The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith, Malanda, Queensland < Buddy Smith
Someday I am going to write out a new set of questions for our church to ask pastoral candidates. I want to include one question on the list that will determine, more than any other, their fitness for leadership in the church.
It is a question the Lord Jesus raised for His disciples, but we no longer hear it asked. (It would be a good exercise in self control to stop reading at this point and review the list of questions you ask the man who wants to be pastor.)
Finished? Well, what did you come up with? Let me guess. You ask about his doctrinal soundness. And you ask about his educational qualifications. And you have a question or two about his experience in ministry. And you ask how many he has won to Christ, and how he goes about it. You want to know how he disciples his converts. And you want to know about his family, and about the people he fellowships with, and about his convictions, and which Bible he uses, and what he believes about separation from sin. And, if you are wise, you ask him if he has any skeletons in his closet. Good, good. Those are questions we SHOULD ask. But, if those are the ONLY questions, we are dropping the ball on the one yard line. We are failing to ask the one question we should ask, we are failing our people, and we may be sealing the fate of our churches.
May 28, 2009 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith of Malenda, Queensland, Australia
Brother Joe was one of a kind. He only ever pastored one church. It was the church he started when he moved to a town near us in 1939. He never received a salary from his church. He said he would simply trust God for his needs to be met, and he did, and they were. He never asked for anything, but God heard his prayers and blessed his faith, and he never did without. He taught all the way through the Bible at least three times in a pastorate that lasted more than fifty years. He preached on the radio everyday for all those years and wrote a book that is a classic on raising children. He sent all his children to Bible college, and his son Tim now pastors the church his dad started almost 70 years ago.
April 28, 2009 (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith, Grace Baptist Church, Malanda, Queensland, Australia
Forty years ago one of my old Bible college teachers died in the pulpit, in the middle of his sermon. He paused, sat down, laid aside his earthly tabernacle, and was ushered by the angels into Heaven's gates. I often reflect on the things he taught us. In fact, as I write, I realise that I am still being molded by his life. I am teaching one of my Scripture classes in the public school two new choruses and just realised today that I learned them from that dear old preacher, all those years ago. In the photo album of my heart, his page is especially precious to me, with the corners of the page well worn from turning. The memory that moves me most is not one I saw for myself. A friend gave it to me. The old preacher spoke in chapel one week, and my friend told me he peeked during the prayer before the sermon. To his surprise, the old preacher was kissing the pages of his Bible. That touched me so deeply that I never forgot it. Kissing the pages of his Bible!
Continue reading this article……
March 11, 2009 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith, Grace Baptist Church, Malanda, Queensland, email@example.com:
Elijah ministered while Mammon melted down.
He sprang onto the pages of Scripture without introduction, a man of great discernment and perception. He saw clearly not only the wickedness of his king, he saw also the desperate spiritual condition of his people. Israel had stagnated into a state of indecision. They, the redeemed slaves of Egypt, could not even decide which god to worship, Baal or Jehovah. He saw the idolatry of their king's covetousness and he saw the bondage of Mammon. He discerned the mind of God regarding his nation and prayed accordingly. James 5:17, 18 describes his prayer that it might not rain, “...he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” What an example he is to the men of God in this generation! Here is a man who was so bold as to pray for the meltdown of Mammon so that his people might have a spiritual awakening. He prayed for the loss of the material wealth of his people so that they might obtain true riches.
OUR GREATEST FAILING
August 7, 2008 (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith of Malanda, Queensland, Australia
It was in a missions conference almost forty years ago that a dear old missionary planted a seed in my heart that has grown into a very fruitful tree. In fact the older it gets the more fruit it bears. He told all of us young preachers about a question he asked every preacher he met. He asked it of pastors, and missionaries, and evangelists, and mission board directors and college professors, and retired pastors. He asked them all the same question. And he got the same answer every time. If I didn't know him to be a godly and honest man, I would question his results. I think he told me the truth.
The question? It went like this, “In your opinion, what is your greatest failing? What aspect of your life as a Christian is most in need of improvement?”
The answer? Time and time again, his preacher friends would search the archives of their hearts and then a look of great solemnity would come over their faces. And they would confess their universal failure, “My greatest shortcoming is my prayer life. That is where I am most inconsistent.”
I feel I must add my vote to theirs. Read my Bible? Witness to others? Study God's Word? Preach the truth? Live a clean life? All of these poll well. But my prayer life? It's a nice day today, isn't it?
Say, I wonder how our churches would answer if it were possible to ask them this question? If we could obtain an accurate answer to that question, what would it be? Would it be, “We don't pray enough. We don't pray with power. We don't storm the gates of Hell on our knees. We don't rattle the gates of Heaven with our prayers. We don't intercede for our missionaries and bring their burdens to the throne of grace.”
Take the average Wednesday night prayer meeting for an example. We sing too many songs. We read no missionary letters. We preach too long. We listen to a list of Who's Who In the Hospital. And then Pastor calls on one or two men to pray. And we call it a prayer meeting. For shame. We could be sued for false advertising. Call it Sunday Nite Lite, but don't call it a prayer meeting.
I suspect that we are not aware of the weakness of our churches' prayer ministries. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy this wise counsel, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:1-4).
The apostles knew that prayer is priority! “First of all!” First of all...pray!
We suppose we pray enough, but we do not. We pretend we are rich and increased in our petitions and have no need of change, and know not the poverty of our prayerlessness. What if we were to add up all the manhours of real praying we do in our churches in one week (or should we call it ladyminutes?). Would all the prayers offered in all our meetings add up to an hour a week? Two hours? Three, if we speak evangelistically?
Charles Spurgeon once advised his students not to pray for more than 15 minutes in the prayer before the sermon. 15 minutes! Today it is more like 15 seconds! He once took Moody down to the basement to show him a group of several hundred prayer warriors who met each Sunday to intercede for their pastor WHILE HE PREACHED UPSTAIRS!
And what about the old fashioned all night prayer meetings we used to have? Where did that idea ever come from? Ahem, have you ever read Acts 12:5? “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” Prayer was a priority for the churches in the book of Acts.
No church knows everything there is to know about prayer. But every pastor can implement changes in the prayer life of his church. Like what?
Well, we can have men's prayer breakfasts, and when your men get blest with them, change it to Men's Prayer Fasts and leave off the food. That'll sort the men from the boys.
And we can set aside enough time between Sunday School and Church to have a time of prayer.
And we can meet half an hour before church on Sunday night to pray for the service.
And set aside some Wednesday nights to do nothing but pray. And read all the missionary letters and be sure every request gets prayed for.
And stop being afraid of what people will think if Pastor kneels with a brother to pray for his needs in the middle of the congregation before or after a service.
In closing, let me share with you a letter I received the other day about the prayers of a brand new Christian. Here's what his mum relayed to me after talking to him on the phone:
“But the thing he was MOST excited about was their all-night prayer meeting on Friday night. The young adults prayed from 10:00pm - 3:00 am. He said he realized for the first time how important it is to pray as the Spirit directs you. He had several things on his list to pray about but could not see how he could have enough to pray about for 5 hours. He said that he just kept thinking of more and more things to pray for and by 3:00am he realized he needed MORE time to pray for all the things that the Lord had brought to his mind. He commented that it was the Holy Spirit directing him to pray for things that he had not previously thought about, things just kept popping into his mind!”
Ah yes, there is hope for the man who prays. And for the church which prays.
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June 18, 2008 (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith of Malanda, Queensland, Australia
Men with a vision are builders. Noah and the ark, Abraham and his family, Moses and Israel, Solomon and the temple. Men who see what God gives them to see, men who have a real vision from God are builders. The Lord Jesus Christ said that He would build His church. When He rose from the dead he commissioned His disciples to carry on the work of construction. Pastors, missionaries, evangelists, in fact, every obedient disciple is in the building trade. We build the house(hold) of God with lively stones (I Pet. 2:5). Paul describes himself in I Cor. 3:10 as a wise masterbuilder. The word chosen by the Holy Spirit here is the word "arkitecton". We are to pray and prepare (and perspire) to become the best builders we can for the Lord.
One of my favourite "architectural visionaries" is Nehemiah. What an example he is to the men of God in our generation! His heart was broken by the desperate situation of his nation. His calling was to build among the remnant. Most of his building material was rubble. His ministry depended on his prayer life and his knowledge of the Word of God. He faced strong criticism and opposition from his neighbours. He was beset by discouragement, ridicule, ecumenism, compromise, and indifference. But he had a vision from God. And he had a few willing workers who caught his vision and made it an historical reality.
A dear old pastor friend who is in Heaven once told us of a conversation he had with the boss of a demolition crew. Bro. John asked him how much skill was needed to demolish a building. The expert said, "Not much. Anybody can tear things down." Bro. John then asked him, "If you were to build the building you just knocked down, how much skill would be required?" The builder replied, "Well, that's a different story. If we built this building we would need men with a lot of skill." There are demolition experts around today who tear down the work of the Lord. Some are in the ministry. Some just warm the pew. Some are "hit and run" experts. Some, like Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, stand off at a distance and, using the catapults of their hatred, they sling their bitter words against the walls of God's work. Ah, but men with a true vision actively build up the work of the Lord.
It is the example of Nehemiah that provokes me to examine his toolbox. Nehemiah's tools are the perfect tools for men of vision. Nehemiah's first tool was his soft heart for the things of God. He was moved by the plight of his people. His second tool was his knowledge of God's Word. Almost every phrase of his prayer in chapter 1 is a direct quote from Holy Scripture. He knew his Bible by heart. His third tool was his prayer life. He knew to pray first. He knew to pray much. He knew to pray desperately. He knew to pray urgently. He knew to pray in every situation. He knew to pray scripturally. (Now that's a power tool!) His fourth tool was his submission to authority. He had learned that, in order to be IN authority, he had to be UNDER authority. His fifth tool was his calling to make the vision of God a reality. He had the divine blueprint, knew how to read it, and was committed to bring the walls and gates to completion. His sixth tool was his conviction that God's work is to be done by God's people God's way. The Samaritans need not apply. Their ecumenical appeals fell on deaf ears. Tobiah was not welcome in the Temple. Intermarriage with pagans was not tolerated.
There is one more tool I see in Nehemiah's toolbox, and that is his wisdom. It is the doublehanded wisdom found in Neh. 4:17. Every one of his labourers had a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other. The vision is never accomplished without the trowel, but the trowel will be smitten from our hand if it is not defended with the sword. What an unusual combination of tools! Both are sharp edged, but one is for mortar and one is for keeping the enemies at bay. The enemies stood afar off and gnashed their teeth in frustration as they observed the twohanded wisdom of Nehemiah. This is a most solemn lesson for the Lord's builders in our generation.
If we lay down the Sword, if we cease to oppose the ancient heresies in modern guise, if we are no longer "set for the defence of the gospel" (Phil. 1:17), if our hearts shrink from the polemic epistles and the solemn warnings of the Captain of our salvation, if the Sword is dulled by being immersed in reformed theology, or if it is softened to putty in a new evangelical scabbard, then all the other weapons will be stolen from us and the vision will fail. It is the Sword that holds the Enemy at bay while the trowel does its work!
Let us remember that all the business manuals written by all the church growth gurus can never replace the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God! The Sword and the trowel! Set for the defence of the gospel! Militant Truth! Error exposed and opposed without fear or favour! When the Sword is militant, the trowel is triumphant! We can only build in proportion as we battle!
One of Winston Churchill's quotes is a very fitting description of the churches of our day that have traded in their swords. He said, "They (the pre-war nations) go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, (and) all powerful for impotence." So it is with the churches that are no longer militant for truth, no longer set for the defence of the gospel, no longer holding the Sword in one hand and the trowel in the other.
The Sword defends our right to use the trowel and fulfill the vision of building for God.
May 19, 2008 (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Buddy Smith, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Malanda, Queensland
The Anvil of God's Word
Last eve I paused beside a blacksmith's door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then, looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he, and then, with twinkling eye,
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."
And so, thought I, the anvil of God's Word,
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed--the hammers gone.
Broken hammers! Those two words sum up the entire history of men's attacks on the Word of God. The anvil of God's Word has for centuries suffered countless hammer blows from its enemies, yet it bears not a dent or scratch from all their spite! I see inscribed upon the broken hammers the names of those who wielded them! I see Sennacharib's name. Jehoiakim's name is there (Jer. 36). Diocletian, Voltaire, Paine, Hegel, Hume, Griesbach, Semler, Lachmann, Strauss, Baur, Ingersoll, Fosdick, and a thousand others have wielded their infidel arguments against the Word of God, and yet it endures. The floor of history is littered with the broken hammers of critics, but the anvil is unharmed!
THE ANSWER TO A GREAT MYSTERY
There is a great mystery here. How is it possible that the Masoretic Hebrew Old Testament and the Received Text of the Greek New Testament, and so very many of the faithful translations of the Bible have survived the enmity of wicked men so that we have the very Word of God in our possession today? The Scriptures give us the answer, God has preserved His Word for us. He told us in His Word He would do so, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." Psalm 12:6,7 "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matt. 5:18 "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Matt. 24:35 Add to these verses Psa. 33:11; 100:5; 105:8-10; 111:7,8; 117:2; 119:89, 152, 160; Isa. 40:8;, and I Tim. 6:14 Our Lord Jesus stated this truth when he said, "...the Scripture cannot be broken." Without a doubt, God has preserved His Words for us in English in the King James Bible.
When I was a young Christian it used to trouble me that men were forever attacking the Word of God. Since I came to understand the doctrine of preservation, I no longer fear that we will ever lose the Word of God or see the King James Bible displaced by the modern mistranslations. As a little boy fifty years ago, I remember listening to our dear old pastor as he preached on the Inspiration of the Bible, its Inerrancy, its Authority, and its Preservation. At the time, the doctrine of Inspiration was under attack. Faithless men hammered away at the Holy Scriptures with their pompous words while sceptics laughed and applauded, but they all passed away, and the anvil was unharmed. Some years later, the Inerrancy of the Scriptures came under attack. For many years now the Authority of the Word of God has been under attack. And over the past twenty or thirty years "scholars" have angrily attacked the doctrine of the Preservation of God's Word. Without exception, these "scholars" have held to what is called Modern Textual Criticism.
THE ORIGINS OF MODERN TEXTUAL CRITICISM
We must remember that the men who devised the basic principles of Modern Textual Criticism earned their degrees at the feet of the early modernists. In the eighteenth century modernists were known as German Rationalists. Using the "scientific" methods of the Renaissance, they sat in judgment on the Word of God and dispensed with everything supernatural in the Bible. This view came to be called Higher Criticism. The students of the Higher Critics carried their modernism one step farther and devised theories of modern textual criticism to hammer away at the Inspiration, the Inerrancy, the Authority, and the Preservation of the Bible. Over the past century most Bible colleges and seminaries have embraced modern textual criticism and, as a result, have jettisoned the doctrine of Preservation.
They seem to have forgotten that God has always preserved certain things.
THE DOCTRINE OF PRESERVATION
Holy Scripture tells us in II Peter 3:7, "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." Two separate words are used here to describe God's preservation of the cosmos for the day of judgment. "Kept in store" is from the Greek word "thesaurus" . It carries the meaning of something being laid up as a treasure. "Reserved" is from the word "teereo" and means to keep, to preserve, or to hold fast. This verse agrees with Col. 1:17, "And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." God is always actively preserving and keeping and holding together the heavens and the earth. He has a plan for them and will not allow them to be destroyed until his plan is fulfilled.
God has, for thousands of years, preserved the nation of Israel. Surely the words of God to Jacob in Gen. 28:15 " And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest..." were not to Jacob alone, but to all his seed. Again and again, God promised to Israel that He would preserve them. Exodus 23:20 reads, "Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared." And the Jews were instructed to bless one another with the words of Num. 6:24, "The LORD bless thee and keep thee..." History bears solemn witness to the keeping power of God. He has preserved His covenant people in the face of bitter enmity and will yet bring them to faith in His Son. God has a plan for Israel and will not allow the Adolph Hitlers of the past, present, or future to destroy them.
God keeps His own children so that they can never be lost. Jude addressed his epistle to those who are "sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called." We are preserved and kept and held fast. Oh, brother, if you are washed in the blood of the Lamb, you can swing over the pit of Hell on a rotten cornstalk singing Amazing Grace and never fear that you will fall in! We are assured in Romans 8:38,39 that no created thing or circumstance can "separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus." My dear Saviour gave this poor little lamb all the assurance he would ever need when He said, " And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than I, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." (John 10:28,29 ) In Ephesians 4:30 we are told that we are "sealed with the Holy Spirit." What could be clearer than the fact that every member of the Trinity is involved in keeping us. God has a plan for us and will keep us all the way to Heaven. We are preserved!
HOW GOD PRESERVES HIS WORD
It should not surprise us then, to read the verses on the preservation of the Bible. It is God's way to preserve those things for which He has a great purpose and plan. In simple faith we say a loud "AMEN" to every text that tells us God will preserve His Word. Church historians agree (often very reluctantly, I fear) that God HAS preserved His Word. Many preachers who should boldly preach this great truth (and don't!) will nod their heads ever so timidly and sheepishly admit that it seems to be true, but then they will qualify that admission by saying that there are no verses in the Bible that specifically state the doctrine of Preservation. And then they will say that there are no verses that tell us how God preserves His Word.
We Baptists used to believe that everything in life is basically theological. By that we mean that we believe that every subject, every issue, and every doctrinal controversy MUST be looked at from God's perspective, and we believe that His perspective is to be found in His Word. If you still hold that as a conviction, you will find that you are out of step with a great many Bible college professors and their graduates. And you wouldn't be able to pass some of the courses in their learned institutions. Why do I say this? Simply because it is now taboo in many circles for you to approach the subject of textual criticism from the perspective of faith. That is the perspective which believes that God has revealed in His Word how to discern which Greek text is reliable and which is not. We believe God has laid out for us in the Bible all the guidelines we need. If you hold to this position, you are pleading guilty to having a biblical bias. Most Bible "scholars" tell us that this perspective is not "neutral." (Say, that sounds a lot like straddling the fence to me. I thought "neutralism" was something that new evangelicals were into.) When the "scholars" say they can find no verses in the Bible that teach that God has preserved His Word or how He does it, we are reminded of the three reasons a burglar can't find a policeman. 1) He isn't really interested in looking. 2) He tends to look in the wrong places. 3) And he would be in deep trouble if he did find one.
A KEY WORD
Now I would like to propose a little challenge for the scholarly gentlemen who tell us that the Bible has nothing to say about preservation. Since God uses the word "preserve" in the Bible, why not take the time to look up all the verses in the Bible that use the Greek word translated "preserved" ( as in I Thess. 5:23 and in Jude 1)? It is the word, "teereo". It is translated "preserved" twice, "reserved" eight times, "hold fast" once, "hold" once, "watch" twice, "observe" four times, "prison" once, and "keep, keepers, kept, keepeth, and keeping" almost sixty times. The overall definition we perceive through the Holy Spirit's uses of the word "teereo" is that of someone exercising a protective, custodial, watchful care over someone or some thing. The Spirit used it to describe the soldiers watching Jesus on the cross (Matt. 27:36, 54) It is used to describe those who watched the tomb of our Lord (Matt. 28:4) The ruler of the feast accused the bridegroom in John 2:10 of keeping back the best wine till last. In Acts 12:5,6 and 16:23, Peter and Paul were kept in prison. In I Cor. 7:37 and I Tim. 5:22 a man is told to keep his body free from immorality. The Ephesian church was exhorted to keep the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3) Paul faces death in II Tim 4:7 with the confidence that he has kept the faith. James writes that we are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. The truth of preservation is very clearly taught in all these verses. In each case someone or some thing is being watched over protectively. If we believe that "every word of God is pure" (Prov. 30:5), if we believe in the Verbal Inspiration of Scripture, then we believe that God very carefully chose this word to convey to us the fact that men commonly exercise a custodial and careful watchfulness over things that have value and importance.
THE SURPRISING USES OF THE WORD
So what does this word have to do with the preservation of God's Word? Simply this, the word, "teereo", is used 28 times in the New Testament to describe men "keeping" the sayings of Christ, His commandments, His words, and God's law. See, for example, John 8:51, "If a man keep my saying, he shall never die." and John 8:55 "...I know him and keep His saying." John 14:15 is the best known of these verses, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Verses 21, 23, 24 emphasize the same truth, "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me...", " If a man love me, he will keep my words...", and "He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings..." I John 2:3, 4, 5 add these words, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whose keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby we do know that we are in him." For over forty years I have been reading those verses and assuming that they were only describing the simple obeying of God's Word, but that is not all that is in the word "keep". (It should be emphasised that there are three basic words for "obey" in the Greek New Testament, but this word "teereo" is never once translated "obey".) The Holy Spirit's consistent use of the word "teereo" in the New Testament shows that it means to exercise a protective, watchful, custodial care of the thing kept. That is the basic meaning of the word. The verses which use the word "teereo" in reference to keeping our Lord's commandments teach us that God would have His children to preserve His Word. So have we been altogether wrong in supposing that we are to obey the words of Christ? I think not. God intended for us to lovingly exercise a protective watchcare over His Words, and in doing so, to obey them. If God's people have a grasp of the importance of standing guard over the purity of God's Word, and having a loving watchfulness over the Bible, they will also "keep" it in obeying it. Obedience to the Bible and Preservation of the Bible are inseparable. When the Lord Jesus said to His disciples in John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments," He was instructing them to lovingly preserve His commandments from corruption by obeying them without alteration. That makes sense to this old hillbilly preacher. I will preserve God's Word so I can obey it carefully and I will obey it carefully so I can preserve it unchanged for the next generation of God's children. If I become careless in obeying it, I will become careless in preserving it. Say, have you noticed that those who are so opposed to the doctrine of preservation also become increasingly careless in obeying the Bible? And those who are most vocal in their support of the preservation of the Bible tend to be most concerned about simple obedience to it? It stands to reason that carelessness in preserving God's Word goes with carelessness in obeying it, and diligence in preserving it goes with diligence in obeying it.
SIMPLE STEPS OF PRESERVATION
Now, I think I hear someone saying, "You still haven't told us how God's Word is preserved."
First, we should recognise that when the Lord told men to keep His words He was addressing His disciples. This charge is given to the Lord's disciples not only individually but collectively. In the simplest analysis churches are gatherings of disciples of Christ. It was the churches' task then and it is the churches' task now to "keep His commandments!" The little church I pastor has been given a divine mandate to preserve the Bible. It is not the task of parachurch organisations such as denominations, Bible societies, Bible colleges, seminaries, Christian universities, or museums to preserve God's Word. It is the work of the local church. This is how God has preserved His Word since the time of the apostles, through local churches standing guard over it. Read the history of the primitive churches in every land. They preserved the Word of God without anyone's help but God's. Roman emperors and Roman popes tried their hardest to take the Bible away from the churches, but they would not give it up.
Churches in this century must realise that no group of people in the world has the right to tell a local church that it is exceeding its mandate when it stands guard over the purity of the Bible. No author, no Baptist pope, no fellowship of churches, no university, and no seminary has the right to overrule our Saviour's charge to the local church to preserve God's Word. Second, any church that sets out to preserve their Saviour's sayings commits itself inevitably to obey it in the letter and the spirit. The Great Commission of Christ to His disciples contains the words, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matt. 28:20) "All things" teaches preservation. "Observe" teaches obedience. Preservation and obedience are forever joined together.
We need to read with discernment the histories of the churches. When the "scholars" of the 19th century discovered the mangled and mutilated manuscripts of the Alexandrian Greek text they should have exercised discernment as to the places they found them. The Vaticanus manuscript was discovered unused, unpreached, and unloved among the papists who had no desire to preserve it or obey it. Its credibility is immediately suspect because of the lawless obscurantism of its hosts. The Sinaitic manuscript was discovered in no better company. Godless priests were using it to kindle a fire. One of the rooms of the monastery was filled with the skulls of deceased priests. Dead rituals, dead prayers, dead doctrines, dead priests, and a dead text, they all belong together.
A live text, the Received Text, should be found in a live church, filled with live doctrines, with a live preacher and live saints. It should actively worship the living God. It should be empowered by the Spirit of life. When the Spirit of God spoke through the apostle Paul, he described the local church as being "the pillar and ground of the truth." (I Tim. 3:15) A church which trembles at the Word of God (Isa. 66:2,5) will preserve it in the very fullest sense, lovingly obeying it.
And third, God has given us the very simplest instructions for the preserving of His Words. He tells us again and again not to add to it or take away from it. This is preservation in all its simplicity. Deut. 4:2 is the first text that warns us not to add to, nor take away from the Word of God, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Note how preservation and obedience go together in this and the next text!) Deut. 12:32 states this truth again, "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." The wise man of Proverbs 30:6 warns, "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." God's commission to Jeremiah in chapter 26:2 is, "...(S)peak all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word." Rev. 22:18, 19 are possibly the best known verses on the preservation of the Bible. They come at the close of the canon, and warn men most solemnly not to add to nor take away from the words of this book. What is not commonly known is that the 22nd chapter also contains two verses that speak of our part in preservation. Verse 7 promises a blessing on the man that "keepeth the sayings of this book." And verse 9 identifies the angel who spoke with John as being the fellowservant of them which "keep the sayings of this book." The word, again, is "teereo". There is a blessing on the man who preserves the Word of God and avoids every alteration to the Bible. And a curse on those who add to or take away from it.
So God tells us how His Word is preserved. It is kept by those who love it and obey it. Down through the centuries He has kept his Word through His people. Wherever we find a church, large or small, that is committed to walking in the light of the Bible, we will find a church that takes its stewardship of the purity of God's Word seriously. And we will find that they measure everything, including Modern Textual Criticism, by the Word of God.
Many years ago, I pastored a church near an aboriginal mission. There was a missionary living and working there who told me one day that someone had donated copies of a modern translation for the church in the settlement. He said that after a few weeks, the people came to him and said, "Brother ________, we don't like this new Bible. We want the old one back again." When he asked why, they said, "This Bible got no teeth!" In simple faith, with barely enough education to read, they knew the difference between the true Scriptures and the mangled thoughts of men. They knew that the Holy Scriptures have "teeth", and they had discerned that the new "bible" didn't. They discerned that somebody had pulled the teeth of their Bible when they left verses out and added in the words of men.
They also knew that they should "keep" the sayings of Jesus by asking for their old Bibles back. Those old Bibles were the King James Version. One of the saddest statistics of our generation is that more and more Bible colleges and seminaries have become hammer factories for sceptics. But we should also be greatly encouraged to know that there are more and more faithful churches who believe in God's preservation of His Word . Many good books on preservation are being written and sermons preached and research done, so that there is an ever increasing body of Scriptural evidence that proves clearly that God is keeping His Word through His people.
I hear a new sound in the world today. It is the sound of hammers breaking as they beat themselves to pieces against the Word of God. It is music to our ears.
But it is not the hammers that make the music.
It is the anvil.
God is preserving His Word.
May 13, 2008 (Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith of Malanda, Queensland, Australia
Fellowship is a word we often use and seldom understand. It is a relationship word. It describes a two way street. If we make it a one way street it becomes a dead end street. Fellowship really only exists between people who are each contributing something useful to the relationship. It must be so in order to be true fellowship.
Some Christians mistakenly call it fellowship when they receive multiplied kindnesses from others, but contribute nothing to the relationship. That is not fellowship. That is being on “religious welfare.” That's being "on the dole" in church.
Others think it is fellowship when they are the givers, always contributing the lion's share to the relationship, but receiving nothing in return. They are to be commended for their gracious generosity, for their longsuffering, for their perseverance. These are the "parents" of fellowship. They are "striking a match" that they hope will kindle the love of God in the other's heart. But let's be honest, one sided generosity is not true fellowship. It could be called "evangelism" or "compassion" or "mercy,” but it should not be called fellowship.
April 16, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith of Malanda, Queensland, Australia
When King David was crowned in Hebron there were many who came to his coronation. Among them were the men of Issachar, "men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment." (I Chron.12:32) The new king had need of such men. Men with clear heads and sharp eyes. Men that were alert and awake. Men that knew the times. Men that made practical application of what they knew and led their brethren. King David needed such men. In fact, we could do with some of them just now.
There is a tendency among fundamentalists to build churches without windows or doors. Oh, we have high walls and they are very strong, but we seem to have forgotten we need windows and doors in our churches. (Altogether too often, the windows have been scrapped for structural integrity. Modern wisdom says that too much glass weakens the church.) We need to rethink the loss of windows in our churches. Windows give the lost an opportunity to inspect the quality of the saints before they come in the door. Windows help us to "provide things honest in the sight of all men." (Romans 12:17b) Windows let the Wind of the Holy Spirit blow away our stale sermons, our lifeless worship, and the cobwebs off the pews. We need that Divine Wind to give our churches a breath of fresh air. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John 3: Last of all, windows let us observe our world and gain an understanding of our times.
March 12, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith of Malanda, Queensland, Australia
One of the old Scottish theologians said, “A prophet is a man who sees what others cannot see, and so he says what others cannot say!”
Vision and Voice! These are the marks that show us who are God's prophets! I doubt if we could describe a real preacher much better than that. God’s men are those whose eyes and mouths are open. God shows them His perspective on their world so that they can preach to their peers.
Enoch's eyes were opened by his faith and God showed him the return of Christ, so he preached it (Jude 14-15)! Noah was given the vision of God's judgment on a sin crazed world and became a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). Moses beheld the Lord’s lesser glory and came down from the mount to deliver the Law of God (Exodus 33 & 34). Nehemiah wept and mourned and fasted and prayed over the remnant in Jerusalem until God gave him the vision of rebuilding the walls. Once he had the vision, he shared it with others and the wall was built in 52 days.
March 4, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, email@example.com; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith, Malanda, Queensland
Churches ought to have windows. That makes sense, doesn't it? But we are not thinking here about the windows in the buildings that we use for our meetings. We are thinking of the windows in the real churches, the assemblies of people that belong to the Lord. The gatherings of the saints need windows.
Of all the legitimate uses for windows, surely one of the most important is the view they give us on the world outside. With our Bibles in our hands and a prayer on our lips we can look outside our fellowships and not only see the world we live in, but actually see through it. Our perspective is a biblical perspective and our eyesight is sharpened through prayer and meditation on the Word of God.
Everyone of us looks out on our world without realising it. We do it when we read the newspaper, or catch the news on the wireless. We do it when we subscribe to an email news service. We do it when we read the Biblical Fundamentalist.
January 30, 2008 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
The following is by Pastor Buddy Smith, Malanda, Queensland
The world knew him not.
That’s what the Holy Spirit said in John 1:10, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.”
The world knew Him not.
That is an amazing fact. At face value, this Scripture teaches that creation did not recognise its Creator.
Have you ever pondered how complete was the humility of Christ in His incarnation? The Holy Spirit has described the humiliation of our Lord Jesus with these words, “...being in the form of God (He) thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phil. 2:6-8
We know from this text that He came incognito into our world, unrecognised by His own creatures. This Scripture text raises several questions, “How well cloaked was the glory of the Son of God? How completely did He hide the transcendence of His nature from His creatures? How perfectly did He conceal His glorious attributes when the Infinite God became an Infant Man?” Our text declares that He was totally successful. He cloaked His glory in human form.