ROGERS – “That we would see and that we would savor the glory of Christ in salvation that would produce a grace-driven life” – that is how Brent Williams, pastor of True North Church in Anchorage, Alaska, summarized his message for those attending the Oct. 29 morning session of the 2013 Arkansas Baptist State Convention Annual Meeting held at Cross Church Pinnacle Hills in Rogers.
Williams referred to the parable of the good Samaritan found in Luke 10 and suggested that the character in the story most representative of those at the meeting was the man who was beaten and left for dead on the roadway.
“And when we look at our lives, without Christ, we’re on the side of the road, dead in sin,” he said. “We’re beaten and we’re bruised. We’re lost and we’re lonely. And we’re destined to be left for dead.”
He pointed to Romans 6:23, which begins, “For the wages of sin is death.”
“And if there is nothing else after that sentence, we are left without hope,” he said.
However, he pointed out that a key word follows that phrase – the word “but.”
The rest of the verse continues: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
He said on one side of the ‘but,’ people find themselves heading straight to hell; however, that one word changes everything.
“Because of that ‘but,’ we find a righteous, merciful, compassionate God, One who has rescued and One who has saved us. Because of that ‘but,’ I was lost, but now I’m found. Because of that ‘but,’ I was blind, but now I see,” he said.
Williams said he is convinced that nothing can propel or motivate a person to reach the lost world for Christ except that person coming face to face with the terms of his salvation – that Christ saved him and that it had nothing to do with his own merit. Salvation isn’t earned, Williams reminded listeners. It is only by God’s grace and mercy that He would love sinners.
Williams said once a person experiences the grace and mercy that he doesn’t earn or deserve, he is swept up in it and will do whatever it takes to reach the world with the gospel.
Looking again at the parable of the Good Samaritan, Williams pointed out three things that happen when Christians “live on the other side of the ‘but’”: their eyes are opened, their hands are opened and their hearts are opened.
“Our city needs groups of people who remember what it’s like to live on the wrong side of ‘but,’ a group of people who were beaten, bruised and left for dead but in God’s grace through Christ was rescued. That’s what your city needs. That’s what this state needs,” he said. “It needs a move of God in the heart of His people, who will be overwhelmed by grace, who will be captured and captivated by mercy they never deserved … that will allow them to do whatever it takes whenever it’s asked to reach the people who are far from God.
“May we be that people.”