Editor’s note: This column is the first in a series of regular columns by Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page.
TAYLORS, S.C. (BP)–In this, my first article, I would like to set the tone for that which is to come. I firmly am convinced that Southern Baptists need to renew their understanding of who is in charge, of who has the power and who sets the agenda. This day, I call on all Southern Baptists to reaffirm that we belong to the Lord, that we accept His marching orders, and that His great Book, the Word of God, gives us that which we need for life.
Let this Scripture verse be the one to give us clarity and understanding. Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think –- according to the power that works in you –- to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (HCSB)
Let us confess that He alone is able. Isn’t it exciting to see that He is able to do even more than we ask or think or imagine?
— Is He truly able to transform our churches? Is He truly able to bring revival to the Southern Baptist Convention? Is He truly able to encourage us in Cooperative Program giving and mission work?
— Is He able to involve a record number of persons from every age group and every size church?
— Is He able to bring health and dialogue back to our convention?
— Is He able to help us win more souls to Christ than ever before?
Let us correct our errant thinking. The Scripture is very clear — it is His power that is at work. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.”
Let us confirm that God is at work among us. Even in my limited time as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, I am already seeing examples of God’s power and work in the lives of people. Immediately after the Southern Baptist Convention, my wife and I left for a preplanned trip to Yellowstone National Park. Our precious and supportive church, First Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C., had given us this gift in recognition of five years of service.
While on this wonderful getaway, we passed by a small SBC congregation, First Baptist Church of West Yellowstone, Mont. Wanting to encourage that dear church, I stopped in to see if I might find someone there. It was a Sunday evening and it was getting late. However, in the parking lot I found several people who were part of a North America Mission Board resort outreach called the Innovators Ministry. While there, I did not get to meet Pastor Benny McCracken, but I did get to meet Mission Service Corps missionary Butch Riek and North American Mission Board resort missionary Bradford Lartigue. These men were helping to oversee a group of college students from around the Southern Baptist Convention who minister to workers in Yellowstone National Park. What an encouragement it was to see God at work in this way! That work, of course, is made possible largely because of the Cooperative Program.
Throughout the year, I am going to be emphasizing that God’s power is at work through our cooperative ministries funded by the Cooperative Program. In fact, I just received my first letter from a fellow Southern Baptist who is committed to bringing his church back up to a 10 percent level of Cooperative Program giving. Isn’t that exciting?
Let us give credit where credit is due. The Bible says it well, “to Him be glory!” Let us repent of taking credit from the Lord. Let us repent of thinking that we have actually done anything good as a result of our own power and strength. Let us seek forgiveness from God for our selfishness and our lack of cooperation. Let us ask Him to cleanse us for actually thinking that we have done a great job when, in reality, we have failed in so many crucial ways. In other words, let us see things more clearly and in more honest light than every before!
Let us join in God’s concern that this glory be given to Him perpetually. The Scripture is clear that He wishes for glory to be ascribed unto Him throughout all generations. If that were not strong enough, in Ephesians 3:21 the Apostle Paul adds the phase, “forever and ever.” We recognize that we have done a poor job of passing the Gospel down to succeeding generations. We must realize that there are powerful societal and cultural forces at work. However, rather than being discouraged because of the difficulty of living in a post-Christian nation, let us remember that our God is able, and that He is able to do more than we ask or think. It is to this great God that we must give glory and teach our children and grandchildren to give Him the glory as well! Let’s be honest where we have failed. Let us admit that we have often taken the credit. Let us also be encouraged that the task belongs to God and that the power is God’s power. To Him be the glory!
Frank Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C. Visit his website at www.sbc.net/PresidentsPage.