LAWRENCEVILLE — The Georgia Baptist Convention got its annual session jumpstarted with an inspirational rally at North Metro First Baptist Church on Sunday evening. It was a spirited meeting that contemporary Christian music artist Al Denson described as being more like a revival than a convention.
Keith McBroom, minister of music at North Metro, led the congregational singing. Al Denson, Cliff Duren and Overflow, and the combined choirs of Shorter University, Truett McConnell University and Brewton-Parker College provided the special music for the rally.
The congregation attending the rally had the privilege of witnessing North Metro’s pastor, Frank Cox, baptize eight new converts into the fellowship of the church. Both youth and adults entered the baptistery and the audience celebrated the newfound faith of each candidate as they emerged from the baptismal waters.
Report on a remarkable week
Robert White, Georgia Baptist Mission Board executive director, highlighted the importance of missions at home and around the world with a stirring inspirational message about a remarkable week he had just experienced.
White explained that on a recent Sunday he had the privilege of preaching at Clarkston International Bible Church in the greater Atlanta area. He stated, “This church is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial church that is like a little slice of heaven and one of the North American Mission Board’s Send Relief Hubs.”
White continued, “On Monday I traveled to Hong Kong Baptist College and had the opportunity to preach to a large class of students and seven of them trusted Christ as their Savior.
“On Tuesday I was in North Korea distributing food to starving people. I visited a children’s hospital where there was no water. Can you imagine a hospital without water?
“I then connected with two Baptist men from Texas, one a well driller and the other a geologist, who combined their expertise, found the right location for drilling, and hit a real gusher of water 60 feet below the surface.”
White declared that on Wednesday he was in a hospital in Bangalore, India, where Rebecca Naylor served as a missionary. On Thursday he was in Njoro, Kenya, where a missionary hooked a microphone to an automobile battery so White could preach to a throng of people. White testified that 700 were saved and baptized in a nearby stream.
On Friday White indicated that he was in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he taught a group of pastors from his book Healthy Kingdom Churches. On Saturday the Georgia Baptist Mission Board leader was in Jerusalem, followed on Sunday by preaching in Brazil to 2,000 people for an anniversary celebration.
Everywhere at once
White concluded by saying, “When I got home on Monday I was completely tuckered out.
“Now, I know what some of you are thinking,” concluded White. “You are thinking that such a schedule is impossible; and you are right. It is!
“However, I have been to all those places, but not in one week. Yet, you and I can be in all those places at one time through the missionaries we support through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. We must thank God for the miracle of the Cooperative Program.”
Georgia Baptist Convention President Thomas Hammond, who presided at the meeting, introduced International Mission Board President David Platt, who preached the inspirational message.
Platt explained at the beginning of his message, “I am pleased to be able to announce that for the past two years we have been able to operate on a balanced budget at the International Mission Board; and the decline in the number of missionaries has been reversed.”
‘Salvation without dedication’
The IMB leader started his message by reading from Exodus 22:26, where God says, “Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.”
Platt then used Exodus 32 and the story of Aaron making a golden calf as an idol to illustrate the plight of the modern church. He said, “First, we have become leaders without conviction. We have created a cultural Christianity. We are leading people to be casual with sin, because we are casual with sin.”
Platt quoted E. M. Bounds, the great prayer warrior, who said, “The church is made by its leaders. They are primarily responsible for the condition of the church. They shape its character, give tone and direction to its life.
“Secondly,” Platt said, “we have preached a salvation without dedication. The tragedy of the children of Israel in worshiping the golden calf was that they were indulging in their sins and celebrating their salvation all at the same time.
“To such people God will undoubtedly say at the judgment, ‘Depart from me, I never knew you.’”
Platt continued, “In the third place, we have manufactured worship without humiliation.” He quoted A.W. Tozer, who said, “The holy art of worship seems to have passed away like the Shekinah glory from the tabernacle. As a result, we are left to our own devices and forced to make for up the lack of spontaneous worship by bringing in countless cheap and tawdry activities to hold the attention of the church people.
“Fourthly, we have tried to create a god who knows nothing of retribution.” Platt once again quoted Tozer who said, ‘God’s justice stands forever against the sinner in utter severity. The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions. It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all pleasant forms of iniquity while death draws every day nearer and the command to repent goes unregarded. As responsible moral beings we dare not so trifle with our eternal future.”
In the most graphic terms Platt spoke of the tormenting fires of hell. He explained, “If the lake of fire described in Revelations 20 is symbolic it is not symbolic of a winter retreat.” He also spoke of the forever aspect of eternity and everlasting punishment.
However, according to Exodus 32:14 God changed his mind. He relented. He turned from His burning anger and decided to preserve His people, because of the intercession of Moses. Platt said, “That should motive us to become passionate about missions.” It was a mighty, plaintive and persuasive appeal for Georgia Baptists to become Great Commission Christians.