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Earlier this week, Dr. Lee Roberson, longtime pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., and founder of Tennessee Temple University, went home to be with his Lord at the age of 97.
Dr. Roberson was one of the finest Christian men I have ever known. He was one of my mentors and role models. In 1968, Dr. Roberson and his Tennessee Temple University conferred a Doctor of Divinity upon me.
As our nation has accelerated toward politically correct systems that promote religious and cultural diversity, this old warhorse of the faith never wavered in his bold proclamation that the crucified Christ is the only way to heaven and the only way to discover true spiritual peace.
My dear friend Dr. John Rawlings, now 93, is one of the last members of that generation of post-World War II preachers and evangelists who dramatically impacted countless lives, including mine. He continues to be on the cutting edge of ministry today, leading in church-planting efforts worldwide through the Rawlings Foundation.
That generation of church leaders – including Drs. B.R. Lakin, G.B. Vick, Dallas Billington, Billy Graham, Bob Jones Sr., W.A. Criswell, J. Harold Smith, Bill Bright and many others – were fearless representatives of Christ. They continue to inspire me and younger generations today.
Dr. Roberson was one of the great preachers of that generation and was once described as the Charles Spurgeon of his time. Born in a two-room log cabin in a small Indiana town, he was led to Christ by his Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Daisy Hawes of Cedar Creek Baptist Church outside of Louisville, Ky., at age 14. Little did she know then that the young man in her class would be blessed by God to impact his nation with the Gospel.
In 1942, after serving God in evangelistic work and in churches that included the First Baptist Church in Fairfield, Ala., he became pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, where he would later found Tennessee Temple Schools.
He was noted for his great sermons, some of which were: “Have Faith in God,” “A Mother’s Faith,” “Be Ye Therefore Steadfast” and “Does Jesus Live at your House?” His sermons could penetrate the soul of the most rigid heart so that people could see the need of Jesus Christ in their lives.
Readers interested in reading and hearing some of Dr. Roberson’s sermons may visit the Go to the Bible website.
J.R. Faulkner, in “Get a Glimpse of the World’s Largest Church” in 1973, wrote: “[Dr. Roberson] has set an example of faithfulness and devotion to his family and to his convictions before his church and to the entire world. At home, he has sought to teach his children in the fear and admonition of the Lord around a daily family altar, which has reflected itself in the lives of the children.”
That is the picture of the godly man that should be the foundation of every Christian home today. If it were, the church today would not be struggling with overwhelming problems of divorce and family discontent. We truly need to get back to the basics that men like Dr. Roberson understood and lived out daily.
Dr. Roberson was preceded in death by daughter Joy Caroline and wife Caroline. He is survived by his son John (and wife Donna), daughter LeeAnne Nichols (and husband Dr. L.W. “Buddy” Nichols), daughter June Ormesher (and husband Bill), eight grandchildren and, as Tennessee Temple noted on its website, “by the countless thousands who accepted the new life of salvation under his ministry.”
I am thankful to have known Dr. Roberson and pray that future generations of Christian leaders will be inspired by his faithfulness to Jesus Christ and to world evangelization.
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