Speaking from the theme, “Living Godly in an Ungodly World,” preachers at the SBTC Pastors’ Conference in Corpus Christi Oct. 27 exhorted their contemporaries to boldly stand for sound doctrine, walk with integrity before the world and pursue God’s agenda in avoiding burnout.
Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington and newly elected Pastors’ Conference president, preached from Jude 1, verses 3, 4, 20 and 21, exhorting the congregants to pursue the biblical truth that keeps believers from falling.
“Jude taught that God is able to keep believers from stumbling or falling,” McKissic noted, “if they build themselves up in the most holy faith. Jude taught that believers were responsible for their own spiritual well-being and development, even if false doctrine and loose living somehow crept into the church. God wants each of us to take responsibility for our spiritual growth and hold fast to our biblical faith.”
McKissic said Jude intended to write his epistle on the nature of salvation but false teachers in the church led him in another direction. He told of similar situations today, citing examples of a pastor convicted of murder, another accused of sexual assault and still another who once preached biblical salvation but now affirms universalism.
“Sometimes we talk about at-risk children, at-risk students, but Jude saw an at-risk church. An ‘amen’ belongs there,” McKissic quipped.
“Wrong doctrine leads to wrong behavior.”
Some have said that biblical inerrancy, for example, is a truth, if true, that “does not matter.”
“But I’m here to tell you today,” McKissic said, “that there is a truth that matters and the inerrancy of the infallible, inspired, indispensable, immutable word of God is a truth that matters.”
McKissic told how legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, a stickler on fundamentals, once held high a pigskin after a disappointing loss and exclaimed, “Men, this is a football.”
“Well I’m come today to say, ‘This is the Bible.’ And the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God. And we ought to believe it to be saved; we ought to practice it to be holy; we ought to read it to be wise.
“Jude said if we don’t build ourselves up in this word of God, this most holy thing, he says we’ll ultimately experience moral and spiritual failure,” McKissic said.
Using a video showing British sprinter Derek Redmond being helped across the finish line by his father after the younger was injured in a race, McKissic said God wishes to help us, and, in fact, has already provided for us the victory.
McKissic said contending for the faith according to Jude’s instructions implies an “agonizing” wrestling match “but the victory goes to one who receives strength and sustenance.”
He said victory comes from realizing we have an adversary, Satan, who seeks to destroy us, building oneself up in God’s word and then praying according to God’s spirit or will.
Ken Hemphill, national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth, said as God reveals his character in Christians, local churches and a denomination, he will draw the nations to himself.
Using Ezekiel 36 as his text, Hemphill explained God’s purpose in moving his people out among the nations to live a distinctive lifestyle.
“They would live out his character in such a way that these pagan nations would be made jealous and drawn to him and his integrity.” Hemphill said it is not for lack of training that barely two percent of Southern Baptists share their faith. Rather, he said, they recognize their own lack of credibility in witnessing to God’s power in their own lives.
“Every day, whether you know it or not, people make a decision about the nature of your God based on your life.”
Through God’s spirit, Southern Baptist believers can be cleansed from impurities and idols, Hemphill noted.
“We worship people, buildings and bigger buildings,” he warned, fearful of the day when Southern Baptists are called to account for all of their resources. “What did you do with it to reach the nations? More and more we’re keeping additional resources at home rather than sending them around the world. I did not think I’d see a day when Southern Baptists had to cut back on the number of missionaries we’re sending” due to funding shortages.
“The conservative resurgence worked. We restored all of our seminaries to a commitment to inerrancy and the word of God,” Hemphill remarked, recalling the early prediction that young people would respond in record numbers to mission service once biblical faithfulness returned.
“We weren’t pr