Doctrine Matters

A few years ago after moving back home to Winnfield, LA, my wife and I were house hunting. We decided to drive out into the “country” to look at a house for sale. I put the address into the GPS on my phone, and off we went. The further we went, the more uneasy we became. Quiet communities with pleasantly spaced out houses gave way to narrow uninhabited dirt roads. The “country house” we were looking for was nowhere in sight and we found ourselves in the untamed wilderness of some area between Goldonna and no man’s land. Becoming more and more unnerved at our desolate surroundings and non-existent cell signal, we knew we were in trouble when the GPS told us to “pull over on side of the road and walk to our destination”.
 
We quickly decided that wasn’t going to be the house for us and began trying to navigate our way out of the barren wilderness where we’d ended up. It wasn’t until later that we realized that there was apparently some ambiguity in regards to the address. The particulars of said discrepancies remain unclear, but the reality is that the wrong address will always lead you to the wrong destination. No matter how genuine your feelings are, or good your intentions might be, wrong information leads to the wrong destination.
 
For this reason, the second attribute we will mention in our discussion of healthy churches is Sound Doctrine. Bobby Jamieson defines it this way, “Sound doctrine is a summary of the Bible’s teaching that is both faithful to the Bible and useful to life.” Notice that he said “faithful.” Other words like “trustworthy,” “reliable,” or “sound” could be used there. The church needs faithful, or reliable, doctrine (beliefs) in order to be healthy or faithful.
 
Don’t take my word for it. Listen to what God says:
Titus 1:9, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
 
2 Timothy 4:2-4, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching.”
 
1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
 
Healthy churches have a healthy understanding of right doctrine. This is how we walk and navigate through life’s curves, bumps, and forks in the road. We rely on the trustworthy teaching of the Bible. That is also why having a statement of faith is so important. A clearly outlined list of beliefs the whole church can embrace allows us all to unite and labor together “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2) For First Baptist Jonesboro, that is the Baptist Faith and Message of 2000, a statement of faith for Southern Baptists. Please make plans to be with us as I will begin teaching through this on Sunday nights starting in January 2019.
 
Healthy churches “rightly divide the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15) Guided by wrong or unreliable understandings of God and His Word, we will find ourselves traveling down the wrong road to the wrong destination. Who knows, we may even find ourselves walking through a wilderness in a place we never intended to be.
 
In Christ

Bro. Brian


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Power in the Word

When you were a kid, did you ever use the words, “Abracadabra, Hocus Pocus, or Open Sesame” in hopes of something magical happening? The idea of words having power was a fascinating concept as a child. I can remember desiring a large pepperoni pizza all to myself and saying “Abracadabra,” hoping that it would appear. Alas, there was no pizza. My words were always ordinary and powerless.

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Health Check

I have recently been told by doctors that I am not healthy (like I didn’t already know). As many of you know, I was diagnosed with diabetes. This news was not well received by me.

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We must be “Evangelistic” not just “Evangelical”

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
 
These were Jesus’ last words to His disciples. Words that describe their and our mission even today: the task of evangelizing and discipling the world! Wow, what an undertaking! As disciples of Christ we are called to evangelize and disciple a lost and dying world. To take the gospel to everyone we can. This mission cannot be taken lightly. We must give it our all. We must give our lives to seeing people saved. All of us should have the attitude of Charles Spurgeon when he said, “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

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Perseverance

William Tyndale is a name that is unfamiliar to many Christians, yet every English-speaking Christian owes him a debt of gratitude. It is because of the work of William Tyndale that we are able to have an English translation of the Bible. His story is a fascinating one to say the least. In 1523 Tyndale moved to London with the intention of translating the New Testament into English, an act that was strictly forbidden by the Church of England. Desiring to maintain control over their congregants, the church leaders did not want the average person to read the Bible for themselves. Tyndale, however, passionately believed that the Bible should be accessible to the people. He was determined to translate the Bible from Greek (the New Testament) and Hebrew (the Old Testament) into English, thus setting himself against the established Church in England. For twelve years he went into hiding, labouring to get God’s Word into the hands of as many as possible.

In 1525 Tyndale completed his New Testament and then began working on the Old Testament. He had to learn Hebrew first, but that was nothing to such a scholar as William Tyndale. Incredibly, just as he finally finished translating the first five books of the Old Testament, his manuscripts were all lost when the ship on which he was traveling was wrecked. He doggedly began once more to translate the Old Testament. His persistence paid off, for by 1530 he finished the first five books again, and before his death on October 16, 1536, he had completed half of the Old Testament. Even though Tyndale’s translation of the Old Testament remained unfinished at his death, his work formed the basis of all subsequent English translations of the Bible, including the ‘King James’ version of 1611.

Why do I tell you the story of William Tyndale? Well, for one reason I am reading his biography and am fascinated by the faithfulness of this great saint. Secondly, I believe William Tyndale is an example of the perseverance to which we were called in last week’s sermon. Tyndale faced countless obstacles and hardships in his mission. He was persecuted and hunted by those who opposed his work. The work of translating from one language to another was a gruelling task in and of itself (Believe me, I have taken a few Greek classes myself). He was even shipwrecked and lost almost a year’s work. Yet, this man never gave up. He kept pressing on. He kept fighting. He kept working for the Lord no matter the cost. The cost for this brave man was indeed great, for he was betrayed by a friend, kept in a cold, dark dungeon for a year, and brutally martyred.

This may seem a sad story, and so it is, but Tyndale’s perseverance was not in vain. How do I know? Because every Sunday I stand behind our pulpit and preach from an English version of the Bible. I know because on the night I gave my life to Jesus Christ, the evangelist preached from an English version of the Bible. I know because our church is made up of men and women who came to faith because someone shared the Word of God to them from an English version of the Bible. FBC Jonesboro, we must persevere in our walk not because it is always easy, but because our faithful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has called us and empowered us by His Spirit to accomplish the good works He has set before us to do. So, persevere FBC Jonesboro! As the Apostle Paul said, “continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard.” Which by the way, we heard from an English translation of the Bible.

Only by Grace,

Brian McAllister


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