With his annual meeting theme of "Revive Us," drawn from John 13:34-35, Luter invoked his lyrical oration style as he called on the Lord to use Southern Baptists to birth revival.
"Therefore my cry tonight is Lord, revive us. Lord, revive us. Lord, revive us that we may one. My brothers and my sisters, my heart's desire, this committee's desire, the Executive Committee's desire, is that we will cry out to God," Luter said, "'Lord, revive us that our churches may be one, that our conventions may be one, that our denomination may be one.
"Lord, revive us and make us one like the early believers in Acts 2 where the Scripture says that the believers and Jesus Christ were all together in one accord, in one place. Let me say that again," Luter said, "that the believers were all together in one accord, in one place and as a consequence, because they were all together in one accord, in one place, the Bible says they turned the world upside down."
The attentive crowd often responded with hand claps, amens and other affirmations, praising God and encouraging Luter during the 40-minute sermon.
Luter referenced 2 Timothy 3 in describing today's perilous times and turned to 2 Chronicles 7:14 in challenging messengers to lead the nation in accepting and modeling God's Word.
"What a tragic picture of the society that we're living in. What a tragic depiction of our state. What a tragic portrayal of our nation," Luter said, reflecting on the Timothy passage. "However ... the thing that truly upsets me about this tragic portrayal of our society is simply this -- what difference is the church making in this darkness?"
The roadblock to a revival, Luter said, may be that the lost world does not see Christians loving one another with the unconditional love of Christ that they profess.
"Could it be that a lot of folk do not see us loving each other?" Luter asked. "Is it possible that the reason some of the folk that we work with, that we hang out with, that we have coffee with at Starbucks, that we golf with, that we shop with, could it be that a lot of those folks are lost because they don't see the body of Christ loving one another?
"Could it be that the reason that lost friend, that lost relative, that lost co-worker, that lost neighbor, that lost classmate have not yet turned from darkness to light is because they don't see us as the body of Christ getting along? Friend, how is it that we say we love God, whom we've never seen, yet don't speak to our brother and sister that we see every day?"
Including the humor present in most of his sermons, Luter repeated the quaint saying, "To live above with those we love will certainly be glory. To live below with those we know, that's a whole 'nother story."
"If we want to see God revive us that we may be one, we must have a love for the Scriptures; Southern Baptists, we must have a love for the Savior; and finally, we must have a love for the saints," he said, adding that he appreciates that Southern Baptist have long loved the Bible.
Divisions among Southern Baptists must end, Luter said, to show the world a soul-saving love.
"Because of our love for the Scriptures, we've had some strong discussion among us. Because of our love for the Scriptures, about our beliefs or what we believe in, we've had some certain things that we've had different opinions about," Luter said. "However, my brothers and sisters, the problem is while we're debating these topics, while we're discussing these topics, while we're arguing about these topics, lost men, women, boys and girls are dying and going to hell every single day.
"While we are arguing about these topics and debating about these topics, America is going to hell every day. We have lost folk who are burning in a lake of fire, while many of us are debating about which hose to pick up to put the fire out."
"We do not have time for debate. We do not have time for discussion. The Word of God says 'for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.'
"Our world needs to know that Jesus saves from the guttermost to the uttermost," Luter said. "So let's acknowledge the fact that there are some topics, let's acknowledge the fact that there are some issues that we just will never see eye to eye on.
"Therefore for the sake of those who are lost, for the sake of those who are dying and on their way to hell -- many in your city and many in my city, many in your town and many in my town -- let's find the hose that's closest to us and use it to put out the sin-sick fire of those who are lost and on their way to hell.
"In other words, Southern Baptists, let's make the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is that all of us must carry out the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by going into all the world and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Luter, who was elected Tuesday to a second term as the first African American SBC president, called on Southern Baptists to love across lines and categories that have been divisive.
"My brothers and my sisters, if we want to see God send revival in the Southern Baptist Convention, I dare you -- I'm from New Orleans, the Lower 9th Ward -- I double dare you to start having a genuine, authentic love for each other," Luter said. "Not just those who are in your group, not just those who are in your inner circle, not just those who are in your clique, I'm talking about all the saints of God that call ourselves Southern Baptists.
"That saint sitting to your left, do you really love him? That saint sitting to your right, that saint sitting in front of you, do you really love them? Those saints who love contemporary music, do you really love them? Those saints who love traditional music, do you really love them? Those saints who love praise songs, do you really love them?
"Those saints who are Calvinist, do you really love them? Those saints who are not Calvinist, do you really love them? Those saints who love just a King James Version of the Bible ... do you love them? Those saints who love the Holman Christian Standard Bible, do you love them? Those saints whose churches ... have Baptist in their name, do you love them? Those churches that don't have Baptist in their name, do you love them?
"The question of the hour, my brothers and my sisters, do we really love the saints of God," Luter asked. "Do you love the saints of God enough to work together to impact lostness in America? Jesus says we should love each other like He loved us, and He loved us so much that he died for us"
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' staff writer. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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