Oklahoma Baptist University

O’Dell Challenges Truth of ‘What We Believe’

Shannon O’Dell, pastor of Brand New Church in Bergman, Ark., challenges OBU students to evaluate the evidence of their personal faith during a weekly chapel message Wednesday, Sept. 8.

Just as the laws of God’s creation –- such as the law of gravity –- govern this world, so do the laws of God’s new creation –- people saved by grace –- govern all Christian believers, Shannon O’Dell told OBU students during a weekly chapel service Wednesday, Sept. 8, in Raley Chapel.

“You don’t have to tell an apple to drop, whenever I throw it down here –- it will do it on its own,” O’Dell said, pitching an apple to a student in the front row to demonstrate the law of gravity.

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Similarly, if a person has truly trusted Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior and has surrendered in repentance to him, then the truths of the Bible should produce fruit in this person’s life, O’Dell said.

O’Dell, who serves as senior pastor of Brand New Church in Bergman, Ark., based his message on the chapter, “The Reality of the Law,” from C.S. Lewis’s book, “Mere Christianity.” The book is the foundation of the year’s chapel theme, “A Return to the Simplicity of the Gospel.”

“How come we have all these justifiers, that when God says, ‘Do something,’ the reality of the law does not transpire in our life as it does for the apple when I drop it?” O’Dell asked. “I didn’t have to say, ‘Drop.’ Gravity forces this to transpire just as the Spirit of God should be living in you, and what should transpire should be just as simplistic: … you, yielding yourself in complete submission (to God).”

Quoting John 13:35, O’Dell said Jesus is a producer of “fruit,” or evidence of change, in the life of a person who has truly surrendered to him. He said other people should be able to see the evidence of a person whose life is grounded in Jesus Christ.

O’Dell said Christians believe a huge, monstrous theology –- things most people in the world would not consider believing for a second: that God created the world; that the Bible is inspired by God, penned by men, and flawless; that Jesus Christ is the sinless Lamb of God, born of a virgin; and that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead so people could live in the fullness of his power.

“Here’s what I think many of us do not believe,” O’Dell said. “I believe that many of us do not believe that all things are possible with God. If we believed that all things are possible with God, we would take the truth of that, and we would be changing the state of Oklahoma and all over the world right now, would we not?”

O’Dell said God has called him and his wife to serve in a church situated in Bergman, Ark., a town with a population of 407 people, having moved from a town of 88 people, South Lead Hill, Ark. He said they believed God’s promise in Matthew 16:18, in which Jesus says, “I will build my church.” Brand New Church has grown from 31 members to 2,000 members with six campuses, network churches and an online campus under O’Dell’s leadership. Last Sunday, people from 28 states and eight countries worshipped together through the church.

“The bottom line is this: God is God, and he will do whatever he wants when we yield ourselves to him,” O’Dell said.

He said Christians also do not fully believe other truths of Jesus: “Ask, and you will receive” (Luke 11:9); “You will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12); and that Jesus is coming back (John 14:28).

“We have settled, and I pray this will not be a graduating class this year, or classes in the future, that will settle to do church like we have always done it,” O’Dell said.

He challenged students to consider whether the fruit of Jesus Christ is evident in their lives today.

“When we are truly redeemed, people see a difference,” he said. “Are people seeing the difference in your life?”

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