KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The pastors of the Tennessee Baptist Convention will determine if the convention will reach its potential, said Hollie Miller, president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention during the Nov. 13-14 TBC annual meeting at First Baptist Church, Concord.
Miller, who was presenting the president’s message, called pastors to revive their faith, remove their fears, and restore their focus, referring to the Apostle Paul’s direction to Timothy in II Timothy 1.
To restore their focus, pastors should preach the inerrant Bible and protect it. The work of protecting the Bible must “start in the pulpits of our churches and extend out to the classrooms of our colleges,” he stated.
Miller, pastor of Sevier Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville, said if Tennessee Baptists want their children to learn evolution, they can send them to the University of Tennessee.
“If Tennessee Baptists want college students to learn the Bible is ‘filled with errors,’ they can send them to Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
“If Tennessee Baptists want girls to become preachers, they can send them to the religion department of the University of Memphis.
“But when we send them [students] to our colleges [Baptist colleges], we want you to teach them the truth, the infallible, inerrant truth of God,” said Miller.
In response, many of the crowd stood and applauded.
He said he has always believed the Bible is inerrant and teaches homosexuality is a sin, abortion is murder, and evolution is garbage.
Thirty years ago he was labeled a mainstream Baptist for his beliefs and today, although he believes the same things, he is called an extreme right-wing radical, he explained.
A preacher’s belief about the Bible can cost him his reputation, popularity, job, and position, but he should “not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,” Miller asserted.
Preachers also should be aware, he added, that it is becoming “tougher and tougher and tougher for the preachers of God.”
They should preach with courage, boldness, power, and “no strings attached. Be a prophet of God; not a puppet of man.”
Miller said he wanted to encourage the pastors because they are losing their influence, according to pollster George Barna.
And many pastors are leaving their ministries. About 40 Southern Baptist pastors leave their ministries every week and 2,000 leave every year, Miller reported.
“I believe there is encouragement in the Word of God,” stated Miller.
He suggested the pastors in the crowd probably have the same challenges as Timothy had. His challenges included stomach problems, timid personality, tendency to be easily discouraged, fear, and youth.
Just like Timothy, pastors today also face stresses and challenges of ministry which cause them to become introspective and “pretty soon we don’t feel like we have any faith,” said Miller.
He reminded the preachers, like Paul reminded Timothy, that they have a faith in God.
Miller directed the crowd to turn to the Bible, quoting Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (KJV).
The Bible is not like the Koran written by Mohammad and accepted by Muslims as God’s word or the book written by Joseph Smith adopted by Mormons as God’s word, he said.
“Folks, I know one thing. God doesn’t inspire error. God does not inspire mistakes.”
Miller referred to II Timothy 3:16-17, which says all Scripture is inspired “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” In other words, the Bible is sufficient for the needs of Christians, he said.
They also can renew their faith by witnessing, added Miller. “Go out and tell somebody about Jesus. You’ll be amazed at what that will do for your faith.”
Just like Timothy, pastors and preachers have fears, but “those fears don’t come from God; I assure you of that.”
God’s most often repeated words are “fear not,” said Miller.
Preachers should not resist fear, but replace it with power and love and a sound mind.
Power is in each believer in God. “It’s not a matter of feeling; it’s a matter of faith in the Word of God.”
The love of God is perfect and casts out all fear. And a sound mind comes from a disciplined mind, said Miller.
When preachers are depressed, they should turn their thoughts to other things. And they should not fear anything, including their churches, the world, or the devil, who can only destroy their bodies.
“Restore your focus. Get back to preaching the Word of God,” said Miller as the crowd applauded.
He told the story of Billy Graham and Charles Templeton in the 1940s when they were young preachers for Youth for Christ. They discussed the Bible and questions concerning its content.
As a result, Graham retreated to a place alone and concluded he could not “answer all of the intellectual questions” he had concerning the Bible, Miller related. At that time Graham committed himself “to the infallible, inspired, inerrant Word of God,” he said.
Graham reported he gained power from God as a result of that experience.
The Tennessee Baptist Convention also can have God’s power “if we make a commitment to let God renew our faith, remove our fears, and restore our focus.”