I stepped back in time on Sunday

I stepped back in time on Sunday January 17th 2016. Literally. For a moment. About 2 hours. It wasn’t painful, boring, anxious or a drag – it was exhilarating, refreshing, bright, happy and most importantly I felt that it was Christ-honouring.

How was time travel Christ honouring? Well, I attended an independent Baptist church. I was early, by half an hour, but warmly greeted in the car park by a member of the church. I immediately felt welcomed, loved and wanted in the church. I was ushered in to the entrance and warmly greeted by their preacher for the morning. He was incredibly well dressed, as was every single other person in the building. I was the most under-dressed in the entire room wearing skinny jeans, an ironed short sleeved shirt and canvas shoes. But this man who was preaching had a great conversation with me. We talked about Tarot card readers in our local shopping centre, Bible teaching, families, work, the jobs we’ve done, where we’ve lived, our passions and our love of Christ. We even talked about creation. When the service began, I knew I was in for hymns (there was a hymn book next to me on the seat) some good preaching (there was a sense of this already) and some wonderful fellowship. Little did I know how completely different, in a good way, this service was going to be than what I’m used to. My way of “doing” church is – dimming the lights, having a pastor tell jokes for 10 minutes, talk about parenting and then pray for everyone, do communion, put the kids in creche and listen to a sermon via speaker. Then have coffee. It has to be cappuccino otherwise the Holy Spirit isn’t present… yet this service did everything differently. Like people used to before the self esteem reformation. This church had reverent dress. Everyone knew they were there to worship Christ. Jesus was mentioned many, many times. As was missions. There was even an entire prayer and news section dedicate to their missions team overseas who were facing some big challenges. The singing was, well, old fashioned. But in a joyful way. One man led worship from the pulpit, but every member of the congregation sang beautifully and with gusto tear inducing hymns such as “Be Thou My Vision” and others I had heard, others I had not. All exalted our risen Lord. This sense was there from the outset.

The preaching was phenomenal. The preacher opened up the sermon by diving in and preaching from a portion of text! A large portion, mind you. The story of the woman at the well. But instead of the preaching being about us being more extroverted or applying water to our bodies for health, or even Jesus being the “master communicator,” this preacher put the text in context saying the story was about Jesus divine appointment to speak to this woman, a Samaritan, about sin, repentance, living water and salvation through Himself! This was the most refreshing part of the entire day! Listening to someone explain the importance of Jesus doing the will of His Father in speaking with those who were completely dead in trespasses and sins is a total far cry from the preaching I heard in my upbringing, or in any church I attended during my formative teen years. It simply emphasised how important it was to know how much God valued us and thinks we’re awesome. That’s essentially, in a nutshell, modern evangelical preaching in the charismatic movement. Be yourself, God has a huge purpose for your life, achieve your dreams, shoot for the sky and God will give you a big tick of approval and materially bless you to boot! How far we’ve come…

The great conversation I had with a church member after the service about word-faith theology and correct Bible interpretation was wonderful, and we couldn’t stop talking until the kettle boiled for a coffee afterwards! We were talking about how simple it is to see from scripture that faith, rightly believed, is trust in Christ for salvation. Faith is not a force that is a container filled with goodies we need to positively confess to break open. It’s reverent trust in Jesus for salvation from sin and death and hell! This alone was worth the trip to Murray Bridge. Yes, the building was a little “old-fashioned” but it didn’t glamourise the service. It served to house us, keep us cool, covered and indoors whilst we heard preaching and teaching from someone who really were equipped to teach, showing themselves approved. They ploughed at our consciences until we responded. The preacher knew that the uncomfortable issue of sin had to be dealt with when sinners come to Jesus. It truly was, for a moment, a step back in time. And it was enjoyable!

 

The old wooden frame First Baptist Church, on same site as the modern church

A church. What they used to look like once upon a time

 

 

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2 thoughts on “I stepped back in time on Sunday

  1. Hi Luke,

    Have checked your blog and a bit of your radio blurb recently. You remind me a lot of myself about 10 years ago! So with a few more miles under my feet I’d thought I’d throw you a comment or two for your to consider.

    Glad you had a good experience at this church, we know the people there and they are generally lovely indeed.

    The problems you may find though in a setting like this for people who hold to the Doctrines of Grace……

    1. IFB hold that Calvinism is a doctrine of Satan.
    2. They hold, in most of them, that the KJV translators were inspired to write the English bible and therefore, my ESV, or if you have a NIV or even NKJV are corruption of the highest order – they are not the Word of God in any sense.
    3. The ‘sin and hellfire’ preaching is to compel the listener to make a decision for Christ (that is, decisional regeneration, or Arminianism). Once a ‘sincere’ decision is made, they are always saved….which leads to the…
    4. Doctrine of the carnal Christian. Because many people make the decision but then act like they were never saved, the IFB teaches that these persons, though saved, will have loss and hurt in this life for disobedience…they draw this from the Old Covenant promises of blessings and cursing.
    5. The IFB is profoundly dispensational, whereas most people who hold to the doctrines of grace are Covenental or New Covenental.
    6. (With tongue a little in cheek)… They hate John Piper. for all his faults, I think John Piper is one of the clearest expositors and explainers of Jonathan Edwards style Christianity and that is a very very good thing.
    7. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit And God the Local Pastor. ‘Pastor’ determines doctrine and will tell you what to think, and what music you should listen to etc etc. The IFB is not traditional Baptist (freedom of the conscience) but the B in IFB refers to Believers Baptism.
    8. If you wish to have deep doctrine taught by well trained men who have studied and shown themselves approved? This may not be the place. I do not find the IFB colleges to have a great reputation for deep study. A term of koine Greek is absolutely insufficient for a pastor who is academically trained.
    9. Dressing immaculately re-enforces the ‘coming into the presence of God in God’s House’. The New Testament knows nothing of this idea, and in fact emphasises in a number of places that the poor (those not able to look 1950’s suits and haircuts) should never be caused to be offended by anything that is in your control. The IFB has huge issues doctrinally because they cannot differentiate between the New and Old Covenants and their requirements. The reading of the Bible is literal and ‘flat’ and often clumsy (dancing is not allowed, but leaping is…)

    I work close to where you live Luke. If you’d like to catch up I’d be happy to chat with you!

    Like

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