‘Baptist Life & Thought’ Category

Judson’s Ground of Self-Denial

November 20th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians

By Evan D. Burns

On May 10, 1836, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) preached his only English sermon in Burma; it was for the ordination of the missionary printer, S. M. Osgood (1807-1875).  This lengthy sermon is a definitive presentation of the inherent relationship in Judson’s spirituality between the example of Christ and Christian minister’s mandatory self-denial in imitation of Christ.  Preaching from John 10:1-18 about Christ as the Good Shepherd, Judson began by saying that though Christ is the “Exemplar” of all his people, he is especially the “Exemplar” of his “subordinate shepherds.”  He urged Osgood to “look continually to the chief Shepherd” for emulation.  First, Judson instructed, the minister ought to imitate Christ’s wholesale denial of worldly desires.  Christ gave up his life for the good of his flock, and in the language of disinterested benevolence, Judson said the minister ought to imitate Christ by surrendering all worldly ambitions, pleasures, and gains “that he may, by all means, save some.”  Second, Judson taught that the minister ought to imitate Christ by showing affection and brotherly love to the flock.  Third, Judson said the chief duty of a minister in imitation of Christ is to indiscriminately call out Christ’s elect; then once they come in through the universal preaching of the gospel, the minister ought to make disciples through teaching them to observe the commands of Christ, of which the minister ought to be the greatest example of obedience.

 

Though the minister’s chief duty should be doing good, Judson went on to elaborate on the dominant motivation of such duty.  He explained that Christ’s “supreme regard to his Father’s will” and “the love of God” were the controlling themes of Christ’s life.  Judson tied Christ’s example of supreme love to the Father and a supreme desire to please the Father to the responsibility of the minister to esteem the will of God above all other good things.  He said no good works of self-denial or charity “are truly estimable, but just so far as they spring from regard to the will of God.  All true virtue has its root in the love of God.  Every holy affection looks beyond self . . . and finds its resting place in God alone.”  Then he went on to wax eloquent about God’s God-centeredness and righteous love for himself above everything else.  In light of God’s supreme happiness in God, Judson said it was fitting that Christ would “have supreme regard to the will of the Father,” greater than his regard for perishing souls.  Therefore, every minister must submit to the will of God.  In light of Christ’s example of supreme submission to the infinitely wise and loving will of the Father, the most God-centered Being in the universe, Judson issued a decisive verdict for his spirituality of self-denial:  “On this ground we rest the doctrine of self-denial, renunciation of self-interest, abandonment of self.  Still further, even our compassion for souls and our zeal for their salvation must be kept in subordination to the supreme will of God.”[1]  In his self-denying imitation of Christ, “Judson was indeed a Gethsemane soul.”[2]


[1]Francis Wayland, A Memoir of the Life and Labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson, D.D., vol. 2 (Boston: Phillips, Samson and Company, 1853), 486-94.

[2]John Brush, “The Magnetism of Adoniram Judson,” Andover Newton Quarterly 2, no. 3 (January 1, 1962): 3.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

The Excellent Usefulness of Hope

November 6th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In a circular letter, entitled, “The Excellency and Utility of the Grace of Hope,” Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) argued from Scripture that hope in rest and reward in the next life rouses the minister to be active in the Lord’s service in this life.  Here are some great excerpts on the usefulness of hope in adversity and ministry:

Hope, or an expectation of future good, is . . . one of the principal springs that keep mankind in motion. It is vigorous, bold, and enterprising. It causes men to encounter dangers, endure hardships, and surmount difficulties innumerable, in order to accomplish the desired end. . . .  God, who knows our frame, and draws us with the cords of a man, condescends also to excite us with the promise of gracious reward, and to allure us with the prospect of a crown of glory. . . .[1]

Moreover, as servants of God, you have a great work to do.—Though the meritorious part of your salvation has been long since finished, yet there is a salvation for you still to work out. By prayer, by patience, by watchfulness, and holy strife, you have to overcome the world, mortify sin, and run the race set before you. Hope is of excellent use in this great work. It is well denominated a “lively hope.” Its tendency is not to lull the soul asleep, but to rouse it to action. We trust, dear brethren, that the hope of which you are partakers will more and more animate your breasts with generous purposes, and prompt your souls to noble pursuits. For this you have the greatest encouragements surely that a God can give! God will employ none in his service without making it their inestimable privilege. They that plough for him shall plough in hope. Mansions of bliss stand ready to receive you, and crowns of unfading glory to reward you; therefore, beloved brethren, “be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”[2]


[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 308-09.

[2] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 314.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

400-Year-Old Lessons from English Baptists and Persecution

October 30th, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History

By Steve Weaver

In the forthcoming 9Marks journal titled Vanishing Church?, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin has an article offering lessons from the 17th-century English Particular Baptists. The article went live today on the 9Marks website. The article is titled “400-Year-Old Lessons from English Baptists and Persecution” and focuses on the experiences of three individuals:  John Bunyan (1628–1688), William Mitchel (1662-1705), and Abraham Cheare (d. 1668). The subject of persecution is a vital one for the church today as Haykin summarizes:

There are countless lessons we can learn from saints long-dead, particularly should our times increasingly approximate theirs. Like Paul speaking of Old Testament Israel to the church at Corinth: “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). He says something similar to the Christians in Rome: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).

So it is with our 17th-century English Baptist brethren. They were determined to obey God where God had spoken clearly no matter the cost; they recognized that suffering is a means that God uses to sanctify us; they were conscious that no persecutor is ever able to hurt physically any of God’s children without divine sovereign permission; and they were aware that suffering for Christ’s sake is a means of bringing glory to their great Savior. For all of these reasons, they would have regarded persecution and even martyrdom as a gift to the Church.

Be sure to read the article in its entirety and check out the other articles in the upcoming journal.

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

“The Sovereign Command of Heaven”

October 29th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Missions

By Evan D. Burns

In 1799, Andrew Fuller (1754-1815), the Particular Baptist pastor in Kettering, wrote, “The Importance of a Lively Faith, Especially in Missionary Undertakings.”  He illustrated the dangers of disobeying the Great Commission because of distrusting God’s promises to deliver the church through difficulty in obedience to the Great Commission.  Fuller challenged missionaries to have a “lively faith” in order to go to the nations, just like Joshua and Caleb, trusting in God’s promises in spite of adversity and opposition.  Though the Israelites were to bear the sword in judgment upon the nations, Fuller said that missionaries ought to bear the sword of the Spirit in mercy upon the nations.  Here is a great excerpt from Fuller:

 When Israel went out of Egypt, they greatly rejoiced on the shores of the Red Sea; but the greater part of them entered not into the Promised Land, and that on account of their unbelief.  The resemblance between their case and ours has struck my mind with considerable force.  The grand object of their undertaking was to root out idolatry, and to establish the knowledge and worship of the one living and true God; and such also is ours. The authority on which they acted was the sovereign command of Heaven; and ours is the same.  “Go preach the gospel to every creature.”  The ground on which they were to rest their hope of success was the Divine promise.  It was by relying on this alone that they were enabled to surmount difficulties, and to encounter their gigantic enemies.  Those among them who believed, like Joshua and Caleb, felt themselves well able to go up; but they that distrusted the promise turned their backs in the hour of danger.  Such also is the ground of our hope.  He who hath commissioned us to “teach all nations” hath added, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”  The heathen nations are given to our Redeemer for an inheritance, as much as Canaan was given to the seed of Abraham; and it is our business, as it was theirs, to go up and possess the land.  We should lay our account with difficulties as well as they; but, according to our faith in the Divine promises, we may expect these mountains to become a plain.  If the Lord delight in us, he will bring us into the land; but if, like the unbelieving Israelites, we make light of the promised good, or magnify the difficulties in the way of obtaining it, and so relax our efforts, we may expect to die as it were in the wilderness.[1]


[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 3: Expositions—Miscellaneous, ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 826.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Lessons for Pastors from Andrew Fuller

October 17th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Pastoral Ministry

By Steve Weaver

A few days ago, Brian Croft posted an article with ten lessons that he learned during a recent sabbatical from studying Andrew Fuller. He writes about his experience:

One of my goals for my sabbatical last year was to study the life and ministry of the 18th century English particular Baptist Pastor, Andrew Fuller.  Now that my time away has ended and feels so long ago, I thought I would still share about my findings.  After a few books read, portions of the 3 volume works read, and a very meaningful breakfast with Michael Haykin and Jeremy Walker (friends and Fuller experts) discussing Fuller, the blessing of studying this faithful man of God exceeded my expectations.

I was so blessed and learned so much that it would be unwise to try and share all the ways I was impacted.  However, as a steward and discipline to my time of study, I have summarized ten lessons that I learned from Andrew Fuller’s life that will impact my pastoral ministry from this moment on.  Because of this, I thought I would share them with you with the hopes you will be challenged in the same way I was and as a result, might be moved to dig deeper into this man’s life.

Croft gave the following lessons for modern pastors from Fuller in no particular order:

  1. Affirm a needed process to affirm pastors for pastoral ministry.
  2. Maintain the essential call for clear, faithful, and unwavering precision on the atonement.
  3. See the value of close, transparent, and life-long pastoral friendships.
  4. Embrace the opportunity for pastoral networks and associations.
  5. Keep the value of formal theological education in its proper perspective.
  6. Be steadfast in the primary focus between seekers/saints in the public gathering.
  7. Trust God’s unique purposes in the suffering of pastors.
  8. See the value of pastoral leadership outside a pastor’s individual local church.
  9. Be cautious to carefully balance family and ministry.
  10. Be wise to delegate responsibility.

Pastor Croft elaborates on each of these lessons in his original article. He also provides a list of resources that were helpful to him during his study of Fuller. Croft’s study of Fuller was clearly edifying for his spiritual life and ministry. I commend a similar study by other pastors for your own enrichment and encouragement.

Read Pastor Croft’s article in its entirety here.

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.

“Baptists, Confessionalism and the Providence of God”: A Conference in Indianapolis, IN on Nov. 13-15

October 15th, 2014 Posted in 17th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Conferences, Theology

By Steve Weaver

1689_conference_web_banner

On November 13-15, 2014, in Indianapolis, In., a conference will be held titled “Baptists, Confessionalism and the Providence of God.” The conference is being held in the year of the 325th anniversary of the adoption of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith by the General Assembly of Particular Baptists.

The purpose of the conference is stated on the conference website as follows:

Simply stated, this conference is a three day event to gather Christians with one deliberate purpose:

To encourage, equip and exhort them to value Jesus Christ above all things through a deeper, richer understanding of God’s Word as preserved and presented in the historic 1689 Baptist Confession.

The conference will be held on the campus of:

CROSSROADS BIBLE COLLEGE
601 N. Shortridge Road
Indianapolis, IN 46219

To register for the conference or for more information (including conference schedule, speakers, etc.), please see the conference website at http://www.1689conference.org/.

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 15.

Judson’s Vision of Eternal Happiness

October 2nd, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

From early in his spirituality, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) had an Edwardsean vision of how enjoyment of God would be ever increasing.  Because God is effulgent and infinite in himself, his glory is limitless and therefore our happiness in his glory is limitless.[1]  In a letter on October 25, 1810, Judson sketched his meditations of what it means to be a “lover of Jesus.”  It partakes in the genuine spiritual blessings both now and in eternity.  “Love to Jesus” describes superlative happiness.  There is no greater happiness than in loving Jesus because Jesus has supreme control over everything.  Jesus has promised happiness to his friends, and his happiness will fill their capacity; it will be neither partial, nor temporal.  Brimming with eager expectation of eternal joy, Judson went on to propose,

Nor does he intend a happiness eternally stationary.  It will be eternally increasing….  As their capacities will be eternally enlarging, the quantity of happiness they enjoy will be eternally increasing; and not merely eternally increasing in the same ratio, but eternally increasing in an eternally accelerated ratio.  So that there will unquestionably arrive a moment in the ages of eternity when the additional happiness, that instant superadded to the happiness already enjoyed by each glorified spirit, will almost infinitely outweigh the whole sum of human happiness enjoyed in this world.  To all this may he aspire who is a lover of Jesus.  Blessed Jesus, thou art no “niggard provider.”[2]  When thou givest, thou givest like a God.[3]


[1]Judson’s descriptions of heaven and rewards sound reminiscent to Jonathan Edwards’ treatment of heaven and eternal happiness in God.  See Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards(with a Memoir by Sereno E. Dwight), ed. Edward Hickman(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), 2:243–46.

[2]A niggard was a term for a miser or a stingy person.

[3]Wayland, Memoir, 1:35-36.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Once more baptism and communion

September 29th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Church History, Theology

By Michael A.G. Haykin

I read my friend Mark Jones’ post “A Plea for Realism”: Are Presbyterians Christians? and was surprised by a number of things in this piece. To imply that Presbyterians, due to their ecclesiology, are less prone to sectarianism than Baptists is a surprising opener. Both Scottish and North American Presbyterian history (the latter especially since the 1920s) seems to tell a very different tale.

Then, I am not sure exactly what my dear friend Ian Clary said in his paper on Andrew Fuller at last year’s SBTS conference (you may listen to the audio here). But to imply, as Mark does, that Fuller’s baptismal theology meant that he was sectarian and lacked catholicity implies a complete misunderstanding of Fuller’s heart. I have written a study of the friendship of this closed communion, closed membership Baptist with John Ryland, an open communionist and open membership Baptist of the ilk of John Bunyan: it is absolutely remarkable that Fuller could hold deep convictions about this issue, but have as his best friend one who disagreed totally with him on these matters (they did agree on the subjects of baptism). Here we see true catholicity in action.

Fuller never believed that he and his fellow Calvinistic Baptists were the only Christians in Britain–witness his love for men like John Newton, William Wilberforce and John Berridge. In such a context, his strong convictions regarding the proper recipients of the Lord’s Supper bespeak a rich catholicity.

Much more could be said, but in fine: I am constrained to affirm with Fuller that the New Testament knows of only believer’s baptism (as did the Ancient Church largely up until the fifth century), and that I am prepared to stand with Fuller regarding his Eucharistic convictions, yet (as anyone who knows me will affirm), I am not interested in the slightest in a sectarian Christianity. I believe in the one holy catholic apostolic church—as did Fuller—filled with more than Baptists!

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Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

“Keep that Reward in View”

September 25th, 2014 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In the following excerpt from “The Work and Encouragement of the Christian Minister,” Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) compared inactivity with weak piety.  Essentially, Fuller said that to the degree that we are abiding in the Vine, to the same degree we are bearing fruit.  This is a good perspective on laboring for the Lord’s approval:

II. The important motives which are here presented to us for the discharge of our trust.
1. You will receive the approbation of your Lord.—Place yourself in idea, my brother, before your Lord and Master, at the last day, and anticipate the joy of receiving his approbation. This is heaven. We should not study to please men so much as to please God. If we please him, we shall please all who love him, and, as to others, they are not on any account worthy of being pleased at the expense of displeasing God. It is doubtless gratifying to receive the “Well done” of a creature; but this in some cases may arise from ignorance, in others from private friendship; and in some cases men may say, “Well done,” when, in the sight of Him who judges the heart, and recognizes the springs of action, our work may be ill done. And even if we have done comparatively well, we must not rest satisfied with the approbation of our friends. Many have sat down contented with the plaudits of their hearers, spoiled and ruined. It is the “Well done” at the last day which we should seek, and with which only we should be satisfied. There have been young ministers, of very promising talents, who have been absolutely nursed to death with human applause, and the hopes they inspired blighted and blasted by the flattery of the weak and inconsiderate. The sound of “Well done” has been reiterated in their ears so often, that at last (poor little minds!) they have thought, Surely it was well done; they have inhaled the delicious draught, they have sat down to enjoy it, they have relaxed their efforts, and, after their little hour of popular applause, they have retired behind the scenes, and become of little or no account in the Christian world; and, what is worse, their spirituality has declined, and they have sunk down into a state of desertion, dispiritedness, and inactivity, as regards this world, and of uncertainty, if not of fearful forebodings, as to another.… ‘My brother, you may sit down when God says, “Well done!” for then your trust will be discharged; but it is at your peril that you rest satisfied with any thing short of this. Keep that reward in view, and you will not, I trust, be unfaithful in the service of your Lord.[1]


[1]A. G. Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, ed. J. Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 1:499–500.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Holy Wisdom that Possesses the Soul

September 18th, 2014 Posted in 19th Century, Andrew Fuller, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes

By Evan D. Burns

In a sermon on Proverbs 14:8, Andrew Fuller observed an insightful principle of how the Word of God helps us get wisdom.  The Word shows us that wisdom deters us from the destruction of folly; moreover, wisdom should not look mainly to the destruction of folly but to the greatness of Christ.  This gaze upon Christ is done through meditation and prayer.

We shall read the oracles of God: the doctrines for belief, and the precepts for practice; and shall thus learn to cleanse our way by taking heed thereto, according to God’s word.  It will moreover induce us to guard against the dangers of the way.  We shall not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, nor of the numerous temptations to which our age, times, circumstances, and propensities expose us.  It will influence us to keep our eye upon the end of the way. A foolish man will go that way in which he finds most company, or can go most at his ease; but wisdom will ask, “What shall I do in the end thereof?”  To understand the end of the wrong way will deter; but to keep our eye upon that of the right will attract.  Christ himself kept sight of the joy that was set before him.  Finally, as holy wisdom possesses the soul with a sense of propriety at all times, and upon all occasions, it is therefore our highest interest to obtain this wisdom, and to cultivate it by reading, meditation, prayer, and every appointed means.[1]


[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 465-66.

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.