Daniel Akin said just as Jesus asked his disciples who people said he was, modern-day disciples must also know who God is, because it will determine how they live out their lives.
Preaching from Mark 8:27-38, Akin, the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, urged Christians to know what they believe about Jesus. It will determine how they serve him in ministry and with their lives, he said. Unlike others who form a view of Christ based on who they desire him to be, Akin said we have the text of Scripture to tell us exactly who he is, and this picture should shape our beliefs about God.
Based on this passage, Akin said, “Thus our Lord informs them and us what the normal Christian life looks like and what it means to follow and serve the king.” He said, “He’s a king who came to die and serve – a king who calls his followers to die and serve too.”
The question of “Who do you say I am?” is an inescapable question in the life of every follower of Christ, Akin said. The answers to this question showed much about who the disciples believed Jesus to be, as well as many of the popular answers of the day. The given answers not only applauded Jesus, but recognized him as someone to be emulated. However, Akin said, “They honor him but misrepresent him. They applaud him while denying him for who he really is.”
This same attitude permeates modern society. From the feminist gospel to the prosperity gospel, Akin said there are a number of examples of how Jesus is honored but misrepresented, and therefore, never makes the correct impact on our lives.
“At the center of Mark’s gospel we have the one and only acceptable answer concerning the identity of Jesus. Peter and the 12 rejected the prevailing opinions of the crowds and religious leaders, and so must we.” Akin said. “Popular and trendy views of Jesus must always surrender to the clear and consistent witness of Scripture.”
Once the disciples publicly declared that they believed Jesus to be the Christ in verse 29, Akin said the passage turns from what we believe to how we act. However, like modern disciples, once Jesus began preaching on the implications of being the Christ, the disciples began to balk. Like Peter, the idea of the suffering and death of Christ is difficult to believe for many.
“Jesus treats Peter like he was Satan,” Akin said. “It is harsh but justified and necessary. Like Satan at the temptation in the wilderness he offers Jesus the crown without the cross. He has a better plan than God does. Like so many then and today, he wants a Jesus who fits his agenda. He wants a Christ on his terms.”
Akin said believers today are still guilty of doing the same things. However, he said rather than trying to redefine God in our image, we need to recognize and redefine ourselves in light of Christ and the cross.
“You must understand and accept that Jesus calls you to deny yourself and die for his sake and the gospel’s.” Christ articulates it in Mark 8, saying if any would follow him they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him.
“Did you come to Southeastern seminary to die? When you came to Jesus, did you come to die?” Akin said.“Deciding to die is not normal or natural. However, it is necessary to be Christ’s disciple. It is not a quick death. It is a slow death, a painful death. The way may be hard. But the path and the end is glorious.”
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.