SBC PC: Mark Dever Speaks about John Onwuchekwa

As you know, each of the speakers for this year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix, AZ was nominated by someone.  I asked each speaker’s nominator to answer a few questions about the person they nominated, and we have been posting their responses here at SBC Voices over the last few months.

John Onwuchekwa is one of the speakers for the conference.  He will be preaching Sunday evening from Philippians 1:12-26.  John is the pastor of a church plant in Atlanta, GA called Cornerstone Church.  He was nominated by Mark Dever.  I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mark Dever about John, and I want to share some of the highlights of that conversation with you.

Capitol Hill Baptist Church, where Mark Dever pastors, does a number of things to equip pastors.  One of those things is the 9 Marks weekender where they host around 100 pastors, seminarians, and church leaders for a full-on immersion in the life and inner workings of CHBC.  It was through one of these weekender conferences that Mark first got to know John.  Their friendship continued to grow from there.  CHBC also has a pastoral internship program where they receive 6 interns for a five or six month period of intense discipleship and training in pastoral ministry.  John was able to participate in that internship program several years ago at an important time in his life and ministry.

When asked why he nominated John to speak at the Pastors’ Conference, Mark said that in addition to him meeting the criteria of being the pastor of a smaller membership church, “John preaches the Bible really, really well.”  Mark’s confidence in John’s preaching ability is demonstrated in the fact that he has had John speak on several occasions at 9 Marks conferences.  John is even scheduled to speak at a pre-conference in Phoenix June 9-10.

Mark’s respect for John and thankfulness for what the Lord has done in John’s life was evident in our conversation.  Mark described John as a delightful person.  He spoke of John’s commitment to the Word and desire to faithfully shepherd God’s people.  We are excited to have John speaking at this year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference.

If you have not yet made plans to be in Phoenix for the conference, do so now.  It promises to be a great time as we gather to hear from God through His Word.  If you aren’t able to make it to the conference, be sure to catch the livestream beginning Sunday evening.

Just Preach the Word

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day.  I preached on The Beauty of Biblical Womanhood from Titus 2:3-5.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2 is one of those passages that has been largely forgotten in the Western Evangelical Church.  Pastors don’t preach it.  Church members don’t practice it.  And many Christians don’t even know it exists.

It’s also a passage that has engendered (no pun intended) quite a bit of controversy in our day.  We live in a day in which we are told that gender is not fixed.  Men can do everything women can do.  Women can do everything men can do.  And gender roles are archaic and oppressive.

Sadly, this worldview has not only dominated the culture, but it runs rampant throughout the Western Evangelical Church.  Pastors and teachers try to perform all types of interpretive gymnastics in an attempt to say that Titus 2 doesn’t really mean what it says.

Well, I’m not a gymnast, and I believe that Titus 2 really means what it says.  So on Sunday, I preached the Word.  I tried to be clear.  I tried to emphasize that the Bible’s teaching on headship and submission does not mean that women are inferior to men.  We are simply different.  We are created by God with equal dignity and worth but with different roles to play in the home.

One thing that I didn’t do though was attempt to skirt around the clear teaching of the Bible.  Neither did I apologize for God.  I simply set out to preach the Word.

Now you all know that when you do that, you don’t quite know what the response will be.  I wasn’t so much concerned with how my congregation might respond.  They’ve heard me preach for 10 months now.  They know that this is not some kind of hobby horse of mine.  They trust me to preach the Word.  But since it was Mother’s Day and I knew we would have visitors, I was aware of what they might think.

But after the sermon was over, I received a lot of very positive feedback.  People know that Titus 2 is a difficult passage in our modern culture, but they appreciated their pastor standing up and clearly stating what God has already said.  Even several of our visitors commented on the sermon with positive feedback.  It actually has been my experience that the most challenging passages I have preached are the ones people appreciate the most.  People want their pastor to open his Bible to the hard parts of Scripture and tell them what God has said.

The reality is that we cannot make our message palatable enough for the world around us to accept it.  We preach a crucified Savior who died to pay for our sin, and in doing so, satisfied the wrath of a holy God.  That’s really the most offensive thing we have to say.  A bloody cross makes the Bible’s teachings on gender not seem so offensive.  And since we must not forsake the cross, we ought not forsake what the Bible says about other difficult topics either.

So let’s not concern ourselves so much with what is palatable or not.  Let’s stand in our pulpits each week and proclaim the Word of God, knowing that sitting before us are hungry people who long to feast on the riches of God’s Word.  Yes, even the hard parts.

Steve Gaines to be Nominated for 2nd Term as SBC President

Grant Gaines announced today to Baptist Press that he will be nominating his father, Steve Gaines, for a second term as President of the Southern Baptist Convention when we convene next month in Phoenix, Arizona.

This is expected news, but is certainly worth noting.  I look forward to hearing Grant’s nomination speech.  Surely it will be a special moment for both father and son.  Grant Gaines mentioned three reasons that he plans to nominate his father for a second term as SBC President:

First…

“First, he has been a consummate statesman in a year full of political and moral turmoil in our nation. Through his example, he has shown us all how to combine both a prophetic voice when need be, as well as wise restraint when certain comments might not be helpful,” Grant Gaines wrote.

Second…

“Second, through his emphasis on prayer, he has encouraged thousands of Southern Baptists to a deeper prayer life. Anyone who knows Steve Gaines knows him as a man of prayer, and I would love to see his passion for this spread to even more people and churches over the coming year.

And third…

“Third, his emphasis on personal evangelism has been a needed reminder in our convention,” Grant Gaines wrote. “It’s important that we be reminded that without personal evangelism, church planting and global missions cannot be effective.”

This is the only expected nomination for the office of SBC President.  SBC Presidents are elected to a 1 year term but are eligible for reelection to a second term.  In recent years, sitting SBC Presidents have run for reelection unopposed.

Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Executive Board pens open letter to Russell Moore and ERLC Trustees

The ERLC controversy of a month or so ago has thankfully died down.  I do not wish to revisit that controversy except to say that I am thankful for an open letter that was released today by the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Executive Board.

This letter was written because a motion was made at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention asking the LBC’s Executive Board to “study the recent actions of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission with regard to issues of concern to Louisiana Baptists.”  The messengers voted to refer the matter to the Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Board.

It’s no secret that one of the places where Moore was receiving the most strident criticism was from some within the Louisiana Baptist Convention.  It was the state paper in Louisiana that broke the news that Prestonwood would be escrowing CP funds until further notice.  Prestonwood has since resumed CP giving.

The study is over and the LBC released an open letter addressing the situation.  Below are some quotes from the letter.

The heart of the letter:

We want to commend Dr. Moore for plainly confessing his failings that had resulted in the serious breach of fellowship we were observing in our Southern Baptist family. Although the statement did not address all the various particular complaints people had lodged, we believe it has encouraged folks to look for positive, rather than punitive, ways to work with the ERLC going forward. We want to encourage Dr. Moore, as he deals with the many serious and complex issues that face our people in the moral and social concerns arena, to listen carefully and respectfully to Southern Baptists even as we listen to him. We hope that we will be able to forge consensus among Southern Baptists as we attempt to bear witness in cultural conflicts. We encourage the ERLC to tread carefully in those matters where our people have genuine differences of opinion.

Regarding Dr. Moore’s leadership in areas where Southern Baptists are in agreement:

We also want to thank Dr. Moore for his leadership and contribution on important matters such as the sanctity of human life, the biblical view of marriage and sexuality, and racial justice. These years have seen an ominous rise in malicious anti-Christian sentiment in our nation. Southern Baptists are most encouraged when they are confident their ERLC is vigorously representing their cherished spiritual convictions in the public square.

A pledge from the LBC Executive Board:

For our part, we pledge to pray for our Lord to make the ERLC “strong and courageous.” Neither will we leave it to our agency to fight the battles alone but will engage the task as the church of the Lord. Furthermore, we will encourage our people to be thoughtful in their judgments, forbearing in their disagreements, and generous in their continued financial support for all our convention work.

Again, I am thankful for this letter and trust that this issue has been put to rest.