GREENSBORO — Baptists should focus more on doing, not just knowing, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention said.
Johnny Hunt, also pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., preached from Psalm 119 about leading and praying with the end in mind.
"We will be remembered for how we finish," he said.
Hunt was one of seven speakers at the N.C. Pastors' Conference at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro. The meeting with the theme "Authentic" was Nov. 9-10, just before the start of the Baptist State Convention annual meeting.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin woke up the crowd by blasting those who think the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president happened outside the providence of God.
Hunt said the Psalmist asked God to do something in his life. The psalm includes prayers for education, for illumination, for direction, for inclination, for attention, of realization, for protection and of aspiration, he said.
Pastors should be teachable and do something with the knowledge they attain, Hunt said.
"Everybody wants to know just so they can know so they can blog," he said. "Churches make a difference because of what they do with what they know.
"I'd rather do more and know less than know more and do less."
Hunt said people who see God for who He is will see themselves for who they are and other people for who they are.
"Sometimes I go to church and think I'm doing good until Jesus gets lifted up," he said.
Bible in hand
Stephen Rummage, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, preached from 2 Tim. 3:1-17 about "A Bible in Your Hand." He talked about the perilous times we face; the perfect truth we follow; and the precious treasure we find with the Bible in our hands.
The Bible says perilous times will come in the last days, Rummage said.
"Brothers and sisters, we're living in those last days," he said. "These are demonic times we're living in."
Rummage said the Bible tells of people who have a "form of godliness" but deny its power.
"When we depart from preaching and teaching this precious book, the power goes away," he said.
The Bible does not save people, but does make people wise for salvation in Jesus Christ, Rummage said.
"The Bible takes us all the way from our sin to salvation in Christ Jesus," he said.
Rummage said if preachers want to hear from God, they should read the Bible.
"You open it; you read it; and God speaks," he said.
The Bible confronts the forces that oppose God, Rummage said.
"That's why this book is such a precious treasure," he said. "It's all we need."
Rummage encouraged pastors to keep a Bible in their hands. He said he wants to be buried with a Bible.
"One day when I die, I hope they find this book in my cold, dead hands," he said.
Richard Hicks, pastor of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Supply, preached from 2 Cor. 1:12 about the "authentic messenger."
"We need authentic ministers," he said.
Authentic messengers are holy and clean, Hicks said.
"We serve a risen Savior," he said. "Our ministry, our life must be rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ."
Consecration and holiness are grounded on sacrifice. Many churches want the music and sermons to be "positive," Hicks said.
"I want to tell you, the most positive things you can preach is the blood of Jesus Christ," he said.
Hicks said authentic messengers endure lives of hardship and affliction.
"God comforts us in our affliction," he said. "It's not an easy road you travel.
"The authentic messenger doesn't let affliction and hardship turn him aside."
Authentic messengers exhibit honesty and integrity, Hicks said.
"You'll never rise any farther than your integrity in the pulpit and in your daily life," he said.
Hicks said Southern Baptists have been fighting for the Bible.
"We finally settled it that it is God's word," he said. "We need to preach it."
Authentic messengers enjoy lives of happiness and joy, Hicks said.
"Enjoy the trip, because there's much joy in sharing Jesus," he said.
Bob Pitman, an evangelist from Alabama, preached from 1 Sam. 4, which he called the saddest chapter in the Bible. The passage describes how the Phillistines defeated the people of Israel in two battles, killing 4,000 in the first and 30,000 in the second.
The priests in Israel were morally bankrupt, stealing from people, seducing women and having sex in the temple, Pitman said. In response, God withdrew His hand of provision and protection.
Evil can overwhelm individuals, churches and nations, he said.
"God can withdraw His hand, and when He does that, there comes trouble," Pitman said.
The leaders of Israel blamed God for their first defeat, then brought the Ark of the Covenant, thinking that it would save them.
"It can never save anyone," Pitman said. "Salvation can never come from an it. Salvation comes from Him."
Pitman said, the Ark was an elaborate, ornate, meaningful box, but it was still a box.
"God was not in the box," he said. "If your god lives in a box, don't be surprised if someone steals him from you."
When the Ark came, the people of Israel shouted. It was a revival, but it was revival over a box, Pitman said.
"I'd rather have no revival than a false revival," he said.
At the end of the chapter, the wife of a priest killed in the battle has a baby after she hears that her husband was killed, her father-in-law had died and the Ark had been taken. Just before she dies, she names the child Ichabod, which means the glory has departed.
Moral corruption is not authentic methodology, Pitman said.
"I'm tired of hearing of ordained adulterers," he said. "If you're into that, get out of the ministry."
Akin talked about authenticity and the man of God.
Preaching from Psalm 128, Akin said the man of authenticity is clear about who he trusts, is committed to those he loves and is concerned about where he lives.
Akin said he and his wife have four boys. When seminary students ask him about raising kids, he tells them he and his wife tried to teach their kids to love Jesus and have fun.
Akin also encouraged pastors to love their wives.
"Great partners almost always make good parents," he said.
Akin said that in 1997 the average age of male video game player was 18. Now, it's 33, he said.
"Grow up," he said. "Go do something worthwhile for Jesus."
Akin said fathers need to raise masculine sons and grandsons.
Pastors need to ask young people if God is calling them to missions, even if parishioners don't like it, he said.
"That's worth getting fired over," he said. "That's worth getting run off for."
The psalm isn't about prosperity theology, Akin said.
"Hard work and the heart of God go hand in hand," he said.
Preaching from Acts 1:4-8, Phil Hosklins, pastor of Higher Ground Baptist Church in Kingsport, Tenn., said Jesus left the Church with an "authentic mission to seek to win the lost at any cost."
Hoskins said Jesus left the Church four things, including and unfinished task, an unchallenged message, unlimited power and an unfailing promise.