Dr. Patterson’s Review of My Book, The Equipping Church: Somewhere Between Fundamentalism and Fluff

Even a crusty old academe loves a pleasant surprise. And for much of my academic experience Ronnie W. Rogers, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Oklahoma, has been regaling me with one surprise after another.

The other day, a copy of the book The Equipping Church: Somewhere Between Fundamentalism and Fluff, written by Ronnie Rogers comes to me. Since I have learned not to take a chance setting aside anything that he has written, I immediately took it with me on a journey and read almost every syllable of it before I could put it down. Here is a book that addresses in the most thoughtful and fair way I have ever observed the question of the church and the culture.

There has never been a time when the world has not been at odds with the church. The church is supposed to be “a little heaven on earth” in the midst of the upheaval of the lost and confused world. At its worst, the church has been a mirror to the world, mimicking its problems and doing absolutely nothing to be salt and light. At its best, the church has been both salt and light and has introduced the love of God and the love of the church into the human dilemma and presided over changed lives. Culture can be one of three things. It may be good; it may be evil; or, in rare cases, it may be neither.

Ronnie Rogers in The Equipping Church recognizes that the culture is neither universally good nor capriciously evil. As a matter of fact, Rogers sees that part of the duty of the church and of the pastor through his preaching is to help the sheep of the flock make wise decisions about their own response to the culture. In doing so, he is unafraid to take on the culture and state where it is a ubiquitous evil and when it is just not helpful. So often today pastors hesitate to make that identification or else they make the identification in a ranting fashion that causes the younger generation simply to turn them off. Rogers knows better. First, for years now, he has been the pastor of a church just off the campus of the University of Oklahoma. Although he has many people in the church who are unrelated to the University of Oklahoma, he has enjoyed a stupendous ministry to students, faculty, and staff members at the university; and none of them find him to be shrill. They find their pastor to be thoughtful, just, and, more often than not, right.

But Rogers does more in The Equipping of the Church. Having identified the limitations of the culture, he moves on to a discussion of how the church can respond positively to the culture and reach it for Christ. Having discussed the liabilities of the contemporary model as well as many positive attributes and contributions, he continues with the responsibility of the church in the secularizing world. In the process of this, he defines what the church is and stresses that it is not a matter of choice but a matter of faithfulness to Scripture that binds the church in the nature of its ministry. In the final chapter discussing the model of the church for carrying out his mandate, there is an incomparable exegesis of Ephesians 4:11–16.

I love it when a relatively unheralded pastor writes a book that not only will challenge the thought life of academics everywhere but also, due to his pastoral experience, will be easily comprehended by any thoughtful individual who reads it. The Equipping Church is exactly that kind of book. This pastor’s book needs to be carefully read by everyone interested in the relationship of the church to the culture.

Paige Patterson, President
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas

A Prayer for Faith over Fear

I pray that You would grant me faith above my fear, and that my fear, no matter how dreadful, daunting, and hellish in velocity, would never cause me to shun the walk of faith. May my heart be willing to die where I am, lose all earthly possessions, be laughed at without mercy, and be capsized in the torrents of fear’s rage rather than to turn my back on the walk of faith.

May my physical and emotional traumas and ailments from the walk of faith through the lion’s den of fear be scars of faithfulness and not failure. Though my fear cause me trembling, may my fear not be allowed to displease You as I traverse the deep waters of depression, disillusionment, or human wisdom on my journey to Your chosen destiny. The things which kindle fear within me are ever so minor in light of Thy greatness as are the trials of some of my brothers and sisters in the faith, which serve as a humbling reminder of my weak faith. Grant that my weakness would display Thy strength and mercy.

Guide me through the maze of discerning the difference between faith and presumption, and may I fearlessly shun presumption, with its roots and nourishment drawn from the cisterns of pride and hell. May I rather dwell in Thy chosen place of humility.

My dear wonderful and holy Lord, my eyes are blinded in the clouds of bedevilment which hide from me even my next step. May it forever be so that in You and You alone I trust to keep me on the path you have chosen. “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

A Prayer for a Heart of Evangelism

May I see the lost as You do and sacrifice as You do and mourn as You do. May I live so they may see You and not me. May my speech be your words. May I serve you with a daily burden for people who do not know the wonder of You and your salvation. Oh God, by your power and grace may we see untold numbers broken over sinning against You and drawn into Your presence with mourning over their sin and joy over Your grace.

I pray my lack of evangelism will decrease with every passing day, that my selfish, shortsighted flesh will be subdued. I look to the cross and see what it means to crucify the flesh, yet all too often I feed the flesh.

My Father, with wonder beyond words, holiness that I can feel when I pray, and power that the ages testify to, please forgive me for all too often loving things that are not the passion of the cross.

Thank you for permitting me to play even the smallest part in someone experiencing salvation by faith in my Lord Jesus Christ.

Is Reprobation Necessary for God to Demonstrate His Holiness and Wrath?

According to Calvinism, God voluntarily predetermined for some of the human race to experience salvation in order to display His mercy, while concomitantly and voluntarily predetermining to pass over most of the human race, thereby inviolably destining them to perish in hell. The former are known as the unconditionally elected and the latter are known as the reprobate. This predestination is said to be necessary in order to display both His grace and His wrath.

For example, commenting on Romans 9:11ff, John Calvin plainly says, “The reprobate are expressly raised up, in order that the glory of God may thereby be displayed. At last, he concludes [referring to Paul] that God has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom. 9:18). You see how he refers both to the mere pleasure of God. Therefore, if we cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just that it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating others but his will. When God is said to visit in mercy or harden whom he will, men are reminded that they are not to seek for any cause beyond his will.”[1] Continue reading →

A Prayer of Contentment

May I hear all reports of what you do through others to advance the kingdom with a grateful heart. May I be predisposed to see Your mighty works and rejoice, and only be inclined toward doubting because of heresy and sin. Oh God, let me not be critical because You have not chosen to so use me; even if you have chosen to leave me in the hollows of obscurity as long as You are with me. Let me rejoice when righteousness advances according to Your power.

My loving Father, forgive me when I run to self pity and flee from thankfulness. Thank You for speaking from Your Word to jostle me from my pride so that I may walk with You anew. Each time I am saddened by my plight, feel underappreciated, or that my cross is too much for me to bear, I am but shortly, awakened by your grace to the peace that I have with You; I am rescued by my joy and gratefulness for even my next breath, much less the superabundance that I really have from Your mercy. Thank You for not allowing me to live in such a sinful state, and may my visits there become shorter and less frequent as I learn of You.

May I cherish Your withholding of blessings that expose my sinfulness. May I see the lust of my heart as the evil tyrant it is and flee to the rule of my Savior. May I do so more quickly today than yesterday. When I look to my thoughts of what I need, need to do, or future uncertainties I find  worry and anxiety, but when I trust in You, I find peace and fullness. May every anxious or discontent thought sound the trumpet of sin in my life, my own self-reliance, and be quickly banished by repentance and reliance on You.

Think About IT: How to Lose by Winning

I must ALWAYS be right

Such firmness whether witting or unwitting assures the loss of respect and love by others. This unspoken resolve leaves spouses and children deeply wounded, sometimes for life.

Although I cannot imagine a Christian actually uttering such words, one’s consistent arguing of his point until all objectors have given in painfully reveals such a mindset to those with whom he speaks. It is evident by the need to have all agree with you or have the last word.

Often those who disagree become silent and appear to have given in. Far too often, they have actually given up, and silence and emotional detachment become their hiding place.

This kind of winning with family and friends often results in everyone losing, especially the “winner.”

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” (Romans 12:10).

Prayer of Forgiveness and Repentance

Oh God, forgive me of thoughts so vile, and yet to You infinitely more so. Forgive me of even the slightest thoughts, aspirations, delights, or passions that do not have Your glory as preeminent. Expose my pride so that I will be ever mindful of my frailty, which makes me vulnerable to cast away everything that means anything in a weak second. I repent of selfishness, self-centeredness that would seek for me to justify that which You want me to repent of. Forgive me.

Thank You for grace a billion times unmerited, for protection from me, my greatest enemy, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit and Your Word, which You so lavishly bestow upon me. May I never lose the wonder and praise for Your conviction in me. Lord I repent today, and I pray, although in no way do I deserve it, that You will continue to convict me and call me to repent. I pray I will run to repentance and not from it so that I might not sin even more against You, or in some way show that I do not treasure grace. There is no doubt in my mind that I am the most evil, vile, sinful human being that You ever loved. Thank You for grace, mercy, patience unmerited, and of untold supply.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8–10).

Do Not Forget To Remember

It is not new knowledge that we reject, for we should always be growing in the knowledge of the Lord. Rejecting new knowledge is the failure of traditionalism. Nor do we reject what has been known for years, decades, or even centuries from what God has revealed in His Word because of some superficial changes in culture, for that is the failure of ‘new is better’ mentality. Rather we embrace knowledge that allows us to continually grow deeper in our understanding of God’s person, will, and ways so that we can honor Him with all of our being. This knowledge comes from learning the Scripture in order to live the Scripture. It is kept fresh by remembering. Continue reading →

A Prayer for Facing the Future

Oh my Lord Jesus, I confess that I am one who desires to know my future. Only you know how often I have been troubled beyond measure concerning the uncertainty and troubles that tomorrow may bring. Please forgive me for the thousandth time of saying, by my thoughts, worries, and plans, that I am God. The thought of saying those words make me quake. For I would never say them vocally or even in my heart, and yet, my thoughts about the future have at times declared those unthinkable words.

May I face the future with my trust in you and you alone. Oh, may I grow to despise my own surmising about what will, may, can, or cannot happen. For by now, I should be most humble of all in trusting you because you have often shown me the results of trusting your leadership through blessing me beyond what I could ever have dreamed to pray for. You have even shown your immeasurable grace and superior plans through temporary hurt, loss, and grief that latched onto me as one being dragged into the abyss.

May I not look to the future as Pollyanna or as one sitting beneath the sword of Damocles. Rather, may I do so as one who knows You, Your Word, and my experience of walking with You through the years, which all testify that the future is not mine to know.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”” (James 4:13–15).

Think About IT: Loving God and Not His Word

Many speak of loving God but exhibit minimal or no concern to know the Scripture. They may be disinterested or even caviler about learning the Scripture. Their reverence for the Scripture is romantic rather than actual. Their interest in being taught the Scripture is limited to whatever practical value it has as a How To book rather than a book calling them to a radical life of self-denial and submission to Christ. A life of serving.

Their claim of loving God does not include a love for God’s word. But a person cannot truly love the God of Scripture without loving the Scripture of God.

Seeking to love and follow God apart from loving to hear from Him through His Word is more characteristic of a lost person than a devoted follower of Christ.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” John 14:15