First Baptist Jax, Where Christ is First: From the Watchdog Blogger to Ezekiel’s Watchman

Posted: July 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

In a time when the chaos of culture promotes everything our flesh feeds off of, there remains some sanctuaries where the call to feed the soul and live out Christ remains a concrete priority. One of these places so happens to be my home church – The First Baptist Church of Downtown Jacksonville, Florida (FBCJax).

FBCJax, as most other churches, has undoubtedly gone through the perpetual ministry tension of figuring out how to remain faithful to the gospel while the world around them is constantly changing.

Nevertheless, FBCJax, by God’s grace has had an upstanding history when it comes to church leadership, as well as church members who have volunteered over the years. As a result of this, FBCJax has been able to remain the Christ-centered, gospel proclaiming beacon in Jacksonville – and the SBC – it has always been.

In recent times, however, FBCJax has received a few scrappy punches here and there via the blogging world. Perhaps it goes without saying that for a blogger or bloggers to model such incredible discipline in writing divisive posts, it may just say more about themselves than the subjects they are writing about. There are some things a certain blogger writes which I agree with, while other things he writes I obviously do not. Regardless, we have a command to uphold unity in the faith and being a causation of exclusion more so than a cause for embrace is not a hallmark of Christianity.

Ephesians 4:1-3 is an alarming call to resist division and strive for unity. The placing of the conjunctions by Paul in these three verses makes it very clear in the original text that Ephesians 4:1-3 has an imperatival force to it. Hence, this is not written to be a choice, rather a command to be obeyed. In fact, in verse 3, the beginning word – σπουδάζοντες – is typically translated as “eager to maintain the unity.” A better translation is “making every effort to maintain the unity.” What has this to do with blogging in a divisive way? In an age when the internet is the primary means by which explicative material is broadcasted to our living rooms, the last thing we need broadcasted are Christians making candid divisive remarks, only for the lost world to see we are no more gossip-laden than they are.

Furthermore, in defense of the members of FBCJax, Pastor Brunson, and the staff – First Baptist may be Baptist by denomination, but the staff who work there, the senior pastor, and the teachings are undoubtedly Christ first. One of God’s great mediums by which he has saved and healed countless lives and still is, has been through the ministry of FBCJax. It has become even more of a gospel lighthouse in recent years with Brunson becoming the captain of this gospel ship and the global vision God has given him to set sail.

When it comes to the history books of God’s faithfulness at FBCJax, there is a long hallway of memories of people and families who have come through FBCJax at one time or another, and others who are still there who have faithfully lived out Christ. From Lindsay to Vines, Barton and Carr, Elkins and King, and so forth on the staff. What about Jimmy Scroggins and countless others who went off from FBCJax to seminary and are now in full-time ministry? What about the congregation? Families such as the Hamricks, Tebows, Carrs, Beltons, McNeils, and several others who testify of the congregation’s devotion to Christ. These are only but a few of seemingly countless other families who are from FBCJax who could be named – the list is too long to make. Needless to say, when it comes to wanting to have the rippling effect of the gospel cause a tidal wave of devotion in the local church, FBCJax has always had its current stirred and Lord willing, the gospel tsunami of revival is on its way more than ever before.

Regarding watchmen and Ezekiel’s message: In a nutshell, Ezekiel is about a man God chose to become his watchman amongst his people, proclaiming God’s promises, and warning the people regarding their evil ways. It was the norm in ancient times for a nation to choose a watchman to sound the trumpet when they saw danger coming their way. In like manner, God chose Ezekiel to proclaim the trumpet of God’s promises to the people, warning them that lest they repent, they would be judged. In other words, Ezekiel is a type of evangelist.

FBCJax has been graciously given watchmen over the years who have remained faithful to the gospel, to the people in the congregation, and most of all, to the Lord. As a result of this, the old church in downtown Jacksonville with the lighthouse has been, is, and will remain a church family where the presence of the Lord can be found.


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