ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Christians in America must regain holiness if they want to minister effectively through God’s power, Henry Blackaby and other speakers told Southern Baptists attending a June 11 worship service at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla.
The Sunday morning service was sponsored by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists prior to the opening of the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 13-14 annual meeting.
“Nothing affects world redemption as much as holiness,” said Blackaby, who recently retired as director of spiritual awakening for the North American Mission Board. “Nothing affects revival and awakening like holiness in the lives of his people. Nothing affects the life of the local church, nothing like holiness.”
Blackaby, author of the “Experiencing God” discipleship course and other books, said a lack of holiness leaves Christians powerless.
“Sin shuts down the activity of God. When there’s sin, God will not work,” he said.
Lamenting the plight of American churches, Blackaby said, “We allow all kinds of sin to rest in our churches” while continuing to ask God to pour out his spirit.
“God says, ‘You don’t understand my spirit is a Holy Spirit,'” Blackaby said. “‘I will not pour my spirit on unholy lives.'”
Sammy Tippit, an evangelist from Texas, in his message contrasted American Christians with those in other parts of the world.
Tippit told of seeing the power of God at work in churches in Romania, citing, for example, a Baptist preacher’s influence among those addressing a crowd of 200,000 at an anti-government rally in the 1980s.
“In one divine moment, after 25 years of God’s people in their country praying, in one divine moment, the spirit of God blew out the spirit of atheism,” Tippit said.
He also recounted stories of God working through Christians’ prayers in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi and the United Arab Emirates.
“I’m convinced that the God of Ethiopia and the God of Romania is the God of America,” Tippit said. “What he’s done there, he can do here. But it’s going to take God’s people praying and seeking his face.”
Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark., challenged Christians to consider the God factor in their lives, asking, “How much of all that goes on in your life could be credited to God rather than to your own human skill or ability?”
Christians must decide if they are going to rely on the “arm of flesh” or the power of God, Floyd said.
Southern Baptists have “great flesh,” he said. “I’m convinced that the world has seen far too long what flesh can do. I believe it’s time for the world to witness what God can do.”
Drawing from Ephesians 3:20-21, Floyd said the God factor is not performance-based or program-oriented. “We worship the unholy trinity of buildings, baptisms and budget,” he said.
At the final judgment, Floyd noted, God will care less about what Christians did and more about why.
“He will evaluate the deepest motives of your heart,” Floyd said.
God is the only “edge” Christians have in trying to reach a pagan culture, the Arkansas pastor continued. “What the world needs to see in your life, in my life and what the world needs to see in the church today is a supernatural work of God.”
Floyd listed four ways Christians can get the God factor into their lives:
— seeking God in morning prayer and devotions.
— living “from the inside out,” keeping priorities and motivations right.
— loving what Jesus loves, including God, people and the church.
— pursuing special moments with God such as personal retreats and fasting.
“You must be willing for God to do something in you before you can ever get God to do anything through you,” Floyd said.
“As your spiritual life goes,” he said, “so goes the rest of your life.”