Jack Graham: ‘stand up … speak up’

INDIANAPOLIS?Southern Baptists know their priority is to fulfill the Great Commission, said Texas pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano in his final address as president of the Southern Baptist Convention June 15.

While “sharing Jesus one-on-one and cooperating around the world is God’s agenda,” Graham acknowledged “some say we just need to share the gospel and shut up about the rest of this,” referring to the cultural war of values.

“I simply ask you a question: As Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians, if we don’t stand up, wise up and speak up on these issues, who will be left to deal with the issues of our times?” he asked. “If not us, Southern Baptists, then who? If not now, when? We will look up [to heaven], step up in personal witness, wise up to our responsibility to this culture and gear up for a spiritual battle.”

Graham addressed the meeting’s theme of “Kingdom Forever,” reminding messengers that God gave Christians a clear assignment to share the gospel and expand his Kingdom forever.

Turning to Ephesians 3:20-21, Graham said the epistle provides an instruction manual for the local church as well as a doxology praising God’s ability “to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

Noting that Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards was often accused of being too heavenly minded and having “eternity stamped on his eyeballs,” Graham pleaded, “Would that people say of us that we have eternity stamped on our eyeballs.”

The SBC president thanked God for the inerrant, infallible word of God, but added, “If I study the Bible and know my Bible and believe my Bible and won’t walk across the street to share the gospel, what’s the point? If evangelism is buried in orthodoxy, it is an unworthy grave. Graham noted:

?North America is the only continent where Christianity is not growing.

?Seven out of 10 people in America do not know Christ.

?Only 4 percent of Americans have a biblical worldview.

?More than 80 percent of all churches in the United States are plateaued or declining.

Amid “these startling statistics,” Graham said, the SBC has “flat-lined in baptisms” in America.

“God help us to make our neighborhoods and communities a place from which it is hard to go to hell,” Graham said. After lamenting that too many Southern Baptists have become calloused to the need for evangelism, Graham challenge listeners.

“Pastor, it starts with you and me. Every pastor needs to get over the idea of being a CEO in charge of the church and remember that God has called us to be shepherds who love sheep, including lost sheep!” he said.

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