By Nathan Handley
Contributing Writer, B&R
JACKSON — Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, said no matter what happens in the world, Christians have hope in the fact that Jesus is in control.
“Every day I wake up I know one thing that will never change,” Gaines said. “Jesus is Lord.”
Gaines was one of six speakers at the 2018 Tennessee Baptist Pastors Conference Nov. 12 at West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson. Other speakers included Johnny Hunt, pastor of Woodstock Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.; Scott Parkison, pastor of Stevens Street Baptist Church, Cookeville; Robert Smith, professor of Christian preaching at Samford University, Birmingham, Ala.; Don Whitt, evangelist from Memphis; and Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewood Baptist Church, Lutz, Fla. The theme for the conference was “Until He Comes!”
Gaines said Jesus was Lord before He came to earth and while He was on earth. This is illustrated in the gospels, where Jesus calms storms, casts out demons, heals the sick and raises the dead.
“He was Lord over disaster while He was on this earth,” Gaines said. “He was Lord over demons and the devil while He was on this earth; He was Lord over disease, and praise God, while He was on this earth, Jesus was Lord over death. And He still is.”
Gaines said Jesus was Lord as He hung on a cross, and He proved He was Lord over death when He rose from the dead.
“Nobody took his life,” Gaines said. “He gave it. While He was on that cross, He was Lord. Hands nailed, feet nailed, body beaten, totally in control.” Gaines said Jesus will be Lord when He comes back to earth, and He will be Lord forever.
Hunt encouraged believers to cultivate a compassion for winning sinners to Christ. He said Christians cannot win people to the Lord without a genuine burden for them.
“The Lord Jesus shed His blood on the cross of Calvary that we might be saved,” Hunt said. “Those who would win souls to Him must expect to have the same kind of burning compassion somehow in our hearts in order to win them.”
He shared stories of the passion he had in the early days of his salvation and the many people he led to Christ by cultivating that compassion. He said Christians cannot keep the gospel to themselves, and lack of knowledge is no excuse.
“The nation’s problem is not whether we get the gospel right,” he said. “It’s whether we even share the gospel we know.”
Parkison, who will serve as the president of the 2019 conference, spoke on perseverance. He said pastors encounter many obstacles that discourage them, and many can be turned away from ministry, but God gives grace to persevere.
“The only way we persevere is by God’s grace,” Parkison said.
“He sustains us. I don’t know where you find yourself today, but God’s favor and pleasure is the only thing that will keep you going in ministry,” he said.
He said pastors can feel pressure to do many things such as strategizing, organizing and planning, but they are primarily called to be shepherds.
“If we attempt to persevere as anything other than what God has called us to be, we are pursuing the wrong thing,” he said.
Whitt spoke on a passage from Ezekiel where God brought to life a valley of dead bones. In the passage, the bones represent Israel, but Whitt said they also have a modern application.
“I believe as we look at modern-day America, and as we look at the modern-day church, we see a valley of dead, dry bones,” he said. “….We need the power of the Holy Ghost to fall upon our churches once again.”
Whitt said more can be accomplished in one second in God’s power than can be accomplished in a lifetime in the flesh.
Whitten gave encouragement to pastors to remain faithful in their work. He said many churches become focused on numbers, but numbers are not good indicators of faithfulness.
“We’re going to stand before God, and every man’s work will be judged by what sort it is,” he said. “It doesn’t say what size it is.”
Smith spoke on the importance of prayer and relying on God. He said Christians must acknowledge their impotence and ignorance before God and invite Him to work through them in order to be effective.
“God is not initially interested in causing us to be strong,” Smith said. “But rather in reducing us to weakness so that we recognize that our strength can only be found in Him.”