Archive for October, 2012

Soul-Winner: Monty McWhorter

by Dan Nelson

For 28 years, Dan Nelson has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Camarillo, Calif. Pastor Nelson will submit a series of posts to SBCToday about people who influenced him for the sake of evangelism.


What a joy it is to be around Monty McWhorter, who has served in the Evangelism Division of the California Southern Baptist Convention for several decades. His son Randy is the present director of the Healthy Church Group and leader of the evangelism ministries in the CSBC. Monty grew up in California and has enjoyed several successful pastorates before coming to work with Harry Williams, the evangelism director during the early 1980s. Monty has led witness training schools and helped train evangelism directors in associations and churches in evangelism strategies. He has conducted two revival meetings in two churches in California that I have served as pastor.

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The Righteous One and the Wicked One

By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.

Luke 4:1-13

Introduction

The Righteous One and the wicked one had a meeting on earth as we read in our passage but it was not the first time they met.  We read in Luke 10:18, “And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’”  From Isaiah 14:12-15 we read, “How you are fallen from heaven, / O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, / You who weakened the nations!  For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven, / I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; / I will also sit on the mount of the congregation / On the farthest sides of the north; / I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, / I will be like the Most High.’  Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, / To the lowest depths of the Pit.”

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Too often, God gets blamed for what He did not cause.

A Biblical Critique of Calvinism

Part 9: The Theodical Aspect of the Gospel Invitation

by Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Pryor, Oklahoma, and author of Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism


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This is the twelfth of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child. All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
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I remember hearing from one of my seminary professors how a very close friend of his had been electrocuted while working on an air conditioner. After the funeral, many of the man’s closest friends gathered at his home for food and fellowship. During this time, several of the men commented that it must have been God’s will for the man to die, to which the rest agreed; except for my professor. He told us that he had listened to about all of this nonsense that he could stand and he finally spoke up and boldly asserted, “I think it was probably God’s will that he not work on the air conditioner with it plugged in.” The silence in the room was deafening.

Too often, God gets blamed for what He did not cause. Let me explain, from Scripture, the best biblical representation I have ever seen regarding causes of death. The text is 1 Sam. 26:10, which, I believe, does a marvelous service of describing three primary sources which can bring about death to people. These three are acts of God, acts of nature, and acts of man.

David was on the run from King Saul, who, in his madness, was intent on killing Israel’s future king. In one particular encounter, David’s military companion, Abishai, was sure that God had orchestrated things such that David would be Saul’s executioner and effectively end this fiasco once and for all. But, again and again, David wisely declined to kill the troubled king. Instead, David explained to Abishai that there were at least three causes of death for man. My exposition of David’s words is both an attempt to use them to help explain the problem of evil and suffering in the world and an attempt to defend the righteousness and goodness of God, which is known as a theodicy, hence, my categorization as a theodical weakness.

The first thing I notice that David said concerning death is that the Lord may strike one down. This I describe as an act of God. Such an act suggests the direct divine intervention of God in a matter. Usually, this sort of death is seen to be punitive. The chilling examples of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-3) as well as Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) are biblical accounts which appear to fit the category of death being orchestrated by a direct act of God.

The next possibility that David mentioned is that Saul’s day will come that he dies. This suggests death by way of what I call an act of nature (see also Num. 19:16, 18). No direct divine intervention is mentioned. No divine punishment is implied. The deaths of Abraham (Gen. 25:7-8) and Jacob (Gen. 49:33) serve as biblical examples of those who simply die of natural causes. Heart attacks, strokes, and other causes related to aging and worn out bodies fit into this category. Usually, tornado, hurricane, and flood victims also fit into this category, although I readily acknowledge the fact that evil powers may use nature to kill, as can be seen in the case of Job’s family (Job 1:18-22). I also believe that the number of deaths by way of natural causes can be reduced by using caution regarding eating habits and taking cover when storms arise.

The third statement David makes is quite intriguing. David asserted that Saul may go down in battle. This I label as a death being caused by an act of man. One may be killed in battle, killed in a car wreck, killed in a shooting, and so forth. The biblical examples of the deaths of Saul (1 Sam. 31:1-4) and Uriah (2 Sam. 11:14-17) illustrate death brought about by an act of man. Similarly, some diseases can be traced to man, like AIDS, tobacco related cancer, radiation (sun) exposure, and more. And, I once again acknowledge that evil powers may use people to kill people (Job 1:13-17).

Not everything that happens is caused by God. There are acts of God, acts of nature, and acts of man. We would do well to remember these categories when it comes to explaining evil and suffering in the world. God is good and has man’s best in mind; yet, the human mind and demonic forces seek to raise a barrier between God and man by questioning the goodness of God and making Him responsible for all evil and suffering, when He, in fact, has allowed man to sow what he wishes. But with sowing also comes reaping. Man wants to sow evil and then blame God for reaping suffering. The true culprits are people and demonic forces. Faith in Jesus Christ can protect us from demonic forces, but what will protect us from us? We must cease saddling God with all the ills of the world and assume the responsibility for our own demise. David clearly described three different possibilities and refused to lump them all together as acts of God, so neither should we. Calvinism has no answer other than “the sovereignty of God in predestination” when it attempts to explain causes of death. Such a defense is lame as well as blasphemous, in that it is shallowly ambiguous, untrue to Scripture, as I have sought to demonstrate in 1 Sam. 26:10, and is an affront to the righteousness of Almighty God. God (theos) is righteous (dike) and in Him there is no unrighteousness. These two Greek words brought together render the transliteration theodicy, or, more precisely, “Godrighteous.” Calvinism has an appalling theodical weakness.

 

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The next article in this series will explore the repentance weakness of Calvinism.

 

“Remember son, you can’t make nothing grow!
Only the good Lord can do that!”

SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS, 1971, part I

By Carl E. Bates

 

Carl E. Bates (d.) was born on a farm in Amite County outside of Liberty, Miss. Though raised in a Christian home, Bates was not converted until he was 19. Bates graduated from Mississippi College, and later from Southern Seminary. Bates served as president of the Texas Baptist Convention, North Carolina Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention (1971-1972). From 1976 to 1978 his wife, Myra, served as a vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, making them the only husband and wife combination ever to serve as Southern Baptist officers. In 1980 he became senior professor of pastoral ministries and preaching at Southern Seminary, and retired from there in 1985, but continued to preach until he was well into his 70s.

 

In The Spirit Of Christ—Consider Our Mission

 

As long as I can remember, Southern Baptists have been concerned about their mission in the world.  In my opinion, a good part of the tension that expresses itself in our annual meetings grows out of sincere concern about our mission.

It is in this fellowship that the teacher, the pastor, the laity, and convention personnel—each, according to his particular point of view, finds the freedom to express himself.  I believe that the willingness to innovate (which increases the incidence of mistakes) is born of a sincere desire to carry our our mission in the world.  At times we have found partial answers and, as a result, called for a reorganization of our forces.  At other times we have tasted success under circumstances which we assumed existed universally and, as a consequence, expected every church to “be just like ours.”  Sometimes, we discovered methods which seemingly were fail-proof and, long after their productiveness had run its course, were contending earnestly “for and against.”  We have, on occasion, flowed toward poles like filings to a magnet.  Sometimes we flowed far enough away from one another until hearing became a problem—speaking across that space was even more difficult.

But, always and ever, the one thing which has been a constant among us is concern.

It is so tonight.  We have met in St. Louis again to bear witness to our concern for a lost world.  It is my hope that, along with whatever else may be said about our meeting here, the news media will report that our being here and expressing ourselves in deliberative sessions, when best understood, is expressive of this concern.

We have come with an awareness that our nation (and our world) teeters on the brink of disaster.  I can almost hear someone saying within himself:  “The world has known crisis since Babel, so what’s new?”  And, he is right, but I believe the present crisis is different.

For instance, for the first time in the history of our nation there is no Christian consensus.  Christian influence is at an all-time low.  Law is no longer king—something called “sociological averages” has taken its place.  During the span of my ministry my generation has largely turned its back on God and, in His place, enthroned things which the present generation couldn’t care less about.  And, oh yes, we moved from the country to the city and, in the process, lost our peace and when our children came along we had nothing really worthwhile to pass on to them.  Some of us who had something worthwhile failed to transmit it under the cowardly fear of “alienating” our children and so we lost them anyway.

Another thing deepens the crisis for us:  We reared a generation of Baptists who are almost totally ignorant of our doctrines.  This, in my lifetime—so, I must share the blame.

And to that, this:  The sense of decency in our land, which produced a corresponding sense of guilt, is gone.

And this:  The pastor is no longer thought of first when a crisis arises in the home.  The doctor, psychiatrist, marriage counselor, or, even Dear Abby is called upon before the pastor.

And this:  Many pastors and churches are sick of each other and this carnal nausea has turned many of our church-houses into nothing more than irrelevant grandeur.

What shall we say to all of this?  How shall we bring this continuing concern to bear upon the crisis?

If we should ask John Bennett, editor of the book, “Christian Social Ethics in a Changing World.” He would say:  “The church is sent into the world to transform the institutions and structures of society.  The status quo is not providentially ordained.  If some political party proposes to do the most for mankind, the church ought to openly declare itself in support of that party.”  He is not clear about who is inside or outside the circle of salvation.

Ask another and he will say the Christian witness need not be verbalized in order to make its impact upon the “worlds” of labor, leisure, education, government, and even ecclesiastical institutions.

In direct contrast others insist that “one never evangelizes until he stands directly before the heart’s door of a sinner and clearly confronts him with the Gospel of Christ.”

Still others insist that we must produce a climate conducive to winning the world.  If we do not lay down our lives in service to a needy world our declaration of the Gospel will fall on deaf ears.

And, if this were not enough, we have found ourselves spending precious time debating whether it is the task of the individual Christian or the organized church to be responsible for evangelizing the lost.  Some say it is the responsibility of the individual; others say it is the responsibility of the organized church.  Some have compromised and said:  “Personal evangelism is the responsibility of every follower of Christ, whereas mass evangelism is the primary responsibility of local churches and gifted evangelists.  Both individuals and churches in all they do should endeavor to make such an impact upon the world that people will listen to the gospel when it is proclaimed.”

My concern has been to find a way to consider our mission in the Spirit of Christ rather than in the spirit of the times.  Is there some way to look through His eyes and view in His Spirit our mission.  I think there is.  True to the promise of our Lord that “when the comforter comes, He will cause you to remember every thing I have told you” (John 14:26).  Matthew tells us:  “And when He saw the milling mob, His heart was moved with pity for them, because they were tired and scattered like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to us, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the reapers are scarce.  Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out reapers to His harvest field’” (Matthew 9:36-38).

If, in addition to all we have done and are doing, we could take a look at the present world crisis through His eyes, I believe we would find a true channel for our concern and a new understanding of our mission.

(Cont’d next Sunday)

 

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SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS, 1971, part II

By Carl E. Bates

 

Carl E. Bates (d.) was born on a farm in Amite County outside of Liberty, Miss. Though raised in a Christian home, Bates was not converted until he was 19. Bates graduated from Mississippi College, and later from Southern Seminary. Bates served as president of the Texas Baptist Convention, North Carolina Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention (1971-1972). From 1976 to 1978 his wife, Myra, served as a vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, making them the only husband and wife combination ever to serve as Southern Baptist officers. In 1980 he became senior professor of pastoral ministries and preaching at Southern Seminary, and retired from there in 1985, but continued to preach until he was well into his 70s.

In The Spirit Of Christ—Consider Our Mission

I.

For one thing, He reminds us of the ownership of the harvest.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the Lord of the harvest has made it so.”

It was my good fortune as a boy to live in the home of a farmer uncle who taught me the first lesson of the harvest.  We had broken the land, prepared it for planting and, planted it.  I wanted to see it come up, and ripen for the reaping the next day.  I wanted to know what we could do to hasten the day.  He said to me in his rustic, backwoodsy way, “Remember son, you can’t make nothing grow!  Only the good Lord can do that!”

I remember that farmer uncle tonight and when I am told that if the church does not lay down its life in service to a needy world our declaration of the gospel will fall on deaf ears.

It is true that at the heart of most of our problems is our unwillingness to serve in the Spirit of the cross but, hear me tonight, the harvest is the Lord’s.  It is ready for the reaping.  Never has the ratio between readiness and reapers been so great.  The harvest is everywhere, the whole world around, ready.

I like what Ernest Campbell said recently.  In a sermon on the tower and the king going to war he said:  “None of you would be so stupid as to plan a building unless he could finish it or start a war he could not win.  Well, neither would God!  He has the means to win and He means to win!”

In the midst of the plastic dance of circumstance, our God has prepared a harvest the proportion of which staggers the mind.  No question about it, the harvest is ready.

There is more emptiness, loneliness, uncertainty, despair, and hopelessness in our world than perhaps even before.  That’s the harvest . . . . crisis in innumerable lives all over the world.

II.

Our Lord speaks also the Father’s option in view of the harvest.

“Pray that He send.”

This leaves no room for the “amateur providence” notion about who is to go.  The choice is not ours concerning the person or the place.

I want to pause here and express my gratitude to God for having led us to provide six seminaries and mission leadership with vision enough to plan to reap the harvest both at home and abroad.  It is my personal hope that we can scotch any talk, if such exists, of cutting back on any phase of our mission outreach.

We have laid our plans in faith, believing and expecting that the Lord of the harvest would exercise His option and send forth into the harvest His laborers.  And, He is doing so!  Wherever Christian gather, He is moving by His Spirit to thrust out those whom He chooses to send.  Some of you come to this meeting tonight under the burden of a call to go.  When you stand up to preach next Sunday, you will preach to some with whom He is dealing in a special way.  They will be there, maybe standing in the pulpit, with no longer a reason to stay in the pastorate at home but a hundred reasons for going into the harvest fields afar waiting to be reaped.

And what is the key to all of this?

III.

And wouldn’t believe it.  You will say, “It’s all well and good, but it is too idealistic and impractical.”  And yet, the only order the Lord gave us is this:  “Pray.”

The key to the whole missionary problem is in the hand of God, not of man, and, according to our Lord, the key is prayer, not ingenious human schemes.  Indeed, one could build a strong case against us, based on our hope that if we get busy enough we may somehow avoid and evade the necessity of spiritual concentration.

Our Lord gave his disciples this key.  It was not a common-sense key.  It was not a medical key.  It was not a civilizing key.  It was not an educational key; not even an evangelical key:  the key is prayer.

One of the first things that impresses one about this is the difference between our view of prayer and our Lord’s view.

Someone is likely to go away from this place thinking:  “Well, I had hoped to hear something more practical but all I heard suggested for a world dying in sin was ‘pray.’  It is absurd to think that God is going to alter things in answer to prayer!”  But, that is what Jesus said He would do and, if it is stupidity, it is stupidity based on His Redemption.

Can it be that we have said prayers so long until we inoculated ourselves against a consciousness of His continuing presence in our hearts?  Or, have we said prayers in the vain hope of postponing an inevitable confrontation with a grieved Spirit by whose help we could really obey our Lord’s order.  The answer must come from your heart and mine.  There it stands, “pray ye the Lord of the harvest that He send forth ‘laborers into His harvest.’ ”

Perhaps every person here has heard the story which I first heard twenty-five years ago.  It was cast in the setting of our Lord’s exaltation and reunion with the angelic host.  He was questioned about His plan for continuing His mission on earth.  As I recall the story, He indicated that only a small band of disciples were left to continue His ministry.  “But suppose they fail?”  “Then,” said He, “I have no other plan.”

Of course, the story cannot be true.  There was no margin for failure in Redemption’s purpose—just the possibility that each generation through disobedience of His Orders would fail to fulfill its mission.

This is where we stand tonight.  We can recognize the Lord’s ownership of the harvest; His option in sending reapers, His orders for His disciples, or, we can spend our time and energy in endless discussion about “how to get the show on the road again.”

It’s up to you, Southern Baptists, it’s up to you!

 

The Gift

By Walker Moore

Walker Moore founded AweStar Ministries, a missions organization that has put thousands of teens on fields ‘white unto harvest’ around the world.

 

(Editor’s note: This is by far one of the best article I’ve ever read from the hand of my longtime friend, Walker Moore, president of AweStar Ministries. The same sensitivity one reads in this account is the same heart and commitment Walker has for the lost world, and for the students he takes around the globe to reach lost people.)


Last week, Cathy, my wife, began to have severe headaches. Soon, they became unbearable, so I took her to an urgent care center. The doctor who examined her told us she was suffering from sinusitis and an ear infection. He sent her home. When the headaches continued, accompanied with vomiting, we went to our family doctor. He immediately admitted her to the hospital. There, tests showed she was suffering from a bilateral subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain). We spent the next five days in the intensive care unit after doctors had drilled a hole into her skull to drain the fluids. She is now at home, recovering and getting a little stronger every day.

The day after we got home from the hospital, a large package addressed to Cathy was delivered to our front door. We opened it to find a shoebox, its lid secured by a massive amount of tape. The box came from our 6-year-old great-niece, Victoria, who lives in Wilson, N.Car. Taped on top was a note in a young child’s wobbly printing: “I wont ys syx … To AC” which we interpreted as, “I don’t want you sick … to Aunt Cathy.” We haven’t had to decipher a child’s handwriting for a while, but we’re going with this interpretation.

My wife began the daunting task of removing the tape. With some effort, she got the lid off, only to peer into a box that was empty except for one small piece of paper shrouded in plastic wrap. Opening it up, my wife found a beautiful crayoned picture of a rainbow with a bird colored in blue Magic Marker flying over it. Fluffy white clouds floated above the bird.

We could tell Victoria had colored and cut out the rainbow from a coloring book and pasted it onto a sheet of white copy paper. Next, my wife discovered another piece of paper in the same handwriting as the note on top of the box. This time, our great-niece had written, “I hopy you gft bebtr.” If my translation is correct, she was saying, “I hope you get better.” She signed her note, “love Victoria” but used a heart for the o in her name.

As we sat and stared at the empty box, Victoria’s mother, Pam, called and told us to expect a package from her little girl. She didn’t know what it contained, she said, because Victoria had already taped it shut before asking her mother to send it. “It feels like an empty box,” she told us. Pam also said her daughter kept insisting if she could only get the box to Aunt Cathy, it would make her feel better.

I don’t know how long it takes a 6-year-old to write more than one note, color a rainbow and draw both clouds and a blue bird, but I’m sure it was no easy task. The volume of tape she used to seal the box also showed a great deal of time and care. What my wife opened that day, although it may have seemed like an empty box, held much more. It contained all the love of a six-year-old child who was worried about her Aunt Cathy. And that box held more than just love. It was crammed with prayers, well-wishes and hopes for a better tomorrow.

Yes, my wife spent five days in intensive care and went through major surgery. What did we learn? Sometimes, the best medicine doesn’t come from doctors, nurses or pharmacists. It isn’t dispensed in a bottle, an IV bag or a syringe. Sometimes, it comes in an empty box.

I like empty things. Two thousand years ago, two women ran to the tomb of their friend and Savior. They were discussing how they could roll away the massive stone that covered the entry. Upon their arrival, they found it already moved to one side. An angel appeared and told them the person they were looking for wasn’t there; He had risen. And inside that empty tomb lay not a note but a pile of used burial clothes.

Through the years, I’ve heard sermon after sermon on the empty tomb. I can agree and disagree with each one. The tomb was empty of Jesus’ body. But I believe that empty tomb was also filled with the magnificent love of a Savior who gave His life to show His love, and rose again to give us hope.

The next time you receive a package that seems empty, take the time to look a little more closely. When you see through the eyes of a loving giver, you’ll see the same thing a 6-year-old saw when she sent her great-aunt … an empty box.