MY HOPE FOR OUR CONVENTION
Committee of the
for our Convention is
simple. It runs upon one premise. It rides upon one purpose. It
rests upon one person. My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
commission for sending missionaries to the ends of the earth is to
scatter the seed of the Gospel. Our compulsion to scatter the
seed is the transforming power of Jesus’ death on the Cross.
we have to ask ourselves, “Are we unprepared to saturate the
earth with the Gospel?” Sometimes we seem better prepared
to compete than to cooperate, to boast than to be brokenhearted,
to stand proudly in the synagogue than to kneel at the altar, to
judge than to be judged, to call for repentance than to repent.
to Acts 3:19, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your
sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the
say, “Repent of what?” I don’t know. You
know. God knows. Jesus knows. His eyes are like flames
of his sin David cried out to the Lord, “Create in me a clean
heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me… Restore
unto me the joy of thy salvation.” (Psalm
51:10 & 12)
I do know is that we need a clean heart,
a right spirit,
and a restoration of our joy!
not enough to be intellectually equipped. It’s not enough
to be emotionally equipped. It’s not enough to be physically
equipped. It is not enough to be theologically equipped. The
only sufficiency we have is Jesus. If we are selfish, self-sufficient,
or superficial in this relationship, we are unprepared to meet Jesus
face to face and thus we’re unprepared to change the world.
hope for our Convention is that God’s Spirit will move from
heart to heart and church to church until we are changed by His power.
The wonderful thing about the Holy Spirit is that He always points
us to Jesus, not to Himself.
I wonder if we are slowly losing consciousness of the reality that
God lives in our hearts. Christ’s strategy for missions
is found in Acts 1:8, but before he gave us the strategy, he said, “But
ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…”
among us tend to withdraw from talk of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship
of Christ, and the mention of mysticism. I do not believe
in the far-out mysticism upon which entire cults and religions are
built. I do believe
that the moment I trusted Jesus as my Savior, God’s Spirit
came to live in my heart. And I can trust that whatever He
tells me will always be in accord with His Holy
Word. Why? Because God cannot lie! He will never contradict
His written Word. It’s time for us to go to the mountain
to pray, and give God’s Spirit time to speak to us. But
the question is, “Are we willing to listen?”
need to take time to time to be with Jesus. My
hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
need to be renewed.
need to be refreshed.
need to be reformed. Well, I don’t know. I guess
that’s up for debate!
want to make an observation and then a request.
Southern Baptist Calvinists are in the tradition of Charles Haddon
Spurgeon who said, “Divine sovereignty is a great and indisputable
fact, but human responsibility is quite as indisputable…Faith
is God’s gift” (Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, the Battle
for Gospel Preaching, Iain H. Murray, p. 86).
there are Southern Baptists who believe in the doctrine of election,
most Southern Baptists are not strident Calvinists or ardent Armenians. They
are biblical and
they are Baptists.
They believe Jesus shed his precious blood for the sins of all mankind
and that the Bible teaches “Whosoever will, may come.”
is the work of a sovereign God who extends His grace to us. My
salvation was an instantaneous event the moment I repented of my
sins and trusted Jesus by faith as
my personal Savior.
you wish, debate Calvinism. We should not fear theological debate
as long as the participants understand they are brothers debating
one another in a friendly environment. While Calvinism is a
fair debate in the halls of academia, we do not need to bring the
debate into our churches at the cost of dividing our congregations.
actuality, the Bible contains a healthy and dynamic tension between
the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Let’s
leave it where God left it in His Holy Word.
Paul said to the Ephesians, “for by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph.
2:8). That’s who Southern Baptists are!
of debate, the insistence by pastors to incorporate elder rule in
churches that have practiced congregational rule from their inception
will serve only to cripple the ministries of our churches, divide
the people, and ultimately destroy the witness of churches that have
been lighthouses for the Kingdom in their communities and cities. It’s
appeal to every Southern Baptist pastor, major on the majors in
our churches. We have no time to lose, no time to be distracted
from our calling…missions and evangelism.
Southern Baptist Convention originated in 1845. Our founders’ vision
was for Southern Baptist churches to network in evangelizing the
world. The Convention was organized for the purpose of world missions.
Unlike hierarchical denominations, our Convention was not organized
to be a governing body. It was organized to facilitate
the sending of missionaries from the pews of our churches.
- The debate
of Calvinism in
our churches can distract us from fulfilling the Great Commission.
- The debate
of elder rule in
our churches can distract us from leading the lost to Christ,
- The practice
of political posturing in
our convention can distract us from dependency upon the power
if we genuinely want the power of God upon this Convention, we must
determine to walk away from political posturing and polarization
of our people and our churches. We have a bigger task; the
cause around which we have coalesced historically, the cause of world
crusade to return to the faith of our fathers, declaring our belief
in the inerrancy of God’s Word, was a worthy cause and in God’s
providence, leaders who believe in the authority of God’s Word,
are in every major leadership post in the Southern Baptist Convention.
a continuation of the constant politicization of this convention
and its churches will come at the price of turning conservative brother
against conservative brother, of losing church members who love Jesus,
love the Bible, love the church, love the Convention, love the Kingdom
of God, and love world missions, and at
the price of losing the favor of God upon us.
of us who led the Conservative Resurgence have two choices. We
can lead Southern Baptists in continuing to build the greatest missions
enterprise ever known to mankind. And, we can embrace a widening
circle of Southern Baptist brothers, young and old, with whom we
share a strong heartbeat for advancing the Kingdom of God. The
Baptist Faith and Message was written as a confession to pull us
together not as a creed to pull us apart. It is time to cease
narrowing the parameters of our collective convictions and widen
the parameters of our vision for world missions.
we can insist upon building our own kingdom like the pharaohs of
old. If we do, we shall lose the blessings God has showered
abundantly upon Southern Baptists for over 160 years. Who
among us would want to be held responsible for the loss of God’s
power upon Southern Baptists?
power brokered by men has ever been equal to the power of God. If
we trade God’s power for man’s power, this Convention
will become a dust bowl of dry bones.
hope for our Convention is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood
churches, our associations, our state conventions, and the Southern
Baptist Convention must dream the same dream, envision the same
churches working together become an empowered Convention. An
empowered Convention will lift us to the highest level of cooperation
ever known by Southern Baptists. When we are empowered by the
Spirit, we will have the mind of Christ. Listen to how Paul
described having the mind of Christ, “Let nothing be done out
of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others
better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3 NIV).
world has yet to see what Southern Baptists can do through cooperative
missions if we have the mind of Christ.
has called us to a large vision. And, He has given us what
I believe is a divinely inspired means of supporting that vision.
Cooperative Program is the essence of cooperation. We
have supported world missions through the Cooperative Program
for over 80 years. It is our lifeline of support to our
we did not have a Cooperative Program we would invent one. Of
course, we’d probably call it the Synergy Fund instead
of the Cooperative Program.
is no better means of supporting world missions on earth than the
Cooperative Program. It is the “Mutual Fund of Missions.”
the burning question of the hour is not about the Cooperative Program,
but whether we believe God still calls us to work together for the
sake of world missions.
He is not speaking to our hearts about missions our ears will grow
increasingly deaf to appeals for the Cooperative Program.
...BECAUSE THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM IS NOT AN END UNTO ITSELF. The
Cooperative Program is a “means” to an “end.” And
the end is missions…missions all over the world. Missions
is about church planting, pastor training, and personal witnessing.
why we do not give to the
Cooperative Program. We give through the
churches have the freedom to give voluntarily, joyfully, and generously. Our
churches have the freedom to give proportionally in accord with the
abundant blessings upon the church. Cooperative Program
giving is as individual to the church as the biblical principle of
tithing is to the Christian.
report of the Ad Hoc CP Committee is a cry for help to expand our
witness to all the peoples of the world. It is not a cry for
more money to keep a bloated bureaucracy afloat, it is a cry for
support of state, national, and international missions, theological
education, and religious liberty. The appeal of the report
is not for dollars, but for biblical stewardship and a deep-seated
conviction that the Convention has a higher purpose, far exceeding
a funding program.
hope for our Convention is built on Jesus’ blood and
In February 2006, the doctors told my wife, Jodi, that her 96-year-old
daddy, John Elmer Francis, had colon cancer and had only a few months
to live. When
Jodi and her sister, Barbara, with whom he lived across town from us,
told him the news, he took it with the comment, “Well, I’ve
had a good life.”
the day he died his mind was as clear as a bell. All of our
grandchildren loved their Great Gramps. Every Thursday for
the last three years, Jodi would go by, take him to lunch, and they
would drive all over middle Tennessee for the remainder of the afternoon. I
called it, “Driving Mr. Elmer!” Man, did they have
a good time!
on Saturday morning, April 22, 2006, he began to have his first real
pain. Jodi began administering pain medication. He slept
most of the day. In the afternoon, he awakened. His breathing
was shallow and Jodi and her sister, Barbara, took turns holding
5:10 p.m. he stirred and said, “I’ve gotta get ready
to go, but I can’t get the top button on my shirt buttoned.” Jodi
could see that the top button on his pajamas was unbuttoned, so she
took care of it.
asked him if he wanted a drink of water and he said, “Yes.” After
the drink, he said “That’s the best water I’ve
ever tasted.” Then he drank another glass of water and
I think I’ll take my pills, have another drink of water, and
sleep awhile before I go.”
a few minutes later he said, “I gotta go,” and he began
to try to get up. Jodi said, “Daddy you can’t
get out of bed, but we’ll help you sit up. He said, “OK.” Then
he said, “I’m going!!” As he lay back down
in the bed, he said, “I’m gone.”
said, “Daddy, I love you.” Barbara said, “Daddy,
I love you.” And he said, “I love you both.” And
with a sigh, he was gone.
into the arms of Jesus! Gone to see Bonnie,
his beloved bride who died 16 years ago! He’d always
been a little lost without her.
gone to see his Mamma! A
number of times over the years, I heard him say, “I wanna see
my Mamma.” You see, his momma died when he was five years old. And
with only a faded memory left, that little five-year-old boy went
home 91 years later to see his Mamma!
gone home! For him and for us, it was a celebration.
looked around his little bedroom after he died. I noticed
he left behind his cane. I
noticed he left behind the caps he
enjoyed wearing. I noticed he left behind the pictures of
the old home place at Big Rock, Tennessee. I noticed he left
behind his shoes. But
what did he care?
didn’t need them to walk on the streets of gold. Elmer
had gone and he took nothing with him but the glory of the Lord.
see, his hope was built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood
is my hope for our convention.