Old Testament Theology - Lesson 19

Worship is a Unity (Part 1/2)

Jeremiah was called to preach repentance when the nation of Israel was deteriorating. God also gave him a message of building and planting which included the promise of a New Covenant. It will be written on the hearts of people, not just on tablets of stone. The New Covenant is limited to only people who know God, which is a link to the teaching about the New Covenant in the New Testament. Various denominations have different views about how baptism should be done and what part it plays in your conversion experience. 

Paul House
Old Testament Theology
Lesson 19
Watching Now
Worship is a Unity (Part 1/2)

OT590: 19 Worship is a Unity 1 - Class Transcript

I. Introduction to Worship in the Old Testament

A. Definition of Worship

B. The Purpose of Worship in the Old Testament

II. The Unity of Worship in the Old Testament

A. The Centrality of the Temple in Worship

B. The Role of the Priests in Worship

C. The Significance of the Offerings in Worship

III. Conclusion

A. The Importance of Understanding Worship in the Old Testament

B. The Relevance of Worship in the Old Testament for Today's Church


  • This course covers the main currents of Old Testament theological thought, encourages you to formulate your own ideas about major topics, guides you to develop a process for understanding the text while identifying theological truths and helps you develop a biblical theology that will inform your ministry. Both Jesus and the apostle Paul teach from the Old Testament and affirm it. The Hebrew canon of the Old Testament is divided into the Law, the Prophets and the Writiings. 

  • Johann Gabler's approcach was that systematic theology should grow out of Biblical theology. Look at each Biblical text and examine it historically, compare different Biblical texts, then find the universal abiding principles. Bauer's approach emphasized theology, anthropology and Christology. Another approach is approach is from a more romantic perspective that emphasizes ideas that encourage people toward higher living. Valtke says that the Israelite religion evolves from simple to complex. Conservative scholars in the 1800's began emphasizing messianic and salvation themes. In the early 1900's Karl Barth emphasized the theme of sin and humans' need for God. Later in the 1900's theologians often tried to emphasize a single theme in the Old Testament like God's presence or covenant, and also God's work in history. The texts in the Old Testament are used and reused, preached and repreached. 

  • In the 1960's, there was an emphasis on Biblical Theology and the unity, the history and the distinct nature of the Bible. One author emphasized that each book of the Old Testament has its own distinct theological witness that forms the ongoing witness of the Old Testament. Some taught that the order of the books of the Old Testament is important to the structure of the message of the Old Testament. Some recent Old Testament theologies are written from a post-modern point of view where everyone's opinion is considered equally, regardless of whether or not it has merit. Presuppositions for OT Theology are: 1. Biblical texts are God's Word and carry God's character, 2. the Bible unfolds canonically and reflects God's work in history, 3. a viewpoint of the writer of the Bible conflicts often with how people acted in history, 4. Jesus bases his teaching on the Law, Prophets and Writings, 5. the Bible interprets itself historically, and 6. the Bible interprets itself thematically. The approach Dr. House uses is: 1. teach the text in canonical order, 2. discern subjects in the text, 3. trace the subject iin canonical order, and 4. note connections between your subjects and other related subjects. 

  • Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 are passages that are central to the teaching and meaning of the Old Testament. Creation is a foundational theme in the Old Testament and throughout Scripture. the Creator created creation. Creation is a beginning point in describing the trinitarian nature of God. The account of creation also gives you insights into God's character and his purpose for creating the universe. The universe is created in an orderly way and structured to function in a specific way. Since humans are made in the image of God so we should treat others with respect and dignity. Animals are not on the same level as humans because they are not moral, but humans should not mistreat animals. The Sabbath is instituted in creation. Process theology and Creation theology are two ways of looking at God's nature and how he relates to his creation. 


  • Dr. House discusses the essential relationship between the Creator and his people. God has created human beings for his glory. He knows the future. We often do not know the ultimate reasons for the circumstances we experience. God does reveal some things about his plan for the world and his love for people. We see some examples in the stories in the Old Testament. It is sometimes difficult to have faith that God loves us when we experience difficult circumstances. Some people believe that God relates to the world in a way they describe as process theology, or an "open" view of God. 

  • Creation is a theme that appears in books in the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Israel's covenant relationship to God is unique to countries of that time in the Ancient Near East. God promises blessings if Israel keeps the covenant and curses if they don't keep it. The purpose of the Law is to create a holy people and a kingdom of priests. The Law is relational because it assumes a prior relationship with God. 

  • One purpose of the law is to focus individuals on loving God and loving others. It also helps people create a holy community. Living out the law requires both revelation and wisdom from God. The Tabernacle was a symbol of the presence of God being at the center of the Israelite community. God set up the sacrificial system as part of the process for people to be forgiven when they didn't live up to the covenant. The job of the priests was to care for and teach the Word of God, make sure the sacrifices were offered correctly and to determine what was clean and unclean. At the end of Leviticus, God offers blessings for adherence to the covenant. Living by faith led to people following the works of the Law. 

  • Numbers begins with the Israelites preparing to enter the Promised Land. However, they don't believe that God will give them victory, so God tells them that the current generation will die in the desert. Even though they complain and rebel, God provides for them. Moses leads them and also prepares them to enter the land by reminding them of past and also giving them the details of the covenant that God wants them to live by. When the people break the covenant, God sends prophets to remind them to keep the Law and to bring their sacrifices for the right reasons. The message in Deuteronomy is that the covenant is based on God's love for them and their love for him. Christ came to fulfill the Law and teach that it's more than just trying to do as many good deeds as you can. The Law demonstrates that sin is a problem that we can't solve ourselves. It requires a mediator, who is Jesus. 

  • God must be in control of history because he promises Abraham that he will make him a great nation, he will make his name great, he will be a blessing, God will bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him, all the families of the earth and God will give him the land of Canaan. God promises David an eternal kingdom. He also promises to send a messiah and describes the circumstances surrounding his appearing. 

  • After the Israelites had lived in Canaan for a while, they rebelled and worshipped other Gods. God sent judges to serve as deliverers. The book of Judges includes examples of the Israelites and the judges themselves behaving in a way that is inconsistent with the standards in God's covenant. God appoints Saul as the first king, but Saul becomes strays from following God and dies in battle. We see a picture of God who is strong enough to stay the course even when there is suffering and a God who is soft enough to feel pain. God chooses David to be king. Even though David commits sins like adultery and murder, he repents, and God considers him to be a man after his own heart. God rules history: both the good and the bad, judgment and blessing. 

  • Messianic theology is the most important theme in the Old Testament but not every text in the Old Testament can say something about Christ. The writers of the New Testament interpret Old Testament Messianic texts historically and contextually. The Old Testament offer a multi-faceted portrait of the Messiah so that people would recognize him when he came. The promise of the Messiah begins in Genesis chapter three with the curse of the serpent after Adam and Eve sinned. God also made promises to Abraham and David that are fulfilled in the Messiah. The Messiah is also described as being a prophet. 

  • The Messiah is described as being a king from the line of David. Isaiah describes the Messiah as a coming savior who is a righteous ruler and a servant of God. Isaiah also describes the birth of the Messiah in Isaiah 7:14 and says that he will be known as the wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. 

  • Isaiah chapter 11 begins by describing the Messiah as being from the lineage of David's father. The Messiah will also have a spirit of wisdom and understanding, council and strength. Isaiah 25 describes a scene with no threat. God is not only the judge of all nations, he is also the one who reaches out to them. Isaiah 42 and following are the passages known as the Servant Song. The servant referred to in these passages are likely an individual, not the nation of Israel. Isaiah 53 is one of the most cited passages in the New Testament. 

  • Isaiah 53 describes the suffering that the servant will experience. Verses from this chapter are quoted in both the Gospels and the letters of the New Testament. This chapter also describes what Jesus will do in his healing ministry, his atoning death and the resurrection. Isaiah 61:1-3 is the passage that Jesus reads in the synagogue at the beginning of his public ministry. After reading this passage, he says, "These words are fulfilled in your hearing." Jeremiah 23:1-8 describes the Messiah as a coming shepherd to lead the people of Israel. Jeremiah 31 and 33 describe a new covenant that is coming and someone from the lineage of David to make it happen. Jesus refers to himself as the, "son of man," which is a description of the Messiah in Daniel 7: 13-14.

  • Ezekiel's message to the people of Israel who are captives in Babylon is that God will bring them back to their land and eventually they will live in glorified Jerusalem. He will put his Spirit within them, cause them to walk in his statutes and they will be careful to obseverve his ordinances. God will change their hearts. Ezekiel's message for the nations is one of both judgment and redemption. Imagery that you find in prophets like Micah and Zechariah are referred to in the New Testament. Common themes in the Gospels are Jesus being referred to by the title of Son of Man and also describing the ministry of Jesus as a shepherd. Each of the Gospels also includes references to the Spirit in the ministry of Jesus to the disiples and to the crowds. The Spirit worked in obvious ways in the lives of people in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. The church began with the manifestation of the Spirit at Pentectost after Jesus rose from the dead. 

  • It is possible that Christ appeared to some people in the Old Testament. The Psalms were written to worship and express emotions to God as people were experiencing many different circumstances both personally and as a nation. In David's Psalms, when he uses Zion, he is often referring to glorified Jerusalem. The word, "anointed" often refers to the Messiah. 

  • God does not promise us as humans, omniscience, so we cannot know for sure the significance of the timing , circumstances and results of any situation we face. We sometimes suffer because of the sins of others, because of our own sins or because of evil and chaos in the world. God gives us hope because he can redeem the consequences of sin in a way that is for our good and his glory. Joseph's life is a good example. We can also see examples in the lives of the prophets and the apostle Paul. 

  • The entire book of Job focuses on the question, "If God is good and powerful, why do you see suffering in the world?" (see the course, The Book of Job). Part of the answer is that God has made Job's suffering redemptive to him, to his family, to his community and to everyone who reads his story. Naomi's husband and sons die, but Ruth takes care of her and gives birth to a son that Naomi sees as an indication that her future is secure. Lamentations is written during a time when the people of Israel were in captivity with no end in sight. 

  • Jeremiah was called to preach repentance when the nation of Israel was deteriorating. God also gave him a message of building and planting which included the promise of a New Covenant. It will be written on the hearts of people, not just on tablets of stone. The New Covenant is limited to only people who know God, which is a link to the teaching about the New Covenant in the New Testament. Various denominations have different views about how baptism should be done and what part it plays in your conversion experience. 

  • Even while the Babylonians are laying siege and occupying the land, God tells Jeremiah to purchase property as a sign that God will bring the people of Israel back to the land. Eschatology is a theme that links the Old and New Testaments. Jesus preaches about the Kingdom of God in a way that shows that there is a present as well as a future aspect. When you are studying a subject or theme in your reading or preaching, synthesize what both the Old Testament and New Testament teach about it. 



Welcome to Old Testament Theology with Dr. Paul House. In this course, we'll be discussing the theology of the entire Old Testament. This is a huge and complex topic, but Dr. House is one of the leading experts in the field, and he's also a great teacher with a unique sense of humor. So I'm confident you'll find this course to be both informative and enjoyable.

I want to talk today about continuing to move toward biblical theology and the wholeness scripture. And I wanted to start with a passage that we have mentioned and we have gone around and that's Jeremiah 31 because it is here that was one of our clearest connections and yet distinctions between the Testaments is made. But we go to Jeremiah Chapter 31 for the new Covenant passage. I will tell you as we've learned yesterday I will remind you of what we've learned yesterday that Jeremiah was a prophet between 627 and 587. 

More than any other prophet that we have recorded in scripture, he bore the weight and the strain of preaching God's Word during the nation's deterioration, and it must have been a difficult thing to know that it was his task to preach repentance to the people. That word, some form of repentance is used 111 times I'm told in the book of Jeremiah. Which, by the way, is the longest book of the Bible on word count. I've been told that. Some of you'll go check the computer and find out I'm wrong. But it is a long book, it is a book devoted to preaching repentance, to a people that Jeremiah knows from the start will not change. by his calling he is told they will not change, and God is protecting most all of the rest of us from that kind of knowledge. This is an extraordinary situation and God told Jeremiah that would preach, plucking up, other words, tear things up, by the roots, pulling down, other words, tearing down an edifice.

So, a lot of his preaching would be about sin and its results and punishment. That's why he says in Chapter 20, that we looked at yesterday, he cries out violence all the time and the people get tired of it. They whisper against him and not only that, let's be fair, to the people he was preaching judgment for a couple of decades before any resulted. So, on the one hand, he didn't even have the satisfaction of seeing his messages come true in history for a long time. Then when they did, how much satisfaction can you take when in a nation being devastated. 

So, he had the satisfaction of the kings wanting his word. He did not have the satisfaction however of those kings accepting his word. Whatever spiritual interest and energy there was in the nation came early in his ministry, and his ministry therefore was one long difficult journey. But, there is one other thing God told him in his call and that was he would also get to preach about building and planting. He would pluck up but would also get to preach about putting plants back. 

He would preach about pulling down, but he would also preach about building up. And it is in chapters 30 to 33 that the building and the planting section is most prominent. They're other passages of hope. We've looked at the Messianic hope saying in Jeremiah 23 or in 33, a few days ago.

But, it's in 30 to 33 that you have a sustained emphasis on building and planting in the future, and perhaps the pinnacle of the building and planting section is chapter 31. These chapters talk about God restoring the fortunes of Israel. Making things better again after a long period of trial and loss. This is a context, it's interesting that it comes in the middle of the book. Kind of reemphasizes that it is a future point and that Jeremiah's book ends with the devastation and destruction of Jerusalem. Almost identical to 2 Kings 25, almost word for word. 

So, you get so many of these hopeful passages in 30 to 33, but look at chapter 31:27. In a phrase that is fairly common throughout these chapters and 31:27, behold days are coming declares the Lord, when I will sow the House of Israel, other words, planting, and the House of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast. You gonna replant people and animals and land. As I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy, to bring disaster, other words he's made certain it's happened. He's watched over it. He sat that work and he has been making sure it occurs.

Just as I was determined and thorough in watching over that, so will I watch over them to build a plan declares the Lord. He gonna be as determined to do that as he was to judge. In those days, they will not say again the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. What that means is they're blaming their ancestors for their problems. Even though, they themselves have sinned. But, he says, in those days they won't say that anymore. Other words, they're gonna be a new attitude here. But, everyone will die for his own equity, each man eats of sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge. Another way of saying at that point in time the suffering for the ancestor's sins will cease. 

Now let's see who asked a question about sins of the fathers? Oh, okay, that question was asked the other day about, after class and I said we should take up the issue, that's appropriate here. What does it mean to say the sins of the fathers are punished on the children of the 3rd and 4th generation? Remember also though in that text it says that the Lord is loving and kind and something like to the thousands of generations. So on the one hand, one can read these passages and say those are just metaphors of saying God is throwing his punishment and throwing his blessing. 

But there's another factor. Is it possible for us to suffer for the sins of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents? Oh, absolutely, I would argue that it's inevitable in many cases. There is a sense in which, even if I didn't know my great-grandfather, they could set in motion both good and bad things that would effect me. 

I think of one good thing, I'll just use this as an example, 1908 my maternal great-grandfather built a house, he lived in it 'til the 1940s when he died. Sold it to my paternal grandfather, when he died it was sold to my paternal grandfather. In the 1970's it was bought by my father, and he lived there until last December. [audience reply] Pardon?  I'm thinking about it. 

So, it's been in one side or the other of the family for nearly a hundred years. I'm trying not to let my sentiments overrun my pocketbook. But, it's also, there are other advantages, but when it's all said and done one great-grandfather set something in motion that has been a benefit to us. My dad laughs and says he knows that house needs internal repair but he does not think a tornado could take it down and when we remodeled it to move into when I was growing up, it was the first time I had literal 2x4 and actual 2 inches by 4 inches board. I said to my dad, that thing looks big; he said that's an actual 2x4. Because, you know most of them now are 1 3/4 by 3 3/4 and it was made of oak so they actually had to drill holes so they could drive nails. They could not drive a nail in it. 

So, the great-grandfather put something into play there and right across the road from there you can see the church where all my mother's people, it's a little Methodist church, where they all came to know Christ and they were baptized there, and all that sort of thing. There’s a lot of history there, and there's a little school house right across the road—They all educated there for a while. When it's all said and done, that man put into motion spiritual and physical things that continue to be a benefit. Now, I can tell you about a couple other ones however. Including great-grandfather was a massive temper and a rather narrow religious view. I think I will see him transformed in heaven. But, I think the last time they had to go get him from a fist fight was when he was 75, there were ramifications to that. So, what I think is true from Scripture is that though you can suffer for the sins of the prior generations, they cannot keep you from coming to know the Lord and that's key. 

But, just like I can suffer for your sins or you can suffer for mine and probably the potential to suffer for one another's sins is extended by the length of time we know one another, it's absolutely possible. And Jeremiah or Baruch, or their other extended friend, Evan Mellick [phonetic] they can all suffer for the choices their father's made as to where they serve the Lord or not and how that fit into Israel's history. 

Josiah suffered for the sins of his father like that, Esaki did. These are Godly kings, they had to try to undo what their father's done and they never quite got the job done. But these fathers could not keep them from knowing the Lord, that is key. There's coming a time, basically coming in 31,29 and 30 the theology is set that the people and things will be evened out, that the people being a new era in which all of those previous sins have settled, so to speak. And you'll only be suffering for your own sins at that point. That would be pretty good news, on a bad day that's a good start. 

Then we come to ourselves and say I probably need more Grace than that, because my own sins are considerable. It's more than that, verse 31, behold days are coming when I'll make a new Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah. Even though, the House of Israel in effect no longer exists at this point and time. Jeremiah's vision of seeing the tribes all whole. That is true in the Messianic vision as well. So, there'll be a new Covenant with the Northern tribes and with the Sothern tribes and taken as a whole. 

Now I've heard this debated and once I heard a very interested debate of Jewish scholars in Israel, American and Israeli. [Mooshi Whinefeild] [phonetic] a prominent Covenant [inaudible] scholar, Jewish Covenant [inaudible] scholar, argued that this means an absolute new Covenant, something we are arguing, it's a Covenant renewal. But, he argued that the language, for instance verse 32, not like the Covenant, New Covenant, et cetera. That as it's been interpretation, this is one place he agreed with Christians scholars, he didn't believe Jesus was the Messiah, but he did believe they were right to say in days to come, there would be a new Covenant. 

So, we see some distinctions made a new Covenant, not like the Covenant which I've made with their fathers in the day. I took them by the hand, those are God's in a pretty positive light here, the Covenant I've made with their fathers in the day. I took them by their hand like a kid, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. My Covenant, which they broke, although I was a husband to them. So you have parental imagery, you have marital imagery. So, the problem with the first Covenant was one of the Covenant partners. Israel was not a fully reliable Covenant partner. 

But then again let's talk about that term Israel because there was always within Israel a remnant of fully responsive Covenant partners. Now, whereas, Jeremiah and his chapters 2 to 6, could talk about Israel as a whole did not love the Lord and they acted like strange spouse. Much like what you read in Josiah 1 to 3 or Ezekiel 16, 20, 23. Three chapters in Ezekiel 16, 20 and 23 agrees with Josiah 1 to 3, and Jeremiah 2 to 6. The Old Testament and the New, and again when Hebrew sites it, it sites the whole passage of Jeremiah 31:32, the problem is not with the Covenant, nor with God, but with the other Covenant partner, because as a whole they are not Covenant keepers, there is only a minority of them that are Covenant keepers. After say, the time of the conquest. You don't want to say it's all of one piece, but certainly during Joshua's time the people were free faithful. Certainly during Josiah's time, we have to wait a moment, seems like Josiah's was pretty committed, it's hard to tell who the people were.  

But, there were time of renewal. But, by in large as consistent ongoing Covenant that required the whole of the people to be faithful. They were not a good Covenant partner.  They brought the Covenant, although I was a husband too. But, I want a nuance because I've heard it said basically, you know all of Israel, everybody, all the time, when they didn't, you know everybody was un —That's not the case we were faithful people all along. 

But this is the Covenant I will make with the House of Israel after those days declares the Lord, I will put my law within and on their heart, I will write it. Now, that's always been the ideal, according to Deuteronomy right? Jeremiah even text even says circumcise your hearts. You guys are doing the rituals all right, circumcise your heart and so God will put the law on their heart. If there is a difference between the Covenants at this point, because you can see the law is a continuity factor. We see continuity of it, he said I'm gonna— He didn't say there was going to be some new law, he said I'm —The difference is, the people broke the Covenant, they've been a bad Covenant partner, so what I'm going to do, I'm going to write it on their hearts. The law will be written on their hearts. That's continuity.

So, the difference is not the content of what's in the heart of the people. The difference is not that if you don't start with the heart you won't live it out. The difference somehow seems to be in the extent to which God does it and make sure it's done. Now that too is odd. It's like we were discussing with the Holy Spirit the other day. You read if I remember the text, John 14:17, when Jesus saves [inaudible]. Send the Spirit he says, the Spirit is with and will be in you. That's a distinction with a difference, but, with you and in you, say, okay. In the Old Testament, the people who trusted God had the law in their heart and they were God's elect. It's almost like saying well there's and election and then there Election, there's having it on your heart, and then there's God writing it on your heart. It sounds like the same process except further divine involvement.

And surely, if God's already faithful Covenant partner, further divine involvement would simply make the Covenant planner and easier. But further divine involvement. I don't know all of what that mean, other than incarnation, we do get that. Messiah's coming. Further divine involvement, maybe Ezekiel says the Spirit of God, is already working right on your heart. Remember the Holy Spirit falling on the elders in the Book of Numbers? They all prophecy and Moses says, boy I mean this is great. More of that? Well we're left to work on the subject, but I will put my law within them and on their heart and I will write it and I will be their God and they shall be my people. That is language we have seen before. That's language from Exodus, chapter 20, language from, the be holy, for I am holy places, you be my God, I be your people. 

Now, here comes a distinction, verse 34, we will not teach again each man his neighbor, and each man his brother, saying know the Lord. Now, this was an ongoing issue in the history of Israel, right. Because you constantly had people, who were remnant folks, who were believers, who were believers who knew the Lord, having to teach those who didn't know or who were strained know the Lord. 

And how well did Jeremiah know that process. He had spent his life saying know the Lord, turn to the Lord, walk with the Lord. He spent his life trying to extend the remnant from a small group of Israelites to a larger percentage of them. But, he said in times to come from the least of them, to the greatest of them, they will all know me. So, I will forgive their iniquity and their sin, I will remember no more.

So, the difference seems to be he will not make this Covenant with Israel indiscriminately. But only with those who know him. The Covenant partner will all know Him. That brings up and interesting distinction. In the Old Covenant, God obligated himself to Israel as a whole, believers or non-believer. In the New Covenant, he does not do this; he obligates himself only to the Covenant partner who knows Him, that's the whole group.

Now, God always had what we call common Grace for those outside of the Covenant. There wasn't like the only place that ever rained or was ever food was in Israel, there's always common grace, there's common grace today. But, God does not obligate himself to anyone except to those who know me. This definition of Covenant people is crucial for how we think about ministry. 

And it also illustrates a problem that we all have. I grew up with a believers baptism tradition, in which they adversely said we recognize no one who is not made profession of faith and been baptized as within the people of God. They may be good people, they may be moral people, they may be even kids in our families, but the fact is we would only accept that way. So, that seems to be fool proof, doesn't it? 

We can identify the people of God by those who made this commitment. But, then you grow up a little bit and it doesn't take long to realize some of those people aren't around. They don't come, we don't see them in church and if you see them in the community, they don't act like they've been redeemed. So, we have a ministry problem, we think from the beginning, as bad as we might have the best start on a definition of the people of God, one way. 

But, something is wrong — Then, some of my Presbyterian brothers, says you're talking about Covenant children, Methodist do it too. It's part of how they explain how the baptism is, replaces circumcision, the Covenant households are part of us. But then you talk to them and you say, and we agree to raise him in the Lord, and the congregation agrees, some of the darndest ceremonies I've ever seen. James and I were talking about it the other day. It seems to me if you're gonna practice it, the baptism, you need to lay on to the parents what the tradition requires. Are you agreeing to raise this child to know the Lord, or is this some right of passage you've got going on? That might be a little blunt. 

Confirmations is that a right of passage or are you only confirming believers? So, you got the, I just keep noticing this same ministry problem. You think okay, we disagree with Baptist definition of the people of God, we think it includes more than just those who profess faith, we think it includes our children, we think it includes money, great.

So, that gives us the chance to baptize our children, to not only swear ourselves to serving the Lord and bringing him up, we can also include the congregation. They swear they are gonna help too. They stand right up and take vows. They will do it. Then we have confirmation. I remember this one time down the aisle into the Baptistery membership deal, we had a chance to instruct, and we go this deal going on. When you look around and you find out a whole lot of those people don't come.  Whole lots of those people aren’t involved when you see them out in the community they don't act like a Christian.

Now, obviously when dealing with thing, what is the mystery in human nature, which is some people will tell you something is a reality in their life, or they think it is and just not believers. There's also the problem that's mentioned earlier today. We have to be able to instruct the people or they will not grow, they will not mature and this is a frustration, something else very practical. There're a whole lot of Baptist who really don't examine people much before they're baptized. If they come down an aisle, which is treated merely as a sacramental gesture in some Southern Baptist circles.

Leave something out of the service once and you find out how important it is to people. But, how seriously have we examined, some people do it very carefully. But, any believers baptism, was the Baptist Pentecostal, or others you got that. So, how seriously do you examine someone before you baptize them?

A friend of mine was saying that his church, he was a new pastor, but he said, and he would remember it, and apparently they looked at the records and last year there was 40 baptisms in that church and one is still attending. No, splitting the church, no big blow up, there's a problem. 

On our statistic, why I'm just kinda rambling here, you see the statistics from the North American Mission Board of Southern Baptist Convention on adult baptism. I forget the actual numbers, but here are the percentages. A full 50 percent of adult baptism above the age of 21 in the Southern Baptist Convention were baptisms of people who were already believers, that had never received believers baptism, that's the first half. So, have any of you received infant baptism or whatever to join the Southern Baptist you are baptized by immersion, that's 50 percent. The next 40 percent were people who had been baptized already by Southern Baptist but who said they were not believers at the time and were baptized the second time, that's the stunning statistic to me. That mean 40 percent of those people, which were baptized said, I didn't get it right the first time, I didn't know, there was something not right in their mind. So, it's 10 percent of actual new converts, that was the baptism statistics. 

Now, I praise God for all of it I guess, in a way. So, you say there ought to be some of that. Baptism ought to be a serious effort. I think we can work it more quickly. We can work it quickly without, and examine people both. Within — The more I have gotten to know the infant baptism people have been frustrated by what I thought they were going to do, they didn't do, so how it seems in infant baptism. Basically, it amounts to a baby shower without presents, because in some of these — What they do is, they don't tell the parent, they don't remind the parents, they don't tell the congregations, these parents have made sacred vows to God to this and so for the child. And the don't say the congregation, don't you stand up if you don't aim to help. We only want to see people standing who are going to pray, who are gonna — Don't make yourself a hypocrite we love you it's all right, if you are a visitor. But, if you’re going to stand up and say we will help you parents do this, then mean it, do something. What it amounts to is kinda holding the baby up and showing everybody. 

Now, that's the worst case scenario. Best-case scenario is the opposite, its was what I just said. In confirmation where it's meant the least, I'd talked to some friends in Denmark that even know the percentage of people that attend church is something like one percent, 90 some percent of parents still bring the babies to be baptized at the Lutheran Church and 80 some percent of them still haven't confirmed. But they said they had no faith, see I'd got to where I wouldn't have cared, but it's so rapped up to Danish or Lutheran they still do it. And I've talked to Godly Bishops in the American Episcopal Church, when I started this job, I was asked to confirm people who couldn't tell me who Jesus Christ was and what his death meant, his right of passage. But he says if you want to start a firestorm somewhere, if want napalm and incoming and the whole bit, he said just refuse to confirm somebody because they are not a believer. 

Male 1: [Inaudible]

Dr. House:Yes. 

Male 1: Another observation, for the people of that village...[crosstalk] 

Dr. House: Right out of that parish, Mm mhm.

Man 1: I mean, is in not necessary that being in the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, the Church is there, just like a [inaudible] and if you are to be baptized you just [make an appointment with the pastor.] [phonetic]  It is not something that is going to be witnessed in the church, but a family that [inaudible] my witness. Some people who are doing that [inaudible] after [inaudible].

Dr. House Private baptism, yeah.

Man 1: So, and that is the way they do it. [sound] [inaudible]

Well, I think what we need to understand is this text talks about our definition of Covenant partners right. Now, when I went to teach the Episcopal Church center he said to me, well how is it between you and infant baptism and stuff. And, I said to him I have decided that if Episcopalians, which who I talked to, was more serious about confirmation and not confirming unbelievers. And Baptists were more serious about not baptizing unbelievers we would have fewer problems; this is where it comes together, and for reason in both communions we are often nervous about being serious at that point. And what we are really saying then is something other than what this text says about who the people of God are. 

We got to be serious about that and also I think our children's ministries should be transformed by the notion that may have not reached the age of accountability or they may be Covenant children. But the truth is their infected with the disease of sin and they are little rebels in the making. Little sinners afoot and the church ministry ought to have something to do with sharing the Gospel in an age appropriate way so that they can come to know the Lord and that they can be discipled. But, also that adults would understand. 

The necessity that if you are a Covenant partner it means you know the Lord, otherwise you have no stake in this. You can be associated, you can be loved, you be part of. But the Covenant partners are those who know the Lord, and he has forgiven their iniquity and their sin. So, regardless of tradition, which we are used to operating, I think we have some of the same problems. That is, people we thought were believers and folk who don't live that way and if the truth is, if we have not worked at instructing we should do it, we should make sure that those things are going well. 

In some of my ministry with the Episcopalians too, you talk to some people and you say well, what do you think the most effective thing about Christian education and I said, cradle to grave. You have to have a cradle to grave Christian education. I said, how many more of we Christians do we need? Why create more on purpose? So, at least the effort should be made and some manner because you need maturity, because we are talking about the Covenant people. 

So then, back to the original thing the continuity of the Covenant is we still have ostensibly, what looks like the same partners, God and Israel. We still have the law of being on their hearts. But, this time God insist that it will be written there and they will all know me. So we have an intensification of divine action and we have a transformation from the Covenant partner is remnant Israel and the majority Israel, it is only with the believers now. So, there's an intensification of the partner as well, yes ma'am. 

Woman 1: We shirk God of, sort of shove it off on God to do later on are we… [crosstalk]

I think if we did things carefully and seriously and explained the best we can up front, we have fewer problems later, that’s a general principle of life. That would be helpful. I think you can go to extremes on that. I know one pastor who is a Baptist, who has never baptized anybody below the age of 18. Now I don 't know how, I've known enough 18 year olds, I'm not sure what was magic about that, I don't believe that's Biblical. But, I can see his point, they had baptized for a time — They had been such an abuse in the church, but you take care of things up front, you have less problems. And then if we are loving and kind in our concern was, we want to make sure you’re a Covenant partner and help you grow in it. And not, how dare you basically slander our church's name out in the community, even though that isn't the reaction I have from time to time, but to be willing to take redemptive steps to help people. 

Now, then you need wisdom to know how long to let something go on. How much time to give people and how much help to give them, that just takes wisdom and practice. But, most churches are really unwilling to take either redemptive action in life, or corrective action in life, or to say to you well if this is the way it is and you really want your name removed and with great sadness we will do so. The reason we don't want to do it, partly because we know we are sinners too, but we also don't want to do it because it's hard work. It just is. The other reason is we don't want to do it, is we let things get so far gone. I have hundred acres of weeds and a 1/2 acre of mowed grass, your unlikely to want to go out there and weed that. So how to get started at this point and time is also just a practical problem. I actually think it would start with the people who are active saying we want to come under this kind of… Ourselves, let's just start with the people, currently coveted together without trying, I, I don't know. 

Male 2: To establish a renewable church membership [inaudible] every three or four years.

Yeah, I just think there are a whole lot of people who've gotten the idea from evangelistic people on the one hand and on kind of genetic Christianity on the other. That there’s nothing required, this if they've gone down and aisle been baptized, they're set. Or that if their parents took 'em and baptized them and brought them, they're set. But the Christianity really doesn't have much point to it if-if it actually requires a life style and see the older I get it doesn’t require something significant I don’t see the point, that’s just me. But your theology of church in my opinion, if it doesn’t start with Jeremiah 31, this ought to be a significant point, who are the people of God?

This text would give us some questions about continuity and discontinuity between the Covenants, absolutely. But also let’s not forget that a vital idea of who are the people of God that is grounded here. Because it’s about the Covenant partner. So when you get to a text like, ah, oh, Romans 9 through 11. I got a phone call from a guy in South Carolina wanting to know who really is in Romans 11. I said won’t you start back with Chapter 2 and follow the thread and tell me. But, all Israel being saved means, all those who believe, in the context of Romans, Jewish and Gentile, both.

So, understand then that the definition of the people of God, Israel, et cetera, is reshaped by the New Covenant. There’re continuities. Continuity is, the remnants always been there and it’s defined by their faith and obedience to God that never changes. But, it’s reshaped into only the remnant and if there’s a [“wheat and tears effect”] [phonetic]  it’s not within Israel now, its in the world. It’s the believers within the world, Jewish or Gentile, all will know me.

But, as Jeremiah 31 indicates and the New Testament this Covenant starts with whom? With Israel. It begins with the the descendants of Abraham and David, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. You would make them to resent that all we want, but this is the historical flow. But, Jews and Gentiles must both come into this Covenant. There’re aren’t two Covenants in my view.

So there’re aren’t two Covenants, one for Jews and one for Gentiles are operative now. That’s the other question I get often. So we start here in so – Biblical theology, a starting point is to say, linking the Testaments, we have a New Covenant that’s connected to the Old, but leads to a New. We have Covenant that helps define who the people of God are and under what condition they know the Lord. So that’s on linkage that I think we have to get.

When I was interviewed at Trinity Episcopal, I started telling a story, we were talking about infant baptism, surely we are both agreed that if you’ve got a 25 or 30 year old person and I’m just putting the age up where you’d say they are grown. You have a 25 person who has heard the Gospel and rejected it, it doesn’t matter whose baptized and were confirms or do whatever, you don’t think that their going to heaven do you? Well, I know. I said yeah, I believe we just merged with an agreement. The people of God ultimately are those who trust Christ, period. However we work with it, [Eplesiostically] [phonetic] however, we come at that ministerally the fact is none of us would think that anybody in this room, would we, who has rejected the Gospel is a Covenant partner. And if that’s true then we can disagree about the nature of how to do that ministry and how to work with the church and how the church is set up in that kind. Let’s agree that if we get to crunch time at the very nub of the Gospel and the acceptance and the rejected of it, we evangelicals are going to agree. There’s either a commitment to Christ or your outside the New Covenant. And that that is the most serious responsibility that any human has to make that decision. Yes?

Male 3: [inaudible question]

Well, Wesley would say yes of course. It does get to your doctrine salvation and perseverance to the saints. Wesley would say yes, that’s possible but you don’t slip out of it, you choose it like you chose to come in it. You don’t lose your salvation like you lose your car keys, you know. You lose your salvation because willfully forfeited by as conscience decision as you took it. Calvin would say I think and of course, I’m more on that strain but I also think that Wesley’s been caricatured by a whole lot of Baptist I’ve heard in past, Methodist have been for sure on this issue.

But even Calvin would say yep, only the elect persevere. So that it would be evidence that we don’t know the mind of God, we’re not God so we can’t fully decide. But if you have someone who over a period of time and not persevering and not living for the Lord and not caring that they’re not, we mistook them for the elect.

Jonathan Edwards once asked how many converts there were in the second great awakening, he said, we don’t know yet. He meant by that not only maybe they’re still some to be accounted for, He meant maybe some of these don’t have true religious affection. What a book that is. But, I would say people that do not persevere were never believers. I don’t care what we try to believe about election, or lack thereof, there will always be a possibility that we will see people that we though were believers, but they weren’t or that we’re believers that feel away.

Woman 2: I guess that you have [inadible] avenue to either kick back [inaudible] ah people want to know their not, you know, they’re aren’t really protected [inaudible] you know, in their minds to accept that, you know. [crosstalk] 

Right to try-try to [crosstalk] avoid these problems, yeah, yeah.

Woman 2: Problems [inaudible]

And I think there are lots of ministry steps can be taken, to make sure that we are trying to baptize or confirm Covenant partners. Those are strong steps to take.

Woman 2: [inaudible] Easter morning [inaudible]

That certainly has [press] [phonetic] in the early Church. I would say to everybody, it is a great encouragement to your people who love the Lord and are working for the Lord to see throughout the year baptisms. Or however you take it, it new life. Because its just a great encouragement to people. I think, as far as being able to tell what is true conversion and what is not. I still say, the best of thorough treatment of that written by Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections. And he’s a strong Calvinist as you can get probably, but he said there are at least some Biblical standards to know whether someone’s converted.

But really you have to ask people to examine themselves on those issues and to help them examine themselves. But what we must get away from without adding to salvation, we must get away from the notion that you can be a believer and live any old way you want to. That’s what we have to watch.

Male 4: Even now, I remember a [inaudible]


Male 4: [inaudible]

Well and see its, the issue pastorally is okay let’s say, let’s see how much difference there really is. Let’s say in our church we have someone and you either believe that they have rejected their salvation if they had one in the past or believe that they weren’t the elect ever because they are not persevering. Okay.

The same task basically still applies, we must go back and remind them of what has been true before and ask them to return to the Lord. So I know it makes a difference. I’m not trying to minimize I’m trying to bring things together. The pastoral duty it remains the same. I have someone who is not showing any marks of being a believer when we thought they were, I must go and help them return to Christ.

To help them walk again that past seed. Have you truly committed you life to Christ. And committing your life to Christ means conversion, it means being changed and it means a change of ownership in your life. And help them understand the pastoral issue is pretty much the same. What you do about baptism at that point does affect you if you’re in a believers baptism tradition.

But, when it’s all said and done I think the pastoral issues is pretty close to being the same whether you’re a Calvinist or and Armenia at that point. To redeem the person you have to go back, catechize them in affect and ask them if this is their faith and ask if it is their faith will you return to the Lord. I would use language like that; I would diagnose the problem, differently, theologically if I’m a Calvinist or if I’m a Arminian, but when it’s all said and done, I got the same problem before me, Baptist do too. But always ask them when they say when they say, I was save back in 1947 or whatever they are gonna tell you. Saved, what did that mean to you? What does it mean to be saved? When you say I was saved back in, what happened? It’s the same problem.

But, I know in my tradition we have baptized host of people who had absolutely not notion that they were suppose to live for Christ. They thought they were getting relief from a debt. They had sinned and they owed God and they were getting relief from that debt. And also, they had been taught, a lot of them, if you do this everything will be all right in your life. You might of just added to your problem as you know. Again, how you define the people of God, how you try to determine where they are the people of God and how you call them to the people of God are important pastoral issues. Unless you’re involved in churches I’ve never seen before, which is possible. If so we are all grateful to God for you and our advice is to not take in any more members or you will have the problems we’ve got.