It matters what we believe. And again, I know I touched on this earlier, but a lot of people will say, ‘Well, doctrine doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you believe.’ I’ve given you the example before—it’s been a long time ago—reading a Charles Colson book and him giving the example of some of the churches in the Boston area. These churches were founded by the Puritans; they were founded by the pilgrims: very staunch believers. We wouldn’t agree with them on everything, but they were at least orthodox in most aspects of their belief. And they stood firm for the Gospel. In 1800—1810, around in there, a lot of these churches in the Boston area that had been founded by the Puritans founded by the pilgrims. They were called Congregational churches, and some of them started to listen to these teachers who called themselves Unitarians. And what they were teaching was that God is one—we believe that God is one; we’re monotheists; we believe there’s one God. But they were saying there’s one God and one Person of God. Okay, you can kind of make it sound like that’s what the Bible’s saying. I don’t believe that’s what the Bible teaches. I believe in the Trinity, but they started to compromise on that, and they listened to these guys who, other than that, were fairly Biblical in their thinking. They just happened to believe that God… you know, there’s just one God and one Person.

Well, the problem with that was then people started to take it a little bit further and say, ‘Well, God is just one Person, and that’s the Father. Jesus is not actually God.’ Uh-oh! You start getting into all kinds of problems when Jesus is not God. If Jesus is not God, He’s not the once-and-for-all sacrifice that Hebrews points Him out to be. If Jesus is not God, then the stuff He claimed about Himself in the Gospels is not true. Jesus was confused or lying. There are all kinds of problems. And then the movement just spiraled from there, and within the next hundred years, theological Liberalism started to bleed into these Congregational churches. And they were saying, ‘Well, the virgin birth, you know that that’s a symbol. It’s an allegory. That didn’t really happen. The resurrection, you know, people don’t come back to life in physical form. It was a spiritual thing.’ And they started explaining the way all the miracles and all the things that God did and saying, ‘We’re too smart to believe that.’ And they started stripping all of the supernatural elements out of Christianity. That same movement is what formed into what we call today the United Church of Christ. Theologically, that entire denomination is out in left field, saying that God’s Word changes over time. And they were among the first to ordain women, among the first to perform same-sex ceremonies. That entire movement that led up to this and several other denominations that have followed suit began back around 1800 when some churches in Boston started thinking, ‘Well, maybe the Trinity is not that important.’

It’s important what we believe. What we believe it has consequences. And in my study, I’ve been reading about some of these religions that think the physical world is an illusion. If I believe that it has consequences. If I believe I can go stand out in the middle of Highway 99 or just lie down across Highway 99, and it doesn’t matter because it’s all an illusion anyway, I’m going to be splattered all over the highway and all over the 10 o’clock news. Right? They’re maybe not always that dramatic, but our beliefs have consequences.

And so he’s pointing out to them and saying, ‘This is what you need to believe. The Gospel is what you need to believe. It’s trustworthy. It’s faithful.’ He’s telling him, ‘We should believe the Gospel. We should believe the truth.’ But then he says, not only, “This is a faithful saying.” He says, “These things I will that thou affirm constantly.” He’s saying we should affirm the truth.

See, it’s important that we believe things that are true from a theological standpoint, from a doctrinal standpoint. It’s important that we as a church and we as individuals in the church believe things that are true; things that are Biblical; things, folks, that have always been true and will always be true. It’s important that we believe the truth. It’s also important that we affirm the truth. That word affirm means we admit that it’s true. He says, ‘I want you to affirm these things constantly. I want you to be telling people, “Yes, I believe these things are true.”’

We talk so much about the moral confusion, the spiritual decay, the Biblical illiteracy going on in our country; and it’s easy to shake our fists at Hollywood or Washington. It’s easy to blame the people outside, but I think the churches are just as much to blame for what happens in our country. I think the churches are just as much to blame for the heart of the country turning cold toward the God of the Bible when at some point we were intimidated into keeping our mouths shut. Is Jesus the only way to Heaven? Absolutely He is, and we nod our heads in here, and we would say absolutely. If you’re confronted with that by somebody out in the street who thinks it’s narrow-minded, are you going to be as quick to shake your head? I would hope so.

Folks, we’ve got pastors going on national cable news shows refusing to answer that question in a clear way. Larry King asked a pastor, ‘Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?’ And he said, ‘Well, you know, it’s really not for me to say. I can’t judge what’s in their heart.’[3] You are the pastor of one of the largest supposedly evangelical churches in this country! How can you not answer that? I wouldn’t have graduated somebody out of my second grade Sunday school class if they couldn’t answer that question: is Jesus the only way to God? I don’t know if he was scared of the backlash. I don’t know what his problem was, honestly. I just sat there shaking my head. And then you’ve got pastors who get beat up on then because they go on these shows and someone will say, ‘Is Jesus the only way to God?’ ‘Absolutely.’ ‘So somebody is going to Hell if they’ve never heard?’ ‘Well, according to my reading of the Bible…’ and they get eaten alive. And there’s some point where we go, ‘You know, I’m not going to deny this, but maybe it’d just be easier to keep my mouth shut.’

Well, sure it would be easier. It would be easier if we didn’t have to go tell people about Jesus. It might be easier if we didn’t have to take difficult stands; if we didn’t have to say things that were uncomfortable. It might be easier if we didn’t have to do any of those things, but that’s not what we’ve been called to do. We shouldn’t go out of our way to offend, but we shouldn’t shy away from the truth either. He said, ‘I want you to affirm these things constantly.’ So when the questions are asked about God’s word, the church and the members of the church should speak with confidence, with conviction, and with Biblical clarity, and say, ‘These are the things that God’s Word says.’

Because he’s talking about the Gospel—the Gospel, where Jesus alone is the way to Heaven, where we are wretched sinners, and God loved us anyway, he says, ‘This is what you need to affirm constantly.’ Not just one time. Not just saying, ‘We believe it,’ one time; we started the church in whatever year, and we adopted this as our doctrinal statement, so that’s what we believe. No, this is our voice. This is what we say to the world: that we believe that Jesus died to save sinners. So when it comes to the truth, it’s not enough for us just to believe it. We need to affirm it. We need to admit it. We need to share it.

And it teaches that we should be changed by the truth because the next part of verse 8 says, “That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” He says, ‘You need to believe these things. These are faithful. These are trustworthy sayings or teachings, which I want you to affirm constantly.’ In other words, you need to believe it. You need to speak it. You need to affirm it. But also you need to be changed by it. You need to say these things. You need to teach these things. You need to stand firm on these things so that the people will be encouraged, will be challenged to follow God and be obedient to Him; that they would be careful to maintain good works.

Now, this is not teaching that we’re saved by good works. He says those who have believed God would be careful to maintain good works—that we actually do something with our beliefs. As I’ve said earlier, beliefs have consequences, and our beliefs should have consequences. If I believe that God has rescued me out of this mire, out of this pit of sin; and that He’s picked me up, even though I don’t deserve it; and He’s cleaned me off; I’ve been washed in the blood of Jesus; my sins are forgiven, even though I didn’t deserve that forgiveness; and now He set me on the straight and narrow; I’m adopted into His family; all these things that we’ve been talking about on Sunday mornings that accompany salvation—If I believe that, it ought to change the way I live. When I get up in the morning, I ought to be thinking how grateful I am to God and wanting to please Him and try to do everything I can to please Him and show Him how grateful I am. Not because that’s how I get Him to love me, not because that’s how I get Him to save me; He’s already done that. But because I just want to please the One Who did all that for me.

And so he teaches here that we should believe the truth. We should affirm the truth. We should be changed by the truth. And as we go through this series over the next several weeks, I want us to keep those things in mind. What we study is not just doctrine so that we can have a head full of knowledge, say, ‘Wasn’t that interesting?’ and then tuck it away somewhere in our notes and go on with our lives. The truth of God’s Word is something that we need to believe in the very core of our being. It’s something we need to stand up for even when it’s uncomfortable, even when we’re intimidated, even when the world tries to intimidate us into silence. And we need to let it change us to be more like Jesus Christ. If we believe these things, then certain behaviors should follow. And so because Paul told the church, told the church on Crete, the island of Crete, that Titus was the pastor of—he’s saying to them, ‘I want you to affirm these things constantly. I want you to speak the truth.’

Throughout history, God’s people have always adopted statements saying, ‘This is what we believe.’ And there are a few of them. If you’ll look at Acts chapter 15—you can turn there with me tonight if you want to—I don’t have time to go through all of Acts chapter 15 tonight, but I’d encourage you to go back and read it for yourselves later. In Acts chapter 15, people started preaching in the Church at Antioch that you had to convert to Judaism to be saved. You needed Jesus, but you also had to be circumcised, you had to go through all these rituals, you needed all these things. You needed to follow the Law of Moses so Jesus could save you. And it really caused some trouble at the Church at Antioch, and they went back to the Church at Jerusalem where the apostles were and said, ‘What do you think we should do?’ And you read throughout chapter 15 of the book of Acts, and you see them deliberating. You see them discussing. And then they come out with what I think is the very first doctrinal statement by one of the churches. Now, granted, it only addressed this question. It wasn’t the long document that we have today, but we see one of the first times that the church says, ‘This is what we believe. Here’s the statement. We’ve all agreed on it. This is what we believe.’

And in verses 28 and 29, it says, “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” So that answered the question, ‘Do you have to follow the Old Testament law in order to be saved?’ Their answer was a definitive no. And in these verses, they’re not saying these things are things you have to do to be saved. That would be a really weird list of things to do to be saved.

But this whole thing grew up because of conflict between the Jewish-background Christians and the Christians who had been saved out of a Greek pagan lifestyle. And the ones who had been Greek pagans still might’ve gone and eaten meat that was sacrificed to idols. They didn’t care. They didn’t believe in the idols anymore. It didn’t matter. That really offended the Jewish believers. And some overreacted, reacted and said, ‘Uh, you need to follow our Law in order to be saved.’ And so what they did was come back and said, ‘You know what? Stay away from meat offered to idols. Stay away from blood. Stay away from things that are strangled.’ Because those things were involved in idol worship. That’s what they were. Those were things that were involved in idol worship. They’d do these weird rituals where they’d offer the animal and then they’d eat it. They said, ‘Stay away from those things.’ Not in order to be saved, but in order not to offend your brothers. ‘And by the way,’ it says, ‘stay away from fornication.’ Keep yourself to yourself because you don’t want to have a bad witness. And so it’s very simple. These aren’t rules for salvation. This is advice to believers saying, ‘If you want to have a good witness, this is what you need to do.’

But they went back and said, ‘This is what we believe the Holy Spirit lead us to believe. This is our answer on that doctrinal issue.’ Do you have to follow the Old Testament Law to be saved? They said no. And then we see in I Corinthians 15, Paul doesn’t come out and say that this is a creed or a confession, but historians believe that it was taken—what he’s written here was part of one of the very earliest doctrinal statements by the churches—where he says, “Christ died for our sins.” This is I Corinthians 15:3-7—“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve.” (Peter is Cephas, by the way.) “Then of the twelve. After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.”

It’s a statement of what the church believed. We believe that Jesus died to pay for our sins as the Bible said He would and that we believe that he was buried and he rose again the third day like the Bible said he would, and we believe it’s proven that he rose again by all the people that he was seen by. And we can name names for you, and here they are; go ask them. So it’s the church’s way of saying, we believe this, this is the truth, this is what we stand on. They were affirming the truth of the Gospel. And there’re all sorts of other times that this has happened throughout history.

There’s The Apostles’ Creed—basic Christian teaching. There are some things at the end about Jesus descending into Hell that I don’t agree with. But in general, a basic statement of saying, this is what we as Christians generally believe. It’s very firm on Jesus dying and rising again from the dead. We believe in Jesus. This isn’t some spiritual thing. He really died for us, and He really rose again from the dead.

There was The Nicene Creed that they adopted in 325 because people were teaching weird things about Jesus’s nature. They were saying, ‘he’s fully human. Oh, no he’s fully God. He’s not both, he’s one or the other,’ or they just got weird ideas. And the churches came together and said, we need to settle this.

There was The Athanasian Creed where people were teaching wrong things about God’s nature. And they came back with The Athanasian Creed and said, let’s talk about the Trinity and let’s explain what Christianity believes about the Trinity.

I know I’ve talked to you about Luther’s 95 Theses, where he nailed the letters to the door of the Wittenberg castle church. The reason he nailed those to the door was because the Catholic church was selling indulgences: little pieces of paper that you could pay for where it says the Pope promises your sins are forgiven, and you’re going to Heaven. And Luther was a Catholic monk, but he looked at the Bible, and he said, ‘What? It promises what now?’ And he wrote up 95 points of disagreement with the Catholic Church on that subject and nailed them to the door. And lots of churches went with that and said, ‘This is the truth,’ not because Luther said it; because the Bible backs it up.

So God’s people have a long history of adopting statements that say, ‘This is what we believe.’ that’s not just some political nonsense that the churches just want to stay divided. That’s what God’s word tells us to do: to affirm the truth constantly. That’s our job. This is what we believe. This is what God’s word says, and so we’ve all got these statements; that’s what theBaptist Faith and Message is that we’re going to look at over the next few weeks. So real quick, what these statements, these—I don’t care if you call them confessions—I don’t necessarily like the name creed because some people think that means it has authority and you have to believe that —like it’s equal with the Bible. But whether you call it a confession, a creed, a doctrinal statement, statement of faith, it doesn’t matter; there are some things that these all have in common, just real quick.

First of all, the things they’re not: they’re not equal to the Scriptures, at least in our understanding; they’re not equal to the Scriptures. If the Baptist Faith and Messagedisagrees with the Bible, throw the Baptist Faith and Message away. Okay? Not only that, The Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Athanasian Creed, any piece of paper drawn up by man. If it disagrees with the Bible, the Bible comes first. The Bible is the whole list, okay? They’re not authoritative, so you can’t look at somebody and say, ‘Well, that’s a sin because the Baptist Faith and Message said so.’ Who are these people that wrote the Baptist Faith and Message and who made them God? No, the Bible says what sin is. TheBaptist Faith and Message can be an accurate portrayal of that, but it’s not authoritative. It’s not what we look to to say, is this right or wrong?

Doctrinal statements, they’re not binding on the local church from outside. They’ve adopted the Baptist Faith and Message three times. That doesn’t mean that has to be ours. Now our church has adopted it; I’ve seen it in the bylaws when I came here; I was glad to see that. But that doesn’t mean that because some group voted on it in some convention somewhere else that suddenly Trinity is bound to that. We can draw up our own if we wanted to. They’re not binding on the local churches.

They’re also not exhausted. They don’t say everything that we believe. You know, we might have different views on the end times. There’s nothing that I can remember saying it’s all going to happen in this order and you have to believe it. So it’s not a list of everything we believe. It’s saying these are the basic things that we agree on.

What these statements are, they’re clear affirmations of Biblical truth. I don’t care what somebody’s doctrinal statement says; I don’t care what our doctrinal statement says if it’s not rooted in what the Bible says. So that’s where it draws its authority. Okay? Sort of like when Benjamin goes to tell Madeleine to clean up, she’s not going to listen to him. Half the time she won’t listen to us, but she’s definitely not going to listen to him. He doesn’t have the authority to tell her to clean up her room. But when Charla or I say, ‘Go tell Madeleine to clean up for dinner,’ then it has some authority. Half the time though, he’ll go in there and say, ‘Clean up for dinner.’ She’ll ignore him, and I’ll say, ‘No, go say, “Daddy said, ‘Clean up for dinner.’”’ The Baptist Faith and Message s like Benjamin. The Nicene Creed is like Benjamin. But in that analogy, it’s the Bible’s authority coming from God, because He said so.

They’re clear rejections of false teachings. A lot of the times when churches have adopted these things, it’s been because there’s some kind of controversy going on where people have gotten some really wrong ideas and the church says, ‘You know what? We’ve got to set the record straight.’ I’ll give you a couple of other examples. They came out with the Nashville Declaration[4] last year, which I thought was a very gracious statement of what the Bible teaches—It wasn’t a Southern Baptist document. It was sort of a broad evangelical document, but I thought it was a very gracious statement of what the Bible says about marriage, sexuality, and gender, all of these things. And there were things in there saying, ‘We believe marriage is one man and one woman;’ ‘We deny that God hates homosexuals.’ I mean, it was in there: we’re supposed to love people. I thought it was very gracious. The world reacted like they had been invaded by Mongol hordes. Go Google the Nashville Declaration and look at some of the news coverage about it. But there’s all this controversy about marriage and about the family and about what gender is, and the Bible speaks to that, so we’re going to adopt this statement.

Back in the 1970s, there was discussion about whether or not the Bible is inerrant, whether or not the Bible is authoritative, and so there was the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.[5] Each part of that started out with we believe, or we deny; you know, ‘We believe the Bible is God’s Word;’ ‘We deny that it changes over time.’ That’s kind of an example—That’s not exactly what it says, but you can go read that too, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

It’s usually when there’s confusion, and people are getting wrong ideas, and the church has to hold up its hands and say, ‘Wait a minute! Stop the madness. Let’s look at this. That’s not what God teaches.’ So we’ll adopt statements, and they’re rallying points for church unity. We’re not going to agree over everything, but we should be able to agree on some basic fundamental things. But the things we’re going to go over—I’m trying to help you understand why any doctrinal statement matters. Because God’s Word says we’re to affirm the truth constantly. And these are not our authority, but they are expressions of what we believe the Bible teaches.

Why do we have them? You know the Southern Baptist Convention didn’t adopt a doctrinal statement until 1925. It was founded in 1845, didn’t adopt a doctrinal statement until 1925, and the reason they did that is because this theological Liberalism was spreading throughout American churches, where people were beginning to believe in evolution. People were beginning to reject the virgin birth, beginning to reject the deity of Christ, beginning to reject the physical resurrection. They were trying, as I’ve said before, to strip all the supernatural elements out of the Bible and just sort of turn it into a… Jesus as a good ethical teacher. And in 1925, the Southern Baptists got together and said, we need to make a statement about these things.[6] And it started out with we believe the Bible’s the word of God. We believe Jesus is God. We believe these things. So it was written in response to these ideas that were creeping into our churches.

In 1963, they had to come back and try to revise it to make it stronger because in the 1960s, Suddenly you’ve got all these attacks on the authority of Scripture that had grown out of the heresies of the 1920s and earlier. And people were saying, ‘Well, it’s the Word of God, but that just means God speaks through it. It’s not His literal words; His words are in it.’ And they came back in 1963, and they said, ‘We need to firm up what we say about the Bible being the Word of God,’ and so they adopted revisions to it[7] and said, ‘This is what we believe.’

By the year 2000, they came back, and they revised it again because there was a statement in the 1963 version that wasn’t clear enough. It said Jesus is the criterion for interpreting the Bible. And Liberals within the convention had taken that and said, ‘Well, that means the Bible isn’t the word of God. We need to look at everything through the lens of Jesus,’ which I agree with—all Scripture testifies to Jesus. But what they were doing was they were looking at passages in the Old Testament and such and saying, ‘Well, that doesn’t sound like something Jesus would say. Therefore it’s not the Word of God.’ That doesn’t work. And on top of that, there were questions about the family going on around the year 2000. There were questions about God’s design for marriage. There were questions about the sanctity of life, and Southern Baptists all over the country got together and said, ‘Wait a minute! God’s Word speaks to this. We’ve got to stop the madness.’ And so in the year, 2000, they adopted an updated Baptist Faith and Message,[8]which is what this church has adopted, which is what we’re going to talk about over the next few weeks. Not because it says it, but what do we believe God’s Word says? So that’s what we’re going to do over the next several weeks: look at some of these doctrines that are found in the Baptist Faith and Message—not to study it.

I’m not going to bring you in here and study a manmade document. I hear about pastors who’ve preached from magazine articles. Just go home! You’re not doing anybody any favors preaching from a magazine article. Preach God’s Word or get out. But we’re going to follow along and let that sort of give us topics that we’re then going to go to God’s Word and say, ‘What does it say here?’ Because it’s important for us to shore up the foundations every once in a while saying, ‘What do we believe,’ and affirm it. Affirm God’s Word; affirm the truth of God’s Word constantly: that’s our job as the church. That’s what we’re going to do over the next few weeks.

[1]II Timothy 4:3.

[2]Titus 3:4-5.

[3]Paraphrased from Larry King’s interview with Joel Osteen, CNN, 20 June 2005, http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/lkl.01.html.

[4]“Nashville Statement,” Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement/.

[5]“Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” Dallas Theological Seminary, http://library.dts.edu/Pages/TL/Special/ICBI_1.pdf.

[6]“Comparison of 1925, 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message,” Southern Baptist Convention,http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfmcomparison.asp.

[7]“Comparison of 1925, 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message,” Southern Baptist Convention,http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfmcomparison.asp.

[8]“Baptist Faith and Message (2000),” Southern Baptist Convention, http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp.

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The above text is a rush transcript of the message and may contain errors.

© 2018, Jared Byrns. All rights reserved.