Have you ever heard a sermon that stepped on your toes, chewed you up, spit you out and left you broken and dependent on God? For me David Platt’s address to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors Conference accomplished that. In a single sermon he exposed the false religious practices of baptist churches, called inconsequential theological debates to the floor and ultimately pointed to how glorious the gospel is.
Wait you say, we as baptists are the people of the book, surely there are no false religious practices that we hold to. First off, I’m Wes not Shirley (had to do it). Truth be told there are many things that the bible teaches are ok that we say are wrong and many things the bible states as wrong that we say are ok.
Platt pointed specifically to our reliance on the sinners prayer as a means of salvation. Can you trust by faith in Christ alone in prayer certainly. I think where we have faltered is that we have made it like a magical chant where if you say it, poof your a christian. Sadly we do have many people on our church rolls today that have trusted in a magical chant to make them right before God yet live in such a way that shows that they never truly trusted by faith. I think it is important to understand that being born again is more than just praying a prayer, it is being born again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Since we have tackled the false practices, next up what inconsequential debates are we dealing with? For centuries men have been debating about soteriology. What is soteriology, it is the study of how salvation works. At the heart of the debate is the question does God predestine us to faith or does God change man after his response of faith. This debate has gotten HOT recently in our convention. Here is the bottom line, when our words are being used to debate inconsequential issues our words are not being used to further the gospel. God has not called us as Christians to be passionate about secondary issues. God has called us to be passionate and on task about His primary purpose, the advance of His gospel.
Here comes the rub, if we must always fight against false religious practices and avoid unnecessary inconsequential secondary controversies, if we must be primarily about the gospel, then what is the gospel and how should we respond? Platt put it simply that Jesus Christ died for all men and rose bodily from the dead. Our response is both repentance and faith. Now is this a predestined action of God or not. Truth is, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that man looks to God in repentance and faith. Can it come in a prayer from a sincere heart? Absolutely, as long as the heart communicates it’s genuine repentance and faith.
Platt’s call was a call we needed. We needed to get back to the basics of proclaiming a true gospel and leading men to a true response. My prayer for myself in this is that I would not be driven by any secondary thing, but would build my life and actions solely towards the gospel’s progress. My prayer for my church is that we would not be about secondary things but instead we would be built around the gospel’s advance. Perhaps, if we as churches that call ourselves the SBC can shed our secondary passions and build ourselves into gospel driven bodies we would see the stop of our decline and would see a genuine work of God among us.