A while back B21 let our readers know about a conference held at Union University. The Read the Bible for Life Conference at Union University on Apr 15-16 did not dissapoint! David Platt’s three plenary sessions and the panel discussion with Platt, Michael Card and George Guthrie were a buffet of spiritual nourishment to the hundreds of sunday school teachers, deacons, pastor and students who attended.
This article was printed in the Lebanon Democrat, B21 reproduces it in full here:
A radio preacher who claims to preach the Bible (the same Bible that says no one knows the day or hour when Jesus will return, Matthew 24:36) says that the world will end around supper time on May 21st. I bet that statement grabs your attention. It sure grabs mine.
Preachers who pull out prophecy charts and start calculating End Time dates often grab attention and can even gain quite a following. The reason for this is that people are always fascinated by the “End Times.” That is why even non-Christians seem to flock to things like the Left Behind novels and films like “2012”, “The Book of Eli”, and “The Road.”
We are fascinated by talk about the end of the world because deep-down we know that history is headed somewhere, and we hope to find some “insider information” that will help us somehow be prepared for it. Our consciences bear witness to the fact that we believe, even if we won’t admit it, that there will be a day of reckoning in which we are all called to account for our lives.
The Bible does have a lot to say about the End Times (though it never gives us a date and time). The Bible tells us exactly what the Last Days will be like. There will be a judgment and there will be a resurrection from the dead. A judgment will be made, and some will be raised to everlasting life and others to everlasting shame (Daniel 12:1-4). Death itself will be overturned!
This has everything to do with the Easter season. The question of whether or not you can know the end ahead of time and be prepared for it is answered by the Easter Story. If someone wants to know when the Last Days will occur all they need to do is look at Jesus. On Easter Sunday morning almost 2,000 years ago when the corpse of Jesus of Nazareth ceased to be a corpse and walked out of that borrowed Palestinian tomb, the Bible says we entered into the Last Days!
The Good News of Easter is that God has pushed the Last Day forward into human history with the death and resurrection of His Son. The Final Judgment has already happened, and it fell on Jesus. The resurrection when death will be overturned has already happened, and Jesus was the only one raised.
If you want to know what the Last Days are going to be like and you want to be prepared for them, you don’t need to look to contrived prophecy charts or highway billboards. You can instead look to an ancient cross and an empty tomb. Our consciences testify to us that one day we will face a reckoning, but if we are joined to Jesus by faith the Bible says that our End Time judgment has already happened on Calvary’s cross, and our End Time vindication has already happened in that empty tomb.
So, this Easter Sunday Morning be reminded as you gather to worship the Risen King that you don’t need to be worried about Doomsday messages because the King has risen and we are already in the Last Days, the judgment has already occurred and death has already been defeated!
Some have asked for resources on what is going on with Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins.” Here are the resources that we have found to be most helpful. In addition, today at 2:30pm The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will be live-streaming a discussion of the book with Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, Denny Burk, and Justin Taylor
In the past Baptist21 has let our readers know about a church-planting network in NC called PlantNC. It is their mission to be a network of churches, pastors, leaders and planters whose mission is to make disciples through the planting of gospel centered churches. So, in order to carry out that mission PlantNC has an exciting opportunity coming up that Baptist21 would like our readers to know about: Porterbrook NC Training
Recommendations for Porterbrook:
Tim Keller “The Porterbrook Network is an innovative resource that offers affordable, high quality training for mission and ministry in the 21st century. I warmly recommend it.”
Alan Hirsch “Porterbrook? Do it!”
6. Election of Frank Page as the President of the EC: 2009 witnessed the announced retirement of EC President Morris Chapman who had unfortunately ended his time opposing the GCR. The SBC annual meeting saw the election of his replacement, Frank Page, a former SBC President. The EC acts on behalf of the SBC the 363 days the Southern Baptist Convention is not in session. Like Ezell, Page has been busy with restructuring the EC as well. Part of this restructuring saw the elimination of the job of VP for News Services and executive editor of Baptist Press, held by Will Hall, and consolidation from five divisions within the EC to three divisions (see article below for more on the restructuring).
Accompanying Resources: Florida Baptist Witness article on the Restructuring of EC
7. Popularity of Radical: David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills (a Southern Baptist congregation), had his book Radical reach the NY Times Best Seller list. Platt’s popularity as a preacher and proponent of international missions has grown exponentially in the SBC and in the greater evangelical world. This book details the radical life that should characterize every Christ-follower. Platt’s emphasis on international missions, care for the orphan and poor, and disciple making were certainly a catalyst for the Great Commission Resurgence. The ideas put forth in the book have begun to catch on at his church and other churches as well. It is possible that his preaching and this book may be a vehicle for a Great Commission movement among Southern Baptists and the greater evangelical world.
8. The Year in Statistics: It couldn’t be a year in review for the SBC without examining some of our numbers. The most significant number: CP giving is down. In addition, baptisms were up 2.2% from the previous year, but membership was down .42%. Many interpretations could be drawn from these numbers, so we won’t dabble in the interpretations. However, we do hope that steps will be taken in local, state and national agencies so that people can give more generously and confidently to the CP. We also hope there will be a major focus on discipling those who are baptized and regenerate church membership. It is not helpful to have an increase in baptisms but not an increase in Christ-followers.
Accompanying Resources: BP article highlighting the annual church profile statistics
9. Gospel-Centered Movement: A refocus on “Gospel-Centrality” is sweeping across denominational lines. This refocus has influenced B21 tremendously. So, we are very thankful that this appears to be taking off in the SBC. Our convention of churches has for many years struggled with legalism, moralism, preaching that aims for behavior modification, poor hermeneutics, and many other threats to the centrality of the gospel. Several examples can be mentioned to highlight that this is taking off in the SBC, such as Matt Chandler’s sermon at this past year’s SBC, the popularity of Tim Keller among SBC Preachers, and recent resolutions at the SBC that focused more on Gospel implications than petty boycotts or “pet-sin” bashing. One such example is a resolution on Gospel-Centrality passed by the messengers to this past year’s SBC (see the resolution below). It is the hope of B21 that the resolution passed by messengers of the SBC will be more than platitudes in our lives and churches and that a true movement of gospel-centrality is at work among us.
10. Focus on Adoption in the SBC: There is a new focus among Southern Baptists on the care of orphans and on adoption. This has been spurred on by many factors such as Dr. Russell Moore’s book Adopted for Life, David Platt’s Radical, and the focus on adoption by Kevin Ezell at this past year’s SBC pastor’s Conference. This focus seems to be capturing the hearts of the SBC and broader evangelicalism. This, of course, is a welcomed development.
Accompanying Resources: check out more about the adoption focus from last year’s SBC Pastors Conference and a new book to be released in April by Tony Merida and Rick Morton entitled, “Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care” (Check out some of the endorsements, including one by B21’s Jon Akin)
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