PLANO?While Southern Baptists successfully addressed doctrinal concerns by closing the front door to those not committed to the authority of God’s Word, SBTC President Chris Osborne warned against a back door focused instead on fixing people. “It’s killing us and we don’t realize it.” Basing his message on John 6, Osborne said, “We’re offering messages that appeal to people to be fixed,” rather than following Jesus’ example of drawing “people who want to be saved.”
The pastor of Central Baptist Church in College Station identified Jesus as having the first megachurch, noting his apologies to contemporary pastors such as Ed Young and Paul Yonggi Cho, who lead two of the world’s largest congregations. “He had 12 staff members and as always, one of them was a knucklehead,” Osborne said to the amusement of the crowd.
Turning to verse 53, Osborne said, “At this juncture he has 12,000 to 15,000 people following him. So Christ, in the most offensive way he could, laid out the conditions of the gospel,” he said, noting the repeated call for disciples who would “eat my flesh and drink my blood.” And yet, the response of the thousands described in verse 66 indicated that they said, “‘We’re gone.’ He intentionally ran off 12,000 people.”
When Jesus asked the disciples if they would leave too, Osborne paraphrased Simon Peter’s response in saying, “‘Lord, we’re not going anywhere. We don’t care how hard you make it, how difficult the staying is, we’re with you because we know you’re the one that can save us.'”
Osborne drew a contrast between the description in John 6:2 of a huge crowd following Jesus because they saw miraculous signs and the characterization of the disciples in John 6:26 as eating food that lasts for eternity. “Twelve thousand people were following Jesus Christ because they wanted to be fixed, not because they wanted to be saved.” In contrast, Osborne said the 12 men wanted to be saved.
“Our Lord ran off 12,000 people because he refused to build his church around people who wanted to be fixed. He built it around people who wanted to be saved. We have become so enamored with numbers that we are going after people who are trying to be fixed, not people who want to be saved,” Osborne insisted. “If our Lord chose not to build a ministry around fixed people, how dare we do different?”
Osborne recalled a young man who responded with tears at the close of a church service and indicated that he wanted Christ in his life.
“Those are code words for every Baptist preacher so I grabbed him, knelt and prayed with him and he got up crying. It was a great moment in that small church,” Osborne said, recalling how many people had been praying for the man. “When that happens people pat you on the back and tell you you’re great and you accept it.”
However, when the man repeatedly avoided opportunities to be baptized, Osborne asked for an explanation. “Here was his answer?’Brother Chris, I came forward because my marriage was in trouble and I needed it fixed.'”
Osborne told the convention audience, “Let me be real clear. Jesus doesn’t fix marriages. He fixes people in the marriage. And the way he fixes them is that they come through his blood and put their faith in that and he cleans them up. He implants his Holy Spirit who drives them into the Word, giving them two things?the wisdom to understand the biblical principles for marriage and the power to bring those things into a marriage.” A changed marriage is a byproduct, he explained, stating, “He doesn’t change homes. He changes people.”
While churches offer a myriad of self-help messages that are biblically based, Osborne said that approach can be dangerous if the focus is on appealing to people to be fixed.
“These people are coming down the aisle, not because they ever for one minute thought they were sinners, but because they needed things fixed.” Instead of being fanatical about the number of people who respond, Osborne said Southern Baptists need to be fanatical about discipleship. Instead of starting with the sinner by addressing felt needs, he insisted, “You s
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