Houston”s First pastor: “The Word of God always calls us to something great”

IRVING—The second of Tuesday morning’s Empower speakers, Gregg Matte, pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church, reminded attendees in the Feb. 26 general session that sharing the gospel is part of the DNA of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Using Acts 17:16-21 as his text, Matte exhorted the audience to follow the model of the apostle Paul, who, deeply distressed by the idols in intellectually-rich Athens, “waited “ for Timothy and Silas to join him as he prepared to share the gospel.

Matte challenged the group to cultivate “a life that slows down enough to care,” cautioning against being “too busy to be burdened.” He offered the example of Rufus Burleson, among First Houston’s early pastors, who consecrated his life to sharing the gospel in Texas in the 1840s. “Give me Texas for Jesus or I die,” prayed Burleson as he knelt on the sand after landing at Galveston as a missionary.

As with Paul among the Athenians, “sin should break us instead of entertain us,” Matte cautioned.

Acts 17:16-21 presents four types of people needing of the gospel: the potential, the passersby, the pleasure seekers and the prideful, Matte explained.

The Jews and God-fearing Greeks in Acts 17:17 represent the potential. These are “good, moral people” who show “exterior obedience” but not “interior change,” Matte said, urging prayer for the eyes of such people to be opened to truth and recommending emphasizing relationship over rules when sharing Christ.

A second group, the passersby, are those who happen to be there, like the people in the marketplace in Acts 17. “Pray for opportunities and let God open the door,” Matte advised.

Pleasure seekers or Epicureans comprise the third group in the passage. “Pray that they will be dissatisfied with life,” Matte said, referencing the prodigal son.

The prideful, represented by the Stoics mentioned by Paul, constitute the fourth group. “Pray for brokenness,” and respond with “love and kindness,” Matte said.

“The Word of God always calls us to something great,” Matte closed, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln’s one-time response to a sermon.

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