by Emily Grooms and Norm Miller
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews)—About 2,000 people attended Truett-McConnell College's three-day Spiritual Emphasis Week, Sept. 4-6, led by Dr. Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La.
Each day the crowds grew. And each day dozens of students crowded the platform as they answered God's call. Several students came to faith in Christ – some through the additional witness of other students.
Known for his engaging style of biblical exposition, Luter drew applause several times from enthusiastic crowds gathered in TMC's Athletic Complex, which underwent recent upgrades to host chapel services for a growing student body.
On day one, Luter drew from Ephesians 1.15-17, emphasizing the importance of a Christian's relationships. "Out of all the relationships that you maintain in your life, which one would you say is your most important relationship?" he asked.
He then cited three ways a relationship with God is developed: 1) a relationship with the Savior, 2) a relationship with the saints, and 3) a relationship with the Spirit of God.
"None of these relationships is more important than the one with your Savior," Luter said, noting the Ephesians had faith in their Father, not earthly things.
Luter noted the second relationship aligns with the first. "If we are going to have a relationship with Him, we've got to have a genuine and authentic relationship with other believers." Those who love the Savior cannot help but have a genuine relationship with His saints, he said.
The final relationship sustains the first two, added Luter, saying that to have a relationship with the Savior and the saints, "you have to have a relationship with the Spirit," Luter said. "The Holy Spirit helps you do things you cannot do by yourself."
And that includes "the power to have relationships," he said.
Day two featured a sermon titled "Who's your Daddy?" as Luter preached from John 8.37-47.
"Ever wonder why you do some of the things you do?" Luter asked. "That may be because of who your father is," he said. Luter quickly grabbed attendees' attention by saying, "If God is your Father, it will be evident by the things you do." Luter then cited three evidences of God being a Christian's Father: 1) "You would love like your Father," 2) "You would live like your Father," and 3) "You would listen to your Father."
Luter stated Christian's love should look like God's: unconditional. "We love because of," Luter said. "God loves in spite of."
"Our relationship with God is predicated by our conduct," he said. "You can tell if you're related to God by the things you do."
Just as sons imitate their fathers, believers should imitate God, he said.
"When you know who your daddy is, you will listen and stand on His word," Luter said, affirming his last point. "When we discover who our Father is and begin to love like Him, look like Him, and listen to Him, amazing things will happen and you'll start looking like your Father."
Having challenged listeners to evaluate their relationship with God, and focused on common characteristics that proved one's relationship with God the Father, Luter wrapped the three-day affair by preaching from John 10.7-11 a sermon titled "The Ultimate Battle."
"The reason it's an ultimate battle is because it's the battle for your soul," Luter said, offering three points from the text: 1) The Shepherd's Provision, 2) The Serpent's Plan, and 3) The Shepherd's Promise.
"Jesus reminds us no matter what the battle is that He will be to us whatever we need him to be in life," Luter said.
The Serpent's plan is different: "The enemy will convince you to fall into sin so he can kill your testimony. The enemy will do everything in his power to destroy; but we have the good Shepherd who protects us, Luter said.
The good Shepherd has come to give us abundant life, adding, "The serpent takes but our Savior gives," Luter said. "The Ultimate battle is a battle we can win because of what Jesus has done."