We’re less than a week away from November 6th, a very important day in the life of our country. Our entire country is thinking and talking about politics during this election season. What does the Gospel have to say about politics? Does God’s Word give us any instruction on how we should vote or how we should respond to the outcome of the vote next Tuesday? The answer to both of those questions is a resounding “YES”! Space does not allow for a full answer to these questions here, but let me share three brief encouragements from God’s Word:
1) Vote. It’s estimated that between 17 and 30 million evangelicals did not vote in 2008. While it’s true that you will not find a chapter and verse that says “Thou shalt vote,” biblical principles clearly lead us to the conclusion that Christians bear a unique responsibility to “speak the truth” in the public square. Voting is an important means of doing just that!
2) Vote the Bible. I heard a great analogy just this morning that politics is much like a football game. The two teams are the two parties, and usually, they are trying to tackle each other to the ground! The church is much like the third group of individuals on the field of play; we’re the ones wearing the stripes, the referees. As Christians we’re not forever beholden to any political party, no matter what our “party identification” card may say. Like football refs, we are bound to the Rulebook and our role is to consistently remind the two teams of the rules of play. As Christ-followers, we are called to stand on the authority of God’s Word and to vote in accordance with what God has already said! This means we vote for the candidate (no matter the party) whose views and policies are most in keeping with the Bible. This means when clear biblical issues are on the ballot (like the protection of human life at all stages (Ps.139; Jer. 1:5; Gen 9:5-7; Lev 19:32) and the preservation of marriage and family (Gen 2:20-24; Matt. 19; Rom 1) we vote for what God has said even if it’s increasingly unpopular in our society.
3) Trust that God is on His Throne! Ultimately we can’t control the outcome of elections. We can control our vote. We can pray and ask God for His mercy and grace on our nation and for Him to give us leaders after His heart. But again, we can’t control elections. However, we do serve a God who is in complete control! When we wake up on November 7th, whether the candidates we deem to be most in keeping with God’s Word have won or lost, God is still on His throne! Our hope is not fixed on Mitt Romney or Barack Obama—our hope is fixed on Jesus Christ! Be encouraged by Scriptures like Daniel 4:35, Isaiah 40:17, and Romans 13:1. God’s Kingdom is marching on! We don’t know the exact manner in which the end times will unfold or what America’s role will be in those days, but we do know that God will put the exclamation point at the end of the sentence of human history. At the end of all things, there will be Christ, and there will be a blood-covered people gathered around His throne from every nation (Rev 5, 7). That’s where history is headed, so let’s be at peace church! The winner on November 6th will not change who will win in the end, who has already won at the cross, or who is counted a winner in God’s sight by virtue of faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 8:37).
We at B21 are very excited to welcome Dr. John Piper as one of our panelists for this year’s SBC luncheon panel event. Piper and his wife Noël have five children and an ever growing number of grandchildren. Modeling longevity in the pastorate, Piper has served as Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for over thirty-one years.
In addition to his influential preaching ministry (access Piper’s sermon archive and many other resources at www.desiringgod.org), John Piper’s extensive writing ministry will also be well-known to our luncheon attendees. Throughout the years, Piper has penned over thirty books including popular and influential works like: Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, Don’t Waste Your Life, and of special importance due to our focus on mission for this year’s panel, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions.
The authors of B21 are already indebted to John Piper for teaching us about joy, about missions, about God’s passion for His own glory, about God’s supremacy in all things, about appreciating great thinkers of the past like Jonathan Edwards, and on and on we could go. We are now further indebted to him because of his willingness to be a part of this year’s B21 panel event. Make plans to join us at the SBC in Arizona, as John Piper and other influential leaders help us think through how to be on mission for God’s great glory!
About the B21 Panel SBC2011:
When: June 14th, during the SBC lunch break (roughly 12pm-1pm)
Where: Phoenix Convention Center (PCC), West Building in Room 301A
What: A lunch panel discussion on Mission, the SBC, and more…
Who: Danny Akin, Kevin Ezell, Albert Mohler, John Piper, and David Platt
- General Registration (April 26th – June 10th) – $15
Note: This $15 will include a lunch. We understand that $15 may seem high, but it is an average price at convention centers. We are not doing this to make money. In fact, we are attempting to raise money with sponsors to keep the cost at $15. Lunch in Phoenix downtown area will be costly, why not spend the time at a lunch listening to men like John Piper and David Platt talk about critical issues for the church. Thanks for considering this and we hope to see you there!!
First: There has been a location change to accommodate more attendees (sign up soon because seats are filling up). The B21 Panel will be held in W414 in the convention center.
Second: The first 1,000 registered will receive four books. So REGISTER NOW.
When is the b21 panel: June 15th 11:30 am – 1:30 pm (during the lunch break of this year’s Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando immediately following President Hunt’s address). Lunch will be provided.
Where is the b21 panel: The panel will be on site at the Convention in the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), W414 (4th floor).
Who is on the b21 panel:
How much is the b21 panel: There will be a $7 charge that will accompany registration for the event. This $7 will include lunch and books. REGISTER HERE
We at B21 are excited to welcome Dr. David Platt to be a part of our SBC Panel Luncheon for the second consecutive year! For those who may be unfamiliar with David and his ministry, he currently serves as pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. In addition to two undergraduate degrees, David has earned three advanced degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS). These degrees include a Master of Divinity (M.Div.), a Master of Theology (Th.M.), and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in preaching. Prior to his arrival at The Church of Brook Hills, David’s ministry experience included serving as an Assistant Professor at NOBTS, serving as the Staff Evangelist at Edgewater Baptist in New Orleans, and traveling nationally and internationally teaching the Word.
David’s wife’s name is Heather. They were married in 1999 and have two sons, Caleb and Joshua. On The Church at Brook Hills’ website, they describe the passion of their pastor for discipleship in the following words:
David holds a deep and abiding passion for global disciple-making. “I believe that God has uniquely created every one of His people to impact the world. Some may count it as idealistic, but I believe it is thoroughly biblical, rooted in Psalm 67:1-2, yet covering Scripture from beginning to end. God is in the business of blessing His people so that His ways and His salvation might be made known among all people.”
David practices what he preaches through his travel nationally and internationally, teaching from God’s Word in churches, seminaries, the underground church or even under a shade tree in Africa or Latin America.
More than anything else, this is what David Platt is known for–he is a preacher of God’s Word who is passionate about the Word, about the lost, about discipleship, and about His Lord. I first heard David preach at a Student Life Camp in Deland, Florida in the summer of 2007. Since then I have listened to many of his sermons and have been personally blessed by his preaching ministry.
Two exciting endeavors that David has undertaken at the Church of Brook Hills are Secret Church and the Radical Experiment. Secret Church is Brook Hills’ “house church” modeled after believers who are meeting in secret all across the globe. Thousands of believers meet at each of Brook Hill’s periodic Secret Church meetings to study the Word for four to six hours and pray for persecuted believers. To learn more about Secret Church, check out the website here. The Radical Experiment is a one-year church-wide emphasis currently underway at The Church of Brook Hills. According to the website, “The goal of the Radical Experiment is for individuals, families, and our faith family to spend our lives together for the sake of the church, the lost, and the poor around the world to the glory of God.” Leading the way in sacrificing financially, David is challenging his church to set a cap on their lifestyle, freeing more money with which to serve the Lord and minister to others. He is also challenging all church members to give 2% of their year (one week) to go on a mission trip and share Christ with the lost.
David has just released a new book called Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. To learn more about the vision behind this book, and to understand more of David’s heart for believers in America, check out the “Radical” promotion video.
Many thanks to Dr. David Platt for taking the time to be a part of our panel discussion on June 15th at this year’s SBC Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. We look forward to hearing from you and pray God’s continued blessings on your ministry, your family, and your church family.
Among church leaders today, there aren’t many topics hotter than church growth. Just about everyone wants to see their church grow, and just about everyone is talking about how to make that happen. Now, you will find some churches that delight themselves in remaining the size that they are. These church leaders will say things like, “We don’t want to be like the big church down the road” or, “We’re big enough.” Without being too harsh here, is any church “big enough” if there is even one lost person living nearby? (Now one can argue whether “church growth” should happen by growing one church, planting new churches, or both, but that is a different matter). Among the vast majority of church leaders who are seeking church growth, there are two basic groups—those who seek church growth for the right reasons and those who seek it for the wrong reasons. Some are consumed with “numbers” because they know they can’t “move up” to a bigger church without leading their church to grow. Some seek numerical growth because they have tied their identity and sense of worth to “success,” and in their eyes, the only means to measure ministerial “success” is in terms of numbers. We all need to be on our guard against this type of thinking because we all struggle with a desire for man’s approval. (At least I know I do, and it would really make me feel better if I’m not alone here…but there I go again with wanting man’s approval!) I believe many pastors, however, are seeking church growth for the right reasons. They believe the Bible, they love the lost, they want to obey the Great Commission, and they want to be used to further the Kingdom where God has placed them.
Even with the right motivation for seeking church growth in place, it can still be very confusing for today’s church leaders. Every speaker, every “church growth guru” suggests a different way to “grow the church.” “What you need is better marketing.” “What you need is more contemporary music.” “What you need is a big outreach event.” “What you need is another staff member.” “What you need is a shorter, more ‘relevant’ message.” “What you need is more video in worship.” “What you need is casual dress on the platform.” “What you need is candles, curtains, or ancient-looking décor.” Each guru believes his solution is the missing element that, if put in place, can help take your church “to the next level.”
Well what does the Bible say “grows” a church? Actually the Bible has a lot to say about this; in the New Testament we read many things we can do to help grow a church (quantitatively and qualitatively) and many things we can do to damage a church and stunt its growth. I want to draw our attention to one repeated phrase in the book of Acts which reads, “But the word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20). That the early church grew exponentially in the book of Acts cannot be denied. After all, the church added 3000 members on its birthday (Acts 2)! But I believe we may have failed to see the connection between the explosive growth of the New Testament church and this repeated phrase in Acts about the “growth” of the word of God. The two are not unrelated.
When the word grows, the church grows! In short, the message of Acts concerning church growth is quite simple—believe the word, preach the word, and live out the word. God gave us a promise about the power of His word back in Isaiah 55 when He declared, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” And what is the purpose for which God has sent forth His word if not reaching the lost with the message of salvation and discipling the saved (Matt 28:18-20)? Yet despite this promise, and despite the word-based pattern of growth in the book of Acts, many church leaders today are seemingly unsure of the power of the word alone to change lives and “grow their church.” Though we are called to “believe the word,” there are portions many church leaders do not wish to believe and therefore do not wish to obey. Though we are called to “preach the word,” many church leaders are shortening their sermons, adding in more stories and video clips until all that is left of the “preached word” is a little kernel. Is this because we believe a kernel is all that our culture will find palatable? Is this because we believe the power to change lives lies in our ability to communicate rather than in the word itself? And though we are called to “live the word,” believers are not living it, because to a great extent our church leaders are not teaching it or modeling it.
We need to bear in mind that increased attendance at our churches does not necessarily equate to the “growth of the word.” The church can grow and the word can shrink. There are many churches in our country where this is in fact taking place; drawing a crowd is not the same as “making disciples.” The inverse can occur as well; one can faithfully preach the word in a church where there are many false disciples and actually drive some church attenders away. In this case, the word grows but the church shrinks. (Remember, Jesus, the Living Word, drove some ‘disciples’ away too (John 6:66)).
It is instructive to look at the context of the instances in Acts where this phrase, “the word of God grew,” is used by Dr. Luke. It is used in Acts 6:7 after the selection of seven servants to minister to the church body. Here, the word of God spreads (and the “number of disciples multiplie[s] greatly”) because members of the body use their gifts and church leaders prioritize the word and prayer (6:4). In Acts 19, Luke writes that the “word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” (v. 20). In the context, the growth of the word can be linked to Paul’s preaching of the word (v. 8), God’s miracle-working power (v. 11ff), and the confession and repentance of the people (vv. 18-19). Perhaps this last item, confession and repentance, is worthy of special notice. When God’s people confess and forsake their sin, the word of God will grow in them and through them. It was true then; it is still true today. Pastors can lead the way here by modeling confession and by building a “culture of repentance” in their churches.
Perhaps my favorite instance of this phrase, however, is found in Acts 12:24. Here, the context reveals that King Herod attempts to steal the glory that belongs to God, is eaten by worms, and dies. “But,” Luke adds in contrast, “the word of God grew and multiplied.” Thanks to the worms, the egomaniacal King literally shrunk down to nothing. The worms kept on eating, but the word kept on spreading. Perhaps the reason the word isn’t spreading through our leadership is because we, like Herod, are desperately longing to hear from our people “The voice of a god and not of a man!” (This brings us back to the problem of seeking church growth for the wrong reasons—the growth of our Kingdom rather than God’s). Yet ironically, we have been given the chance as preachers of God’s word to speak with the “voice of God.” It happens when we faithfully speak God’s words after him, explaining the Scriptures He has given us, and trusting that God’s word will do what God’s word has always done—“grow and multiply.”
With the B21 Panel coming up in less than a week, our excitement is building about this important time of discussing current issues in SBC life and the future of our convention. Of course the highlight of our upcoming panel event will be gaining insight and wisdom from the godly SBC leaders that have graciously agreed to be a part of this special day. We are so glad that one of the leaders who will be a part of the B21 panel is Dr. Daniel L. Akin, the President of Southeastern Baptist Theology Seminary , in Wake Forest, NC. It is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Akin, who is father to two of our B21 writers and a mentor to several other writers on our blog (myself included), to those B21 readers unfamiliar with him and his work.
Dr. Akin earned degrees at both Criswell College and Southwestern Seminary (SWBTS) before earning his PhD at UT Arlington. He has served in various teaching and administrative roles at Criswell College, Southeastern Seminary, and Southern Seminary (SBTS) before returning to Southeastern (SEBTS) in 2004 as President and Professor of Preaching and Theology. Dr. Akin has written numerous articles and books. Some of Dr. Akin’s most well-known books include: Epistles of John in the NAC series, God on Sex, Five who Changed the World, and his edited work, Theology for the Church. Dr. Akin, along with other professors from SEBTS, contributes to the well-read blog, Between the Times.
In addition to his responsibilities at Southeastern and his writing ministry, Dr. Akin also has a preaching ministry which carries him all over the United States. He can be found in the pulpit of an SBC church on nearly every weekend of the year. Despite this demanding schedule, Dr. Akin models for those of us in ministry two primary commitments—to his family and his local church. Dr. Akin has been a loving husband to Charlotte, his wife of thirty-one years. Dr. Akin is also the proud father of four sons, each of whom is either preparing for ministry or currently in ministry (two sons are on the mission field, one is in seminary, and one is pastoring a church in KY). The Akins are faithful and active members of Wake Crossroads Baptist Church where Dr. Akin teaches each Wednesday evening.
Some previously unfamiliar with Dr. Akin have come to know him because of his key role in the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) movement. Dr. Akin defined the key principles of the GCR in his address “Axioms for a Great Commission Resurgence,” which was delivered on April 16th in the chapel of SEBTS. This address contained twelve axioms for a GCR which have been helpfully summarized here. Following this address, Dr. Akin co-authored with Dr. Johnny Hunt, the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the GCR Resolution document, which contains ten essential articles for a GCR in the SBC. You can read the resolution and add your signature supporting the GCR here.
While the two B21 writers who are sons of Dr. Akin could certainly speak more personally about the impact Dr. Akin has had on their lives, I know that along with many other students at SEBTS, I can speak for the impact that Dr. Akin has had on me. While Dr. Akin would be the first to confess that he is far from a perfect man and is a sinner saved by grace, he models for me, and so many others, what a man in ministry should be. He is a scholar who loves the Word of God. He is a husband and father who loves his family. He is a seminary president who loves the students he serves. He is a churchman who loves and serves in his local church. He is a convention leader who loves the denomination that trained him and has entrusted him with his position. But most of all, He is a follower of Christ who loves King Jesus! Thank you Dr. Akin for being a part of the upcoming B21 panel event–we at B21 and our readers look forward to hearing from you.
–Scott S. Wilson
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