July 22

On this day (July 22) 1575 two men were carried from England’s Newgate prison to Smithfield where they were tied to stakes and burned to death. One was a husband with a wife and nine children and the other was married but as yet without a family. Their crime was nothing more than believing and sharing the truth of God – Baptist doctrine. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. When laying the cornerstone of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, C.H. Spurgeon told the crowd of witnesses, “We [Baptists] did not commence our existence at the Reformation; we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came out of the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves… Our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a season, have always had honest and holy adherents. [We have been] persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect.” Persecuted by Catholics and Protestants. About the middle of the 16th century John Calvin began to have some influence in the religious affairs of England. As well as promoting the Reformation, he urged the persecution of the Anabaptists. In a letter to Henry VIII, Elizabeth’s Father, he wrote “it is far better that two or three (Anabaptists] be burn than thousands perish in hell.” And in a letter to Lord Protector Somerset he wrote, “These [Anabaptsts] altogether deserve to be well punished by the sword, seeing that they do conspire against God, who had set [Henry] in his royal seat.”...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:23

  In Matthew 20 the Lord Jesus gives us one of the Kingdom of Heaven parables. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard….” This is a parabolic lesson about various professing Christians and serving God. “When even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.” What if this was NOT a parable and we were asked to take the lesson at face value? Is Luke 10:7 from a parable when it says “The labourer is worthy of his hire”? Again the Lord is talking about His servants, but this verse is in the midst of clear instructions – there is no parable involved. What if Matthew 20 was not a parable at all, but a plain statement about the nature of God’s kingdom? “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard….” The Bible from Genesis to Revelation says much about hard work. And Proverbs includes many thoughts about this subject, two of which are found in this chapter. “In...

The Christian’s Responsibility to the King – Ecclesiastes 8:1-7

  Our text this afternoon lends itself to a short lesson on the Christian’s responsibility toward government. You may think that you know this subject better than the preacher, and you may be right. You may say that you know this subject, and this kind of sermon is superfluous. But I guarantee that you don’t know this subject better than the Lord does. I saw a wise statement the other day which may or may not apply to this message. Our preaching is necessary because of the inherent gap between what men know or believe and what they practice. Now, I wouldn’t give you a wooden nickle for Donald Trump’s opinion on the subject. He may or may not know a lot about government, laws and his own opinions about Christianity and government. But as far as I’m concerned he knows next to nothing about the Bible. And the Bible is our guide for faith and practice. To ask the average politician about spiritual things is like asking wolves about sheep. They only know that those sheep are fun to chase, and they taste good. But this afternoon we hear a man who was both an unusual politician and a child of God. I’m not talking about myself, but about Solomon. And standing behind him is the author of both government and Christianity – the Lord Jesus Christ. Then we have other experts in the Apostle to the Gentiles and the Apostle Peter. So between these four I think that we can get a general idea about our civic responsibilities. But people often think that what the Bible says...

The Death of Buddy Holly – Ezekiel 18:24-32

  Many of you won’t recognize the name in the title to this message. You are too young to know “Buddy Holly” and your music tastes have never run down the same path. That is all right, because for the sake of an introduction to this message, I’m going to enlighten you. Although it is debated, according to some people, Buddy Holly is the father of rock-and-roll music. But it is not in his music that I’m particularly interested this morning – rather it is in his death.   Charles Hardin Holley, eventually known as “Buddy” was born in 1936 in Lubbock, Texas. That was 9 months after my former pastor, Charles Ken Johnson, was born – also in Lubbock, Texas. In 1936 the population of Lubbock was about 25,000 – roughly the size of our own city at the moment. For 12 years Ken Johnson went to school with Buddy Holley – they knew each other quite well. Also, the Johnson family and the Holleys both attended the Tabernacle Baptist Church. Brother Johnson often told me that Buddy Holley made a profession of faith in Christ as a child. Wikipedia declares that he was a member of the Tabernacle Baptist church. And I have been told that Buddy Holley even professed a call into the gospel ministry. While in high school, Buddy and some friends formed a small musical band. Buddy played the lead guitar and sang – the others played back-up guitar, drums and bass. After Elvis Presley visited Lubbock in 1955, Buddy and his friends grew more interested in their music. Two years later they recorded...

July 15

As we have seen in these notes over the years, some of America’s Baptist churches have had unusual names. Imagine a visitor coming into your service. When you ask him about his spiritual condition he replies by saying that he is a Christian and a member of the Polecat Baptist Church in Caroline County, Virginia. “Polecat,” of course, is a nickname for skunk. When Elder John Burrus and three members of his church were arrested for worshiping Christ in a church not approved by the Colony of Virginia, they told the judge that they were members of the Baptist church meeting down on Polecat Creek. The men were sufficiently evangelical that they had become a stench in the nostrils of their neighbors, so they were arrested for preaching the gospel without a license. They were ordered to stand trial on this day (July 15) in 1771. Only Brother Burrus was ordained, but all four men were gifted with preaching and they were all notorious for “jamming a Scripture down the throat of every man they met upon the road.” After the trial, the court record “ordered they be remanded back to the gaol” in a futile attempt to cool their ardor for Christ. The Polecat Baptist church building later became known as the Burrus Meeting House, and even later took the name “Carmel Church.” The church flourished for a time, drawing such eminent preachers as Andrew Broadus. I understand that it still stands today south and west of historic Fredericksburg,...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 13:24

  Often on these Wednesday nights I feel like I’m preaching to the choir. Rarely do we have a visitor, and some of you have been hearing me preach since the week you were born and even before. Many, many times I feel like I’m facing the wrong audience. The message should be preached more to lost people, to more young people or to newer Christians. And this is one of the blessings of our presence on the internet – our web page and Facebook page. At the very least, I can imagine a wider audience than the few of us who are here tonight. And I really need that reassurance tonight. I would be remiss not to address this verse, while going through the Book of Proverbs. But most of us no longer have small children over whom we are responsible. Or we are parents in homes where the principles of this verse are already working well. Ah, but there might be someone who will run into our website tomorrow, and profit from Solomon’s wisdom even if no one here hears anything new. With this in mind, I ask you to pray for our internet ministry. There really are people on the other side of the world, who read and respond to our web pages. Having said that, don’t assume that you won’t hear anything new or that you can’t learn from this verse. There has never been a child born – or born again – who has not been sinful – a sinner. Our natural selves are unrighteous and self destructive – it comes with the human...

Making Straight the Crookedness of Life – Ecclesiastes 7:11-29

  Not everyone should be a brain surgeon; most people don’t have the knowledge and skill. Not everyone should run marathons, because many don’t have the physical strength or health. Not everyone should be parents, because many people are nothing but 40-year-old children themselves. But what about this statement: “Everyone ought to be a theologian”? What is a theologian? A theologian is someone who studies God – God’s attributes and works. But a true theologian must study Jehovah, not any of the human-devised gods found through the world. And of course, only people who are born again can be accurate theologians. No one without the Bible and the blessing of the Holy Spirit will be a successful theologian. And no earth-bound human being will ever be smart enough or holy enough to truly know Jehovah. Nevertheless, as Solomon tells us, we all should “consider the work of God.” “Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.” Solomon specifically suggests that we consider the fact that only Elohim can make straight something which He previously made crooked – verse 13. As I was reading and re-reading this chapter, asking the Lord for an outline to use, it occurred to me that amidst the confusion of thoughts about life, there are illustrations of crookedness. As Bunyan’s Pilgrim found, the road to the Celestial City is not as straight as Jesus’ parable seems to suggest. It weaves through meadows, forests and swamps. It goes up and down hills and mountains; through canyons and along the edge of cliffs. How can we best walk through the valley...

The Person of Christ – John 12:20-21

  It is said that Sir Isaac Newton wanted to make some studies of the sun, involving looking directly towards it. He took all the precautions that he could think of and went off to his work. After a couple of hours, he jotted down his notes and went to bed. A few hours later when he awoke he found a permanent impression of the sun in his eyes. I wish I could say that when I get up in the morning everything I see is superimposed with an image of God’s Son. I wish that when I look at you I could see Christ. I wish that when we are tempted to sin, we would always see the Lord standing by, shaking His head. I wish that our thoughts, our deeds, our conversations, our joys and our sorrows were all blended with the realization of the presence of the Saviour. Alas, this isn’t true in me, and I must assume that probably isn’t true in you either. This morning I have a very simple topical message. It is elemental – the kind of sermon with which I grew bored after I had been saved for a few years and after I went to Bible college. If this was the only kind of message preached in this place, I wouldn’t blame you for being unhappy with me. But on the other hand, it is messages like this that all Christians need to hear from time to time. It is messages like this which help us to think about the Saviour and to see Christ. As Christians we need to...

July 8

On this day in 1663, after 12 years of lobbying, John Clarke, obtained a British charter which established Rhode Island as America’s first colony providing true freedom, including religious freedom. While many Baptists are aware of this fact, many are not aware of the severe persecution which forced the Rhode Islanders to seek a strengthened charter protecting their rights. In 1656, neighbors from Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Haven, pressed the Islanders to join them in their effort to crush the Quakers living in their region and to prevent more from immigrating. The founders of Rhode Island, of course, refused. “We shall strictly adhere to the foundation principle on which this colony was first settled, to wit, that every man who submits to the civil authority may peaceably worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience without molestation.” This answer made the neighboring colonies more furious, inflaming them to seek vengeance through violence and slander. The slander was sent to England, making the application of Clarke very difficult. Locally, the Protestants encouraged the Pumham Indians to harass the Rhode Islanders, stealing the property and driving some from their homes. As ammunition grew low in the colony, they attempted to buy some from the other colonies, but they were denied. Some of the Baptist people fled north and east, but they were taken to Boston where they were routinely harshly treated. When the Indian leader, Myantonomo, became reluctant to continue his attacks on Rhode Island, he was accused of various crimes and put to death in...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 13:10

  In chapter 6, the Spirit told us – “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” First on this list of things which God hates is pride. As I have asked before, isn’t it a shame that it isn’t homosexuality or abortion – sins in which you and I have never participated? Why isn’t it a sin confined to the person whom we might be most quick to despise? Why does God hate something which rises so near to the top of our own depraved hearts? I wonder how many times I have been guilty of pride since the last time we met. I spent only a quick minute asking myself that question, because I didn’t really want to know the answer. I was guilty, or perhaps nearly so, when I was able to up load some sermons to our Facebook page. I don’t think I was as much proud of the messages as I was of my success at uploading them. And I was slightly proud of the fact I lost two pounds recently. But about how many other things have I been proud recently? Does God hate all my pride equally? And what about yours? Tonight, I have very little more for you than an incomplete Bible survey. My thoughts began last week when I read in verse 10 – “only...