Fred Luter may have only one more day as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, but his revival message on Tuesday evening is one that is unlikely to be forgotten any time soon. Preaching from Psalm 80 where the children of Israel ‘had gone wrong’ in their relationship with God, Luter spoke of how America has gone wrong with God as well. He said that the only way revival will come to America is through the church, and challenged those attending the annual meeting and watching online to pray, repent, and be remorseful over sin.
A live blog report from the Baptist Press is below.
To experience revival Southern Baptists must repent of their failure to share the Gospel and re-emphasize taking the message of Jesus to lost men and women, Fred Luter said during his presidential address.
He preached from Psalm 80, a passage set during a time when Israel had sinned and consequently experienced a withdrawal of God’s blessing. The Psalm represents the nation’s cry of repentance, Luter said.
Like Israel in Psalm 80, “America has messed up with God” and “is in trouble,” Luter said. “America is rapidly turning into a pagan nation. We’ve lowered our morals. We’ve lowered our standards.”
Evidence of America’s depravity is seen in the fact that it regards openly homosexual athletes as heroes rather than celebrating truly heroic people — like soldiers, EMTs, policemen and IMB missionaries, Luter said. He added that the celebration of homosexuality is just one of many manifestations of sin in America.
“There must be a spiritual awakening in America … There must be a spiritual revival that starts in the church,” he said.
The way revival starts in the church is with prayer, Luter said. He noted two things that must occur among God’s people before revival can occur.
— There must be repentance.
Eighty percent of Southern Baptist churches baptize only one person per year between ages 18 and 29, Luter said. “If we were working in a secular job with these kinds of reports, many of us would have been fired a long time ago,” he said.
Southern Baptists “must ask God for forgiveness” for failing to share the Gospel and forgetting its power to save sinners, he said. “We need to tell God, ‘God, we repent for using substitutes for the Word of God.'”
— There must be remorse.
Remorse is “a sense of guilt for one’s actions,” Luter said. He explained that Scripture requires sinners to feel remorse in addition to changing their actions.
Sadly, people don’t come to church like they did in previous generations, so believers must go to them, Luter said. Southern Baptists should feel remorse for not going to the lost, he said.
“God, please forgive us for not being obedient and sharing the Good news of the Gospel with those in our community,” Luter said.
If Southern Baptists exhibit repentance and remorse, “there will be revival,” Luter said.
“We are losing a generation,” Luter said. “Southern Baptist Convention, we can no longer be at ease in Zion while people all around us are dying and going to hell. Therefore, we must repent. Therefore, we must have remorse and do what Israel did in Psalm 80.”
Luter said his desire during the two years of his presidency has been revival for the SBC. “The only way that will happen is if we cry out to God in prayer,” he said.
“Jesus saves. So come on, Southern Baptists,” Luter said. “… In the name of Jesus we have the victory.”