The SBC in June and Gospel Unity

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One time every year, messengers from 47,000 Southern Baptist Churches in the United States gather to speak with one voice to a watching world. Contemporary life in the SBC is proving that what we say matters, what we don’t say matters, and how we say it or don’t say it also matters. I have cried more tears than I care to admit this week, burdened over the messages my fellow Southern Baptists are sending to the lost and broken. I can see a spiritual war waging in the heavenly realm over us. Our one enemy – Satan – laughing in the shadows as we take up the weapons of warfare God has given us to defeat the Devil and, instead, turn them on one another. The issues are important. Addressing them is important. The way we address them is also important.

We have an opportunity June 11-13 in Dallas, TX to speak with one voice to the world – a world that desperately needs to hear the biblical message on cultural hot-topics of our day. We need to give careful attention not only to what we say and what we don’t say, but also to how we say what we say.

Jesus’s High Priestly Prayer in John 17 directly connects our unity with the effectiveness of our gospel witness. “May they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be one in us so that the world may believe you sent me.” Division is ubiquitous in our Americanized Western culture. Politically. Ethnically. Socioeconomically. Morally. But there should be something attractively peculiar about the church of the Lord Jesus. Even with all of our differences, we should be one. And according to Jesus’s prayer it is this peculiar oneness itself that acts as Exhibit A for the watching world, testifying to the truth about the eternal Son.

If we ever wonder why the watching world doesn’t receive our message about Jesus, let our first look be into the gospel-centered unity of the brothers and sisters. Especially while answering questions the culture is asking of us, we must have a laser-focused gospel unity that draws us toward each other while pointing the lost and broken world to Christ.

We need to answer questions the culture is asking. We need to answer those questions clearly, biblically, and graciously. But we also need to answer them together. The Southern Baptist Convention has this opportunity in June. The Cooperative Program is still the best mission-sending, ministry-equipping mechanism on the face of the planet. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the most concise, theologically conservative, culture-engaging statement of doctrinal agreement in modern history. But like a valley of dry bones, our systems, structures and statements will lie lifeless in the dirt unless God breathes on them. And the testimony of Scripture is that God breathes on brothers and sisters who dwell together in unity with a heart for the lost and an unwavering devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Come to Dallas this June. Come ready to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Come ready to put unity on display and to lift up the name of Jesus. The world is watching. May we be one, as the Son and the Father are one, so that this watching world will know the truth about Jesus.

Grace and Peace,
Tony

 

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