November 16, 2012
ORLANDO—God’s revelation puts missions in the center of the Christian life as “we must deliberately decide to deliver the gospel to the lost world,” John Sullivan told messengers during the Tuesday afternoon session at the Florida Baptist State Convention in Orlando.
“Intentionality in our witness must treat all persons as lost without Christ. The gospel demands outreach to the poverty pockets and to the prosperity pockets,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, is asked each year to preach a doctrinal sermon by the Committee on Order of Business that plans the convention program. The year, he emphasized the doctrine of missions found in Hebrews 1:1-4.
The only way to reach or change the world is the church, Sullivan said, which he identified as a “living organism ordained by God to reach lost mankind.
“God knows that the deepest love is built not on passion and romance but on a common mission, a decisive commitment and willing sacrifice,” he explained.
That love is realized with the “creator being” sacrificed for the creation—“the highest possible love I can imagine,” Sullivan said. “God convincing man once and for all that forgiveness still follows failure.”
“It is the cross that unifies us and brings us into togetherness,” Sullivan added. “Missions is not crossing the sea, it is seeing the cross.”
If the people of God, as Baptists, do not get the theology of Jesus right, Sullivan said, “everything else becomes tilted and distorted.”
“A distorted Jesus produces a distorted cross,” Sullivan claimed, which in turns produces distorted redemption; distorted discipleship and churches. “Distorted churches will never change a distracted world.”
Sullivan said God had spoken fundamentals of Biblical theology through the prophets: Isaiah on holiness; Hosea on forgiveness; Amos on justice; Daniel on protection; Jonah on an obedient heart; and Jeremiah on nearness of God.
He revealed himself in a promise to Abraham; a vision to Jacob; a dream to Joseph as well as signs, wonders, miracles and gifts.
If God “talked” of the fundamentals, Sullivan said, Jesus “walked” those fundamentals of faith by radiating the glory of God; reflecting the image of God; upholding the power of God; and purged through the atonement of God.
Unlike the gods of other world religions who died—Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, Mary Baker Eddy and Charles Russell, Jesus Christ died but is alive, said Sullivan. “He is as alive as He was 2,000 years ago.”
Sullivan concluded, “We must pay attention to Jesus as the center of theology. And never let slip the sufficiently and supremacy of Jesus Christ.”