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Evangelism ‘foundational’ to Christian life, SBC president says

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Proclaiming the passion of Christ to lost people needs to be the central motivation of every Christian, Jack Graham, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Christians are responsible for confronting the culture around them with the saving message in the person and work of Christ, Graham said in a mid-March chapel message on the Louisville, Ky., campus.

“We must constantly be asking ourselves, ‘How can I personally be salt and light in my community? How can I personally and passionately share Jesus Christ with my neighbor? While the world is falling apart in darkness and decay, how can I make a difference? How can I proclaim the risen and resurrected Redeemer? How can His passion be my passion?’

“It begins with a courageous, consistent witness,” said Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. “We see it in the lives of [Christ’s] disciples. We must obey God and not man.”

Preaching from Acts 5: 27-32, Graham said believers must imitate the apostles as courageous and consistent witnesses to the Gospel.

Too often, believers blend in with the modern materialistic culture and do not live in such a way that their commitment to Christ is obvious, Graham said. Christians often are happy to attend church and live a quiet life and not share Christ with others, he lamented. But believers must realize that the Good News of the Gospel is not to be kept private because it is the message of Christ and Him crucified that brings salvation to sinners, Graham said.

“Too often the church of Jesus Christ is more interested in keeping the faith than giving it away,” he said.

Acknowledging that Christians are to be “protectors of the faith … to fight the good fight” and to be defenders of the family, Graham noted that evangelism remains “foundational to the assignment that God has ultimately given us. [Other issues] cannot keep us on a side street or sidetrack from reaching our neighbors and our nation with the Gospel of Christ.”

Graham reminded the seminarians that witnessing to others is ultimately carried out not in human strength but in the power of the Holy Spirit. Witnessing is a cooperative effort in two senses, he said: believers cooperate with each other in establishing a witness for the church and they cooperate with the Holy Spirit in confronting lost people with the Gospel.

Spirit-empowered Christians proclaim the message of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit uses it to change the heart of unbelievers, Graham said.

“We are not left to human inventions,” he said. “We are dependent on the Holy Spirit. … Satan is far more fearful of a Spirit-filled Christian sharing Christ than any other weapon formed against Him.

“In our battle for the culture we need to remember that we live in a world that is broken by sin. We need to remember who the enemy is and we need to bring every person broken by sin to the feet of Christ Jesus,” Graham said.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JACK GRAHAM.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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