Mandate to Minister, Part II
Cont’d from last Sunday
SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA, 1967
H. FRANKLIN PASCHALL, was pastor of First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tenn. A native of Kentucky, Paschall was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bowling Green, Ky., from 1951-55, before coming to Nashville. Previously he was pastor of the Hazel Baptist Church in Hazel, Ky. He is a graduate of Union University, Jackson, Tenn., and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., where he earned the Doctor of Theology Degree. Paschall was born May 12, 1922, in Hazel, Ky.
President’s Address: Mandate to Minister, part II
By H. Franklin Paschall
The Practice of This Ministry in Today’s World
We must continue to give primary emphasis to man’s relationship to God. Our persistent plea should be, “Be ye reconciled to God.” If man is not in right relationship to God he cannot really be in right relationship to man. If one does not believe that God loves him he cannot really believe that man loves him. Faith in God gives sanctity and meaning to human relationships. It is imperative that we seek to win men one by one to faith in God and commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ.
We must practice an evangelism that is concerned with the whole man. Jesus ministered to the body and the soul. Evangelism and ethics should not be divorced. It is our responsibility to win men to Christ and to minister to them so that they may all come to “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the full grown Christ.” Every ministry of a church should make Christians more like Jesus. A changed heart means a changed life and as John Wesley said, “A changed man will change his environment.”
We must demonstrate concern for all of the problems of modern man whether they be personal or social. And there are many problems: war, poverty, racial tension, population explosion, breakdown of homes, alcoholism, dope addiction, gambling, immorality and crime, only to mention a few. Jesus did not heal all of the sick people of His day, but He healed enough of them to prove to the world that He was concerned about physical diseases. He did not solve all of the social, political and economic problems of His day, but He did enough in word and deed to identify Himself and His cause with the righteousness of the Kingdom of God. He never gave support or encouragement to an evil condition, cause or institution. We cannot solve all of the personal, social, political and economic problems of our day but we can show our concern in Christ by preaching and teaching whatsoever things are true, hones, just, pure, lovely and of good report. Also we can do these things by becoming involved personally in every area of life and letting our light shine as Christians to the glory of God, and to the good of all mankind.
Some think God is doing more through government than He is doing through the churches. Admittedly, God is working through the powers that be, but He is doing something through the churches which He will not accomplish through government. The approach and emphasis of churches are different from that of government. Jesus did not say to government, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Government is concerned with symptoms; churches are concerned with disease. Government seeks to change man by changing his environment; churches seek to change man by changing his heart. Government can make man better off; churches can make man better. Government administers; churches minister. Both government and churches are ordained of God and they should be mutually helpful.
It is not wise or necessary for churches to be identified with a particular political party or program. The church is not an it or a tool to be used by government. But the church is a voice crying in the wilderness and saying, “Make the paths straight.” It is the duty of churches to be identified with the principles of justice and truth. Individual Christians in the churches can and should be identified with particular parties and programs which under God they feel will serve in the best interest of the whole man, the whole nation and the whole world. So those who are committed to the ministry of evangelism—saving the individual—and those who are committed to a ministry of social action—providing for the general welfare of the people—can and should be one in Jesus Christ and one in “this ministry” of reconciliation. Christ broke down the wall which alienates man from God and man from man. When the tree is good its fruit will be good. Man is saved by grace through faith and not by good works, but good works are the normal evidence of salvation. The Christian experience consists of impression and expression, root and fruit. Social action without evangelism is doomed to failure and evangelism without ethics in personal and corporate living is woefully incomplete.
We must magnify the local church. (This emphasis need not militate against fellowship in our denomination or in the larger Christian community.) Many are so taken by the universal, unassembled church that they neglect, ignore and sometimes disparage the local church. Others seem to think that Christians can serve best on their own in “splendid isolation.” Surveys reveal that more and more young preachers prefer to minister to a captive audience or in a controlled situation. The faults, foibles and failures of the institutional church have been so emphasized and exaggerated that our young people are deciding that they want no part of it. It is a frontier situation where soul-winning, worship, education, training and service should be at their best. Theoretically all of our agencies exist for the strengthening of the ministry of the local church. Let all of us encourage and inspire our young people to commit themselves to this ministry where there are many problems and promises, challenges and opportunities, demands and rewards.
We must conduct our warfare with spiritual and not carnal weapons. The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence but it cannot be taken by force—the force of arms, politics, boycotts or what have you. A military victory may make freed men but only God can make free men. Peace cannot come by war. They that live by the sword shall perish by the sword. Toynbee said that the one thing you cannot do with a bayonet is to sit on it.
Education alone cannot establish the Kingdom of God. Men are not good simply because they are trained. World War II was started among the best educated and most enlightened people of the world. According to Dr. Elton Trueblood some of the worst scandals in recent years have occurred on college campuses.
The distribution of our material wealth will not in itself change men. The “haves” should help the “have nots.” The developed countries of the world have a responsibility to help the underdeveloped countries. But a mere sharing of our material wealth is not enough. Let us not forget that Jesus put emphasis on preaching the Gospel to the poor. Many are trying to help the poor in every way except by giving them the Gospel. IT may be well for us to see what terrible things our affluence has done to us before we expect too much in the lives of the poor when this affluence is shared with them. Statistics do not prove that the rich are necessarily better in character than the poor. To be better off is not necessarily to be better.
Let us preach out, teach out, and live out, the Gospel before all men. Let us proclaim the present reality of the Kingdom of God. Let us lead men in this temporal situation to experience the Eternal. Let us live in two worlds at the same time as we pray, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
We must live positively. Christianity is not negative. One is a Christian not by what he refuses but by whom he chooses. “He that hath the son hath life.” “Therefore, begin justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” What we are, what we have and what we can do as Christians furnish us a basis for a ministry in courage and confidence. Too much is being said about what we are not, what we do not have and what we cannot do. We are suffering from spiritual hypochondria. When Jesus needed to feed the five thousand besides women and children He did not say, how many loaves do you not have, but, how many loaves have you? What they had did not seem to be adequate but with God there was enough and to spare. Let us follow in His steps and give thanks for what we have and ask God to bless it. The results now as then will be amazing. The future belongs to Christ and the Kingdom of God will stand forever.