Convention president C.J. Bordeaux Sr, asked North Carolina Baptists, “How can we possibly expect to see greater things in our churches, in our associations and in our state conventions,” in today’s cultural environment? The pastor of Gorman Baptist Church, Durham, delivered the traditional president’s address in the Monday evening session of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting, Nov. 10, giving emphasis to the theme, “Greater Things.”
He said we are not living in the same world most of us knew growing up. There is a radical difference in values.
“The commonality and the cohesion of the faith of Christians that once was strong and vibrant, unfortunately does not seem to be that way today,” Bordeaux said. “It is not only that we must learn to be cooperative, we must learn to be obedient unto God. I believe that is the key element to seeing greater things….”
The scripture text was 1 Kings 18:20-29. One prophet of God, Elijah, faced a contest with 450 prophets of Baal. In the context of a “famine in the land,” the prophet Elijah asked, “How long halt ye between two opinions?”
Bordeaux said there is a spiritual famine in North Carolina today as well.
“It is a famine for civility, a famine of moral consciousness, a famine of leadership, a famine of godliness, a famine of spirituality. … So, how do we see greater things given the circumstances of the culture around us?”
He offered three challenges Christians face in order to see greater things in the process of impacting lostness in N.C.
BSC photo by K Brown
C.J. Bordeaux preaches about the spiritual famine in North Carolina.
First, we must live believable lives in an unbelieving world.
Second, we must repair some of the altars that have been torn down, and third, we must live convicted lives in a dying world.
In their attempt to ignite the altar with fire, the prophets of Baal worked all day with no response from their god. They believed their god, they had zeal for their god, and they persevered with commendable dedication. Bordeaux said as wrong as they were, “You gotta give them credit. They stuck to their belief. Even in the face of overwhelming proof of failure of their belief, you seldom see unbelievers back down. They stick to it. The prophets of Baal had a false faith and false hopes, but they stuck to it.
“Our challenge is to live-out our beliefs in such a way that we can show them, and they can see our faith is alive … and that our God still reigns,” he said.
Referring to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Ronnie Floyd’s call to prayer, he said the source of our power is found in prayer. “Prayer is the answer. Prayer is our power. … Apart from North Carolina Baptists praying collectively and cooperatively we can never do greater things … because we have no power, but we serve a God who has all power.”
Before Elijah could respond to the failure of the false prophets, he had to repair the altar. “Apparently the altar was destroyed by the prophets of Baal in their attempt to call on their god,” he said.
Bordeaux sees a parallel in our culture. “Every chance the world gets to tear down some part of our belief system, they do it,” he said. “They don’t like what we believe, they don’t like what we stand for, they don’t like our doctrine, so they are going to do everything in their power to tear it down and destroy us … under the guise of religious reform.”
Four specific altars need to be repaired, he emphasized.
The altar of the family must be restored. “The home is God’s first institution. It was God’s prime institution. It was the centerpiece of God’s creation,” he said.
Second, the altar of the centrality of the Bible must be rebuilt. He said Southern Baptists fought for and stood on the Bible and must continue to stand on it.
“In June, 1979 I drove to my first SBC [meeting] in Houston, Texas,” Bordeaux shared. “I remember listening to Adrian Rogers speak with such authority and boldness about the Bible. Little did I know that at that convention … I was witnessing the beginning of a movement that would turn the SBC from following a liberal bias and agenda, and return us to our conservative, fundamental and biblical roots.”
The third altar to rebuild is the necessity of the church. He said churches in the state are very different in many ways. “It does not matter if you come from a small church or if you come from a big church. It does not matter if you come from a contemporary church or a traditional church.
“It does not matter if you play drums or if you have a 200 year-old pipe organ. … what we need to understand is that the church is the bride of our Lord Jesus Christ. … we need to learn to accept each other as we are, because if we don’t do that, we are allowing the world to divide us and separate us ….[over unimportant matters].
“It does not matter if you meet in a schoolhouse. It does not matter if you meet in a home. It does not matter if you meet in a building with a tall, spire steeple, ladies and gentlemen, the church has never been about brick and mortar. We’ve all got to be busy about rebuilding the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The fourth altar to restore is the essentialness of discipleship. “I would not be where I am, who I am and be the man that I am had it not been for my father and other men …,” he said. “So many of those dear men of God who never had their names written in a book, who never got asked to stand on a stage, who never get any recognition – all of those dear men were giants of the faith to this young preacher-boy. They discipled me, and led me, and taught me, and that’s what we must be busy about.”
Finally, Bordeaux said Baptists must face the challenge of living convicted lives in a dying world. “There is a difference between believing something and being convicted of something,” he said. “Elijah had to stand upon his convictions.”
In verse 38 of the text, God shows up, he said. “Mark in your Bible: ‘God done put a whoopin’ on ’em,’” he told a chuckling audience. God did His work because one man took a stand.
N.C. Baptists must take a stand and trust only in God’s power in order to see greater things.