28 June 2007

A powerful End to a Full Day

by Phil Johnson

onight is the final evening session of the Founder's Conference, and I'm looking forward to it eagerly. The speaker is Roy Hargrave, pastor of Riverbend Church in Ormond Beach, Florida. He opened the conference Tuesday afternoon with a powerful message that, for me, has been the standout moment of the conference.

If Hargrave wanted to blog, he could be a PyroManiac. He is passionate, plain-spoken, bold, and has an instinct for the same issues we care about.

Be advised: Get your detailed notes about tonight's message from Timmy Brister. I'm sure I'll be mostly engrossed in listening for myself.

Tonight's service started off with one of my favorite of the newer hymns, "Before the Throne of God Above." Then Rob Richey, known as "2R," an elder and evangelist from Bikers for Christ, gave a testimony. He is an articulate and thoughtful missionary to the biker community—a likeable guy. And I'll say this for Bikers for Christ: their patch is almost as cool as the TeamPyro logo.

It's been rainy here all week, which is somewhat unusual for Tulsa this time of year. There was flooding in Stillwater today, I understand. Strangely, at this moment, Cape Coral, FL., Tom Ascol's home, is suffering a terrible drought, and a wildfire is burning close to his home. So we made that a matter of prayer.

Roy Hargrave

After the offering, Roy Hargrave spoke. He began with well-deserved thanks and words of appreciation for the people of Bethel Baptist Church, Pastor Bill Ascol, Tom Ascol, and others who organized the conference.

The message is titled, "Christian Faith and Conduct in a Godless Culture." The text is Titus 3:1-15.

What is concerning in so many churches today is not so much a problem with what they are saying; the bigger problem is what they are not saying. Another still more troubling problem is that Christians don't back up what they teach by the way they live. To preach the Word of God and then refuse to obey it is to deny it. That kind of hypocrisy undermines the authority of Scripture in the eyes of the world. If Christians who profess to believe that the Bible is the Word of God refuse to let it order their lives, the message they are sending is that we ourselves don't believe the Bible is really authoritative.

Nonetheless, most of the church today tends to castigate those who are lost and tolerate the behavior of wayward saints. We scold the world and turn unbelievers into enemies, while catering to professing Christians whose lives aren't what they should be. That is diametrically opposed to the biblical pattern. The church is supposed to discipline sinning saints and reach out to unbelievers. "For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?" (1 Corinthians 5:12)

Church discipline is not merely for the sake of order in the church. There is no evangelism if there is no purity in the church of Christ. Discipline, therefore, has ramifications for our evangelism.

That's what Paul is reminding Titus.

And the practical ramifications of this are not what some people might think. When Paul says, "Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work" (v. 1), he's not talking about a Republican president who professes to be born again; he was talking about a ruthless tyrant.

One of the corollaries of this is our duty to love our enemies, and to pray for them (cf. 1 Timothy 2:1-4). Our failure to do this is the main reason we have not been effective in reaching our culture.

We also need to model good behavior in the midst of an evil society—"to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men" (Titus 3:2).

Of course, we're to deal more harshly with people in the church who pursue lives of sin: "For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain" (Titus 1:11).

But the church needs to remember that the main motive for Christ's incarnation and atonement in the first place was the love of God. It is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. It is vital that we bring people face to face with the reality and awfulness of sin, but we need to remember that the threats and condemnations of the law can never give life.

Reach out to lost people. Give them the truth. Be bold about it. Don't be sheepish or apologetic about it.

What we do is the measure of what we really believe. The rest is just religious talk. Faith without works is dead.

Hargrave's message was terrific, with a careful verse-by-verse treatment of Titus 3, a wonderful thumbnail sketch of the OT prophet Jonah, a thoughtful analysis of why churches lose their young people, a powerful rebuke to churches who think their primary duty is lobbying for voters in political elections, and a passionate appeal for passionate ministry to the lost. I've recorded only the basic gist of the sermon. I highly recommend the entire message on CD or mp3.

Phil's signature


Saint and Sinner said...

ARGH! I'm a newbie. What I wanted to say (without the benefit of spell check), was that "What we do is the measure of what we really believe" always draws me up short. Having a head packed chock full of theology, but at times having little love for the common welfare- YUK! Preach it Phil.

donsands said...

"Tonight's service started off with one of my favorite of the newer hymns, "Before the Throne of God Above."

I love that song. It always gives me goosebumps.

Thanks for the post.

Gilbert said...

Phil, Frank, Dan...

Thanks to ALL of you for blogging this. "Who will we see there?", you asked. Oh, the Founder's Conference is something I never heard of, must only for pastors of the SBC...and teaching I wouldn't be able to understand, maybe boring, blah blah blah...

I have a 3-day weekend this week, and I will spend tomorrow reading the final posts in this series in depth and re-reading one of them if possible.

And then I will patch the hole in the drywall in my home office, from banging my head into it, wondering why I didn't hear of this earlier...if only I had known, I would have gone. I'm not a church leader, I'm just the average guy who wants his life to be Spirit-led. This wasn't for church founders and pastors. This was for the ENTIRE CHURCH, guys!

(pound pound pound) OK, gotta go out and buy more plaster. Sigh...

Webmaster said...

Hey, Phil. Great post. Thanks for the notes on Roy's sermon.

One question. Something appears to be out of whack between the third and fourth paragraph under the "Roy Hargrave" heading. Could you fix that. I don't want to miss anything.

bloggernaut said...

I'm particularly interested what Roy Hargrave said about why churches are losing their young people.

As a (still) young person, I can relate. I left my SB upbringing. The final straw came while sitting on a church "long term planning" committee. First we studied Rick Warren (that took 6 months or so); then we invited Thom Ranier to tell us the truth about our church no one would accept (another 3 month controversy); then we procrastinated some more (more months, I also had a baby); then, finally, our committee leader pulled out yet another book for us to study. That tore it for me. If I wanted to join a book club, I would have! I felt the committee was a pointless excercise in frustration. Right after that, my husband scoured the internet for non-SB churches that we could check out.

We do look at the SBC amiably, depsite our personal experiences. I shop at LifeWay sometimes. I really like my Holman Christian Standard translation Bible. I have hymnals in my home, just as any good SB would. However, we have come to the conclusion that we will never return to "Stagnation Baptist Church" ever again.

If the SBC wants to still exist in 50 years, it must change the paradigm of SB church culture from the bottom up.

Phil Johnson said...


Thanks. I forgot to clean that section up. I was doing good to get the sentence fragments, because Roy Hargrave was speaking fast and his points were so powerful that I kept finding myself listening and forgetting to type.

I think my gloss in those two paragraphs correctly conveys the gist of what he said, though not in precisely the language he used.

Sterling VanDerwerker said...


for you pyromaniacs who are tired of Oklahomie!


Caleb Kolstad said...

Thanks for these posts!


Chris Pixley said...

If Hargrave wanted to blog, he could be a PyroManiac. He is passionate, plain-spoken, bold, and has an instinct for the same issues we care about.

Not that my opinion counts for anything, but I wholeheartedly concur. I know Roy personally, having had him over to speak in our church. My conclusion: growing up southern Baptist, I wish I could have learned at the feet of men like Roy Hargrave.

northWord said...

"We scold the world and turn unbelievers into enemies, while catering to professing Christians whose lives aren't what they should be."

Thats good stuff. Thanks for showing me (us) what the Founders Conference is about, and bringing us the best cuts of the meat from it - brilliant, what a blessing!

btw -I hadn't heard of this particular Bikers For Christ group, I spent a couple hours last night reading who they are and what they're about, hub and I have been riding together (on the same bike - well not same-same bike but you know what I mean) for 30 some years, I would love to do what these guys do!

I've learned so much in here...God bless you all.

SB said...

good post good points

Bikers for Christ is blessing

Purity in the church brings true evangelism


cnichols said...


Answered prayer.....fire update