Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) spoke in chapel at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS).
Moore earned his Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and his Doctor in Systematic Theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The chapel service was held on Southeastern’s campus in Binkley Chapel on Dec. 3.
Moore stated, “It is such a joy to stand here. … You have this really intangible spirit among you of joyful gravity, of people who love each other, who love the lost and who love reaching the world. … There is a true spirit of joy and unity in this place.”
He preached on 2 Timothy 2:22-26. Moore highlighted Paul’s constant encouragement to Timothy to fight the good fight of faith and to overcome his timidity.
Moore identified that many Christians today are interested in focusing on a brand of beliefs and have lost the will to fight.
“Scripture says be kind to everyone, show honor to everyone; Paul says show this kindness and gentleness to your opponents,” he said.
Moore encouraged listeners to avoid foolish controversies that breed quarrels and stray from focusing on Jesus. “Kindness is not a break from fighting, kindness is how you fight,” he said.
He shared an example about the interaction a church member had with someone he had witnessed to in the past. The Christian focused on issues of the law instead of grace to the unbeliever. Moore said, “The issue in his life is that he is heading toward judgment without a mediator, without a Gospel, without Christ.”
He addressed common situations that believers face in the 21st Century. “The reason we do not snarl at the Wal-Mart clerk that says ‘happy holidays’ is not because we do not care, it is because we have the confident tranquility that when Jesus says upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevent it, that Jesus knows what He is talking about,” Moore said. “Jesus is willing to go as He is being arrested, He is not willing for Peter take up the sword to fight … [God] is engaged in the kind of war and the kind of fight that is paid for in blood.”
“There is a difference between someone who will fight the good fight of faith and someone who is looking for a fight,” Moore said. “There is a certain carnality in our personality that would be fighting anyway.”
“People that we are talking with … who think you are crazy or bigoted or evil, these people are not your enemies,” he said. “Scripture says we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but we wrestle against principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”
Moore urged the audience to remember that our goal is for those around us to repent and come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. “We speak to them with truth and conviction but with gentleness and kindness because our ultimate agenda is not to win an argument,“ Moore said. “A New Jerusalem made up of those of every tribe, tongue, nation and language redeemed with blood, that is the commission we have been given.”
“Our test right now is to remember what you have learned from whom you have heard it, you speak the truth and you speak the truth with the gentleness of a steamroller,” Moore said.
Moore concluded, “We speak, fight and stand, but we do that with a Christ-like manner that recognizes that kindness isn’t surrender, gentleness isn’t passivity, kindness, gentleness, conviction, that’s war.”
During the service, the annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was collected for International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries. Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS, stated that the Christmas season is “A time to remember, because He came, we go.”
Since 1888 when the offering began, over $3.5 billion has been raised to fund missionaries; the goal this year is $135 million. To make a donation to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, please click here.