CHATTANOOGA — The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing powerful enough to change a nation plagued by increasing depravity and moral decadence, Fred Luter told messengers to the Tennessee Baptist Convention Nov. 13.
Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, was the final speaker at this year’s TBC annual meeting in the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Luter said that he was ashamed about a lot of things in the United States, including racism, abortion, politicians more concerned with personal agendas than the nation’s welfare, jealousy among churches and pastors, hypocrisy among believers, child pornography, and violence in schools.
“There is something that I am not ashamed of,” Luter said.
“And that is, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.”
Luter challenged TBC messengers to preach, sing, teach, and live the gospel so that unbelievers can know the difference its transforming power can make in their lives.
Preaching from Romans 1:16-17, Luter said it doesn’t take a biblical scholar to know that these are perilous times in a nation plagued by unbiblical views of marriage, school shootings, and growing disrespect for adults in authority, among other problems.
“What’s it going to take to change the lives in America?” Luter asked. “What’s it going to take to change the morals in America?”
Like most people in the room, Luter said it was the gospel that made the difference in his life.
“I believe that somewhere along the line, you heard the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “After hearing the gospel, you accepted the gospel. Your life and my life was transformed by the power of the gospel.”
If God has previously changed the lives of so many people who once rejected Him, Luter asked, “Why can’t God do the same thing for those knuckleheads in our streets and communities?”
Luter cited four reasons from the passage why the word of God can change lives. The first reason was that the gospel is personal.
Luter asked if people had ever been in a church service and felt like they had a bull’s eye on their chest after hearing the Bible preached. That’s evidence of how personal the gospel can be, Luter said.
The gospel is also powerful, Luter said.
“The Word of God is the only thing I know that can penetrate years of sin and save a lost soul,” he said, emphasizing that the gospel can save bullies, child abusers, unfaithful spouses, and anyone who believed it.
Luter added that the gospel is practical, meaning it can be received by anyone no matter their age, race, religion, language or economic status, and it is persistent.
God’s Word is crucial if Christians are to make an impact on the nation and its cities and communities, Luter said, arguing that cultural change will not come from Republicans, Democrats, Congress or any other source. When everything else fails, the Word of God will remain standing, and it will continue to exist, exhort, and endure.
“No matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve gone through, you can always depend on the gospel,” he said.