Why We Believe the GCRTF Report is Good for the Future of the SBC (2a): Making Our Values Transparent
By Daniel Akin and Steven A. McKinion
Building on the recommendation to adopt a clear mission statement for the Convention and its work, the GCR Task Force has recommended that Southern Baptists adopt eight Core Values. The result, we pray, will be a culture in which Southern Baptists grow together in the shared work of the Great Commission. This article addresses our agreement with the first two of these Core Values. Anyone reading blogs, or for that matter various media outlets, know we have a very unhealthy culture. The rhetoric we hear from too many of our brothers and sisters across our convention of churches and in our churches is neither Christ-honoring or edifying to the churches of the SBC. By God’s grace this can change. For His glory it must!
Value 1: Christ-likeness. We depend on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and prayer to make us more like Jesus Christ.
In John 4:34, Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” The work of God to bring salvation “to the nations” was promised to Abraham in Genesis. Throughout the Old Testament the promise continued to be repeated as God’s people looked for the coming of God’s salvation to the nations. As the incarnate Son of God, Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of that promise. His one mission was to live, die, and be raised from the dead to bring this salvation to the nations.
As followers of Jesus, Southern Baptists must embrace this same, single mission: the Gospel to the nations. Christ-likeness is participation in the Great Commission and its ultimate fulfillment.
The work of the Great Commission is the work of God in which His people join Him. For Southern Baptists to work more effectively in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we must embrace the divine means to the divine end, and that requires walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Luke’s account of the Great Commission (Luke 24:44-49) Jesus told his disciples that the Gospel would be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem, but that they should wait in Jerusalem until they were “empowered from on high.” The empowering came in Acts 2, when these disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Father’s will to bring salvation to the nations through the Incarnate Son is brought about only by the power of the Holy Spirit. For disciples of Jesus to be effective in the Great Commission we must be transformed by the Spirit and empowered by Him.
Because the Great Commission is a divine work, it requires the power of the Holy Spirit, whose work in the believer is accomplished, in large part, through prayer. The GCR Task Forces recognizes that Southern Baptists must do more than simply work harder at proclaiming the Gospel; we must depend more on the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives by becoming a people who value prayer. Talking about the Great Commission and giving financially toward its end are of no value without the Holy Spirit and prayer.
Spirit-led Southern Baptists will be committed to the work of the Great Commission for the glory of God as our greatest priority. Spirit-led praying is focused on God’s work of getting the Gospel to the nations. When we are transformed by the Holy Spirit our priorities will reflect the priority of Jesus: the Father’s will of salvation for all people. We must become men and women of deep and abiding prayer for God’s “will to come, on earth as it is in heaven.” Knowing that the will of God is that none should perish, but that all should come to faith (2 Peter 3:9), should inspire us to practice prayer that is consistent with the will of God.
Value 2: Truth. We stand together in the truth of God’s inerrant Word, celebrating the faith once for all delivered to the saints.
The Bible is the Story of God at work in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). The GCR Task Force has recommended that Southern Baptists make known explicitly our commitment to the veracity of this Story that tells of the one, true God of the universe and His work to save humankind from sin and death through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Clearly, the Conservative Resurgence is the basis of the Great Commission Resurgence. However, it was never intended to be an end in and of itself! Some, we fear, have not understood this very well.
As inerrant, the Scriptures are the only reliable message of God’s work. This is our common faith that was promised by the prophets, revealed by Jesus Christ to the apostles, and delivered to the saints to be handed down. We agree with the task force that Southern Baptists must affirm explicitly that we preach only this message: Christ according to the Scriptures.
Only by means of this faith can men and women in North America and around the world be reconciled to God and have salvation. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ is saving and life-transforming (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5).
If the Bible is true, then there is only one God who created everything that exists (Genesis 1-2). If the Bible is true then God made Adam and Eve, and put them in the garden to worship and obey Him. If the Bible is true, all human beings are descended from this first couple, meaning there are no races, just people. If the Bible is true, everyone is separated from God and in need of salvation both because of Adam’s original sin and their actual sins (Romans 5:12-21). If the Bible is true, God promised to Adam and Eve immediately following the Fall that He would provide a Son through whom they could find redemption (Genesis 3:15). If the Bible is true, the Son of God became a man in Jesus Christ (John 1:14). If the Bible is true, Jesus lived, died, and was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). If the Bible is true, faith in Jesus is the only way to be forgiven of sin and reconciled to God (Romans 10:9-10, 13). If the Bible is true, then people come to faith only by hearing this Gospel told to them by people who are already believers. If the Bible is true, then Christians tell the Gospel Story to the nations because they are empowered and sent out by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). If the Bible is true, then Jesus will return to judge everyone, whether they have life in Him or not. If the Bible is true, there is an eternal reward for those who trust in Jesus and an eternal hell for those who do not (Revelation 20-22). If the Bible is true, Southern Baptists rightly celebrate the Gospel only when they proclaim it to the nations.
The Conservative Resurgence was a great effort among Southern Baptists to reflect our common commitment to the Truth of Scripture. But simply to claim a belief in an inerrant Bible is not enough. Because we believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God – the only reliable and infallible account of God’s work of salvation – we have no option but to join Him in the work of the Gospel. As Southern Baptists stand together on the truth of God’s Word, our celebration of the Gospel will naturally result in its proclamation to the nations.