Danny Akin, from left, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Tony Merida, lead pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern; Bruce Ashford, dean of The College at Southeastern; Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Andy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, participate in a panel Feb. 4.
More than 900 people attended the 20/20 Collegiate Conference with the theme “The Scriptures Come to Life” Feb. 3-4 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest.
Each of the main speakers – Danny Akin, D.A. Carson, Tullian Tchividjian and Tony Merida – spoke in Binkley Chapel about the importance of the Bible, its authority and how to integrate it into life.
“[The Bible is] true whether you encounter it or not,” said Akin, Southeastern’s president, to the students Feb. 3. “It’s true whether you believe it or not.”
He shared how Christ reacted to and interacted with scripture. Referring to Matthew 5, Akin said Christ believed that all scripture pointed to Him, and He believed that all scripture was perfect.
“If there ever comes a time in your life that you become convinced this book is full of errors,” Akin said, “realize two things: You’re saying Jesus was wrong. You’re saying you know better than Jesus.”
Following Akin, D.A. Carson shared “something strange” he learned in his almost 40 years of teaching the Bible: that while his students didn’t learn most of what he taught them, they did remember what excited him.
“Feed your soul so that you will always be excited about the gospel,” said Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., and author.
Referring to Luke 10 where Jesus is confronted by a man seeking the answer to how he could inherit eternal life, he said “it is deeply disturbing [the expert in the law] really thinks he can achieve [eternal life] all by himself.”
Carson went on to share the story of the Good Samaritan. Looking beyond Luke 10, Jesus is the greatest Good Samaritan, said Carson, emphasizing the importance of looking at the scripture in context of the verses around it and the entire Bible.
Jesus clearly “expects His followers to behave as He Himself does. For though we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, if it’s real grace and real faith, they’re never alone,” Carson said. “Where there’s real grace and real faith, there is real change.”
Some of the main plenary speakers joined with Andy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, on Feb. 4 to begin the second day of the conference and answer questions about scripture, its truth and application to daily lives.
“The Christian life begins by the Word of God,” Davis said. “We have to continue to take in God’s Word … to sustain us. We’ve got to be feeding on God’s Word every day.”
Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, followed the panel session. Tchividjian is convinced most people read the Bible “wrongly.”
“It is possible to read the Bible, study the Bible, memorize portions of the Bible and miss the whole point. In other words it is entirely possible to read the stories and miss the Story … miss Jesus.”
So many treat the Bible as if it is a self-help book or a “divine fortune cookie,” Tchividjian said.
“God becomes a supporting actor in our story instead of the other way around,” he said.
“Many pulpits across the land preach the Christian not the Christ.
“I don’t know how we got to the point that the Christian is the focus of the Christian faith.”
Tony Merida, lead pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern, closed out the two-day event, offering four challenges on proclaiming the Bible:
• Proclaim Christ from the storyline of scriptures.
• Proclaim Christ as a five-tool minister of the Word – a steward, herald, prophet, theologian and sage.
• Proclaim Christ to mature people in Him.
• Proclaim Christ by His mighty power.
Merida recommended the Bible as the best book on how to preach and teach the Bible.
He challenged participants to “make the hero of the Bible the hero of every message.”
Merida said he admired Paul because he was “so wrapped up in the person of Jesus.”
If they wanted to kill Paul, Paul would say “so what, I’ll be with God,” Merida said.
If they decided to let Him live, then Paul dedicated his life to Christ. In the face of torture, Paul looked forward to the reward he would receive.
“We operate under someone else’s authority,” Merida said.
“We’re not giving advice. We are giving news: the tomb is empty; the throne is occupied. As long as you are proclaiming Christ you will never run out of material.”