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Greatest Preachers

Robert G. Lee

Robert G. Lee

1886 - 1978

Robert G. Lee was pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee from December, 1927 until April 10, 1960. During his pastorate at Bellevue, over twenty-four thousand people joined the church, over seventy-six hundred of these for baptism. Dr. Lee preached his famous sermon, "Pay Day Someday" over 1200 times in the United States and other countries.

In 1927, Dr. Robert G. Lee preached from the Bellevue pulpit in Memphis, Tennessee, a series of sermons on “Marching With Moses.” These dynamic messages provoked many questions, both earnest and critical. From these many questions the book, Lord, I Believe, was written and published that same year.

R. G. Lee began his career on a farm near Post Mill, South Carolina where he was born of poor, but deeply religious parents. Early in life he felt the call to be a preacher and in spite of many obstacles he heeded that call.

He won many scholastic and oratory honors at the Furman Preparatory School and Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. He graduated with an A. B. degree in 1913. He took post-graduate work at the Chicago Law School, receiving a Ph. D. in International Law in 1919. He was ordained at his boyhood church at Fort Mill, South Carolina in 1910.

His first full-time pastorate was at Edgefield, South Carolina. It was followed by pastorates at First Baptist Church in Chester, South Carolina; First Baptist Church of New Orleans, Louisiana; and, Citadel Square Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

One of the questions He asked many times before He died July 20, 1978 at his home in Memphis, Tennessee, was: “You don’t believe that down at the Jordan when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, a voice was heard from way up in heaven – do you?”

(The following excerpts are taken from Dr. Lee’s answer)

Yes, with worshipful elation, I believe. Call me “ignorant.” Say I am camping in the green of “salad days”, but I plead guilty of believing it.

I believe also that in the days when “Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli”, and when “there was no open vision” (I Samuel 3:1), that the boy Samuel heard a voice from Heaven but saw no face. I believe also that in the days following Jesus’ triumphant ride into Jerusalem that, in answer to His prayer, saying, “Father, glorify Thy name” (John 12:28), then there came a voice from Heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again” (John 12:28).

I believe also that, in the hours when King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride was in full flood, that “there fell a voice from Heaven” (Daniel 4:31).

I believe also that “God answered Moses by a voice” (Exodus 19:19).

I believe, too, that when Elijah “stood upon the mount before the Lord”, after the fire and the still small voice, that to Elijah, with his face wrapped up in his mantle, there came a voice (I Kings 19:12-13).

I believe that, on the Mount of Transfiguration, a voice out of the clouds said to the awe-smitten disciple, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5).

Moreover, I believe that when Saul of Tarsus met Christ on the way to Damascus, those who journeyed with him heard a voice from the great distances. “And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man” (Acts 9:7). That ought not be hard for anybody to believe – if we acknowledge that the fact of God. Shannon says: “Saul of Tarsus heard a voice, he answered a voice, he obeyed a voice; and the voice was the voice of Jesus who is turning the universe into a graphophone.”

Today we compress Caruso into the microscopic point of a needle and fasten up one hundred instrument orchestras, saxophones, and all, in a wax record ten inches in diameter – and make Caruso sing (who has been dead now these years), or the orchestra play as we wish. And if we had had the phonograph in the days of Jesus, we could hear today the tones of His voice as He preached the great “Sermon on the Mount” – which Burke said was “the most impressive political document of all ages.”

Now if man, by means of this sound-detection device, can hear treads gnawing away on the interior of piling many feet under water, I have no difficulty in believing that Saul of Tarsus, the Aristotle and the Demosthenes of the Jewish race, could hear and did hear a voice from Heaven calling his name, questioning him, accusing him.

I can, without difficulty, believe Jesus heard a voice from Heaven when He was baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan. “Lord, I believe.”

(To read the complete manuscript of this message preached in the year 1927, it can be found on pages 137 through 145 in “Lord, I Believe”, published by Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee).


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