Persecution of Christians on the Rise

Christians may be the most persecuted group in the world, and their persecution is on the rise. As Islamic extremism takes hold and repressive governments step up their campaigns against Christianity, the Pope has been moved to warn of “a form of genocide”, and for campaigners to speak out over “religio-ethnic cleansing.” Organisations that monitor […]

Religious Leaders Say: The Baby Boomer Generation Was RIGHT to Get Married While Still in College

Religious Leaders Say: The Baby Boomer Generation Was RIGHT to Get Married While Still in College ARP Church FirstPresTucker

Getting married during school is a multi-generational tradition in my family. Grandpa started it: many aunts, uncles, and siblings on both sides have also made it a habit. So we have heard all the usual objections:

“You’re too young;” “It’s financially unwise;” “You won’t finish your degree;” “Babies will end your career before you can start it;” and so on. Some people have assumed that the weddings must be shotgun weddings — why else would you get married before you have a degree and a job? Others think that parents will indulge and provide financial support until there is enough money for a nice house. A few think that home must have been a horrible place for us to make such a reckless choice.

In America, even Christians assume that finishing school before marriage is a logical and irreversible chronology. Try and change the order, and you will end up poor, uneducated, with marriage problems, and three preschoolers. There is genuine pressure for young Christian couples to wait for marriage until their degrees are done. Most often, the pressure comes from the culture, then the Christian community, and even parents.

This week, we asked half a dozen couples from different countries, married in different decades, to look back on the plus side of being married in school. The variety of answers opens up new ways to think about when to get married, and why.

Infant Baptism within the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

Infant Baptism is a very interesting subject for maturing believers seeking to know more about God’s Covenant relationship with His people. To help those looking for quality material I have posted two articles with which I agree and I believe agree with the ARP Standards as well as the Westminster Confessions of Faith.

Those articles are:

  1. Why We Baptize the Children of Believers by Michael Brown

AND

  1. ThirdMill.org — Infant Baptism: How My Mind Has Changed by Dennis Johnson

If you read these two articles then you will know our teaching on this very important topic. I especially like the second article written by a PCA minister to one of his daughters who was baptized as an infant but then being challenged by college friends who believed in Adult Baptism only. His kind and fatherly advice is very much appreciated and very easy to read.

Why We Baptize the Children of Believers by Michael Brown

Madison Grace Locke Baptism 2007 Flower Girl ARP Church Anthony R Locke FirstPresTucker ARPChurch

“Why does your church baptize infants?” This is a question that is often asked by visitors to Reformed and Presbyterian churches. Since the historic practice of baptizing the children of believers is largely a foreign concept to the vast majority of evangelicals today, accepting this doctrine can be a difficult hurdle for a family that wishes to join a confessional, Reformed church. Christians who are interested in Reformed theology and sincerely desire membership in Christ’s church are often shocked to find out that the Reformed church they want to join teaches and practices infant baptism.

So, why do we baptize the children of believers? The answer is simple: We baptize the children of believers because they belong to the covenant and people of God. While this answer is simple, it is one that never the less requires some explanation. Often times, an evangelical may come to Calvinistic convictions with regard to the doctrines of grace (i.e. the so-called “Five Points of Calvinism,” or “TULIP”), yet be completely unaware of basic covenant theology. Hence, the doctrine of infant baptism seems strange and exotic to him.

Accustomed to looking for “proof-texts” in the Bible, he searches the Scriptures for a verse that explicitly prescribes the practice of infant baptism. Finding none, he is resistant to the practice, suspecting that Reformed and Presbyterian churches baptize the children of believers more so out of tradition and sentiment than from any serious biblical conviction. What he has yet to understand, however, is that our practice of baptism (both for the adult believer and his children) naturally flows from our theology of the church. This involves an understanding of the covenant that God has made with his people. Consequently, the question, “Why does your church baptize infants?” entails a more complex answer than many people are prepared to receive.

Infant Baptism: How My Mind Has Changed by Dennis E. Johnson

Infant Baptism How My Mind Has Changed by Dennis E Johnson Anthony R Locke FirstPresTucker ARPChurch ARP Church

In 1994 one of our daughters, while away from home attending college, asked me to explain the rationale I saw in God’s Word for baptizing the infant children of believers.  Since I was a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church when she and her siblings were born, they had all been baptized as infants; but now she was interacting with Christian brothers and sisters from other traditions through campus Christian ministry and other friendships, and many of them believed that the baptism of infants is not Christian baptism as it is established by Christ in the New Testament.  In a slightly revised form, this is what I wrote to her:

Here at last is my long-overdue letter to explain why I believe it’s consistent with the Bible to baptize the infants and children of believers.  I want to let you know what biblical evidence changed my mind from holding a “believers’ baptism” position to the conviction that both those who are converted as adults and the infants and children of believers should be baptized.

You know, of course, that I don’t consider this issue one on which our trust-relationship with Jesus depends.  Nor should differences on this issue disrupt our fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ who see things differently.  On the other hand, since we all want to show our gratitude for God’s grace by living our lives to please him, and since we learn what pleases him in his Word, we all want to get as clear a picture as we can of what the Word teaches.

The difference of views on infant baptism unfortunately does affect Christians’ ability to demonstrate in practice our unity as the Body of Christ.  “Infant baptizers” can and do recognize the baptism received by “believer baptizers” as genuine Christian baptism (although we may think that it’s administered later than it should be in the case of children of Christian parents).  But “believer baptizers” cannot acknowledge that believers who were baptized as infants have been baptized at all.  So if “believer baptizers” are right–if people who have received infant baptism have not received biblical baptism at all–then there have been hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Christian believers who have never obeyed the Lord’s command to be baptized in his Name, believers such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, J. Gresham Machen, J. I. Packer, John Stott, R. C. Sproul, etc. 

On the other hand, if “infant baptizers” are right, then it’s sad that the convictions of “believer baptizers” prevent them from recognizing the baptism of so many other members of the Body of Christ.  So our difference of understanding on this issue does hinder our putting into practice the unity of the church.

Although this question is not a matter of salvation, it is certainly worth our investing time and thought and study, to see whether we can come to unity as brothers and sisters in Christ.

1 John 2:15 — Deacons Lead Us to Love God & Others (Deacons Ordination / Installation Service)

deacons-bannerI have a new favorite catch phrase when parenting.

At night cereal bowls randomly are set out. At one spot is a green bowl, at another spot is a blue, yellow or maybe a red bowl. So in the morning the first person up switches the bowl to get their favorite color. Well, when the other child comes down they are heartbroken that someone is using their bowl.

They come running to me looking for social justice, and I tell them, “I want you to stop caring so much about that sort of thing.” “I don’t really care, and I want you to learn not to care. Grow up.”

This last month my kids bought tablets with their Christmas money. And they will sit for hours staring at them, playing games and such. And when we ask them to put them down we get expressions of extreme anguish that they have to walk away from their tablets.

So as parents we say, “I need you to stop loving that so much. Some day you will look with contempt on that device. You won’t care if it is broken, used by your younger brother, or lost. It won’t matter. You won’t care about it. I want you to start feeling that way about it now.”

That’s what the Apostle John is telling the Church in this verse. He’s saying, “I need you to stop loving the things that are not of eternal value.”

TOP TEN Abortion Myths Debunked

TOP TEN Abortion Myths Debunked ARPChurch FirstPresTucker Anthony R Locke ARPLet’s step back for a moment. If you are “pro-choice,” you support the choice of abortion, right? If you support a certain choice, that makes you “pro” that choice. It’s really pretty simple. And if you’re so opposed to being called “pro-abortion,” why is that?

Could it be because the cold, hard facts of abortion are violent, cruel, and inhumane?

Could it be because you’d rather not face the reality that abortion murders an innocent, helpless person? Maybe instead of arguing semantics we should face the real facts on abortion.

1 John 2:12-14 — Seasons of Spiritual Maturity (Nathan Ferrell’s Installation Service)

Installation Nathan Ferrell FirstPresTucker ARPChurch Ruling Elder Anthony R LockeYoung Men represents all men and women in the middle of their life when they are working hard for Jesus’ sake. We go to work. We go to the PTA meetings. The Boy and Girl Scout meetings. We are taking the children to their appointments. Keeping our children healthy. Leading our communities. Innovating. Creating.

We are in the building stage of life. Working to expand the kingdom. Teaching Sunday Schools. Expanding ministries in the Church. Working to grow the membership. Praying how to evangelize and then disciple the unchurched.

And John wants us to remember that we are not strong in ourselves, but we are learning to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. We are getting practice putting on the armor of God and by His Spirit leading an assault on gates of Hell itself. Only the Word of God makes us strong in our life. If we think that we are strong, yet the Word of God is not strong in our life, then we are only strong in the culture of religion. If the Word of God is not our daily diet then wes are malnourished and our strength is carnal.

So many of us are missing out on the real power of God’s Spirit working in our life because we won’t take the time to be strong in the Word and in prayer. It is only after the Word of God takes root in our heart and soul that we become hardened warriors for the Lord’s army.

Nathan, it is your high calling from God in Christ Jesus to lead us in this noble and eternal struggle. Maintain the wonder of a child and always speak of God with a sense of awe that our sins can be washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. Tell us the stories of God’s faithfulness in your life. Make your boast in the Lord as you weave His story with your life story. Remind us that the best joy of your life has been the fellowship you have maintained with the Father.

And help us to be strong in the Lord. Guide us in the battle for Jesus’ sake. Teach us God’s Word. Teach us to pray. Brother, oh friend, teach us how to speak to God. And help us to swing the Sword of the Spirit, the inerrant Word of God, against the wiles of the Devil.

1 John 2:7-11 — The Old & New Command to Love

1 John 2 7-11 -- The Old & New Command to Love FirstPresTucker ARPChurch Anthony R LockeMy family enjoys playing board games. Battleship, Blockus, War, Go Fish and other family card games. Those moments are precious because we are together. We are enjoying fellowship and family togetherness. We do not gather around the kitchen table to read and study the rule book and then play to keep the rules. The rules of the game are incidental. Necessary, but not the focus. There is no joy in rule keeping. The joy is in the people we gather around the table.

The moment really isn’t about the game, it’s about the fellowship, and when we take our eyes off the joy of our fellowship the moment is lost. Life is like the board game. God wants you at His table. He calls you to Himself. God gathers you around His table. We all take our turns and enjoy fellowship together. At the end of the day all the money and pieces go back in the box.

The winners are not the ones with the most money, rather the ones who enjoy the company of others the most.

Of course we still need rules, but God isn’t thinking about the rules. God is thinking about how much he enjoys sitting at the table with us and living out the game of life

1 John 1:1-4 — What Constitutes Our Fellowship?

What Constitutes Our Fellowship ARPChurch First Pres Tucker Anthony R Locke

Why did John give us these dogmatic truths about God? Is he helping us have strong theological opinions and win arguments? No.

Maybe John wants us to feel really good about our religious affiliations. Goodness no.

There are three reasons John gives. Three goals for those who hear this message about Jesus. First, John proclaims Christ SO THAT we might have fellowship with the universal Church who has fellowship with the Son and the Father . . .