WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–It is the sin-mortifying Gospel of Jesus Christ, not “psychobabble,” that pastors must preach today to give hope and victory, leaders of LifeWay Christian Resources said during the annual LifeWay Spring Conference Week at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
Chapel sermons from LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. and Vice President of Church Resources Gene Mims highlighted the March 16-18 emphasis during which LifeWay representatives spent time with students inside and outside the classroom discussing Christian education and deepening the ties between the two institutions.
Draper, in a March 16 message, encouraged the seminarians to follow the examples of North Carolinians Larry and Jean Elliott, two of the four Baptist workers gunned down recently in Iraq, whom Draper described as having died to themselves long before they entered Iraq.
“Do you know God, or do you just know about God?” Draper asked the chapel audience. “You see, there’s a great deal of difference. God is not simply a God to be studied. He is a God to be known. If you come through these doors and leave knowing a lot about God, but not knowing God in this intimate way, you won’t make it in ministry.”
Mims, who spoke on March 17 and 18, pointed out that the same biblical truth that inspires faith for salvation also can sanctify the Christian from a life of sin.
“Preach the whole Gospel,” he urged. “Preach the Gospel that mortifies sin and sanctifies the believer. It’s not psychobabble we need. It is Spirit-filled life in Jesus Christ. You don’t get very far in the Christian life without mortification of the sins that remain.
“Is the full effect of the atoning sacrifice evident in your life today?” Mims continued. “Don’t you think that when He died on the cross there was enough power to defeat that sin?”
Draper reminded that Christians have a God who speaks through the pages of His Word.
“Other religions have a book about their God,” he said. “We have one by our God.”
Mims continued that theme, listing the various ways God’s Word affects lives. In addition to its sanctifying work, God’s Word has sustaining power in believers’ lives, which alone can provide the faith needed to endure the season of trial that inevitably comes in the Christian life.
“How do you respond when God doesn’t meet your expectations?” Mims asked. “Have you ever had famine in the promised land?”
The answer for everyone is “yes,” he said, pointing to the example of Abraham, who left the land God had promised him because of famine and went to Egypt.
“God didn’t call Abraham to Egypt. God’s not calling you to Egypt either,” Mims noted, exhorting the seminarians to continue serving faithfully even when the going gets tough. “Feast or famine, you are to remain.”
Draper described God as the One who sends, who enables those He sends and who has a wonderful plan for their lives.
Just like Larry and Jean Elliott, they do not have to know all that the future holds in order to say “yes” to God’s will for their lives, Draper said. In the end, no matter where it may lead, the greatest place any believer can be is in the center of God’s will, he said.
Mims also gave counsel to those seeking to be relieved of the burdens they bear in behalf of the Gospel.
“Just remember what He said when He called you,” Mims said. “You stay in that tough church. Somebody has to go to the hard places.”
Finally, for those asking how they themselves might solve their problems, Mims offered a better tact.
“Sometimes, we’re already planning for God all the things that He must do,” he said. “It’s not ‘how,’ but, ‘who is in charge of all this.’ The One who gives the Word is responsible to be faithful to His Word.”
Finally, Mims described the power of God’s Word unto salvation, calling the Gospel “the only answer we have and the only answer [the world] needs.” In a culture headed away from God in rebellion, he said, the Gospel message stands out as a beacon of hope.
“There’s no question our society is going downhill so fast you can’t even grasp it,” Mims said. “Our message is pushed to the periphery by every legal and social means possible. However, the Gospel is the provision of God in Christ. Don’t be ashamed of that; it’s our only weapon. The Gospel has power.
“The Gospel brings with it conviction. There’s nothing like the convicting power of God. It can convict even the youngest among us of their sins.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: LIFEWAY WEEK and STAY TRUE.