'Spiritual walls in America have crumbled,' Steve Gaines says in convention sermon
INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Like Nehemiah of the Old Testament, Southern Baptists should be wall builders, Steve Gaines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Ala., declared to the Southern Baptist Convention June 16.
"America is in desperate need of some spiritual wall builders," Gaines said during the convention sermon at the Indianapolis Convention Center. "Our spiritual walls in America have crumbled because as a whole we have turned our backs on the Lord Jesus Christ.... Southern Baptists, God is calling us to be spiritual wall builders."
Gaines reminded messengers they are called to and should be committed to four "great works" -- prayer, preaching, evangelism and missions, and being salt and light.
"If we don't pray, nothing from heaven will happen," Gaines said. "God wants our churches, our homes and our physical bodies to be houses of prayer. There are some things God will not do unless we pray. God has called us to be prayer warriors."
Pastors should have a special concern for the role of prayer in their lives, Gaines noted. "If you're a Baptist pastor, I want to suggest to you that you need to make prayer the priority of your life and preaching the priority of your ministry. ... We are not prepared to stand up and speak for God until we have first knelt down and spoken with God. Where prayer focuses, God's power falls."
Gaines suggested America is hungry for a greater emphasis on authentic, prophetic preaching and weary of other aspects of some contemporary churches.
"I don't know about you, but I think America is fed up with drama skits, coffee talks, interpretive dances, operatic cantatas, operatic Frankenstein music [and] pop psychology sessions from the pulpit," Gaines said. "America is looking for some prophets of God. That's what they want."
Regarding evangelism and missions, Gaines reminded the messengers of the need "to be personal soul-winners, ... to be mission-minded, because we really don't care about the people around the world if we won't witness to the fellow at work or the lady across the street."
Gaines spent a significant portion of his sermon pointing to spiritual problems in American culture as reasons believers need to give increased attention to being "salt and light."
"Well-organized liberal militant groups in America have as their sole purpose the removal of all references to the Lord Jesus Christ out of public life," Gaines said. "They ridiculed Mel Gibson's wonderful film, 'The Passion of The Christ,' saying that it was too violent and also anti-Semitic.... Pray tell me, when did Hollywood get concerned about violence?"
Responding to some critics' accusation of anti-Semitism in Gibson's movie, Gaines said: "I guess we better not watch any documentary on Pearl Harbor, we better not watch that old movie called 'Tora, Tora, Tora' because it might make us hate the modern-day Japanese. We better not watch 'Schindler's List' because it might make us hate modern-day Germans.
"Give me a break," he added. "The bottom line is the devil in them hates the Jesus in [Gibson's] movie."
Gaines listed numerous problems and challenges being faced by America, such as terrorism, an uncertain national economy, finding a cure for AIDS, civil rights, global warming and nuclear disarmament.
"As important as these issues are, ... I believe they pale compared to two other issues that I believe will determine the future of America," Gaines warned. "I personally believe with all of my heart that the two issues that will determine what God will do not only with America but to America are abortion and homosexuality. ... America's economy and America's safety are more tied up with what's going on in those courts in Massachusetts than what's going on in Wall Street or over in Iraq."
Organizations such as the American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and National Organization for Women and federal judges may approve of abortion, but God does not, Gaines said.
"There is little difference between what abortion doctors do every day in America and what those Muslim terrorists did when they took a butcher knife and cut the head off of Nicholas Berg," Gaines said. "We must call to account unelected, unaccountable, out-of-control federal judges who are ruining our nation. ... Abortion is murder, abortion is sin, abortion is an abomination in the eyes of a holy God."
Since the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, 42 million babies have died because of abortions, Gaines said.
"That is the equivalent of the total population of 15 of our states," Gaines said. "I submit to you today, ladies and gentleman, that in God's eyes abortion is nothing short of child sacrifice."
Gaines called on Southern Baptists to "up our commitment" to fight homosexuality and same-sex "marriage."
"God characterized homosexuality as an abomination in Leviticus 18, and He sandwiched it right between adultery, child sacrifice and having sex with an animal," Gaines said. "We need to be more committed than the gay activists in our land....
"We need to tell this sick society of ours what the Word of God says. We need to tell them that God never created anybody to be a homosexual.... There is no way God endorses any kind of marriage except heterosexual marriage."
The true enemy of American Christians is not the gay community, Gaines commented, but rather the devil.
"We love [homosexuals] because we know -- as Jesus said from the cross -- 'they know not what they do.' They're in bondage, but aren't you glad today Jesus Christ can set people free from all sorts of bondage, even homosexuality?"
Gaines commended a recent decision by United Methodists' General C Conference to reaffirm the group's opposition to homosexuality. "God bless you, United Methodists. You did John Wesley proud," Gaines said.
But, Gaines added, "We must condemn the appointment of the homosexual Episcopalian priest, Gene Robinson, as the bishop of New Hampshire and say, 'That is wrong.' And then we must also commend the Episcopalians who opposed his appointment."
Southern Baptists should oppose "pro-homosexual television programming," such as "Will and Grace," "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and MTV's homosexual channel, Logo, Gaines urged.
"We must help curb the epidemic spread of lesbianism by telling our daughters and our young girls that the passionate kisses shared by Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at MTV's Video Music Awards last August were an abomination to a holy God," Gaines said.
Just as conservatives reclaimed the SBC from "moderate and liberal theologians" 25 years ago, Gaines said, Southern Baptists should "now lead the way ... for God's people in this country to take back our nation from the militant gay activists."
Gaines advocated involvement by Southern Baptists in voting and voter registration.
"Encourage your people to vote only for candidates who have Christian values," Gaines said. "We don't need to tell [our people] who to vote for, but we ought to tell them that they don't need to let the Democrats tell them how to vote; they don't need to let the Republicans tell them how to vote; or the independents or a labor union.
"They need to let God tell them how to vote. That's what we need to tell our people. We need to tell them not to vote pocketbooks but to vote principles."
Southern Baptist churches may sponsor voter registration drives, Gaines noted, without any danger to a congregation's tax-exempt status.
For more information on how to conduct such an effort, he invited the audience to visit the website, www.iVoteValues.com, sponsored by the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Also, Gaines urged Southern Baptists to contact their U.S. senators and congressman to push for approval of the Federal Marriage Amendment. He provided messengers with the phone number for the Capitol switchboard in Washington, D.C.: (202) 224-3121.