April Walk in Truth Newsletter

date Apr 15, 2011
author Voddie Baucham topics & issues Biblical Ethics, Children, Conferences, Discipleship, Ecclesiology, Education, Family

 

Walk in Truth Newsletter

April 2011

 

In This Issue

Featured Article

Question of the Month

Baucham Family News

Event Update

Family Discipleship Corner

Special Offer

 

Featured Article:  The Church, The Family, and Discipleship:  Part Two,  by Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr.
(From the upcoming book,
Family Shepherds, due out in October from Crossway)

 

Biblically Functioning Homes

The third and final leg of the discipleship stool is the biblically functioning home.  This is seen directly in Paul's warning in 1:10-11 concerning the urgent need for rebuking those who contradict sound doctrine:

"For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach." (Titus 1:10-11)

 

Hence, the teaching ministry of the elders is linked directly to the defense of the discipling ministry that is carried out in families.  As Calvin notes:

 

"If the faith of one individual were in danger of being overturned, (for we are speaking of the perdition of a single soul redeemed by the blood of Christ) the pastor should immediately gird himself for the combat; how much less tolerable is it to see whole houses overturned?"[1]

 

This may sound strange to you.  We are so used to viewing discipleship through the lens of professional, age-segregated, age-appropriate ministry in the church that it is a bit awkward to think about the home being such a central player.  However, Paul's words here are not only unambiguous; they are also consistent with his teaching elsewhere:

 

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Eph 6:1-4)

 

We will look at this passage again, but for now allow me to simply point out the obvious.  It is fathers; not youth ministers, children's ministers, or preschool ministers (none of whom find warrant for their existence in the pages of Scripture) who are charged with the duty of discipling the next generation.  Nor is this-as I have already argued-inconsistent with the centrality of the pulpit ministry of elders in the local church. 

In fact, the home is actually the proving ground for elders.  As Paul notes in his letter to Timothy:

 

"He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?" (1 Tim 3:4-5)

 

Hence, it is impossible to overstate the importance of the ministry of the home in the Pastoral Epistles.  Again and again we find admonitions to parents and children (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:20), and instructions to elders (1 Tim. 3:4-5; Titus 1:6, 10-12) that center around the disciple-making function of the family, and particularly the family shepherd.

 

The Link that Joins the Other Legs

The importance of family discipleship in the overall ministry of the local church is further evidenced by the way in which the ministry of the home is interwoven into Paul's teaching in Titus.  A panoramic view of this short epistle makes it obvious that the home is the hub of Christian activity.   Paul emphasizes the importance of the family in evaluating potential elders (1:6-7); as an outpost to be protected doctrinally (1:10-12); as the locus of primary ministry for young women (2:4,5); and as the focus of the instruction of older women to the young. 

Therefore, we see that in each of the three stools of discipleship in the local church-godly, older men and women; godly, manly elders, and biblically functioning homes-there is a link to the ministry of the home, and the family shepherd in one way or another.  Hence, there is a synergy between strong Christian homes and strong churches.  Thus, the ministry of the family shepherd is an indispensable element in the health, wellbeing, and future of the church.  I have often quoted Richard Baxter on this matter, but his words are so appropriate here that I cannot help but do it again:  "The life of religion, and the welfare and glory of both the Church and the State, depend much on family government and duty. If we suffer the neglect of this, we shall undo all."[2]

Amen!

 

 


 

[1]John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries (Complete), trans. John King, Accordance electronic ed. (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1847), n.p.

[2]Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, Select Works of Richard Baxter. Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), ii.

 

VB  

 

Question of the Month

 


Newsletter Question of the Month

Each month we receive dozens of questions.  Some I answer in my blog, but some require much shorter responses.  We try to answer one of those questions each month in the Newsletter.

 

This month's question is: 

"I'm a southern baptist pastor and am commited to preaching verse by verse through books of the Bible. Such a practice has me drawing the same conclusions as the reformers. As I grow in my understanding of the Bible's doctrine I'm discovering that my theological and philosophical foundation for ministry and church life are radically differnt from my church members who are more mystic than Christian. I'm not upset or angry at them but very saddened by this. The Bible is simply not their rule for faith and practice. My question is, how often and from how many people do we need to hear: "That's just your interpretation" or "I know what the Bible says, but..." before we pack it up and not only find a different church but maybe a different denomination?"

 

-Anonymous Pastor 

 

 

I must admit that this question resonates with me on a very visceral level.  In fact, I have written about my own experience as a Southern Baptist who finds himself holding firmly to the doctrines of the Reformation and (as a direct result) drifting (rather, being pushed) further and further away from my Southern Baptist brothers (see here).  However, this is much more difficult on a local level.   

 

You Must Shepherd the Flock 

 

First, at the local level, a pastor has an obligation to shepherd the flock (1 Peter 5:2).  This is different than our obligation to our Convention (or denomination for those of you outside the SBC).  As a Southern Baptist, I partner with my brothers for things like missions, but I do not have an obligation to shepherd them.  As a pastor, however, I am commanded to guide the flock.  Thus, my first piece of advice is to remember your charge.  These people think the way they do because of the way they've been led, and any change in that is going to have to be the result of patient leading in a different direction.  

 

 

You Must Teach the Flock 

  

 

In addition to leading, you must teach (Titus 1:9).  Continue to teach the Scriptures.  Continue to take the time necessary to help people connect the dots.  Continue to refute those who contradict sound doctrine.  In short,

 

"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, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:2-5 ESV)

 

 

You Must Protect the Flock 

 

Finally, don't forget that a shepherd's job is to protect the sheep.  Before you even think about leaving, think about what condition the people are in and what kind of man they are likely to call should you leave.  It is your job to help them see the dangers in the kind of "theology-lite" for which our Convention has become known.  Help them see the harm that has been done by rampant Arminian, semi-Pelagian, decisionistic, shallow, worldly, power-hungry hirelings, so that, by God's grace, they might be repulsed by them.    

 

 

Always Run To and Never From 

 

Finally, a Christian ought always run toward God's call, and not away from difficulty.  ""Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets." (Luke 6:22-23 ESV)   

 

There is most assuredly a time to leave.  However, we must not confuse that fact with the idea that God's people are often called to suffer.  Make sure you are running toward God's call and not just running away from what Dr. Martil Lloyd Jones called "Some hard place."  And you definitely don't want to be like the man who ran away from the lion only to meet the bear.  Instead, be more like the man who faced a giant because of the confidence he gained when he faced both a lion and a bear... as a shepherd leading and protecting sheep (2 Sam. 17).   

 

 

VB