First Thoughts

Why Do Baptists Baptize? (Part 1)

Christ has given to his church two ordinances to be continually practiced by his people in the church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In some cases, these ordinances have become traditions, rites, and ceremonial practices that we might have forgotten the reason why we do them. In this first post, I will share three positive reasons to answer the question, why do Baptists baptize? For these three reasons, I want to discuss how baptism should be done, who should get baptized, and what baptism is. These will address the mode, subjects, and meaning of baptism for Baptists. 1. Because Baptism Means Immersion This first reason gets at the mode of baptism; that is how we baptize. Why do we baptize the way that we baptize? In the Gospels, we can look at the baptisms performed by John the Baptist...

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Celebrating Your Resurrection This Easter

Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4  Celebrating Easter Every year at Easter, Christians celebrate the historical, literal, physical, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus was really dead, and he really came back to life. He is alive now and reigning in heaven, and we are awaiting his historical, literal, physical, and bodily return to earth to reclaim his bride. The Bible teaches that when Jesus returns, every person who has believed in him will be transformed and will receive a glorious and perfect resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:35-49). There is another resurrection that Christians experience, however. It is the resurrection...

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Death Hath Confronted Us

In the last week, I have had two significant conversations about death. A friend suddenly lost his wife from Covid as he was in the hospital recovering from his own case. As we visited, we discussed the truths of 1 Corinthians 15. We cried. We reminisced. We talked about the importance of family, and we hugged. Most importantly I prayed for my friend as he grieved and appealed to Yahweh to comfort him. We thanked the Lord for the hope we have for eternity. Then came one of the most difficult conversations of my life. A friend was dying of cancer and asked to speak with me. In the past, I have been with people when they passed into eternity (and right after) but rarely have I talked with people who knew time on the earthly side was very limited. We cried. I helped him and his wife write some...

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Praying Without Ceasing

Most Christians know that 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says that we are supposed to “pray without ceasing.” But how are we supposed to start a prayer that never ends? Don’t we have to live life in a way that requires us to say “amen,” then get up and go do the stuff we have been praying about? Recently I have begun to think more seriously about what it means to lead a life of ceaseless prayer. While I believe some aspects of this kind of life will always be “under construction,” I also have begun to delight in how this pursuit can change everything about how we live—in the most beautiful ways! I remember as a child watching the old Batman series with Adam West. Commissioner Gordon had this special hotline to Batman on a pedestal under a glass cover in his office. It was called the Batphone, and...

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Knowing God More!

We used to sing the following words of a worship song written by Steve Green many years ago: Oh, I want to know you more Deep within my soul, I want to know you Oh, I want to know you… During the heyday of the worship renewal movement, words like this seemed fresh and intimate when they arrived on the scene. They described a deep desire that lay beneath the surface of one’s life. But for those paying close attention, this type of language demonstrated a depth of desire that could easily be neglected, if not a complete lie. It is discouraging to be capable of singing such wonderful sentiments with our mouths that are not true of our heart’s actual desire. The Bible indicates there are two types of knowledge of God. There is a head knowledge (James 2:19 – even the demons believe the facts)...

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SBC Survival Guide | Part 5: Hope

The previous posts in this SBC Survival Series on abuse, the ERLC, the Baptist Faith and Message, and race might all seem a little discouraging. Emphasizing all we must overcome might seem overwhelming. It is true that we have much to overcome in the serious problems we are facing as a convention. The problems are not overwhelming, however. Our Hope in Times of Hardship You begin to see that the problems are not overwhelming when you notice a common thread in each of the issues I addressed. Overcoming our division on the issue of abuse requires setting aside our efforts at personal kingdom-building to focus on preaching Jesus to abused people. Division regarding politics can only be overcome as we focus on Jesus more than partisan political bickering. We must preserve our commitment to Jesus...

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SBC Survival Guide | Part 4: Race

Divisions Over Race Division over the issue of race is one of the greatest threats to unity in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This breaks my heart. Some of that heartbreak goes back to something I learned from my mom in childhood. Before my mother became a Christian, she would never have been confused with a virtuous woman, but with all her faults she was never a racist. My mom won scorn and lost friends when she invited an African American woman to join her and several other women at a party in our home in Kentucky. Several of the women were embarrassed, some of them left, and all of them talked about it. My mom knew it would happen and did not care. She loved her friend and thought the fault was with the women who were wrongly offended. That example always meant a lot to me. It...

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Should Christians Date Non-Christians?

All the right factors seem to be in place-cute charm, dreamy looks, social suave, a pleasant appeal, and even conservative convictions. The only thing missing is… Jesus. Perhaps you have thought something like: “They are so close to the truth, and they love so many good things the Bible supports! Surely they would be compelled to follow Christ fully if they were enticed by a godly companion!” As tempting as it might be to date a nice unbeliever, I am not convinced this is the way to go about evangelizing. I do not think the way to share Christ is through candle-lit dinners and gushy love notes. The way of the great commission is not “flirt to convert.” I believe there is a better way to display the love of Christ and protect your soul. True Love Is Soul Deep What do you find romantically...

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SBC Survival Guide | Part 3: The Baptist Faith and Message

Unity and Truth The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is as divided now as it has been at any point since the conservative resurgence. That resurgence began in the 1970s, long enough ago that we can no longer take for granted that it is understood by the youngest in denominational life. The conservative resurgence began in response to division in the SBC, and that division was over theology. On one side of the division were the liberals (called moderates) who proved to be the minority in Southern Baptist life but had taken over leadership of various institutions in the SBC. On the other side of the division were the conservatives, a majority of those in the convention, who were unwilling to allow the convention to slide into liberalism and death. Conservatives knew that if the SBC was going...

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Christians and Cohabiting Couples

Christians can respond to cohabiting couples in all the wrong ways. Some Christians endorse living together. Some treat it as the unpardonable sin. Others avoid cohabiting couples like the plague because they do not know what to say. How should Christians respond (or not respond!) to couples living together? It is true that marriage is a Christian institution. It was designed by God to declare the good news of Jesus Christ to the world (Ephesians 5:22-33). A husband is supposed to lay down his life in sacrificial service for his bride-just as Jesus did. A wife is supposed to submit to her husband in the same way the church submits to Christ. It is a beautiful representation of the gospel. Therefore, cohabitation is an unchristian handshake. It grates against the good design of God at every...

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