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FIRST-PERSON: Charge on!

SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (BP) – “Our best days are behind us. Hope for unity is gone, and the future of the church is uncertain.”

Wayne Bray

This has always been the message of the enemy. After all, he is a deceiver and wants nothing more than to bring fear and frustration to the mission and ministry of every follower of Jesus. Sadly, these lies from the devil seem to have become a common belief among Christians in our day. We have forgotten the hopeful promises of God to His church and replaced them with the doom and gloom of the world’s dreadful predictions.

We seem shocked and disturbed by the reports of drastic decline in salvations, baptisms and memberships in our Baptist churches in the United States, but we wrongly assume there’s nothing we can do to change the negative trends. The truth is, we don’t fail for lack of faithfulness, but a lack of faith. Believers are still busy, dedicated to the task before them today. Our commitment, however, wanes when it comes to faith in tomorrow. Sure, we long for Christ to return, but we seem to have given up on the mission to reach the world. Christians are not living like they believe Jesus has power to change lives. We have a drastic shortage of personal belief, and this has led us to a crisis of evangelism.

Baptists are people of the book! We believe the Bible, right? Well, have we forgotten the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 10:13-14? “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Instead of debating the doctrine from our tribal perspectives, we should simply hear the challenge from the Word of God. We are responsible to share the Gospel!

I for one still believe Paul meant “everyone.” Christ has certainly done everything necessary for salvation, and His sacrifice was sufficient. Still, each person must make the decision to turn from his sin to the Savior. Every man is personally responsible for his sin. To be clear, Paul’s reference to “preaching” is not limited to a pastor on a stage on Sunday mornings. He is challenging us all to share the Gospel truth. Hall of Fame NHL hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” This is the first major cause of our evangelistic crisis; no one is taking a shot anymore. Very few believers share their faith, and this leads to a lack of decisions for Christ.  

Common sense tells us that it’s impossible for us to convince others of something we don’t believe ourselves. Now, I know we are confident that Jesus saves, but we are not acting like we really believe it. If the world’s belief in the saving power of Jesus is impacted in any way by our public demonstration of faith in His saving power, they’re not going to be convinced. Why? We’ve become so distracted by less important things, but the truth remains the same.

The Gospel still has the power to change lives, and Jesus still saves sinners who call on His name. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). The church still stands, and the light continues to shine in darkness. It’s easy to believe the headlines, or unconsciously welcome the enemy’s deceitful whispers that our best days are behinds us. Let me encourage you to believe with me, that all hope is NOT gone. Listen, our God is just getting started with Southern Baptists. May we wake up to the call to revival and revitalization. This mission requires us all.

Charge on!

    About the Author

  • Wayne Bray

    Wayne Bray is lead pastor of First Baptist Simpsonville, S.C. and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

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