Here’s a sermon on Vimeo I did at University Baptist Church in April 2012 as part of the college teaching series on 2 Peter 2.
Archives For Sermons and Messages
One of the great things about the seminary I attend is the chapel service conducted every Tuesday and Thursday morning. We get to hear from great preachers of the word, whether it’s one of the professors, administration, or a guest like C.J. Mahaney. This morning, I really enjoyed and benefitted from the preaching of Greg Gilbert, the pastor of the local Third Avenue Baptist Church. Greg’s preaching was a model for me as I consider how to preach: the main points of his message were the main points of the text that he preached from, he used great illustrations to make these points, he knew his audience and how to apply his points to them, he clearly outlined the passage in a way that was easy to follow, and he was dynamic and not boring. Thank God for preachers like this. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:00 EST, our chapel service is live-streamed, and the video is archived for later viewing as well. I encourage you to check out Greg Gilbert’s message as it is archived.
Anyway, Greg’s text this morning was the story of Joseph. While many consider the main point of this story to be a sort of “God can take you from rags to riches” application, Greg showed that the text is teaching differently.
There are three main points that Greg highlighted:
1) The complete sovereignty of God in every detail of this story
2) Joseph’s quiet trust in God despite what was happening around him.
3) The fact that the story is not all about Joseph, it is about what God is accomplishing through Joseph.
I won’t go into each of those here, but I did want to share some of his insights on the first. At no point are the events of the Joseph story outside of God’s control. The dreams that Joseph has are from God, and he has basically shown Joseph what he will do before he does it, proof that God is in control. In fact, Joseph’s telling his family of the dreams initiates the whole sequence of events that leads him to Egypt in the first place. It “just so happens” that Joseph’s brothers decide not to kill him and to sell him into slavery instead, and it “just so happens” that the slave traders are heading to Egypt, and it “just so happens” that Joseph’s owner is one of Pharaoh’s high ranking officials, and it “just so happens” that he is thrown into a prison with two other high-ranking officials who “just so happened” to have had a dream. God uses the brothers’ actions and all of the events that happen to Joseph to move him into a position of prominence in Egypt where he will be able to achieve safety for his family, the Israelites, and will bless the Egyptians through his wisdom.
One final nuance. It’s not only that God just “uses” the things that happen to Joseph. He says to his brothers at the end:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
God “meant” all of these things. He didn’t just “use” them, as if they happened and God just made the best of it. He intended for all of these things to happen to Joseph, even the awful things, in order to accomplish the good purpose that He had.
That was a source of comfort for Joseph, and it should be a source of comfort for us. No matter what happens to us, God is in control, and it will eventually work out for our good if we love God. Sometimes God’s good purpose will be beyond our lifetime – think of all the Israelite slaves who prayed to God their entire life and did not live to see the deliverance from Egypt. But God’s good purposes will come to pass, and we will share in this goodness ultimately because we are united with Christ and share in everything good that God has given to Christ. Even though it is beyond our point of view now and our circumstances may point in the opposite direction, God will in time give us the fullness of this promised inheritance.
We had an excellent chapel service this Tuesday morning. The speaker was Pastor Ryan Fullerton of the local Immanuel Baptist Church (one of my roommates attends this church).
The main thrust of his message was from 1 Timothy 4:1-12, particularly concerned with Paul’s exhortations to both Timothy and Titus that they not be looked down on or despised, especially for their youth. The implication is that if these pastors allowed themselves to be looked down on by the church, the ministry of the Word of God and the witness of the church is at stake. But the answer is not simply a demand to be respected – it is being an example to win respect. It is not decorum, degrees, or “authenticity” (lack of degrees?) that are biblical methods of winning respect. Rather, it is “setting the believers an example in:
Speech – Eph 5:4
Conduct – Phil 4
Love – Rom 9
Faith – (especially through suffering)
Purity – not less than sexual purity
In any case, I really benefitted from the message, and I commend it to anyone currently in or desiring a position of ministry leadership: Watch it here.
It also got me thinking about the primary goals I have, in terms of what I am trying to pursue as not only a full-time minister but also simply as a follower of Christ. What do you think about boiling the Christian life down to cultivating these things:
1) A deep love for God through a thorough knowledge of the Word
2) A passionate concern for the glory of God
3) A sacrificial love for others
4) An example of godliness in speech, love, faith, conduct, and purity
If I thought about my life and the decisions I made through that grid, I think I would be on a pretty good track.
Yesterday was New Student Orientation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. We were privileged to hear addresses from both Dr. Albert Mohler (president, @albertmohler) and Dr. Russell Moore (dean of the school of theology, @drmoore).
Dr. Mohler encouraged us to consider ourselves:
Stewards: Seeing ourselves as extremely privileged for the opportunity to get this type of theological education, which is extremely rare. Not feeling guilty for it, but appreciating the value of it. One specific application is investing relationally with other students – “you will not make it in ministry without a team”. He admitted that this is a learned perspective, best evaluated over time.
Students: “duh”. Having diligence, discipline, and integrity as a learner. Seeing “learning” as your ministry. Connecting the studies you are involved in now to the people you will be responsible for. Not separating your seminary studies from your devotional life.
Scholars: Same as students? Not quite. Cultivating a dedication to lifelong learning. Understanding that there is no “adequate” theological education anywhere which will fully prepare you for the ministry. Developing the skills of reading, writing, critical thinking.
Servants: of the word, and of the church. Obedience to obey and teach the authoritative word, and to be dedicated to the local church. Being willing to serve in the church in “low” positions to learn humility.
Soldiers: Learning how to fight against the most subtle temptations – learning spiritual warfare. Dr. Moore continued this theme.
Dr. Moore elaborated on these subtle temptations in ministry. He strongly warned us that the devil does not want us to fall to these temptations now. Rather, he wants to begin ingraining habits and reinforcing patterns of thought that will in effect be like time bombs that explode at the worst possible point in your ministry.
These temptations include:
Appetites: We must understand how cravings now can blow up later. We should understand hardships we experience now as designed to lead us to dependence on God and prayer in all things. We should expose sin in our lives now, because the devil would rather keep it hidden until the opportune time.
Wanting to be right: this one struck me as particularly subtle but profound. There will be times and situations when we WILL be right, but because we are not recognized as right we will try to vindicate ourselves rather than leaving it to the Lord.
Pride: Seeing spiritual obedience as a performance. We should cultivate humility constantly and in every situation.
I enjoyed hearing from both of these men, and I appreciate so much that they are the leaders of this school.
I will have Dr. Moore this semester for Survey of Christian Ethics.
Image from Dr. Russell Moore’s twitter.