I should say before beginning this post that I have some affinity with Baptists. For one thing I married into a Baptist family. In her early years my wife faithfully took her nieces and nephew to Sunday School every week to her Baptist chapel. That is about midway from where we were both born and raised. Her nephew now stands 6’ 7” tall as minister in his own evangelical Baptist church up north.
Of all the churches outside of my own that I am acquainted with I have visited Baptist churches the most. That is due in some part to invitations from my wife’s family to hear certain speakers or for special occasions. But when we lived in Trethomas several years I was invited by a friendly neighbour, while gardening down on my allotment plot, to join the Baptist Men’s Mid-week Fellowship. That was where, along with two other active Christian friends of my age, one belonging to that Baptist chapel and the other to the Methodist chapel at the nearby village of Bedwas, were given opportunity to exercise our speaking skills to the Sunday evening congregation. That was to prepare us for lay-preaching in our local area.
The Baptist chapel in Trethomas has since been replaced by residential buildings, and the Welsh Congregational chapel across the road where we sometimes preached on Sunday evenings is now given over for community activities. We were invited to preach in other chapels outside the local area but that was when the enthusiasm of my friends at that fellowship grew on me to want to do more than I was doing in industry.
At the end of 1972 we moved from Trethomas to a new home in Cefn Hengoed. The row was called Valley View. And that was the view we had. We could see right across the valley as well as up the valley and when it came to concerns about getting the washing off the line before it rained we would not be taken by surprise because you could see the heavy rain making its way down the valley long before it got to us, giving plenty of time to getting the washing in.
But we were there only 6 months. We had made up our minds to go to Newbold College to study for the ministry. It was a big thing for us both, to sell up our home and to take on a study programme after 22 years in industry. But it was no big thing for me to move. I had left home when I was 16 years of age and had moved around quite a bit – until Maureen came to the rescue of this ‘waif and stray’ by the time I was 25.
But for Maureen, hers was a close-knit family and her friends were near home. So for her to break away to parts unknown with two young daughters aged 7 and 5 to support me in a 4-year course of study in a completely new environment was, as you can imagine, quite a wrench for her. In those four years she worked full time and kept home and raised our two children, there was no government grant. But that experience with such committed Christian friends at the Trethomas Baptist Men’s Fellowship had no small influence on my life and in that decision we both made to go to Newbold. There were two other houses in our row up for sale the same time going for less than ours. But we sold to the first person who came along and when we returned home to visit family a year later those two other properties were still up for sale! We felt God had been helping us out.
Another association with Baptists was when I was at Cambridge. I was invited to attend a baptism of a new friend at Eden Baptist church (that is the old ‘Eden’), and was invited to keep attending to hear the well-known preacher speak on the Ten Commandments. They were excellent sermons. However, when it came to the 4th Commandment he chose Deuteronomy 5 as his text instead of Exodus 20. Exodus 20 gives creation as a reason for keeping the Seventh-day Sabbath. Deuteronomy 5 gives the Exodus as the reason. So the Seventh-day was for the Jews in recognition of their redemption from Egypt. That is one way of looking at it. Another is that, apart from no evidence of God personally revoking any of his Law, both Creation and Redemption are reasons for keeping the Seventh-day Sabbath. In Genesis 2-4 we are told that God finished his work of creation and blessed and rested on the Seventh-day. On the cross Jesus uttered his final words “It is finished” (John 19:30). His work of redemption for humankind was done and he was laid to rest in the tomb. As Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), it was the only whole day Jesus spent in the tomb: the Sabbath, a sign of both Creation and Redemption! And that is how I would see the giving of the 4th Commandment in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.
We know the Ten Commandments have been under attack in recent years, from inside the church as well from outside. So how important are the Ten Commandments these days? On his blog, Bill Muehlenberg titles this particular post: “Loving God and Keeping the Commandments”
When I read his essay I thought it all made good sense that could easily have come from an Adventist author. it raises the question, with so much in common with fellow Christians what is the difference between fellow Bible believing Christians and Seventh-day Adventists? It’s in the name. I’ll need to explain that in another post.
But the title of Bill’s essay caught my eye and I opened it up to read. As a Christian I found it was well worth reading.