Pastors urged to surrender to Jesus
November 15 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge and Jimmy Allen , BR staff

Pastors urged to surrender to Jesus | Friday, Nov 15, 2002

Friday, Nov 15, 2002

Pastors urged to surrender to Jesus

By Tony W. Cartledge and Jimmy Allen BR staff

WINSTON-SALEM - Hundreds of North Carolina Baptist pastors heard three evangelists and three seminarians challenge them to be more surrendered to Jesus during a pre-convention meeting Nov. 10-11.

The program, held at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, was organized by conference president Shannon Scott, pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Raleigh.

Continual conversion

Bill Stafford, an evangelist from Tennessee, spoke twice. In the opening session, he used Luke 22:31-34 to challenge pastors to experience "continual conversion."

When Jesus sought to use Peter, He had "a problem assignment," Stafford said, because Peter was a sinful man. Like Peter, pastors are sinful and must let God knock the "self" out of them.

Jesus told Peter that Satan would sift him like wheat, which Stafford called "a proposal of Satan." Jesus could have saved Peter from Satan's temptations but chose to "put him through the sifter" so he could be tested and made pure, Stafford said.

Today, Satan wants to neutralize conservative preachers by intimidating them into failing to preach the Bible, Stafford said. "It wasn't the liberals who were going to kill us, but conservatives afraid to preach the inerrant word. We are the only denomination ever to win the battle for the inerrant word, but we won't preach it."

Peter would not fall victim to Satan, Stafford said, because of the "promise of the Savior" - Jesus said he would pray for Peter, that his faith would not fail.

Jesus told Peter to strengthen others "when you are converted" (Luke 22: 32, KJV), which did not refer to being saved from sin, Stafford said, but saved from self.

Stafford called on pastors to continually recognize sin in their lives and repent of it so Satan would not keep them from experiencing Pentecost, which he said is the ultimate goal.

In the second session, Stafford again challenged pastors to preach the Bible whether their congregations like it or not.

Pastors should be like Daniel, he said, who lived without compromise in a pagan society. "The only people who have the real truth are the men who declare the word of God."

"Listen, men," he said, "you are the only men in North Carolina that have the truth that will turn North Carolina around and bring people to God - that won't come from namby-pamby preachers."

Stafford said pastors should reject society's attitude of tolerance and abandon themselves to God. The light shines brightest in the darkest of times, he said, and "The more we reject tolerance, the more we can shine brightly."

"You are a man of God first, and don't forget that," he said. "We need an old fashioned, old-timey, weeping, sweeping revival ... so go back to your church with a fresh sense of abandonment."

Four vital truths

Derry Hodge, who teaches preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said both men and women need to have a firm, fixed understanding of God's calling. Hodge described what he called "four vital truths" from Jeremiah 1:1-10, 17-19.

God calls out prophets when times are perilous, Hodge said. The first three verses show that Jeremiah lived in a time of political, moral and spiritual decline when priests were failing in their leadership. America is experiencing similar crises, he said, but God continues to call out leaders to proclaim God's way.

God's sovereignty is emphasized in verses 4-6, Hodge said. Noting the presence of Calvinists, Armenians and "in-between-ians," he said. "I define 'sovereignty' in four words: 'God is in control.'" Jeremiah made excuses because he was too focused on the messenger (himself), rather than the One who gave the message, Hodge said, like modern pastors who "look at the stuff of ministry and not the spirit of ministry."

God's call assured Jeremiah of the sufficiency of his presence, as God promised to be with Jeremiah and put His words in his mouth (vs. 7-10), Hodge said.

Because God provides His sufficiency, those God calls should demonstrate courage to stand strong and not be dismayed or terrified in the face of obstacles (vs. 17-19), Hodge said. "The devil may huff, puff, scream, rant and rave, but all you got to do is stand your ground in Christ Jesus."

Scripture and Christ

Preaching from Hebrews 1, Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said God has spoken through the scriptures and through Christ.

God spoke in various ways, Patterson said, while the prophets and apostles "inscripturated" God's words. God's speaking included direct activity (the 10 commandments), dictation, dreams, visions, an audible voice and the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit, he said.

"Some would separate the written word from the living Word," Patterson said, "but there is no bifurcation between them."

Patterson said critics of the 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message have complained that the reference to Christ as the supreme authority for interpreting scripture was removed. But some were using that phrase as a way to rule out scripture they didn't like, Patterson said, claiming Jesus would take a different view.

"We had to take that out so people would quit using that as a loophole," he said.

"You cannot choose between the written word and the living Word of God," Patterson said. "It is both/and."

He said the text described seven characteristics of Christ. He is heir of all things, the One by whom God made the world, the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, he said. And, Christ upholds all things by the word of His power, purged our sins by Himself, and has ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father.

As a result, Patterson said, Christ has a unique relationship with the Father, is exalted as an object of worship because of His deity, and is immutable or unchanging.

There is a limitation to the written word, Patterson said, but not one of accuracy. The written word tells people how to be saved, but the living Word actually saves them. "The Bible is a light to the path, but Jesus is the path."

"The written word points to Christ: sacrifice neither one, preach them both, and God will bless your ministry," Patterson said.

A thousand diversions

Preachers face a thousand distractions from Satan trying to divert them from proclaiming the gospel, said evangelist Junior Hill of Alabama. Those diversions can range from selling insurance to riding a bicycle to a family reunion, he said.

Hill said he was shown a beautiful mansion one time and told the owner had been a preacher. A dabble into real estate investment led to a full-time business occupation, meaning the man left the vocational ministry. The man used his money to buy the mansion, which includes 10 bathrooms.

"Anybody who needs 10 bathrooms has got a lot of troubles," Hill said, starting a rumbling of laughter among the people in the sanctuary. That laughter turned into loud thunder when he said, "You don't have heart problems. You have stomach problems."

The devil also tries to entangle preachers in other ways, Hill said. "Does he ever tell you you're ugly?" Hill asked. "Believe him, he's right."

Hill grouped distractions to preachers in several categories. The first is by intimidation so the seed will not be sown. "Does the devil ever tell you you're not important?" he asked.

If the devil fails with his attempt at intimidation, he will try alteration - cutting back on the seed of the gospel. Hill then described churches that have dropped the name "church" from their name.

"I want to be part of a church paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ," he said. To claim a body of believers is something other than a church is unscriptural and dishonest. If a body of believers is a Baptist church, then say it, he said, generating applause.

The third diversion category is generational. Hill said he opposes trying to make the gospel appealing to a new generation. "All you have to do is faithfully preach it," he said.

Hill described a "little sissy guy" who came up to him after preaching one time. The guy said the sermon was pretty good but that people do not want to listen to old-timey preaching now. What else is a preacher to do? Hill asked rhetorically, wear black leotards and do interpretative dance?

"Just stand up and preach Jesus as Savior," he said.

The fourth diversion is evaluation. A man of God with seeds in his hand is tempted to pull them out and see which ones look healthy and which ones are weak, he said. "Tragically, that's what a lot of moderate preachers are doing today," he said. Hill said the preacher is to throw all the seed out and let the Sovereign God determine which ones take root. The preacher's responsibility is not to be an amateur psychologist.

He told the story of going into a restaurant for an early-morning breakfast. He didn't want to talk to anyone, but he saw a man by himself and God told him to go sow the seed of the gospel to the man.

Hill said he didn't want to. But he went reluctantly.

The man said he wanted to know how to be saved. That night the man came to the revival service where Hill was preaching and sat on the front row. After a service, the man went to Hill and said "Thank you for telling me about Jesus."

"I'm thankful my evaluation did not override my proclamation," Hill said. "Don't let the devil get between you and take away the word."

Jesus has authority

Jesus Christ has the authority to be Lord because He created us, said evangelist Randy Helms of Conover. Then He bought people back from the pawnship of the devil, he said.

Helms described three areas in which Jesus needs to be Lord.

The first is in redemption. While preaching a multi-night revival at a church, the pastor came and knocked on the door of Helms' motor home and asked to speak with him. The preacher wanted to give his life to Jesus, Helm said. "Don't you let pride keep you from heaven."

Jesus Christ needs to be Lord in relationships. Helms said he preaches revivals 46-48 weeks every year. About half the churches he visits, Satan has attacked the homes and marriages of the pastor. If the devil can attack the pastor's home, he can affect the ministry, he said.

To stop that from happening, Helms encouraged the pastor's wives in the audience to stop watching "As the Stomach Turns" all day, get out of their bathrobes and cook a fine meal. "No wonder he doesn't stay home. You need to get as pretty as you can," Helms said.

He said Jesus Christ needs to be Lord of a person's ministry. He said that he served in the local church ministry for 17 years and hated it, but he was scared to take the step of faith and become an evangelist.

Jesus Christ needs to be lord of one's devotional time. "Fellows, it'll make all the difference in the world if you make Jesus Christ Lord of your life," he said.

Helms often jumped to make exclamation points during his sermon, and he ended with a rapid-fire monologue of about 25 descriptions of Jesus Christ as Lord.

Hero pastors

"Pastors are my heroes," said Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

The apostle Paul was called to be the pastor of First Baptist Church, Corinth, said Kelley, who described Corinth as similar to New Orleans. It was "filled with all the lostness the world could have."

Paul was a tentmaker and modern-day "tentmakers" are needed, he said, referring to bi-vocational pastors. The world will not be reached with the gospel without people who work with their hands and preach.

One of the greatest lies of Satan is when he tells someone "you aren't a man of Christ because you have fear," Kelley said. "The call to ministry isn't an easy calling.

"Paul was afraid. God knew it," he said.

The Bible contains examples of people who prayed their anger, their fear, their doubting.

"Jesus said to Paul, 'Stop being afraid. ... I know you are afraid. Go on preaching." That was Paul's call to serve as pastor of First Baptist, Corinth, he said.

A call from God is also a promise of God's provision, he said.

Acts 18 describes Paul's trial in Corinth in which he was released without saying a word. Jesus intervened and fulfilled his promise, Kelly said.

Paul could have made the following mistakes:

One, he could have left Corinth early and missed the miracle. "He had to know a boiling point was being reached. ... His call was to stay."

Two, Paul could have interrupted his enemies. "(There) is a time when God intends your enemies to have the floor," Kelly said. If Paul had interrupted his enemies during the trial, Paul would have taken over what God was doing. Why allow the enemy to have a say? Kelly asked: "To reveal His glory in His way and His time."

"Do you have the faith to let your enemies talk when Jesus is saying, 'Keep quiet'?"

Three, Paul could have stayed too long in Corinth. God had other places for Paul to go, and he never promised the other places would be safe. Paul could have stayed in Corinth and been safe, but he would have been disobedient to the word of God.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/15/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge and Jimmy Allen , BR staff | with 0 comments
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