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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

David Benedict Fifty Years Among the Baptists



In the worship of the church the New Testament authorizes Christians to sing and make melody in their hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; et al).  Singing was the specified kind of music to be offered in worship to God by Christians.  It was over 600 years after the establishment of the church before instrumental music first began to appear in worship, and some historians say it was at least 1000 years after the church began before instrumental music appeared. 


When the Protestant Reformation began, most, if not all, Protestants rejected the use of instrumental music in worship because they viewed it as a part of the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church.  Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists early in their history opposed instrumental music in worship.  David Benedict, in his book, Fifty Years Among the Baptists, published in 1859, stated: “Staunch old Baptists in former times would have as soon tolerated the Pope of Rome in their pulpits as an organ in their galleries” (as cited by Alan E. Highers, editor, The Spiritual Sword, Volume 35, No. 2, January 2004).


The New Testament authorizes only men to serve as elders, deacons, and preachers in the church, and to take the leading roles in the worship of the church.  Women are commanded to be silent in the assembly of the church (I Corinthians 14:34), and they are instructed to “learn in all silence with all submission” (I Timothy 2:11). By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul plainly declared, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (I Timothy 2:12-14).


Yet, in spite of these clear Bible instructions concerning the kind of music God desires in worship and concerning the role of women in the church, there are those who argue that there are those gifted to play instruments and their giftedness should not be denied them in the worship of the church.  It is likewise argued that there are women who are gifted to preach and teach and lead the church in other ways and their giftedness should not be stymied.


What about it?  Is “giftedness” the standard by which what we do in service to God is determined, or does His divinely inspired word serve as the standard?  Consider the following.


Cain was a gifted farmer, but his sacrifice of the fruit of the ground was unacceptable to the Lord and rejected by Him (Genesis 4:3-5). Cain’s “giftedness” did not make his offering acceptable to God.


Nadab and Abihu were gifted priests, but their sacrifice was unacceptable because they did that which the Lord “had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1-2).  Their “giftedness” did not make their offering acceptable to the Lord.


No one can possibly argue that Jesus was not gifted to serve as a high priest because when He ascended back to heaven he became for all Christians their great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14). While on earth, however, He was not authorized to serve as a priest because He was not of the priestly tribe (Hebrews 7:14; Hebrews 8:4).  His “giftedness” had nothing to do with it and His “giftedness” could not be substituted for what the law of the Lord did not allow.


The Judaizing teachers who caused so much trouble in the early church were no doubt gifted, but the apostles and elders of the church at Jerusalem said of them, “to whom we gave no such commandment” (Acts 15:1, 15).  Their “giftedness” as teachers did not make what they taught right.  They had no authority to teach what they taught.


Apollos was an extremely gifted preacher and is described as being “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24), but he was wrong about the baptism which he preached and had to be taught “the way of God more accurately” (verse 26).  His “giftedness” did not make his doctrine right.


What we need to learn from these examples is that acceptable service to the Lord is not determined by one’s giftedness, but rather by the authority of God’s word.


Christ declared: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).  He alone is the head of the church with the right to determine how His church functions (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18).  Paul wrote: “And whatever you do in word (what we teach and preach, hf) or deed (what we practice, hf), do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (by His divine authority, hf), giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).


“Giftedness” does not determine what we do in our worship and service to God.  What God in His word authorizes is the determining factor in all acceptable service and worship.  As my friend Matthew Morine in a brilliant presentation at the 2019 Faulkner University Bible Lectures rhetorically asked, “Was Paul a cultural coward in not telling us how culture would change the role of women in the future?  Did the Holy Spirit succumb to culture?”  Good questions, Matthew.  The answer is obvious.  Matthew went on to quote Everett Ferguson who said, “The text itself is our authority, not our re-construction of the text.”  He further noted: “The Bible changes culture, culture is not to change the Bible.”


Let us not succumb to and be governed in our service to God by a hermeneutics of culture, but by a respect for what God’s word clearly authorizes and plainly forbids.  It is the authority of the Scriptures, not giftedness, that determines the acceptability of our service to the Lord.


Hugh Fulford


Saturday, July 20, 2019

Tucker Presley

The Bride

Tomorrow I will walk our baby girl down the aisle to be wed to the man that she loves and with whom
she desires to spend the rest of her life. The minister - our dear friend, Eric Gray - will ask,
"Who gives the bride to be married to this man?" and I will answer, "Her mother and I." Even though
I have been the "main man" in Haley's life from birth until today, that's going to change tomorrow.
Tucker Presley will become her "main man." I understand that this is the way it's supposed to work;
it must be that way for their marriage to be all that God intends. Besides, we love Tucker and
we'll be very happy to have him as our son-in-law. I will still find it difficult to give the bride
away, only because my heart strings will be stirred. I will likely shed a tear or two. (Those who
know me will say that is an understatement.)

The bride will be beautiful. Of course she's been beautiful to her mother and me since we first
laid our eyes on her when she was born into this world. Tomorrow our baby girl, the youngest of our
four children, will be dressed in a beautiful gown topped off with a veil that will have dozens of
sparkling sequins sown into it by the loving hands of her mother. Even now she is sewing - just as
she has been several hours each day for the last several days. But it's a labor of love for our
beautiful bride.

Tomorrow, when one particular song begins, all will rise and turn their eyes to behold the beautiful
bride. Then, they will look to see Tucker's response when he sees his bride walking toward him.
And my eyes? Well, they will be wet with happy tears because no one loves this girl more than I do,
and I'm giving her away to the man of her dreams.

May I draw your attention now to another bride - one that is also dearly loved and cherished by God
and by all who know her?

That bride is the Bride of Christ, the Church. As I contemplate giving the bride away tomorrow and
how Tucker must feel as he receives his bride, I have a deeper appreciation of how much Christ loves
the church.

When the Apostle Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit to write about the relationship between Christ
and the church, the Spirit directed him to compare it to the relationship between a husband and his
wife. Read Ephesians 5:22-33, a great text about the marriage relationship, which includes these
instructive words:

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ
is the Head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior."

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her."

"In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife
loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as
Christ does the church."

Then the Apostle writes: "This is a profound mystery -- but I am talking about Christ and the
church." The church is the bride of Christ, and one day, He is coming to take His bride to a
wonderful, eternal home.

You and I become a part of the Bride of Christ when we submit our lives to the Savior. Even though
we have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we are cleansed by the blood of
Jesus through the "washing of water through the word" (Ephesians 5:26) and added to the Body, the
Bride of Christ.

We become a part of the Beautiful Bride (the church) when we place our faith and trust in Jesus
(Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans
10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).
Then, we are continually cleansed of our sin as we continue to declare our love and loyalty, by our
words and our actions, to Jesus (1 John 1:7-9).

Tomorrow, I'll give away a beautiful bride to her loving husband. And I'll be reminded of how much
Christ loves His bride, the church. I will thank God for the opportunity to be a part of that Bride
that Jesus will take home to His heavenly, eternal home.

Won't YOU say "yes" to becoming a part of the Bride of Christ through your trusting obedience?

-- David A. Sargent

Thursday, July 11, 2019

What must I do to be saved?

Christ’s Blueprint for the Church
Studies in the Book of Acts
“Teach The Plan of Salvation”

    We are looking at Christ’s pattern for the plan by which man can be saved, specifically what man must do or how he must respond in order to be saved. The denominational websites we looked at on Monday almost unanimously started with Acts 16. We started at the beginning, in Acts 2. But, let’s take a look at Acts 16…


    Now we get to the example that has been cited so frequently by these websites we’ve looked at - Acts 16. This is the first occasion when the gospel was preached on European soil. Up to this point, it has been preached, so far as Acts is concerned, in Palestine and Asia Minor. But now, we’re in Europe, in the city of Philippi.

    We have two examples of people being saved in this chapter. First, in 16:11-15, there are some women in Philippi who are worshipping God. Paul goes to them and talks to them about Jesus. The message opens their hearts and they accept Paul’s gospel message and they are baptized for the forgiveness of sins (16:15).

    Paul and another Christian named Silas have been thrown into jail for casting a demon out of a girl who was being exploited by some business men. God causes an earthquake which opens all the jails and the jailer starts to kill himself. That’s what the Roman authorities would have done if any of his prisoners had escaped and he assumed they had escaped.

    But, Paul stops his suicide and the jailer falls at Paul’s feet and asks him what to do to be saved (16:30). Paul and Silas had been singing Gospel songs while in jail (16:25) and I’m sure the jailer has been struck by their peace of mind and serenity with which they were accepting these events. He wanted that same peace of mind so he asks about the salvation they were singing.

    So, since he was a pagan, an unbeliever, Paul tells him that he must believe in Jesus Christ (16:31). Obviously, the unbeliever will not do anything until he has some knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ. So, Paul has to start there. But the jailer is not saved at verse 31 because Paul does not talk about Jesus until verse 32. But, the jailer was also not saved until verse 33 when he was baptized at their very hour of the night. How do we know he was not saved until then? Because Jesus had said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16) and Peter had said, “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (2:38). So, the jailer was not saved until after he had completed his obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ.

     For purposes of being complete, we also have an example of people responding to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" in Acts 18:8, which we find consistent with the other examples we have examined.


    The last account we have of some responding to the gospel of Christ - “What must I do to be saved?” - relates to some Jews who had been taught incorrectly, or incompletely. Apollos was a Christian but he was not teaching the gospel of Christ completely. He had obeyed the baptism of John the Baptist before the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (18:25), which had made him a follower of Christ. But he was teaching that same, incomplete message after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Apollos was taught more accurately by two Christians, a couple named Aquila and Priscilla. 

    But there were other followers of Apollos who had been taught incorrectly  whom Paul met in the city of Ephesus in Acts 19. Because they were taught incorrectly and you cannot be taught wrong and baptized right, Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins (19:5). It was only then that they could receive the Holy Spirit.

    From that point on, the church of Christ has continued to teach accurately the gospel plan of salvation authorized by Jesus Christ. In short, here is the rest of NT teaching, after Acts, on the role of baptism in the plan of salvation:

Romans 6:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 12:13
Galatians 3:26-27
Ephesians 4:5; 5:26-27
Colossians 2:11-12
Titus 3:3-5
Hebrews 10:22
1 Peter 3:20-22

    If we are going to be the church of Christ, we must teach the plan of salvation of Christ.

Paul Holland


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Studies in the Book of Acts

We are looking at Christ's pattern for the plan by which man can be saved, specifically what man
must do or how he must respond in order to be saved. Consequently, we are studying the book of Acts
and we are in chapter 9, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
Saul of Tarsus was an enemy of Christians. He was persecuting them. He hated them. He went to
the chief priest and got a letter of permission to go to the city of Damascus to persecute
Christians and throw them in jail. Saul had heard Christians preach - like Stephen back in Acts 7 -
but he had, to that point, hardened his heart and would not believe that Jesus had risen from the
But on the way to Damascus, that very Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus and He was not dead! He
was alive! He was risen from the dead! But, to help get the point across to Saul of Tarsus, Jesus
struck him blind and told him to go on into Damascus and find a Christian named Ananias who would
tell him what to do.
So, Saul went, blindly, into Damascus and felt so badly about what was happening that he fasted
for three days (9:9). Eventually, Jesus sent Ananias to Saul of Tarsus and Ananias laid his hands on
Saul to cure him of his blindness and so that Saul would believe that Ananias's message was from
Jesus. His message: "Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins!" (9:17-18; 22:16).
Saul of Tarsus became a Christian; he changed his name to Paul and he goes on to become one of
the most well-known Christian missionaries in the history of the church.
At first, the early Christians did not understand or at least did not obey the idea that they
were to preach the gospel to those who were not Jews.
But Jesus gave the apostle Peter a vision in Acts 10 to teach Peter that all people who work
righteousness are acceptable to Jesus (10:34-35). So, Peter went to a man's house named Cornelius.
Cornelius was not a Jew and it was not lawful for a Jew to enter into a Gentile's house (10:28).
But, Peter understood that God wanted non-Jews to hear the gospel preached. So, Peter, just as he
did in Acts 2, gave a short history lesson about Jesus Christ. He told Cornelius and his family that
Jesus went about doing good (10:38) but was put to death by the Jews (10:39) but was raised from the
dead by God (10:40).
In the process of Peter's preaching, in fact early in Peter's preaching, the Holy Spirit came on
Cornelius and his family so that they too, like in Acts 2, spoke in foreign languages. This miracle
did not show that they were saved or that they were Christians. No, this showed the Jewish
Christians that God would accept Gentiles if they too, obeyed the teachings of Jesus Christ (10:45;
11:12). So, Peter commanded them to be baptized / immersed in water (10:48). Why did Peter command
them to be baptized? Because Jesus had said, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark
16:16) and Peter had already commanded Jews to be baptized "for the forgiveness of sins" (Acts

Paul Holland

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Posted Notes

Posted Notes

Even a little handwritten note on a Post-it note can be extremely meaningful.

Ask Sophia Wilcox.

When Sophia was in middle school, her stepdad, Brian Sandusky, would scribble a little note of
encouragement to her and stick it on her bedroom door.

What did these notes mean to Sophia? Did they help her through some difficult times in her life?

Perhaps the answer to those questions is revealed in what Sophia did for her stepdad on Father's Day
this year. She presented with a gift: a frame with a picture of the two of them surrounded by the
entire collection of Post-it notes that he had left on her door for her.

Sophia's video of the moment when he unwrapped her gift has gone viral.

"These are all your notes," he whispered through tears.

"Yeah, I kept them all," Wilcox said.

She kept them for over 6 years. Sophia, now in college, wanted her stepdad to know how much those
notes have meant to her, so she gifted them back to him with a constant, visual reminder. *

Do you realize that God has "posted notes" of His deep and abiding love for you?

Here are a few of His notes:

"For God so loved the world [including you and me] that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever
believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 NIV).

"This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might
live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an
atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:9-10).

He posted these notes for you and for me even when we were "unlovable." He loves us despite the
fact that we have sinned against Him (Romans 3:23). He loves us so much that He didn't just write
about His love; He demonstrated it.

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us"
(Romans 5:8).

God loves us so much that He gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins. Through Jesus' atoning
sacrifice, we can receive the forgiveness of our sins, be adopted into God's family, and receive the
gift of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23; 8:15-17).

God will save, adopt, and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts
16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans
10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will
continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

God's notes of His love for us have been posted. Read them in His Word, the Bible. Respond to His
love through your trusting obedience.

You will become part of the greatest love story ever written.

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Maryland college student brings stepdad to tears with collage of notes
he left her in middle school" by Brie Stimson of Fox News,

David A. Sargent, Minister

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