Above, Georgia Baptist Evangelism Catalyst Levi Skipper uses a megaphone and pillow to illustrate a Christian’s witness being muted when losing focus on the Great Commission. Skipper presented his message at both GO Georgia events, Aug. 16-17 in Jonesboro and Aug. 23-24 in Statesboro. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index
STATESBORO — Georgia Baptist Evangelism Catalyst Levi Skipper urged attendees at both GO Georgia events in Jonesboro and Statesboro to get busy with reclaiming the culture – and more importantly, the Great Commission – for Christ.
“We’ve been called and commissioned to share [the Gospel] with the world, and encourage others to do the same,” he proclaimed. “This is the purpose for our very existence on the earth.”
Skipper gave the final general session address at each meeting. Friday night’s message was provided by LifeWay consultant Mark Croston while Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke Saturday morning at both locations.
Early in his address, Skipper focused on what he termed “a massive problem” among Georgia Baptists.
“We have been robbed,” he said. “At some point the enemy has snuck in and stolen Great Commission ownership from the church.
“Georgia Baptists used to be the tip of the spear when it came to evangelism. But for whatever reason we have walked away from being bold for the Gospel. We’ve begun to do exactly what Jesus told us not to do; that is, we’ve begun to hide our light.”
Those developments, he stated, point to a reality Georgia Baptists must face. Many church members have grown to expect only clergy and ministry staff to fulfill the Great Commission. The truth is that once a person becomes a Christian, Skipper said, they’ve joined the missions movement ordained by Christ.
“We may have the Great Commission on our church walls; we can probably say it,” he noted. “But, are we living it out?”
During his session Skipper made three key points to the crowd to recover that desire to witness.
“We must not forget who we are in Christ,” he said. Preaching out of 1 Peter 2, Skipper reminded the audience how Christians are deemed “a chosen race” in verse 9.
“This particular race doesn’t coincide with a person’s first birth, but their second birth. So indeed, the New Testament Church is a selected family. You who have come to Christ by faith were conceived by the seed of the Word of God and the power of the Spirit of God.
“You’ve been adopted into an eternal family, and now God is your daddy. As soon as you came to faith in Jesus Christ you got a new daddy.”
Why we’re here
It begins with remembering our identity in Christ. From there it’s important to understand one’s purpose in life.
That purpose, Skipper said, was to “proclaim the excellencies of Jesus Christ.” The world doesn’t hear the Gospel just by watching us, but by hearing us say what we know and see. “You are God’s possession so that you can proclaim the excellencies of Him. You were saved so you could tell others,” he pointed out.
Those “excellencies,” he explained, are about the virtue of Christ and the powerful acts of Christ.
“It’s in the cross where we see the holiness … love … obedience … substitutionary death … the holy paying for sins of the unholy. In His resurrection, we see victory over sin and death. We see the God the Father accepting his Son’s sacrifice as sufficient payment for our sin. Without the Resurrection, our faith would be void and nothing.”
The story of Jesus’ victory over death, doesn’t stop there.
“You’re talking about our story, about a man named Jesus who died for the sin of the world,” Skipper added. “He was buried in a borrowed tomb – I love that it was borrowed, because He was only going to need it for three days. He got up from the grave and called us into a relationship with him.”
Don’t let sin silence you
We’re called to not let our own desires and “fleshly lusts” damage our witness to others, he stressed.
“Consistently satisfying our desires in a manner contrary to the word of God will ultimately tear down the believer. To entertain such desires may appear to be harmless, but they are enemies which will inflict harm on the Christian’s soul, making you spiritually weak and ineffective,” Skipper stated.
That, ultimately, affects our ability to tell others about the salvation we experienced. It costs us, he added, “spiritual energy to brag on Jesus.” In turn, that keeps us from being actively engaged in making disciples.
Toward the end of his message Skipper produced a megaphone and pillow. Placing the latter into the former, he showed how sin limits our message. Cleared out, though, it gives us the ability to have clear communication.
“You were given a megaphone the day you came to know Jesus,” he said. “To the seven-year-old who got saved, Jesus said, ‘Go, and tell others.’ He said the same to the 80-year-old. … If you are not fishing, you are not following Jesus.
“You can go to all the GO Georgias you want to,” he said in closing. “But if it doesn’t translate into you sharing Jesus, you’ve wasted your time.”