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Bill Brown Reads Our Recitation Text

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

Every three months we choose a new text to recite and memorize together so that we are hiding God’s word in our hearts. The text is normally from the book of the Bible that is being preached, but this time we are reciting Isaiah 44:24-28 because the book being preached, the Book Ezra, is the breathtaking fulfillment of this prophecy:

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and He who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself; 25 who frustrates the signs of the babblers, and drives diviners mad; who turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolishness; 26 who confirms the word of His servant, and performs the counsel of His messengers; who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ to the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ and I will raise up her waste places; 27 who says to the deep, ‘Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers’; 28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.” ‘

Isaiah was given this prophecy something like one hundred and forty years in advance of it coming to pass, with Cyrus, the Gentile king God would use, called out by name!

Now, if you have heard the resonant voice of Bill Brown reading Scripture, you know what a treat it is. Here he is reading our current recitation text.

This is available because Hope Baptist is working their way through Isaiah, and two of my kiddos, Megan and Jake, are recording him reading that book and putting it up on the internet. This is where you can access Bill Brown reading Isaiah.


Bible Translation and Some Implications

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

Early this year, our elder team gave every family at Hope Baptist a copy of this great little book by William Einwechter, which has been made available online by our friends at Chapel Library.

Since that was prior to the planting of Sovereign Redeemer, I thought it would be useful to highlight this book again, and to offer a very brief summary. WARNING: The summary won’t deliver the full benefit, and shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for the full read, especially since the entire book can literally be read in a couple of hours.

Einwechter structures the book around two essential pillars:

1. Verbal-Plenary Inspiration.

Simply put, this means that the unit of inspiration is the individual word. With perfect precision and intentionality, God chose every word of the Bible. IMPLICATION: Don’t mess with the words. KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, and The Geneva Bible are prominent translations that embrace the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture. Alternatively, NIV and HCS are examples of translations that have departed from this principle in favor of “thought for thought” translation, so that the thought becomes the unit of inspiration, instead of the individual word. I won’t be addressing translations towards “The Message” end of the spectrum. Those are more commentary than translation, and frequently bad commentary at that.

Jesus understood the Bible to be infallibly reliable (inspired by God) not only down to the word, but even down to the verb tense. With a lot on the line, Jesus rests the entire weight of His argument against the Sadducees on a single verb tense. “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32). If the “am” could be “was”, Jesus’ argument comes apart at the seams. No matter. Jesus stands with confidence on the present tense of that one verb.

Likewise, Paul understood the Bible to be infallibly reliable even down to singular vs. plural. In Galatians 3:16, Paul makes his argument based on whether God’s promise to Abraham was to one Seed or many seeds. “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.”

SUMMARY: Sticking close to Jesus and Paul and their view of inspiration is always a good thing.

2.  Providential Preservation.

So far, most readers have probably been able to stand up and cheer. This is the part where you may encounter implications that you haven’t considered before, and where your translation of choice might get gored. Of the translations which hold to verbal-plenary inspiration, KJV, NKJV, and The Geneva Bible are founded on providential preservation, while NASB and ESV have taken a different course.

Providential preservation affirms that God has sovereignly provided His people with uninterrupted access to the inspired Hebrew and Greek texts. More plainly and to the point, never for a single day, let alone hundreds of years, have the people of God been kept from the inspired texts because those texts were hidden away in a cave. Providential preservation holds steadfastly to a view that God is not only able to do this, but also abundantly willing, and more than willing based on His regard for His own word.

Psalm 138:2b reads, “For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” Think about that for a minute. God has magnified His word even above His name, a name not to be taken in vain, a name that is to be hallowed.

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Admittedly, neither verse explicitly says that God could not have a reason in His wisdom why He would keep the inspired Hebrew and Greek texts from His people through the centuries, but what basis do we have for that conclusion, especially given the alternative. The alternative is that men – yes, very learned men, and in some cases very godly men, but nonetheless men – have been able to determine that some texts are older and therefore better than the texts available to the church of God throughout the centuries. Says who? Says them.

I view this as bad theology, but it is also a concept with other practical problems which Einwechter underscores in the book. This process of textual criticism – preferring “better” texts based on presumed age or other evidence – has given us a patchwork of underlying texts (particularly for the New Testament) different from anything used by the church before now.

I’ll take my stand with who I understand the God of the Bible to be, and how I see Him relating to His people, thanks. Every day and all day long.

SUMMARY: Door #1 is God preserving His inspired word for His people in every age; Door#2 is men looking at all of the ancient texts and determining which ones are best in which spot. Uh…


The elders aren’t insisting that you throw away your stack of ESVs. I like my ESV and use it every week for comparison purposes. But we do want to raise awareness of the issues and implications, so that you understand why we defend, prefer, and use a translation in our corporate gatherings that affirms both verbal-plenary inspiration and providential preservation.

I had never thought about some of these things prior to reading the book. But I read the book, I read it critically, and although I haven’t adopted every one of the conclusions (Einwechter prefers the KJV), I found the arguments to be very, very solid and I strongly hold to the two key principles outlined. And while many of the actual translational differences seem to be very minor, we should never think that it doesn’t matter.

Every jot and tittle matters, at least to Jesus and Paul. If nothing else, that should make us think.

Church Planting Update

Greetings Hope Baptist and other friends.

The following is a summary of the update that was given during our quarterly meeting last evening.

The last time the elders addressed the church on this topic was in very late May.  At the time, Scott, Dan and I had decided to purposefully avoid making any decisions for three or four months, so that we could go through multiple cycles of praying, thinking, and talking together.  Thankfully, we all believe that we are beginning to have clarity about what we should do, and this is the next step towards solidifying a plan and getting in motion.

One of the most fundamental questions that has been resolved is whether this should be a local church plant, or whether we should be working to establish a church in a location where the principles of family discipleship and the Biblical relationship between church and home are much less understood.  Along those lines, we considered locations from Toronto to the gulf coast and many places in between.  In the final analysis, though, there are many compelling needs in our own church and community, and we desire to address those as best as we can through planting locally.

In an attempt to provide basic information about our current thinking, five core questions will be asked and answered.

1. Why are we planting a church?  There are many more answers to the question, but I will offer two here.  First, the growth our church has experienced over the past year is beginning to have an impact on the sense of community that we believe is vital to New Testament church life.  We value this sense of community to a great extent, and we want to nurture it and see it grow, not have it begin to erode as a result of having more and more people.  That said, let me speak out of the other side of my mouth for a moment – we are also praying that God would frustrate us, in the sense that He would pour out His Spirit on this community in an unusual way and outstrip our ability to have what we believe are ideal size churches.  We desire churches where everyone can be tightly connected and where the shepherding is sufficient for the needs, but we also recognize that the Church has more glorious objectives than this.  We know what we believe ideal church life looks like, and we also know that the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2, with the subsequent addition of 3,000 souls in a single day, challenges that notion.  Those two things need not be in conflict, however.  God gives the increase as He sees fit, and in the midst of that we should always be pointed in a direction to have churches which reflect the closeness that we see beautifully portrayed in the New Testament.  The church plant is an attempt to point in that direction.  Second, planting a church raises the bar for everyone.  There is an instantaneous doubling of the need for everything – elders, deacons, song leaders, musicians, sound team, setup, and on and on and on.  The number of people who can simply attend and receive goes down dramatically, and that is a very good thing.  We are normally happy in the local church to the extent that we are actually investing, so this will increase our happiness.  By way of personal testimony, I can say that I literally grew up through church planting.  Many of the things that I brought forward from my boyhood into my late twenties and early thirties disappeared as a result of participating in church plants.  Those things needed to be left behind, and the pressing needs of a fledgling church deprived me of the time to continue in them.  People are given opportunities to serve that never would have existed for them in their old church.  They are shaken out of their comfort zones and stretched and pressed on.  They grow.  I know, and I praise God.

2.  Who is participating?  Anyone who wants to.  It is that simple.  Families will decide whether they should stay or go.  There will be no arm-twisting and no looking upon with furrowed brow.  It is understood that there are many, many factors that go into deciding what local church to covenant with, and we trust that heads of households are engaging with their families to weigh those things appropriately and to guide their families accordingly.

3.  Where will the church be located?  Two locations are currently being considered – Youngsville, and the Zebulon/Wendell/Knightdale corridor.  Youngsville is the absolute population center (ground zero) for Hope Baptist, and the Zebulon area also affords access to many.

4.  What will the church be like?  There are at least a couple of ways to answer this question.  We think choice of location is likely to make a difference.  If what we have observed historically is a reliable guide to how things would develop, we would expect that a plant in Youngsville will draw more people from Hope, which would in turn shape the demographics of the church going forward.  In other words, we would have a decent size group of people who have been thinking about and practicing family-integration for a good period of time, so others that we would naturally attract would be similar.  There are always exceptions to the rule, but that only proves the rule.  The Zebulon area, however, is likely to draw less people from Hope simply because of geographics, and we would expect that to create the opportunity to incorporate people who are on different points of the curve in terms of orthodoxy and orthopraxy.  If all that holds true (a very big “if” indeed), the Youngsville plant would be off to the races, while the Zebulon area plant would require time and attention to establish the foundations of the sufficiency of Scripture, the regulative principle of worship, family discipleship, etc.

Here is one thing the church plant is not – an opportunity to “fix” Hope.  Local churches are always a mix of things that are liked and not liked by everyone who attends, so I want to disavow anyone of the notion that this represents an opportunity to carry forward the things that are appreciated and to change the things that are perceived to be wrong.  For the foreseeable future, the church plant will be like Hope.  This is not to say that Hope is the end-all in local churches.  It is simply a recognition that the men leading Hope are unified and settled regarding doctrine and practice.  We are a confessional church (Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689), and we have spent hours, days, weeks, months, years thinking through what the Bible has to say about church practice.  Significant movement in either doctrine or practice is highly unlikely, and must not be an objective of anyone desiring to participate in the plant.

On that point, the church will initially be shepherded by the existing elder team (Scott Brown, Dan Horn, Jason Dohm), for as long as is necessary to raise up other elders.  The Dohms will be going with the church plant, and as soon as another qualified man who desires the work can be tested and installed as a co-elder, he and I will become the new elder team that shepherds the church.  We believe this is consistent with Titus 1:5, “For this reason I [Paul] left you [Titus] in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you”.  From this verse we learn two things:  that a church without a plurality of qualified elders has a lack and deficiency that needs to be set in order, and that the Apostle Paul was willing to begin churches in this deficient state and have the Biblical leadership structure catch up.  We recognize the gap and will be working to close it as soon as we can responsibly do so.

The church will be setting me aside to labor hard in the word, meaning that I will be doing much of the teaching, and I will be leaving my current employment to focus on that work.  The basis for this is 1 Timothy 5:17-18, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.  For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.'”

5.  When will the church begin functioning?  April or May of this coming year, if the Lord wills.  This will be upon us like tomorrow.  There is so much praying, planning, organization, and doing ahead of us, and all of those things will begin immediately.

So there you have it, all the basic information for the plans as they exist today.  Please pray that we would clearly discern the voice of God regarding all these things, that we would carefully and faithfully obey everything that He says, and that a church would be planted that lifts up Jesus Christ as crucified for sinners, and raised from the dead to be exalted above every other name.

If you are a member of Hope Baptist and know that you would like to participate, please let me know.