“This is currently the burning question in Southern Baptist life: ‘For whose sins did Jesus die?’”
Dr. Jerry Vines — organizer of the John 3.16 Conference held at North Metro First Baptist Church March 21-22 – was the conference’s initial plenary speaker.
“I want to attempt to answer the question biblically.… I want to know — what does the Bible say? To be sure I am interested in what Christian history has to say. I want to know what theologians have to say. But, ultimately, what does our inerrant Bible say? For Bible believing people, this will settle the matter. Jesus said, ‘Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.’(John 5:39).”
Vines said the question was “no small, minor, or secondary question,” and noted it is answered in two prominent ways: 1) Jesus died for the sins of the elect only (limited atonement or particular redemption); or, 2) Jesus died for the sins of all humanity (universal atonement).
“The correct answer to this question is crucial,” Vines said. “The answer impacts missions and evangelism, our church life, our preaching and how we live our life.”
Salvation in the eyes of the local church
Dr. Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College — addressed issues surrounding varying understandings of salvation within SBC churches, particularly in the discussion of Calvinism. He stated that the understanding of salvation impacts the local church and its effectiveness in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Because of the many differences that create what Caner referred to as “quiet revolutions” in churches today, it is necessary for the leaders of these churches to be clear about their theological beliefs. This prevents theological confusion in the congregation and solidifies the church’s ability to accomplish its purpose.
Caner stated four areas of theological transparency for the church: biblical exposition or hermeneutics, theological issues, church polity or ecclesiology, and evangelism/discipleship. Within these categories he cited theologians, gave general definitions, and prescribed questions to be asked by pastoral search committees of their candidates.
In the weeks preceding this year’s John 3.16 Conference (see ad to right), SBCToday will post interviews with each person scheduled to speak at the Conference. The following interview is with Dr. Steve Gaines — pastor of the famed Bellevue Baptist Church outside of Memphis, Tenn., — who succeeded Dr. Adrian Rogers in 2005. To learn more about Dr. Gaines and Bellevue, go to www.bellevue.org.
1. How has the invitation to speak at the conference impacted you?
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak at the conference. Regardless of where a person lines up concerning Calvinism, we should all seek to be biblical in our convictions. I am hopeful that the popular inclination on the part of some within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to recoil from the concept of praying a “sinner’s prayer” can be alleviated as we analyze and understand what Scriptures say about: 1) God’s desire to transform the sinful heart of man, 2) God’s desire to indwell our bodies with the Holy Spirit, and 3) man’s need to repent of sin, believe in Jesus, and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior by calling on His name in prayer.
In the weeks preceding this year’s John 3.16 Conference (see ad to right), SBCToday will post interviews with each person scheduled to speak at the Conference. The following interview is with Dr. Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga. Dr. Caner remains in demand across the SBC as conference leader/speaker and preacher. The author of numerous books, Dr. Caner also travels internationally for academic purposes and for the sake of the Gospel. To learn more about Dr. Caner, go to www.emircaner.com.
1. How has the invitation to speak at the Conference impacted you?
As some know, my passion is the history of the Baptist and Free Church movements, a subject I have taught at three different SBC institutions over the course of 15 years; and, as such, I am thrilled to contribute to the ongoing conversation regarding our rich heritage.
Like Paul imploring the church in Corinth to “acknowledge such men” for they “refreshed my spirit and yours” (1 Cor. 16.18), so must we do likewise because we stand on the shoulders of giants, men and women who have invested their lives into sharing the Gospel, and it is imperative that we gain a deep appreciation of our forefathers.