Thursday, July 19, 2012
I enjoy the conversation and even some of the debate of the issues we’re dealing with today in the SBC. There are times when the debaters get a little ugly and personal – but beyond that – I have learned a great deal by reading the comments from thoughtful people who disagree.
Here’s my concern for the church…
We’re having the debate, but the vast majority of our people don’t have a clue what we’re debating. It is assumed that Calvinist-driven pastors are slipping into the churches with a plan already in place to reform that church. Certainly, that could be true on occasion – but I suspect most of these pastors are never asked about their theological leanings and don’t feel obligated to share them. Isn’t it possible they aren’t trying to be covert – but just following a call to a church? Isn’t it possible they are preaching a more Calvinistic theology because they believe it? I think so. In my interview I was simply asked if I was Southern Baptist. I said yes. I didn’t think to offer anything else – I just waited for the next question.
That leads to my primary concern…
We need to educate our churches.
Are we explaining theology to our people? Are we communicating with our associations and with our sister churches that are looking for pastors? Do we have information that can be placed in the hands of Search Committees? We might find Calvinist-leaning congregations looking for that kind of pastor. They might gain an understanding of the Calvinist “point system” and desire a certain number of “points” in a new pastor. I suspect the opposite will be true – but at the very least they should expect a potential pastor can articulate his theology – and they should be able to understand his answer. The idea of an informed Church/Search Committee and theologically astute pastor has to be appealing to everyone… Right?
What am I going to do? In October, we will have a sermon series on “The Election” but rather than talk politics – we will look at Romans 8-10. In the last Sunday of the series we will bring in Dr. Eric Hankins to preach and have a time of question and answer after the 11:00 service. At that time our people can talk to the primary author of the Sinners Prayer Resolution and hopefully leave with a better understanding of the issue. I will also talk to the DOM in our county to see if there’s a way we can help educate Search Committees who are looking for pastors. I will not start an anti-Calvinist campaign but rather will seek to help in the education process.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
In all the theological debates going on in Southern Baptist life, I hope we are not overlooking the important matters. Whether Calvinist or Traditionalist we are all called to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a dying world to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Though most give lip service to the necessity and extreme importance of sharing the Gospel, I do not sense the urgency within the SBC we need.
In Col 4:5, Paul tells the Colossians to make “the most of the opportunity.” The opportunity Paul referred to was the opportunity the Colossian Christians had with “outsiders.” “Outsiders” referred to non-Christians. Have you ever realized you and I have limited occasions with the lost of this world. You and I will engage the lost of this world, the outsiders, a limited number of times. When the opportunities allotted to you and me pass, we will have no more opportunities. Whether they move or they die or we die, we have a limited number of opportunities to engage the lost world with the Gospel.
We need to keep that truth in the forefront of our minds because you and I live in a busy world. It is not very difficult for our family to be busy and away from our home every night of the week. We live a busy lifestyle. We are always doing something or going somewhere. Our jobs are busy. There is always something to do for our employers. Throw in a little time to relax or get some things done around the house and we are swamped. We don’t have time for anyone else or to think about anyone else.
In the midst of all that, we live in a lost world, but we are so busy, the lostness of the world gets lost. We forget about it and pay no attention to it. The opportunities come and go, but we forget: our opportunities are running out!
Understanding all of that, Paul called the Colossians to live with urgency. They were to “make the most of every opportunity.” The verb there literally means to “buy up.” The Colossian believers were to buy up or use every occasion they had to engage the lost people around them. Paul called the Colossians to use the opportunities they had to share the Gospel. No one can make someone be saved but he told them to take the opportunities they had to share the Gospel of Jesus knowing the power of the Gospel to save. Paul did not call the Colossians to focus on the lost in the future. He did not congratulate them on what they had done in the past, but called them to take every opportunity and make the most of what they had when they had it.
I like what Steve Mariucci said, “I never wear a watch, because I always know it's now—and now is when you should do it.” (San Fransisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci, Fast Company, June 2000)
Ladies and Gentlemen it is time for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ to wake up! I love discussing theology. That is part of who we are. But our debates will never lead to salvation. So as we discuss our differences let us not forget the lost world around us. It is time that we realize the opportunities to change this world, the opportunities to impact this world, the opportunities to impact eternity are passing us by day after day. We sit idly day after day and watch them pass. When will we realize the need to buy up the opportunities we have. When will we realize the need to make the most of our time with the tellers at the bank? When will the church make the most of the time with the cashier at Wal-Mart? Or the Dr.’s office, when we are there at 8 but do not see him till 11! Let us use those hours for Christ. You and I have a limited engagement on this planet and we must live with urgency for the Kingdom and for the glory of Christ Jesus.