LIFE CHANGING SERMONS BIOGRAPHIES
We are excited about the publication of this new series of sermons on audio. The term “preach” and “preaching” are used at least 129 times in the New Testament. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21).
The messages we have selected are indeed “Life Changing.” These are messages that have had a great influence in our own Christian lives. This is especially true for the featured messages by Bruce Lackey, J.B. Buffington, M.H. Reynolds, James Crumpton, Donald Waite, Ron Comfort, and Ron and Don Williams of the Hephzibah House.
These men are as different from one another as can be. Doctrinally they are very close, but in spiritual gifting, personality, demeanor, and emphasis they are individuals. God uses different kinds of men to accomplish His purposes, and we should refuse to be caught up in personality cults and rather appreciate and glean from a variety of men, as long as they are faithful to Jesus Christ and His Word.
We are thankful that these men do not desire nor seek idolization. The Bible teaches us “not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Cor. 4:6), and we take that seriously. These are humble men who know their limitations and who seek to glorify Jesus Christ and not their own selves. These preachers are like John the Baptist, who said of Christ, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
I do not think these men are anything like perfect. They are sinners saved by grace; they are probably wrong in some of their positions. But they also are men gifted by the Lord; men who have labored to develop those gifts and to be faithful and fruitful for their Master in a needy world and in an exceedingly destitute and apostate hour in history.
The following are biographical sketches of these men and some of the other preachers included on Way of Life’s “Life Changing Sermons” series.
BIOGRAPHIES OF OUR FEATURED PREACHERS
J.B. BUFFINGTON, a Baptist pastor and Bible conference preacher, was born in 1923 and was born again in the spring of 1942. He was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corp and flew B-17 bombers in World War II. He was called to preach in 1947 and attended Tennessee Temple College and Seminary, receiving a Master of Divinity degree in 1956. He pastored churches in Tennessee and Georgia before accepting the pastorate of Calvary Baptist Church in Lakeland, Florida, in 1963, where he enjoyed a long and fruitful ministry until his retirement in 1993. He and his wife Betty have five children and eight grandchildren. I was born and raised in Lakeland; and we were members of Calvary Baptist Church when we went to the mission field in February 1979, and Brother Buffington was our pastor. They gave us the last $500 we needed for our tickets to Nepal, and we were one of the 181 missionary projects that Calvary Baptist supported from 1979 to 1993. Each month we received Pastor Buffington’s sermons from the church on audiocassette. When we returned to Nepal in 2001, we were surprised to learn that these cassettes were still in storage and that most of them were still usable. Brother Buffington has traveled with an itinerant preaching ministry since his retirement in 1993; and we were delighted when he gave us permission to use the sermons that had been stored for all of those years in Nepal. On November 18, 2003, he wrote, “Feel free to publish the ten sermons and any other that you have. I praise the Lord for your faithfulness in writing and in your ministry here and Nepal. It is wonderful about the number of churches increasing! Give my regards to your wife and children. Praise the Lord for your children being missionaries!!!! May the Lord continue to use you and your family!” Brother Buffington’s messages are especially effective for spiritual encouragement and strength during trials, for building godly homes, for motivating the saint to fruitful Christian service. The messages are filled with Scripture, with practical teaching, and with bold exhortation. Those who listen to these sermons humbly will be better husbands, better wives, better servants, better soul winners, more zealous for holiness and spiritual fruit.
RON COMFORT is a Baptist evangelist who has traveled widely across North America and other parts of the world and is also the founder of Ambassador Baptist College in Lattimore, North Carolina. Dr. Comfort grew up in a Roman Catholic family and was saved at age 15 during a citywide evangelistic meeting in Asheville, North Carolina. He has been in evangelism since 1961 and has preached in well over 1,000 crusades. He founded Ambassador Baptist College in 1989 with the express purpose of training men and women in full-time Christian service. It is described as “an old-fashioned, preacher training college.” I first heard Dr. Comfort when I was a brand new Christian in 1973 and then many other times as a student at Tennessee Temple from 1974-1977. He preached at Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga frequently, and I loved his energetic, Bible-filled preaching from the first time I heard him. On occasions he would visit the dorm students and give words of wisdom to the preacher boys. In those days he was going blind with some sort of degenerative eye disease and he was memorizing large portions of Scripture so that he could continue to preach regardless of what happened with his physical sight. One of his challenges to the Bible school students was to memorize Scripture. I am one who took that challenge and memorized hundreds of verses beyond that which we were given as class assignments. The last time I saw him was 25 years later, in Singapore in 2002, and when I asked him if he is still memorizing Scripture, he replied, “Yes, definitely.” That is consistency! Another of his challenges to Bible school students in the 1970s was to be scripturally balanced, in doctrine and in practice. That is one of the things that has always attracted me to Brother Comfort. He preaches the Word of God straight and without apology but also with love and graciousness. He preaches boldly against error, but he also strives for the unity of the brethren insomuch as it lieth in him. I do not agree with him on every point in that realm, believing, for example, that he could be more outspoken against this or that man or for this or that issue; but I have a great respect for his desire to be scripturally balanced. This is a characteristic of the Bible College that he established in North Carolina. It holds many good and important scriptural positions but it is also characterized by a gracious Christian attitude. Too, it is not a man-centered institution, as, sad to say, some of the independent Baptist schools are. Brother Comfort is highly respected there but he is not idolized and he would not accept idolization. That is why I encouraged my youngest son to attend Ambassador when he graduated from high school in 2000, and I have not been disappointed.
JAMES CRUMPTON, a Baptist pastor and missionary statesman, was born in 1918 and born again in 1935 at age 17. He was an excellent baseball player in his teen years and could have pursued a career in the professional leagues, but God called him to preach instead. He attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary from 1939 to 1944 and began pastoring Westside Baptist Church in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1941, while still a student. He pastored the same church for more than 50 years. He left the Southern Baptist Convention in about 1960 because of liberal theology in the schools and the unscriptural missions program whereby the churches did not have direct contact with the missionaries. He started Maranatha Baptist Mission in 1961 to support independent Baptist missionaries. The first missionary that went out through Westside Baptist Church and Maranatha Baptist Mission was Mel Rutter, who later became the vice president of the mission. Through the years under Dr. Crumpton’s ministry, Westside Baptist Church saw 84 preachers and missionaries go out into the Lord’s harvest. By the early 1990s, Maranatha Baptist Mission had 200 missionaries in 40 countries. Dr. Crumpton was forced to retire in 1999 due to poor health. Dr. Crumpton was a great blessing to me as a young preacher. We were missionaries with Maranatha until 1983, when the Lord led us to conduct our ministry directly out of Tri County Baptist Church in Katy, Texas. When we first visited Natchez in 1978 to consider Maranatha, we were treated royally and with great Christian kindness even though we were “nobodies” and were “as poor as church mice.” We arrived in Natchez in our old automobile that a hillbilly friend in Tennessee had given us when we were married two years earlier, and we barely had a penny to our name. In those days we lived from hand to mouth and were totally dependant upon the love offerings of churches or the generosity of believers to get us from one place to another. We were invited to stay in the home of the late Mel Rutter, and we were delighted to be given a tour of Natchez by this old Southern gentleman. As we were leaving, Dr. Rutter said, “Don’t forget, son, to be as firm as the rock in your position and as sweet as the honey from the rock in your disposition.” That was wonderful advice. We had to look in several places to find some of Dr. Crumpton’s sermons. On Nov. 24, 2003, my secretary Lisa Cross wrote: “I’ve been working on this. Maranatha referred me to Dotty Lindsay (Dr. Crumpton’s daughter) in Texas. I spoke with her and her mother, Mrs. Crumpton, on the phone today. Dotty has power of attorney and granted permission for you to use Dr. Crumpton’s sermons. She will send permission in writing with the sermon ‘Jesus.’ The other titles I am still trying to track down. Mrs. said that Sammy Allen would have a lot of her husband’s sermons, so I will be getting in touch with him. Dr. Crumpton has Alzheimer’s, and Mrs. is being treated for cancer. She said she knows exactly who you are and you can do what you like with the sermons!” Dr. Crumpton’s sermon on “Jesus” is truly a classic.
BRUCE LACKEY (1930-1988) was a Baptist pastor, educator, and Bible conference preacher. He taught at Tennessee Temple in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for nineteen years and was the dean of the Bible school department from 1965 until he left there in the early 1980s. He trained many classes of “preacher boys” who revere his name to this day and who thank the Lord for the godly influence that this “man of the Book” had in their lives and ministries. I was one of those young men. My wife, Linda, also enjoyed Dr. Lackey’s teaching during her years at Temple from 1968 to 1972. She was single then. I did not arrive at Temple until 1974, because I did not get saved until the year prior to that when I was 23 years old. If I remember correctly, I had five courses under Dr. Lackey, New Testament Survey, Prophecy, Romans, Hebrews, and Revelation. Attending his Bible lectures was like sitting down to a top grade steak dinner every day! Sadly, the courses (to my knowledge) were not tape-recorded and have not been preserved for posterity. The messages that we are publishing by Brother Lackey were preached, for the most part, at Lakewood Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he pastored for eight years. (Dr. Lackey conducted our wedding at Lakewood on August 13, 1976.) Dr. Lackey had an exceptional gift of teaching and preaching the Bible. Though he was a profound Bible teacher and commentator, and though he studied his Greek Received Text New Testament every day, he always “put the cookies on the lower shelf” for the saints. His doctrine was always practical. His theology was not the theorizing, “arm chair” variety. He had the heart of a pastor and an evangelist and his goal was never to entertain or tickle the ears or to impress his hearers with his knowledge, but “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28). Dr. Lackey’s preaching is exceedingly challenging and edifying and has the effect of building Christians who are spiritually healthy and zealous for the service of God. His invitations were always searching, and he never assumed that his listeners were truly born again, even when he was preaching to the “faithful crowd” on Wednesday evening.
DAVID CLOUD was born in 1949 in Lakeland, Florida, and grew up in a Christian home. He made a profession of faith as a child, but there was no evidence of biblical repentance. During high school he stopped attending church and went very far out into the world. He lived the rock & roll lifestyle, hitchhiked across America, and spent time in jail for drug abuse and public drunkenness. By 1973 he had joined a Hindu society and was practicing meditation, but God’s mercy was great toward him and that summer the prayers of his parents and his godly maternal grandmother were answered and he was converted to Jesus Christ at age 23. A year later he began his studies at Tennessee Temple Bible School. Soon after arriving there he met Linda, his wife-to-be, but six weeks later she went to Nepal to be a missionary nurse. They corresponded for a year, got engaged by mail, and she returned to the States for their wedding in August 1976. The Clouds have four grown children, two of whom are missionaries. Brother Cloud wrote and printed his first book before he was one year old in Christ and founded Way of Life Literature formally in 1978. He has published more than 100 books and booklets in several languages. These include the Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity, Things Hard to Be Understood: A Handbook of Biblical Difficulties, Evangelicals and Rome, For Love of the Bible: The History of the Defense of the King James Bible from 1800 to Present, Myths about Modern Bible Versions, and Contemporary Christian Music Under the Spotlight. Since 1984 Brother Cloud has published the monthly O Timothy magazine, the aim of which is to help protect churches from end-time apostasy through carefully documented research articles and practical doctrinal preaching. The Clouds are missionaries in South Asia and have had the privilege of establishing two Baptist churches in one of the neediest parts of the world. In 2002, Brother Cloud began publish the Advanced Bible Studies Series. Currently there are 12 titles, including Bible History and Geography, Defense of the Faith, The Four Gospels, Give Attendance to Doctrine, A History of the Churches, How to Study the Bible, The New Testament Church, Understanding Bible Prophecy, The Book of Acts, The Pastoral Epistles, The Book of Romans, and The Book of Genesis.
DAVID OTIS FULLER (1903-1988). D.O. Fuller was saved at age 13 or 14 during a Chapman-Alexander (Wilbur Chapman and Charles Alexander) evangelistic meeting in Asheville, North Carolina. He graduated from Wheaton College and then from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. He was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree by Dallas Theological Seminary. One of his teachers at Princeton was Robert Dick Wilson, who was fluent in 45 languages and who dedicated his linguistic talent to the defense of the Bible against theological modernism. While at Princeton Dr. Fuller became convinced of the Baptist position as opposed to Presbyterian and was baptized in the First Baptist Church of New York City by Dr. I.M. Haldeman. At the time First Baptist was a stronghold of biblical fundamentalism. Fuller’s first pastorate was Chelsea Baptist church in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and he led the church out of the Northern Baptist Convention because of modernism and compromise. In 1934 Fuller became the pastor of Wealthy Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he pastored for the next 40 years. Shortly before Fuller arrived in Grand Rapids, Wealthy Street had helped establish the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, which was founded as a fundamentalist and a separatist organization. Dr. Fuller was on the GARBC’s Council of 14 for many years, and The Baptist Bulletin, which is the official voice of the GARBC, was founded at Wealthy Street. Fuller was on the board of the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism for 52 years and was a trustee of Wheaton College for 40 years. (When I asked Dr. Fuller in a letter in about 1983 how he could be on the board of a New Evangelical institution like Wheaton while at the same being associated with fundamentalist institutions, he took offense and threatened to cut off our correspondence! He never answered me on that one.) Fuller founded the Grand Rapids Baptist Institute at Wealthy Street. It was a ministry of the church for about 15 years, when it came under the auspices of the GARBC and became the Grand Rapids Baptist College. Today it has moved far from its staunch fundamentalist heritage and is called Cornerstone College. In 1942 Dr. Fuller co-founded the Children’s Bible Hour with “Uncle” Charlie Vandermeer and for 33 years was its chairman. In the 1950s Dr. Fuller began to study the Bible version issue. He had been taught at Princeton that the Westcott-Hort theories of modern textual criticism were true, but now he began to question this. He read James Jasper Ray’s God Wrote Only One Bible (1955). Fuller had met the famous fundamentalist preacher Philip Mauro when he lectured at Princeton, and Mauro was a defender of the King James Bible and the author of Which Version? (1924). Fuller began collecting materials going back to the early 1800s that debunk modern textual criticism and he eventually re-published many of these in three books, Which Bible (1970), True or False (1973), and Counterfeit or Genuine (1975). In describing these books in 1983, Dr. Fuller said, “There are nearly nine hundred pages of documented evidence that the King James Version is the nearest to the original manuscripts and is the most accurate, most authoritative of the versions” (“Dr. Fuller’s Fight for the Faith,” an interview with D.O. Fuller by Donald Waite, July 28, 1983, publication # 1151, Bible for Today, Collingswood, New Jersey). Contrary to the wild-eyed caricature that many have drawn of him, Dr. Fuller did not claim that the King James Bible was given by inspiration or that it could not be improved or changed. He claimed, rather, that it is the only reliable English translation of the preserved Greek and Hebrew text of Scripture. He differentiated plainly between improvements and errors. “We do not say that the KJV does not permit of changes. There are a number that could be and should be made, but there is a vast difference between a change and an error” (Fuller, Is the King James Version Nearest to the Original Autographs? nd., p. 1).
JACK MOORMAN, a Baptist pastor and missionary, has been a blessing to me particularly because of his writings on the Bible version issue. His faith-based position on the text is a blessing and encouragement, as is his kind Christian spirit. While he is inflexible in his stand for the truth he is always a Christian gentleman. He was born in 1941 and born again in February 1964 shortly after his marriage to his wife Dot. He attended Tennessee Temple Bible School from 1964 to 1967 and completed the four-year program by taking classes each summer. In 1968 the Moormans went to South Africa as missionaries with Baptist International Missions International (BIMI). During their 18 years there, they started five churches, a Bible institute, and a printing and tract ministry. It was also during his tenure in South Africa that Brother Moorman began researching and writing on the Bible text issue. He has written some very helpful books on that subject. In 1988, the Moormans relocated to England and involved themselves in an extensive tract distribution and church planting ministry. Brother Moorman attempts to go out onto the streets of London five afternoons a week distributing gospel tracts. Since 1994 the Moormans have established the Bethel Baptist Church in Wimbledon, south of London. These days they are seeking to get Scripture portions into France and possibly Spain, Portugal, and Italy. I didn’t get to meet Brother Moorman personally until 2001, when our paths crossed briefly at Heritage Baptist University in Greenwood, Indiana. I had the privilege of meeting him again and spending more time in fellowship on a visit to England in April 2003. It was thrilling to see how the Lord had blessed Bethel Baptist Church in the midst of that great, gospel-hardened, sin-cursed city.
DONALD WAITE, born in 1927, is a Baptist scholar and pastor and a fundamentalist leader who has written in the defense of the Received Text and the King James Bible since 1971. Dr. Waite has 118 semester hours (1,888 class hours) of training in the biblical and other foreign languages, plus countless hours of teaching and personal research in the use of these languages. He has two earned doctorates, including a Th.D. with honors in Bible Exposition from Dallas Seminary in 1955. Dr. Waite founded the Bible For Today (BFT) ministry in 1971 and has produced over 700 studies, booklets, cassettes, and VCR’s that he distributes through BFT, along with hundreds of titles by other men on a wide variety of subjects. [Bible for Today, 900 Park Ave., Collingswood, NJ 08108. 800-564-6109 (orders), 856-854-4452 (voice), 856-854-2464 (fax), BFT@BibleForToday.org (e-mail).] Some defenders of the modern versions pretend that today’s King James defenders are intellectual pygmies who merely parrot things they have received from someone else. Such a view is far from the truth. Dr. Waite, for example, has produced a number of exacting studies in the field of Bible versions. I can understand how someone might disagree with the King James defender’s conclusions, but to gloss over or ignore entirely the diligent research behind the positions of men such as this and to pretend that they could not possibly be true scholars is a farce. In 1992, Dr. Waite published Defending the King James Bible: A Four-fold Superiority. It is now available in a lovely hardcover edition. We believe this 307-page book is one of the very best books on the subject. Dr. Waite presents a four-fold superiority of the King James Bible over the modern versions: It is based upon superior texts; it had superior translators; it incorporated a superior translation technique; and it has a superior theology. When I began researching the Bible version issue for myself as a missionary in the early 1980s, Dr. Waite’s ministry was a great help to me. Not only is this true of his own writings on the subject but also the out-of-print books that he has republished from the 19th century.
MARION H. REYNOLDS, JR. (1919-1997), was a pastor, radio preacher, and fundamentalist leader. He was the director of the Fundamental Evangelistic Association (F.E.A.) in Los Osos, California. The F.E.A. publishes Foundation magazine. Brother Reynolds also founded and pastored the Fundamental Bible Church of Los Osos. As a young preacher I obtained a copy of Foundation somewhere and subscribed to it. I probably saw my first copy in 1978 when we were traveling to churches on deputation in preparation to going to the mission field. Dr. Reynolds was an old-fashioned fundamentalist and took biblical separation very seriously. His father, M.H. Reynolds, Sr. (1898-1970), came out of the old Northern Baptist Convention when it became infected with theological liberalism. It was Reynolds, Sr., who started the Fundamental Evangelistic Association in April 1928. Following in his father’s footsteps, M.H. Reynolds, Jr., continued the work of the F.E.A. until his death in 1997, when his capable son-in-law, Dennis Costella, took the helm. Dennis is assisted today by his son, Matt, who is a fourth generation fundamentalist that is standing exactly where his godly great grandfather stood! I don’t know of any other fundamentalist organization that has maintained the same principles for 75 years. The F.E.A. still uses the same Bible, loves the same Lord, preaches the same doctrine, and still stands for strict separation from compromise, error, and worldliness. Foundation magazine provided a large part of my early education into staunch fundamentalism. It helped me to understand the principles and dangers of movements such as New Evangelicalism, Ecumenism, the Charismatic movement, and Christian psychology. It informed me of the compromise of influential personalities such as Billy Graham, John Wimber, Bill Bright, and Robert Schuller. And it provided well-researched information about organizations such as the World Council of Churches, Trinity Broadcasting Network, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit & World Evangelism. It also helped me to understand the issue of Bible preservation. I am thankful that I had the privilege of knowing Dr. Reynolds. I preached at two of the Fundamental Evangelistic Association annual conferences in the 1980s and have had many pleasant times of fellowship with these brethren. In 1987 Dennis Costella and I attended the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit & World Evangelization in New Orleans. It was the first opportunity I had to attend a large ecumenical conference with press credentials and to give an eyewitness report of such an event, and we had a great time. (The Cajun blackened chicken at the Mississippi River Walk was outstanding!) I am thankful for Brother Costella and his godly family and for their continuation of the important Fundamental Evangelistic Association ministry. Dr. Reynolds had much God-given wisdom and he helped a lot of God’s people stay on the right path. He said: “... it is important to remember that the failure of fallible men to properly represent any Biblical position in no way negates the believer’s responsibility to hold to that position. Likewise, we should never lose sight of the fact that those who really do ‘speak the truth in love’ are most often the very ones who are accused of being ‘unloving.’ The apostle Paul referred to just such a situation when he wrote, ‘Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?’” Dr. Reynolds died on September 3, 1997.
DONALD WAITE. See under “Biographies of the Preachers on the ‘Bible Version Issue’ CD.”
FRED BROWN (1909-1992) was a Baptist evangelist for 60 years. He was saved at age seven in an old-fashioned Presbyterian camp meeting after hearing a sermon on hell. At age 19 he surrendered to the call of God to preach the Gospel. Looking back later in life he described this experience: “Hell was so real I could smell the fumes from the pit and hear the screams of the dying; and I could see myself and the worm, and the fire there is not quenched.” He was a staff evangelist at Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His wife, Donella, chaired the music department at Tennessee Temple for 15 years until her death in 1983.
MARK CAMBRON (1912-2000) was Dean of the Bible School at Tennessee Temple until 1961, when he founded The Seaside Mission in Kissimmee, Florida, to reach Jewish people. He was also Vice President of the Florida Bible College in Hollywood, Florida.
RICHARD CLEARWATERS (1900-1996) was a Baptist pastor and educator and a fundamentalist leader. When he was one year old, his parents moved from Kansas to homestead in the newly opened territory of Oklahoma. In exchange for establishing a residence for five years and developing the land the Clearwaters family obtained 160 acres and for many years lived in a dugout with boarded sides. Richard attended a one-room schoolhouse that housed eight grades together. In 1907 the family moved to Washington and purchased an 80-acre farm. At age 16, Richard ran away from his Christian parents to Canada and lived there for five years as a “prodigal son.” When his mother providentially learned of his whereabouts, she wrote a letter asking him to return home; she included the words from Proverbs 13:15, “The way of the transgressors is hard.” Richard promised to return “for a short time,” but by God’s grace he was converted to Christ during a revival meeting at the Moran Prairie Methodist Church in Spokane, Washington. After the meeting had gone two weeks no one had been saved and a snowstorm threatened to close the services, but the leaders felt God wanted them to extend the meeting for one more week. As a result Richard Clearwaters and a teenaged girl named Wilma Goodrich were saved. Soon thereafter God called Richard to preach when he heard his mother singing “The Ninety and Nine” and he submitted his life to God’s program of evangelism. He attended Moody Bible Institute, then Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kalamazoo College in Michigan, and Chicago University. In January 1940 he took the pastorate of the Fourth Baptist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he stayed until his retirement in 1982. Clearwaters was opposed to theological liberalism and became the first president of the Conservative Baptist Association in 1943. The group was formed as a fundamentalist alternative to the liberal Northern Baptist Convention. Clearwaters organized the Central Baptist Theological Seminary in 1956.
M. R. DEHAAN (1891-1965) was a medical doctor when he was called to preach. He gave up his medical practice, attended Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and pastored two churches in Grand Rapids. In 1938 he founded the Radio Bible Class, which grew rapidly and was eventually broadcast on 600 stations around the world. He authored 25 books and numerous booklets and published the Our Daily Bread monthly devotional guide.
BOB GRAY, who was born in 1926, is a Baptist pastor, educator, and missionary. He was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, and he served in the U.S. Army Air Corp as a correspondence during World War II, covering the famous Nurenburg War Trials. Having been called to preach while in the military, he attended Stetson University. He was the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, until the early 1990s when he went resigned from Trinity and went to Germany as a missionary under Baptist Missions to Forgotten Peoples. He led Trinity Baptist Church out of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1960s and supported hundreds of independent Baptist missionaries. When I was a student at Tennessee Temple in the mid-1970s I heard him give the testimony of how they learned how to send out independent Baptist missionaries by trial and error because they had not learned anything about it in the Convention. Dr. Gray also founded the Trinity Baptist College, which has trained hundreds of fundamentalist preachers. The sermon “Boxes, Bottles and Books at the Judgment Seat of Christ” was preached at Camp Zion Meeting in 1956 when he was a young man.
OLIVER B. GREENE (1915-1976) was converted at age 20 from a life of wanton sin. He attended a church service solely in an attempt to meet a girl, but by God’s grace he got more than he bargained for. He was saved under the preaching of a sermon entitled “The Wages of Sin is Death.” He was called to preach soon thereafter and when he attended a denominational college in Greenville, South Carolina, he and they both recognized that he was an independent Baptist! In 1939 he started a Gospel tent ministry and conducted revivals all over America. That same year he founded the Gospel Hour radio broadcast, beginning on one small station and expanding from coast to coast. He wrote some 100 books, booklets, and tracts.
MORDECAI HAM (1878-1959) was a Baptist pastor and evangelist. The following biography is from Higherpraise.org: “Mordecai Ham came from eight generations of Baptist preachers. He traced his ancestry to Roger Williams. Mordecai was converted under Billy Sunday’s preaching ministry. In 1901, Ham entered into the Baptist ministry. From the very beginning there was no middle ground in his preaching. He preached against vice and corruption; he rebuked ‘Modernist preachers.’ He exposed sin, warned of the judgment to come, implanted conviction, and called a wayward people back to the Bible they had forsaken. He hunted the lowest sinners in a community and would pray and witness to them until they trusted Christ as their personal Saviour. The author of the amendment for Prohibition stated that Mordecai Ham and Billy Sunday had nearly put saloons out of business due to their hard preaching against the liquor crowd. Ham considered himself a prophet/revivalist evangelist. He was a full-time evangelist from 1902 to 1927. He took two years off from evangelism to pastor the First Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. But, because his heart was still in full-time evangelism, he entered the field again in 1929 and stayed in it until shortly before his death. Over 1,000,000 people were converted under his ministry and over 300,000 joined Baptist churches in the south. Billy Graham is his most famous convert. His nephew, Edward Ham, summed up Mordecai Ham's ministry: ‘God raised up Evangelist Ham to do more than hold meetings in the great cities of the South. He ordained him a prophet to do more than lead great campaigns against liquor during the pre-Prohibition days. God raised him up to remind Christian America of the main spiritual issue that has been in existence since man's beginning on this earth; Christ versus the anti-Christ.’”
HARRY A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951) was saved as a boy and began his ministry as a captain in the Salvation Army. After earnestly seeking the experience of “complete sanctification,” Ironside realized that this was an unscriptural promise and he left the Army. He was an itinerant preacher with the Plymouth Brethren, pastored Moody Memorial Church in Chicago for 18 years, and conducted Bible conferences throughout the world. Ironside often filled the 4,000-seat Moody auditorium to capacity. During his years at Moody he also averaged 40 weeks per year traveling to conferences, returning to Chicago for Sunday services. He published some 80 books and booklets. His dispensational commentaries on the entire New Testament and much of the Old Testament are still valued by Bible students today. Dr. Ironside was a fundamentalist who warned about modernism, Roman Catholicism, and other theological dangers. In his book on Ephesians he commented on Eph. 5:11 as follows: “This is one of the Scriptures together with many others that have exercised my own conscience through the years and kept me from a great many associations into which I would otherwise naturally have gone. ... The strength of the Christian is in his separation from the world and his devotion to Christ.” Ironside’s book “Holiness: The False and the True” documented his experience in the Salvation Army and gave a warning about the errors of perfectionism. In 1919 Ironside sounded the following early warning against ecumenical activities between Protestants and Catholics: “In our day, we have a lot of foolish Protestants who believe that the old Rome is now a harmless old pussy cat sitting on the banks of the Tiber; she purrs so contentedly. They say, ‘We never understood Rome. What a pity we ever had that Reformation at all!’ And I see that three of our bishops the other day went over to see that old gentleman, the Pope, to have a talk with him and see if he would not take us back on moderately easy terms. What foolish people these Protestants are!--Protestants who have long ceased to protest against evil doctrine, forgetting the millions of lives that were sacrificed for the precious truth. Depend upon it, if the day ever comes that the Pope gets into the saddle again, and gets control of the proposed union, it will only be at the expense of life if people will worship scripturally at all. But Protestant leaders are dazzled with the thought of a great united church, and are hurrying us on to a union with Rome, which Scripture shows clearly enough will yet take place. (H.A. Ironside, quoted in the F.B.F. News Bulletin, September-October, 1988, p. 5).
BOB JONES, SR. (1883-1968) was an evangelist and the founder of Bob Jones University. The following is a brief biography of him from The Sword of the Lord web site: Robert Reynolds Jones, best known as Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., was born October 30, 1883, the eleventh of twelve children, in Shipperville, Alabama. Converted at age 11, he was a Sunday school superintendent at 12 and ordained to the ministry by a Methodist church at 15. ‘Dr. Bob’ was a Christ-exalting, sin-condemning preacher who first began preaching in the cotton fields, in country churches and in brush arbors. Later he held huge campaigns in American cities large and small and preached around the world. Billy Sunday called him the greatest evangelist of all time, saying, ‘He has the wit of Sam Jones, the homely philosophy of George Stuart, the eloquence of Sam Small, and the spiritual fervency of Dwight L. Moody.’ He saw crowds up to 10,000 in his meetings, with many thousands finding Christ in one single campaign. But Dr. Jones was more than an evangelist. As a pioneer in the field of Christian education, he founded Bob Jones University in 1927. Behind every man’s ministry is a philosophy. Dr. Jones’s was spelled out in the sentence sermons to his ‘preacher boys’ in chapels at the college. Who in Christian circles has not heard or read some of these: ‘Duties never conflict!’; ‘It is a sin to do less than your best’; ‘The greatest ability is dependability’; ‘It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.’ ‘DO RIGHT!’ It was the philosophy that motivated his ministry, saturated his sermons and spearheaded his school. His voice was silenced by death January 16, 1968. His influence lives on today, and Christians will for generations to come be challenged, as he said, to ‘DO RIGHT IF THE STARS FALL!’” Dr. Jones took a bold stand against ecumenical evangelism in the 1950s when Billy Graham began to yoke together with unbelieving modernists and the Roman Catholic Church. He also took an important stand against the New Evangelical compromise that was beginning to lift its ugly head in the late 1940s.
B.R. (BASCOM RAY) LAKIN (1901-1984) was a Baptist pastor and evangelist. He grew up on a farm in West Virginia and his parents were devout Christians. At age 16 he was converted to Jesus Christ. Soon thereafter he became a circuit preacher, riding a mule to country churches. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and pastored the Cadle Tabernacle in Indianapolis, Indiana, for 14 years. In the early 1950s, he began a 30-year itinerant preaching ministry, averaging 50,000 miles annually and preaching to 4,000 people weekly.
R.G. (ROBERT GREENE) LEE (1886-1978) was a Baptist pastor and itinerant preacher. When he was born in a three-room cabin in South Carolina, the Negro midwife exclaimed, “Glory be! The good Lord has done sent a preacher to this here house.” Lee was born again at age 12 at the First Baptist Church of Fort Mill, SC. The following biographical sketch is from Wilderness-cry.net: “Robert G. Lee began his career on a farm near Fort Mill, South Carolina, where he was born of poor but deeply religious parents. Early in life, he felt the call to be a preacher, and in spite of many obstacles he heeded that call. He won many scholastic and oratory honors at the Furman Preparatory School and Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, where he graduated with an A.B. degree in 1913. He took postgraduate work at the Chicago Law School, receiving a Ph.D. in international law in 1919. He was ordained at his boyhood church at Fort Mill, South Carolina, in 1910. His first full-time pastorate was at Edgefield, South Carolina. This was followed by pastorates at First Baptist Church, Chester, South Carolina; First Baptist Church, New Orleans, Louisiana [where over 1000 new members came into the church, most by baptism]; and Citadel Square Baptist Church, Charleston, South Carolina. He was pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, from December 1927, to April 10, 1960. During his pastorate at Bellevue, over 24,000 people joined the church, over 7,600 of these for baptism. Dr. Lee preached his famous sermon, Payday...Some Day, over 1,200 times in the United States and other countries. He died July 20, 1978, in his home in Memphis, Tennessee.” Lee served three terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. When Lee resigned from the pastorate at Bellevue Baptist in 1960 he wrote: “You can count on me until my tongue is silent in the grave and until my hand can no longer wield a pen to keep my unalterable stand for the Bible as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God -- giving rebuke to and standing in opposition to all enemies of the Bible, even as I have done for 50 years.” Lee preached another 18 years after his retirement, traveling 100,000 miles a year.
CARL MCINTIRE (1906-2002) was a Presbyterian pastor and fundamentalist leader. McIntire’s father was a Presbyterian pastor and graduate of Princeton and his mother and grandmother had been missionaries to the native Indians in Oklahoma. McIntire attended Princeton from 1928 to 1929, but he left because of theological liberalism. He followed J. Gresham Machen who founded Westminster Theological Seminary. McIntire became the pastor of Collingswood Presbyterian Church in Collingswood, New Jersey, in 1933 and remained there for more than 60 years. In 1935 the Northern Presbyterian Church suspended Machen and McIntire from the ministry. The next year Machen, McIntire, and other fundamentalist Presbyterians formed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. At the end of 1937, McIntire and some other pastors established the Bible Presbyterian Church. McIntire’s 1200-member church in Collingswood was the largest congregation in the new group. McIntire published the Christian Beacon and founded Faith Theological Seminary. He started the 20th Century Reformation Hour radio program, which was broadcast daily on more than 600 stations at the height of its influence in the mid-1960s. McIntire was involved in the leadership of the American Council of Christian Churches and other organizations, but he split with fellow fundamentalist Presbyterians several times in the ensuing years. He accepted the Bible as the infallible Word of God and was staunchly opposed to Romanism, liberalism, communism, and worldliness. He died on March 19, 2002.
J. FRANK NORRIS (1877-1952) was a Baptist pastor and fundamentalist leader. The following sketch is Swordofthelord.com: “J. Frank Norris, one of the most controversial and flamboyant figures in the history of fundamentalism, was born in Alabama, but his family moved to Texas when he was a boy. His childhood experiences included being shot trying to help his father defend their farm from horse thieves. Norris was saved at the age of 13 in a brush arbor revival. Feeling that God had called him to preach, he enrolled at Baylor University. While Norris was a student, he was pastor of a church on weekends in nearby Mount Calm. By the time of his graduation, the church regularly had 800 in attendance-in a town of 400 people! After graduating from seminary, Norris was a pastor in Dallas for three years before accepting the call to the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas for the beginning of a 43-year ministry. By the late 1920s the church had an average attendance of 5,200 people. Norris' running feud with the Southern Baptist Convention over the issues of evolution, modernism and liberalism and local church independence covered many years. He was excluded from the Tarrant County Baptist Association in 1922 and from the Texas Baptist Convention in 1924. Trials for perjury and arson in 1912 (related to a fire which destroyed the church auditorium) and murder in 1927 (Norris had killed a man in his office who threatened his life) ended with his acquittal on all charges. Norris successfully forced at least five newspapers to retract statements they made about him during the second trial. In 1935 Norris accepted the pastorate of a second church--Temple Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. This church too experienced phenomenal growth. By 1946 the combined membership of the two congregations was more than 26,000. Norris commuted by train and later plane between the two churches for some 16 years. Norris founded the Premillennium Baptist Missionary Fellowship among like-minded independents. A struggle for control of the group by men who resented his authoritarian methodology led to the formation of the Baptist Bible Fellowship and the World Baptist Fellowship (Norris’ group). Norris died in Keystone Heights, Florida in 1952, having influenced a generation for the fundamentals of the Faith. Although a rift developed between Dr. Norris and Dr. John R. Rice in 1936, Dr. Rice advised his friends to love and pray for Dr. Norris: ‘He is a great man, has won many thousands of souls, and has stood for the fundamentals of the Faith in a way that has greatly honored God.’”
MONROE PARKER (1909-1994) was a Baptist evangelist and educator and for the last several years of his life was Director of the Baptist World Mission. The following sketch is from the Sword of the Lord web site: “When you met Monroe ‘Monk’ Parker, you met both an educator and an evangelist, Ph.D. and personal soul winner--a great mind and hot heart! Parker was a pre-med student at Birmingham Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, because so many of his family were in medicine. By the same token--in Parker's background was a long history of preachers. But saving grace does not run in family bloodlines. Parker attended church and Sunday school regularly but was not converted until he was nineteen. The same week, in his church, he heard Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., tell about a one-year-old school he had organized to teach and train preacher boys. Parker knew this was where God wanted him. He went to Bob Jones College, where he was called to preach. After graduating, Parker entered evangelism. After five years in the field he returned to BJU to assume directorship of religious activities, a position that eventually led him to become assistant to Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. Even then he conducted ten revivals a year. In 1949 he re-entered full-time evangelism, a ministry that was interspersed with a pastorate in Decatur, Alabama, and presidency of Pillsbury Conservative Baptist Bible College for eight years. Under his leadership, the student body grew 20% annually. Besides conducting hundreds of campaigns and preaching in scores of high schools, colleges, Bible institutes and seminaries and over many radio stations, Parker taught in Bible colleges and in seminaries, organized an association of Independent Baptist churches in Alabama, served as president of the Minnesota Baptist Convention, developed and built the Christian Dells Bible Camp and Conference Grounds near Decatur, Alabama, and served as General Director of Baptist World Mission. He also served on a host of boards. Dr. Parker was a preacher of unusual ability, keen insight into the Word of God, and loyalty to every fundamental.”
JOHN R. RICE (1895-1980) was a Baptist pastor and evangelist and the founder of The Sword of the Lord paper. He graduated from Baylor University and did graduate work at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago. He was a fundamentalist and a separatist and came out of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1928. Dr. Rice understood the power of the printed page. He authored more than 200 books and booklets, some of which were translated into at least 35 languages. In 1934 Dr. Rice launched the weekly Sword of the Lord, one of the most influential voices for the independent Baptist and fundamentalist movements during his lifetime. The masthead read, “An Independent Christian Publication, Standing for the Verbal Inspiration of the Bible, the Deity of Christ, His Blood Atonement, Salvation by Faith, New Testament Soul Winning and the Premillennial Return of Christ; Opposing Modernism, Worldliness and Formalism.” Dr. Rice founded the Voice of Revival radio broadcast in 1959.
W.B. (WILLIAM BELL) RILEY (1861-1947) was a Baptist pastor and influential fundamentalist leader. The following biographical sketch is from Higherpraise.org: “William Bell Riley was born to Branson Radish and Ruth Anna Jackson Riley in Indiana just before the start of the Civil War. He was the sixth of eight children. He grew up on his parents’ farms, first in Indiana and then in Kentucky. His family was devout Baptists and he made his own profession of faith in Christian doctrine in August of 1878. At eighteen, he earned a teacher’s certificate after a year’s attendance at a normal school. He continued his education through attendance at Hanover (IN) College, from which he received a B.A. degree in 1885 and an M.A. in 1888. After becoming convinced of his call to the ministry, he began preaching as a supply minister in 1881. He had his own churches by 1883 in Carrolton and Warsaw, KY, and he was ordained a Baptist minister the same year. He attended Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY, to increase his theological knowledge and while there was a personnel worker for an 1887 campaign held in that city by Dwight L. Moody. He graduated from the seminary in 1888. On December 31, 1890, he married Lillian Howard and they had six children. After graduating from the seminary, Riley pastored churches of the Northern Baptist Convention in Lafayette, IN (1888-1890); Bloomington, IN (1890-1893); and Chicago, IL (1893-1897). While in Chicago, he entered into frequent debates with liberal Christian theologians on orthodoxy, attacked the city’s growing crime rate and relaxed liquor laws, and became a friend of a YMCA worker known as Billy Sunday. In 1897, Riley accepted a call to the First Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN, where he remained until his retirement in 1942. He became influential in the city, advocating various civic reforms and building up his church from 585 members when he started to approximately 3500. He also developed a national reputation through his debates around the country with religious liberals on the orthodoxy of the Bible and, in the 1920’s, evolution. He also held many revival campaigns including ones in Duluth, MN (1912); Peoria, IL; Seattle, WA; Dayton, OH; and Worcester, MA. He was increasingly concerned about what seemed to him the falseness and prevalence of liberal Christianity. Numerous disputes within his own Northern Baptist denomination caused him to break ties with Convention leaders, although he remained in the Convention until shortly before his death. He, A.C. Dixon, and R.A. Torrey met with a few others in 1918 to discuss what should be done about liberalism. Out of this meeting eventually grew the World’s Christian Fundamentalist Association, of which he was president until 1929. He assisted in the preparation of The Fundamentals, a basic statement of fundamentalist belief. He was already editor of The Christian Fundamentalist, a position in which he served from 1891 to 1933. Among Baptists, he helped organize the Baptist Bible Union in 1923. All of these activities, plus his support of William Jennings Bryan during the Scopes Monkey Trial, caused Riley to be recorded as a major, if not the leader of American fundamentalists. He was also known as an educator. In 1902 he began the Northwestern Bible Training School to which eventually he added a seminary (1935) and a college. Billy Graham served briefly as president of the Northwestern Schools after Riley’s death. Central Baptist Seminary and Northwestern College are descended from the schools. Besides all of his other activities, Riley wrote dozens of books and pamphlets, including the forty-volume The Bible of the Expositor and the Evangelist. He died in Golden Valley, MN, in 1947.”
LESTER ROLOFF (1914-1982) was a Baptist pastor, evangelist, broadcaster, and the founder of the Roloff Homes. The following is an excerpt from a biography from believersweb.org: “A Modern-Day Prophet, and remembered well by many still living, Lester Roloff in the last years of his life had become a symbol and example to all who believe man ought to obey God rather than men. Until his death in an airplane crash in 1982, he was engaged in a battle against some of the forces of the State of Texas, primarily the Welfare Department--that would silence or greatly curtail his ministry if they could. The irony of it all is that he had done nothing but help change lives of countless youngsters who had nobody else to help them. Roloff was born on a farm ten miles south of Dawson, Texas, to Christian parents. He was saved in a little country church called Shiloh Baptist when about twelve, in a revival in July 1926, under the ministry of John T. Taylor. Reared on a farm he took his milk cow and went off to Baylor University in 1933 and milked his way through college. He graduated in 1937 with an A.B. degree. While at Baylor he was far from idle. He started pastoring among the Southern Baptists in a succession of pastorates. Roloff went on to Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth for three years, 1937 to 1940, while he maintained his ministry at First Baptist Church of Purden, Texas, going then to the First Baptist Church of Trinidad, Texas, his last year in seminary. He married Marie Brady on August 10, 1936. They had two daughters, Elizabeth, born June 20, 1937, and Pamela Kay, an adopted daughter. From 1941 to 1944 he pastored the Magnolia Park Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. In 1944 he went to Corpus Christi where he spent the rest of his life. The Park Avenue Baptist Church extended a call to him, where he went in March 1944. Roloff began a radio ministry on May 8, 1944, with his Family Altar Program, first broadcast over a 250-watt station locally. By the early 1980s, it was broadcasting on more than 150 stations nationally. Roloff was kicked off the radio ten months after he started--his fight against liquor being a prime reason. This was the first of many times that Roloff was kicked off of radio stations because of theological controversies. In April 1951 he resigned as pastor at Second Baptist Church to enter full-time evangelism. He founded the Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises. In May 1955 he printed his first issue of Faith Enterprise, a quarterly publication dedicated to the salvation of lost souls and strengthening believers. In August of 1954, with convictions about being independent of the Southern Baptist Convention or any other denominational influence, he founded a church in Corpus Christi which was to be called the Alameda Baptist Church. He pastored here until about 1961. On March 13, 1956, Roloff stood in Waco Hall, in Waco, Texas, and spoke to more than 2,000, giving his swan song to Baylor University. He stated all the issues in no uncertain terms.” Through the years Roloff established many homes for alcoholics and troubled youth, including the City of Refuge, the Lighthouse, Bethesda Home for Girls, Rebekah Home for Girls, and Anchor Home for Boys. His theme through the years was “Christ Is the Answer” and “Now the Just Shall Live by Faith.” He ran his homes strictly by the Bible, and this got him in trouble with the state of Texas, beginning in 1973, when he refused to come under state licensing and the humanistic rules the state required. From then until now the Roloff homes have been fighting for their survival against the encroaching state.
HAROLD B. SIGHTLER (1914-1995) was a Baptist pastor and an evangelist. The following biography is from sermonstore.org: “Harold B. Sightler was born May 15, 1914, in the lower part of his beloved South Carolina--the state where he lived his whole 81 years and ministered faithfully for 55 of those years. He often preached on the importance of Christian training in a child's life and praised God for his own Bible-believing heritage: ‘Among my earliest recollections is an old grandmother with God’s Word in her lap reading the story of Jesus and His love.’ After brief pastorates in Mauldin and Pelham, South Carolina, he founded the Tabernacle Baptist Church on White Horse Road in Greenville in 1952 and was the pastor for 42 years and 2 months until his death in September of 1995. During his years at Tabernacle, Dr. Sightler founded a children’s home, the Tabernacle Baptist Bible College, a Christian school, the Helen Grace Sightler Widow’s Apartments, a day-care center, and two radio stations. The church gives $10,000 per week to foreign missions. In addition to preaching at Tabernacle, Dr. Sightler held revival meetings nationally and international. From 1948 to 1984 he preached an average of 40 revivals per year. In 1943 he founded his daily radio ministry, the Bright Spot Hour, which is still heard on 45 radio stations across America. He was an author from whose pen had come more than 70 books and booklets, including 11 Bible commentaries. A pioneer of independent Baptists in the Carolinas, he was highly respected with independent Baptists nationwide. Dr. Sightler was a prince of preachers, with a resonant voice in a deep southern accent pronouncing unflinching, uncompromising truths and at the same time presenting God's grace with eloquent pathos. He was a courageous, devoted servant of Christ, an unrelenting advocate for the King James Bible and independent Baptist fundamentalism.” Dr. Sightler left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1952 when he started Tabernacle. It was the 4th independent Baptist church in that county. In 1979 Dr. Sightler estimated that there were 10,000 independent Baptist churches and that there were 5,000 independent Baptist missionaries. He said that when he was in the SBC he never met one missionary, but in 1979 there were 36 missionaries working directly out of his church. In “The Voice of the Independent Baptist Movement,” which Dr. Sightler preached at a missions conference at Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1979, he suggested six reasons why God raised up independent Baptist churches: 1. God raised us up as a voice against modernism. 2. God raised us up as a voice for New Testament evangelism. 3. God raised us up as a voice in support of Israel. 4. God raised us up as a voice for separation of church and state in a crucial hour for religious liberty. 5. God raised us up as a voice for the home in an hour when it is under fierce attack. 6. God raised us up as a voice for the autonomy of the local church; we should not be united beyond the assembly. Under point #6, Dr. Sightler said: “Maybe God raised us up as a voice for the autonomy of the local church, and I do believe in the autonomy and the freedom of the local church. When I was a younger preacher, I wondered why all of the independent fellowships could not get together into one great fellowship in America. I could envision the day when Bible Baptist and World Baptist and Southwide Baptist would unite together in a big fellowship, but I have given that up. I’ve come to the conviction that it is not God’s will. The truth of the matter is that I wouldn’t join it if it were to be born. No, sir. I wouldn’t join any kind of a convention. I think the independent Baptist movement is demonstrating that it is the will of God that every local church stand on its own autonomy, on its own freedom, on its own authority. ‘Oh, but we can do more if we are united together,’ they say. Well, that sounds good but if you will examine that you will find that sometimes it’s not the case. God gave you two legs, but if you start using a crutch the first thing you know you will be depending on that crutch. The best thing you can do is to throw that crutch away and use the two legs that God gave you. I don’t think the local church needs to lean on anybody. A local church can handle of its own affairs, build its own mission program, build its own buildings, call its own pastors. I believe in the autonomy, the freedom of the local church. Maybe God raised us up as a voice for the autonomy of the local church.”
J. HAROLD SMITH (1910-2001), Baptist pastor and radio preacher, was born in Woodruff, South Carolina, and was born again September 17, 1932, at Northside Baptist Church in Woodruff. His first pastorate was at the Baptist Church of Conestee, SC, where he received $5 a month. He married Myrtice Rhodes in October 1933. Smith founded the Radio Bible Hour. His sermon “God’s Three Deadlines” resulted in thousands of professions of faith. During his ministry Smith preached more than 70,000 sermons. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Emmanuel Baptist Seminary.
NOEL SMITH (1900-1974) was an influential member of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. He was the founding editor of the Baptist Bible Tribune in 1950 and remained editor for 24 years. A biographical sketch at swordofthelord.com observes: “He despised that which was cheap in the religious life of America, whether it was in music, or in preaching, or in writing. He had no patience with liberalism and modernism. And Noel Smith never denied his Lord, never betrayed a friend, never compromised a principle. He was a man of unquestioned integrity, and he was a man who had unmovable convictions. What he believed, he believed. What he believed, he said. If he didn't say it with his mouth, he wrote it with his pen. And he didn't apologize for it--ever! Surely the Lord will have up there [in Heaven] some special comfort for those who fought down here the good fight of faith. Another thing about this good man: he lived by the principle that there is no substitute for hard work. So he died in 1974 at work. Now, praise God, he's enjoying the respite from the battle!”
GEORGE W. TRUETT (1867-1944) was a Baptist pastor and Southern Baptist denominational leader. Truett was born on May 6, 1867, and was converted to Christ at age 19 in the Hayesville Baptist Church, Hayesville, North Carolina. He was ordained to preach in 1890 at the Whiteright Baptist Church, Grayson County, Texas, and that same year he was called to the pastorate of First Baptist Church of Dallas, where he remained for 47 years. Truett served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1927 to 1929, and as president of the Baptist World Alliance from 1934 to 1939. He died on July 7, 1944. The following biographical sketch is from Baptistfire.com: “Dr. George W. Truett was pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas from 1897 until his death in 1944. Under his leadership the church grew to become what was probably at that time the largest church in the world. His love for the souls of men was legendary and his influence upon the Southern Baptist Convention and Texas Baptists continues to this day. Of the many stories about Dr. Truett one is particularly compelling. During a hunting trip, Dr. Truett accidentally shot and killed one of his dear friends. All of Dallas was shocked, and Pastor Truett was plunged into grief. He shut himself off from the world, crying and praying unto God in the shadows. Some weeks passed, and on a Saturday night he fell into a restful sleep for the first time since the tragedy. During the night he had a dream in which Jesus stood by him. Dr. Truett heard Him say: ‘Be not afraid, you are my man from now on.’ He woke and told his wife of the dream. He went back to sleep and had the same dream. And again, it happened for a third time. Truett announced he would return to his pulpit. The word spread through Dallas like Texas wildfire, and the Methodist and Presbyterian and other churches dismissed their services that they might go and hear him. Everyone was saying, ‘Truett will be preaching today. Dr. Truett will be preaching Christ again today!’ Many, many souls were saved that Sunday and the power of God rested upon Dr. Truett as never before.”
G. BEAUCHAMP VICK (1901-1975) was a Baptist pastor and one of the founders of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. He grew up in a pastor’s home and was converted at age 9. In 1928 he joined the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas, and served on J. Frank Norris’ staff for eight years. In 1936 Vick became the Sunday School superintendent and song leader at Temple Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. Norris jointed pastored Temple Baptist and First Baptist for many years. Sunday School attendance increased from 1,600 to 5,000 (among other things, Vick required teachers to be faithful to their classes and to participate in visitation). Vick became the pastor of Temple Baptist in 1947 and the membership increased to 15,000. Some 350 people entered full-time Christian service under his ministry. In 1950 Vick joined 119 other pastors in founding the Baptist Bible Fellowship and he was selected as the first president of the Baptist Bible College in Springfield. He was very zealous for foreign missions and encouraged the world mission outreach of the BBF.
CHARLES WEIGLE (1871-1966) was a Baptist evangelist and a gospel songwriter. He grew up in a Christian home and was converted at age 12. He was trained at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. After God called him to preach, Weigle’s wife gave him an ultimatum that she would leave him unless he gave up the ministry. In great agony of soul, he explained to her that he could not turn away from God’s call, and he begged her not to leave. Turning a deaf ear to his pleas, she left him and took their only daughter to a far-away city. After living in debauchery for some time, she died, and Weigle re-married to a godly Christian woman. Weigle preached gospel meetings far and wide and saw much fruit to the glory of Christ. He also wrote some 1,000 gospel songs; the most famous is the lovely “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus.” He spent the last 15 years of his life at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, where he was greatly loved by the faculty and students. His memory was still fragrant when I arrived there seven years after his death. The school dedicated its music building to his memory.
Except for a few of the “Sermons from the Past”, the preachers in the Life Changing Sermons series are all fundamentalists and independent Baptists and are closely likeminded with us doctrinally.
At the same time, I am sure that you will understand that we do not agree with every jot and tittle that is preached in these messages, nor do we agree with everything that the various preachers in this series teach or practice in their ministries. The only man that I agree with 100% is myself; and, in fact, I don’t always agree with myself! Many times after I preach I think to myself, “Why in the world did I say that?” At our very best, we are only men, and we cannot expect that men will agree with one another in all matters.
As mentioned earlier, I obtained a large portion of the sermons in this series on audio cassette when we were living in Kathmandu, Nepal, in the 1980s, and they have been stored there all of this time. The tapes were at least 20 years old when I re-discovered them in Kathmandu in 2003 and began digitizing them into mp3s. They were stored for all of those years in a damp, hot, dusty environment. It is not surprising, therefore, that the quality of the messages is not always perfect nor consistent. Most of the messages are very clear, though, and while a few are a little weak, they are still worth hearing. We were able to restore the quality of most of the weaker messages with digital sound editing software.
It is my great joy to publish these messages in electronic format for a new generation. Now that they are in digital configuration, they can last until Jesus comes or as long as God is pleased to bless them. I am confident that each listener will find them edifying, challenging, and very practical.
Feel free to use the sermons as you please. Make copies of the CDs and give them away (but not for sale). I have personally put hundreds of hours into the preparation of these messages for electronic publication, and my earnest desire is that these Life Changing Messages will find the largest possible audience to the glory of Jesus Christ.
Way of Life Literature
P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061 866-295-4143 (toll free) • firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail) http://www.wayoflife.org (web site)
Canada: Bethel Baptist Church, 4212 Campbell St. N., London, Ont. N6P 1A6 • 519-652-2619 (voice) • 519-652-0056 (fax)