Bailey Smith urges Baptists not to waste the sacrifice of saints
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)--"America needs a moral bath and only living water will get us clean."
That's the message evangelist Bailey Smith had for messengers as he delivered an impassioned plea on wasted sacrifices in the Southern Baptist Convention annual sermon June 14 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
Smith, a former SBC president, warned messengers that the spiritual heritage of their forefathers is in grave danger of being invalidated by a decadent society.
"I'm telling you, it breaks my heart that it is absolutely possible that our weak discipleship and anemic faith and cowardly commitment to the Word of God could invalidate the heroes of the faith," Smith, of Atlanta, said.
"Why the sacrifice of untold millions of martyrs that reddened the lions' mouths with blood across the coliseums of earth?" he asked. "Why all of that if it's followed by nothing but generations of church members who are more faithful to cocktail parties than prayer meetings, women who call themselves Christians but for undetected sexual dirtiness will kill their unborn babies, teenagers who go to church and profane movies in the same week or spineless clergymen who would rather be politically correct than a voice crying in the wilderness?"
Smith had pointed words for 850 members of the clergy who recently signed a document that supports homosexual rights, same-sex unions and abortion rights.
"My friends, they may have been religious leaders, but they aren't Christian leaders. Those in this book [the Bible] would not have done that," Smith charged.
Taking his text from Hebrews 11:40, Smith challenged Southern Baptists to follow the examples of faithfulness set by biblical leaders such as Abraham, Daniel, Joseph and Amos.
"Southern Baptists, I want [the Scripture] to dig deep in your heart," he stressed. "I want you to memorize it. All of those who paid a sacrifice for what we have ... their lives will be incomplete without us."
Noting that Christians are in this world together, Smith urged believers to break down the walls of racism.
"I see churches [take] pride for their big Lottie Moon offering but have not one black member, and many even today have policies against it," Smith said. "Less than 1 percent of white, active church members have ever made an evangelistic visit to an African American household.
"If you write a big check for foreign missions, but you won't walk into a black family's house and invite them to your church, just keep your money. You are a hypocrite," Smith said.
"There are no black people, white people, brown people, rich people, poor people, bad people, good people," he added. "Just one kind of people and that is people for whom Jesus shed his blood."
In response to complaints that Southern Baptists are sharing their faith with adherents to other religions, Smith replied, "The world is upset at Southern Baptists because we're witnessing to them. Get used to it.
"Jesus Christ didn't come to die for Christians. He came to die for the world," he added. "Louis Farrakhan needs Jesus. Muhammad Ali needs Jesus. Every rabbi in every synagogue in this world needs Jesus.
"Oh, Southern Baptists, we have a gospel to preach, not a society to please. We have a Christ to follow, not a challenge to avoid," he said. "And we have a torch lighted by the fiery testimonies of believers before us that must never be extinguished by the darkness of our compromise."
The evangelist also had a message for pastors.
"Preacher, if you can't preach Jesus Christ, only begotten of the Father, only way of salvation, only road to heaven, then move over for someone who will," Smith said.
"You cannot turn your face toward God and your back on Jesus, because they stand as one. For so-called religious leaders to meet on theological matters and avoid this truth is ludicrous," he said. "Their meetings are nothing more than the empty philosophizing of unregenerate minds, with meaningless conclusions. To leave Jesus out is to leave God out."
Smith lashed out at President Bill Clinton and politicians in general.
"With a Southern Baptist president with the morals of an alley cat and a Congress with the backbone of jello, we have a difficult but necessary task before us," he said. "Yes, we have a Baptist president -- I'm ready for a Christian myself."
On the issue of homosexuality, Smith said homosexuality is wrong.
"If you believe it is natural and acceptable for two men to marry each other and two women to marry each other, you are not a liberal," Smith noted. "You are a nutball.
"Wake Forest Divinity School is upset because they have agreed and are supported by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship that they will train homosexuals for the ministry. My friend, a homosexual is not a candidate for ordination. He is a candidate for conversion," Smith said.
To ensure the lives of our spiritual forefathers are not wasted sacrifices, Smith offered four solutions: preach the message they preached, hate the evil they hated, love the people they loved and show the courage they showed.
"Those before us gave us a foundation of spiritual granite and we must not build on that wood, hay and stubble and we shall not," he said.