Calling Leaders in Faith
Much of the history of Campton has been lost. Our local courthouse, which housed many records, has burned… twice.
Much of our history has also been recovered and preserved through the work of many local volunteers and by the mercy of God.
Our church was sent an important part of our history in 2009. We received a package from Connie Hoskins of Beaver Dam, KY which contained what appears to be the original church record book of Swift Camp Church, which was founded even before the town that would one day be called Campton, Kentucky.
In the book, which was according the records therein, purchased by the church for $1.60, we find the original articles of confession of the church that would eventually become Campton Baptist Church. The leaders of that first church who signed the confession of faith are identified as the Elders William Boothe and John D. Spencer. Other founding leaders identified include C.M. Hanks and Elkanah Garrett, both serving as clerk.
Scriptures on Church Leadership Qualifications
1 Timothy 3:1-13
Today, we want to pray for the needs of our church and our community. These founding members of our church thought to organize and establish a church, even as they were just forming a town. This shows that they could not imagine a community in which there was not a church to proclaim the good news of Jesus and make disciples in his name.
As we prepare for our worship together on Sunday, I encourage us to reflect on these scriptures that emphasize the characteristics of leaders in the church. Remember that we are seeking the help of a church member to lead us by example in these qualities that are all commended and many commanded to be the fruit of the Spirit in all men and women who would follow the Lord Jesus.
Our First Confessions of Faith
The following are a lightly edited (for clarity) transcription of the original first 7 articles of faith for the Swifts Camp Church, from July 8th, 1848. These confirm the tradition of faith once and for all delivered unto the saints, that we have received by grace and in which we hope to continue.
- Hebrews 12:1-17
- Romans 12:21; Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13
- Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:5-7; Ephesians 4-6
- Matthew 7:1-6; 11:27-30; 18:15-20
- 1 Corinthians 5-6
Pursue Righteousness in Christ with Determination and Discipline.
A Fine Large Day…
My grandmother has a saying that when you have had a very productive day, “you had a fine large day.” Usually, this means that sleep and rest should come easy by the end of it. On the day I began writing this, I spend most of the day working to prepare the footings and other work to get ready for a new barn. According to my health monitor, I had logged over 30,000 steps and burned almost 6000 calories. I don’t know if that is completely accurate, but the passage in Hebrews 12 resonated at the end of the day. The soreness and weakness in my body made me acutely aware that I was ready for rest, but also pleased at what has been accomplished. I think it helped me to frame the plan that God sets forth in his Word to pursue righteousness in Christ with determination and discipline.
The Example in Jesus
Our effort to pursue righteousness must come by the work of Jesus Christ and his Spirit within us. He is much more than just a positive example, but he is also a positive example. It is by keeping our focus on Jesus and his life of service and suffering and his death to show us the need for us to pursue personal righteousness. The command not to grow weary occurs directly several times ins the New Testament. It compares to the commands in the Old Testament to not be afraid. Death was the great fear before Jesus’ resurrection. To those who believe and trust in the resurrection, one of our greatest impediments remains weariness.
The Adoption in Jesus
We are also told here in Hebrews and throughout the New Testament letters that we have come into God’s kingdom and are heirs, family members, because we are adopted in Jesus. We can expect to be treated as we would expect good fathers to treat their children. We can be expected to face difficulty because our Father wants us to be more mature and to know how much he loves us. When I make my children get out of the house and start working hard, they see it as punishment. It isn’t that I want to cause them discomfort, but I want them to be stronger. I want them to be stronger because I love them.
The Sabbath Rest in Jesus
The difficult work of doing good, pursuing righteousness in Christ, needs to be coupled with our time of Sabbath rest. This doesn’t just mean taking a break from doing good. No, the break also needs to be good. We need time to gather with the saints, our brothers and sisters in the church. We need to come together to hear their burdens and share our own. We need to be able to encourage one another with songs, with reading the word, and with trying to understand the word together. We do this to draw strength by the work of the Spirit.
The Correction in Jesus
Our churches don’t always get this right. We probably haven’t been getting it right in our church. One of the ways God intends to discipline his children is through the work of the local church. If we refuse to confront. Jesus gives us the plan for church discipline in Matthew 18. Paul gives a long lesson on discipline within the church in his first letter to the Corinthians. One of the key reasons for church discipline given in 1 Corinthians comes back into focus here in Hebrews; sexual immorality. This was such a major issue in the New Testament church, it seems strange that we modern, western Christians think this is a new problem. This remains one of those issues we try to avoid as a church because it rightly makes us uncomfortable.
The result of not facing the issues in our own church is that we lose credibility with our neighbors. This is true for the whole church and for individual members inside the church. I would also suggest that we don’t want to remove the plank from our eye so that we can help the brother or sister with the specks in their eyes. We like the plank in our eye. If we don’t first deal with our own sin, then we will feel unequipped to help point people away from sin and toward Christ. The correction of sin within the church is one of the requirements for a church to be healthy. If we don’t hold kill our sin and help brothers and sisters kill their sin, then we are failing to “be the church.”
(James 2:14-26; Matthew 5:17-20, Romans 9)
Our nation is in distress. When I began praying over the text for the sermon this week, I was too. I have been pulled over by police five times in my life. Only one of those times was I certain I was doing something seriously wrong. It was only that time that I was truly fearful. I won’t go into detail, but 19-year-old males often drive and act foolishly . Hopefully, they live to tell about it.
When I see a uniformed police officer in a public place or a patrol car on the highway, I feel immediately more secure. I have almost no cultural frame of reference for people who feel afraid or threatened by police presence, but I recognize that people aren’t lying when they say they worry about being unjustly targeted because of their ethnicity or appearance. We can debate on the reasons for this sense of injustice, but we should not dismiss the voices of those who speak from another cultural perspective. This isn’t some notion of privilege, intersectionality, or Marxist critical race theory. This is just listening to people made in the image of God.
I don’t think politics should be the main goal of any prayer or sermon in a church, but sometimes it is unavoidable. This is one of those times. This scripture in Hebrews and our present context makes it necessary.
I don’t think politics should be the main goal of any prayer or sermon in a church, but sometimes it is unavoidable. This is one of those times.
photo credit: BoldGrid Commons
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” -Matthew 5:20
“So also, faith, by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… For as the body apart from the Spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” -James 3:17, 26
The writer of Hebrews makes clear in chapter 11 that it takes more than courage to meet unrighteousness with righteousness. It takes faith. It takes a strength of resolve that goes above mere human ability. Humanity saw that with Dr. King, the freedom riders, and other leaders of the American civil rights movement. Humanity saw that with William Wilberforce, John Newton, and Fredrick Douglass with the work to abolish slavery. It will take faith to overcome the national sins of “These Yet to be United States.”
We are not made righteous by our actions. That is half the message of Hebrews 11. Even people who think they are acting for justice can act very unjustly. Even the actions that may work for goodness in the world do no profit the unbeliever who is ultimately condemned for rejecting the Son of God. It is faith alone in Christ’s atoning life, death, and resurrection that makes us righteous before God because he is righteous as God.
But the second half of the message of Hebrews chapter 11 is that we are not made righteous apart from our actions also being made righteous. Christ does not save us to let us remain in sin or ignore the problems of unrighteousness in our world. That includes, first, doing less unrighteousness personally, and then working to make righteousness the law and practice of our communities. In a democratic society, we have the privilege and responsibility to call for laws that promote righteousness and oppose unrighteousness.
We see that in the story of Moses and the Exodus, there was the enslavement and oppression of people based on race and the selective killing of infants in the name of population control. If we cannot draw a straight line from there to our present context, then we are blind or blindfolded. Right now the two greatest sins in our nation are racism (racial or ethnic prejudice or hostility) and abortion (ending the life of a human being before birth). No one really disputes that these two things happen, but we do seem divided as a nation on whether they are problems that need to be solved by laws. Some dispute whether either or both of them are problems at all. Thankfully, not too many people are still openly championing racism, but too many deny that there remains a systemic problem of racial prejudice.
Both sins deny the fundamental truth that all humans, regardless of sex, age, and level of independence are equally created in the image of God and have should therefore have equal dignity and protection. We see the sins of infanticide and racial prejudice as evils to be judged as such in the history of Moses and the Exodus. We see the judgment of God against such unrighteousness will be severe and wide-reaching. He doesn’t just judge leaders of nations, but he will judge entire nations for the evil of denying the dignity of his image-bearers. He places foolish, prideful, corrupt, and wicked leaders over nations as a judgment against them. Our churches cannot be silent on these issues, because as God’s people here in this nation, we suffer or succeed along with our neighbors. If we do not have faithful works that testify to the righteousness of Christ, then we probably don’t have saving faith that he really is God the Son. It will take a mighty faith and people of faith to stand against the evils that plague our nation. If we leave it to unbelievers alone to speak for the changes that need to happen, then we sentence our nation and ourselves to judgement.
Pray for our nation and our leaders. Pray for our churches in our nation. Pray for people to repent and believe the gospel. Pray for peace and justice. Pray for righteousness that comes only by faith in Christ.