May you please thank Pastor Ascol for his explanation of why he has chosen to stay in the SBC. Dr. David Alan Black posted it as a link on his website today and it is a question that I am working through as a seminary student. I left the Southeast to attend a seminary in California that has no denominational affiliation. I came here too for the doctrine, the emphasis on expositional preaching and for the philosophy of ministry finding its feet in the local church. I have been considering the question of SBC local church ministry or a non-denominational local church throughout my training and Pastor Ascol’s article clarified some conclusions I have made as well as pointed out the philosophical truth of the denomination. It is here that I have really struggled with the question of associating with churches that hold to a view of God and his gospel that I don’t want to propagate. I’m still in consideration but Pastor Ascol’s testimony is very helpful in my understanding.
In Christ and for His gospel,
I have been a Baptist since birth (63 years old). I have always gone to a Southern Baptist Church except for a period of time when I attended an Independent Baptist Church. I graduated from Atlantic Baptist College in Chester, VA which is very much associated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship out of St. Louis, a very fundamental, Fundamental Baptist Association.
As I have grown older and really studied and reviewed my life, I am becoming more and more unsure of just about everything “Baptist” (ie. the basic doctrines). Point in fact, the doctrine of election. I have always been taught and believed that all are chosen to come to Christ. As you know anything can be proven from the Scriptures. I have always been taught that election and predestination were false if for no other reason than John 3:16 and of course quotes from Romans.
My thesis for graduation from Bible College was a comparison of John Calvin’s teaching concerning this very subject and Armenius’ [view]. In other words, a comparison of whether “once saved always saved” or having to be saved over and over and over.
From what I am reading here is that if one is really “saved” or “elected,” than one would devote their life to the service of Christ and always try to turn away from sin. If not, then maybe one isn’t “saved” or “elected”?
This is extremely important to me. I am not making light of this subject of election of only some and not others. I have always been taught and believed that God has called, or elected, that all should come unto repentance and believe. I would appreciate your input and/or advice.
W. K. via email
Response from the Editor:
Thank you for your thoughtful email. It is encouraging to hear from a saint who has walked with the Lord for many years and who is determined to continue to study His Word and learn. It is so easy simply to think that “I know all I need to know” and to not even entertain the possibility that God may have more insight to give us, and that we may actually have misunderstood some things in the past.
As I study Bible doctrines one verse that greatly motivates and encourages me is John 7:17. It is a wonderful promise to those who are interested in something more than mere theoretical knowledge.
Election is a wonderful teaching of Scripture. It is a love story—God’s love for His people from before the foundation of the world. The little booklet that we have available for free on our website entitled, A Southern Baptist Looks at the Doctrine of Election is a great help in studying this doctrine. It sets forth the view that was almost unanimously held by Southern Baptists in former years. Sadly, many modern Southern Baptists have departed from this understanding.
Your question about how the elect will live once they are converted is a good one, and is addressed in the booklet. Basically, the Bible teaches that those who are born again will live like it. 1 John is a great book to study for insight on this point. This does not mean that real Christians will never backslide or that professing Christians will never fall away completely from the faith. Remaining sin in a Christian can wreak havoc in a believer’s life if it is not constantly mortified. We must take this seriously—as Jesus instructs us to do in the Sermon on the Mount when He advises that it is better to cut off the right hand or pluck out the right eye than to go to hell with hand and eye intact. Also, there is such a thing as false faith. Simon Magus in Acts 8 is an example as is Judas. Again our Lord addresses this in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:21–23.
I hope this helps a little. May the Lord bless your continued study of the Scriptures.