Church must awaken from its sleep, Bailey Smith says

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--If many churches lost the Holy Spirit, they wouldn't even know it for several months, prominent Southern Baptist evangelist Bailey Smith said.

Churches that ordain homosexuals, for example, and look more like the godless world rather than God-inspired bodies of believers need to be honest enough with themselves to take the word "church" off of their sign, Smith said in a chapel message at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism is named in his honor.

America is currently in a critical crisis, the former Southern Baptist Convention president said, exhorting churches to wake up from their slumber to affect the culture.

"We've lost Him in our schools," Smith said. "We've lost Him in our government, and we've lost Him in our society. Why? Because the church of Jesus Christ has been asleep. If America is so decadent, why are we doing less and not doing more?"

Smith also warned that a very real danger exists for ministers to become lulled into the same kind of complacency that characterizes their culture, even in the midst of their constant interaction with the things of God. He exhorted students not to miss the centrality of having a personal relationship with Jesus, rather than just doing those things necessary for His service.

"The greatest danger you may have," Smith said, "is making your proximity to the physical things of Jesus a substitute for a relationship with the spiritual Christ."

Without that ongoing personal relationship, a pastor loses all the power and fervor that the Holy Spirit brings to his ministry, Smith said. Pastors must rely on that help, he said, if they are to accomplish the things God has given them to do.

"Whatever He asks you to do, you cannot do by yourself," Smith reminded the seminarians. "When God gives you a responsibility, it is always with Him by your side."

The church also must be actively listening to the directives of God found in His Word and obeying His command to take the Gospel to a lost world.

"The church of Jesus Christ is so asleep that we can't hear what He has to say to us," Smith said. "It's not that God has shut His mouth. It's not that the Word of God is not powerful. God is still saying the same thing. The church is just asleep. We have a message to preach to a lost, decadent world, and that message is, 'Jesus saves. Jesus saves.'"


(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: WAKE-UP CALL.

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