Allen Nelson IV

About Allen Nelson IV

Allen's Blog





Allen is Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Perryville, AR. He has been married to his wife Stephanie for 11 years, and is the father of 5 children (newest addition hadn’t made it for the last family photo!) He’s committed to preaching & teaching the inerrant, infallible Word of God and making disciples. He believes sinners are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. He enjoys time with his wife, children, and church family, as well as reading, writing, studying, and sports. He has the opportunity to speak in other churches or conferences and loves connecting with other like-minded brothers and sisters for the glory of God and the advancement of the Kingdom.

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Latest Posts //

How to Change Your Spouse

I participated in a Q&A recently where a woman anonymously submitted this question: The Word instructs wives to submit to their husband’s and RESPECT them. How can I respect a man who is not respectable in my eyes?

First, my big picture advice was this: Be willing to go to your pastor or a godly couple in the church to talk these things through. The local church is designed to help us walk through issues just like this. Marriage is not easy. However, it is good, and it is a sacred bond between a man and a woman that is worth fighting for. I don’t say fighting each other! I mean it is worth making the effort to preserve.

I won’t go into all the details of my answer, but I would like to include a very important aspect of my response in today’s post. How do we really go about changing our spouse? If the husband isn’t leading well enough or if the wife isn’t submitting well enough, what do we do to fix it? Here’s what you need to do first:

Take the focus off the other person for a moment.

I’m not saying there aren’t serious issues that arise in marriage that need to be dealt with by going to counseling or even confronting particular sin issues. But here’s what I’m saying: focus on changing you.

You see, marriage is a beautiful covenant between two broken people. The only marriage ever to occur that was between two non-sinners happened at the end of Genesis 2. And it took all of just a handful of subsequent verses to change that forever. Marriage is messy sometimes because people are sinners.

Paul exhorts husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22,25 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord…Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

Often times in marriage disagreements I hear the wife say something like “I would follow you if you would lead better” or the husband says “I would lead better if you’d submit better.” Yet, here is the reality of Ephesians 5: There are no exception clauses. Paul doesn’t say only love perfect wives, or only submit to perfect husbands, for if he did, these exhortations would be completely meaningless! It’s not the lovely wives that are to be loved or the respectable husbands that are to be respected. That’s not what Paul says.

He says Wives, submit to your husbands and husbands, love your wives. We can’t get out of these commands by claiming our spouse is imperfect. In fact, in other places in Scripture all Christians are told to submit to governmental leaders (1 Peter 2:13ff) and we know that the leaders of the New Testament era were certainly not Christians. The point being, instead of waiting around on your spouse to do what they are supposed to do, first focus on doing what you are supposed to do.

Let the fullness of Christ in you spill over into your marriage relationship. Focus on being the spouse God has called you to be first. No, you can’t be perfect, but there are areas we can all grow in. Wives, follow your husband’s leadership even if it is imperfect. This doesn’t mean you have to be a ‘slave’ or do something that Christ forbids, but it does mean that you can follow in areas your husband is leading even if you don’t always agree.

Husbands, love your wives even if they are contentious. My friend Jim Elliff recently wrote an excellent article about the sad story of James Fraser. Does not Christ continually love the church even though she is imperfect? Is He not full of grace toward Her? Did He not give up His life for Her? Strive to love your wife that way, even if she balks sometimes. You keep doing what God has called you to do.

None of this is to imply that the other person doesn’t need work too. In fact, I don’t even know who they are but I know they need work. Why? They are a fallen human being! If they are a Christian though, I am certain that your joy in Christ will eventually rub off on them (of course, marriage counseling might be a tremendous help too. And there is no shame in wanting to work on your marriage through biblical counseling!).

Let your fullness in Christ spill over. Let your meditations on Scripture, and prayer, and love for the local church pour over in your life so that your husband or wife sees your joy and love for Christ. May your witness show them that obedience to Christ brings delight. If they are not a Christian, your fullness in Christ might just win them to the Lord (see 1 Peter 3:1).

As you strive to do what Scripture teaches regarding your role in marriage, pray for your spouse. Pray that they would understand the role God has for them as well. Pray that the gospel would continually work in their hearts. Pray that you would love and cherish them as the gift they really are to you.

Marriage is hard work sometimes. But sometimes the hardest work might be humbling yourself and seeking the Lord to work in your life before you worry about what your spouse needs to fix. In all of this however, it is worth it.

 

Recommended Reading

 

2018-01-19T19:27:36+00:00 By |

Kingdom Come Book Review

Kingdom Come Book Review
Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative by Sam Storms
Published by Mentor
November 20th 2015
Pages: 592
Rating:
four-half-stars
Buy on Amazon

Book Synopsis

The second coming of Christ is a matter of sharp disagreement amongst Christians. Many hold to premillennialism: that Christ's return will be followed by 1,000 years before the final judgement, a belief popularised in the popular Left Behind novels. However, premillennialism is not the only option for Christians. In this important new book, Sam Storms provides a biblical rationale for amillennialism; the belief that 1,000 years mentioned in the book of Revelation is symbolic with the emphasis being the King and his Kingdom.

Summary: I would not put this on the “must read” list for pastors. However, this is not to downgrade the work. It is extremely valuable especially for those still wrestling with their eschatology or who want to understand the Amillenial perspective.

Storms does a superb job on outlining the amillenial, postmillenial, and premillenial perspectives. The book can be difficult to read at times simply for the fact that most pastors are probably not as up on their eschatology as Storms (I know I’m not!). I would also say that it’s not ok to be a “Panmillenial”, you know it will all “pan out” in the end.

The bible teaches us eschatology so we need to know what we believe even if we are continuing to grow in this area. Kingdom Come is a great place to begin, and a great work to read even if you are already settled in a particular “camp”.

Inspiration/Conviction Power: 6.5

Readability: 7.5

Practical Usefulness: 7.25

Enjoyability: 8.7

Best Trait: Thorough!

Worst Trait: It’s like drinking from a fire hydrant at times.

I gave the “Inspiration/Conviction” section only a 6.5 but this is because the book isn’t written to “convict” you so to speak but it is written to challenge your thinking. Storms also shows why holding to a certain eschatological position affects your stance on the here and now. What we believe about the “end times” matters. However, he also shows us that while eschatology is important, it’s not the gospel. We can be fellow church members but disagree on our eschatology.

Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative
List Price:$29.99
Price:$26.27
You Save:$3.72
Price Disclaimer
With the Nicholas Cage version of “Left Behind” coming out this year, this book may be a helpful addition to your library so that you can at least refute some of the errors that are sure to laden the film.

Ultimately, I whole heartily agree with G.K. Beale’s assessment: “Even those who may disagree with Storms’ amillenial approach will definitely benefit from his book.”

A final warning: This book is 559 pages. It ain’t your vacation reader. It takes some thought to read, but it’s worth it. You’ll be glad you picked this one up.

four-half-stars
2018-01-09T11:50:11+00:00 By |

Why the Way Forward is Backward

Why the Way Forward is Backward by Allen Nelson

Lifeway published a study at the end of 2015 where the results showed only 18% of people attending new church plants had zero previous church background (SOURCE). I am not a statistician and I don’t put an unreasonable amount of hope in various studies, but I do think this affirms something I’ve thought for a while now: Novelty in churches today isn’t really reaching new people as much as it is ‘disgruntled’ people. It’s true that this study was nearly two years ago, but it’s my guess that things haven’t really changed, unless they’ve actually gotten worse.

Here’s a few problems with novelty:

Novelty exchanges one problem for another –

I once did ministry in a place where a church had split basically over novelty vs. tradition. One group of people wanted to do things ‘same old same old’ while the other wanted to introduce new music, new dress styles, and an overall new approach. The result was a split and a new church.

But here’s the issue. While one church is idolizing tradition, the other is now idolizing novelty! Where one church thinks people are liberal for using a guitar in worship, the other thinks people are Pharisees for only using hymnals. Novelty didn’t fix anything. It just trades one problem for another, which at the root is the same problem, just with fancier (or less fancy?) clothing.

 

Novelty uses novelty to attract people

Like the church situation mentioned above, and similar situations I’ve witnessed over the last 10+ years of ministry, one major problem with many new churches is that the draw is not Christ, but novelty.

“Oh, I can go there and wear jeans!?” “I can go there and drink a latte!?” “We can go there and experience this awesome new youth ministry!?” And the list goes on… Many people are looking for something to fill their souls. They know (intellectually) that it’s only Jesus who can satisfy but experientially they’ve ‘tried Church’ and have found it lacking. Novelty comes along and says “What you need to try now is this.”

People are drawn to novelty. We live in a society of constant change. There is always something new and better and more innovative coming down the line, and this has affected the church ‘industry’. The more creative we can get in church plants, the better, because it works! But I want to push back on this line of thinking. How does it work? Is it actually working?

If 82% of the people already have some sort of church background, what are we really doing? Swapping sheep?

It’s a grave possibility that many are coming because they love novelty more than Christ.* For a while they actually feel that a void in their life has been filled, when in reality they are still missing Christ. It’s like eating candy when your hungry. Sure, it may offer a momentary relief, but eventually you will feel more hungry than before you ate the junk food!

I know there are many gospel believing, faithful preaching brothers out there in a ‘novel’ church who may not even recognize this danger! But to attract people to a Lord’s Day worship gathering based on music style, coffee variety, or affinity, is missing the heart of the New Testament teaching, that the draw and focus of our gathering is Christ and Him crucified for sinners and uniting with other blood bought rebels who have sworn fealty to Christ the King.

*(It’s not that ‘traditional church’ is the answer. Many are attending those churches and refuse to move in a healthy direction because they love the 1950s era more than Christ.)

 

Novelty doesn’t get to the heart of the issue

In trading one sin for another, the heart of the problem remains unaddressed. The real truth is that a lot of times it’s not sheep being swapped. We are swapping goats. We think people won’t come to church just because we are doing it wrong. If we can just change the music, the lighting, or the ambiance then we’ll get more people to attend. And so we plant new churches where 82% of the people are basically already on someone else’s church roll.

But the truth is, most people who don’t come to church are absent for this one main reason: they aren’t converted, and they don’t want to come to church. The heart of the issue is that many people, particularly in the Bible Belt, love religious formality and not Christ. And where novelty has been particularly troubling is in the fact that it has masqueraded as though it is not ‘religious’.

Religion has been categorized as hymnals and suits at church. But lattes, guitars, media overload, cowboy hats, biker get up, and hunting apparel is just as religious. It just goes by a different name. The heart of the issue is that people need to be confronted with their sin through the preaching of the Law and told how they can find forgiveness for their sin through the preaching of the Gospel.

I don’t think the danger here is ‘what if this novel stuff doesn’t work in 20 years?’ I think the danger is ‘What if it does?’

Because then in 20 years you’ll have a bunch of novel churches that are now ‘traditional’ in their novelty and then you’ll have the same problem all over again! I hear the call for more relationships, and reaching the lost, and I get all that. And I’m on 100% agreement with those needs in the church today. But we won’t get to the heart of these issues by doing anything ‘new.’

 

So what is the way forward?

As I said in the title, it is backward.

Let me clarify a few things:

1. I am NOT against Church Planting (In fact, as an example, I personally know some faithful church planters in Kansas City who are doing a ‘novel’ thing: house church! But as we consider that, it’s really not new at all is it? cf. 1 Cor. 16:19. Also, our local association is currently working to plant a church in a Nebraska town where there is currently no Southern Baptist presence)

2. I am NOT against technology

3. I am NOT against contemporary music (well, not all contemporary music anyway)

4. I am NOT trying to go back to the 1950s

5. I am NOT against novelty just because it’s ‘novel’ (For example, I preach from the ESV, a new translation!, I enjoy heating and air in our sanctuary, we use electricity!, etc.)

The way forward is not back to the Heavenly Highway Hymnal. It’s not back to Cantatas, or same old same old just for the sake of nostalgia.

The way forward is back much further than those things. Back to Scripture. I know, I know, it sounds so dumb and ‘too easy’ to say something like that. But listen, it really is the truth! Scripture is sufficient for what the Church ought to be and what She ought to do! And Scripture is sufficient for a clear recovery of the gospel. Not an assumed gospel, but the blood red saving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I maintain that we are not in need of novelty today as much as we are in need of reformation. We look at the traditional church and we (rightly) say “Something needs to change!” And so, our effort has been as of late, to bring more fun, bring more ‘relevance’, bring a better atmosphere, be more ‘organic’ (whatever that really means). But I maintain, that though we’ve rightly seen the need for change, we’ve reached the wrong conclusion. The way forward is not forward (novelty). The way forward is backward.

You won’t find a clearer picture of relationships and a heart for the lost than in the pages of the New Testament.

It’s time to go backward! A recovery of the authority, necessity, and sufficiency of Scripture. A recovery of the gospel. A recovery of who God is. A recovery of what a Christian is. A recovery of the truth there are only two types of people: Those recognizing and rejoicing in the reign of Christ, and those who don’t. A recovery of that truth once delivered for all the saints.

I am grateful to see many brothers and sisters committed to going backward today. We see a recovery of the great creeds in many churches. We see a commitment to faithful men preaching expository sermons. We see a true heart for the lost which results in sharing the gospel and calling on all persons to repent and believe it. But let us ever be wary of exchanging the timeless truth of Scripture for something flashy in order to remain relevant in the eyes of the world.

Backward Christian Soldier! So that we may go onward…

Only God can bring the reformation we need. Let’s seek Him in His Word today.

Semper Reformanda

 

Recommended Books

2018-01-08T22:51:33+00:00 By |

George Whitefield Book Review

George Whitefield Book Review
George Whitefield: God's Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century by Arnold A. Dallimore
Published by Crossway Books
March 31st 2010
Pages: 219
Buy on Amazon

Book Synopsis

God's accomplishments through George Whitefield are to this day virtually unparalleled. In an era when many ministers were timid and apologetic in their preaching, he preached the gospel with zeal and undaunted courage. In the wake of his fearless preaching, revival swept across the British Isles, and the Great Awakening transformed the American colonies.

The previous two-volume work George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival is now condensed into this single volume, filled with primary-source quotations from the eighteenth century, not only from Whitefield but also from prominent figures such as John and Charles Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and William Cowper.

Best Trait: Dallimore has Two Volumes on Whitefield. This book is a summary of those volumes. He does an excellent job giving us a concise overview of Whitefield’s life. Unfortunately, George Whitefield is one of those people in Church History that is too often overlooked. Dallimore writes in such a way that not only will you appreciate the ministry of George Whitfield, but you will be challenged on your own walk with the Lord.

Worst Trait: At times, the timeline can be a little difficult to follow, but not so much that it really affects the value of this book.

Summary: Biographies are something we all need to read more of. Reading about a great man of faith who lived in a different time period than you should help cultivate humility in your life as well as encouraging, convicting, and challenging you in your walk.

Inspiration/Conviction Power: 9

Readability: 8.5

Practical Usefulness: 9

Enjoyability: 9.25

If you don’t know much about Whitefield you should. Perhaps you’ve dismissed him simply because he is of a different denominational persuasion than you. If you read this biography you will see Whitefield’s zeal for the gospel, passion in preaching, heart for discipleship, and desire for unity that is grounded in the gospel, not denominational allegiance.

Dallimore writes “When the present author is stirring at 7 in the morning, he frequently reminds himself that Whitfield had been active since 4. Arising at that early time, he spent the first hour in communion with God…At 5 he preached, and virtually always to a host of men and women…And by 7 Whitfield had often set out on an evangelistic journey or was writing letters or meeting the first of the number who came seeking spiritual advice” (pg. 196).

One of the things that personally challenged me the most was Whitefield’s heart for souls. He took 13 voyages across the Atlantic. While on board he would do his best to build relationships with people, preaching to them, witnessing to them, and catechizing them. He also was a generous man with his time and money. He often preached multiple times a day for sometimes as much as 2 hours a sermon, but also found time to oversee two London churches and an orphan house in the American Colonies. He chose to forsake the pleasures of money in order to give all he could for the furtherance of gospel ministry both in Great Britain and the Colonies. Whitefield was often visibly broken for the lostness of the 18th century. Would to God that I was for the 21st!

No doubt there are other good works on Whitefield out there. Both Steve Lawson and Thomas Kidd have books on him that I highly recommend. I think, however, that this book by Arnold Dallimore is where I would have anyone who is interested in learning more about this great man of God begin. You will not regret learning more about George Whitefield.

2018-01-09T11:57:19+00:00 By |

The Essence and Effects of Sin

The Essence and Effects of Sin by Allen Nelson IV

The Essence and Effects of Sin by Allen Nelson IV

The Essence and Effects of Sin

It has been a joy preaching through the book of 1 Peter at our church. It is amazing how Scripture continues to shape and transform us as we gather around it each week eager to hear from God’s Word. We were going along at a pretty good pace until we hit 1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

As I studied this verse I felt like it would be a good time to slow down, and to walk slowly through the mountains of richness this particular passage contains. We are breaking down this verse piece by piece as we seek to plumb the depths of the gospel and anchor all of our hopes in the magnificent truth of what Christ has done for us. And that brings us to today’s post.

Peter tells us that Christ “bore our sins” (see also Isaiah 53:3-11). In order for us to understand the full weight of such a statement we need to think biblically about sin. This is not an easy subject. In fact, it is often one rejected by our society and sadly, it is even obscured in many pulpits today. The purpose of Christ’s work was not to bear our ‘non-Fridays’, our ‘flat-tires’, or our failure to get the next promotion. God was after our most fundamental need in the atonement: our sin debt. Therefore, Christ bore our sins.

 

What is the essence of sin?

The word from 1 Peter 2:24 (used twice) carries the idea of ‘missing the mark.’ Isaiah 53:5 uses the English words ‘transgressions’ and ‘iniquities’ carrying the idea of rebellion and misdeeds respectively. In 1 John 3:4, John tells us plainly that “sin is lawlessness.” With those truths in mind, consider what others have said about the essence of sin:

  • “Sin is high treason against heaven.” Thomas Watson
  • “Sin is any lack of conformity to God’s will in attitude, thought, or action, whether committed actively or passively. The center of all sin is autonomy, which is the replacing of God with self. Always closely associated with sin are its products – pride, selfishness, idolatry, and lack of peace.” John Macarthur  
  • What is sin? Sin is saying, I renounce the God who made me; I disallow His right to govern me. I care not what He says to me, what commandments He has given, nor how He [disapproves]: I prefer self-indulgence to His approval. I am indifferent to al He has done to and for me; His blessings and gifts move me not: I am going to be lord of myself. Sin is rebellion against the Majesty of Heaven. It is to treat the Almighty with contempt.” A.W. Pink
  • Sin: Any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.” Wayne Grudem
  • “Sinning is a discounting of the value of the glory of God.” John Piper

To use the child’s Sunday school answer of sin being the ‘bad stuff we do’ doesn’t quite capture the full essence of sin, does it? It’s not merely the ‘bad stuff’ we do, but all that we do in a life outside of Christ. The essence of sin is a life of rebellion.

 

What are the effects of sin?

How has sin affected man? Only in every conceivable way.

  • It has affected our minds (Titus 1:15)
  • It has affected our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • It has affected our wills (Romans 3:11)
  • It has rendered us unwilling and unable to submit to God (Romans 8:7-8)
  • It has left us in a state of spiritual deadness (Eph. 2:1)

The bible teaches us that every single part of a person is tainted by the effects of sin. Furthermore, this has obliterated our relationship with God. Psalm 5:5 and Psalm 11:5 both use strong language for God’s disposition toward sinners. This isn’t because God is mean or a tyrant. Actually, it’s just the opposite. Because God is good, He has a holy and righteous hatred toward sin. It is true that He has no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), but this doesn’t mean He will compromise His own holy character. He will one day righteously judge the Nations and in so doing will send many to a just eternity in Hell.

Here’s what we’ve seen thus far: The essence of sin is rebellion. The effect of sin is we are guilty, vile, helpless, and hopeless. We have been rendered unable and unwilling to do the slightest thing about our sin problem. Mankind is spiritually dead and morally bankrupt.

This isn’t necessarily a self-esteem booster is it?

But it is critical we understand the human condition.

  • It helps us to understand how to raise our children.
  • It helps us to understand why marriage is so hard sometimes
  • It helps us understand why society is the way it is
  • It helps us understand why people inexplicably do some sort of heinous crime

Mankind is sinful, rebellious, and has woefully missed the mark of God’s perfect glory. But do you know why it is most critical that we understand the human condition? Because it helps us understand the full weight and beauty of the gospel. When we are soft on preaching about sin, we are soft on the gospel. When we rightly expound upon the black canvas of our sin, it makes the diamond of the gospel shine all the more brightly.

Do you see the glory of 1 Peter 2:24? Jesus bore our sins.

Oh how short we’ve fallen of God’s glory. How hateful we’ve been to one another. How lustful and idolatrous our hearts have been. How self-seeking, self-serving, self-glorying our actions, attitudes, and motivations. Oh the pride! The lying. The stealing. The quest for happiness, joy, and satisfaction outside of God and His Holy will. The gossip. The slander. The half-truths. The failure to care about Scripture, prayer, giving, and the people of God. The deaf ear to the least of these. The lack of concern for God’s glory. The vile thoughts we’ve harbored deep within us that no one knows. The drunkenness, sexual immorality, laziness, hypocrisy. The worship of false gods and idols.

How could we ever hope to be accepted by God based on our sin? How can we who are so wicked enter into eternal fellowship with a perfectly holy and righteous God? 1 Peter 2:24 has the answer.

Chris bore our sins. On the Cross Jesus took our sins and said “MINE”. He who committed no sin, bore ours. The righteous one was treated as unrighteous. This is the only hope of the world. Jesus didn’t bear our ‘mistakes’. He didn’t bear our ‘tried our best’. He didn’t bear our poor decisions. What did He bear? Our sins.

The greatest problem we have in the universe is not that we need more money, or our kids to behave, or that we need a better marriage. Our greatest problem is our sin against a holy God.

The gospel is God’s solution to that problem. That Christ was our sin bearer so that we would not have to bear the penalty of our sin against the wrath of God in hell forever. The essence and effects of sin have eliminated any chance of our making reconciliation with God in and of ourselves. But God! God has made a way in Christ, a sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. If you die and go to Hell, it’s not because there was something lacking in Christ’s work. It is because you refused to ever lay hold of these glorious promises that can be yours by faith. You chose sin over the sin-bearer.

But oh, if you lay hold of Christ, a Divine transaction has taken place! He took our sins. Now, there is another aspect of this by which we also receive Christ’s righteousness, but that’s for another post. Today, let’s end by asking this question:

 

How should we respond to such an astonishing claim?

  1. Believe it

Do not delay! If the text says Jesus bore our sins, why are you still bearing them? Why would you bear them for all eternity in Hell since a substitute has been given for you? If the Bible says “Whosever believeth” may have eternal life, what bars you from being a whosever? It is only your cold heart. Repent and believe today!

 

  1. Live it 
    1. Christians don’t have live out the reality of who we once were. We are new in Christ! 
    2. As we go forward in life, we rest in this truth: God loves us and He is for us in Christ! If He has taken care of our greatest need, can’t we be certain that He has our best interest at heart even if that means facing trials in this life? 
  2. Share it

Christ is our sin bearer. Proclaim it to the nations!

 

Recommended Books

2018-01-08T22:51:52+00:00 By |

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