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Vines: Cult left men dead; Jesus leaves them alive

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Contrasting Jesus to Heavens Gate cult leader Marshall Applewhite, former Southern Baptist Convention President Jerry Vines said Applewhite’s solution to man’s sin problem was castration and his solution to man’s death problem was to catch a spaceship hiding behind the Hale-Bopp Comet.

“Now what is a comet?” Vines asked April 22 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “A comet is just a large ball of frozen gas and dust.”

Applewhite’s salvation was a “gospel of salvation in a dirty snowball,” said Vines, co-pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.

“Applewhite found men alive and left them dead; Jesus finds dead men and he leaves them alive!” Vines continued. “The living Jesus changes people and that is news too good to keep!”

Speaking before a chapel audience which included seminary trustees who were on the Louisville, Ky., campus for their semiannual board meeting, Vines praised the trustees’ stewardship of Southern and President R. Albert Mohler Jr. for his leadership of the seminary.

To the students, he said: “I cherish this opportunity which God has given to you to study with evangelical conservative scholars who believe the Word of God, who have hearts that beat with compassion for a lost world. These are the greatest days of your life, and I would encourage you to take advantage of them.”

In his sermon, Vines reminded listeners they live in a world of bad news, but he is glad God allows believers to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. However, even in the good news, there is bad news, he said — that sin and death are linked in the Bible.

“When Paul preached in Corinth, he did not do a survey to determine the felt needs of the Corinthians,” Vines said. “Rather, he preached to them a gospel that deals with the real needs of individuals.”

Today’s self-esteem culture minimizes the effect of sin, Vines noted.

“We also live in a culture of death,” said Vines, referencing recent news stories about the group Marilyn Manson’s “death rock,” partial-birth abortion and the assisted suicide practices of Jack Kevorkian.

Taking his text from 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Vines said Paul points to the crucifixion for the problem of sin and the resurrection for the problem of death.

Christ died for sinners and was buried; he rose again on the third day and was seen by others — all “according to the Scriptures,” a key phrase in the passage, Vines asserted.

Referring to Jesus’ incarnation as both God and man, Vines said, “As a man, Jesus got hungry; as God, he fed the five thousand. As a man, he got thirsty; as God, he said, ‘I’ll give you water to drink that will make you never thirsty again.’ As a man, Jesus Christ went to a wedding; as God, he turned water into wine. As a man, he cried at the funeral of Lazarus; as God, he raised him from the dead.”

Believers have good news to tell about the crucifixion because it solved the problem of sin.

“On that cross the shoulders of the Lord Jesus Christ became like a giant altar, and all the sins of the world were laid on him. His heart, on that cross, became like a giant reservoir, and all of the putrid polluted streams of human iniquity flowed into it,” Vines said.

The good news about Jesus’ burial is that it put away his followers’ sins forever, Vines said, reminding listeners that when Jesus was placed in the tomb, he was not the only one buried there. “In fact, you may be surprised to know that thousands of people were buried there. Further, I would say to you that I was buried there … and that you were buried there.”

Quoting Romans 6:4, Vines declared all believers have been buried with Jesus through baptism. “The good news of the gospel is that when Christ was buried in that tomb, our sins were put away forever.”

The good news about the resurrection is it solves the problem of death, Vines continued.

The resurrection “is the undeniable fact of human history,” Vines said. “The living Lord Jesus says to science, ‘Explain me.’ He says to technology, ‘Duplicate me.’ He says to history, ‘Repeat me.’ He says to unbelief, ‘Disprove me.’ He says to you and me, ‘Believe me!'”

Vines explained the resurrection is not just a matter of history, but a matter of theology. Jesus’ resurrection was central to the preaching of the apostles and “it is the crucial factor of our faith, and it is the answer to the problem of death.”

The fact the risen Jesus was seen by witnesses shows that Jesus changes lives. “Anytime the living Jesus appeared to anyone, their lives were changed,” Vines said.

    About the Author

  • Rick Mansfield