Page: Southern Baptists 'vulnerable,' need balance
Published June 21, 2007
SAN ANTONIO (BP)—An insidious false thinking has left the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention vulnerable to defeat by Satan, and the convention's only hope is old-fashioned confession and a Holy Ghost revival, SBC President Frank Page told convention messengers during his presidential address June 12.
Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., preached from Psalm 51:1-3, giving a short history lesson about the infamous Maginot Line formed by the French after World War I to protect France from invasion by Germany. Page said building the system of forts and defense systems along France's eastern border from the south up to Belgium was a tremendous feat and a marvel of technology and engineering at the time.
When World War II broke out in 1939, French generals stood behind the perceived safety of their Maginot Line. Later, however, the Germans exploited a weakness in the line and invaded France through the Ardennes Forest. In less than a year, France had been invaded by Germany and Paris fell into Nazi control.
"We have built our own Maginot Line," Page said. He said Southern Baptists have developed wonderful entities, great programs, tremendous agencies and magnificent churches, "thinking we can stave off the defeat of the enemy."
Page warned that Southern Baptists are exposed to the maneuvers of Satan, and "the enemy has outflanked us over and over."
"This insidious inculcation of false thinking has led to this defeat.... This inculcation of false thinking has lead to a hubris or arrogance with which God is not pleased," Page continued. "Instead of transforming our culture ... the culture has transformed us into its own image. We know we are in a battle ... yet we maintain our battle lines in internecine conflicts which leave us weak."
Page said Southern Baptists are at a crossroads, a time of decision-making that may determine whether God will continue to use them to accomplish the tasks of worldwide evangelism and missions.
"God is not shut up to us alone in this world to win the world for Christ. We are not the only game in town," Page said. "God has immensely blessed us for a reason ... not that we might become spiritually obese, but that we might be a magnificent body of believers across this nation to do a major mission work for Him.... I believe God wants us to experience a genuine Holy Ghost revival. We have lost much and there is more to be lost."
Page cautioned against being caught flat-footed behind Baptists' Maginot Line. Although believers' salvation is eternally secure, Psalm 51 indicates that unconfessed sin can lead to loss of fellowship with God.
"Instead of dealing with the root of the problem, so often we become miserable, we become unfulfilled and bitter in our walk before God. We find faults in everyone else," Page said. "When we take it to a convention level, are we not all apt to point out the failings of others?"
Page admitted he had been guilty of pointing out the faults of others. He said no one, including and starting with himself, has a right to be at the "table of efficacious missions and evangelism" if they think they somehow deserve to be there.
"We must confess our sin before Him and say, 'I am sorry,'" Page said. "God, I confess my sins."
Lack of joy in ministry and daily life is another evidence of unconfessed sin that breaks fellowship with God.
"Where is the joy that God gave you when you were saved? We need a joy infusion," Page said. "You may say, 'Well, I am doctrinally right.' Well, you don't look real happy about it."
Page said Satan's attacks have diminished Southern Baptists' unity and passion to reach lost people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"For 30 years we have been trying to raise baptism levels among non-revived churches, among non-revived people who have lost their passion for the lost. But interestingly enough, we have become strangely passionate about our own agendas," Page said. "Why am I not as deeply passionate about the lost?"
Satan also wishes to steal humility, Page said. In Psalm 51, Page said King David was painfully aware of his inadequacies in this regard.
"Yet we as Baptists, particularly Baptist preachers, seemed to have developed the unique ability to strut while they are still sitting down," Page said. "This convention does not belong to you, and it sure does not belong to me.... We have no business at this table except by [God's] mercy and forgiveness."
While he lauded what was accomplished by the SBC's affirmation of scriptural sufficiency and biblical inerrancy, Page decried what he sees as a lack of balance in current discussions. He cited the Apostle Paul's instruction in Ephesians 4:15, "speaking the truth in love," as striking the proper balance.
"God wants balance. He wants us to speak the truth in love, and that applies to us—whether you blog or don't blog, whether you use the phone or don't use the phone, whether you're having a hallway conversation or whether you're speaking in a hushed tone somewhere else, or whether you're just using two tin cans and a wax string," Page continued. "I don't care how you do it—God wants us to speak the truth in love. Satan wants to steal the godly balance."
There are many things to be lost and to be taken away by Satan. However, Page said God has made clear the strategy for victory. He pointed to Psalm 51:3-4 for the answer, "to get right with God."
"We simply must confess our sins," Page said. "That's simple, old-fashioned words, but nothing will substitute for a confession before God.... His heart is broken by rebellion when we will not confess our sins before Him.... Verses 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 and 10 call for a spiritual heart transplant." Page said God wants to give a new heart and a new spirit to those who confess and request them.
Finally, Page said the only way to victory is a "Holy Ghost revival." He said the fellowship, evangelistic zeal, unity and balance that has been lost would be restored once confession occurs and revival sets in. Unless the same passion for theological correctness is applied to confession and revival, he said, Southern Baptist churches will be emptied.
"The early church was met with persecution; we are met with a yawn," Page said. "Beg God for the reviving hand of the Holy Spirit so we can reach our world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. God wants us to be right in every way, and it begins with me."