Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

My Photo

Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Justification is By Faith Alone: An Outline of the Apostle Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:1-14

Yesterday at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, I taught through Galatians 3:1-14 in Sunday school. Below is the outline for my exegesis of this passage:

A. The Apostle’s cry of distress (1)

B. Argument for justification by faith and not Law from the Galatians’ experience (2-5)
  1. The Galatians received the Spirit by faith (2-3)
  2. The Galatians endured persecution by faith (4)
  3. The Galatians witnessed miracles by faith (5)
C. Argument for justification by faith and not Law from the text of Scripture (6-12)
  1. Abraham was justified by faith [Note: The Judaizers asserted that one had to come under the covenant of Abraham in order to be justified] (6; Gen. 15:6)
  2. The nations will be blessed through Abraham, but as in the case of Abraham, they will be blessed due to faith (7-9; Gen. 12:3; 18:18)
  3. That we are not brought into Abraham and justified by law is evident, for everyone who does not keep the entire law is cursed [and it is obvious no one does keep the entire law] (10; Deut. 27:26)
  4. Furthermore, Scripture positively declares that justification is by faith, not by law (11; Hab. 2:4)
  5. But it is obvious that working, rather than believing, is the heart of the Law (12; Lev. 18:5)
D. Argument for justification by faith and not Law from the work of Christ
  1. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law (13)
  2. Christ Himself becomes the focus of the Abrahamic blessing (14)
One thing I wanted to stress is how this section of the epistle provides a model for how we should reason with people from the Scripture. It is often helpful to start with noting certain personal experiences of those we are addressing. Then, we should turn to specific verses of Scripture that challenge wrong thinking- keeping the overall message of the Bible in view as we reference the specific verses. Finally, we should demonstrate how Scripture points to Christ and how His work on behalf of sinners impacts our understanding of whatever particular issue is under consideration.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

R.C. Sproul conversation with Ben Stein

The following are parts 1-3 of an interview of Ben Stein by R.C. Sproul concerning the upcoming movie Expelled, a movie about scientists who have questioned Darwinism and have lost their jobs or suffered other unjust hardship for that reason, which movie is narrated by Stein.

Southern Seminary is giving an early showing of Expelled next Tuesday, and I hope to post a review of the movie after work that night.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Prayer-response to Southern Seminary chapel sermons: 3/25 and 3/27/08.

[Southern Seminary chapel sermons may be heard HERE.]

My Father,

You know my heart even better than I know myself. You know my sins against You, dear God. You know my weaknesses. You know how I struggle with those things mentioned in chapel this week: with failure to place You as my absolute priority, with compromise. You know my desperate need for Your Son- for His perfect obedience to You, where my obedience has failed and earned me Your just condemnation, for His work on the Cross satisfying Your wrath against my sin, for His resurrection power and intercession at Your right hand, so that my imperfect works may be acceptable in Your sight and I may be more conformed to His image. You know with what expectation the spirit You placed within me longed to hear Your Son proclaimed from Your Holy Word in chapel this week. You know what disappointment I have suffered in hearing other things- tangential truths of Your Word apart from He who is Truth itself- proclaimed instead.

Omniscient God, my Holy Lawgiver and Judge,

You know the thankfulness of my heart for the work You have done in the Southern Baptist Convention and at Southern Seminary. I praise You for the faithfulness You have given Your people to the Scriptures and to the gospel of our Lord. Shall we now, in affirming the Scriptures as inerrant, yet forget that all the Scriptures point to Christ? Shall we now begin to view the gospel as a first step to be followed by a life of mere moral instruction? Shall we not seek Christ Himself and His glory in all things through reflection on who He is and what He has done? I praise You that the leadership and faculty of Southern Seminary is committed to training ministers to proclaim Christ from all the Scriptures. But, O God, You be the judge of whether we have seen this consistently modeled in our chapel services. You be the judge of whether the talk on Tuesday gave any clear presentation of who Jesus is and what He has done. You be the judge of whether the sermon today could not have been preached by Pelagian heretic, a Roman Catholic, or even a Jewish rabbi or Pharisee, if only the word "church" was changed to "synagogue."

Immutable God, free from favoritism,

Does it honor You when we applaud men in chapel due to their secular achievements? Would it not be better to applaud You when we have a preacher from a small church who has faithfully proclaimed Christ speak to us (if that is ever to happen)?

Lord of hosts,

I thank You for the work of the early Baptists who served in the military. I praise You for the accounts I've heard in Baptist History of men in Cromwell's army who spread Your gospel across the English countryside. I praise You for the churches that were planted, for the false religion that was challenged, and for the lives that were changed. O Lord, was this advance of Your gospel accomplished by those who were unclear in proclaiming Your Son? Has Your Holy Spirit ever been pleased to work by men who speak approvingly of soldiers speaking in the name of Jesus or 'whatever name of their choosing'? Can Your glorious gospel be reduced to 'make God the priority of your life'?

God of grace,

You have heard the speeches made from the pulpit of chapel at Southern Seminary this week. You have heard the exhortation to make You our priority. You have heard the admonition to personal integrity. You know that these good messages apart from Christ are damning. You know that we have all failed and will continue to fail in making You our priority. You know that we all lack a perfect, holy character free of compromise. You know the burden that these admonitions place on men's hearts that mere principles and commands are unable to lift. You know that if we try to follow these instructions, we will be subject to pride or despair and will sink into Hell under Your just condemnation. So You know how Jesus must be proclaimed in order that reconciliation to You may be affected. You know how people must be pressed to forsake any false hope, but to cling to Your Son in faith. You be the judge of whether faith in Christ was proclaimed this week.

My Redeemer,

Work in the ministry of the men who spoke in chapel this week. Have Your gospel to sound clearly through their words, so that they may make the most of every opportunity to proclaim Jesus. Grant wisdom to the leadership of Southern Seminary, that they may present the students with models of Christ-centered, biblical preaching.

My Rock,

My trust is only in the righteousness of Christ. Any action I perform is stained by sin. I pray for the intercession of the Holy Spirit, that my prayer might be heard and accepted at Your throne of grace through the blood of the Lamb.

It is in the precious name of Jesus that I pray,


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Created" in Genesis 1:1

In my class on the life and theology of Augustine, taught by Dr. Chad Brand, we have been required to read Confessions. In the last part of this book, Augustine turns to contemplate the first verses of Genesis, so I am taking this opportunity to do an in-depth Bible study on these verses as well. First, I am doing an analysis of the word translated "created"- the Hebrew word bara.

Below are some excerpts from commentaries I have been consulting concerning bara:

"This verb is of profound theological significance, since it only has God as its subject... All other verbs for 'creating' allow a much broader range of meaning; they have both divine and human subjects, and are used in contexts where bringing something or someone into existence is not the issue... Objects of this verb include the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 40:26; 42:5; 45:18; 65:17); man (Gen. 1:27; 5:2; 6:7; Deut. 4:32; Ps. 89:47; Isa. 43:7; 45:12); Israel (Isa. 43:1; Mal. 2:10); a new thing (Jer. 31:22); cloud and smoke (Isa. 4:5); north and south (Ps. 89:12); salvation and righteousness (Isa. 45:8); speech (Isa. 57:19); darkness (Isa. 45:7); wind (Amos 4:13); and a new heart (Ps. 51:10)." [Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 51] "He [Moses] moreover teaches by the word 'created,' that what before did not exist was now made; for he has not used the term yatsar, which signifies to frame or form, but bara, which signifies to create." [John Calvin's comment on Gen. 1:1] "other Scriptures clearly teach that the universe was created ex nihilo (i.e., out of nothing, John 1:3, Heb. 11:3...) and that only God is eternal and transcendent (e.g., Ps. 102:25-27; Prov. 8:22-31). Not even the darkness exists apart from God's creative word (Isa. 45:7)." [Reformation Study Bible, 7]

My hope is that as I prayerfully continue this study, I will not only learn facts but will come to know God- my Sovereign Creator and Sustainer- better, and will be able to proclaim the Good News of who He is and what He has done with greater confidence.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Expelled movie trailer

I have just become aware of Expelled- a movie by Ben Stein set to open nationwide on April 18 that explores how scientists who have dared to question whether the facts of their disciplines support Darwinism have been persecuted or ostracized. Watch the trailer HERE.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Resurrection of Jesus as Seen in the Message to the Galatians

[As I am teaching through Galatians in Sunday school at Kosmosdale Baptist Church, I decided to recognize Resurrection Day in class this morning by looking at what this letter has to teach us about Christ as the One who conquered death- the following are my teaching notes.]

There is one direct reference to the resurrection in Galatians, in the first verse of the letter:
Paul, an apostle not from men nor through a man but through
Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead,
Paul’s defense of his authority to preach the gospel to the Galatians depends on the resurrection, as Paul’s testimony is that the risen Christ was revealed to him and personally instructed him (1:12, see Acts 9:1-9, which testimony would certainly have been known to the Galatians):
For I did not receive it [the gospel] from a man, nor was it taught to me, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
The focus of Paul’s argument in Galatians is not so much on the resurrection of Jesus as on His perfect faithfulness to the Law in His life before the crucifixion (2:16; 3:22), and His redeeming His people from the curse of the Law by His crucifixion (3:13):
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, becoming a curse for our sake, as it has been written, “Everyone hanging on a tree is cursed.”
(Apparently those preaching a false gospel to the Galatians were not denying the resurrection of Jesus, but the sufficiency of His faithfulness to the Law and His payment for our curse accrued by breaking the Law.)

The Good News of reconciliation (reconciliation to God, which also shows itself in reconciliation to others) presupposes the resurrection (3:27-28):
For as many of you as have been immersed in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(We are not “immersed in,” “clothed… with,” or made “one in” a dead man, but in the living Lord Jesus.)

3 Implications for believers of Jesus’ resurrection (as seen in Galatians):
  1. In the risen Christ the gospel is revealed
  2. In the risen Christ believers are robed in righteousness
  3. In the risen Christ believers are reconciled to one another


Friday, March 21, 2008

Biographical Sketch: Benjamin Keach

Early Life: Conversion and Family

Benjamin Keach was born on February 29, 1640 in Stoke Hammond, Buckinghamshire to John and Fedora Keach. He was raised Anglican and was converted at 15 under the preaching of Matthew Mead, an Independent. Keach came to Baptist convictions through personal Bible study and was baptized by John Russell, a General Baptist pastor. At 18, he was ordained as pastor of the General Baptist congregation in Winslow. In 1660, Keach married Jane Grove, a native of Winslow, who eventually bore Keach 5 children, three of whom survived infancy. Of these three children one daughter (Hannah) is known to have become a Quaker, causing her father great distress to the end of his life, but his son Elias Keach (who fled to America when he was 19 in rebellion against his parents) was converted to Christ and became a faithful gospel preacher, helping to plant many Baptist churches that would come to comprise the Philadelphia [Baptist] Association.

Early Persecution for Baptist Teaching

In 1664, Keach was confined and tortured for preaching dissenting positions against the state church. Later that same year, Keach published The Child’s Instructor; or, a new and easie Primmer. This book was primarily written to instruct children in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but it contained Baptist doctrine in the examples. Keach was tried on October 8, 1664, fined £20 (a large sum for a poor Baptist preacher in those days), and sentenced to 2 weeks in prison with 2 periods of 2 hours each day in the pillory. Keach used his time in the pillory to preach to the crowd that gathered to ridicule him, and he tried to persuade them of the Baptist position; when told that he would be gagged if not silenced, Keach stopped speaking, except to quote Matthew 5:10.

Conversion to Reformed Baptist Convictions and Ministry as a Pastor

In 1668 Keach moved to London, began attending a General Baptist meeting in Southwark– a suburb of London, and was soon ordained an elder in this congregation. Keach met William Kiffin and Hanserd Knollys and by the time of his second marriage in 1672 to Susanna Partridge of Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire (Jane had died in 1670), Keach had become a Particular Baptist (Knollys officiated the wedding). Also in 1672, Keach and a few like-minded individuals (possibly former members of the Southwark General Baptist church who had also come to Reformed convictions) began a Particular Baptist congregation in Horse-lie-down, Southwark. Of Keach’s preaching, historian Michael A.G. Haykin notes:
Keach’s pulpit ministry was characterized by vigorous evangelism and regular calls to the unconverted to respond to Christ in faith. According to C.H. Spurgeon, in speaking to the lost Keach was “intensely direct, solemn, and impressive, not flinching to declare the terrors of the Lord, nor veiling the freeness of divine grace.”
Geoff Thomas, writing for Banner of Truth, quotes the following appeal from Keach’s preaching:
Receive the Saviour; believe in him and you shall be saved whosoever you are. It is not the greatness of your sins that can hinder you or obstruct you from saving your souls. Though your sins be as red as scarlet, or as red as crimson he will wash them all away and shall make you as white as wool, as white as snow.
Under this evangelistic preaching, Keach’s congregation grew so large that the meeting-house in Horse-lie-down had to be expanded to accommodate about 1000 people. Under Keach’s leadership, the Particular Baptist congregation of Horse-lie-down was also active in planting other new churches in southern England.

Keach was one of the seven men who sent out the invitation to the 1689 General Assembly.

Keach’s Writing Ministry

Keach wrote 43 works. In light of the denial that our justification (right-standing) before God is based on the imputed righteousness of Christ (the idea that Christ’s obedience to God is credited to the account of every believer) put forth by both the Roman Catholic Church and by the Puritan Richard Baxter, Keach wrote a number of works on justification: The Marrow of Justification (1692), The Everlasting Covenant (1693, a funeral sermon for Mr. Henry Forty), A Golden Mine opened; or, the Glory of God’s rich Grace displayed (1694), Jacob’s Ladder Improved (Christ Alone the way to heaven) (1698), A medium betwixt two Extremes (1698), and The Display of Glorious Grace; or the Covenant of Peace opened (1698). Of Keach’s teaching on justification, historian Thomas J. Nettles notes:
It is not, as per Baxter and Rome, that Christ’s death is the meritorious cause of our [opportunity for] justification, but “Christ’s righteousness, i.e., his active and passive obedience, is we affirm, the matter of justification, or the material cause; and as it is imputed to us, also the formal cause thereof.”
In Keach’s teaching, a sinner’s coming to a right standing before God does not depend on any kind of obedience the sinner can offer to God. Instead, Christ fulfills the obedience that God requires in His active obedience [keeping all of God’s Law perfectly], and in His passive obedience [submitting to death on a Cross], which obedience is credited to the believing sinner’s account.

Several of Keach’s works focused on defending the doctrine of believers’ baptism against the error of infant baptism: Pedo-baptism disproved (1691), The Rector Rectified and Corrected or Infant Baptist Unlawful (1692), The Ax Laid to the Root, or One Blow More at the Foundation of Infant Baptism and Church Membership (1693). Keach believed that those who taught that a person could in any sense come into the Christian community apart from faith were deceiving people with a false hope.

As a pastor, Keach was particularly concerned with a rightly ordered church. To this end, Keach wrote The Gospel Minister’s Maintenance Vindicated (1691) in favor of the church’s financial support of the pastor so that he might devote time to study and spiritual counsel. Keach also wrote on church discipline in The Glory of a True Church, and its Discipline Display’d. In this book, Keach had much to teach about admitting persons to church membership, writing:
[E]very person, before they are admitted Members, in such a Church so constituted, must declare to the Church (or to such with the Pastor,…) what God hath done for their Souls, or their Experiences of a Saving work of Grace upon their Hearts… [also, the] Church should enquire after, and take full satisfaction concerning their Holy Lives, or Good Conversations… [the member must] Covenant, to walk in the Fellowship of that particular Congregation, and submit themselves to the Care and Discipline thereof.
Keach and the Hymn-Singing Controversy

The modern Baptist movement (a return to the biblical practice of believers’ baptism) began as churches that had separated from the Church of England sought greater consistency in applying the Regulative Principle– the belief that every element of corporate worship must come from a direct command, example, or necessary inference of Scripture. In their commitment to Scripture, some churches holding to the Regulative Principle came to the position that no man-made songs should be sung in corporate worship. Churches that reached this conclusion either sung only the Psalms (as these were inspired by God), or they did not sing at all. Based on Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16 a few Baptist churches began to advocate singing hymns in worship. Before the time that Keach entered this controversy, Welsh Baptist preacher Vavasor Powell (1617-1670) declared that the “singing of Psalms (particularly Scripture-Psalms), Hymns, and Spiritual songs, is a continued Gospel-ordinance, and duty; and to be performed by all, but especially in the Churches.” By 1675 Keach had introduced singing a hymn at the conclusion of the Lord’s Table to his congregation at Horse-lie-down, based on Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26. In 1680 London Baptist pastor Hercules Collins gave clear support of the practice of congregational singing. In 1691 Keach published The Breach Repaired in God’s Worship; or the Singing of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs proved to be an Ordinance of Jesus Christ (1691) and on March 1 of that year a large majority of the congregation at Horse-lie-down voted to close every service with a hymn; that same month, a group of dissenters left the church. In favor of congregational hymn-singing Keach went on to write The Banquetting-House, or a Feast of Fat Things (1692) and Spiritual Songs, Being the Marrow of the Scripture in Songs of Praise to Almighty God; from the Old and New Covenant (1700). Of Keach’s involvement in the dispute over congregational hymn-singing, Nettles notes:
Though it cost him much controversy and an eventual split in the church, Keach believed that congregational hymn-singing could not be forsaken apart from outright disobedience to a specifically prescribed aspect of worship.

Haykin notes:
When Keach was dying in the summer of 1704, he asked Joseph Stennett, one of his fellow Calvinistic Baptist ministers in London, to preach a sermon on a portion of 2 Timothy 1:12.
This request is significant because Stennett was a Seventh-day Baptist, believing that the fourth commandment still applies to Saturday even in the New Covenant age. Keach published a series of sermons against this seventh-day position in 1700 titled The Jewish Sabbath Abrogated, or The Saturday Sabbatarians Confuted. Though vigorous in his defense of the truth, Keach would allow no doctrinal dispute to overshadow the chief doctrine of the Christian faith– the Good News of Jesus Christ. By keeping the gospel central, Keach saw no inconsistency in asking a minister with whom he disagreed on a lesser matter to preach his funeral sermon. Keach died on July 18, 1704. He is an excellent example of an evangelistic pastor who did not shrink back from proclaiming and defending the whole counsel of God.


Michael A.G. Haykin. Kiffin, Knollys, and Keach. Leeds, England: Reformation Today Trust, 1996.

Thomas J. Nettles, The Baptists, Vol. 1. Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2005.

Article on The Excellent Benjamin Keach from Banner of Truth

Benjamin Keach page on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library]


Monday, March 17, 2008

Biographical Sketch: Hanserd Knollys

Early Life and Ministry

Hanserd Knollys was born around the year 1598 in the village of Cawkwell in Lincolnshire. He was home-educated and learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. When Knollys was 15 years old, his family moved to Scartho, where his father was appointed as rector. Knollys attended Cambridge and was trained under the Puritans. Upon graduation, Knollys was appointed Master of Gainsborough Free School. On June 29, 1629, Knollys was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England. The next day, he was ordained as a presbyter by the Bishop of Peterborough. Shortly afterward, the Bishop of Lincoln appointed Knollys to the local parish at Humberstone. Due to the influence of his Puritan training, Knollys came to see certain practices of the Church of England as unscriptural; namely, the wearing of the surplice (an ornate garment setting the clergy apart from the laity), making the sign of the cross in baptism, and admitting unrepentant people living in various kinds of open sin to the Lord’s Supper. Knollys informed his bishop of his convictions and offered to resign his position, but the bishop asked him to remain at his post, assuring Knollys that he would not be required to conform to any practice against his conscience. Soon, however (in 1631), Knollys did resign due to personal uncertainty over whether he was truly called by God to be a minister (it was also in 1631 that Knollys married Ann Cheney). Knollys spent many weeks in prayer and fasting; he sought counsel from John Wheelwright, a Puritan minister, and concluded that he had been trusting in works rather than in God’s grace for his salvation. Knollys then seized upon the promises of Isaiah 43:22-25 and Isaiah 54:8-9 and was truly converted to faith in Christ. Now assured of God’s calling on his life, Knollys began traveling from village to village preaching the gospel. In 1636 the Court of High Commission gave warrant for Knollys’ arrest, as he was preaching without a specific commission from the Church of England. In 1638, Knollys was imprisoned for unlicensed preaching. Persuading the arresting officer to release him, Knollys fled to Massachusetts with his family, and had to face the tragedy of his child dying on the voyage.

Conversion to Baptist Convictions

Knollys may have begun questioning paedo-baptism during his time in America; the American Puritan Cotton Mather, in his work Magnalia Christi Americana, refers to Knollys as a “godly Anabaptist” from England. An additional fact that seems to support the idea that Knollys began questioning paedo-baptism while he was in America is that the Dover church, where Knollys served as minister, later moved to New Jersey and took the name Piscataway, and became one of the founding churches of the Philadelphia [Baptist] Association. There is, however, no clear evidence that Knollys actually performed believers’ baptism while ministering in America. Knollys returned to England in 1641 at the request of his aging father. This time, Knollys arrived at the end of the voyage safely with his three year old child and his wife, who was expecting their third child. In London, Knollys took a job first as a schoolteacher, and then as a chaplain in the Parliamentary Army. Upon leaving the army, Knollys became involved in the Jacob-Lathrop-Jessey Independent Church, where he took part in the discussions concerning baptism. Knollys may have even been the individual to introduce baptism as a topic for discussion in the JLJ Church when he refused to allow his newborn child to be baptized without clear warrant for infant baptism being demonstrated from Scripture. Eventually, a group convinced that Scripture teaches believers’ baptism left the JLJ Church and constituted as a Particular Baptist church, calling Knollys as their pastor. Knollys was eventually instrumental in persuading Henry Jessey to accept the Baptist position, and he baptized his former pastor on June 29, 1645. Knollys was not one of the original signers of the 1644 London Baptist Confession of Faith, but he did sign the 1646 revision of this confession– he and Benjamin Cox being largely responsible for the changes made to the document. Knollys, along with Benjamin Cox and William Kiffin were at one time scheduled to debate a group of Presbyterians on the subject of baptism; when the debate fell through, the Baptists published their arguments in A Declaration Concerning the Publicke Dispute… Concerning Infant-Baptisme.

Growth in Influence Through Persecution

Knollys had suffered persecution since he first began preaching independent from the Church of England and as a Baptist the persecution only worsened. When he preached at Bow Church, he was arrested and held for several days without bail. Brought before a committee of Parliament that included thirty members of the Westminster Assembly, Knollys was vindicated when an account of his sermon gained such hearty approval of the committee that the examiners threatened the jailer for having ever imprisoned Knollys. Later, while preaching at Suffolk, Knollys was accused of being an Antinomian and an Anabaptist and was stoned out of the pulpit. Again he appeared before a committee of Parliament and, after presenting character witnesses and a published summary of his sermons titled Christ Exalted: A Lost Sinner Sought, and Saved by Christ, the committee ruled that Knollys could preach in any part of Suffolk. As a pastor, Knollys engaged in debates defending Baptist doctrines and he supported missionary efforts within England and to Wales. During the 1640s and 1650s, attendance at the meeting-house on Great St. Helen-street, where Knollys preached, reached about 1000 hearers. Falsely accused of participation in a group promoting rebellion, Knollys was imprisoned for18 weeks under the reign of Charles II. Upon his release, Knollys fled with his family to Europe, spending 3 years in Holland and Germany; all of Knollys’ possessions in England were confiscated. When Knollys returned to England, he was again imprisoned– this time under the 2nd Conventicle Act, which prohibited any religious meetings not sanctioned by the state. In prison, Knollys was allowed to preach twice daily to his fellow prisoners.

Knollys on the Miraculous Gifts

In 1646 the radical Puritan John Saltmarsh wrote a pamphlet titled The Smoke in the Temple. In this book Saltmarsh summarized several leading arguments against the Baptist movement utilized by a group known as the Seekers (though Saltmarsh did not personally identify with the Seekers). Though the Seekers broke away from the Church of England and agreed with many of the Baptist critiques against the Anglicans, they did not believe that the Baptists had warrant to begin new church congregations. Apparently holding to apostolic succession, the Seekers believed that beginning a new church required apostles who could perform miraculous signs. This group remained “Seekers” because no such miraculous signs were being performed. Knollys responded by publishing a book titled The Shining of a Flaming Fire in Zion, in which argued from John 20:29-31 and from Hebrews 2:3-4 that gifts of miraculous signs were given to the apostolic church in order to confirm the message of the Gospel as it first came into the world; such miraculous gifts should not be expected in the church today. (This was the same argument earlier used by the Reformers when the Roman Catholic Church argued that the new congregations they established were illegitimate without apostolic gifts of miracles.) Knollys further argued that the church still enjoys the miraculous elements of the apostolic era through the Scripture and specifically in the experience of regeneration (a person being changed from hating Christ to loving Him is a miracle indeed).

Though Knollys believed that no minister of the church possesses the gift of healing as did the apostles, he did believe that God continues to perform miraculous healings in response to the prayers of His people. After being released from prison in 1670, Knollys was on his deathbed, suffering from a “painful distemper in [his] bowels.” William Kiffin and Vavasor Powell came to him, anointed him with oil, and joined many others in praying for Knollys night and day. After this, Knollys was entirely healed. Later, in 1689, when Benjamin Keach was deathly ill, Knollys went to him and prayed earnestly that God would add 15 years to his life as He had done for King Hezekiah (see Isaiah 38). When he finished praying, Knollys rose and said to Keach, “Brother Keach, I shall be in heaven before you.” Knollys died two years later, in 1691. Keach died in 1704– 15 years after Knollys prayed for him!


In 1671, Knollys' wife of 40 years, Ann, died. Knollys’ love for her and respect for her godliness is evidenced throughout his autobiography. In 1689 the Toleration Act was passed, granting Baptists and other non-conformists religious liberty. Hanserd Knollys and William Kiffin led the way in using this as an opportunity to call for an assembly of Particular Baptists. Representatives of over 100 Baptist churches were in attendance as the assembly decided to endorse the 1677 London Baptist Confession (this Confession afterward became known by the year of its endorsement as the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith). The name Hanserd Knollys heads the list of signers in support of this decision. As mentioned above, Knollys died two years later, in 1691. Knollys’ life is an example of one who is faithful to biblical convictions both in times of persecution and in times of triumph. Knollys was, by all accounts, a faithful minister in his church, who also led his congregation to support both local and foreign missions. Knollys was a leader in both defending Baptist doctrinal distinctives and promoting doctrinally-centered co-operation between Baptist congregations.


Michael A.G. Haykin. Kiffin, Knollys, and Keach. Leeds, England: Reformation Today Trust, 1996.

Thomas J. Nettles, The Baptists, Vol. 1. Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2005.

Baptist History Homepage

Hanserd Knollys page on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library]


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Introduction to Galatians

Recently, I have begun teaching through the book of Galatians in my Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. Below are the notes from the first lesson:

Introduction to Galatians (1:1-5)

1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through a man but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead), 2 and all the brothers who are with me:

To the churches of Galatia,

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ 4 who gave himself for our sins so that he might rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom is the glory forever and ever.
– Amen.

The human author [“Paul, an apostle”]: In writing to the Galatians, Paul must begin with an assertion of his apostolic authority, which was under question by the heretical teachers that had disturbed the Galatian churches. Paul asserts that his apostolic authority comes from God, not from Man. This assertion will be defended in the first two chapters of Galatians.

The recipients [“To the churches of Galatia”]: Churches in southern cities of the Galatian province (Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe) planted by Paul during his first missionary journey, as recorded in Acts 13-14.

The greeting [“Grace to y’all and peace”]: The word for “grace” is cariV, which is a form of the common Greek greeting carein, but Paul invests this word with theological significance. “In fact, ‘grace’ and ‘peace’ seem to be Paul’s (and the NT’s) shorthand way of epitomizing the essence of the gospel, with particular reference to its cause and effect” (Longenecker, 7).

Justification by faith alone: Paul’s teaching in Galatians is intended to protect the Galatian churches against the errors of the Judaizers– those teaching that Christians must submit to circumcision in order to become right with God. The Judaizers taught that only those belonging to the covenant of Abraham would inherit the promises of God and that circumcision (as further defined by the Mosaic Law) was how a person entered into the covenant of Abraham. Paul countered that Abraham was made right with by faith and that those with faith are Abraham’s true descendents.

Date: This letter was written after Paul’s first missionary journey and prior to the Jerusalem Council, which occurred in A.D. 50.