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Share the faith, evangelists say in ‘Revival at the Ryman’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Addressing the “Revival at the Ryman” worship service June 19, three evangelists underscored a faith that is to be shared with all.

Bill Britt of Mansfield, Texas, Gary Bowlin of Summit, Miss., and Jim Wilson of Orlando, Fla., were featured at the historic Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville during the annual Sunday service preceding the Southern Baptist Convention.


Britt, preaching from John 1:35, cited three things that happen when a person becomes a true follower of Jesus Christ.

First, he said, their priorities change.

“Good folks doing good things does not necessarily make you a follower of Jesus Christ,” he noted. “… Jesus is not just a part of our lives or something we tack on the end of our lives.

“He is our life.”

Second, Britt said, true followers defer their plans to Jesus. Noting how the disciples left everything to be near Jesus, he said: “They just wanted to be where He was. They wanted to hang out where He was. They wanted to be around Jesus.”

Third, Britt said, true followers realize their purpose.

“The Lord Jesus left you here for a reason — to win souls,” Britt said, lamenting that the vast majority of evangelical Christians have never led another person to Jesus Christ.


Bowlin, preaching from Romans 9, said the reality today is that Christians have lost their burden for the lost, while cults and other religions have grown exponentially.

“It’s spiritual disobedience for a child of God to not be a soul-winner,” Bowlin said.

Using the Apostle Paul as an example, Bowlin noted three characteristics of a passionate burden for the lost, beginning with the measure of Paul’s burden. Bowlin said his prayer is that he would never “get used to men and women and children dying and going to hell.”

“Our desire for souls is in direct proportion to our love for Jesus and what He has done for us,” Bowlin said.

Second, he noted the misery of Paul’s burden.

“Paul didn’t have a religious spasm,” Bowlin said. “He had a constant burden and agony for souls.”

Third, Bowlin described the magnitude of Paul’s burden.

“If I may paraphrase Paul, he was saying, ‘My burden is so great, so heavy, I’m willing to be destroyed,'” Britt said. “‘I am willing, literally, to go to hell if it means saving my brethren.'”


Wilson said many preachers today are straying away from the hard message of the Gospel and refraining from using words like sin, hell, forgiveness and born-again.

Many are afraid to “rock the boat,” Wilson said, adding, “But, many times, if the boat were to capsize, we’re in such shallow water, we wouldn’t drown.”

Using Jeremiah 1 as his text, he said there are four elements essential to the Christian witness.

First, there must be a clear call.

Second, Wilson said, there must be a clean life. “We ought to be clean and pure, not only in the pulpits but in the pews,” he said, describing holy living as essential for being an effective witness for Jesus Christ.

Third, he said, there must be a challenging purpose.

“We’re studying surveys rather than Scripture,” Wilson said. “The trend today is to look to Rev. Big Church and mimic him because he’s found the secret to success.

“But God has called us to be faithful.”

Fourth, Wilson said, there must be a courageous message and courageous preaching.

Wilson said he sees four different models of preachers today: the news reporter, the group counselor, the discussion leader and the late-night talk show host. A convicting and courageous message, however, includes a convicting word, compassion and correction, he said.

“I tell people, ‘If religion has not changed you, you need to change your religion,'” Wilson said.

“Preaching can make a difference,” he said, concluding with an exhortation: “Preach the Word.”

A full slate of Christian worship leaders and singers led worship during the three-hour service. Among the featured musicians were contemporary Christian singer Russ Lee; Dean and Gayna Forrest of Pike Road, Ala.; Jeff, Diane and Jonathan Anders of Jennings, Fla.; Steve and Becky Carver of Mathiston, Miss.; Stephen Hill of Nashville; and Vernon Chandler of High Point, N.C.

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  • Cory Miller