Coram Deo
What is a Church Covenant?

Crystal Lake Baptist Church • July 08, 2019

What is a Church Covenant?

  • A promise made to the local assembly, to God, and to one’s self.
  • An agreement of how to conduct our lives as members of the church. If the statement of faith is what we should believe, the covenant is how we should live.
  • A summary of the ethical standards that the Bible provides for believers.

What is the purpose of a Church Covenant?

  • To help incoming members understand what is expected of them by joining with the membership.
  • To help current members remember their responsibility to God and to each other.
  • To help unite us by framing a biblical picture of our life together.

What makes a good Church Covenant?

  • A good church covenant will include only biblical imperatives for Christ’s people.
  • A good church covenant will provide a sufficient summary of those imperatives. 
  • A good church covenant will emphasize the nature of life together as the body of Christ.
  • A good church covenant will be worded clearly, particularly with the aim of corporate recitation. 
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Baptism Q&A: Part 4
Baptism Q&A: Part 4

Aaron Downs • June 14, 2019

Over the past few months we have been reviewing the doctrine of baptism. Recently, we put together a document in a Question and Answer format to present a condensed version of the more detailed teaching on the topic. Below is the final section of that document:

How Does CLBC Practice Baptism?

The Recipient

Without exception, the pastors will only recommend professing believers, whose life reasonably matches that confession, for baptism. Upon the acceptance of the prospective member by the congregation, baptism may be received.

While there is no age limit given, we are cautious in baptizing young children. While we do not want to withhold baptism, we also do not want to baptize someone who either has not shown evidence of regeneration and conversion or someone who does not understand the meaning of baptism.

The Administrator

The Bible does not limit the administrator of baptism to the pastors of the church. Because we believe all Christians are priests before God, any member of the congregation is eligible to baptize upon the recognition of the church and endorsement of the pastors.

Generally speaking, though, one of the elders will perform the baptism as a representative of the congregation. Pastors are those who already act on behalf of the church as they preach the Word, and baptism is a public rite of response to the Word that visibly proclaims the Word.

The Mode

We believe that baptism by immersion is representative of the descriptions of the New Testament. Inasmuch as it is possible, we should baptize people by immersion. There may be extreme cases where other alternatives are necessary: particularly as it relates to baptizing the physically disabled or elderly.

The Result

Baptism into the church results in inclusion in membership. In baptism, a believer commits to God’s people and God’s people commit to that individual. So, baptism is not merely a prerequisite for church membership, it is the entry to church membership itself. Those who are baptized already and desire to join our church do not need to be re-baptized; baptism happens once.

The Context

Baptism does not have to take place in a church building (though we have a baptistry), nor does it have to take place during a service (though that may be most natural). However, baptism should be celebrated at an official gathering of the church—not merely a gathering of a small group of believers who happen to be members at the same church.

The Timing

The timing of a new believer’s baptism requires wisdom and will be thoughtfully evaluated by the pastors. We do not want to delay a new believer’s baptism unnecessarily. Nevertheless, we want to have sufficient time to affirm that individual’s profession of faith and educate them on what it means to be baptized and what it means to become a member of this church. 

What Do I Do If I'm Nervous?

It is okay to be nervous about getting baptized. Let your nervousness remind you that following Jesus is a life-changing commitment in which you are called to die to yourself in pursuit of Christ. Know that the church participating in your baptism is excited for you as you take this step of obedience to Christ. 

How Do I Pursue Baptism?

Some indications that you are ready for baptism are that you can positively answer the following questions:

1)   Are you certain that you have been saved from God’s wrath? Can you explain how you have been forgiven from sin and have received eternal life? Are you certain that your eternal destiny is in heaven with God?

2)   Do you understand the biblical meaning of baptism? Can you articulate the nature, mode, and purpose of baptism? Can you explain why you should be baptized?

3)   Are you committed to live as a follower of Jesus for the rest of your life? Are you willing to represent Christ to all, identifying with his people and separating yourself from the world?

If your answer to these questions is yes, then to pursue baptism at Crystal Lake Baptist Church you should talk to one of the elders and express your desire to be baptized. One of the elders will review this document with you, answer any questions you have, and describe the baptism and membership process to you. 

Recommended Resources for Further Reading:

1)   The Baptist Faith & Message 2000

2)   Understanding Baptism (Church Basics), Jamieson

3)   Going Public: Why Baptism is Required for Church Membership, Jamieson

4)   Believer’s Baptism, Schreiner and Wright

5)   Baptist Foundations, Dever

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Baptism Q&A: Part 3
Baptism Q&A: Part 3

Aaron Downs • May 30, 2019

Over the past few months we have been reviewing the doctrine of baptism. Recently, we put together a document in a Question and Answer format to present a condensed version of the more detailed teaching on the topic. Below is the third section of that document.

How are Baptism and Church Membership Related?

Baptism and church membership are closely related in the New Testament. As such, those who are baptized are generally added to the membership of the church by whom they are baptized.

If an individual desires to be baptized, but does not desire to join a church, there should be close evaluation and consideration of the New Testament teaching on baptism and church membership in conjunction with the particular circumstances of the person seeking baptism without connection to local church membership.

Why Is Baptism Required for Church Membership?

Even though there is not a verse in that Bible that directly teaches that baptism is required for church membership, we require all who desire to join this church to be baptized. This is because:

  1. Baptism is where faith goes public. Baptism is the means that Christ gives for publicly declaring one’s faith in him. Baptism makes an invisible reality a visible reality. In a somewhat analogous way, membership in the universal church (simply being a believer) is made visible through joining with a local church.
  2. Baptism is the initiating sign-oath of the New Covenant. That is, in baptism we identify as part of the New Covenant in Christ. So, when the church asks, who belongs to the New Covenant, the answer is those who have taken the oath of the Covenant—baptism.
  3. The local church is comprised of New Covenant believers. If one has not identified with the New Covenant through faith and repentance followed by baptism, the New Covenant community (the local church) cannot receive that individual into membership.
  4. Therefore, baptism is required for entry into church membership. 

What Is the Difference Between an Irregular Baptism and a False Baptism?

The term “false baptism” refers to an act of baptism that falls outside the nature and description of baptism in the New Testament. False baptisms include acts of baptism that occur pre-conversion, such as infant baptism. 

The term “irregular baptism” refers to an act of baptism that falls outside the description of baptism in the New Testament, but arguably coheres with the nature of baptism. These baptisms take place following conversion, picture one’s identification with Christ, and are intended to follow Jesus’ command. Irregular baptisms include acts of baptism that take place at a Christian camp, in a family reunion, or by a mode other than full immersion. Although the method of these acts of baptisms falls outside the norm, making them irregular, they are genuine baptisms.

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Baptism Q&A: Part 2
Baptism Q&A: Part 2

Aaron Downs • May 23, 2019

Over the past few months we have been reviewing the doctrine of baptism. Recently, we put together a document in a Question and Answer format to present a condensed version of the more detailed teaching on the topic. Below is the second section of that document.

Is Baptism Necessary for Christians?

Baptism is necessary for Christians. Christians participate in baptism in imitation of their savior, Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:16) and in obedience to the commission given to his followers (Matthew 28:19). The Bible teaches that genuine followers of Jesus will obey his commands. One of these commands is to participate in baptism.

Furthermore, Christians should joyfully participate in baptism because it is the way that Jesus gave his followers to declare their loyalty to him. Although baptism does not contribute toward one's salvation, it does proclaim that salvation and provide verification of one's profession of Jesus Christ.

Does Baptism Contribute toward Salvation?

No, baptism does not contribute toward salvation. The Bible teaches that baptism is an outward sign of new life in Christ, but that salvation is a gift of grace that cannot be earned or contributed toward in any respect. Baptism, then, is an act of believers—those who have already received salvation.

Does Baptism Always Follow Conversion?

Baptism should always follow conversion because of the nature of baptism as an act of a believer. Some Christians realize that they had not yet accepted Christ and the gospel when they participated in baptism. As such, that act was not a true baptism. In other words, pre-conversion baptisms are not genuine baptisms.

Individuals in this situation should pursue baptism, knowing that their previous experience does not adhere to the purpose or descriptions of Christian baptism in the New Testament.

How Often Do Christians Get Baptized?

Christians get baptized only once. Baptism is a one-time act, signifying the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as Christ died once for all sin, so also Christian baptism is a once in a lifetime at picturing that death.

Therefore, baptism is not to be repeated upon local church membership transfers, renewed enjoyment of Christ, or any other experience.

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Baptism Q&A: Part 1
Baptism Q&A: Part 1

Aaron Downs • May 15, 2019

Over the past few months we have been reviewing the doctrine of baptism. Recently, we put together a document in a Question and Answer format to present a condensed version of the more detailed teaching on the topic. Below is the first section of that document.

What Does the Word "Baptize" Mean?

The word baptize is a transliteration of the Greek word, baptizo (βαπτιζω), meaning to wash, dip, or immerse. This word occurs frequently in the New Testament, used both as a general term for washing (Mark 7:4) and as a technical term relating to Christian baptism (Matthew 28:19).

Baptists historically have practiced baptism by full immersion in water as the normal mode and method. Baptism by immersion appears to be the norm in the practice of baptism described in the New Testament and in the early church. However, some exceptions were made, such as when a large volume of water was unavailable.

As a technical term, baptism refers to the washing with water by immersion, picturing the washing away of sin by participation in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What is Christian Baptism?

Christian baptism is an ordinance of the church in which a follower of Jesus physically displays his or her participation in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, signifying his or her commitment to follow Christ as his disciple in obedience to his teaching.

This ordinance is administered by a local assembly as an act of affirmation of the believer's understanding of the gospel and commitment to Christ and as an act of acceptance into fellowship as a member of Christ's body.

How Do Southern Baptists Understand Baptism?

Churches belonging to the Southern Baptist Convention endorse and subscribe to the Southern Baptist statement of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. In this statement, baptism is taught as follows:

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is a prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper.

There are three important aspects of Southern Baptist Conviction:

1) Baptism is not salvific—it does not contribute to salvation. Baptism is an outward act of obedience, picturing the regeneration and conversion that has already taken place.

2) Baptism is a prerequisite to the Lord's Supper. Jesus instituted two ordinances for his followers: baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism is a singular act of obedience, whereas the Lord's Supper is an ongoing act of remembrance.

3) Baptism is a prerequisite for membership in the local church. Baptism is the public declaration of one's commitment to Jesus. As such, one who has not been baptized should not be welcomed into the membership of a local assembly because membership is limited to followers of Jesus Christ.

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Thanksgiving & Christian Discipleship
Thanksgiving & Christian Discipleship

Crystal Lake Baptist Church • November 21, 2018

As a microcosm of Christian discipleship, Thanksgiving Day stands as a visual reminder of the important role gratitude plays in the Christian life. God’s people are meant to be thankful people—the kind of people that live shaped by and filled with unending gratitude to their Creator. Any expression of thankfulness must be directed toward an object, and God alone is worthy of ultimate thanks. Thus, Thanksgiving Day is, in its essence, an exclusively Christian holiday.

Thanksgiving Day is less of a problem for someone who believes in a Supreme Being, whether that be God, Allah, or any other Divine. It is more of a problem for those naturalists (as described by C.S. Lewis), agnostics, and atheists in particular. It is a problem for them because they don’t know exactly how to be deeply thankful, or who should receive their deep thankfulness. Dr. Mohler recently discussed this quandary on the Briefing, quoting a secularist who could refer to gratitude only as a “universal human emotion”. When thankfulness is reduced to mere emotion it is no longer real thankfulness, it is simply a shadow of thankfulness.

Naturalists can certainly express gratitude and thanks to people.There is a natural longing in the human heart to be thankful, but there is also a natural longing in the human heart to redirect thankfulness to that which is undeserving of our thanks. The Apostle Paul made it quite clear that the humanity refuses to express thankfulness to the Creator, in favor of expressing it to the creature instead. This idolatrous thankfulness is identified as part of the fundamental problem with the human heart, not just in this particular moment in history, but from the Fall in the Garden of Eden until now.

The problem is that thankfulness to the creature (human, animal, or inanimate object) doesn’t go deep enough. It can’t go deep enough. Even those who speak their gratitude past people and objects to the nebulous idea of “The Universe” don’t go deep enough. They are not deeply thankful when they express their gratitude to the creature because all creatures owe gratitude to their Creator; and just because someone suppresses knowledge of the Creator doesn’t make their gratitude to the creature any more real or honest.

When Christians experience the regeneration of the Spirit and find their position in Christ, they are called to lead thankful lives—lives that redound to the Creator’s love, wisdom, and power. This is the kind of thankfulness that gives people a big view of God, and it is the kind of thankfulness that guards the human heart from idolatry and sin. With this guard on our hearts, we can thank people rightly. We can thank people more deeply and more fully when we help them see in our expression of gratitude the One who has endowed them with life, with ability, and with dignity. So, let us thank God for people and how He gifts them. Let us thank God for our homes, our families, and our churches. Let us thank God for He is the source of every good gift.

Thanksgiving, then, is a holiday that enables us as enjoyers. It helps us remember that the gifts we enjoy have value that extends beyond aesthetic or utilitarian measurements—it has value because the God of the universe is a generous God who delights in giving good things to His children. May Christians throughout the nation point to God’s goodness in their conversation on this holiday, and may God give us grace and mercy to rejoice in thankfulness to Him as an orientation of life.

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The Purpose of Our Church Blog
The Purpose of Our Church Blog

Crystal Lake Baptist Church • October 04, 2018

With the launching of our new website, along with other significant developments in the life of our church, we are beginning a blog for the purpose of informing, encouraging, and challenging our church family. In this blog we desire to provide biblically based instruction relating to church life and ministry.

A variety of content will be produced on this blog. Some articles will serve simply as church newsletters, elaborating on different ministries and areas of church life. Other articles will be focused on equipping the flock through book reviews, resource guides, etc. Other articles will serve to instruct the flock, elaborating on teaching that happens in Bible Classes or the preaching in the morning service.

Our intended audience are the members and regular attenders of Crystal Lake Baptist Church, though we hope that the content will prove useful for others who stumble on our site.

Although the pastors will produce the majority of the content for this blog, submissions by members of CLBC will be considered as well. If you have interest in submitting an article, please contact one of the pastors so that you can be informed of the criteria for publication.

We have named our blog Coram Deo. This Latin phrase means in the presence of God, or before the face of God. It is our intention to serve the church faithfully, knowing that we do so in the presence of God. So we press forward in this endeavor for the glory of God and the good of his people.

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