I invite you to find in your Bibles this morning the book of Second Timothy, chapter two. I will be reading in verses 1–7, but the sermon will be taken expressly from verse two. I have entitled this sermon, “Entrust These Things.”
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
We gather this morning for academic convocation. There is a certain joy and anticipation in the start of a new semester. Once again, we renew ourselves to the task of ministry preparation—the task of theological education. The clothing, the formal hymns we sing, the processional, the entire aesthetics and feel of the service—rooted in the ancient university—are meant to remind us of the seriousness, the nobility, the grandeur, the task before us: the task of theological education. We gather this morning—as we do at the beginning of every semester—as happy warriors, as joy-filled people, but those who are sober-minded servants of Christ. We are sober because we know the seriousness of our times, the urgency and the necessity of the gospel, the needs of the church we aim to serve, the stewardship we own on behalf of our denomination. Yet, we are joy-filled because we know that Christ is reigning over the cosmos. He is building his church. The gospel is powerful to save. The gifts and the Spirit are ours, and we know the world, though filled with devils that threaten to undo us, we do not fear because God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. Convocation is also a time to revisit and recommit ourselves to first things, first priorities, to restate our presuppositions, our convictions, and our aspirations as a seminary. As a seminary we labor for the Church, and especially for Southern Baptist churches. We do so under an Ephesians 4 mandate, knowing that Christ has given the church pastors, teachers, and evangelists for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, building up the body of Christ.
Perhaps the word above all others that marks theological education, and that I intend to mark our time with this morning, is the word “covenant.” Any healthy, faithful seminary is a seminary in covenant. There is a covenantal relationship that has several dimensions to it. For us, first and foremost, it is with the denomination that owns us. We are in covenant with our denomination, and that covenant is legal, formal, and it gives us binding and unremitting oversight, but it is also moral in that beyond the letter of the expectation, we seek to fulfill the spirit of it. It is also a covenant we share, not merely with the denomination in a formal sense, but most especially with the churches that comprise our convention—the churches we serve. As we do, again we seek to train pastors, teachers, ministers, and evangelists for these churches; not the churches we desire to serve or wish we served, but the churches we serve—these very churches. We serve with their needs, their desires, and their expectations on the forefront of our minds.
This covenantal relationship extends as well to exactly that which we instruct. We all teach here in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. We do so with consciences which are clear because we do so without mental reservation or hesitation. As you study here, you know what you can expect to learn and be taught. Not only what we instruct, but there is a covenantal relationship to how we instruct. We believe in “life-on-life.” We are not clinically teaching anonymous people. Rather, we are training real men and real women for real service and for real ministry. Also, this covenantal expectation extends beyond this institution to those who learn here. As students, you are in a covenant as well. You have entered into a lifestyle, a moral covenant, with the seminary that includes academic accountability as well as spiritual, moral, and ethical accountability.
The different aspects of covenantal ministry training are encapsulated in verse two. Therefore, I want to invite us to look at this verse together carefully this morning, weigh it considerably, and seek its application to us as we seek to be faithful in this time and place. Notice in verse two, Paul says specifically to Timothy—“the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Entrust these things. You perhaps are aware of the context in which Paul writes. He is in chains in Rome. It is his second and most severe incarceration. We know that he is in a dark, perhaps dungeon-like prison. Death for him is near. Worse, though, than his physical circumstances, was the status of the church he gave his life to build. He reflected, in chapter one and chapter four especially, how so many had deserted him in Asia Minor and beyond. Moreover, the church at Ephesus, of which Timothy was ministering at the time of the letter, was succumbing to doctrinal challenge and to moral corruption. What is worse, Timothy—his son in the faith, whom he has invested so much energy and effort in—is vacillating in this letter. He is weak, unsure of his call, and unsure of himself. So, Paul, in this letter, from verse one to the end of the book speaks words of challenge, exhortation, and urgency that even drip with a sense of desperation, yet hope in the gospel. That finds its cross-section in this section in chapter two, but it flavors the whole book. In fact, let’s just glance over the book together. In chapter one, verse five, encouraging Timothy, Paul says:
For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.
Chapter two, verse one: “You therefore, myson, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Verse three: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
Chapter three, verse one: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.”
Verse seven: “False teachers are always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Verse 12: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.
Chapter four, Verse 14: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.”
Why take such time in this moment in a sermon to read that many Scriptures? It is not merely to catch you up on your lapsed New Year’s resolution to read more of the Bible, but it is because we see through these verses what it is the major impulse of this book to a young man in ministry whom so much has been entrusted to, who is so struggling and so weak. We see doctrinal decay all around, and we see possible forfeiture of the gospel itself. So, verse-after-verse Paul is like one slinging a sledge hammer again, and again, and again—driving home the seriousness of the gospel, the power of the Scripture, the majesty of the call to ministry, and the solemn importance of this stewardship of the gospel, and especially to defend it and to transmit it to the next generation.
“The Things which you have Heard from me”
Now, verse two speaks with enough clarity. It is straight-forward enough. Each clause presents us with significance for this morning. So, notice with me in verse two, with all of this in the book funneling toward this verse. Paul says, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” “The things you have learned from me” is the substance of this instructional pattern. Think of Paul’s New Testament correspondence. He was the author of some 13 books, who, book-after-book, epistle-after-epistle, pens doctrine of the church. But not only doctrine or theological concepts for the church, but how to live the Christian life, how to order the church, and on and on again he moves through the great canon of Christian theology and spells out these truths. He tells Timothy, “That truth which you have received, you pass it on.”
I like the singularity with which Paul charges Timothy. It is not just “the things you have heard,” but “the things you have heard from me.” Paul is concerned about the faithful transmittal of true, sound doctrine. We do not believe in apostolic secessionism, nor do I believe in a Baptist secessionism throughout the history of the church. I do believe that God has always had a remnant. His church has persisted for 2,000 years, not merely as an identifiable group of people, but also with an identifiable body of truth. The instructional pattern which we claim is one that maintains this truth. It is a conveyance of both taught and caught truth. It is a fixed message we teach. We are not in the business of theological innovation or of bringing religious novelties to bear. No, what your professors teach you here, you can bank or has been taught in many other times and places, and rightly so. There is a plainness and a straight-forwardness to this charge. “The things which you have heard from me.” You see, that is what instruction is. It is the teaching, the transmittal of truth clearly, plainly, compellingly, intelligently, and biblically. We are not in the business of inference or of insinuation. Rather, we speak plainly, so that all can learn, all can know, and all can grow.
“In the Presence of Many Witnesses”
We bring these things to bear here. This touches on different realms, and we will see them more clearly in this passage. Notice what Paul says here, “The things which you have heard from me.” Secondly, “in the presence of many witnesses.” This is a theme that Paul touches on in other letters, most especially First Thessalonians. He talks about his ministry. It was not an abstract ministry; it was a life-on-life ministry. He engaged with the churches he planted. He discipled people; they interacted with him; they knew his life; and he knew theirs. What is the importance of this? Why does Paul remind Timothy of this? First of all, the fact that this trust is confirmed by others means that it is not some secret doctrine. There is no gnostic heresy here. Rather, this truth has evidenced itself 1,000 times in 1,000 scenarios. Timothy heard it again and again and again, and Paul was saying the same thing in Rome as he was saying in Ephesus. Wherever you found Paul preaching and teaching, you found a consistency of message. I think that is one aspect of this reminder, but I think as well, what he is saying is there is a life-on-life dynamic. Ministry preparation is life-on-life.
One of the things I am most proud of about this seminary is how accessible this faculty is to our students. If you find yourself as a student here, not knowing a professor and the professors not knowing you, shame on you, not shame on them, because I know their hearts, disposition, teaching models, and lives, and they desire to invest in you personally. So, if I were to ask you after chapel which professor you are closest to, there ought to be one, two, or three names that roll off your tongue. If you are a new student this semester, I commend you to make those relationships quickly and make them deep. They are paid to be your professor, not to be your buddy. Nonetheless, their hearts are to invest in you. There is a life-on-life devotion here that Paul expresses as it relates to his relationship with Timothy that is true here, and we intend for it to be all the more.
“Entrust these Things”
Notice the heart of this verse. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these things.” An entrustment—this is an imperative here. It means to deposit for safekeeping. This whole idea of entrusting something is increasingly rare in our days. We live in a world that has a deficit of trust, a deficit of trustworthiness, and a deficit of entrustment. I love the way that word appears here because it brings with it certain sense of intentionality. It is not just that you have anonymous students gathered in a generic class taught by a person who is distant from them, and the professor sort of speaks things and we sort of hope these things will rub up against this generic group of students and perhaps they will pick up on some of it. Not at all! The faith is too important and the gospel is too important for us to hope that this sort of takes place in some arbitrary or random way.
Rather, Paul says, “you entrust these things.” You deposit these truths for safekeeping. It means an intentional giving and an intentional taking. It is an intentional dispensing and an intentional receiving. This is the very heart of this verse, the very heart of ministry training, the very heart of theological training, the church’s triumph from one generation to the next—entrusting these things. What does that mean to us? We can spend the day thinking about this together, but to condense it means a few things. First of all, it means an entrustment of the gospel. In fact, if you read this book carefully, you see Paul alluding to and referencing the gospel itself. We desire to implant within you much more than the gospel, but nothing less: an ability to defend the gospel, a deeper belief in the gospel, and a deeper passion about the gospel. Any form of theological education that is not enriching one’s belief in the gospel, one’s passion about the gospel, and one’s zeal for the gospel, is a faulty mode of theological education.
It is a gospel commitment. Expanding from that, it is a Great Commission commitment. Paul traversed the known world time and time again not merely to build a band of followers, but to spread the gospel to distant places. You read this book, and it comes so clear that there is a Great Commission impulse here. The gospel is being taught, not to be protected, but to be projected. The gospel is being given here, not merely to be cherished but to be heralded. If you are in this community of learning, that is a commitment we share. We share it by mandate if you serve here by way of teaching if you are an employee. We share it by expectation if you study here as a student in this community of learning.
You entrust these things: the gospel, the Great Commission, and moving beyond that, the whole counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation. We believe it. We teach it. We seek to make it plain and clear to our students. We seek to live the whole counsel of God. We believe the book from Genesis 1:1, all the way through the end of Revelation. We affirm it. We cherish it. We defend the whole counsel of God. But it is not enough to merely sign on to that idea—for many have signed on to that idea without signing on to the heart and meaning of that idea. That is why we also entrust these things with an unashamed conviction to confessional faithfulness.
Do you want to know what we teach? It is The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Much of that consists of historic doctrines of the Christian church, and some of it is particularized to our denomination and our heritage, which we teach with pride and joy as well. There is a confessional faithfulness which also encompasses Baptist distinctives, and those are not insular things. We believe in baptism by immersion. We believe in the integrity of the local church. We believe in these things, and we hold them dear. We teach them not with any sense of embarrassment and not with our fingers crossed, but with boldness and joy because that is who we are. To deny or to minimize these things would be akin to denying or minimizing our own offspring.
It also encompasses embracing a certain denominational heritage. We are not denominationalists in some bureaucratic sense, no. But we do pray and trust that our students in this community will come to better know, love, and serve the churches of this convention. Entrusting these things consists of more than the transmittal of data or doctrine. It comes with certain appreciations and a value system placed upon these things. We desire, unequivocally, a trans-generational faith from one to the next, as Paul is intimating here. If the conviction is not worth propagating, I say it is not truly held in the first place. If you believe these truths strong enough to embrace them, then you must believe them strong enough to transfer them as well.
I have five young children now. They are getting older by the day. When you have five kids, it is nearly impossible to keep up with their birthdates, but by my latest reckoning, they are now 11, 10, 8, 6, and 5. If I am wrong, as I was the other Sunday preaching, I will be quickly corrected after the service by one of them. I think I am right now. Much of conventional child-rearing theory says you are not supposed to indoctrinate your kids. You are supposed to present them with certain facts, realities, thought systems, belief systems, and then let them find their way through and develop their own convictions. I want my kids to develop their own convictions, yes, but you bet your socks I am seeking to indoctrinate them unapologetically and intentionally. The world is seeking to indoctrinate them. The culture is seeking to indoctrinate them. The media is seeking to indoctrinate them. Peer groups will seek to indoctrinate them. You bet I am seeking to indoctrinate them. I say it to you as students; we are seeking to indoctrinate you as well. That is not surreptitious; that is not subtle; that is not conniving. You know up front who we are and what we teach if you listen to much of what I have said, read much of what I have written, listened to our professors, or read much of what they have written, or know anything about this school. We are up front and bold about who we are and what we are seeking to do, and our desire is that we equip you. We are not seeking to make theological cookie cutters, of course not. You can leave here embracing many different things, and you will embrace many different things, but there is no question about that which we are encouraging you to embrace—the heart of Christian truth and the basic contours of our Baptist faith.
Let me tell you what I want for you as students. I want something I did not have at the college level. I had it at the seminary level, but not at the college level. I grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist church, a church like many of you grew up in. The Bible was preached and believed. The gospel was preached. I grew up assuming that everybody met under a steeple and went to a church like I went to. I assumed that everybody who taught the Bible taught it like I was taught. So, I went to class my freshman year of college. It was not a Baptist school, but unfortunately this occurs in Baptist schools as well in certain places. I will never forget my first week of Introduction to the Christian Religion. In my first week of class, the professor stood up and proceeded to seek to “debunk” Genesis and to refute students who asked questions. Not only to refute them, but to embarrass them, to chastise them, to belittle them. So, what I received throughout that semester was the same thing I received in several other required religion classes. It was a systematic attempt to—whether wittingly or not—undermine the faith of the 18, 19, and 20-year-olds who sat in them. I found myself at the undergraduate level going to a school that was not an intellectual home because it could not be one. In everything I was taught, especially in philosophy, ethics, and religion, I had to chew on the meat and spit out the bones, and I was doing more spitting than chewing. It was not an intellectual home for me. I am thankful that my seminary experience was. I want to not only give you a stated goal, but give you a personal presidential assurance—we commit to be an intellectual home for you. Whether you are a first year undergraduate student or in the finishing stages of your Ph.D. program, you know who we are. We will not undermine you faith; we will strengthen it. We are committed to this body of learning and truth. You can trust this institutional staff because they are theologically trustworthy. Do not take that for granted. It is not always the case in many places.
“To Faithful Men”
Entrust these things. Notice the fourth major clause here. “Entrust these things to faithful men.” Obviously, Paul is speaking specifically to Timothy here, and this is a reference to the pastoral office especially. Of course, we can broaden this for the sake of application to entrust these things to faithful men and women. Again, this is an entrustment, a depositing for safekeeping, giving and receiving to faithful ones, those who are believing, those who are loyal, those who are reliable. This is applicable to men and women. Hear me closely this morning, students, because I have spoken mostly about our commitment to you, but now I want to challenge you to think of yourself as a covenant participant in this seminary community, not merely to a president and faculty, but to a broader covenant commitment you have that called you in the first place. There is a sense of intentional faithfulness.
Why doesn’t Paul just say, “entrust these things to men, people, or anyone who will show up to hear?” It is because there is an economy of time, energy, and resources we have. But it is more than pragmatic or practical reasons. I believe there are also greater issues of integrity and stewardship. Why entrust these things to faithful men and women? It is first and foremost because the heath of the church is in the balance. Every unfaithful man or woman in ministry or training in ministry is undermining the health of the church. The propagation of the gospel is at stake. Every unfaithful man or woman training or undertaking ministry undermines the propagation of the gospel.
Most urgently, the glory of Christ is as stake in your call. If you are here, you are saying you believe God has set you apart to ministry. We understand that the Bible teaches that the gospel is a big, broad, promiscuous message and anyone can sign up for that any time, but the call to ministry is not a big, broad, promiscuous message. No, it is where God sets apart and calls out. The ministry is a conscripted force. If you are here, you are saying in your own humble way that you believe God has set you apart. You do not mean that in a petty sense or a “look at me sense,” but you mean it in a sense of surrendering to this call you believe God has given you. Not only do you believe it, but certain other people believe it, people who signed off on reference forms and church affirmation forms: pastors, mentors, professors, and others of have influenced you, those who have discipled you. They said, “Yes, we believe God’s had is on this person.” We rejoice in that sense and we celebrate that sense with you. But as you undertake ministry preparation and ministry with that sense, know that the glory of Christ is at stake and sometimes the glory of Christ is in a very public and scandalous way impugned by some big, broad, public moral failure and we lament that. Sometimes though, it is undermined in more subtle ways, not by the person who scandalously fames out from ministry, but by the person whose heart for ministry grows cold and they permit their call to ministry to wither up. They find themselves having negotiated that sense of call in the first place until one day they wake up and hardly recognize the person they now are. Faithful men and women are entrusted so this does not happen. Also, in a very practical sense, so many have invested so much in you and you are stewards of that call—parents perhaps, pastors perhaps, student ministers perhaps, professors perhaps, local churches perhaps, and Southern Baptists who have over the generations given so sacrificially so that you can study in a place like this at a deeply subsidized tuition rate. You see, that is the stewardship you have. You be found faithful men and women.
Many years ago, when I was perceiving a call to ministry, me and a rat-pack of other young men I was in college and perceiving that call to ministry with were in Bible studies together and we would teach in certain settings together, seeking to grow together. A person was discipling us and I noticed that he was kindly giving a bit more of his time to me than some of the other guys there and I said one day, “I really appreciate you taking this interest in me and I feel like I am not worthy of you added time and interest, but thank you.” And I remember he looked at me in the parking lot of the church as said, “Jason, if a man has $100 to invest in a business, he wants to invest in the one that will bring a return. I am making an investment in your life and you make sure it brings a gospel return.” If you are here, a mighty investment has been and will be poured into you. Be faithful to that.
“Who will be able to Teach Others Also”
Notice, fifthly, the way this passage winds up, “entrust this call to faithful men and women who will be able to teach others also.” Again, we do so much in ministry, but nothing less than teaching, preaching, transmitting the faith, and proclaiming the gospel. Paul wants Timothy to kindle afresh his call, to be strong in the faith, and as he does, to transmit this faith to other faithful men, and for our context, faithful women. So they can do what? They can take it, they can transmit it, they can proclaim it to others. You see, you are a part of a trans-generational relaying of the faith that we seek to undertake faithfully until Jesus returns. Clearly Paul is conscious of that and clearly so should we be.
Without belaboring this point, let me remind us that we unapologetically give our first energies at this seminary to preaching and teaching ministers. If you think about it, most all of your curriculum here—Old Testament, New Testament, theology, ethics, missions, church history—all of that flows into that right? It is because we understand that is at the very heart of Christian ministry. Teaching the Word, preaching the gospel, explaining and defending the faith, counseling the Word, instructing the Word: this is what we do. Let me encourage you now, refine and strengthen your preaching, teaching, and gifts now. Do it now. Do not think when you graduate that you will then one day seek to have a teaching ministry or preaching ministry. Do it now, because if a church or ministry would call you, one of the first things they would ask if they are smart is where you have been serving. If you say, “Well, I have not really done any of that, but I have been studying the past four years,” that is better than not studying the past four years, but it is not nearly as good as having studied and preached and taught the past four years. Lest you be thinking, “You don’t understand, there is not a church out there that will call me as pastor,” no, I understand that. Or maybe you are thinking, “You don’t understand, there is not a church out there that needs a children’s ministry or youth minister,” I understand that, but find a place. I am yet to find a person passionate about the gospel that cannot find a context to share it. I am yet to find a person that is passionate about preaching and teaching the Word of God that cannot find a context to do it.
Let me tell you—I say this sort of in jest, but I mean it truthfully—do not make your first church be the victim of your inadequate preaching and teaching. There are places out there you can do it that are pleased to receive you no matter how lackluster it may be. For me, I was given the opportunity—not to boast here—I found the opportunity because I wanted to teach and preach. I found Sunday School classes to teach and I was able to go on Thursday nights to a prison about an hour north of my home town. I went with other guys in a car and did prison ministry and got to teach and preach. I still love doing that. I got to preach the gospel at Leavenworth Penitentiary before Christmas and it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of the past year for me. I also had the occasion on Sunday afternoons to go to a halfway house. There was one for men and one for women I got to go to with other men to teach God’s Word and preach the gospel in that setting.
To this day, I remember so vividly the first summer I ever preached in the halfway house. I had been there a couple of times in different settings and I was told the week before I was going to be preaching a sermon. I was petrified and horrified by it. I was scared to death. I knew I wanted to do it, but I did not know how to do it. And I will never forget, I got out a legal pad that week and throughout the week I wrote down all of the preacher’s jargon I had ever heard. I had about 23 years of Southern Baptist preaching in me and I just wrote down every jargon: “you’ve got to get right or you are going to be left,” and every little phrase I heard and every verse I heard I would try to connect the dots. I got up to preach and I will never forget, it was supposed to be 20 minutes, but I rifled through my notes in just a few minutes and I didn’t know what to do. I was embarrassed to sit down, so I just started over and did it again, and I went through it two or three times. At the end I gave an invitation and seven ladies came forward to receive Christ. I remember I felt like, “This must be what Billy Graham feels like.” I was so grateful and I got in the car to drive home that day and the gentleman who drove with me said, “Boy, it sure made you feel good when those ladies came forward didn’t it?” I said, “You don’t know, it did.” He said, “Yeah, every week those same seven ladies come forward when I preach.” In that moment I was crushed, but I will tell you this, I am so glad that insofar as I know, no one recorded those sermons. I mean this not in a funny way, though this is a humorous moment.
I mean this is a serious way too, there are certain settings where people are just glad to have a man or woman preach the Bible. They could care less how good it is, how refined it is, and how knowledgeable you are. They just want someone to show up and do it. Find those setting now. Grow as a preacher, grow as a teacher, grow as a gospel servant now so when you are in a more public setting and in a more formal way charged with preaching, teaching, counseling, and instructional ministries, you have been able to refine your gifts. Do not wait until you have graduated to prove yourself as one able to teach.
Covenantal theological education is entrusting these things. We are here because we believe this. We are here in awe that we get to do this. We are here, from the president of this school, to the newest employee, from the most accomplished professor to the newest professor, from the student on the back end of his Ph.D. to the first semester undergrad, we are here because we believe this and we get to be a part of it. No one here is too big for that and no one is too small for it. This is us. This is who we are. Welcome to it. Let’s be a part together.
It is the time of year when the winter Olympics is coming. One of my favorite spectacles for the Olympics is that great transmittal of the torch that takes pace. We see it more in the summer Olympics, but it is that great passing of the torch which beings in a distant place and is relayed, and relayed, and relayed until finally it lights the big Olympic torch announcing the beginning of the games. We are torch bearers—gospel, biblical torch bearers. We stand in the stead of Paul, Peter, Augustine, Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Whitefield, Wesley, Spurgeon, Broadus, Lloyd-Jones, Criswell, Rogers and 1,000 other names, but here in this time and place, we get to receive that torch and pass it on. Let’s be found faithful to it.