Akin in chapel: ‘Trust the Bible’
Christians should love the Word of God because it is what God uses to bring his people to belief in Jesus, said Daniel L. Akin, president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary during a March 13 chapel address at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“If you’re here today and you are indeed a follower of Jesus Christ … you did not come to faith in him apart from the Word of God,” Akin said. “Someone cared enough and someone loved you enough to open the Bible and share the gospel, and that’s how we come to faith in Jesus.”
The historical reliability of the Bible often comes into question in the secular sphere, Akin said. Skeptics like University of North Carolina New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, a former evangelical, challenge the truth of the Christian scriptures. Using the many textual variants throughout the New Testament to cast doubt on the accuracy of the text, Ehrman seeks to “deconvert” the Christian students in his classes, Akin said. Many of them were raised in a culturally Christian setting and claim to believe in the Bible’s inerrancy but haven’t read it. Believers show what they believe by how they use and love the Bible, not just by what they say about it, according to Akin.
Preaching from 2 Timothy 3:10-17, Akin argued Christians need to love and treasure their Bibles. The book of 2 Timothy is the last book Paul wrote before his execution, so it carries a special amount of weight, Akin said. Timothy, the recipient of this letter, was taught from childhood by his mother and grandmother to love the Scriptures, and in Paul’s final letter the apostle urged Timothy to remain committed to what he learned. Christians today can learn a similar lesson — to treasure the godly heritage they received.
“You can trust those who love you most,” Akin said, comparing Timothy’s mother and grandmother with skeptics like Ehrman. “Why would you trust someone who doesn’t love you? Why would you trust some intellectual snob whose goal in life is to tear down your faith? Why in the world would you pay attention to someone like that? No, Paul says [to Timothy], ‘You had a grandmother and mother who loved you more than anyone else in this world, and they taught you the Scriptures. God used your grandmother and your mother to lead you to faith in Christ.’”
Treasuring the Word of God will prepare Christians to face persecution, Akin said. Paul assumes godly Christians will face some kind of persecution during their lives. While Christians in the United States don’t face the same kind of abject mistreatment many other Christians throughout the world do, believers everywhere face mocking, ridicule, and other kinds of belittling opposition. Only the Bible prepares anyone to endure such treatment, Akin said.
A proper understanding of the Bible’s place in Christian doctrine also emboldens all missions work, Akin argued. Using the categories of “general” and “special” revelation from systematic theology, Akin said only special revelation leads to salvation. No one is saved apart from it. While general revelation (the created world and a conscience weighed down by guilt) may condemn a soul, only special revelation (Scripture) can save. Therefore, Akin argued, missions is essential.
“I’m grateful to be part of a missionary denomination,” he said of the Southern Baptist Convention. “I’m grateful that your school is a school that cares about the nations. I’m glad that we are part of a people that has a driving ambition to get the gospel to every single person on the planet, because if they don’t hear the gospel, they cannot be saved.”
Knowing the Bible well and loving it not only drives Christians toward missions abroad, but prepares them to face false teachers and deceiving doctrine, Akin said. These false teachers not only deceive others, but also deceive themselves, according to Paul in 2 Timothy. This means the Christian witness toward skeptics and critics like Bart Ehrman must be nuanced, Akin said. Christians should be people of conviction and leave no room for doubt about where they stand on theological issues.
Yet, they also need to be compassionate toward those who don’t believe. While those false teachers are leading others astray, they also desperately need the grace of the gospel themselves, he said. The Bible doesn’t just expose these false teachers, but it calls believers to minister to them.
“The Bible teaches us that God’s Word will protect us from false teachers,” Akin said. “It exposes them and it helps us actually understand their heart and their spiritual condition. It will prepare us well not only to defend the faith, but also to fulfill the assignment of an evangelist in their life.”
Audio and video of the chapel message are available at equip.sbts.edu/video.