Today I heard a great sermon by Dr. Gene Bowman who was a guest in our church, First Baptist Church of Camilla. We are currently without a pastor or an interim but God is working in a mighty way and I have been so blessed our visiting preachers. Here are my notes from his sermon entitled — “What’s wrong with churches today!” It was one of the best sermons I’ve heard in a long time and a great message for all churches. Dr. Bowman has a long list of credentials with SBC churches but is currently retired in Perry, Georgia.
What is wrong with the church today?
2 Timothy 2:15
- This verse was used in Southern Baptist Churches as the theme for training union.
- “You don’t have to be a who’s who to know what’s what.”
- “I’d rather know a few things for certain that a lot of things that ain’t so!”
There are a couple of root problems that go deeper that explain the reasons that churches are splitting more often today.
#1 Many people who come to know the Lord don’t get a good understanding of what it means to be saved.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
1 John 5:11
11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
- Many people in church simply do not understand what salvation means.
- We are either saved or lost.
- You cannot be a Christian if you reject that Jesus is the son of God. Mormons say they are Christians but do not believe Jeus is the son of God. Same for Jehovahs witnesses.
- We must know that the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ — it is not about just being good.
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
#2 Many people in the pews have never followed Christ in believers baptism.
- As our testimony to the world we must be baptized and join a church. Without that it is impossible to live an effective Christian life for God.
- Become a participator in the church not just a spectator.
- Jesus Christ told us to Go Forward!
- We should all do the best we can where we are to be a faithful and loyal member of a local church.
- People are not participating — they come on Sunday morning and never come back!
#3 Many people who come to know Christ have never seriously opened the Word of God!
He quoted several verses from Psalm 119
- v 1-4 1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
3 They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways.
4 You have commanded us
To keep Your precepts diligently.
- v 7-8 7 I will praise You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
8 I will keep Your statutes;
Oh, do not forsake me utterly!
- v 33 33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.
- v 50 For those who suffer –
50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.
- v 72 72 The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.
- v 89 89 Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.
- v 105 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
- v 130 130 The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
- v 140 140 Your word is very pure;
Therefore Your servant loves it.
- More people in Georgia go to Mormonism from Baptist churches than any other denomination. (33% of Mormon converts)
- Our people don’t know the word of God! If you don’t know it you will be deceived!
- We must get along with each other and follow what the Scripture says.
#4 Root Problem in Churches today is — Many people haven’t started a prayer life.
17 pray without ceasing,
3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
- We need to pray and spend a time of waiting on the Lord in prayer!
- Many of us don’t spend any time in prayer!
- When we pray we put the power of God into motion in our life.
- God doesn’t want tohear all those words, just to hear our heartbeat!
- When you pray — In comes the power of the living God
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.
- We must get into God’s word and learn to pray like we’ve never prayed before.
- When things begin to happen – when the people of God begin to pray — things begin to happen!
- He told the story of a little boy cutting up in church. The preacher glared. The boy continued. The preacher glared harder. The boy continued to act up. Finally, the preacher picked up the little boy and threw him over his shoulder to take him out. The little boy looked at the congregation and yelled — “People of God, pray!”
- It’s urgent — what could we do if we began to pray?
- What could we do if everyone assumed responsibility to reach our circle for Christ?
- Everyone is not a preacher, but we can bring people to Christ. To church!
- We can’t just trust the preacher to do it! We all need to know the joy of bringing some to Christ!
#5 We are to be givers rather than getters.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
- Many haven’t known the joy of being givers rather than getters.
- When you give you provide ministry to your community and around the world!
- We are just giving what God has given to us!
I enjoyed this sermon greatly! It was biblically based and grounded in Scripture! Scripture has the promise of God! We need more preachers who are more concerned about what God has to say than coming up with “the perfect thought.” The perfect thoughts have already been “invented.” We in the pews hunger for the word of God. Preach it! I love preaching where we have not just one focal scripture but where scripture is used to interpret scripture. I feel safe! I know it is in God’s word! I can relax and inhale the aroma of God’s truth!
Many thanks to William the webmaster of the SBC website www.gowestafrica.org. (I’ll be adding his RSS feed soon.) This is a great website that will help us focus our prayers for West Africa. Here is our prayer request from our missionaries in West Africa today. When you pray for these missionaries you are focusing your prayers with other Christians around the world! We are seeing amazing things happen as we focus our prayers.
At least 90% of Western Niger Fulani cannot read. Missionaries like Cherry Faile must find other means of sharing God’s Word with them. Cherry lives and serves in the bush village of “D.” As Cherry reads the Word to them in the Fulfulde (full-full-day) language and shares audio tapes of testimonies and songs, pray that God would touch Fulani hearts. Pray for the power and truth of the Word to become real to them. Pray that the Fulani people will have a hunger to know more. – Western Niger Fulani of Niger
Lord, forgive us when we’re what is wrong with your church today. Forgive our contentiousness. Forgive us when our opinions become more important than your truths and bring us back into rightness with you through the washing of the water of Your word. Lord, please be with Cerry Faile today and her village. Please touch Fulani hearts today and for the power and truth of the Word to become real to them. Give them a hunger to know more. Bless Cherry today and encourage her as she feels alone and struggling. Give her a special blessing from the Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name. Amen.