Baptist World Alliance
Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Phone: +1 703 790 8980
Fax: +1 703 893 5160

July 30, 2010
For Immediate Release
Preach good news, proclaim freedom, seminary president urges Baptists

By Marv Knox
Honolulu (BWA) -- Preach Christ's good news and proclaim freedom, seminary president Pablo Deiros challenged participants at the 20th Baptist World Congress in Honolulu July 29.

"As Baptists, we need to realize the proclamation of the good news is the central task of the church," stressed Deiros, president of International Baptist Theological Seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina. "There is no church without this proclamation. And there is no other mission for the church than to proclaim Jesus as Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit."

Christians take their mandate from the testimony of Jesus recorded in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Deiros said, quoting, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news, ... he has sent me to proclaim freedom."

"Preaching good news is the most sublime of all ministries," he asserted. "It was the highest priority of the apostles, as it was in our Lord's own ministry.

"The proclamation of reconciliation [to God] should be the fundamental task in the ministry of every Christian who wants to serve with integrity. We are called to be 'preachers of good news.'"
Preaching is supremely important for the church and the measure by which it is tested, Deiros said. "This task is not just one of many other religious activities of the church, but it is the criterion for all its activities."

The authority for preaching comes directly from God, he added. For example, the apostles considered their preaching to have come directly from Jesus.

"As witnesses today around the world, we need to recover this confidence," he insisted. "We need to grow in the conviction that we are not representing ourselves before the world, but we are facing the world in the name of Christ the Lord and with his authority and power."

That power is doubled, because "it comes from the Holy Spirit, and it manifests itself through the Word of God."

The source of that power is not mechanical repetition of the Bible, but the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Bible and inspires proclamation today, he said.

"Facing an unbelieving, agnostic and relativistic world, we need to cling not to the power of our eloquence or rhetorical resources, but to the power of the Word we proclaim," he explained. "It is time for us to take this truth seriously and to stand firm before the world and the church with a message that is not the expression of our invectiveness or ingenuity, but 'is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.'"

As Christians follow Jesus, they must not only preach, but also proclaim freedom, Deiros added.
"In a world sunk in dungeons of darkness, with chains binding minds, hearts and hands, we are given the unique task of proclaiming freedom," he said. "We are the announcers of a gospel that is light to quench any dark thoughts, it is love to heal any broken heart, and it is power to release any bondage of sin."

In order to proclaim freedom, however, Christians themselves must be free, he noted. That extends beyond basic salvation to embrace sanctification-committing their lives to become more and more like Christ.

Deiros confessed that was not always true for him. "I used to serve the Lord in the power of the flesh and with increasing bindings entangling my life and ministry," he acknowledged, noting he considered leaving the ministry. "I knew I was saved, but my sins did not allow me to grow in Christ and to be filled with the Holy Spirit to serve him with power and authority."

But on an Easter afternoon, with his sins parading before his eyes, Deiros repented and pleaded with God for forgiveness. That experience freed him to announce God's plan for freedom to others, he said.

Beyond proclaiming freedom, Christians must be agents of freedom, he added. That means seeking justice and freedom for others.

"In the name of Jesus and with the power of his Holy Spirit, we have to go to the world and proclaim and work out freedom in the midst of social injustice, political oppression, economic corruption, religious confusion and cultural relativism," he said. "Our proclamation of freedom should target both the liberation of individual sinners from sin and the liberation of human society from injustice and oppression."

Ultimately, Christians who proclaim freedom will point people back to Jesus Christ, he insisted.
"There is no true freedom outside Jesus Christ," he said. "He is the Liberator, the Redeemer of all humankind. The only hope of freedom to our world is in him."

Marv Knox is editor of Texas' Baptist Standard.