|by Henry T. Blackaby||Return to Articles|
With America on the verge of God’s judgment, God’s people hold America’s future in their hands, Henry Blackaby during Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s annual Church Music Workshop.
“We are right in the middle of an incredible moment when I think … God has turned His face from His people,” said Blackaby, author of the best-seller “Experiencing God,” said in a three-part chapel series during the Feb. 17-19 gathering at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary.
Blackaby spoke from Deuteronomy 31 and 32, emphasizing the song given to Moses in chapter 32 to give to the people of Israel to keep them walking faithfully with God and give them direction back to Him when they had lost their way..
“What song [today] is a plumb line about God and his mighty deeds that when you sing [it], it immediately brings you under conviction for sin?” Blackaby asked. “Or are we creating songs that avoid that completely?”
The people to whom the song was given were the ones God had designed to be the instrument in His hands to transform the rest of the world, Blackaby said. “But when their heart departs, God departs,” he said.
An estimated 7 million people across America currently are praying for revival, Blackaby said. Additionally, several thousand people are fasting for 40 days and asking for revival in the nation.
“Why does revival tarry?” Blackaby asked. After all, “We have been told that if you can get 2 million people praying for revival, God is bound to do it, or if you can get a million people fasting for 40 days, God is bound to bring revival. Well, if He does not [bring revival], we better ask Him why. But I do not hear anybody asking why.”
Defining idolatry as “fashioning God after what we want Him to be, so that He is no longer the God of the Bible,” Blackaby said an incredible amount of idolatry runs across the evangelical Christian community. He illustrated his point by noting that in asking numerous people the question, “When was the last time you heard a message on hell?” only a handful could recall such a message.
“You want to know why we don’t hear a message on hell? It is not seeker-friendly. Folks, if you go to be seeker-friendly and you are not God-friendly, God will indict you.”
The Bible can be an idol, Blackaby said, when Christians make the Scriptures reflect how they want God to be instead of who He really is. For example, Luke 19:10 says that the Son of Man came to “seek and to save what was lost.” This passage is almost universally interpreted as applying to unsaved people, Blackaby said. But, he noted, Jesus gave this teaching when quoting from Ezekiel 34 and therefore He was addressing believers rather than unbelievers.
“When God’s people are not repenting, then they are not the instruments through which God can touch a lost world,” Blackaby said.
Christians are often theological conservatives but practical atheists, Blackaby said in the second message of his series Feb. 18.
“Our problem is not in our doctrinal correctness,” Blackaby said. “Our problem is that we are not living it. And doctrinal correctness according to the Scripture is not head knowledge. It is heart knowledge.”
Even though the Pharisees were doctrinally correct, Blackaby noted, their hearts were far from God.
“Your life must be the incarnation of every message you preach,” he said.
Blackaby compared the Israelites described in Deuteronomy to present-day ministers who let the world shape their ministry rather than let their ministry shape the world.
A holy minister will look to the Word of God in every circumstance, Blackaby said, urging the seminarians to begin focusing on the Bible during their time at Southwestern. The Bible should be their most studied book, he said.
“It is not the manuals of men or the conversations in the back room that are your guide. It is this book,” Blackaby said as he lifted his Bible. “When you are in class, always ask the professors, ‘What Scripture is the basis of what you just said?’”
In his final message of the series, Blackaby reminded that God commanded Moses to teach the Israelites the song found in Deuteronomy 32 to address their propensity to forget about their covenant relationship with God. The song commands that God’s deeds be remembered.
“You cannot guide a congregation unless you know what God has been doing before you go there,” he said.
To illustrate, Blackaby emphasized the importance of studying the history and origins of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Program channel of missions and ministry support. “The Cooperative Program is not something men designed, but something God put together,” Blackaby said.
The songs Christians sing today should take the same progression of the song God gave the Israelites in remembrance of all His mighty acts, Blackaby said.
“Let the people know that the God they serve is still in place. The God who led them across the Red Sea and took them across the river Jordan, defeated every enemy that came against them, provided for all their needs, is the same God we worship on Sunday.
“Have we forgotten the cross? Well then sing it. And let the singing of the magnitude of the love of the cross come through. … Sing the truth of God into the mouths and hearts of the people of God,” Blackaby said.
Blackaby concluded his series with a challenge: “The Holy Spirit is a flawless teacher and He is fully in place to bring all of His people dead-center into a relationship with God for this our day,” he said. “America is in a terrible condition and God’s people are making a negligible difference. But you can make a great difference. You can stay very close to the Word of God and remember the mighty deeds of God.”