September 27

Dr. J. H. Campbell said of Humphrey Posey, in his book“Georgia Baptists,” that he was “naturally one of the greatest of men, and for his limited opportunities, one of the greatest preachers he had ever known. His person, his countenance, his voice, the throes of his gigantic mind, the conceptions of his large Christian soul – all proclaimed him great.” Brother Posey dedicated himself to the evangelism of the Cherokee Indians – people who lived throughout the mountains from Northern Georgia, through Tennessee and into North Carolina. His plan was to move to Cherokee County, NC, establish an 80-acre farm and open his heart and home to the local natives. On this day in 1821, after hearing that a group of brethren from Philadelphia were coming to help him, he wrote to his supporters, “Our school is doing very well; 40 Cherokees are still improving fast… I humbly hope day is broke in this wilderness. I have been able to undergo the fatigues of my situation entirely cheerful since I understood the dear brethren and sisters were coming on this fall. O for a heart of thankfulness to the Great Giver of all good, for His loving-kindness to the children of men.” Soon after the letter was sent, twenty-six people, including a preacher, several teachers, a blacksmith, farmers and a doctor arrived. The sacrifice of Brother Posey and others proved to be fruitful. By the time of the Cherokees’ removal to Oklahoma in 1838 hundreds had been converted and formed into churches. Just six years later, all the churches had new meet-houses in their new location; there was a...

They Confessed their Sins – Nehemiah 9:1-3

This evening we’re going to deal with a word which is commonly emphasized in some denominations, but probably not mentioned enough among fundamental Baptists. For some it is an essential part of their doctrine of salvation. But for those whose salvation is based on grace, this Biblical precept is often ignored. Even though it is crucial for good fellowship with the Saviour. “And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and CONFESSED their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.” Forty-four times the words “confess,” “confessed” and “confession” are found in the Bible. They come from two Hebrew words and two Greek words. Two of those references are here in our text. The two Hebrew words are closely related, and a part of their root means – “to throw open one’s arms.” Picture a guilty man standing before his judge spreading his arms apart and exposing his heart in surrender. The Greek words are “exomologeo”and “homologeo” – both containing the Greek for “word.” The idea is to “speak out” – and in “homologeo” there is the idea of “speaking out with an agreement.” Agreeing with God about sin is a part of repentance. Sadly, some people are willing to confess their sins, but not to repent and renounce their sins. Some people are willing to confess their sins to a priest, but unlike the people in our scripture, they are unwilling to confess their sins to God. Those forty-four references speak about two different kinds of “confessions.” When they are rendered down to their very bones, they are admissions – acknowledgments. You might say that...

Why Have Convictions about Baptism – Matthew 3:13-17

In a few minutes we are going to hold a baptismal service. Sadly, we don’t have the privilege of observing this ordinance often enough. So it’s important to stop and consider the subject once in a while. There are new Christians who need to be baptized and to go on in their service of the Lord. And it is good for the seasoned Christian to stop and think about his baptism from time to time. Under the circumstances, I thought that this would be a good time to look at this theme once again. The ordinance of baptism is something for which there are extremes on both sides. There those people who believe that salvation is by grace, and they are content to stop right there. They are spiritual minimalists, satisfied to trust the Lord, and they ignore everything else. “Christ,” they say, “nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.” Unfortunately for them, Jesus said, “If you really love me keep my commandments.” Such lack of love and obedience to the Lord gives testimony to self-will and a wicked heart. Many of those who willfully reject baptism probably are in rebellion against the King in other ways. They need to repent of their wickedness and pray to God, if perhaps these thoughts of their hearts might be forgiven. Those who refuse baptism are often not born again, and this explains their rebellion. Then there are the people whom Satan has deluded into believing that baptism washes away sins. These include Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Church of Christ, Mormons, Eastern Orthodox, etc. etc. etc. I think that this one heresy has...

September 20

Unlike New England, the Colony of Virginia nodded towards the Church of England as the only legal religious denomination within its borders. But the priests and prelates in Virginia arrived with the same hypocrisy and licentious behavior which drove the Puritans from the Anglican church in England and to the shores of Plymouth and Massachusetts. As Baptists from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England began to enter the colony, preaching repentance and a regenerated church membership, the Anglican clergy became furious. And when their constituents began to surrender to the Lord, joining the burgeoning Baptist congregations, the full force of the law was leveled against both preachers and their converts. In early September 1773 warrants were issued for the arrest of Nathaniel Saunders and William McClannahan who were teaching and preaching “Contrary to the Laws and Usages of the Kingdom of Great Britain, raising Sedition & Stirring up Strife amongst his Majestie’s Liege People.” On this day  in 1773, Nathaniel Saunders appeared before the court and was charged according to the warrant. Speaking in his own defense, he was unable to turn the predetermined minds of his accusers. He was found guilty and charged £200 (about $1,000), which the government knew was impossible for any ordinary man to pay. Then in “leniency” the court merely prohibited him “to teach, preach or exhort for the space of one year,” but he would not consent. Bro. Saunders accepted the alternative of going to the Culpeper jail, where he spent an undetermined period of time. Culpeper is infamous for imprisoning more Baptist preachers than any other county in Virginia or the rest...

Separation – Nehemiah 9:1-5

The book I am currently reading is entitled, “An Anthology of the Early Baptists in Rhode Island.” It is 600 pages of historical documents from 17th and 18th century. To say the least, it is difficult, but sometimes interesting, reading. As you should know, Rhode Island was founded on Baptistic principles. It was the first colony or state in the world to offer total religious liberty to anyone who chose to live there. And as a result, after the first few decades, Quakers, Anglicans, Antinomians, Arminians and others began to move in. And they lived peaceably among each other – totally unlike the colonies around them – Connecticut, Massachusetts and Plymouth. But – when it came to church membership, the Baptist church pastored by John Clarke, received only people who had been born again and immersed in water as a testimony of their faith in Christ. Religiously, the First Baptist Church had spiritual fellowship only with those who held to similar doctrines. Jerusalem, in Nehemiah’s day, was much like early Rhode Island. It was typical of cities around the world – both then and today. Its residents included a wide variety of people – including different races and religions. But for the most part they got along well enough, until their religions got involved. There were occasions when Nehemiah and Ezra demanded that God’s people separate themselves from the unbelievers because they intended to take care of something spiritual. And on 24th of Tishri in about the year 445 BC they again made that demand of the people of Jerusalem. I would not be surprised to learn that the...

The Feast of Tabernacles – Nehemiah 8:13-18

This chapter begins on the first day of Tishri – the Jewish New Year according to one calendar – and the seventh month of the year according to the other. It was also the first day of three important Festivals – Trumpets, Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement. On this occasion, the day began with a brief prayer followed by reading some of God’s Law. Ezra may have selected Leviticus or perhaps Numbers or Deuteronomy. And after six hours of reading and instruction, he probably approached Leviticus 23 or it might have been Numbers 29 – both of which speak of the Fall Feasts. After taking a break for the evening, on the second day of the month, the people regathered – perhaps at dawn once again. They had tasted that the Word of God is good, and they thirsted for more. Notice that, included at Ezra’s feet, where the dozen men who had stood beside him the day before. The experts in the law were admitting they were not as proficient as they had thought, and in humility they assembled with the rest of the nation to learn the will of the Lord. As the reading proceeded, the people began to realize that they were in the midst of a very sacred time of the year. Coming up was the second festival of the season – the Feast of Tabernacles. Everyone was so excited about the Lord’s recent blessings and what God’s Word was telling them that they immediately made preparations for this second celebration. It is said in verse 17 – “And all the congregation of them...

September 13

John Taylor Jones was born into a Massachusetts Congregational family. While he was attending Andover College in preparation of becoming a Protestant minister, the Lord taught him the truth, and he began to attend the Baptist’s Newton Seminary. He was baptized and joined the Federal Street Baptist Church in Boston. In February 1831, Bro. and Mrs. Jones traveled to Moulmein, Burma where John quickly learned the Burmese and Taling languages. Taling was spoken by one of the tribes living in Siam. When the brethren decided to expand their ministry into Siam, John Jones was the most qualified to lead the way. After his arrival in Bangkok, it was clear that to have the Bible in the Taling language was extremely important, so along with regularly preaching, Jones applied himself to the monumental task of translation. In addition to the New Testament and several gospel tracts, Jones left important notes for future missionaries to use in their on-going work among the Talings. While on his last furlough in America, Columbian College honored Bro. Jones with the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Afterward he returned to Siam, where following an attack of dysentery the Lord called him home. His passing was on this day in...

The Congregation in Worship – Nehemiah 8:5-6

This evening, we are dealing with a couple things which have always confused me. We have all heard good Baptist people refer to the Sunday morning service as a “Worship Service,” but I’ve often wondered where the worship is. My preference is to think of the 11 o’clock hour as a “preaching service” – a gospel service. The only worship that might take place in the average Baptist Sunday morning service is through 15 minutes of hymns and the 3 minutes of prayer scattered throughout the hour. I’m not proud of the fact, but Baptists are, generally speaking, not very worshipful. Having said that, Nehemiah 8 describes an evangelistic meeting of sorts, where there is a hint of worship. Depending on the hearts of us modern Baptists, perhaps we can join these worshipers. And that leads to my second question of the evening – do you see Ezra “blessing the Lord”? “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.” What is it to bless the Lord? Maybe you have no problem with the word, but it has confused me, because I know the meaning of the Hebrew word. A great throng of people gathered in the street before the water gate, begging to hear the Word of God. A pulpit had been built so that Ezra and his helpers could be seen and heard by the crowd. The man of God then read the scriptures for about 6 hours. I think we have a summary of the morning in verses 2-4, and verse 5 actually describes how the day began. It appears to me that before he started reading,...

August 6

At the close of the Revolutionary war Robert Carter was one of the wealthiest men in Virginia, owning 70,000 acres. He was a friend of other rich and powerful people including Thomas Jefferson. On this day (September 6) in 1778, Carter faced an audience of about 400 and clearly explained his conversion experience. He had been saved by the grace of God through the ministry of Lewis Lundsford. Lunsford then led him into the waters of Totuskey Creek and baptized him. Carter’s friends and neighbors thought he had lost his mind by rejecting the church of his ancestors and aligning himself with the despised Baptists. His conversion had been remarkable and obvious. His world had been literally turned upside down – he had rejected the religion of Thomas Jefferson and embraced the religion of Jefferson’s slaves. A few months earlier, in July of 1778, Carter wrote to his friend Jefferson: “I had imbibed the very destructive notion touching the religion of revelation that it was of human institution only, and that the civil powers had closed in with it for temporal advantage; only it does not appear fit to mention here the probable motives that led to this deistical opinion. I do now disclaim it and do testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and that through Him (only) mankind can be...

Joyful Strength – Nehemiah 8:1-12

Our text this evening are the famous words of verse10 – “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Let me begin with a warning, I run the risk of making a few people slightly angry with me. How can I anger people by talking about joy? By destroying their misconceptions. In our English Bibles we read, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” While that is a perfectly acceptable translation, we usually read those words with our own definitions in mind, but our definitions and ideas might be different from the Lord’s. As I mentioned last Sunday, what Nehemiah said that day was more literally – “the joy, which comes from God, is your stronghold.” Since I gave you my introduction to this statement Sunday morning, you can expect me to be brief tonight. Let’s start with the context – always a good place to start in any Bible study. For six hours Ezra, with the help of his staff, had been reading and explaining some major part of God’s Word. They read from Moses’ Law. Considering the fact that this was the Feast of Trumpets, and the next few days were leading up to the Day of Atonement, I believe what was being read was not Genesis or chapters from the history of Israel. And when we see the people’s reaction, I am even more convinced, that these were the laws and statutes which God commanded Israel. Notice verse 1 once again, “and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had COMMANDED to Israel.” “Commanded...