NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When Bill Bright last spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, he wore an oxygen mask, had to stop several times to cough but told messengers that the past 12 months had been “the most fruitful year of my life.”
Bright, the spiritual giant who wrote “The Four Spiritual Laws” and commissioned the “JESUS” film, died July 19 from complications related to pulmonary fibrosis. He was 81.
“I am standing before you by the grace of God,” he told messengers in St. Louis in 2002. “I am praising Him, though I am ready at any moment to go… . I can tell you that the last year of my life has been the most fruitful, productive and most joyful year of my life.
“I am on this oxygen 24 hours a day, but circumstances do not contribute to misery. It’s our lack of understanding of who God is and His wonderful, holy purpose for us that frustrates so many.”
After Bright spoke, then-SBC President James Merritt quoted 19th-century Baptist evangelist, who said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with one man totally committed to Him.
“I believe we heard from that man today,” Merritt said.
Bright, author of more than 100 books and founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, challenged messengers to pray for revival in America.
“One of the great scandals of the centuries is the condition of the church of Christ in America today,” Bright said. “The fires burn brightly in other parts of the world and in some parts of America, but, oh, we need to pray for revival and believe God for revival and begin in our own hearts.”
Saying that too many Christians fail to take seriously Christ’s command to share the Gospel, Bright gave three biblical actions he said would help the church experience true revival: embracing the cross, being filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit and experiencing death to self.
Bright gave an acronym — CROSS — that he said helps him understand how to embrace the cross. The acronym stands for: conversion; repentance, reconciliation and restitution; obedience; sacrifice and service.
To experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit, Bright said, a Christian must hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Finally, quoting Galatians 2:20, Bright said a Christian must experience death to self. Bright said that to “surrender yourself totally, irrevocably, without reservation” to Christ is the “greatest privilege man can know.
“This is life. To live the self-centered life is to live in self-imposed spiritual poverty,” he said. “I am 80 years old and I am just beginning to really understand, though I preached it for many years, the importance of being dead to Bill Bright. Bill Bright has no rights in my life. Christ has purchased me; I belong to Him. And if I refuse to walk in the light as He is in the light, I am the loser.”
Compiled from reporting by Jon Walker & Mark Kelly.