Book of Ephesians impacts way we do church, Akin says

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by Lauren Crane

The gospel, the driving force behind Christian faith, should also be the driving force behind Christian churches and their ecclesiology.

The book of Ephesians is one such discourse on how and why the gospel impacts churches’ function and forms. Daniel Akin, the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, used Paul’s epistle to the church at Ephesus as the outline for his sermon at the 2011 Advance Conference, held on May 4-5. Each year, church planters, pastors and laymen gather to hear from some of the nation’s leading voices on advancing the gospel, the church and the kingdom of God. During this year’s conference, Akin, along with Southeastern alumnus and adjunct professor J.D. Greear, Alan Hirsch, Tyler Jones, Tim Keller, Eric Mason and Darrin Patrick spoke to the attendants on the gospel and its implications for all of life.

During his sermon on the gospel and ecclesiology, Akin said, “Christ has reconciled all of creation to God and united all people of every nation to himself in the gospel. This is the statement of Ephesians. This book shows us most clearly how the gospel impacts our ecclesiology.”

He said in Ephesians we see that the gospel establishes certain theological foundations and thus, demands certain practical applications.

“The gospel is grounded in the knowledge of the resurrected Christ, who is the head of the church, his body, by which he will fill all in all,” Akin said. This means the Christian faith is Trinitarian, he said, recognizing not only Christ, but God the Father and the Holy Spirit as well. This loving relationship between the trinity should be reflected in the life of the church. Furthermore, Akin said recognizing Christ as the head of the church allows believers to mature in their knowledge of Christ and make him known. “Our goal is to fill our city, our state, our nation, all the nations with (knowledge of) Christ. Any agenda that does not have the goal of making Christ known is a faulty agenda.”

These theological truths should translate into churches developing into bodies of believers that teach and encourage sound doctrine with a missionary impulse, as well as encouraging bold proclamation of the gospel.

“The gospel is grounded in a stewardship to preach the good news to the nations and to bring light to everyone,” he said. “Let me address pastors. Take this stewardship and teach your churches to take the light of the gospel to the nations, especially the 6,000 unreached, unengaged people groups. It is God’s plan that they be partakers of the plan of Christ Jesus through the gospel. No church will be more missions-minded than its pastors. If you don’t care, they won’t care. If you don’t pray for the nations, they won’t either.”

Akin also emphasized that churches should be about proclaiming the gospel in every venue – within the home, within the workplace, among the poor and to all races, nations and tongues.

“This salvation truth must be proclaimed to all the peoples,” Akin said.

Without an understanding of the theological truths taught in Ephesians, though, Akin said neither pastors nor the churches they lead will accurately reflect the gospel to the world.

“How are you preparing your people to live out the gospel in the public arena? How are you training your people to tell the gospel where they work, go to school and play sports?” Akin said. “Are you guilty of constructing Christian forts and cocoons? The gospel needs to go where people are lost.

“Today, King Jesus has a body that the Bible calls the church. It has eyes that see the needs of the world, ears that hear cries, feet that can be blistered and hands that can serve, all for the sake of Christ and the gospel. This church body is to make Christ real to the world. Our gospel should reflect this agenda. Our ecclesiological strategy should reflect this agenda.”

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