Florida pastors urged to 'reclaim' Gospel mission, take new ground
Dec 6, 2013
By GREGORY TOMLIN

Related Coverage:

2013 FBSC Annual Meeting

JACKSONVILLE (FBW)—Reclaiming the Gospel mission will bring revival to Florida Baptist pastors and the churches they serve, speakers said during the annual Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference at North Jacksonville Baptist Church Nov. 10-11.

Speakers at the conference, with the theme of “Taking Ground,” included Ken Whitten, Herb Reavis, Mac Brunson, David Hughes, Tom Messer, Rick Blackwood, Bernie Cueto, and Tim Maynard—all Florida pastors. Pastors’ Conference President Brad White, who led the conference’s business session, also spoke to attendees. 

James Peoples, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Keystone Heights and a member of the Florida Baptist State Board of Missions representing the New River Baptist Association, was elected president of the 2014 Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference. Peoples was nominated by Stephen Rummage, senior pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon.

Photo by Joni B. Hannigan

FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

The relationship between a minister and God, established by God’s gracious adoption of the minister through salvation, cannot be undone or altered, but Ken Whitten warned pastors at the conference they may be in danger of falling out of fellowship with God.

“If we are going to reclaim, then we are going to have to return and we are going to have to repent,” said Whitten, preaching from 1 John 1-2. 

Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, said the need for repentance is the reason the disciple John placed so much emphasis on fellowship in his letter.

“Sometimes a writer puts the key in the front door and sometimes in the back door. John puts the key in the front door. He knows something about joy. He knows something about being in full relationship and full fellowship with God. And he knows a full relationship with the Father means full fellowship with the Son and full companionship with the Holy Spirit and the family of God.”

KEN WHITTEN
Photo by Joni B. Hannigan
Whitten said ministers must be aware of their sins in order to have fellowship with God. Two things, he said, make the minister aware of sin: the glory of God and the Spirit of God. Both confront him and, in turn, confront the people of God through his teaching.

“It isn’t alliterated sermons. It isn’t drama. It isn’t films. It is the word of God with the Spirit of God preached by the man of God filled with the Spirit of God on the day of God to the people of God that reveals sin in people’s lives.”

Whitten also said ministers much be “in agreement” with their sins. Sin has to be acknowledged.

“The greatest deterrent to committing the same sin over and over again is to face it individually,” Whitten said. He also said the confession of sin must be continual and “confident,” meaning it must be faced with the knowledge that Christians have an advocate in Jesus Christ who “has never lost a case.”

Whitten said Jesus’ relationship with the Father and his sacrifice for the sins of the whole world make him the only suitable advocate for a sinner. No one else, he said, can say to the Judge of the universe, “Permission to approach the bench.”

“He is Jesus Christ the Righteous. He has never sinned,” Whitten said.

HERB REAVIS
Photo by Joni B. Hannigan

REVIVAL FIRES

Herb Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church, said Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18:20-40 shows pastors how important it is for ministers to distinguish between “activity” at church and the fire of revival.

Reavis said church steeples across the country are figuratively supposed to “point the way to God,” but there is “no fire in our churches.” 

“There is activity, but there is no fire. There’s no fire in the pulpit, no fire in the music, no fire among the students, no fire among the senior adults, among the young adults. I believe the great need of the hour is a Holy Spirit awakening. We call that a revival,” he said.

Reavis said seeing revival in churches will require revival preaching, but not preaching that makes everyone happy. Revival preaching confronts sin, laziness, and compromise, Reavis said.

Related Coverage:

2013 FBSC Annual Meeting

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