I am thankful for all of the pastors that the Lord has put in my life up to this point. There have been many good men who, although flawed, loved the Lord, loved His Word, and loved His people. God has blessed me with some industrial strength winners who He used to mold and shape me. Now that I have been preaching, teaching, and pastoring for 2 decades, my only hope is that I have had one microsliver of one half of the impact these men have had on me.
That being said, my heart is grieved when I peruse the Baptist landscape to find that the true “Statesmen” are fewer, and the critics are many among those that sit in Baptist pews. I am afraid that the Lord will not give another Graves, or Bogard, or Lee, or Criswell, or Havner, or Rogers. No doubt there are many more that could be added to that list. I heard a man say once that Rogers was to the Baptists, what Franklin was to America. Whether you agree with that assessment or not is irrelevent, the point is that in this day and time, we (Baptists) are in need of strong pastors and preachers who will, as the old timers used to say, “storm the gates of hell with a water pistol.”
My fear is that hotheaded Baptists will shoot him before he has a chance to mount up. No pastor, or preacher is above being wrong about something, but the problem is that many are right there ready to point it out and shoot it down.
Now I am not saying that pastors/ preachers/ are above reproach and should never be questioned. On the contrary, the first place to look for devil’s man, is in the Father’s pulpit. But not every man in the Father’s pulpit belongs to the devil. Not every man that preaches on tithing, speaks of God’s judgment, or explains the consequences of sin, is the devil’s man either. Without question there are many Baptist pastors who know the Bible like the back of their head. There are those who slap their sheep just for fun and sheer their wool just for spite.
Yet at the very same time there are many who do not. There are men who will still call sin, sin. There are men who will boldly declare that Christ Jesus is the only way to heaven, and there are men, like Vines, who will still call Muhammed a demon possessed man. There are those that still believe the Bible is THE Word of God.
Back in 2004, my wife and I started attending the First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida’s Pastor’s Conference. I thought that I had died and gone back to Seminary. It was the most wonderful conference that I had ever attended. It was Firm, it was Solid, it was Sound. It was strictly expositional preaching, boldly Anti-Calvinistic, Loudly Conservative, and explosively fundamental, and even had strong doses of Landmarkism. I loved it. We still attend, but it’s not what it used to be. Rogers is busy “kicking up gold dust on the streets of glory.” Dr’s Vines, Hill, Patterson, and Allen, are really the only regulars from that time left, but their influence seems to be waning.
I fear that the sun is setting on real Statesmen. I pray for the Lord to raise up more men like the ones I’ve mentioned, and some I didn’t. I also pray that Baptists won’t try to shoot them down when He does; or at least that God will clothe them with bullet proof vests.
I want to encourage you to pray for your pastor. Pray for the men that God has called, and who faithfully proclaim with conviction the Word of God. Getting behind God’s man that is behind God’s pulpit is definitely a change worth making.