By Lauren Crane
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s president, Daniel Akin, opened a new semester of chapel services with a challenge to students to pass on God’s truth to the next generation.
The January 27 chapel service was the first of the semester for Southeastern. Teaching from 2 Timothy 2:1-7, Akin shared the importance of living well now, in order to pass on God’s truth to future generations.
“This is not a new problem. Paul was concerned with passing on the truth in the 1st century,” Akin said. In looking at the words Paul wrote to Timothy, Akin said we can see that the “bottom line” is that passing on truth will be hard work, it will have hardships, but that the spiritual rewards will be great.
As Paul instructs Timothy to entrust the lessons he has learned on to reliable men, Akin said Paul is urging Timothy and us to “have the dedication of a teacher.”
Speaking from verse 1, Akin said Paul is giving Timothy a command: “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. You need to know where to stand. Then, stand strong and be strong,” Akin said. Akin said Paul was also instructing Timothy on the importance of knowing what truth to pass along and choosing “reliable men” to pass it on to.
“You cannot tell others what you do not know yourself,” Akin said. “Paul understood that there are some things that, in regards to the Christian faith, are non-negotiable. It stuns me that there are people who call themselves Christians, and yet they believe they can earn their way to heaven.”
He said that lack of understanding and knowledge about basic tenets of the Christian faith lead him to believe that those people don’t know the Bible, lack good theology or are calling the Lord a liar. “Tragically, many of them stand in the pulpit, week after week, saying they’re preaching the word of God.”
Akin also showed how Paul’s metaphors apply to believers today. Looking at the examples of a soldier, an athlete and a farmer, Paul shows that there are qualities in each of those that should be emulated in the pursuit of passing down truth. Just as Paul teaches to have the dedication of a teacher, he also said there were lessons to be learned in the metaphor of the soldier.
“Paul is fond of military metaphors,” Akin said. “Those of us who are evangelistic and conservative in theology often get confused on who our real enemy is. We become cannibals. Paul told us the real enemy is not our brother or sister in Christ but Satan and the flesh.”
Believers are all commissioned to participate in a conflict, Akin said. “Teaching the truth is a battle. It’s a war. It’s not place for sissies or wimps. If that’s what you are, you will not be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
“All you have to do is be willing to go. When you enter into King Jesus’ army, he trains you, he equips you and he goes with you. I fear so many of you are going to miss out on God’s best, and you will look back with regret because you played at being a Christian.”
Paul also uses the analogies of an athlete and a farmer to illustrate the need for spiritual discipline and constancy in the effort to win people to Christ.
“The life of a farmer does not involve much glamour, prestige or recognition. It involves early and long hours that go unnoticed, constant toil, regular disappointments, patience and even boredom,” Akin said. “We must come to grips with the fact that living and growing as a Christian is just plain hard work. It takes energy, investment and time like your marriage and your family; like anything of real value in life.”
However, the prize and the reward after the hard work is “a share in the harvest” of souls. In looking ahead to the joy of seeing future generations come to Christ, Akin said believers should persevere.
In closing, Akin quoted Charles Spurgeon, urging believers to live well. “If you do not wish to be full of regrets when you are forced to lie still, work while you can. If you desire to make a sickbed as soft as it can be, do not stuff it with mournful reflections that you wasted time when you were in health and strength.”
“Galatians 6:9 is a wonderful reminder to keep close at hand,” Akin said. “‘And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart.’”