Fred J. Luter Jr., the first African American to be elected to the highest office of the Southern Baptist Convention, addressed the SBC Executive Committee at its Sept. 16-17 meeting in Nashville.
The following are highlights of his epic-like sermon delivered before the Executive Committee earlier this week -
"Preaching the Scripture, not politics or even "Duck Dynasty," will bring revival to the Southern Baptist Convention and the nation", SBC President Fred Luter said in his address to the SBC Executive Committee.
Revival birthed through the SBC and its entities is still his heart's desire, Luter said, drawing comparisons to what he termed the "sad story" of the prophet's vision of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-10.
"My ultimate goal is, prayerfully, that we can pray that God will send revival across America and particularly among our SBC churches," he said, "because it's so easy to get sidetracked. It's so easy to get comfortable where we are. It's so easy to rest on our laurels and all of the past things that we've done.
"However, I am convinced that revival is still sorely needed among us, among our churches, among our denomination and particularly among the body of Christ," Luter said. "My heart's desire is still that God will send revival through the churches, the seminaries, the colleges and the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention. That's still my heart's desire."
President Luter, who is the pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, went on to say that -
"Revival will only come if the body of Christ realizes its dry condition, hears and responds to the Word of God and is filled with the Spirit of God, Luter said in his sermon, "How to Revive Dry Bones."
"Ladies and gentlemen, if we're honest with ourselves, many of us can identify with the children of Israel in our text, because many of us are like dead men walking. We've lost our vim, we've lost our vigor, and we wouldn't know vitality if it slapped us in the face."
"Oh, dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord," Luter quoted Ezekiel 37:4.
"Pastors, the most important thing we can do on Sunday mornings in our pulpit is not to pull out the latest story from Reader's Digest, not to pull out the latest story from National Geographic, not to tell the latest story on Duck Dynasty, but the best thing we can do ... is hear the Word of God.
"[Preach] not the latest in politics, not the latest in denominational issues during the preaching time, [but] the Word of God," Luter said, "... words that bring nourishment to dry bones, words that bring strength to brittle bones [and] words that bring life to lifeless bones."
An encouraging, stirring symphony of numerous Scriptures drawn from both biblical testaments flowed from Luter's lips.
"Psalm 1:1-2a: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, for his delight is in the law of the Lord."
"Psalm 27:1: The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?"
"Psalm 34:19: Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all."
"Romans 8:32: If God is for us, who in the world can be against us?"...
The sermon drew much applause and many amens and affirmations from Executive Committee members, SBC entity heads and other guests in the audience.
While his first 14 months as SBC president have taken him to a different location each week, Luter said, he's made a commitment to be in his pulpit at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church every Sunday.
"One of the things that I've made a commitment to during these 14 months, that as busy as I have been, as many places as I have been, I've made a commitment that I'm in my pulpit every Sunday morning," he said, thanking EC members for their encouraging prayers, letters, calls and emails.
"During my travels these last 14 months ..., I have been honored to serve as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I've tried my best to represent you well, as the Executive Committee and the entity heads," he said.
"Most of all I've tried to represent God well. If you'll continue to pray for me, that's what I'll continue to want to do." (Baptist Press)