KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–While much of what is preached in America’s pulpits may “tickle the fancy of the world,” Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee president Morris H. Chapman insisted, “It does not answer the questions of the world.” Basing his Mar. 13 chapel address to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Paul’s instructions to Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:2-8, he urged ministerial students to preach the Word of God.
“People are looking. People are hungry. People want to hear a word from God,” he insisted. “You are to preach it in such a way that it will not bore them to tears, obviously,” he added. Instead, he advised them, “Study, prepare, pray, and preach under the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God that will open the hearts of men.”
Describing Paul as “passing along the baton of leadership,” Chapman said the older minister is giving Timothy responsibility for the care of the saints and the leadership of the churches. In following the instruction to preach the Word, Chapman reiterated, “Preach the whole counsel of God, in season and out of season, in favorable times and unfavorable times — not book reviews, not politics, not economics, not current events of the day, not a philosophy of life, not unproven theories of science, but preach the Word.”
Chapman spoke of the inspiration of both “the men and the message,” noting the illumination which comes from hearing the Word of God.
“We have many pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention today who have come to believe, tragically, that preaching topical messages is the way to communicate with the world,” he acknowledged. In order for the inspired Word of God to illuminate hearts, Chapman argued in favor of expository preaching which clearly presents what the Word of God has to say.
“Worship is not a spectator sport,” he continued. “It is not a sport to see how well you preach, how well somebody else sings, or how happy I might always feel in the midst of it, but to worship and revere and understand that God is a holy, holy God. We may be losing the reverence for the holiness of God,” Chapman warned.
Observing Paul’s willingness to offer himself in ministry, Chapman said, “Be on the watch that you stand steady, hold on to the things that count — character, integrity, truth and courage. These are in short supply in the world today.”
One element of that ministry is the work of an evangelist, Chapman said, quoting Paul’s instruction to Timothy. “We are all to follow the Great Commission and be engaged in evangelism. The average Southern Baptist church has lost its way in evangelism.”
And while Paul spoke of keeping the faith, Chapman noted the reference to Demas in 2 Tim. 4:10 as one who deserted Paul because “he loved this world.”
Warning the ministers that Satan will tempt them in their weakest points, Chapman encouraged them to be careful how they live. “Love not the world, but leave your mark on the world.”
Knowing that they will receive “a crown of righteousness” for their labor, Chapman encouraged students to keep their focus on Jesus.
“Don’t ever lose sight of looking straight ahead at Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Stay by the stuff. I’ve seen many friends who became castaways because they took their eyes off Jesus,” he said.