Originally published at Western Recorder – www.westernrecorder.org
Princeton—Approximately 250 Kentucky Baptists gathered in the sanctuary of Southside Baptist Church in Princeton on March 7 for the 29th annual West Kentucky Evangelism Conference.
Speakers included Todd Gray, Kentucky Baptist Convention’s regional consultant for western Kentucky; Kevin Smith, KBC president; and Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas. Phil Hoskins, an evangelist, was ill, and Larry Robertson and John Mathis stepped in to preach.
The event, sponsored by the Caldwell/Lyon Association, featured the Nelons gospel group and highlighted the Week of Prayer Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the work of the North American Mission Board.
Your greatest enemy
Speaking from 1 Peter 5:8 on “your greatest enemy,” Gray emphasized, “You have an enemy; Your enemy is at work; Your enemy has a goal.”
He shared that the enemy is a personal, powerful and intentional enemy, and he uses temptation and persecution.
“You’re in his plan, and he’s working his plan,” Gray continued.
Using the all-too-relatable example for the rural west Kentucky audience, he described a deer hunter following a blood trail. Gray said, “Can I tell you something about your enemy? … Satan follows the hurt trail. He finds the people of God who have been hurt, and he just follows that trail.”
He added, “Your enemy’s goal is to ‘seek whom he may devour.’ He will devour you. If he can’t get to you, he will devour your family. If he can’t devour your family, he will devour your ministry. If he can’t get there, he will devour your church.”
“You have an enemy,” he repeated for emphasis.
“Lest we give him too much credit, which he doesn’t deserve, I have good news for you. You also have a champion!” he said.
“You have to call on the name of Jesus,” Gray urged. “Stop depending on yourself. He has seen you through this far. He will see you through to the very end. He is the champion!”
“You don’t see a lot of sweaty Christians nowadays,” Smith observed.
“You hardly ever hear people say, when I look at Christians, I think they really work hard to obey the Lord Jesus Christ; they work so hard, it looks like they’re sweaty-type people,” Smith added, basing his message on Philippians 2:12.
Much of American Christianity is in a relaxed posture, he asserted. Referencing Eph. 6, he asked, “If we engage in spiritual warfare, how in the world can the church relax?”
“We have to put some effort into ‘work(ing) out your salvation with fear and trembling’,” he said, borrowing Paul’s words.
Addressing culture’s growing opposition to Christianity, he exclaimed, “One thing that’s good about these days is that everyone who professes to be a believer is going to have to show that there is some proof in their daggone pudding!”
“Yes, we are ‘saved by grace through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast’ (Eph. 2). But if you would keep reading…, it says God has ‘ordained good works that we should walk in them,’” Smith explained.
“We go around waving little flags, ‘Once saved, always saved.’ Yeah, but the key thing is whether or not you were once saved,” he billowed.
The believer doing the works of God as he obeys the word of God is evidence that God is working in them, he said.
“If God is working in you, what God is working in you will work out of you,” he said.
‘Don’t miss your opportunity’
Paige Patterson used a passage from 2 Kings 7 in which lepers tell the good news about wealth in the Syrians’ tents to illustrate evangelism.
“This is an evangelism conference, and ostensibly, Southern Baptists believe in evangelism,” he said.
“I want you to know that God is not through with Southern Baptists. I want you to know that we are going to be looking at the greatest days yet,” Patterson asserted.
Patterson said he didn’t make such a statement without an understanding that those days may come with great difficulties, too. “We don’t need to worry about God wiping us out,” he said. “We just need God to infuse us with a new commitment to what matters.”
He challenged pastors, “We have to reshape our lives in terms of witness. To whom have you witnessed lately?”
“There are a thousand ways to witness for Christ, and we’re not doing any of them,” he said.
“Don’t miss the opportunity to share your faith,” he urged. Ladies and gentlemen, we’d better get with personal witnessing.” (WR)