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Emptiness of carnal Christianity noted to seminarians by Jess Moody

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Southern Baptists are reaping “a harvest of division” because many are living a Christianity that is not Spirit-filled, Jess Moody told students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“I’m not talking about speaking in tongues or a word of knowledge,” said the retired pastor of Shepherd of the Hills Baptist in Van Nuys, Calif., and current adjunct teacher of pastoral ministry and evangelism at Southwestern.
“I’m talking about what George Truett, Lee Scarborough and B.H. Carroll preached years ago that Baptists stopped preaching 30 years ago. Now we’re reaping a harvest of division from our carnal Christianity.”
Moody said he believes God wants revival at Southwestern.
“That doesn’t infer that we’re a bunch of corrupt bureaucrats. It means that so many of us have been shamelessly untaught concerning the ministry and power of the Holy Spirit in a human being’s life,” he said at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary Oct. 22.
“Baptists are stuck at the new birth and that’s it. If revival doesn’t come here, we are in a big mess nationally. You are tomorrow for the Southern Baptist Convention,” he told the seminary students.
“The Holy Spirit is the Edsel of the Southern Baptist Convention according to Herschel Hobbs,” Moody added. “I’m not criticizing what Baptists don’t do — we’ll get to heaven all right, but we’ll be stripped of our rewards if we walk all during our ministry as carnal Christians.”
Moody said a marked difference exists between how carnal Christians and Spirit-filled Christians treat other people.
“Carnal Christians order people around, direct everything, command, threaten, fire, preach at, judge, criticize, blame, name-call, ridicule, shame, probe and make rotten husbands, wives and pastors,” he said. “They’re not able to accomplish anything and wonder why when they stand up and preach and extend an invitation, no one comes forward.
“But if you’re filled with the mighty, loving Holy Spirit, he will console, reassure and sympathize with you so you can support, trust, have the power to interpret, analyze, suggest, diagnose, praise, suggest, advise and model.”
Much of the blame begins in the pulpit, Moody said.
“Chaucer said, ‘If the gold rusts, what shall the iron do?’ What are those folks going to do out there if we put in the pulpit carnal men of God?” he asked. “Called, born again, saved for sure, but missing the marvelous truth that we must not lose — the filling of the Holy Spirit.”
Citing his own efforts to duplicate Christ’s life in his, Moody said only the Holy Spirit can do that work. He added people can’t always tell who’s walking in the Spirit and who’s not.
“Trying to live the Christian life in your own flesh is like riding a bike with square wheels in mud up to your waist,” he said. “People doing that are miserable, even if they may be posing as great pastors, as great denominational leaders, as great professors and students.”
At stake is not the believer’s salvation, Moody said, but the church’s mission to reach the world for Christ.
“We will never change the world until all of us are filled with the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Using the acronym RIBS, Moody said five things happen to Christians when they accept Christ as Savior. They are Reborn, Indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9, 11; John 3:3), Baptized into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3) and Sealed. The fifth thing, he said, is that they are filled with the Spirit.
“You can’t lose your ribs,” said Moody, “but you can lose your filling” by grieving the Spirit (Romans 4:30) and quenching the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), making the person a carnal Christian.
The good news is that carnal Christians can be filled with the Holy Spirit again, Moody said, citing 1 John 1:9.
“If you confess your sins, remember that God will forgive you and cleanse you of the sins you can remember, plus the ones you can’t,” he said.
He added praying for the Holy Spirit to come is not the answer. Instead, he said, Christians should “pray for the Holy Spirit to come out.”
Faith in God’s power to act and believing he will also are important to being filled with the Holy Spirit, Moody said.
“I believe in miracles. I believe in God’s healing power. I believe God can do anything we will allow him to do,” he said. “By his strange design, he has made our willingness one of the conditions for Great Awakening.”
The greatest miracle, Moody said, is the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives.
“When I talk about a miracle, the new birth is a greater miracle than turning water into wine,” he said.
Moody shared his struggle to deliver this message. “God told me, ‘No jokes and no old sermons. Tell them the deepest feeling of your heart. Be open with them. Be honest and clear. Tell them your heart. They’re going to be changing the world for the next generation.'”

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  • Cindy Kerr