LAFAYETTE – While many in our culture are of the opinion that the church is irrelevant, obsolete and only of historic value, the Bible paints a very different picture, Dr. David Hankins said.
By Kelly Boggs
LAFAYETTE – While many in our culture are of the
opinion that the church is irrelevant, obsolete and only of historic
value, the Bible paints a very different picture, Dr. David Hankins
“The word of God says the church is not about to
fall apart; the church is on its pathway to success,” the Louisiana
Baptist Convention executive director told those attending the Monday
evening session of last week’s Evangelism Conference.
“The church is not only going to succeed – it is not
only going to advance; the church is invincible.” declared Hankins.
“And the reason it is invincible is because of some endowments that it
was given at its founding.”
Citing Matthew 16:13-19, Hankins pointed out endowments that cause the church to be invincible. They are:
• The person of Jesus.
When Peter confessed that Jesus is “the Christ, the
Son of the Living God,” he was speaking against popular opinion. Though
the people of His day “really had a high view of Jesus,” Hankins said,
they still believed Jesus was nothing more than a mere man. Peter’s
divine declaration made it clear that Jesus was God in the flesh.
“There has been a lot of confusion in the world
about who Jesus is,” said Hankins. “We need to articulate for our world
the clear confession of Caesarea Philippi: ‘You are the Christ, the Son
of the living God.’”
There are many in our culture who admire Jesus, he
said. Islam has great regard for Jesus as a prophet and miracle worker,
“The Koran mentions Jesus more than any other
person,” Hankins preached. “Jesus is mentioned in the Koran more than
“But they do not believe that He died on the cross.
They do not believe that he rose again. And it is absolutely forbidden
to teach that He is God in the flesh,” Hankins declared.
“Severe sanctions and penalties are prescribed in
the Koran for anyone who over-estimates the person of Jesus,” Hankins
continued. “But I want you to understand something. In the New
Testament, there are severe eternal penalties prescribed for anyone who
underestimates the person of Jesus.”
Hankins maintained that everything hinges on this:
“Are we just another religion or do we serve the Messiah, the Son of
the living God?” The church, he said, is invincible because we have an
Jesus was not just another philosopher or religious
leader – He was and is God in the flesh. As a result, Hankins said, “We
have nothing to fear concerning the church that He founded, that He
gave Himself for. It will last.”
• People transformed
Another endowment given to the church that causes it
to be invincible is “people who have had their hearts changed by a
revelation on high concerning the truth about the person and work of
Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah the Son of the living God.”
God always will have a strong church in the earth until Jesus comes
again, Hankins said. Death never will significantly impact the church
and certainly will not prevail against the people of God.
To those who predict that Louisiana will not recover
from two devastating hurricanes and the church will simply go the way
of the state, Hankins replied, “We just heard a stirring testimony
[from Pastor Dennis Watson of Celebration Church at Metairie] of how
that is not true in New Orleans and the southern part of our state.”
Jesus is alive and well in Louisiana and His people
– people who have had their hearts changed by divine revelation – are
standing strong, Hankins insisted.
• Power from on high
The church is invincible because God is out front leading His church to make a difference in the world.
“The church is not waiting on God to move. God is waiting for the church,” Hankins preached.
“This is from your denominational leader,” Hankins
said. “We are not going to be successful because of our great
organization, because of our great history, because of our politics,
because of our ideas, because of our literature, because of all the
clever people we have in Alexandria and Nashville.
“We are going to be successful – absolutely,
unquestionably successful,” he continued. “We are going to be that
because of power on high.”
“Everywhere we go and everything we do, God has already set His foot and we are merely following after Him.”
“Be ready to look for the power and the leading of
God, not only in the spectacular … but also in the ordinary.” Hankins
urged. “Do not despise the work of the Holy Spirit through the ordinary
in your church’s experience.”
The strategy for reaching Louisiana will involve an
intense effort to discern where God is moving and to follow His lead,
the executive director said.
“Everywhere we think we see the cloud and everywhere
we think we see the fire [indicating God’s presence and activity], we
are going to move there,” Hankins said.
“We are going to plant a church, we are going to
start a ministry, we are going to hold a rally, we are going to educate
young people, we are going to teach the word,” Hankins declared.
“And God is going to do what he promised to do and we are going to see
the church grow strong.”
Hankins began his sermon with a humorous story about
an inebriated man trying to rescue a female mannequin from drowning.
After several attempts, the man had only managed to
save a leg, an arm and the head of the mannequin. Frustrated he turned
to a crowd that had gathered to watch and called out, “Come on, y’all,
help me save as much of this woman as we can.”
Hankins pointed out that while the state of
Louisiana is drowning in a sea of trouble, Louisiana Baptists must see
the situation as an opportunity to make a difference for the Lord.
“Come on, y’all,” Hankins exhorted. “Let’s save as much of this state as we can.”