SAN ANTONIO (BP)–Revival occurs when God awakens His people by reminding them of past lessons and bringing them into present repentance, Voddie Baucham said at the annual breakfast sponsored by Founders Ministries, a Reformed theology fellowship of Southern Baptists.
Baucham is the preaching pastor of the Houston-area Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring and author of several books, including the newly released “Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God.”
Baucham began his message by comparing aspects of Southern Baptist life with people who lie on their résumés to look good.
“We have been lying so frequently that it has now become a joke,” Baucham said. “We have 16 million members, but even the FBI couldn’t find half of them.” Preaching from Revelation 3, Baucham explained the stern words from Jesus to the church at Sardis as a call for revival within modern-day churches and denominations.
“Revival happens when God awakens His people for Kingdom ministry,” Baucham said. “And we can see genuine revival in the life of just one believer or in the meeting of a small church of only 50 people.
“If God supernaturally invaded our lives as a convention and awakened us from our slumber, one of the evidences of that work would have to be that our numbers would drop significantly because the first thing we would have to do is to repent for being like Sardis,” Baucham continued.
Much like the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, the city of Sardis had a reputation and appearance for being great even while decaying and crumbling on the inside, Baucham said. Jesus gave the church of Sardis a three-fold command: They were to remember what they had received, keep it and repent. The call to remembrance, he explained, is a reaching back to the history and heritage of those who have gone before.
“I’m humbled when I read men like Jonathan Edwards, or Richard Baxter or Martyn Lloyd-Jones,” Baucham said. “However, there are some in the convention that have no idea what has happened in the last 20 years. But we must be Christians who remember the lessons of the past. We must not be a convention that conveniently forgets our theological heritage.
“How can we forget men like 16th-century Felix Manz who was martyred by drowning on account of his views on believer’s baptism?” Baucham asked. “However, it isn’t enough to just remember the past as an exercise of historical study. Rather, we must keep and practice the lessons we learn.”
Baucham laid out seven areas in which he believes Southern Baptists must begin to practice repentance, citing regenerate church membership, church discipline, biblical exposition, church planting, family discipleship, biblically qualified leadership and Christian education that he said must be examined in light of the Bible. Churches must then repent of attitudes and actions contrary to the Word of God.
“Our repentance in regenerate church membership must begin by being honest in regard to who is and who is not a member of our church,” Baucham said. “This means that we will move some names off the membership roll and onto the prospect roll where they actually belong.”
Regarding church discipline, Baucham said pastors must deal biblically with sin in their churches. Giving the example of a man who leaves his family for another woman, Baucham asked how pastors can do effective pastoral counseling if they don’t practice church discipline with such members.
In the area of biblical exposition, Baucham said Southern Baptists must repent of being captive to the spirit of the age, in which entertainment and marketing dominate their ideas of how to communicate the Bible. In family discipleship, they must repent of creating structures that discourage parents from thinking and acting on the idea that they are the ones primarily responsible for the spiritual instruction of their children.
Baucham asserted that Southern Baptist structures and terminology often have told parents, “We are trained professionals, please don’t try this at home.”
“And now, we sit and wonder why it is that parents won’t step up to the plate and disciple their own children,” he continued, citing statistics that reveal Southern Baptists baptize only a small portion of their own teenagers.
On the issue of biblical qualifications for leadership, Baucham said Southern Baptists must return to the Bible for their understanding of what makes a man qualified for pastoral leadership.
“The silence is deafening when it comes to a man’s marriage and the way that he raises and disciples his own children,” Baucham said. “What I am in my family discipleship is the real test of who I am as a man of God.
“We don’t determine whether pastoral candidates are discipling and catechizing their children,” he continued. “We don’t determine what their marriage looks like. We don’t determine whether these are men who exemplify the character in their homes that we are looking for in the church. Why don’t we worry about that? Because we have a reputation that we are alive, but we are dead. We have missed the weightier matters.”
Baucham closed his message with a word of hope and challenge, urging the audience to beat their own chests in repentance and seek God’s face, pleading with Him to lead churches away from sin and the stench of spiritual death.