The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 16:31, 33

  Verse 31: “The hoary head is a crown of glory.” The word “hoary” is so old that it’s hard to trace its origins. But I have read that it originally referred to ice. A hoary head is one with grey or whitening hair. Solomon says that a head full of grey or white hair wears a crown. It means that the person with that head has passed through a few years and many trials. He has earned some respect, just as if he was the man on the throne. But, the verse goes on, “The hoary head is a crown of glory, IF it be found in the way of righteousness.” If that elderly man doesn’t know or worship the Lord, then he doesn’t deserve respect in the area of faith. And yet he should be honored in family matters and perhaps in other areas as well. I hope that this doesn’t come across as crass or totally insensitive: Mrs. Bert Craft had a cousin whose husband was a missionary to the Cameroons. As far as I know, he was a Baptist, trying to start churches in Africa. The picture I saw showed him with his wife and 8 children – and he had a head full of white hair. Sadly, he didn’t get along with the Crafts when it came to the doctrine of salvation by grace. He even apparently said that he didn’t believe in the sovereignty of God. But I would guess he said that under duress and in special circumstances. Anyway, yesterday or the day before he was shot in the head and killed....

October 28

On this day (October 28) in 1856, Francis Wayland penned the preface to his work, “Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches,” in which he clearly enunciated the principles of religious freedom and the autonomy of the local church. He wrote, “Baptists have ever believed in the entire and absolute independence of the churches. By this, we mean that every church of Christ, that is, every company of believers united together according to the laws of Christ, is wholly independent of every other; that every church is perfectly capable of self-government; and that, therefore, no one acknowledges any higher authority, under Christ, than itself; that with the church all ecclesiastical action commences, and with it terminates, and hence that the ecclesiastical relations proper, of every member, are limited to the church of which he belongs.” Wayland became a champion for religious freedom, eventually becoming known as “the apostle of Baptist...

The Conclusion of the Whole Matter – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

  The old saint of God lays comfortably dying – in his own bed at home. Around him are gathered his three children and seven grand-children. Everyone knows that he will not be long in this life. The sliver cord will soon be loosed and the golden bowl shows signs of cracking open. “He goeth to his long home, and (soon) the mourners (will) go about the streets.” He has just enough air in his old lungs for one more plea. He says, “Children, if there is one special thing that I can leave with you it is this: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Repent before God and take up thy cross to follow Him in obedience and faith. Set your affection on things above not on things on the earth. For what is your life? It is even as a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.” In a sense, Solomon, too, has come to the end of his life – or at least to the end of this book. He may not have the opportunity to ever counsel his children again. He says, “This is the conclusion of the whole matter…. this is the whole duty of man.” Don’t these words come to us as a kind of surprise, considering all that has preceded it? Not many of the books of the Bible reach conclusions like this. So I suppose Ecclesiastes is comparable to the Book of Revelation or to Job in this sort of way. But Revelation is different; it makes sense, beginning with a revelation...

Eschatological Absolutes: the Millennium – Revelation 20:1-15

  Two weeks ago we had the first in a series of messages entitled “Eschatological Absolutes.” My plan is to address those areas of prophecy which I think are unassailable – Biblical absolutes. There is more controversy and divergence of understand about prophecy – “eschatology” – than there is about any other part of Christian theology. There is infinitely more debate about eschatology than there is about soteriology – salvation from sin. I am going to try to avoid those areas of controversy, but I know I will not be completely successful. I want us to think about those areas which should be agreed upon by everyone interested in prophecy – “Eschatological Absolutes.” In our first message we addressed three points. The first was that we are all ETERNAL beings – we have, or more properly, we ARE eternal souls. Points 2 and 3 were that our souls will spend eternity in either a literal Lake of Fire or in the presence of our Saviour – which includes a literal Heaven. Anyone who professes to believe the Bible, must admit to these three points – Heaven, Hell and our eternal soul. Of course there ARE multitudes who deny these things, because they deliberately choose to do so. But they cannot successfully deny that these things are taught in the Bible. This morning’s “Eschatological Absolute.” is that the Bible teaches a future, literal divine kingdom which will be upon this earth. There is going to be a kingdom whose King will be the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah. The King of that kingdom will be the...

October 21

Russia has never possessed the blessing of religious liberty. While periods of severe persecution have come and gone and come again, there has always been a hatred towards the gospel and Bible-believing people. Today, there are an unknown number of Russian Baptists meeting in unregistered churches across the country, avoiding as much as possible the eyes of the government while still carrying out the work of the Lord. One early servant of God was Vasilia Ivanoff – born in the city of Baku, Russia in 1848. He was converted to Christ and baptized on this day (October 21) in 1870. In Baku Ivanoff established a Baptist church which grew to more then 300 members. The congregation was made up of Tartars, Turks, Armenians, Kurds and Russians, enabling a multifaceted ministry. He traveled extensively despite having no passport or travel documents. He baptized over 1500 converts, mostly at night and often after cutting holes in the ice. On one occasion there were 86 candidates for the ordinance. Persecution against him began the moment he began to preach the gospel. He was arrested so many times he lost count, but he thought that he spent time in 31 jails and prisons. In 1895 he was sentence to incarceration in the Caucasus for four years. There he was made to serve as a beast of burden, grinding corn on a treadmill. When he was released he immediately returned to the calling God gave him. Twice he was sent to northern Siberia where for a time he was chained to the worst sorts of criminals. His imprisonments did nothing to cool his zeal...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:26-27

  The year is 1842; the place is the Congo. A Christian family is pushing into the jungle to join a pioneer missionary who is working in the interior. We might argue that no Christian family should be doing this work, because Biblical missions were done by single men working in teams, but that was not usually the practice two centuries ago. The trip requires several weeks, passing through very dangerous territory. There will be jungles interspersed with savannas and several rivers requiring dangerous crossings. The family has a capable guide and several Christian natives to help carry their luggage and supplies. The children are enthralled, looking at the beauty and seeing some of the animals, while not realizing the danger. The mother is fearful, because she understands some of those dangers including lions, hippos nad disease. The father is traveling with confidence, because he is heading out to do the work of God. One morning during the family devotions he shares with his family Proverbs 14:26-27 – “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence.” The other day, Judy was telling me about someone she thought had misdefined “the fear of the Lord.” It seemed to that person that this fear was some sort of terror. The implication was that if we are not properly afraid of God we should be even more fearful. The statement was made that respect or reverential...

Books, Goads and Nails – Ecclesiastes 12:8-12

  This is the penultimate message in our study of Ecclesiastes; we have but one more. We are told, “of making many books there is no end,” and that is equally true of the making of sermons. But with “much study is a weariness of the flesh.” This makes variety important – variety not only in subjects and scriptures, but in teachers as well. What a blessing it is to all of us to have Bro. Fulton minister to us from time to time. Although it might have seemed endless, we have only scratched the surface in this series. For example, we could make at least two more messages out of the text we just read. But tonight we will just focus on the wise words of goads and nails. And are no wiser words than verses 13 and 14 – “Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment.” Let’s begin with this question: why is there such sin in this world? It is because there is no fear of God before men’s eyes. Mankind has been trying its very best to forget that God shall bring every work into judgment. But if there were only two verses in all of God’s Word … If God only revealed two things to the souls of men – and these were they… if these were fully understood and respected… we would have another garden of Eden on this planet. But because these are neglected, we have a world of vanity and vexation – Solomon’s recurring theme. For...

October 14

On this day in 1774, while the First Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia, James Manning and Isaac Backus were granted permission to speak to the delegates from Massachusetts. Manning read an article entitled “An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty” and Backus explained it. Part of the article read: “It appears to us that the true difference and exact limits between ecclesiastical and civil government is this, That the church is armed with light and truth, to pull down the strongholds of iniquity, and to gain souls to Christ, and into His Church … while the state is armed with the sword to guard the peace, and the civil rights of all persons and societies, and to punish those who violate the same …. I before declared that the Scripture is abundantly clear for a free support of ministers, but not a forced one; and observed, that there is as much difference between them, as there is between the power of truth in the mind and the power of the sword in the body.” John Adams, the leader of the Massachusetts delegation, after four hours of discussion with the Baptists declared, “Gentlemen, if you mean to try to effect a change in Massachusetts’ laws respecting religion, you may as well attempt to change the course of the sun in the heavens.” Fortunately for the nation which came out of that Congress, there were other leaders who were not so blind and bigoted as were Samuel and John...

The Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 14:21

  There are six simple key words or ideas in this verse. They are “despise,” “neighbor,” “sin,” “mercy,” “poverty” and “happiness.” Probably no one here needs me to explain any of them. While that is true, it doesn’t mean we always personally apply the Word of God when we should. For example, there are dozens of Christian denominations which say they are patterned after the Bible, but if that were true, then why are there dozens of Christian denominations? We need to ask ourselves if we are consistent in the application of the words of Proverbs 14:21 to our lives. Do we have exceptions when it comes to certain people or certain kinds of people? Do we treat certain people differently? Does the Lord approve of our personal preferences and exceptions? One of the key words of this verse is “neighbour.” “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth.” You probably remember the day when a self-righteous lawyer came to Christ trying to entrap Him. “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ replied with a question of His own – “What does the law say?” “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all they soul, and with all they strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” And then he asked, “But who is my neighbor?” Christ answered with the story about the good Samaritan. Who is my neighbor? My neighbor is not limited to the families who live on either side of my house; across the fence and across the street. In fact, if...

Sound Doctrine 101 – Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:7

  Just about a year ago I preached from the first half of chapter 12. The title of the message was “Our Long Home” – referring to the grave – death. And then this morning I referred to this scripture again. So avoid too much reiteration, I’m going to simply add those verses to our text from chapter 11. I won’t be preaching from them next week. I am calling this message “Sound Doctrine 101” – which brings it pretty close to our theme this morning. In the college catalogue, the first course in most series is numbered “101.” “English 101” is the freshman English Course; and “Biology 101” is pretty elementary. In fact, the “101” series may even be remedial these days, because so many enter college without a good foundational education in much of anything. Did I tell you about the email I received about a sign supposedly over a Wal-mart express line? At most stores there are check-out lines called “Express lanes” where the number of goods purchased is supposed to be limited. At this particular store, the sign was illustrated with three hands and the fingers extended. Below the illustration were the words, “Fifteen is this many.” That would be “Wal-mart Shopping 101” for the mostly illiterate people of these United States. Here in this text, Solomon thinks about some pretty simple, but foundational segments of Biblical theology. These things are a part of “the milk of the word” to which Paul refers later on. These are easily seen and learned by young people and thinking children. These are essential truths which adults need to...