by Lauren Crane
Before God’s people can focus on God’s priorities, Daniel Akin said they must fall passionately in love with him.
On December 7, 2009, Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, preached in Binkley Chapel for the final chapel service of 2009. Speaking about the Great Commission Resurgence, - a subject about which he has been passionate throughout the year – Akin articulated the need for a refocus on the lost peoples of the world.
“In June of 1979, we saw the beginnings of the Conservative Resurgence. This past June, another movement launched – the Great Commission Resurgence. The Conservative Resurgence was a back-to-the-Bible movement. This is a to-the-nations movement,” Akin said. “We’re losing ground. This is the fourth consecutive year of decline in baptisms. Furthermore, 98 cents of every dollar never leaves the borders of America. That is not going to reach the nations with the gospel.”
Speaking from the text of Romans 15:14-24, Akin said Paul “would say, ‘getting the gospel to the nations is something we should be bold about.’ So what marks the people who have the nations on their heart?”
Akin said the first thing is to focus on the nations . This idea of nations denotes any group of people with a specific language, culture or identity. Of the 16,349 people groups that have been identified in the world today, Akin said there are 6,647 that have never heard the name of Christ – about 1.6 billion people.
“Business as usual isn’t working, and it cannot continue,” Akin said.
However, before believers have the nations on their hearts, they must be completely Christ-centered, as Paul was, referring to Jesus Christ five times in the chosen text.
“Paul was consumed with Christ and that people would know Christ,” Akin said. “If we’re to be focused on the nations, we must be a radically Christ-centered people. Our lives will be radically different if Jesus Christ is really Lord of our lives.”
Akin said being Christ-centered will embolden, empower and humble believers. “I believe we need God to destroy our pride and our turfism so we can be a Christ-centered people.”
This will lead to being gospel-saturated , a feat that must begin with believers having an accurate understanding of the gospel message.
“I’m convinced churches across America are awash in gospel confusion and don’t know what the gospel is,” Akin said. He said that today, there are many movements within the church known as the prosperity gospel, the social gospel and more. “If you put anything in front of the word ‘gospel,’ you lose the gospel.
“The gospel is the good news at the beginning of our Christian experience. It is the good news that sustains us through our Christian experience.”
Once believers are consumed with Christ, have a right understanding of the gospel and are concerned for the nations, they will be passionate about the unreached peoples of the world, Akin said. He said believers can follow the example of the Apostle Paul in aiming to preach the gospel where it has not been proclaimed – telling people of Christ who have never heard his name.
“In verse 23, we see that Paul is saying, ‘Because of my theological conviction, I no longer have a place in these parts.’ This led him to go to the places that had not heard.”
“By our lack of urgency, I have two conclusions. Either we’re all a bunch of closet universalists who think everyone will one day get to heaven, or we believe people are dying and going to hell and we don’t care.”
Akin said a newfound commitment to getting the gospel to the nations is more than physically going – it requires people to pray and to give in support of those who take their lives to the nations. For the 75 percent of believers who give nothing to support missions, Akin said this will require repentance and a new radical lifestyle.
“Lost people matter to God. They must matter to us,” Akin said. “I pray God haunts you until you think about what it means to live radically for the Lord.”
After Akin spoke about the urgency in reaching the nations with the gospel message, the seminary collected money for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. As the funds were collected, they totaled over $18,000 to be given in support of reaching the nations with the gospel message.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.