Matthew 16:18

On this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. 

Foundation —is the word of Jesus Christ
Inevitable—God is the one who will make it happen
Intimate—my church—it belongs to God—not mine or yours
Invincible—the gates of Hell shall not prevail.

(This is the transcript of a Sermon by Dr. Ron Bradley delivered from the pulpit at First Baptist Church Roswell, GA, November 3, 2002 during the morning service .)

Everyone needs to listen very closely. FBR is a fundamental church.  We believe in the 5 basic fundamentals of the Christian Faith from which we will not deviate or compromise.  But we are not a fundamentalistic church.  Here’s what I mean.  There are 5 Christian fundamentals—

1.   The Bible is the Word of God. Truth without mixture of error. The record of God’s revelation to mankind— 2 Tim.3:16: All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for reproof for correction for instruction in righteousnessTells us what to believe and how to behave.

2.   The virgin Birth of Jesus Christ. Matthew 1:20-21: Joseph, son of David, Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit and she will bring forth a Son and you shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins 

3.   Substitutionary Death of Jesus on the cross. Heb. 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

4.   Literal resurrection of Jesus.  He was not just resuscitated, he arose.  Matt 28:6 He is not here he is risen come see the place where they laid him

5.   Second coming of Christ.  If I go to prepare a place for you then I will come again to receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also.

These are our 5 fundamentals that we believe at First Baptist Roswell.  But that does not make us a fundamentalistic church.  Nor does that make you a fundamentalistic Christian.  To state that everyone must interpret all scripture in the same way you do, is to be a fundamentalist.  There are many passages of Scripture which are open for different interpretations upon which our faith does not hinge.   

A FUNDAMENTALIST CHURCH IS ONE WHICH SAYS THAT ALL MUST AGREE WITH THEIR INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE OR ELSE THEY ARE WRONG.  Not that they are different but that they are wrong.  Some go so far as to say they don’t believe the Bible.  They aren’t even Christian because they have a different interpretation. 

You can be a fundamental Christian without being a fundamentalist.  The “ist” makes all the difference in the world.   

Other Southern Baptist Churches may decide to be fundamentalistic, but that is simply their right to choose.  But all Southern Baptist Churches do not have to be fundamentalistic to be a Bible believing, growing, mission supporting part of the Kingdom of God.  To be excluded when you are a fundamental church hurts, divides, and polarizes our denomination and the kingdom of God. 

WE ARE A TRUE AND FAITHFUL FUNDAMENTAL SOUTHERN BAPTIST CHURCH, REGARDLESS WHAT OTHERS CHOOSE TO DO OR WHERE THEY CHOOSE TO GO OR HOW THEY CHOOSE TO BE GOVERNED.  We are fundamental in our Biblical beliefs and faithful to time honored Baptist beliefs.  The heart of a church is not agreeing with each other; it is believing in each other.  The question is not how do I fit in, but how do we fit together?

What the Lord wants more than our being right about every theological doctrine he wants us to be right in our relationship with each other. 

“Make them one as you and I are one” Jesus prayed in John 17   

First Baptist Roswell, after the model of our Lord Jesus Christ, is inclusive rather than exclusive.  Our emphasis is on the fact that there are only 2 kinds of sinners in the world: there are saved sinners and lost sinners.  We are of the saved variety thanks to the grace of Jesus Christ.  WE come to others as beggars telling other beggars where we found bread.  We are wounded healers who have been saved only because of the goodness of Jesus Christ.

When other groups are targeted as objects of our evangelistic efforts it has a tendency to make us look arrogant religious snobbery, sanctimonious, and judgmental. And because Jesus was accepting of people just as they are so he could make them into what he desires them to be, so do we.

For it is our cardinal belief that acceptance does not mean or imply approval.

Our acceptance of persons does not mean that we approve their sin or their lifestyle

As apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22. I become all things to all men that I might by all means save some.  Paul accommodated, meaning he walked along side of those who were different.  Not that he compromised his beliefs, but that he came along side that he might win them to Christ. 

We will never give up what is right for what sells.  To move from being reactionary to being constructive—in a culture standing on an empty stage with an open microphone. This postmodern age is massive opportunity to make a difference.

First Baptist Roswell is a purpose-driven church not a program promoting church.  We are a great commission church.  Jesus said, Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father the son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I command you, and low I am with you always even to the end of the age.  The church’s future is based on her mission.  This is our mission statement printed on the front of your worship guide.  Sharing Jesus Christ with those who don’t know him, nurturing and growing those who do It is a threefold mission:  Helping people to believe, to belong and to become.  People are asking three questions in this world,”Do I matter to God?”  Do I Matter to You?  Do I matter to Others? We build on people, not programs. Not just what kind of things are we trying to do? But what kind of people are we trying to build? We are less concerned about making church full of people and more concerned about making people full of God.

In a summary statement:  we are staff led, we are deacon served; we are committee organized, and we are congregationally approved. 

In a few words that is who we are; now where are we going?  What is our vision?  Bill Hybels defines vision as a picture of the future that produces passion. The benefit of vision is that it provides focus.

We have the vision of reaching people for Jesus Christ who fervently, urgently, with zeal and passion seek to reach our community, state, nation, and world for Jesus Christ.  Those who will be involved on mission purpose-filled lives of serving others in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Nothing neutralizes the redemptive potential of a church faster than trying to be all things to all people.  It is impossible for any one church to do it all. 

We can’t include everything. If you want a romantic dinner, tablecloth, candlelight and cloth napkins, it’s not McDonalds.  It’s not part of their vision. 

We are not attempting to be all things to all people.  One mistake churches make is trying to be like everyone else.  We don’t need to be clones.  We’ve got to be authentic…to reflect who we are, who God is calling us to be.  WE are committed to building on our strengths and working on our weaknesses. 

We have one essential product: a changed human being.  Different from business— their goal is not to change the customer, not to educate the customer; it is to satisfy the customer.  The power of business is limited.  All they can actually do is rearrange the yard markers on the playing field of life.  They can’t change a human heart.  Can’t heal a wounded soul. Can’t turn hatred into love. They can’t bring about repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace.  Hospitals change the sick into well, school the uneducated into the educated, church lost into found, dead into alive. Perishing into the living.

Only one power exists on this planet that can do that.  It’s the power of the love of Jesus Christ, the love that conquers sin and wipes out shame and heals wounds and reconciles enemies and patches broken dreams and ultimately changes the world, one life at a time.  And what grips my heart everyday is the knowledge that the radical message of that transforming love has been given to the church.

This means that the future of the world rests in the hands of local congregations

A church that measures its success by the dirt on our member’s hands.  Jesus’ act of worship was washing dirty feet, providing the key model for us.  Look at our hands.  How dirty are they? We are not committed to keeping our hands clean, but getting them dirty in redemption work.  We can be no better than Jesus. 

We are a church that will reach those who desire to worship the Lord in a positive, relevant, creative style of worship. 

A church filled with those who come to worship expecting to give rather than to get. We resist the idea that the basic point of worship is to come and get what I like or what I want or to be entertained.  We come in response to what God has already done for us by saving us in sacrifice and grace of our Lord Jesus on the cross.  Where worship is not about style but about having a true encounter with a living Jesus Christ.  Where we know we are helpless before God and we know we are nothing without Him.  When God’s people choose deliberately to stand before God, what happens? God sees, God hears, God responds and the outcome is awesome.  Worship is not a static experience. It is dynamic.  It is changing and growing.  God is worthy of the finest worship any of us is capable of offering to Him.  A human skull is set in size by the age of 10, but our ears never stop growing until the day we die. 

Worship is not about me…worship is about God.

Those who believe in the power of traditional hymns, inspiration of a choral anthem, thrill of a pipe organ and a church orchestra and ringing of handbells, and sounds of a children’s choir.  Those who love a church that looks like a church, a church where they are not afraid to unashamedly pass an offering plate. The best analogy is the popularity of the new Volkswagen Beetle and the Chrysler PT Cruiser.  Best of the old and the freshness, sharpness of the new. 

Those who believe in the value of a family worshiping together in the same service.  Where children are not segregated into another part of the facility for age appropriate services.   There are some things learned more by experience than by thought process.  A child watching mom and dad sing, bow their heads, pass the plate, take notes on the sermon, listen to the choir, hear the organ and handbells and orchestra, feel the power of the Holy Spirit present in an hour of worship.  To worship as one family in one place—is that easy? No! Is it important? Supremely.   

We will reach those who believe in intergenerational church—where grandparents worship with grandchildren.  Young adults with empty nesters.

Singles with married.  Those in wheel chairs with teens.  Pastor can’t lead at the pace of the fastest sheep in the flock—leaving behind the aged weak, or sick.  We lead the slowest sheep as well.  We are not going to be the church of what’s happening now! 

Our vision is to reach those who value small individual Sunday School classes where children/youth, everyone is taught by lay people who love enough to give their Sunday morning to teaching the future generation—not to entertain but to teach—to interact—to love.

Our vision is to reach those who believe in the importance of each individual being known by name by the ministerial staff, and volunteer Sunday School teacher and other members.

We are a church that believes in being involved not just being spectators.   High touch/low commitment.  But that is not First Baptist Roswell.

Jesus said, If anyone would follow me let him deny himself; take up his cross daily and follow me.  To take up our cross is to do the will of God even at the expense of ourselves.   To personally start a mouth to mouth epidemic of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Where the pastor who is not your CEO but who is your shepherd, who leads you, walks along side of you, sometimes pushes you, leads you, always heals you, who dedicates your baby, performs your daughter’s wedding, who baptizes your teenage son, who memorializes your grandmother, who visits in your home, who is available within days for spiritual counseling, who teases your teenager.   

  • Personally reaching a changing world with timeless truth and progressive, evolving traditional worship.
  • We are seeking to be a church of people
  • Radically devoted to Jesus Christ
  • Relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside God’s family with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Irrevocably committed to each other
  • It would be a church against which the gates of Hell could not prevail!
  • It would be an unstoppable force for good in the community
  • An inspiration to other churches and a testimony to God’s unfailing grace.  Bill Hybels.

An entire world out there of people whom we come in contact every week, longing searching, hoping praying to find a church like this—Where they can hear the world of God proclaimed in a compassionate, challenging, accepting atmosphere of grace.  Personally in a changing world the timeless truth in an exciting, progressive, accepting, compassionate, relevant manner.

This is the picture of the future we believe God has given us; this is what we’re going to do; this is why we’re going to do it and we will be developing how we’re going to do it.  And if we all pray like crazy and link arms together and stay focuses on our mission, we will be a different and better church one year from now. And 5 years from now and 10 years from now.

Bill Hybels had just finished presenting a weekend message at Willow Creek, talking to people.  A young married couple approached him, placed a blanketed bundle in his arms and asked him to pray for their baby. 

Just as he asked the mother the baby’s name, the mother pulled back the blanket uncovering the infants severely deformed face.  His knees began to buckle and the father steadied him.  All he could say was “Oh my…oh my…oh my”.  Her name is Emily the mother said.  We’ve been told that she has about 6 weeks to live.  We would like you to pray that before she dies she will know and feel our love.”  They prayed.

As he handed the bundle back, he asked “Is there anything we can do for you, anyway the church can serve you during this tough time?”

“Bill, we’re okay. Our Bible study class knew our pregnancy had problems. Several members came over the night we learned the news, they were at the hospital when Emily was delivered.  They helped us absorb the reality of the whole thing. They even cleaned our house and fixed our meals when we brought her home.  They pray for us constantly and call us several times a day.  They are even helping us plan Emily’s funeral.”

Just then 3 other couples stepped forward and surrounded Emily and her parents.

“We always attend church together as a group.”  A tightly knit huddle of loving brothers and sisters doing their best to soften one of the cruelest blows life can throw.  After a group prayer, they all walked up the side aisle toward the lobby of the church building.  Where would that family be, where would they go, how would they handle this heartbreak, without the church?

There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right.  It’s power is breathtaking.  Its potential is unlimited. No other organization on earth is like the church.  Nothing even comes close.