By Jessica Pigg, Raegen Hain, and Sharayah Colter
ANAHEIM, Calif.–More than a thousand voices proclaimed the words of “In Christ Alone” and “Jesus Paid It All” at the Conservative Baptist Network event ahead of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting, June 12.
The standing-room-only crowd gathered for prayer, worship, and messages from Voddie Baucham and John MacArthur as a theme was championed–preach the Word with confidence in a compromising world.
Angelia Chung, wife of the associate pastor of San Francisco Chinese Baptist Church, said hearing MacArthur appeal to the remnant God has used for His work throughout the course of history encouraged her.
“One thing that stood out to me was John MacArthur speaking on us as the remnant,” Chung said. “And it was encouraging seeing this room full of people. We are not alone, and there are likeminded brothers and sisters for the kingdom of God and His truth.”
Michael Barnes, pastor of Wears Valley First Baptist Church in Sevierville, Tenn., said he, too, “really enjoyed” the event.
“The presentation of the gospel was obviously there. It was such an encouragement to see our men and our ladies come together as one body,” Barnes said. “The takeaway from tonight is there is still work in the fields to be done, and the Lord has called each and every one of us—whether we’re pastors or whether we’re laypeople or whatever— the Lord has called each and every one of us to reach the Kingdom of Christ. That was an encouragement to me, and I hope and pray that our people will take this and go back into their ministry fields and work fervently for the Lord.”
After SBC First Vice President Lee Brand led in prayer, Baucham greeted his fellow Southern Baptists noting his care for the Convention.
“I love the SBC,” Baucham said. “I’ve been trained and educated and nurtured in the Southern Baptist Convention, but hear what I say: God does not need the Southern Baptist Convention. My prayer would be that He would continue to use the Convention, that He would bring not just revival but repentance in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
His words echoed the words of widely respected Southern Baptist statesman, the late Adrian Rogers, who said in 1987, “I’m willing to compromise about many things, but not the Word of God. So far as getting together is concerned, we don’t have to get together. The Southern Baptist Convention, as it is, does not have to survive. I don’t have to be the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church. I don’t have to be loved; I don’t even have to live. But I will not compromise the Word of God.”
Baucham, Dean of African Christian University and 2023 Pastors’ Conference presidential candidate, challenged those in attendance to worship God and champion His Word in the midst of a post-Christian world.
“We must pray that God would bring repentance and revival,” he said.
Often described as a “warrior for Christ,” Baucham exposited Acts 4 and illustrated what it looks like when the culture views the gospel as an enemy.
“We have a problem when we no longer fear God,” Baucham said. “We have a problem when we are willing to compromise on the gospel in order to be known and liked…Appeasement is not possible. We have to preach the gospel.”
Christians must refuse to compromise, he said, explaining that those who oppose Christ will not settle to paint Christians as merely “wrong” but “evil.” In that landscape and reality, Christians must commit to Christ no matter the cost.
“We want to be known, we want to be liked, we want to be lauded, we want the national news to look at us as say good things about us, when the fact of the matter is Jesus already told us “if they hated me, they will hate you,” Baucham said.
Baucham said he is sometimes asked how many friends this mentality has cost him.
“None,” he said. “Because if I lost them, they weren’t my friends to begin with, and at the end of the day, I count my friends—my brothers and sisters—the same way that God counts His sons and daughters, and that is through the lens of the cross. I literally could not care less if the world likes, lauds or appreciates me.
“At the end of the day, you will never be able to compromise enough. You will never be able to apologize enough. You’ll never be able to give up enough. Because a totalizing worldview will only be satisfied when Christ is no longer your Lord but they are.”
Convinced that believers are now living in a neo-paganistic world, MacArthur sought to encourage those in attendance to draw courage from their confidence in Christ.
“Courage gives birth to confidence,” MacArthur said. “In fact it comes from confidence and it leads to confidence. Courage is born in confidence in the God who called you and the God who empowers you and leads you. If you want courage you have to have confidence in God.”
Courage, he explained, is needed for any Christian choosing to follow Christ in a culture that opposes Him and His kingdom.
“The world provides nothing for you to advance the kingdom of God,” MacArthur said. “It offers you nothing. You don’t advance the kingdom of light by making an ally of the kingdom of darkness.”
Friendship with the world, he recalled from Scripture, is enmity with God.
“You’re never going to advance the Kingdom by being popular with the world. Never. And if you think you will, you’re doing the devil’s work,” MacArthur said.
The reminder to avoid friendship with the world was a welcome encouragement to Benjamin Chung, associate pastor of San Francisco Chinese Baptist Church.
“A highlight for me was being reminded that we are not to be friends of the world,” Chung said. “It is just having to balance still being a light in the world, making friends with people in the world, yet not being friends with the world. We’re not of the world, we’re of Christ.”
Religious Liberty and the Sanctity of Human Life
Ryan Helfenbein, executive director of Liberty University’s Standing for Freedom Center, discussed with Conservative Baptist Network Spokesman Brad Jurkovich the need for Southern Baptists to stand as stalwart defenders of truth in an age in which truth is under great assault.
“The time is now,” Helfenbein said. “You have to be courageous. You have to be bold. You have to be unashamed. Courage is the currency of the hour.”
Christians must fear God more than they fear man, he said.
“There has been a great awokening in this nation,” Helfenbein said. “We need a great awakening.”
Noting that an opinion should be forthcoming in the Dobbs case currently before the Supreme Court, he called for Christians to step up to help end the horror of abortion in America.
“We need a true abolitionist movement. We need a true pro-life movement in this country,” he said.
Jurkovich moderated a panel discussion between Baucham, Tom Ascol, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church and candidate for SBC president, and Javier Chavez, Pastor of Amistad Cristiana International and candidate for SBC recording secretary.
Tom Ascol described why he is allowing himself to be nominated to serve the SBC as president.
“I am willing to do it because I care about the SBC and love the SBC,” Ascol said. “I’ve been concerned for several years. If you really fear God, then you’re going to take your stand on what God says. We can make all the structural changes we want, but if we don’t come to a spiritual renewal, if we don’t return to a simple fear of God, it won’t matter.”
Fear of God and trust in Scripture is critical, the panel agreed. Addressing Critical Race Theory, Chavez pointed to his Bible.
“If there is an issue of a race system in the church, we have the solution,” Chavez said.
Jurkovich asked Ascol how he has navigated seeking to be a unifying conservative candidate among those who hold varying views regarding Calvinism.
“What’s happened to me the last three to four years—I’ve been chastened,” Ascol said. “I haven’t changed my views about soteriology, but I’ve been chastened to realize we have a whole lot more in common than we have in difference, and what is at stake here is so important that we have got to unite together.”