Go Conference calls all Christians to obey the call to the nations
January 19, 2017
More than 700 students, faculty and staff joined in for the eighth annual Go Conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Main speakers David Platt, Afshin Ziafat and Danny Akin offered multi-faceted approaches to this year’s topic, “To the Ends of the Earth,” challenging attendees to go wherever and however God calls them.
Opening the conference was David Platt, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), who urged students to trust God’s word. “My prayer for this conference plainly put is that God would raise up college students, men and women all around this room who will take God at his word,” said Platt.
Platt spoke from Numbers about the Israelites’ refusal to enter the Promised Land. He pointed out that the Israelites disregarded God’s goodness, doubted his greatness and disobeyed God’s word.
In applying this passage to Christ followers today, Platt reminded listeners of God’s promise to redeem people from all nations. “There are 11,000 different people groups out there…and Jesus has said that this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed to every single one of them,” he said.
Like the Israelites, Christians today have a choice to trust God at his word. “I challenge you based on God’s word to say to him, I’ll go wherever you want me to go,” Platt said.
Lead Pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas, Afshin Ziafat, taught from Ephesians chapter two on the importance of remembering the gospel. “I really believe that the foundation and fuel for missions is a proper understanding of the gospel of grace,” he said. “It’s going to move us to love people who we normally wouldn’t love. And if you really do love, then you will be compelled to count the cost to go.”
Speaking from personal experience as a former Muslim, Ziafat addressed how the gospel compels Christians not to shrink back in fear of those who are different but to have compassion for those who do not know Christ.
“Do you get the grace of God and does your heart beat with love for those you normally would hate?” Ziafat asked. “You haven’t done anything uniquely Christian until you love someone who hates you.”
Ziafat also encouraged listeners to consider the great movement of refugees from other nations to the United States as a gospel opportunity. He explained that we live in a unique time where the ends of the earth are coming to our doorsteps.
“We cannot applaud missionaries who have a good eternal perspective and are going to places that are dangerous and all of a sudden when the mission field comes to our Jerusalem, we board up our doors and say get out,” he challenged.
In his second sermon, Platt reminded listeners that the Great Commission is not just for missionaries who move to other parts of the world but for every follower of Christ. All Christians have the responsibility to pray, give and go in some form to make the gospel known. “This is how the gospel will spread to the nations, through disciples who are making disciples right where they live and then as we do it right where we live, we are open to doing it wherever God leads,” he said.
To wrap up the two-day conference, Danny Akin, president of Southeastern, taught from the book of Jonah, weaving in quotes from missionaries whose writings have shaped Akin’s life. Quoting from a journal of Henry Martin, Akin reminded students, “The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Jesus, the more intentionally missionary we become.”
Akin warned students not to be like Jonah who first ran from God and then ultimately ran against God when the Ninevites repented. Instead, Akin reminded that lost people matter to God and should therefore matter to Christians, no matter where they come from or where we have to go to tell them about Jesus.
“The question is what will you and I do,” Akin said. “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered, it is a command to be obeyed. Let’s obey for the good of the nations and the glory of the God who is worthy of all our praise.”
The Go Conference included “Go Talks” with Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei Church and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern, Keelan Cook, urban resource coordinator at the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern, and Sebastian Traeger, executive vice president of the IMB.
Attendees also had the opportunity to visit break out sessions led by Southeastern faculty and staff.
To watch videos from the Go Conference, click here.
To view Go Conference photos, click here.