What does October mean for Reformed Baptists?
It means it’s Reformation celebration season!
I had the privilege of attending two Reformation Conferences this past month at two sister churches.
The theme of the conference was the first chapter of our confession, The London Baptist Confession of 1689, “On the Holy Scriptures,” and featured three speakers, Pastors Guy Waters, Rich Barcellos, and Voddie Baucham.
The sessions with links to listen to them yourself where available, are as follows:
Sufficient, Certain, and Infallible, Guy Waters
Analogy of Scripture and Faith, Rich Barcellos
The Canon, Voddie Baucham
One of the highlights for me was Dr. Richard Barcellos’ explanation of Biblicism.
He defined Biblicism as “a practice which demands certain words to be used in scripture to justify a doctrine.”
In Biblicism, words = concepts. This is the word-concept FALLACY, Dr. Barcellos explains. With this fallacy in play, we can do nothing but read scripture. We cannot explain what it means. Our goal should be the intention of words and not be limited to only using “Bible words” to explain Bible concepts.
Another highlight was seeing our beloved Pastor Voddie, in country from Zambia for our conference among others.
The second conference I attended was Grace Covenant Baptist Church of Willis’ annual Reformation Weekend retreat. Grace Covenant is a church in our local church association TAARBC (pronounced “tar-bee-see”) and our national church association ARBCA (pronounced arb-kuh).
From the incredibly insightful sessions on the Reformers and Missions by Pastor Jason Walter to singing the Reformation Polka to hanging out with my TAARBC cousins, to a “diet of worms” challenge, to winning a relay race with two of my siblings, it was a wonderful weekend. (Our team was “The Remnant,” 😏 we placed 2nd then won against the former 1st place team.)
Recordings of the sessions by Jason Walter are available here on Sermon Audio:
Guard the Good Deposit that Pastor Walter preached the following Sunday at Grace Covenant is also excellent. I enjoyed listening to it on my way to school this morning.
Here are some highlights of the sessions from my notes:
Presentism: an anachronistic importation of modern values into a previous era.
Critics of the Reformers neglect historical context and require a very narrow definition of “missions,” hence the accusation that the Reformers “didn’t care about or do missions.”
The proclamation of the gospel is the church’s mission.
The Reformers recovered the gospel, which means they also recovered missions.
Did the Reformers practice what they preached on missions? The preaching of the Reformers itself was missions. They were devoted to the preached word. The Reformers mentored countless young men from other countries who took the gospel home to their churches.
The work of publication was also a significant part of the Reformer’s mission work.
They translated the Bible into the common tongue! They wrote countless letters that impacted later preachers of the gospel.
This is missions!
What Can the Reformers Teach Us About Missions?
1. The Importance of the Church
In modern times, missiology has become divorced from ecclesiology.
Missions is a church mission.
To reclaim missiology we must reclaim ecclesiology.
When a person becomes Reformed, they typically reform their
and finally, Ecclesiology.
If they ever get that far.
2. The Importance of Qualified Missionaries
We bring too much confusion into the issue when we call those who aren’t qualified, ordained men “missionaries.”
And too often, we think of missions as a young man’s domain. There is wisdom in age!
The separation of pastor and missionary is artificial. There is not a separate call to pastoral ministry vs. “mission work.”
Churches call men to specific places.
3. The Importance of the Ordinary Means of Grace in Missions
The work of gospel proclamation does not change based on location. There are no special means in missions.
We must not romanticize Missions.
We ought to respect those who work on foreign soil but we must keep our expectations reasonable. Our expectations for foreign pastors ought to be the same as our local pastors. Their biblical duties are the same before God.
Faithfulness ought to be our goal.
The qualifications are the same.
The calling is the same.
The means are the same.
This is the New Testament model as recovered by the Reformers.
“Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run;
His Kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.”
(Ps 72 paraphrase by Isaac Watts)
As I listened to Pastor Walter’s sessions I was continually reminded of the coming launch of the IRBS (the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies) Seminary. It was so easy to draw a straight line from the work of the historic Reformers to equip men for the ministry to the present work of 21st century Reformed Baptists in launching the first ever stand-alone, confessional, Reformed Baptist Seminary. It was an encouraging thing to see that blessed consistency, that fulfillment of purpose.
The IRBS Seminary effort is Reformed Baptist theology applied.
The seminary is due to launch in September of 2018. Please check out their fundraiser campaign, consider making a donation, be faithful to pray for the work being done, and spread the word!