LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Young Christians are called to be “salt and light” and share the gospel where God has placed them, said Southern Baptist leaders during Boyce College’s Renown Conference, March 17-18.
“You don’t have to have a Bible college or seminary degree to get this understanding that Jesus has put me in the place he has me; he said, ‘Go home to be salt and light,’” said Eric Geiger, author and vice president of LifeWay Christian Resources.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dan Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern, also spoke to the more than 700 middle and high school students at the conference, themed “Salt and Light.”
Geiger spoke on Mark 5:1-20, the story of a demon-possessed man healed by Jesus. He focused on the last part of the text, when Jesus tells the man to go home and tell his friends about Jesus.
He emphasized that Christians should “report the news” of what God has done in their lives: “The news that we have is big, that our king stepped into our broken and fallen world to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Geiger said students should recognize what big news the gospel is, even if their testimonies are not as “radical” as the story of the demon-possessed man.
“Our story before Christ has rescued us is very similar to this man. We weren’t filled with a legion of demons, but evil has plagued our hearts, and Jesus has rescued us,” he said. “Every one of us who is his has been radically saved because we were dead, and he has made us alive.”
Mohler preached on Acts 19:11-20, encouraging students to make their names known in hell because of their gospel impact. In the passage, seven Jewish exorcists tried to cast out a demon by commanding it “in the name of the Jesus that Paul proclaims.” The demon responded, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” The demon-possessed man then attacked the exorcists and they fled, naked and wounded. In this bizarre story, Mohler found encouragement in the fact that the demons knew Paul. He challenged the students: “Do they know your name?”
Mohler said that Paul was known to the demons because he was a threat to them — “When you had Paul, you had Jesus.” As Christians strive to make Jesus known, they will also be known to the demons.
“One of the greatest honors for a Christian is being hated by the right people,” said Mohler.
Dumas preached from 1 Chronicles 11:22, a passage he called the “guts of Benaiah,” one of David’s mighty men, which should inspire the youth to “take risks and do hard gospel things.” The text describes Benaiah going into a pit on a snowy day and killing a lion; Dumas told the students he wanted them to imitate the example of living boldly, however that looked in their lives.
“The fear of missing out has to be greater than the fear of messing up,” he said, encouraging students not to miss out on chances to glorify God.
He also pointed out that Benaiah “didn’t become a lion-killer overnight.” He encouraged students to be faithful in the hard things God has put in their lives now, like sharing the gospel at school, reading their Bibles every day, and keeping their rooms clean.
“Bad circumstances become not obstacles but opportunities,” Dumas said.
Students attended breakout sessions from a number of speakers from Boyce College and Southern Seminary. Topics addressed various aspects of being salt and light, like discovering spiritual gifts or overseas missions. A special lunch was offered for prospective Boyce students.
Lexington Road, one of Boyce College’s traveling bands, led worship for the conference, and Christian hip hop artist Sho Baraka performed a late-night concert.
Audio and video of the sessions will be available online at equip.sbts.edu.