Books On The Study Of Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church)

9415130_origHere’s a doctrine with a wide variety of viewpoints. For that reason, you will probably find fewer books that you agree with than in the study of other doctrines. Even among independent Baptists (like me) there is an incredible amount of debate. The debate, in my opinion, is hardly worth fighting over.

When did the church begin? What is the Church? Is it only local? Or is there a Universal Church that is the Body of Christ? Then as you spread out among Christian people, there is the issue of church government. How do we do baptism? The Lord’s Supper? Are denominations acceptable or should every local church be autonomous?

It often starts more fights than it answers questions, but there are places to read to decide what you believe.

Best place to start:

In this case I recommend beginning with the Systematic Theologies out there.

1. Systematic Theology Volume Four: Church/Last Things by Norm Geisler

He writes well and as a teacher of many years he is understandable. He fairly presents differing viewpoints and that is especially important on this subject. I love his 4 volume set.

2. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem 

He supports a form of church government I wouldn’t follow, but he presents it well and you will understand where they come from. I love to read him after Geisler.

3. Christian Theology by Millard Erickson

Presents in a way different from the above two and well worth having. I am glad to have it.

There are others like Charles Ryrie worth consulting too.

Baptism/Lord’s Supper

1.The Meaning And Use Of Baptizein by T. J. Conant

The nuts and bolts of why we immerse.

2. Baptism: Its Mode And Subjects by Alexander Carson

An influential classic.

3. Understanding Four Views On Baptism, edited by Armstrong and Engle

These Four Views books are awesome to really understand a concept.

4. Understanding Four Views On The Lord’s Supper

Another winner!

Local Church

There are some helpful material out there. I recently reviewed Believe and Belong by Clarence Sexton. Peter Masters has written some helpful pamphlets and books like Do We Have A Policy For Church Membership and Growth? We need more here.

Baptist Church

1. Principles and Practices For Baptist Churches by Edward Hiscox

The first place to look.

2. The Church: Its Polity and Ordinances by Hezekiah Harvey.

A good secondary source.

3. Baptist Church Manuel by J. M. Pendleton

I’ve seen some Baptist churches that made it a higher authority than the Bible! Still,  it lets you see what has been believed.

Happy studying!

A Transition In Our Reagan Family Ministry


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It has been a real matter of prayer. The Lord has made His will clear to us and so we enter a time of change. This last Sunday night I resigned First Baptist Church of West Union, Ohio after 9 1/2 years. Our last service there will May 26th. It was a time of tears for us all. There is no problems there at all, but the Lord sends change into our lives at times and this was clearly His time.

This entails both a short-term and a longer-term change for our ministry. Ultimately, I know that the Lord has called me to pastoring. That is my passion. I love handling the Word of God and I have given my life to it. So we are waiting for the Lord to open the door for the next pastorate He has for us. This may take months–only the Lord knows.

In the short-term we plan to be available for meetings, particularly Sunday meetings. We have traveled some especially over the last 2 years where I preach, where Alicia does a ladies meeting or class with her testimony or we do a joint testimony, and where the children sing. We have done a few 3-day meetings as well as Saturday Ladies meetings to go with a Sunday meeting. When I was a pastor we had to turn some of these down because I didn’t feel we should be away from our church that much. We are not going to call and hit up our friends and acquaintances for meetings. We will not impinge on our friends. We are just letting all of you wonderful people be aware of our situation through blogs and Facebook and just see what the Lord does. We leave the matter in His hands.

We will be based in Tennessee during this time of transition as my wonderful parents have graciously offered an empty house they own on a 45 acre farm for us to live temporarily. Yes, we plan some special front porch Tennessee evenings for us this summer. Alicia, the children, and I are all excited about that and some extra family time too.

I want to publicly speak of our love for the dear folks at First Baptist Church too. How wonderful they have been, even through the hardest trial of our lives so far. They will be voting on my friend and Assistant Pastor Jamin Boyer at my last service. It’s thrilling to get to see him carry on in this work so dear to our hearts.

As I told our church when I resigned:

Let us now look to the future. I am glad that the Lord always has a plan for us all.

I hope you are a little sad like we are, but your spiritual strength never comes from a pastor, his wife, or his family–it comes only from Jesus Christ. You can be at no loss at all to not have us if you have Jesus. Undershepherds come and go, but the Good Shepherd never changes.

…Our days to serve the Lord are swiftly passing. In no time at all, we will be with Him. I rejoice tonight that we can serve Him together again there where we will never be separated again. “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

First Baptist folks, we love you and wish you the very best in the days ahead.

If you are interested in booking us sometime over the next few months you may:

1. Send me a facebook message, or a message through this blog, or email to jimmy@enjoyingtherideministries.com.

2. Call us at 937-217-2059 or 937-217-1815. These are our 2 track phone numbers that are a little spotty at times.

Most of all, friends of the Reagan family, we ask for and thank you in advance for your prayers.

What Guys Should Know About The Mother Of Their Young Children

It’s happened so many times. My wife tells me of trying to encourage some frazzled mother she met who is overwhelmed by parenting, home school, and every thing else. The story is usually the same as she tells me they were sweet and sincere and just a fine lady. The final piece of this recurring story is the guilt this young mother feels.

Why all the guilt? Everyone convinces them they should be. They must be Martha Stewart in the home (minus the prison time), Susanna Wesley with the children, Charlotte Mason in schooling, and laywoman of the year at church. To make it worse, some women project themselves as having it together at this level. That is, of course, some of the best fraud around today, but for some of our wives it is a burden too heavy to bear. They try and try and lose their joy.

The other problem is that we husbands fell for it first. I am ashamed to tell you for how long I really thought that my wife’s task was really easy. I conveniently overlooked just how impatient I could be on days I kept the children and only did the lightest of chores. The old logic that we men just aren’t wired for it like women (though on some level we aren’t), made me ignore the obvious. This is work of the heavy lifting variety.

What made me change my mind? Or see the light, as it were? It is really a combination of two things.

The first was when my Alicia because paralyzed 4 years ago. We soon had a newborn to go with five others. She was stuck in a hospital bed for several weeks in our living room. So it fell on me. How did I fare? I’m laughing as I type! I failed in every way. I didn’t even have to take care of the baby much as Alicia just held him in her bed. My oldest daughter Briley helped cook some. I couldn’t keep up with anything. Once I was talking about how hard it was and Alicia asked what exactly I had done. It wasn’t much, but just thinking about it completely exhausted me. I think I kept the dishes washed, but little more. Home school? I can’t even remember!

As these years roll by I have some of the chores to do still as we divided the work in a way that made sense with her disability. The washer and dryer are downstairs so I wash and dry and carry back up unfolded, still do a good bit of the dishwashing but usually forget to wipe the stove, and I help some in meal preparation but I technically can’t cook. I pick up and sweep some and am fully responsible for mopping (only because that is a big nuisance in a wheelchair). So I do more than most men but far less than most mothers.

How am I doing with that? We still run out of clean clothes to wear, sometimes we can’t find a clean spoon, and don’t even ask me how far behind I get on mopping. I have only a portion of the work and I fail so often at it. Since my office is at home, and on occasion Alicia’s paralysis might require a little extra rest, I know what it is like for the children to bombard me with petty issues and break my concentration and get me fully frustrated.

So what was the other thing that taught me to see things differently. It was my Alicia. She told me some time ago she couldn’t be superwomen, and sometimes she gets behind on her part of the chores too. But she taught me something special. Priorities. My six children at any time of the day can come with something troubling them and their mother will drop everything (not just chores but activities she likes as well) and comfort them. She told me their little hearts were her focus.

She is right. I have seen it pay dividends in our children. Will I really care if my home can’t pass a white-glove inspection if my children someday look back with the greatest fondness for our home? Will we sit around in our old age and care if home school got behind here and there?

It is so easy in life to live for the lesser instead of the greater. We worry about these things and lose the joy we could have. Why is it that when you talk to older ladies they always speak of their child-raising years as their very favorite?

Men, our wives are doing heroic work–hard work. Let’s not make the load heavier by unreasonable demands. If they are pouring love into our children and teaching them of our Lord, they are wildly succeeding. Let’s let them know and sincerely tip our hats to them this Mother’s Day. In any event, I am glad to say it to the wonderful mother of my young children!

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The Less Famous Part of Proverbs 31

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Believe and Belong by Clarence Sexton

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Here’s a timely subject where you wonder why more hasn’t been written on it before. In this volume entitled Believe and Belong by Pastor Clarence Sexton the subtitle says it all: “The Joy of Church Membership.”

It is a needed corrective to the prevailing notion that church membership is irrelevant at best and unbiblical at worst. It is born of our excessive personal independence that scorns even the most gentle accountability. The interdependence that is inherent to the idea of the local church is just too much for many. No doubt, the loss is truly theirs.

As a pastor, I appreciate his emphasis as this is a battle we all face in dealing with folks. Pastor Sexton writes with the intensity and candor you might expect from someone who has been in it over 40 years.

He makes a good case for membership as well as what a church really is. That is foundational to the local church ever being both what it can be and what The Lord intended it to be. His discussion on God’s Word being our guide is critical in a day when many forget that our cry should be sola scriptura (“by the Scriptures alone”).

He actually covers most of the things found in a discussion on the local church: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, prayer, the pastor. He warns of “grievous wolves” and ends on a push for the Great Commission. Along the way comes out strongly for soul liberty and the priesthood of the believer, which, strangely, is rare among Baptist pastors today. Yes, that was Baptist people’s most unique feature in previous generations.

This book is fine for new Christians as well as seasoned Christians who need to consider a subject they have thought little of in the past. Pastors, we will find ideas here of how we might present this truth. I recommend this book.

DISCLAIMER: Unlike other books I have reviewed on this blog, I know this author. While that could be some bias, I still feel this a truly helpful book.

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