Aspect 1: A Mission Revealed in the Christian Scriptures

(By: Danny Akin & Bruce Ashford)

The character of God is the basis for a Great Commission Resurgence. In the Bible’s opening act of creation, we learn that he is a God of life and love. In the aftermath of the Fall, we find that he is still a God of life and love, setting in motion His plan to redeem His image-bearers and restore his creation. It is this same God who gave the Great Commission, who empowered the early church of Acts in her mission, and who will empower us in ours. Our knowledge of these teachings, indeed our confidence in them, stems from the narrative set forth in the Christian Scriptures. If we cannot trust the Scriptures, we have nowhere to turn for a trustworthy word about God and his character, or the church and her mission.

The churches of the SBC confess that the Scriptures are ipsissma verba Dei, the very words of God. Time and again, the Scriptures claim to be the word of God. We know that the Scriptures are inspired, or literally “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16). The words of Scripture are more sure even than Peter’s eyewitness experience of our Lord’s life and ministry (2 Pet 2:16-21). Indeed the Scriptures instruct us not to allow our human traditions to make the word of God “of no effect” (Mk 7:13).

This doctrine of inspiration is foundational. Because the Scriptures are inspired, we confess that the biblical autographs are perfect (Pr 30:5-6), meaning that they are without error. Christian Scripture is infallible-it will not lead us astray (Ps 19:7). It is inspired in the whole and not merely in the parts (Ro 15:4), as given in the autographs (2 Pet 1:21). God has given us the Scriptures through the pens of human authors (2 Sam 23:2) who used human language (Mt 4:4). In other words, the Bible is the word of God written in the words of men. Moreover, it is sufficient to instruct us concerning life and salvation (2 Tim 3:15), sufficiently clear for us to comprehend (Ps 119:105), and sufficiently powerful to convict sinners and deliver the good news of God’s salvation (Heb 4:12). Finally, the Scriptures are Christocentric: the purpose of Scripture is to present Christ (Lk 24:44-49). Christ himself stands at the center of the Scriptures-he is the linchpin of the canon and the towering actor in the drama of history.

This is our confession. Although it may be treated as intellectual leprosy in the academy, and although modern and postmodern socio-cultural currents are diametrically opposed to it, we stand firmly upon this doctrine. Other issues pale before this one. The doctrine of Scripture is a “watershed” of theological conviction, and its significance reaches across the whole of the Christian mission.[1] When we lose conviction concerning God’s word, we will surely feel the effects in other doctrines and in the life and practice of the church. If we lose our way in relation to the Scriptures, we will lose our way in Christology and soteriology. If we do not have a sure word from God, we will soon lose our mission.[2]

[1] This is the point Danny Akin makes when he writes, “we must never forget that the ‘war for the Bible’ is not over and it will never end until Jesus returns. Launched by Satan in the Garden of Eden, ‘has God said” will continue to be under assault, and we must be ever on guard and ready to answer those who question its veracity and accuracy. Daniel Akin, Axioms for a Great Commission Resurgence (Wake Forest, NC: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009), 10.

[2] For further reflection, we commend Paige Patterson, “Beyond the Impasse: Fidelity to the God Who Speaks,” in Robinson B. James and David S. Dockery, eds., Beyond the Impasse? Scripture, Interpretation, and Theology in Baptist Life (Nashville: Baptist Sunday School Board, 1992), 149-168, and David S. Dockery, Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Proposal (Nashville: B&H, 2008), 16-57. The Patterson chapter is helpful in exposing how an errant view of Scripture issues forth in an errant mission. The Dockery chapter is an extended argument that, for Baptists, Scripture, global missions, and cooperation go hand in hand. None can be separated from the others.

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  1 Comment

  1. patrick   •  

    Thank you, Dr. Ashford.

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