Reformed Baptist Fellowship

2014 Keach Conference

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on August 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Keach2014 (1)

.What?  The Keach Conference is an annual theology and ministry conference presented by the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia (RBF-VA).  It is open to anyone to attend.  There is no cost to attend, but participants are encouraged to pre-register.

When?  Friday evening-Saturday morning, September 26-27, 2014.

Where?  The 2014 Keach Conference will meet at the Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, 7336 Riley Road, Warrenton, VA 20187.

What is the 2014 theme?  We are continuing our ongoing series through the Second London Baptist Confession.  This year we are on Chapter Eight  “Of Christ the Mediator.”

Who are the speakers?  The speakers will be Pastor Jim Savastio of the Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville, Kentucky and Pastor Earl Blackburn of Heritage Baptist Church of Shereveport, Louisiana.

How do I register? Cost: FREE, Web: Register Now!

What is the schedule?  The schedule will be as follows:

Friday evening, September 26 @ 6:30 pm (Session I):

  • Message: The Glory of the Mediator – Jim Savastio
  • Message: “The Exclusivity of Christ” (LBC 8:2) & John 3:22-36 – Earl Blackburn
  • Fellowship and Literature Tables

Saturday morning, September 27 @ 9:30 am (Session II):

  • Message: “The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Life & Ministry of Christ the Mediator” (LBC 8:3)- Earl Blackburn
  • Message:  The Pre-eminence of the Mediator – Jim Savastio
  • Question & Answer Session with the speakers
  • Lunch Break

Dependency on the Holy Spirit

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on August 29, 2014 at 4:05 pm

puritan preaching

The Puritans were convinced that both preacher and listener are totally dependent on the work of the Spirit to effect regeneration and conversion when, how, and in whom He will.4 The Spirit brings God’s presence into human hearts. He persuades sinners to seek salvation, renews corrupt wills, and makes scriptural truths take root in stony hearts. As Thomas Watson wrote, “Ministers knock at the door of men’s hearts, the Spirit comes with a key and opens the door.”5 And Joseph Alleine said: “Never think you can convert yourself. If ever you would be savingly converted, you must despair of doing it in your own strength. It is a resurrection from the dead (Eph. 2:1), a new creation (Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10), a work of absolute omnipotence (Eph. 1:19).”6

Modern evangelists need to be persuaded that the Spirit’s regenerating action, as John Owen wrote, is “infallible, victorious, irresistible, and always efficacious”; it “removeth all obstacles, overcomes all oppositions, and infallibly produces the effect intended.”7 All modes of action which imply another doctrine are unbiblical. As Packer writes: “All devices for exerting psychological pressure in order to precipitate ‘decisions’ must be eschewed, as being in truth presumptuous attempts to intrude into the province of the Holy Ghost.” Such pressures may even be harmful, he goes on to say, for while they “may produce the outward form of ‘decision,’ they cannot bring about regeneration and a change of heart, and when the ‘decisions’ wear off those who registered them will be found ‘gospel-hardened’ and antagonistic.” Packer concludes in a Puritan vein: “Evangelism must rather be conceived as a long-term enterprise of patient teaching and instruction, in which God’s servants seek simply to be faithful in delivering the gospel message and applying it to human lives, and leave it to God’s Spirit to draw men to faith through this message in his own way and at his own speed.”8[1]

 

4 Packer, A Quest for Godliness, pp. 296–99.

5 A Body of Divinity, p. 154.

6 An Alarm to the Unconverted, pp. 26–27.

7 Works, 3:317ff.

8 A Quest for Godliness, pp. 163–64.

[1] Beeke, Joel R. Puritan Evangelism: A Biblical Approach. 2nd edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007. Print.

Cheering on the Christian Runner (Heb 12.1-3)

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on August 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

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A famous college football coach, Lou Holtz, once said, “Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.” He was able to lead many teams to victory.

Absolutely nothing is more worthwhile than the Christian life. When we come to die, this is all that matters: “Have we come to Christ and lived for Him to the end?” Our eternal happiness depends on this.

And living for Christ has its own adversities. Lou Holtz and his men faced other football teams. A Christian faces the world, the flesh, and the devil. They openly oppose us one minute and try to seduce us the next, and we are called to resist them constantly. It is easy to become discouraged and to wonder if we can finish as Christians.

Scripture helps us in a thousand ways. For example,

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds (Heb 12.1-3).

The analogy: The Christian life is like a marathon race

The Christian life has a clear sports analogy; it is like a marathon race. Several things are similar: it is voluntary, it is hard, and it has an end with a reward. Like runners, we feel tempted to quit along the way. That temptation is here described as being “wearied and faint in your minds” (v. 3). We must not “get tired and stop trying” (NCV). We need to be cheered on in the race.

The Boston Marathon has a famously hard stretch known as “Heartbreak Hill” at mile 20 of 26. Each year they set up a “cheer zone” at the top of the hill so friends and family can inspire their favorite runner to finish the race. These Bible verses are a cheer for the Christian runner.

The cheer: “Let us run the race with endurance” and finish as champions

The main idea is an exhortation: “Let us run with patience [endurance, steadfastness] the race that is set before us.” This is the one thing necessary. You must endure to finish the race. Every day, you have to put one foot in front of the other, spiritually speaking. To motivate us, this passage cheers us on with several things I would bring to your attention.

I. Consider those who have gone before

Hebrews 11 is a roster of champions that have finished the race before us. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and too many others to mention, are all brought before us for the inspiration of their noble examples. Knowing the stories of these champions will invigorate us.

Then Hebrews 12 begins, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (ESV). Many have thought this means they are witnesses of us, as if they were watching us from elevated stands, but I don’t think that is the idea. Another translation puts it this way, “Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith” (NLT). Their examples witness or testify to something, the certainty of spiritual victory by faith. The phrase “by faith” or “through faith” appears 21 times in Hebrews 11. Millions of people have run this race and finished well. They did it by faith. So can you. Only believe God and His Word, and keep running!

II. Consider the encouragement you have now

The rest of verse 1 sounds like a spiritual coach telling us how to succeed, and just knowing how is very important.

1)         “Let us lay aside every weight.” The ancient competitive runner tried to become as light as possible. He adopted a strict regimen of diet and exercise to get slim and strong. On race day, the ancient Greek athlete stripped off his clothes and ran naked. A Christian needs to focus on spiritual things, leaving behind everything that makes holiness harder to practice. That includes some things that are innocent just because they are a distraction from what is more important.

2)         “Let us lay aside . . . the sin which doth so easily beset us,” or, “the sin which clings so closely” (ESV). You and I both have our “besetting sins,” the last ones to go. Since they drag us down spiritually, they should have our special attention for repentance. We can run the race best when we “always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man” (Acts 24.16), and so can say, like Paul, “I am not aware of anything against myself” (1 Cor 4.4).

3)         “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Living as a Christian is more than just not sinning. It is a positive, sustained effort to follow Jesus, in worship and in service to others every day, driven by His love in my heart. Nike has a slogan, “Just do it!” This exhortation is like that.

III. Consider Jesus at the finish line waiting for you

The last and best part of the cheer is in verses 2-3a (q.v.). Jesus ran this race of faith long ago and He finished well. His trials were worse than ours, since He suffered the humiliation and pain of the cross. He looked forward to the joy that would be His at the end. Now we Christians can also endure if we keep looking to Him and considering Him. Only a steady, believing gaze on Him will keep us pounding the pavement on Heartbreak Hill.

It is as if Jesus Christ is now standing at the finish line cheering us on. He cheers us by the grace He gave to countless others now in glory. He cheers us by the helpful advice found everywhere in Scripture. He cheers us by being there for us when we come to the end, exhausted from this spiritual marathon, and we fall into His arms, and He is so pleased, with so much love for His champions! Jesus is not only the greatest example to us, but He Himself is the reward for finishing the race! When a Christian dies, he or she is immediately with the Lord in blissful rest from all the hardship of this life’s marathon. So run with endurance until He embraces you. Amen. Ω

D. Scott Meadows, Pastor
Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed)
Exeter, New Hampshire USA
http://cbcexeter.sermonaudio.com
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