WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–To a packed-pew sanctuary, evangelist Bailey Smith encouraged Southern Baptists and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students alike to perpetuate the sacrifices of the saints throughout Christian history.
“We have a foundation that’s made of the blood and the broken bodies of those that came before us, and God help us if we put on that foundation the wood, hay and stubble of our calloused indifference,” Smith said March 15 on the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
“We have a torch [lit] by the fiery testimonies of those that came before us. May it never, never, never, never be extinguished by the darkness of our compromise.”
Smith cited the great price with which salvation was paid and the requirement of modern-day believers to continue the faith of Christianity’s forefathers.
“Others before us, including our Lord and Savior, have paid a great price for us to have what we have today,” Smith said, speaking from Hebrews 11:36-40. “I wonder, looking at us today, if they may have thought that what they died for, died so quickly. I wonder if those that lived before us would say that their testimony, their sacrifice and their persecution and deprivation was worth it.”
Placing special emphasis on verse 40, which states, “that they without us, should not be made perfect,” Smith underscored the necessity of Christians not to waste the saints’ sacrifices, in order to perpetuate the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“It’s a tragic thought … when our cowardly brand of compromising Christianity could invalidate the heroes of the faith,” Bailey said. “How can it be that we today would waste the sacrifice of those that came before us, because [the Scripture] made it crystal clear, that without us they cannot be made perfect.”
Smith offered four steps toward the validation of the sacrifices of the saints and the perpetuation of the gospel.
“First, their sacrifice will not be wasted if we preach the message they preach” — acknowledging God’s ownership of the universe, the existence of one God, Jesus as the one way to God and the judgment of God, Smith said.
Second, the church must hate the same evil that the saints hated, he said.
“Today it’s not popular to be against something, even sin,” he said. “But look at the Bible: Noah hated decadence; Habakkuk even hated alcohol; Moses hated injustice; and Paul could not stand the lethargy and the apathy of the churches. … All through the Scripture, there was something that men of God had to say something against. And if you don’t do that, then the sacrifice of those before us will be wasted.”
Third, it is necessary to love the people the saints loved, Smith said, recounting a recent experience of preaching a revival service at a non-denominational church in which he observed the presence of many “unlovable” groups.
“I saw people there I don’t see in Southern Baptist churches anymore,” said Smith, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. “People with that hard look on their faces, people that have the scars of ill-spent years etched in the crevices of their countenance. My ethics professor would always say, ‘If Southern Baptists ever get away from loving the common people and the poor people, God will walk away from Southern Baptists.’
“We better love the people they loved, because they realized there are not red people, yellow people, black people, educated people, poor people, wealthy people,” Smith said. “There’s only one kind of person in this world: a person for whom Jesus shed his precious blood.”
And modern-day believers should demonstrate the same courage demonstrated by the heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews 11, Smith said, asking listeners to read the next chapter that alludes to a great cloud of witnesses.
“Can’t you see Joseph looking down at some teenager that’s keeping their purity and Joseph says, ‘Thank you for doing that. That helps validate what I did.’ And there’s Stephen looking down, seeing some pastor taking stones of cynicism and criticism and he says, ‘Pastor, thank you. Keep on preaching. Take those stones just like I did and my work can be made complete.’
“Do you have a heart to waste all of that? My friend, if every Baptist, if every Methodist, if every Presbyterian, if every Pentecostal, if every Nazarene on this earth bows [their] knees before the Baals of this generation, the false gods of contemporary compromise, I shall not, because I don’t want to waste [the sacrifice of] those that came before us.”
(BP) file photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BAILEY SMITH.