The restaurant walls are covered with Scripture verses, a Bible and calendar with daily devotions sit on each table.
The sign outside the building says Barry’s Cheese Steaks — a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky — but the employees and managers leaving their stations to pray with customers indicate that you’ll find more than a steaming hot sandwich at Barry’s Cheese Steaks.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Diagnose the problem. Recommend the treatment. An infectious disease specialist with 35 years of medical experience, Dr. Miguel Núñez now administers the wisdom of God’s Word and the integrity of a godly life to treat the spiritual ills of Latin America.
Whether he is preaching to his church of 2,300 on Sunday morning, responding to pressing questions on his internationally broadcast program Answers, or visiting a patient in the hospital, Núñez urges thousands to be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“We need to teach the wisdom of God in a way that would be believable. And one of the things that would make that message more credible is if that message would be backed up by a people walking with integrity of heart,” said Núñez, the 56-year-old senior pastor of Iglesia Bautista Internacional and founding president of Wisdom & Integrity Ministries, in an interview with Southern Seminary Magazine. “That's the mission — to present a biblical view of different issues that society usually deals with, in a way that would be clear and convincing.”
The entire seminary community will honor the role The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary played in the city’s recovery during the Great Flood by serving Louisville, Kentucky, in the third annual 1937 Project, April 18.
“We are a part of this community not by accident, but by God’s providence, and that means we have some responsibility to this community,” said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. during a March 17 chapel service.
The 1937 Project is a campus-wide outreach as part of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's Give A Day week of service, which Southern Seminary has participated in since 2012. The seminary’s outreach is designed to further its gospel witness and practically meet the needs of Louisville residents. It aims to show continued care and love for neighbors and non-profit organizations in the city and model Christian service for future church leaders.
Christians should celebrate their new relationship with American culture, knowing that the gospel will no longer conform them to culture but distinguish them from it, said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, during the Gheens Lectures at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, March 18-19.
“Increasingly, the most basic affirmations of Christianity are themselves seeming strange and odd in American culture,” Moore said. “This is actually good news for the advance of the kingdom, the future of the gospel, and for your ministries in 21st century America.”
“We can be Americans best if we are not Americans first,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in a March 19 chapel message at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Moore preached from 2 Chronicles 7, including verse 14, which Moore called the “John 3:16 of the American civil religion.” This verse says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Moore recounted his experience as a cub scout, when he heard a pastor who did not believe the Bible urge him to have faith in God to be a good American. Moore said this vague, patriotic moralism is very different from true Christianity.
Christians grow in love for their neighbors as they grow in grace and obedience toward God, R. Albert Mohler Jr. said to nearly 600 junior and high school students at Boyce College’s Renown Youth Conference, March 13-14.
Christianity is this: “We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind,” Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said. A Christian’s identity is established as one who loves God, but Christians cannot do this by themselves.
Preaching from Matthew 22:34-40 in which Jesus gives the greatest commandment, Mohler observed several aspects of the passage.
The soul, he said, is the seat of character in the Bible, and it is no accident that humans are emotional creatures. Next, a person’s strength is God-ordained to subdue the earth, he said. And loving the Lord with the mind gives Christians an intellectual responsibility. Christianity is based on a truth claim, so Christians should never let anyone tell them to throw away their mind.
Finally, Mohler discussed the last and, in Jesus’ words, the greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“One of the most basic human sins is to define and divide the world between those who are like us and those who aren’t like us,” he said, noting that loving neighbor does not come naturally to Christians.
“Increasingly, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, in obedience to Christ who has saved us, we then love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind,” he said. “And we then — everyday of our lives — as those who follow Christ, those who believe in him and have been saved from our sins, as those who are being conformed to the image of Christ, we love our neighbor as ourselves.”
Rick Holland, pastor of Mission Road Bible Church in Village, Kansas, preached two general sessions at Renown. He preached from 1 Peter 2:11-12, encouraging students not to underestimate the power of the threat within them: their lustful flesh. “You are your greatest threat,” he said, referring to Christian growth and sanctification.
He then gave three motivations for fighting against fleshly lust.
First, Christian citizenship demands the fight against sin, he said, encouraging students to strive for holiness, as God is holy. To help Christians battle against the flesh, Holland noted three parts of the gospel: facts, theology, and response. He asked whether students will believe Jesus was and is a historical figure, whether they will believe those facts are significant, and whether they will respond in repentance to Jesus’ call to fight sin and strive for holiness.
Second, Holland said, fleshly lusts provoke a passive attitude toward the fight against sin. If a person claims to know Christ yet knows nothing about the battle, there is a problem, he said. Holland warned students to live carefully in the fight, remembering that the most dangerous word is “enough.” Christians can never read enough, evangelize enough, or pray enough to save themselves. Only God through Christ can do that, he said.
Fruitful evangelism also motivates the fight. The battle within Christians affects those around them. And when “you’re living your faith in a godly, winsome way, it will impress even the most skeptical critic. But that will only happen out there when we understand the battle in here.”
Dan DeWitt, Dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary, also led a general session, “Finding and Following Jesus in and through the Mess.”
He preached from Hebrews 12 and also reviewed Old Testament pillars of faith that Hebrews 11 records. Every biblical hero is flawed, he said, except one: Jesus. DeWitt observed several parts in the passage: God’s purposes will stand even when good men fall; Christians do not need to put leaders on a pedestal; God, even when he uses sinful people, does not cancel the consequences of sin but Christians should also celebrate God’s work in other believers despite their sins; and faith is based on God’s character and not Christians’ abilities.
Christians need to drop the weight of sin, cast-off sin, run the race set before them, and fix their eyes on Jesus keep them from growing weary, he said.
The conference also featured seminary professors and breakout sessions about various topics in worldview and Christianity, aimed to help students think critically about the world around them and the issues they encounter.
Audio and video from Renown are available online at sbts.edu/resources.
Living out the Christian life is only possible through church unity, said Ben Stuart, executive director of Breakaway Ministries in College Station, Texas, during a March 12 chapel message at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Spirituality is always worked out in the context of community,” he said. “Christ’s likeness cannot be achieved individually.”
Preaching on Philippians 1:27-30, Stuart argued that fighting sin is impossible on one’s own. Both the Philippian church and the modern church were meant to be mutually encouraging and unified, traits which make up effective gospel communities, he said. Without unity, little of value is accomplished for the kingdom.
Christian suffering is part of God’s power, plan, and purpose for the universe, Florida pastor Ken Whitten said in a March 10 chapel message at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“The sovereignty of God and the sympathy of God do not conflict,” said Whitten, who has served as pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, for 25 years.
Preaching from Job 38-41, Whitten observed how suffering serves the purpose of God, even when the pain seems pointless or unbearable. Such suffering is a part of the Christian life and identity, according to Whitten. Job complained against God when he experienced suffering, but Whitten said this was the wrong response.
“Often, we treat homosexuality as if it’s a kind of self-contained issue on its own, and we don’t quite know what to do with it because we’re not anchoring it in what the gospel tells all people to do,” said Allberry. “Jesus says all of us need to repent and believe in the gospel.”
Allberry is associate pastor at St. Mary’s Church in Maidenhead, United Kingdom, and author of Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions about Homosexuality, the Bible, and Same-Sex Attraction. He shared his testimony, including his struggle with same-sex attraction, and lectured about Christian engagement with homosexuality in a series of lectures hosted by Boyce’s Center for Gospel and Culture at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Leading evangelicals discussed the nature and consequences of the gospel at the 9Marks at Southern conference, Feb. 27-28. The conference featured Mark Dever, founder of 9Marks and pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“The integrity of our claim to love God is intended to be confirmed by our membership in the local church,” said Dever in a session on the local church’s role in proclaiming the gospel. “Lose the church, lose the gospel.”
The gospel is not simply a message the church proclaims, it will affect the way Christians live, Dever said.