Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Executive Committee members he believes the calling of the Convention is to have a singular focus on seeing people come to faith in Christ.
Page, during his address February 18 in Nashville, Tennessee, read from what he called the obscure passage of Acts 19:13-16, which tells of the seven sons of Sceva — itinerant Jewish exorcists — who attempted to pronounce the name of Jesus over a man with an evil spirit.
The evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize — but who are you?" the passage states. Then the man who had the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded.
Page, saying he has been fascinated by the passage for years, commented on how the demons knew Jesus.
"That's not hard to figure out, is it? Because the demons knew the Son of God," the SBC president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, South Carolina, said. "They recognized His divinity. They recognized His authority. They recognized His sovereignty. I believe the reason they recognized Him is because Jesus had a singular focus."
Jesus' singular focus, Page said, is found in Matthew 6:33, which says to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
"Once upon a time Southern Baptists said we were going to focus on the Kingdom of God in a singular fashion," Page said. "We still talk about it some, but many of us have forgotten about that emphasis. Jesus believed that we ought to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else will fall into place. Jesus had a singular focus, and because of that, I believe the demons of hell knew who He was."
The demons also recognized Paul's name, the passage says.
"I believe the reason is the same," Page said. "Paul the apostle had a singular focus. He said it well in 1 Corinthians 2:2 when he said, I am determined to know nothing among you except Christ and Christ crucified. There was no agenda other than Christ and Christ crucified. I believe that singular focus gave him a name that was known in hell.
"And I ask you tonight, my brothers and sisters, is your name known in hell?"
Page said one of the passions of his presidency has been working with the North American Mission Board to develop an effective evangelism strategy that the Southern Baptist Convention can unite around so that "for years to come we will be singularly focused on the Kingdom of God and seeing the Kingdom of God come to pass as men and women, boys and girls are won to Jesus and they know Jesus as their Savior and Lord."
The early church was met with persecution, Page said, but the modern day church is met with a yawn.
"I don't want that," he said. "I want the demons of hell to know who we are, not because of any good thing — not because of anything we have done — but because we are lifting high the name of Jesus Christ and Christ crucified.
"I will not be a part of anything else, and I beg of you to join with me in a singular focus on the Kingdom of God and on Christ and Christ crucified," Page said. "That's why I believe the demons said, 'Jesus we know and Paul we recognize, but who in the world are you?' May they never ask that question about Southern Baptists in the future. May they never, ever wonder who we are. We pray that they will know our name and get it spelled right.
"A singular focus is, I believe, the call of God on our Convention," Page said. "Let's never lose that focus. We are a Jesus Convention, and we are here to promote the Kingdom of God on this earth."
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.