Delivering the Convention sermon during this year’s Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas, Daniel Akin urged Southern Baptists to never lose sight of the centrality of Jesus Christ. An issue at stake, he shared, is whether or not Southern Baptists will truly live as Great Commission Baptists.
“Will we, as we move forward in the 21st century, be a Convention of churches that bear the marks of a Great Commission people, serving faithfully King Jesus as He reclaims that which rightly belongs to Him?” asked Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. “Or, we will find ourselves sitting on the sidelines, fading off the scene in distraction, division and disobedience?”
With Romans 15:14-24 as his text, Akin shared different characteristics, or marks, of people who live out the Great Commission; for example, Great Commission people keep their focus on what is most important while still pursuing many good things. Paul knew that the church in Rome was doing many good things, yet he reminded the church that good things are not better than the best thing – which is sharing the gospel.
“There are places in the world where you and I could be dropped by helicopter or parachute and we could walk days, weeks and months, and we would never encounter a church and we would never meet a Christian,” Akin said. “Southern Baptists must keep their focus on lands filled with darkness.”
Southern Baptists must also keep their focus on the gospel. One reason more people in churches are not focused on the gospel is because they do not truly know the gospel.
“The gospel is the good news that King Jesus died and paid the full penalty of sin, rose from the dead and saves all who repent of sin and trust Him,” Akin said. “There is no excuse for Southern Baptists to be confused about the gospel. The gospel is the good news that God killed His son so He wouldn’t have to kill you.”
Great Commission people also view missions and bringing people to Jesus as worship unto God. “World missions is God’s work and it is our worship. Missionary service is like priests bringing offerings to God in worship all for His glory,” Akin said.
In Romans 15 Paul referenced “Christ” 15 times; Paul only spoke of what God accomplished through him and his missionary service was never about himself.
Akin shared that believers must have a biblical theology in order to be involved in fulfilling the Great Commission. Good theology should give birth to missions just as missions should give birth to good theology.
“Keeping missions and theology together will help us see that the proper motivation for doing missions is ‘gospel gratitude’ and not ‘legalistic guilt,’” Akin said. Only gratitude, Akin said, will keep believers motivated to press on until the day they meet Jesus.
Great Commission believers press on because they are motivated to get the gospel to people who have never before heard the gospel. “The issue is access to the gospel. There is not access to the gospel everywhere,” Akin said.
Southern Baptists must take the gospel to the “elsewhere;” the places void of any gospel witness. Southern Baptists must be committed to doing their part in taking the gospel to the unreached areas of the world, whether that means going, praying or giving sacrificially so that others can go and serve. While God has not called every believer to the international mission field, He has called every believer to help fulfill the Great Commission. “Let us not forget: the Great Commission is not an option to be considered. It is a command to be obeyed,” Akin said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)