In an interview with SBCToday.com, Florida pastor Dr. Tommy Green related why he signed “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.”
“First of all, I signed the statement not because of any political or divisive reasons. Nor did I affix my signature in an effort to be argumentative or elitist,” said Green, pastor of FBC Brandon, Fla.
Green also serves on the Florida Baptist Convention’s State Board of Missions, is former president of the Florida Baptist Convention, and has concluded in 2012 two consecutive terms as a trustee of Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Ky., where he served as chairman for two years.
“I signed the statement because I believe it is representative of biblical salvation,” Green said. “It is consistent with my preaching, my teaching, and my personal faith and practice in ministry as I understand the Scripture, and is also consistent with the leadership I try to exert as a pastor.”
Green said he “taught through the statement” for his congregation because “I believe that, if a pastor would affix his name to the statement, then his church needs to be aware of the its contents.”
“I received tremendous affirmation from our congregation,” he said. “Our people affirmed, ‘This is who we are as a congregation.’”
Green said he hopes the statement will evoke, in a “loving manner,” a conversation among Southern Baptists: “I hope we realize that, though we may not all have the exact same understanding of biblical salvation, we all believe that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.”
Having recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti, Green said, “I preached in evangelistic crusades, stood before people of a different culture with a totally different frame of reference of life. Through an interpreter, I read the Word of God, proclaimed the truth, and then extended an invitation call for people to come to Jesus Christ. And to see individuals stepping forward and confessing Jesus Christ as their Lord through repentance and faith is an affirmation that the Gospel is for all, and that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all men.”
“I do believe that the Gospel is a ‘whosoever’ message – ‘whenever, wherever’ – but it is not a ‘however’ message,” he said. “Salvation comes only though a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. The exclusivity of the Gospel must be at the forefront of our mission.”
Green said Southern Baptists’ “strongest position will be when we are Gospel-centered, and are exalting Jesus Christ in word and deed, and keeping our focus on evangelism and missions, as well as unifying our efforts as we cooperatively give resources to extend the message of salvation in Jesus Christ alone to the ends of the earth.”
“If this statement enhances and extends the priority of the Gospel, then I rejoice,” Green concluded. “I trust that we will not allow our differences to be a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”