Ralph Carter, president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention and pastor of Brushy Creek Baptist Church in Taylors, got right down to business at Charleston Southern University’s chapel service Oct. 30 by asking students, “How does a man get right with God?”
Carter said he knew that many students grew up in the Bible belt and knew the talk of leading someone to Christ: taking them down the Roman Road; the ABC plan (Admit, Believe, Confess); Revelation 3:20 with the picture of Jesus knocking on the door; or leading people in the sinner’s prayer.
“The problem is while we say those things all the time, Jesus never once said those things,” said Carter. “It troubles me that we use that kind of verbiage to tell people how to be right with God.”
Carter said the trend became popular when the denomination made a big deal about how many baptisms churches had in a year. “We had many baptisms, but we have many people leading poor spiritual lives,” he said. “We’re not making any difference in their manner of living.”
In contrast, what did Jesus say about becoming a disciple? “He used two words: Follow me,” said Carter. “He was so irresistible and had such a persona that people got up and followed him.” Jesus also told his followers to deny themselves and take up their cross daily.
Carter challenged students to understand the commitment of following Jesus. “I am fearful we have come to a place where we romantically view the cross. It was grotesque; it was bloody; He said to them, you must be willing to die,” said Carter. “Faith is not lip service; it is not checking a card. Faith, when it is real, manifests itself in action.”
Carter said he wasn’t interested in how many people he has baptized. He is interested in how many people want to follow Jesus.