Louisville—An unfaithful mailman hid bags and bags of mail in his garage before he was caught. The mountain of college acceptance letters, uncashed checks and other pieces of mail took three mail trucks to haul away. This “poor reflection of a mailman” is analogous to Christians who do not deliver the good news, said Kentucky Baptist Convention President Tom James.
“If our ministry is going to model the ministry of Jesus, then we must be faithful to preach the gospel,” said James, pastor of Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green, in an April 16 chapel message at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Preaching on the story of Jesus healing the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12, James drew attention to the fact that the house full of people. He said the house was full because Jesus was there and was preaching the Scriptures.
“Behind every number is a soul,” James said, directing his comment to the feeling of nervousness when pastors talk about attendance or conversion numbers. God is concerned with numbers, James said, citing passages like Acts 2:47, 4:4 and 5:14, where Luke gives a number of the people converted through the apostles’ ministry.
“God always adds and multiplies, and Satan always subtracts and divides,” James said.
People who dislike discussing numbers say that they are more concerned with quality of believers than quantity, but these do not have to be mutually exclusive. James reminded Christians that their job is not to catch the fish but to go fishing.
“When we stand before the Lord one day,” James said, “I don’t believe one of the questions he’ll ask is, ‘How many fish did you catch?’ He’s going to ask, ‘How many times did you whet the hook? How many times did you actually share the gospel with those who needed it?”
He added, “You can go fishing without catching fish, but you can’t catch fish without going fishing.”
James noted that the house was full of passion. The paralytic would never have gotten to Jesus unless his friends had taken away the roof. The sick man was blocked from entering through the door by people who were already in the house. In the same way, many times it is the cold, calloused Christians already in the church who hinder the gospel and keep out unbelievers.
Finally, James said that the house was full of power. Jesus told the sick man that his sins were forgiven, and then healed him. Christians often get it mixed up, James said, and want people to change their behavior before their hearts have changed.
“If sin is man’s greatest problem,” said James, “then forgiveness is man’s biggest need.”
After healing the paralytic, Jesus told the man to go home to his family. James said that Christians often think of family members as hardest to evangelize, but a person’s family usually knows the person best and will see the change Christ brings most clearly. He pointed out that the text said that all glorified God, claiming they had never seen anything like this.
According to James, the best way to serve someone is to bring them to know Jesus. (SBTS)
Tom James, pastor of Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green, and president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, preaches on April 16 in chapel at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.