SBC Presidency and Membership Integrity

[This post was first prepared before Dr. Mohler announced his health problems and pulled his name.  I have updated it to reflect this change]

With the announcement that Dr. Mohler is not running for President due to his health, this SBC President election in Indianapolis may or may not be as interesting as 2 years ago.  On February 7th, Baptist Press reported that Dr. Frank Cox from GA was going to be nominated for SBC President by Junior Hill.  I am a bit surprised that this nomination really didn’t catch much press compared to that of when Dr. Mohler’s nomination was announced.  I thought that someone such as Junior Hill nominating someone to ‘oppose’ a seminary president would be a big deal.  Early on Thursday, I searched on Google Blogs and only found 10 blog links to this topic even though Baptist Press published their report a week ago.  Even a search of our own unofficial Southern news source Said at Southernrevealed only one hit for the story about Dr. Cox’s nomination for SBC President.

First, I need to say that I am a student here at Southern and have much admiration for Dr. Mohler.  When we first got married, Beth and I would listen to his radio show which would lead to some great discussions about our faith an walk with the Lord; this was so great for our marriage during this first year together.  (But she is still a bit ‘bitter’ about not getting to ask her question on Ask Anything Wednesday. . . I love you Bethie!)  Being a student here at Southern, I have been able to learn in an environment that was not possible 20 years ago.  For this also, I am thankful for the battle that Dr. Mohler led to reclaim this great Seminary.  So, my vote would have been for Dr. Mohler had he still been running.

While I must say that I do not know anything about Dr. Cox other than what I read both on the blogs, his website, and from the BP article, he seems like a man who is committed to the Lord, his church, and the SBC.  He has served in numerous positions within the convention, has been a pastor at the same church for over 27 years, and leads his church to give 13.4% of undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program.  This is great.  Having served on the mission field, I am also thankful for the almost $60,000 the church gave to Lottie Moon in 2006!  So all this to say that this rest of this article is not a hit on Dr. Cox, but more of a general question that came to my mind when I was reading about his church.

From the BP article, here are two quotes about Dr. Cox’s church:

  • “Under his leadership, the church has grown from 700 members to more than 4,600, with 3,600-plus individuals added to the church fellowship as baptized believers”
  • “The most recent information available, Southern Baptists’ 2006 Annual Church Profile Survey, lists 110 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 1,737 for North Metro.”

Now, I have read through most of the blog comments on his nomination and I have not seen any of them address this point.  Many of them were steering this as Calvinism vs Non-Calvinism, pastor vs entity head, etc. or bringing up the fact that Junior Hill is going to nominate him (Junior did speak at SBTS’s chapel in the Fall of 2007).  But are we not missing another issue here?  This church has a membership of more than 4,600 people but in 2006 only had a primary worship service attendance of 1,737.  That is only 38%!  Now, I know that North Metro First Baptist Church is not the only church with this problem so this is not necessarily directed at Dr. Cox’s leadership, but it does bring up the issue of church membership integrity, again (see here, here, here, etc).   I have heard that another blogger is working on a project looking at just this very issue so I look forward to the day it comes out, but until then, is this issue not as important at the percentage of CP giving?  I have to think it is vitally important to our integrity as Southern Baptists! 

There are many different ways to run from here: should the SBC President’s church not only give at least 10% to CP but also have a minimum % of membership actually attend the church, does this even matter in voting for a convention office, when are we going to address the bigger issue that Tom Ascol has been trying to bring before the convention, is this a Calvinist or non-Calvinist issue, or is the SBC always going to be a convention where half of it’s members are no where to be found?  While all of these need to be addressed, I am not sure how right at this moment especially in light of a young man at our church who is in the hospital with meningitis or the senseless killings at NIU.  The need for the Gospel is so evident as we look around us or watch the news or sit at work.  While I know that these (and others) are issues that will come up the closer we get to the convention, but my prayer is that all is done in light of the cross.

What is the Gospel?

Driving home last night, Beth and I were listening to Dr. Don Whitney’s sermon on Mathew 25 from the Building Bridges Conference in November.  In responding to the theme of clarity of the gospel, Dr. Whitney offers this definition of The Gospel:

“The gospel in one word is Jesus.  The gospel in a phrase is the life and work of Jesus.”  He elaborates a bit more and says:

“The one true holy God who is the Creator who’s law we have broken and willingly so and earned His wrath; but nevertheless, he sent undeserving law-breakers like us His Son who lived a perfect life so that He could be a substitute for others and He died as a sacrifice for sinners on the cross.  He was raised from the dead to validate this message and all that He claimed to show that God had accepted this sacrifice.  God ascended Him to heaven and placed [Jesus] at His right hand as King overall.  If we would repent and believe in this Jesus and in His work, then He would receive us and give us eternal life.”

Chapel – Dr. Moore – Heritage Week

Dr. Moore“I Want to Be in That Thunder – Why We Can’t Hear the Great Commission” (John 12:16-43)

Why is evangelism something that seems to be just another program?
Why is it we implore guilt when we talk about the need to soul win?  Why is it the same as the dentist telling us we need to floss?

But in Acts and Romans, we see evangelism growing organically in light of the understanding of the cross and the Great Commission.

Why is it that our churches are so dead when it comes to EV and Missions?

If the Great Commission is going to be more than a slogan, then we must hear what Jesus is saying to us when he points us to the cross.

1. Jesus is calling us to another kind of Fear

  • We are scared of the Great Commission.  We assume that most are scared of giving up everything, but most are not going to face an Islamic terrorist.  The fear that we have is similar to what we see right here with the Pharisees in the way that their fear is threatened as people follow Jesus.
  • The Pharisees are afraid of being turned out of the synagogue, the living of a normal predictable life.
  • There is a sense of personal threat and embarrassment.  This can be deadly.
  • The Pharisees were losing their position of authority as people followed Jesus.
  • Don’t we have the same fear, embarrassment and awkwardness?  Are we afraid of being odd?
  • But we are being told to have some fear.  Jesus himself is afraid.
  • Jesus is deeply fearful and troubled here.  He does not fear Pilote or Herod, but here he is deeply troubled because he understands something that we forget: Fear him who is able to cast both body and soul into hell.
  • We are so ineffective at EV because to us, hell is just a theological category

2. Jesus calls us to another kind of Power

  • The voice that the Pharisees have been longing to hear they think is thunder.
  • All of this to fulfill Scripture in Isaiah.
  • When the condemnation of God falls, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the ministry of revealing.
  • This power is a power that we do not see nor recognize.  And neither to do we.  We might explain the Roman Road forward and backward, but it is the power of God to save.
  • We can sit around and talk about the power, but we will only see the power in the Holy Spirit.
  • We can see the power of the Cross, when the sinner confesses Jesus as Lord.

3. John calls us to see through Jesus another kind of Glory

  • Those not willing to confess Christ love the glory of man more than God.
  • Could it be that our EV invitations are not successful often because of our motivations?  The motivation to show off our success?
  • When Isaiah is seeing the Glory filling the temple, he is seeing Jesus Christ.
  • God will glorify his name by lifting Christ up.  Isaiah speaks of God as high and lifted up.  But John shows this “high and lifted up” on the cross.  The glory of God is seen in a crucified Christ.
  • Could it be that we are so dead in EV because we are clamoring for the glory of man instead of people who see and recognize the glory of God in a cross?

Dr. Moore is asking every student in the School of Theology to be involved in a Great Commission Group which seeks to hold each one accountable to share the gospel once a week.

Chapel Message – Dr. York – 9/18

John 11:1-16

Beginning in John 11, all the events occupy under 2 weeks.  This is the happening that precipitates the crucifixion of Jesus.  Within this narrative, there is a view of the darkside of grace.

We never know when the delays of life will bring deliverance, but we also never know when God is going to allow things in our lives that are exactly the opposite of what we want.

John 11 tells us that there are very dark days out there.  In His purpose and plan, he doesn’t always respond as we ask.  If you are going to have light during these times, there are truths that we must take from this passage.

  1. To trust God’s actions, we must first be certain of His love.
    – We cannot possibly comprehend why God would allow things in our lives so that we do not rely on ourselves, but this drives us into His arms.
    – We can’t judge His love by His actions nor His actions by His love.  The only action that we need to know and trust in is the action of the cross.  It’s the cross that proves we can know God’s love in-spite of what we are feeling at that moment.
  2. To trust God’s delays, we must first understand His character.
    – Nahum 1:7 – “The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress. . . ”
    – We only get angry with God when we think that we belong here.
    – This world is not our home.
  3. To trust God’s timing, we must first walk in His Word.
    – Jesus purposely lets Lazarus die.  Jesus understands that the death of our body is not really death.
    – In light of His Word, we can see that He has 12 hours in the day.
    – Are we troubled that Jesus used Lazarus’ death to make a point?  It will only trouble you if you have a man-centered view.  The purpose of his death is the Glory of God.
    – One of these days, our lifeless dead bodies are going to be buried in the ground.  And the trumpets will sound, the Lord will come, and raise us from the dead just like He did to Lazarus.

If my joy is rooted in my comfort, then my joy cannot last.

If my joy is rooted in His glory, then my joy cannot leave.

Chapel Message 8/30 – Junior Hill

Junior HillNow before I start this sermon, I have heard alot of good reports from his message so I am very excited to hear what he has to say. 

Luke 7:24-28

“Who is the greatest preacher in all the world?”  Have you ever asked this question?  The disciples grumbled about this even at the feet of the Lord.  Jesus named one . . . John the Baptist.  What was it about John the Baptist that led Jesus to this conclusion?

Several Illustrations from John that prompted Jesus to make this conclusion

1.  John was unimpressed with who he was.

  • He could have been proud about the prophecy that was made about him . . . but he was not.
    • For us today, it’s too early to be polishing our crowns . . . but this was not true about John.  He was full of the Holy Spirit even in the womb!
  • He could have been proud about what he got to do . . . announce the arrival of the Messiah.
  • He could have been proud of his popularity.
  • He could have been proud because of his professions.  He had baptized “throngs” of people, including Jesus.
  • If we are not careful, we are going to believe what our people tell us leading us to forget that we are a servant of God.

2. John was unconcerned with where he was.

  • The mark of our ministry is never determined by where you serve and the size of the ministry you have, but by who you are and where you stand in relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • (I could listen to all of his stories all day long.)

3. John was unafraid of what he said.

  • He didn’t have any more sense than to preach against the values that were missing in his day.
  • He addressed the moral issues of his day . . . directly confronting Herod.
  • We are heading out in to a generation where the gospel is met with hostility and outright denial.
  • Will we be salt that preserves or will we be sugar that pleases?

“Stand for right, be clean, walk holy, be humble, and maybe one day Jesus will say ‘he was a great man.'”

Thoughts
I wish that we were going to be teaching our SS class this coming Sunday.  While the Lifeway material skirts over John the Baptist to cover the tempations of Jesus, this message would have been great to incorporate into the lesson.  We have talked alot in our Young Singles class about how to be different in a world that looks for actions to back up what we say.  John the Baptist is a great example of this; while not only applying to ministers, these three points would make great application to all Christians in the “real” world.

Chapel – Dr. Mohler – Apostle’s Creed

Dr. Mohler“God the Father Almighty” (Daniel 4:34-37, Psalm 139, Matthew 6:9)

NOTE: While my goal has been to outline the chapel messages, I find that when Dr. Mohler speaks, I find myself listening more than typing.  So what you will find below are just “scribbles” . . . you know, the little one-liners that you write on your order of worship when something sounds cool. 

It’s very important that the creed not begin with only “I belive in God.”  Many in the world believe in some god; but the Christian believes in the thrice holy God . . . the God Almighty.

  • I believe in God” 

All believe in God whether they admit it or not (Romans 1).  The general revelation found in nature should be enough, but the fall ruined that for us all.  So the fool makes for himself the idol.  But, remember that we are known before we are the knower.

If we begin in the wrong place with the wrong conception of God, we will miscontrue the entirity of the Christian faith.  Everything will flow out of what we believe about God.

  • “the Father”

This is a personal God.  He is our heavenly and holy Father.  We should not speak of Him in impersonal terms.

Jesus referred to God as “Father” more than 60 times.

Problem when we work backwards in understanding God as Father by looking at our examples as Father.  We should correctly look at how God is Father and then compare how the men in our church match up with this.

  • “Almighty”

The point of declaring that He is Almighty is that He can do anything. 

When we hear, “I believe in God the Father Almighty,” what or even who do we think of?  Do we accurately know God the Father Almighty?

Chapel Message – Dr. Russell Moore – “Lord’s Table”

Dr. MooreLuke 22:7-30: “Jesus Take the Meal: Why We’re Afraid of the Lord’s Table” 

(Dr. Moore tells funny story about finding the McDonalds in Russia . . .)

Luke is writing to Theophilus to tell him about the Passover.  But there is something different at this Passover; something completely changes.

When you look at Luke, Acts, and 1 Corinthians and you compare it to the way we view the Lord’s Table . . . there is something different here.

  • We spend all of our time explaining what it does not mean.
  • While we are exactly right in explaining what ti does not mean, we often forget to do exactly what Jesus did . . . explain what it DOES mean.
  • We treat it in a manner worthy of a funeral . . . but this is to be done “in remembrance of me.”

When we lose this, we lose something important about what it means to be people of God.  Have we just forgotten what it means or are we scared of the Lord’s table?

1. Proclamation of the Presence of Jesus

  • Jesus is there with His disciples eating with them.  There is a relationship and fellowship around the table.  By feeding them, He is modeling for them what God has done for all time . . . feeding them (manna, milk & honey, etc.).
  • We are right to understand that Jesus is not mystically in the bread and wine.
  • Instead, what we are to see happening is the reality of table fellowship.  Jesus is always with us in a head/body relationship. 
  • In this upper room, Jesus is telling his disciples I am here with you know and I will eat this again with you in the Kingdom . . . and I will do so at My Table.
  • When we gather together as churches, the hands that break the bread are the body of Christ.  There should not be divisions, but unity.
  • If we stand up and proclaim in the Lord’s table that we recognize Jesus is with us by His Spirit all of the time, this can be scary

2. Proclamation of the Sacrifice of Christ

  • Jesus speaks of this as the Passover.  He speaks of the wine as the new convenant as His blood and tells them to drink it.  But, Jews had memorized since childhood not to drink blood.
  • What we are doing at the Lord’s Table is announcing to one another that “I am a Sinner,” but yet the blood of Jesus washes away all our sin.  The power of the evil one is also that of accusation. 
  • When we are gathered together as the people of God with the bread and blood, we are proclaiming His death.  We are preaching the gospel to ourselves.
  • This is a warning of judgment and also a powerful message of the liberating nature of the gospel.

3. Proclamation of the Kingdom of Christ

  • Lord’s Table looks forward much like the Passover.
  • In serving one another, you are pointing to the Kingdom of Christ.
  • The temptation of the disciples is the same as Satan’s temptations of Him and us today . . . trying to replace stones for the bread.
  • The Kingdom of Jesus is a household, a family of brothers and sisters who eat together.  They long for the day when they will be seated at the table of Christ.
  • At the table of Jesus is a different kind of food.  Not a food that is poisonous, but a food like that of a marriage feast given by Jesus. 
  • As you picture this and show this, you proclaim my death until I come.
  • Why is it our Lord’s Supper services are so funeral-like.  It looks like a corpse covered in a white sheet.  We then feel “sorry” for Jesus.
  • Proclaiming His death is proclaiming a death of victory!  This is a victory party.  Why do we make it so tame and mild?

What’s scary is to sit there if you are Judas or Peter and to look a man in the face who knows everything you have done, will do and are.  What if we were to in our own lives to create an atmosphere seen here and in Acts?  What if when unbelievers saw what was going on, they saw a banquet that was worth going to?  What if we created a joyful proclamation at the Lord’s Table that is now seen around Krispy Kreme?  And what if by reclaiming the Lord’s Table, we created the kind of Kingdom community in which our children and dad’s would look at the boxed meal and say, “I was at church last night . . . and you call this a ‘Happy Meal?'”

Thoughts

Wow, I had heard that this was one of Dr. Moore’s best sermons and they were right.  I agree with it all.  The funeral-like comparison of the Lord’s Supper was brilliant.  But the question now becomes, how does this practically play out?  How can you take the average once-a-quarter communion and turn it into a victory banquet?

Any help?

Convocation Message – Dr. Albert Mohler

Dr. MohlerDr. MohlerHebrews 11: 1-6 – the Faith of our Fathers; the Faith that saves

  • Interesting quote – “We believe today the same thing our founding fathers did 150 years ago.” (referring to the signing of the Abstract of Principles)
  • When people hear the word “faith,” they think of faith in faith!
    • But we are saved through faith IN Christ . . . huge difference

Focus on verse 6 – And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him . (NASB)

  • “This faith that saves is a faith that is established on the basis of belief that these things are true.” 
  • This faith is not just faith in God, but we are here because this faith finds it’s capstone in Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.
  • This faith in Jesus must be clear.  We must be able to articulate the message of faith.  See Acts 16 and the Philippian jailor.

These creeds and confessions of faith have developed from the need to relate what we believe.  Christianity is a teaching faith.  The teaching office is to be honored, with the teaching responsibility to be cherished.  However, teaching is an incredible responsibility.  The consequences of false teaching is eternal death.  And today, these doctrines are being distorted and even denied!  Creeds can express the doctrines in a way in which they can be taught.

Several Reasons why Creeds are Important:

  1. Creeds and Confessions Define the Truth
  2. Creeds and Confessions Correct Error.
  3. Creeds and Confessions can operate as Rules and Standard’s for God’s People.  Why creeds?  Why not just the Bible?  Well, Mormans and Jehovah’s Witnesses stand by the Bible.  We must explain what we will teach. 
  4. Creeds and Confessions Assist in Worship.  Many of our churches sing their creeds and confessions. 
  5. Creeds and Confessions Connect us to the Faith of our Fathers. “They being dead, yet speak.”
  6. Creeds and Confessions Teach.
  7. Creeds and Confessions Protect.  The Abstract of Principles was written into the charter of SBTS to protect the institution.  I want to study with men who will sign their names to doctrine.
  8. Creeds and Confessions Summarize
  9. Creeds and Confessions can Help to Define Christian Unity.

NOTE: Dr. Mohler will be preaching through the Apostle’s Creed over the next year.

Let us treasure this content so that God will be rightly glorified in His church.