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Colossians yields guidance as Pastors’ Conference text

Matt Henslee, president of the 2022 Pastors’ Conference, gives closing remarks June 13 as the two-day meeting ends. Photo by Karen McCutcheon

Photos by Karen McCutcheon

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Longtime pastor Al Jackson closed out the 2022 SBC Pastors’ Conference study of the Book of Colossians by examining the list of faithful servants named at the end of the Apostle Paul’s letter, reminding pastors that even little-known saints are significant saints to God.

“These are not insignificant followers of Christ,” Jackson, pastor emeritus of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala., said of people such as Tychicus and Onesimus. “They’re not well-known like Paul and Peter and John, but they served faithfully on Paul’s missionary team in the place to which they had been assigned.”

Al Jackson, pastor emeritus of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala., preaches on Colossians 4:7-18 during the final session of the 2022 SBC Pastors’ Conference June 13. Photo by Karen McCutcheon

Jackson drew from each name a characteristic vital to the advance of the Gospel: faithful service, reconciliation, cross-cultural ministry, intercessory prayer and loyalty. One name, though, pointed to the tragic risk of falling away, he said.

“My brother pastors, there’s a warning for all of us here including myself: Do not presume that you are incapable of forsaking your ministry,” Jackson said June 13 in Anaheim, Calif. “Do not presume that you are incapable of doing exactly what Demas did. Worldliness has sidelined many a pastor from finishing the race to which God has called him.”

Daryl Jones, pastor of Rock Fellowship Church in Pembroke Pines, Fla., preached from Colossians 3:1-11 and noted that many people make New Year’s resolutions as goals for improvement.

“Unfortunately, by about mid-February, those goals go by the wayside,” Jones said. “The reason is because oftentimes they want this newness of life and yet forget that the old habits and the old practices and the old ways have to be removed.”

Believers should know that if they’re going to reach goals of newness, they have to do something different, Jones said.

“The truth of your identity in the resurrection of Jesus Christ corresponds to the truth that your mindset and your motivation should only be Him,” Jones said, “and if it doesn’t belong to Him, pertain to Him, look like Him, kick it to the curb.”

Christians should be motivated by the victory won by Christ alone, and everything should flow from a mindset of pursuing Christ, Jones said.

2022 SBC Pastors’ Conference attendees pray for those with physical needs after Matt Henslee, president of the conference, asked them to pray for ministry leaders suffering, including a pastor’s wife recently diagnosed with cancer. Photo by Karen McCutcheon

Matt Carter, lead pastor of Sagemont Church in Houston, said division is one of the greatest issues facing the Southern Baptist Convention.

“If we don’t get this right, we are going to further alienate a lost world that we are trying to reach with the Gospel,” Carter said. “We are going to further alienate ourselves as a convention from a younger generation of preachers that are looking at us and trying to find a plausible reason why they want to join us.”

Division also will further alienate the SBC from the blessing of the hand of God, Carter said.

When he looks at Twitter, Carter said he sees a convention as a whole marked not necessarily by the fruit of the Spirit but by the fruits of the flesh.

“There are times when lines need to be drawn in the sand, but the Scripture makes it crystal clear that no matter what we face as a convention that we are always to engage each other in a Christlike kind of way, and we’re not doing that. I’m not sure that the Lord is pleased,” Carter said.

Israel Villalobos, pastor of Spanish ministries at Plymouth Park Baptist Church in Irving, Texas, said the apostle Paul knew people “needed clearly defined practical guidelines to avoid making unwise choices in life in the areas where we spend most of our time – in the home and in the workplace.”

“He’s trying to help them live a Christian life in ways that God has ordained and in so doing bring our Heavenly Father glory and honor,” Villalobos said of Colossians 3:18-4:1. “… He’s telling them, ‘Live according to these guidelines, and in so doing you will magnify the Creator.’”

Submission, particularly by wives in marriage, is an idea many people reject today, but Villalobos envisions Paul was saying, “This is good. It functions within the marriage just like it functions with the Trinity. This is God’s design. Do it. It works.”

“Don’t miss this godly counsel all because you’re fighting back with the text. Keep this in the framework of God’s Word and understand that submission was not a command only for the wife. It was one of the distinct markings of all true believers,” Villalobos said.

“… Live this way because this is the order God has set in place. This is what God wants, and what God wants far outweighs whatever we think is best.”

Julio Arriola, church planting catalyst with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and NAMB in Grapevine, Texas, said believers are servants of Christ “rescued from the pits of hell, reconciled with God by the blood of Jesus to live lives that would glorify the Father as we walk this world empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

God, the Master, does what He wants because He is sovereign, Arriola said, but somehow He acts at the beat of His servants’ prayers, “and when God’s people pray, prayer changes everything.” This is why Paul wrote, “Devote yourselves to prayer,” Arriola said.

“We dedicate time to things we believe are important,” Arriola said, urging pastors to pray for their families, their churches, the nation and the world.

“The greatest influence we have as pastors is not over the church member that goes to sleep over your sermon on Sunday but over the family member that goes to sleep under the same roof as you every night,” Arriola said.

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  • Erin Roach