Chitwood encourages, challenges messengers: ‘He’s coming soon’
November 1st, 2019 / By: Rob Collingsworth / comments
International Mission Board president Paul Chitwood addressed messengers and guests of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s annual meeting at their opening session Monday night, Oct. 28.
Chitwood expressed his gratitude for the generosity of SBTC churches through regular giving and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and he challenged the messengers of the 21stannual meeting with a sermon from Revelation 22 that describes the second coming of Christ.
Chitwood, who grew up as one of three sons being raised by a single father, was saved as a result of a home visit by the deacons of a local Southern Baptist church when he was young.
“When I was a boy growing up in the mountains of east Tennessee and Kentucky, I heard a lot about that day,” he said. “I recall there were a lot of sermons that had an excitement that was instilled in them as the preacher preached about the coming of the Lord. About the day when the sky would open up and Christ would come for his church. But I don’t hear that much preaching about that anymore.”
He said that he often hears people describe the day of the Lord as something that is exciting but will hopefully delay until after they can experience or accomplish something else.
“It’s as if we think there’s something that we would want to see happen here, something we want to experience, somewhere we want to go,” he said. “And those sort of things kind of infatuate and enchant us, even as we think about the coming of the Lord.”
Chitwood used the illustration of a wedding in which the bride, just as she prepares to walk down the aisle, looks at her father and tells him that although she desires to get married eventually, she wants to put it off for a while.
“When the church, the very bride of Christ, hears about his coming and our immediate thoughts begin to turn to what we want to do before he gets here, what else we wanted to experience, what else we wanted to see, might it be that we’ve fallen more in love with the created things than the Creator?” he continued.
He pointed out that in Revelation 22, John writes four times about the “soon coming of Christ.”
“There is an urgency to the work that he has given us, and we ought not forget that he said, ‘I’m coming soon,’” Chitwood said. “What will it look like if our mission is colored by the urgency of Christ’s coming? It’ll look the way it ought to look, because he is coming.
“This is why the mission of the church must be approached with a sense of urgency,” Chitwood said. “This is why when we ask the question ‘Who’s your one?’ we can’t wait until next week or next month or next year. There must be a sense of urgency because his coming is imminent.”
Chitwood also pointed out the necessity to be evangelistic while we still have the opportunity.
“When he comes, the opportunity to repent will have passed,” he said. “And that’s why, brothers and sisters, urgency must rest upon us. A sense of urgency must color our preaching and drive us to the nations where there are still billions who have yet to hear, who have yet to know, who have yet to believe, and should the Lord come today they will be lost forever and spend eternity in hell. And his coming is imminent.”
The coming of the Lord is not only imminent, Chitwood said, but it is exclusive.
“He will not be coming for everyone on that day.”
Chitwood recounted the story of his selection to fill the presidency of the IMB and the conflict with his family’s adoption of a foster child in Kentucky. He and his wife would not be able to take her with them to Virginia until the process was finalized, but things were not moving forward despite numerous attempts to seek assistance.
“And day and night I called on heaven. I said, ‘Lord you’ve not given me this little girl for me to leave her here. Help us, Lord.’”
On the day before he was to be announced to the public as the IMB’s presidential candidate, he finally received a call from his adoption attorney with a date to finalize the adoption and bring his daughter to their new home.
“How much more the God of heaven will refuse to leave his own. And yet the Lord has left his church here. He didn’t save us and take us to heaven. He could have. But he left us here. Why?” he asked. “Because there’s a mission. The very mission of God that he’s called us to be a part of and we are to be the advocates—those who are crying out for a lost world.”
“Because he is coming, and he is not coming for everyone, and there is more at stake than we could ever imagine,” Chitwood said. “Church, we have a mission and it is urgent. Who’s your one? Christ is coming. His coming is imminent, his coming is exclusive. But I also want you to know his coming is good.”
“He’s only coming for those who are his, those who have heard, those who have believed, those who are adopted. That’s why you’re here. You’re here for them. And there’s no time to waste. He’s coming soon.”
Chitwood ended with a call to prayer and for each in attendance to identify one person in their life with whom to share the gospel.