By David Dawson
DALLAS — Acknowledging the perplexing topics and potential divisiveness that the denomination is facing, Southern Baptist president Steve Gaines said the formula for unity and restoration is surprisingly uncomplicated.
“Stop talking about how big your problems are, and start talking about how big your God is,” Gaines said while delivering his President’s Address on Tuesday morning (June 12) at the SBC’s annual meeting in Dallas.
Gaines, who is completing the final days of a two-year term as president, said believing and trusting in the supernatural abilities of God is the key to overcoming all obstacles that Southern Baptists are facing.
“What is going to be the solution to our decline? What can God do with us? First of all, you have to believe in a bigger God than you believe in right now,” said Gaines, the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova. “You need to believe in the God of the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Gaines opened his message with a song, joining his daughter, Bethany, for a duet of “At the Cross.” Gaines also closed with a song, this time going solo, for a rendition of the iconic Christian anthem, “He’s Alive.”
In between the two songs, Gaines delivered a message that focused on four supernatural characteristics of God — His promises, protection, power, and provisions — that can bring harmony and, more importantly, help the SBC reach its objectives.
“God’s supernatural power is greater than any problem that Southern Baptists have,” he said. “God’s supernatural power is greater than any problem you have in your church.”
Gaines was introduced on Tuesday by Randy C. Davis, the president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
“(Gaines) has been a steady hand for a denominational ship navigating through troubled waters,” said Davis. “He is a Godly man, daily walking under the Holy Spirit’s influence. He is one of Tennessee’s favorite sons and Southern Baptists’ greatest leaders.”
Gaines opened his message by citing both biblical and personal examples of instances in which God showed His supernatural promises being fulfilled.
First, Gaines referenced the story of Paul in which he, while being held as a prisoner, became shipwrecked on an island of Malta — and God provided for all his needs. Paul was able to use the miracles to point the other passengers toward God.
“Encouragement is putting courage back into people,” said Gaines. “Discouragement is when the devil, or the world, or sin, pulls courage out of you. Paul encouraged the sailors.”
Gaines then shared a story of how God’s supernatural powers appeared in his own life, when his son, Grant, was restored to health after doctors had feared that Grant, at age two, might have leukemia. Grant now serves as a pastor of a growing church.
“I can assure you that every promise of God comes true,” said Gaines. “If you have a need, God has a promise.”
Gaines also spoke of the protective powers of the Lord while referencing Paul’s ability to literally shake off a snakebite. The same type of protection is given to Christians today who believe in God’s abilities, Gaines said, noting that this is true for each facet of everyday life — the guarding of marriages, the protection of children, and the safeguarding of financial needs and challenges.
“God can protect you completely and absolutely in every way when you pray it through, when you seek to live under an open heaven and when you steadfastly obey the living God,” said Gaines. “He will be your shield until it is time to take you heaven. No human is stronger than almighty God.”
Gaines said God’s supernatural power is as much on display today as it was in Biblical times: “Our God can still move mountains,” he said. “Our God can still say, ‘hush, be still’ to raging seas. Our God can still heal the sick and raise the dead. He can save you if you are lost.”
Gaines noted that God’s healing power can include deliverance from all type of sexual immorality and other moral crises. “God is still alive, God is still sovereign,” he said. “He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If you will exercise faith, God will exercise power.”
Gaines — who said many Christians are more focused on their resources than their true source of joy and comfort — closed his message by challenging those in attendance to spread the hope and joy of the gospel into their everyday lives.
“I believe one of the greatest things we could walk out of here with in a few days is to tell the world that God is still on His throne,” said Gaines. “I believe there is a supernatural God. And I thank God that the hero of our Bible is not dead.”