Southeastern at the Southern Baptist Convention
January 19, 2017
On Tuesday morning, Danny Akin opened his seminary report with a citation from Psalm 96. He said, “The Psalmist says that the Lord is greatly to be praised for everything. Well, we are greatly praising the Lord for his faithfulness to us at Southeastern.”
Akin said Southeastern recently surpassed the 3,000 student enrollment mark. Considering its 1992 enrollment of 550 students and its academic probation, Akin said the school has blossomed by God’s grace into a fruitful and abounding seminary.
“Southeastern is a Great Commission seminary, which means that every professor is a Great Commission professor, every classroom is a Great Commission classroom, every student a Great Commission student, and by God’s grace, every graduate becomes a Great Commission graduate.”
Akin said that the seminary could only take this stance as a Great Commission institution because the school rests on an infallible and inerrant Word.
Akin also commented on the declining numbers for the Southern Baptist Convention over the past several years, but he believes it is a great responsibility – alongside the other five seminaries – to train “hot-hearted, mission-minded, fervent and evangelistic pastors who expound the Word of God and teach others to do the same.”
Closing his seminary report, Akin said that Southeastern is committed to serving pastors who see their churches as basecamps that help train “green berets for Christ whether these individuals are going across the street or across the globe to share the gospel.
On Wednesday, Southeastern held its annual luncheon to over 250 attendees in order to celebrate God’s faithfulness – past, present and future.
Dr. Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Charlotte, NC, and Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Woodstock in Woodstock, GA, shared past experiences as students at Southeastern.
Hunt said, “We love our school and want to make a difference in the world, but that difference begins with investing in the lives of students.”
Dr. Akin said that equipping students is a great opportunity aimed at kingdom investments. “The 21st century culture is looking more and more like the 1st century,” said Akin. “In response to this, biblical inerrancy must be reclaimed in order to proclaim Christ faithfully today.”
Southeastern, then, is going to love God’s Word so that it might love his world, noted Akin.
Looking toward the future of the school, Akin said that Southeastern is building both the greatest missionary seminary and a more ethnically diverse seminary committed to serving Christ Jesus.
Akin said, “In a world satisfied with a convenient and comfortable Christianity, we are building a seminary that proclaims Christ to the ends of the earth and we want to build a school that looks like the church in heaven where every tribe, people, tongue and nation are represented.”
Also on Wednesday, Akin had the unique opportunity of delivering the convention sermon. Akin’s message was entitled, “Will Southern Baptists Be Great Commission Baptists?”
Addressing the name change in the 2012 Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, Akin said that messengers approved the name “Great Commission Baptists” as a complementary designation for the convention of churches.
“For me,” Akin emphasized, “the issue is not will we be called Great Commission Baptists. The real issue is will we be Great Commission Baptists?”
The president of Southeastern preached from Romans 15:14-24 and illustrated for the attendees six undeniable marks of a Great Commission people.
Teaching from Romans 15:16-18, Akin said that Southern Baptists are to keep their focus on the most important things while still doing many good things. He said, “Southern Baptists do many good things and we should. But, we must keep our focus on the most important thing: Jesus Christ and his gospel.”
Akin added that Southern Baptists must be a Christ-centered people who boast only in Jesus and who see the ministry of bringing the nations to Jesus as offerings of worship to the Triune God. “Paul knew that being Christ-centered would radically impact how we think, how we speak, how we act and how we live,” said Akin.
“The Roman church never lost sight of the centrality and nature of the gospel. Why? Paul reveals this to them in the beginning of his letter: ‘For I, Paul, am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.’”
Akin said that God’s people are to be consumed in getting the gospel to those who have never heard the name of Jesus. He noted that God’s people “must be in those places where the name of Christ is not known.”
Southern Baptists, remarked Akin, are to see themselves as a missionary people with each one doing his or her part to see the mission completed. “Whether you are willing to go, give financially, or pray, you are to play a part in the Great Commission,” Akin said.
Akin concluded the convention message with a story about the late Adrian Rogers. Rogers told Akin that during the Conservative Resurgence, many Southern Baptists were on the battlefield fighting shoulder-to-shoulder against a common enemy. But after the battle had been won, many brothers and sisters retreated to the barracks and unfortunately began fighting against one another in the barracks.
Akin concluded, “What Southern Baptists need to do is get out of the barracks and back on the battlefield to fight the real enemies: sin, Satan, death and hell. And by God’s grace alone will Southern Baptists be an obedient, Great-Commission people who fight the good fight until the day we see coming from heaven a rider on a white horse!”