James Merritt, lead pastor of Cross Pointe Church in the greater Atlanta area, called Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) students to accept the forgiveness Jesus offers.
Merritt is a two-time graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. and a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS, said, “He is my best friend, whichever one of us dies first, the other one will preach his funeral.”
Merritt preached on the brokenness and humiliation of being caught in the act. His message “On The Fringe: The Broken” from John 8:1-11 was about a woman caught for adultery.
“If you’re like me and you’ve ever blown it, what Jesus did for this woman, Jesus still does today,” Merritt said. “Jesus will take your brokenness and turn it into a blessing.” He encouraged the audience to come to Jesus and receive his grace.
Merritt explored ideas on what Jesus wrote in the ground to the crowd accusing the woman, “Did he begin to write down some of the sins of which the Pharisees and Sadducees were guilty, such as hypocrisy, lying or lust?”
Jesus exposed concealed sin in the group and passed judgment on those with a rock in hand. “Everyone that wanted to condemn her was unqualified to and left,” he said. “The one man that was qualified to throw a rock at her did not.”
The sermon focused on God’s desire to lead people to goodness and give them the freedom and power to act justly. “Condemning of sin is not the same as judging the sinner,” he said. “The adulterous woman was called to go and sin no more. Her sin was forgiven but not excused.” The woman’s conversion caused her to truly repent.
Merritt called listeners who were bitter and angry to “drop the rocks of condemnation or guilt.” The audience was encouraged to surrender to Christ’s lordship. “Life is a waste if you live it throwing rocks,” he said.
Through confession, people have the opportunity to trade their guilt and faults for grace and forgiveness. “Jesus does not have a heart full of lust but a heart full of love,” he added.
“You are filled with grace when you have emptied your pockets full of rocks,” Merritt said. “Grace drops rocks.” As the crowd was convicted, may believers follow Jesus’ example as a people full of grace and mercy for the broken.
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To view photos from chapel, please click here.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.