"We're on the Same Team!"
Or, I guess you could say, “We’re on the same page.” That was the heartfelt proclamation of Dr. Frank Page as he spoke in his first seminary chapel service since becoming president of the Southern Baptist Convention. For those looking for some breaking news, well, there were no fireworks or chapel speakers gone wild, nor has there been a typed up manuscript (though I will attempt to provide some cliff notes). Furthermore, the chapel message has been made available, so you do not need to look for a press release explaining one’s trouble for someone else’s trouble with TULIP. Actually, from what I can tell, the chapel service went quite well, and I hope that Dr. Page felt welcomed and appreciated for the good work he is doing in representing us before the world as well as signaling change in our convention. Page’s message was entitled “Changing That Which We Can Change” with the sermon text as Philippians -20. He began by asking the question, “Is there anything we can change or have impact within the sovereign will of God?” To that Page answered with an unqualified “yes.” Again, he asked, “Are there aspects in our lives which we can control in the changing circumstances of our lives?” And to that Page replied again with an unqualified “yes.” So how does one exactly do this, one might ask? Page answers by showing us that it is through our mindset, motive, and methodology. Page shared that Paul’s perspective (mindset) of his imprisonment (vs. 12-14) wasn’t a matter of limitation but of liberation, for it caused others to be set free from fear and proclaim the gospel with boldness. It was also an opportunity to take the gospel to those in prison. Under the providence of God, God takes us to various circumstances and places for the progress of the gospel and for the purpose of his glory. As Page iterated, “No matter where I am, what I am doing, or what happens to me, I want to bring glory to Christ and proclaim his gospel.” To that I heartedly say, “Amen!” Page also explained that Paul’s purpose (motive) was a singular devotion to Christ (vs. 15-18); however, this devotion was not met without enemies. There will be those who will have the wrong motives in their ministry, fostering envy, rivalry, and strife. Page added, “What I want to know is, ‘Are you bringing glory to Christ?’” He continued the line of questioning and examination, asking, “Why do you do what you do? Do you have a secret agenda?” Bringing denominational application to the surface, Page readily responded, “We do not own the convention, and we cannot control it. For those who have the mindset that ‘I own it’ with follow up with the motive that says ‘I can control it.’” Giving the historical illustration of the differences of Wesley and Whitefield, Page asserted that he had differences with Dr. Mohler, but quickly added, “But we are on the same team!” Wesley and Whitefield, though they had serious theological differences, were on the same team in the progress of the gospel; likewise, those who have differences should always remember that we are on the same team – for the progress of the gospel and for the glory of God. Finally, Page noted that Paul’s practice (methodology) mattered (vs. 19-20). It was Paul’s prayer that whatever he did, it was to be in a way that will bring glory to Christ. Page emphasized that it does matter what your methodology is and that some churches are adopting methodologies today that are not bringing glory to Christ. He asks the probing question, “Will the way you do what you do bring glory to God?” In conclusion, he reminded us that we seek to change what can be changed. And it is time to let the world know what we are for, not just what we are against.
I was really encouraged by Dr. Page’s message. I believe we should come together for the gospel and the glory of God. This is where my heart lies. I am also encouraged to see the direction Dr. Page has taken in the early stages of his presidency, calling our convention to brokenness and repentance, seeking to revive a spirit of cooperation and unity in the midst of an increasingly divided convention. The days and months ahead will be difficult days, demanding wisdom from God and requiring the prayers of God’s people on his behalf. I encourage you to join me in praying for Dr. Page as he seeks to lead us in the days ahead.
On another note, I want to add a fourth point to his sermon. I believe that Paul needed to have the right mindset, motive, and methodology, but he also believed it was necessary to have the right message. As those who have been entrusted with the gospel, it is imperative that we get it right, for we are living in a day where the gospel is quickly being lost in our churches. We should not just be concerned about the extent of the gospel (in its breadth) but also the content of the gospel (in its depth). In other words, we should not only focus our attention on the progress of the gospel but also the status of the gospel. Again and again, this was one of Paul’s greatest concerns as he was aware that many were either tempted to believe “another gospel” or were likely to “turn away from the truth and wander off into myths” after having their ears tickled. In many
Page and others have shared their concerns about Calvinism and its impact on our churches, but if we are on the same team, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. I don’t understand so many who are anti-Reformed have sought to publish articles either in
Yes, put me down, I am on the same team with Dr. Page. I hope that we, who are in “the Reformed hotbed” are treated as such (as well as those throughout our convention). I believe our greatest days are ahead in our convention as further reform, by God’s grace, will continue to take place in our churches, and I look forward to laboring with my brothers and sisters for the progress of the gospel which we have received, in which we stand, and in which we are being saved.