The Ministry

Rebaptism: Turning a Pastoral Dilemma into a Teaching Opportunity


[Editor’s note: This article was first published in a short-lived journal in the mid-1990s.  The content dovetails nicely with Ken Stewart’s guest article from last week here on TheEcclesialCalvinist, and is reprinted here for the benefit of those who understandably missed it the first time.  Although it is a bit dated at this point, and there are a few things I might say differently today, I have resisted the urge to update it.]

“The sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered to any person.” (WCF 28.7)

Bob was baptized as an infant. After a period of teenage rebellion, Bob comes to a vibrant faith in Christ and joins an ARP church. During his interview with the session Bob asks to be rebaptized as a sign of his faith in Jesus.

Peggy, a victim of childhood physical abuse, comes to faith as an adult and is baptized by a…

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Eugene Peterson’s Advice to Seminary Students

Lucid Theology

Eugene Peterson’s advice to seminary students:

Eugene_Peterson (1)“I’d tell them that pastoring is not a very glamorous job. It’s a very taking-out-the-laundry and changing-the-diapers kind of job. And I think I would try to disabuse them of any romantic ideas of what it is. As a pastor, you’ve got to be willing to take people as they are. And live with them where they are. And not impose your will on them. Because God has different ways of being with people, and you don’t always know what they are.

“The one thing I think is at the root of a lot of pastors’ restlessness and dissatisfaction is impatience. They think if they get the right system, the right programs, the right place, the right location, the right demographics, it’ll be a snap. And for some people it is: if you’re a good actor, if you have a big smile, if you…

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Please Don’t Say These Six Things at My Funeral

A good corrective to modern funerals.

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Preacher in the hands of an angry church: the fall of Jonathan Edwards

Encouraging material for any pastor.

Grateful to the dead

Minister. Thinker. Revivalist. America’s greatest theologian. “Homeboy” to today’s Young Reformed. Hero. Icon.

Failed pastor.

Why exactly was Jonathan Edwards, godfather of American evangelicalism, ejected from his own congregation–the church he had served faithfully for over twenty years? And what happened next? How did he respond? I explored these questions in an article for Leadership Journal:

[For a few reflections on what Edwards could still mean to the church today, see this post. For his claim to the title “father of evangelicalism,” see this one. On Edwards as the original “ancient-future” evangelical, see here.]

Preacher in the Hands of an Angry Church
by Chris Armstrong

As messy dismissals of ministers go, the 1750 ejection of Jonathan Edwards by his Northampton congregation was among the messiest. The fact that it involved the greatest theologian in American history—the central figure of the Great Awakening—is almost beside the point…

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Perkins on the Power of the Word Preached

Finally Perkins speaks of the vitality of the Word of God (p. 647, The Art of Prophesying).  It is endowed with virtue in its operation.  This means that the Word has a vitality, a power to convince the hearers of its truth and to bring about that which it promises.  We notice that others in the history of preaching have spoken of this virtue or vitality of God’s Word.  It is a fundamental concept for understanding the Puritan School of preaching, because it is on this insight that the confidence of the preacher is built.  He does not have to rely on the arts of oratory, although he may use them, because the power of the preaching is not in the preacher but in the Word itself.

Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church: Vol IV, the Age of the Reformation, 265.

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Introducing the Hope Congregational Church Podcast

Now listeners will be able to get automatic updates of newly uploaded audio files sent directly to their Itunes or RSS accounts via the Hope Congregational Church Podcast.

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‘Brother, Brew Your Own Beer At Home’


[Siencyn Thomas] said on one occasion to an elder in the monthly meeting, ‘I understand that the drink you supply is not as tasty as it once was.  What do you think is the cause? There was an old woman who used to live in Ystradfellte parish in a little cottage on the side of the road that had a lot of traffic travelling to the nearby lime-kilns.  She used to brew at home and had a good name for her beer.  If anyone excelled, they would be described as being as good as Aunt Bessie’s drink.  The young men, on the road to fetch lime, would often call for a draught, and having visited once, would almost invariably call again, so good was its taste.  But after a while, the woman thought it would be much less work for herself to buy in her beer by the barrel.  The young men came as before but having drunk would make a face, and on looking into the glass would say, “Auntie, this isn’t your beer.  I won’t come here again.”  The old lady soon realized her mistake.’ He then turned to the elder saying, “Brother, brew your own beer at home.  Don’t give to your brothers and sisters anything that you have not experienced as a blessing to your own soul.  Once you start dealing in foreign drink it won’t be long before your friends start leaving.’

Jones and Morgan, The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales, The Banner of Truth Trust, vol II.,  181.

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15 Pointers for Preachers

Good thoughts, brother! I agree with every point.

  1. Preach doctrinally. Don’t only teach Bible doctrines such as justification and sanctification in your Sunday school. Preach these doctrines also during your worship service.  preach-the-word

  2. Preach discriminatorily. Address both believers and unbelievers in your preaching. Don’t assume that everyone in your congregation is saved. But don’t think either that no one is saved.

  3. Preach applicatorily. Apply your text to your listeners. With the use of practical illustrations, help them apply your message to their daily life. Remember a sermon without an application is like a lecture. You are preaching, not lecturing.

  4. Preach clearly. Organize your thoughts. Avoid high-sounding words. Consider the children in your congregation. If you have to employ a big word (e.g. justification), explain it using simple words.

  5. Preach evangelistically. Yes, preach against sin, but don’t stop there. Preach about salvation too. If you preach the Law without the gospel, you will make…

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The Preaching Style of the Early Methodists

They used to press their hearers to the very point of damnation; they drove them to the uttermost, very like the Israelites before the Red Sea.  And having kept them there for a time, bereft of any hope from heaven, they threw open the door of the gospel, so that the people, amazed by the majesty and suddenness of the light that fell upon them, broke out into rejoicing and glorifying of God.  We have heard this kind of preaching being condemned.  Whatever may be said against it, it was the means of returning thousands who were upon the broad road, and it produced a class of believers comparable to any the Christian world has ever seen.

Jones & Morgan, The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales, vol. II, Banner of Truth, 113.

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A gauge for doctrinal faithfulness in preaching

The Bible is our standard for faith and practice, and provides the doctrinal content for our preaching.  Because all human beings are essentially the same, if the doctrines of the Bible are accurately preached, the responses will be predictable.  In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul voices and answers some common objections to key doctrines.

On justification by imputed righteousness: Romans 6:1 NKJV What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 

If justification is accurately preached, you will commonly meet with the objection that this doctrine encourages licentiousness.  Of course it is not the case, as we see from Paul’s rebuttal in Romans 6.  Paul explains that being counted righteous in God’s sight comes with a change of orientation, so that the justified sinner desires to please God with a thankful heart in response to His free grace in Christ.  But one way to know if you are preaching justification correctly is to see whether it meets the same objection that Paul anticipates.  If your preaching on justification does not meet with this objection, that it may lead to more sinning, you might be teaching the error of works-righteousness.

On election: Romans 9:14 NKJV What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?  

The sinful nature would rather be in control of his own destiny.  Once he realizes that it is entirely up to God’s sovereign election, he begins to cry out, “That’s not fair of God!”, as if God did not have the right to have mercy on some and not others, according to His will.  If your teaching on God’s sovereign election is meeting this type of objection, you must be doing it right.  If you are not getting the objection, “that’s not fair”, you might be teaching decisionism.

On double predestination and God’s justice in judging sinners: Romans 9:19 NKJV Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?

On hearing that man dead in sin is unable to improve his situation, predestined to eternal destruction, and under God’s judgment for his sin, the natural man objects.  He thinks that it is not possible for man to both be responsible for his sin and unable not to sin, more than that, predetermined by God to continue in sin to destruction.  The apostle’s answer is simple.  God has a right to do as He pleases with His own creatures.  If your preaching on predestination and the judgment to come meets with this objection, it’s a good sign that you are accurately handling the doctrine of Scripture.  Otherwise, you may be engaging in theodicy, putting the Judge of Judges on trial in the court of man.

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