The Tenth Southern Baptist Founders Conference

The Tenth Southern Baptist Founders Conference

Bill Ascol

On the two hundredth anniversary marking the launching of the modern missionary movement, it was fitting that the Tenth Annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Founders Conference should address the theme “Missions and Evangelism: The whole gospel for the whole world.” The conference was a tremendous blessing to the more than one hundred fifty persons in attendance. This year’s meeting featured a distinctive South African Flavor, with Mr. John Wilton and Mr. Martin Holdt addressing the conference. Mr. Wilton, who now resides in the U.S.A. and has far-reaching itinerant evangelistic ministry, formerly lived and pastored in South Africa. He is a past president of the Baptist Union of South Africa. Mr. Holdt pastors the Emmanuel Baptist Church near Johannesburg, South Africa. He also is the editor of Reformation Africa South, a journal not unlike the Founders Journal.

Mr. Wilton opened the conference with a stirring challenge from Psalm 27, imploring those in attendance “to know God and to worship Him.” Mr. Holdt addressed the conference three times, on the doctrine of eternal punishment, the necessity of intercessory prayer, and the doctrine of justification by faith, respectively. Each of these sermons was mightily zeal. The doctrine of eternal punishment asserts the holy majesty of God and the awful reality of the endless misery which awaits those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. Intercessory prayer is necessary because only God is able to supply the great need of the hour through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mr. Holdt asked, “Have we forgotten to pray?” The doctrine of justification of faith is a gloriously liberating doctrine which must be preached freely to sinners.

The remaining speakers addressed an array of themes which fit very nicely together to form a very fragrant bouquet of missionary and evangelistic emphases. Mr. Bob Selph, pastor of the Miller Valley Baptist Church in Prescott, Arizona, forcefully demonstrated that the doctrine of unconditional election is a guarantee of missionary success. After drawing five deduction from Acts 13:48 regarding the manner of our God in saving sinners, Mr. Selph ran the length and breadth of Holy Scripture proving that the doctrine of unconditional election is a great impetus to missionary and evangelistic activity. He closed his message by setting forth seven motives designed to answer the question, “If unconditional election be true, then why preach the gospel to sinners?”

Dr. Fred Malone, pastor of the Heritage Baptist church in Crowley, Texas, presented a paper on the theme, “Believer’s Baptism by Immersion.” Dr. Malone is specially qualified to speak on this subject inasmuch as he was raised in a Southern Baptist church, later became a Presbyterian, then studied his way back into believer’s baptism. Focusing on Matthew 28:18-20 and Romans 6:1-5, Dr. Malone addressed the mode, meaning, and proper subjects of baptism. His presentation was forceful, and yet was undertaken with a spirit of sensitivity and compassion for those dear brethren who might not agree with his position.

Dr. Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School on the campus of Samford University, spoke twice on the life and labors of William Carey. Dr. George undertook his mission with an animated scholarship which was both refreshing and informative. He observed that Carey, as well as those who joined him in his burden to take the gospel to the heathen, were evangelical Calvinists. The doctrines of grace, rather than hindering these men, emboldened them to look unto the fields and see them white even unto harvest, pray the Lord of the harvest that he might send forth laborers into his harvest, and then send one from among their midst into the foreign field.

The name Lottie Moon is practically synonymous with missionary zeal for most Southern Baptists. Dr. Tom Nettles, professor of church history at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, gave an insightful biography of the life, labors, and legacy of Charlotte Diggs Moon. Having demonstrated the sacrificial spirit which dominated the missionary labors of Lottie Moon, Dr. Nettles challenged his listeners to consider the call of God to the foreign fields of service.

Mr. Jim Gables, pastor of the Oakland Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, drew a portrait of the evangelist from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Mr. Gables, an able gospel expositor in his own right, is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the immortal classic by Bunyan.

The conference closed with a vigorous challenge from Mr. R.F. Gates. Mr. Gates is an itinerant evangelist who serves as an elder in the Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana. He called attention to our Lord’s dealings with the demoniac of Gadara. God used this message to send everyone away with a focused zeal and a burning conviction to obey the Lord of the church and be witnesses for him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.

The Eleventh Annual Southern Baptist Founders Conference is scheduled to convene once again on the campus of Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama July 27th through 30th, 1993 (D.V.). The conference theme will be “Ministers and Ministry.” Dr. John MacArthur, senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, will be the keynote speaker. Inquiries may be addressed to:

The Southern Baptist Founders Conference
P.O. Box 150931
Cape Coral, FL 33915