"FAITH IS THE VICTORY"
Morris H. Chapman
Southern Baptist President's Address
Atlanta, Georgia, June 4, 1991
Hebrews, chapter eleven, has been called God's Hall of Fame. I like to call it God's Hall of Faith. These names live on the pages of the Bible because they lived on the earth by faith. Their names are so recorded not because of their fame, but because of their faith. As we read down through the names, we see that:
By faith, Noah built an ark.
By faith, Abraham left his homeland, not knowing where he was going.
By faith, Moses' parents risked their lives to save their son.
By faith, Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
We often sing,
"Faith is the victory, Faith is the victory, 0
glorious victory That overcomes the world."
We are overcomers.
We are more than conquerors.
We are a victorious people.
Why? Because we have victory in Jesus.
The Southern Baptist Convention has become the largest non catholic denomination in the world. Our success is often measured by the world's standards. . . the expanse of our buildings, the excess in our budgets and the enormity of our bureaucracies. But the world does not understand that:
Man will not buy his way to glory.
Man will not barter his way to glory.
Man will not bargain his way to glory.
Man will not educate his way to glory.
Man will not legislate his way to glory.
Man will not negotiate his way to glory.
The only way to glory is through the precious
blood of the Lamb. Liberal theologians across this
land believe the literal shedding of blood does not matter, that merely the death of Jesus saves us. But the Bible says, "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins" (Hebrews 9:22, Matthew 26:28)
Man has to be bought. But the price has already been paid. That price is sufficient to cover the sins of all mankind. Only Jesus has the power to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
PEOPLE OF FAITH
Down through the years Southern Baptists have been known as people of faith. How shall we be known in our generation?
In Hebrews, chapter eleven and verse one, the Bible says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". The word "substance" means that faith literally "stands under" or "supports" the things hoped for.. Faith to the Christian is what the foundation is to a house.
Our dear friend and fellow believer, Manley Beasley, has gone home to be with the Lord. He left behind his definition of faith. "Faith," he said, "is the thing which enables a believer to take firm hold upon that which is unseen and act upon it as if it is reality." According to Hebrews 11:27, that is exactly what Moses did. The Bible says, "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible".
By faith Moses turned his back on worldly position (11:24). By faith Moses turned his back on worldly pleasure (11:25). By faith Moses turned his back on worldly treasure (11 :26).
Moses could see something by faith which other men could not see with their physical eyes. Moses could see the glories of heaven.
In spite of Pharaoh's wrath, Moses stood his ground. Listen, faith will not buckle under the pressure of fear. Moses gave Pharaoh a message from the Lord, "Let my people go!" Pharaoh not only refused, he began to tempt Moses to compromise. Four times Pharaoh offered compromises:
(1) Stay in the world (Exodus 8:25) .
Worship your God here in Egypt.
(2) Stay in the wilderness (8:28).
If your are going, don't go far away.
(3) Leave your family (10:8-11).
Take the strong men, but leave the children.
(4) Leave your fortune (10:24-26).
Then take your children, but leave your flocks.
By faith Moses said, "No," when Pharaoh tried again and again to compromise his faith.
The witness of this great denomination is born out of conviction rather than compromise. Down through the years, we have been known as people of faith. How shall we be known in our generation?
PEOPLE OF THE BOOK
Down through the years, Southern Baptists have been known as people of the Book. How shall we be known in our generation? May God give Southern Baptists the fearless faith to just say "No," when anyone tries to compromise our convictions about the Word of God. Evangelical Christians all over this nation are applauding our stand upon the Bible. They have told me to tell Southern Baptists, "We thank God you have stayed steadfast and true in your belief that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word Of God. You have held high the banner of truth and many are greatly encouraged by your stouthearted witness for our Lord Jesus Christ."
Throughout the last decade, some within our convention have insisted that there were no theological differences among Southern Baptists. But in the May 18, 1991, edition of the Biblical Recorder, the Baptist state paper of North Carolina, a leader of the newly organized fellowship admitted that theological differences have existed between the moderates and conservatives from the very beginning of their 12-year battle. He said, "The political moderates argued (that there were no theological differences) because they felt that to admit theological differences was to invite massive defeat (p.8). You can quickly see why. The first document released by the interim steering committee of the fellowship has this statement about the Bible. "The Bible neither claims nor reveals inerrancy as a Christian teaching. Bible claims must be based on the Bible, not on human interpretations of the Bible (Word & Way, May 16, 199, p.2). In kindness, but in all candor, I cannot conceive of anyone claiming the Bible has errors and then, in the very next sentence, cry over human interpretations of the Bible. When you refuse to believe the Bible to be God's perfect Word, you have stripped away God's authority. All you have left is human interpretation . . . what someone has called "the Dalmatian theory," a spot of truth here and a spot of error there.
With regard to the nature and authority of God's Word, the Bible speaks for itself, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God. . . "(2 Timothy 3 :16). The word "inspiration" means "God breathed." God is perfect and by His very nature He cannot breathe error.
For those who would suggest that belief in an inerrant Bible is not part of our Southern Baptist heritage, please listen to the words of James M. Frost. He was the first Corresponding Secretary of the Baptist Sunday School Board. In the year of 1900 he wrote these words: "We accept the scriptures as an all-sufficient and infallible rule of faith and practice and insist upon the absolute inerrancy and sole authority of the Word of God" (Baptists Why and Why Not, p.12).
This conviction is foundational in Southern Baptist life and can only remain so if we teach it in the classrooms of our educational institutions preach it in the pulpits of our churches and print it in the published pages of our literature.
Agreement will not always be reached on matters of biblical interpretation, but agreement must be reached on biblical authority. I call upon every denominational employee, every pastor, and every person in the pew to join this endeavor of everlasting consequences.
Down through the years, we have been known as people of the Book. How shall we be known in our generation?
PEOPLE OF MISSIONS AND EVANGELISM
Down through the years Southern Baptists have been known as people of missions and evangelism. How shall we be known in our generation? I can tell you one thing for certain, Southern Baptists will not turn our backs on our missionaries, home or foreign.
I am grateful to the Foreign Mission Board for working with me in launching Cross Overseas, a partnership missions opportunity. The first country designated for Cross Overseas was Japan. This week over 140 persons from Southern Baptist Churches across this country have returned from participating in Crossover Japan, the first of many projects to come, I hope.
I am grateful to the Home Mission Board for working with me in starting Crossover America, an enlarged emphasis on personal soul winning. Last week many of our people came early to participate in Crossover Atlanta. Already Indiana Baptists and the Home Mission Board are gearing up for Crossover Indianapolis.
The challenge of the hour is to capitalize on the lighting fast changes which are occurring all over the world. Never have we seen so many nations so open to the Gospel.
Since the walls of communism have collapsed, the people of eastern Europe are calling for help to feed the Bread, of Life to hungry people. In nation after nation around the world, people are coming to Christ in record numbers. There is a great work to be done on foreign fields.
For the moment I want to turn your attention to the challenge we face in America. The fertile fields of America are waiting for the seed to be sown. God's Word says, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bring his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:6) . If we expect to change the heart and soul of America, we must sow the seed in tears.
Larry Lewis, President of the Home Mission Board, has challenged us to start 15,000 new churches by the end of the year 2000. That is 1500 each year for ten years. If we succeed we will start four new churches every day somewhere in the United States. Through the years God has given me a growing burden for America. If we do not win our Jerusalem to Christ, we will lose Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the earth. If we do not win our cities to Christ, we will lose America. If we do not win America to Christ, we will lose the world.
Several months ago I asked Dr. Lewis and Dr. Charles Chaney permission to share my vision for Southern Baptist missions in America. In cooperation with the 15,000 churches to be started over the next ten years, and under the theme of USAwake, I am praying God will help us jump start 1,000 new churches on Easter Sunday of 1992. Can you imagine? One thousand Southern Baptist churches, ethnic and Anglo-Saxon, starting simultaneously next Easter Sunday morning. We can do it, but only with your help and with the help of churches across the country. We need churches to sponsor the new starts. I am asking every Southern Baptist Church, for next year only, to double its Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for Home Missions. I know it is a gigantic request, but then we are facing a challenge of gargantuan proportions. If ever we are going to bring the people of the USA to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must enlarge our vision and expand our witness.
During the month of March, at the invitation of the Home Mission Board, my wife Jodi and I flew one day to Boston, the next day to Fort Lauderdale, and the following day to Los Angeles. Before I went I thought I knew about Home Missions, but I was surprised by what I saw and heard. The needs are so vast and the obstacles so insurmountable, it caused me to question whether we will ever have the money and the manpower to reach the exploding populations of major cities. But as I listened to the mission pastors, I grew encouraged, even excited. In spite of struggles and sacrifices, one mission pastor after another told me their dreams and their visions. They are trusting God to help them take their cities.
In Boston, I learned how the Director of missions, Larry Martin, was pelted with rocks, endangering his family. Why? Because the neighbors did not want them to build a building which would serve as the house of worship for two churches in addition to the associational office.
In south Florida the Anglo-Saxon and the ethnic populations are exploding beyond comprehension. In an effort to reach these masses of people, the Gulf Stream Baptist Association in Broward County, Florida, has started a new church every eighteen days during this associational year.
In Pompano Beach, Florida, I met the American Black pastor of the New Way Covenant Baptist Church which meets in a converted home. The pastor was a distinguished looking gentleman who had been a successful contractor in earlier years. Under his leadership the church is buying property, getting ready to erect a new building. They are also sponsoring a new church start. As I met him in the van, he lowered his eyes and said, "I'm glad Southern Baptists have come to me. I have never been able to attend a Southern Baptist Convention. I would never have met a SBC president. Now you have come to my church." While in the Ft. Lauderdale area I met Tony Martin, the only Southern Baptist Haitian church starter in the United States. He has started five new Haitian churches. He starts a new church every six months.
When we traveled to Los Angeles I discovered that Orange County has only one Southern Baptist church for every 38,000 people. While there are great success stories in southern California, our Southern Baptist witness is practically drowning in a sea of people who need the Lord.
Before leaving California, I heard the testimony of Rev. John Park. In August, 1979, he and his church members held a three-day prayer retreat. They were all of one mind, asking God to provide them a facility for worship.
In September, God led them to a building which was only one-third built. For four years it had been unattended. A Lutheran church owned the property and wanted to sell for an asking price of $825,000. After careful study, Rev. Park determined the church could only afford to bid $500,000. The pastor of the Lutheran church was expecting a higher bid of perhaps $850,000. Pastor Park said, "I cannot compete with the amount but will contest with belief and prayers." The bid was to be settled in two weeks.
Every morning Rev. Park and his church members began to meet on the site at 6 o'clock. Every morning they prayed. The people of Israel had walked around the city once every day and seven times on the Sabbath day. However, Bro Park's people decided to walk around the building seven times every morning. After two weeks the building was sold to the highest bidder and the money was already in escrow. Bro. Park was not disappointed because he was so sure to trust that the Lord had prepared this building for them. They never gave up. Through the winter they continued to walk seven times a day around the building. Every morning, whether it was cold or rainy or both, they walked. After three months, the Lutheran pastor called to see if Pastor Park was still interested in offering $500,000. Rev. Park said, "I replied with an Amen! Hallelujah!"
As he concluded his testimony, Rev. Park said, "I praise our God, God of miracles, who creates things out of nothing and makes things out of impossibilities. Praise be to our Lord God who miraculously answers prayers of individuals, families and churches. We named our church Miracle Land Korean Baptist Church in honor of great God who miraculously answered to our prayers in providing us with the land and the building. We still continue to hold early morning prayers. The miracle among miracles is the life changing work that He has wrought and continues to do. We will continue to do our best as co-workers with Him in studying His Words and in gospelizing the world."
"Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29: 18). God's hand is still upon this denomination and He intends for us to catch the vision. our voice in America will never exceed our vision for America. Down through the years, we have been known as a people of missions and evangelism. How will we be known in our generation?
PEOPLE OF PRAYER
Down through the years Southern Baptists have been known as people of prayer. How shall we be known in our generation? In Luke 24:49, Jesus said to His disciples, "And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." The disciples made their way to the Upper Room. There they prayed, waiting on the fire to fall from heaven.
In our churches, we plan programs, play softball, raise money, swallow goldfish, but we spend little time in soul-searching prayer. The path to power is prevailing prayer. Abraham pleaded for Sodom; Jacob wrestled in the still of the night. Hannah was filled with sorrow. David was heartbroken with remorse and grief. Jesus sweat drops of blood.
There is always a cost in passionate praying, but that kind of prayer turns ordinary men into men of power. "In a certain town there had been no revival for many years. The church was dead. The people were unconverted.
In the town lived an old blacksmith, who stammered so badly that it was painful to hear him speak. At work in his shop he became greatly burdened about the church.
His agony became so great that one day he locked the door and spent the afternoon in prayer. After prevailing with God, he asked the consent of his pastor to call a church meeting. The pastor agreed although he held no hope of any attendance. But the room was more than filled.
Every person was silent for a time. Then one sinner broke out in tears and begged, 'If anyone will pray, pray for me.' Others followed, and it was discovered that people from every quarter of town had fallen under deep conviction from the time the old man was praying in his shop. A mighty revival followed. The old, stammering blacksmith had prevailed in prayer and had power with God" (Lord, Open the Heavens, Stephen Olford, pp.43-44).
E. M. Bounds said, "It is better to let the work go by default than to let the praying go by neglect." Leonard Ravenhill has said, "Many altar fires are either out or burning very low. The prayer meeting is dead or dying. By our attitude to prayer we tell God that what was begun in the spirit we can finish in the flesh."
When we finish in the flesh what God started in the Spirit, we are the most foolish and miserable of men. The design and promotion of a man's life and ministry "cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one and setteth up another" (Psalm 75:6-7). All promotion comes from above.
God wants to pour out His power upon Southern Baptists and He is searching for men after His own heart. He is searching for men who live by the conviction that Jesus will open doors which no man can shut and shut doors which no man can open. God is searching for men in this convention who know how to position and to posture themselves in their conviction. The position is bended knee. The posture is bowed head. Paul said, "But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (2 Corinthians 10: 17).
In Proverbs 27:2, the Bible says, "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger and not thine own lips." If John Knox had prayed, "Give me success!", we would never have heard of him. Instead, he prayed, "Give me Scotland or I die!", and his name lives in history.
Deep in my spirit I believe God is calling Southern Baptists to pray for the fire to fall. We need a fresh touch from God. We need God to set our hearts ablaze with His glory. We need a burning desire to see souls saved. In this denomination and across this nation, we need God to ignite the flames of revival.
We can hardly claim the promise of God unless until we pray as the early believers prayed.
They prayed unceasingly.
They prayed unselfishly.
They prayed urgently.
They prayed earnestly.
They prayed persistently.
God promises that, "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).
It seems to me that every truly powerful prayer warrior down through the ages has had a common burden for lost souls. After Edward Payson died, they found that his knees were calloused. By his bedside there were two grooves which his dedicated knees had rubbed into the floor as he seesawed in travail of the lost.
People have made fun of Jonathan Edwards famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." When he preached it, people fell under such overpowering conviction that men held on to the pillars of the tabernacle to keep from slipping into hell.
Those who made fun of Edwards do not know
what went on before he pre'ached his sermon. For three days and three nights he did not eat one bite of food. He did not sleep. For three days and three nights before he stood to preach, he prayed this prayer,
"Oh God, give me New England.
Oh God, give me New England.
Oh God, give me New England."
When he rose to preach, those who saw him said it looked as if he had been staring straight in face of God. No wonder when he preached, conviction fell and so many were saved and revival shook New England! Down through the years Southern Baptists have been known as people of prayer. How shall we be known in our generation?
Oh God, Give us America;
Oh God, Give us America;
Oh God, Give us America!