Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, says different kinds of people bring different kinds of priorities into the life of the church.
It reflects the reality portrayed in 3 John — that some men prioritize their life around God and his mission, and others prioritize it around their own selfish agendas.
It’s important for pastors to encourage the spirit of men like Gaius and Demetrius in 3 John — men who lived for God and for the sake of the gospel — and discourage the spirit of men like Diotrephes, Akin said.
“Diotrephes was a man with a harmful agenda,” he said. “The presence of men like that is a death knell to the Great Commission in your church, because they’re not looking up to the Lord Jesus Christ and His agenda but looking at their own selfish desires and their agenda.”
Akin was one of eight speakers at this year’s Alabama Baptist Pastors Conference, held in a virtual format Nov. 16. During his message, he said he believes 3 John raises a very important question that “ought to be on the minds continually of every pastor, every church, every state convention, every association and the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole … are you on mission with God?”
They should aim to live like Gaius — a man who lived spiritually, walked truthfully, served faithfully and gave generously, Akin said.
“He structured his life in such a way that he was clearly on mission with God,” he said. “My prayer for Southern Baptists is that the things we say matter to us really do matter to us.”
At all costs, we should avoid living our lives like Diotrephes, Akin said.
“The Diotrephes of this world will stand steadfast against the Great Commission. They do not have a heart for the nations,” he said. “They are not interested in planting churches in the strategic cities of North America. They are not even interested in sharing the gospel with the lost man or woman or boy or girl just across the street from them … I pray the spirit of Diotrephes will be put to death for the sake of the Great Commission.”
The conference — an all-virtual, cost-free conference that you can watch from your home or office at your own pace — is still available at albaptistpc.com/virtual-conference.