Today's From the Seminaries includes:
SEBTS (2 items)
SWBTS (2 items)
9Marks, at SEBTS,
focuses on conversion
By Michael McEwen
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) -- 9Marks attendees from as far as Maine and Colorado gathered for a conference on the biblical doctrine of authentic conversion hosted by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
Featured speakers included Daniel Akin, Thabiti Anyabwile, Matt Chandler, Mark Dever, Tony Merida and David Platt.
Platt, pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., opened the conference on the topic of the glory of God-centered conversion. "The supreme motivation behind conversion is the global glory of God, and the sole means of conversion is the sovereign grace of God.
"In the moment of conversion," Platt said, "God forgives us of our sins and he fills us with his Spirit and as a result of conversion, we have radically new wants and entirely new wills."
Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary, taught from Ephesians 2:1-10 on what he described as the apostle Paul's spiritual laws of conversion. "Apart from Christ we are spiritually dead," Akin said, "and it is only through Christ Jesus that we are made spiritually alive."
Echoing Paul's affirmation that "we are saved by grace through faith," Akin noted that "there is no antinomian impulse in the Bible -- there are always Gospel imperatives that flow from Gospel indicatives. It is a part of God's eternal plan that we should walk in good works."
Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei in Raleigh, N.C., addressed conversion from the parable of the Prodigal Son. Merida noted that the parable introduced two very different sons, each with the same great need: the Gospel.
"The parable picks up with Jesus eating with tax-collectors and sinners," Merida said. "The younger brother essentially asks for his father to die by demanding to have his inheritance early, and in the parable, the elder brother stays close to home, waiting for his inheritance to be 'owed' to him."
Merida asked the 9Marks attendees, "What is the parable's message? Well, first, Jesus is teaching them about the love of God. Jesus presents God as a loving Father.... He is also instructing them and us about the depth of sin. Lastly, he teaches them about salvation by grace alone, by faith alone and not by works."
9Marks founder Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., challenged the audience to the see the universal scope of salvation. Drawing from the Book of Acts, Dever spoke on the universal extent of the Gospel, noting, "Salvation is only for sinners who will repent. In Acts, salvation is for all sinners who repent, Jews or Gentiles."
Preaching primarily from Acts 10, Dever observed four truths about conversion: God prepares people for conversion; He prepares the means of conversion; salvation is by divine grace; and true conversion is a gift from God Himself.
Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, noted that God "converts by a powerful message" sent through "broken yet qualified messengers. And God, as seen in 1 Thessalonians 1, turns the recipients into models of Himself and initiates them into Gospel mission."
Anyabwile added, "The converts at Thessalonica became a missionary community. This whole community was shaped around this model of faith, hope and love, and it is Paul who calls upon the Thessalonian church to live as a testimony of their faith in Christ Jesus."
Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, closed the Sept. 28-29 conference with a message from Romans 8:26-29. In order truly to understand these verses in Romans 8, he said, one has to read its entirety. Too many pastors and believers read only 8:28 and fail to see the larger context.
"In the moment of justification," Chandler said, "you are getting the active righteousness of Christ and He is taking from you your unrighteousness -- past, present and future. It is God, in his fore-pursuing, fore-loving, predetermining knowledge, who justifies, glorifies and loves His church. If you do not have new desires, new emotions and a new life because of Christ, then I'm not sure you are converted. Our faith is more than mental assent. Jesus is after the whole transformation of the heart, and not just the outside."
To watch the plenary session messages, go to http://apps.sebts.edu/multimedia/?cat=52.
Michael McEwen is the news & information specialist for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Pastor sees 'Red-Hot
Monogamy' in Proverbs 5
By Michael McEwen
WAKE FOREST, N.C. -- Alabama pastor Al Jackson turned to Proverbs 5 for a chapel message on "Red-Hot Monogamy: God's Design for Sex."
"I would like to submit this morning that a single act of adultery is one too many," said Jackson, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, "and no one on this side of heaven is beyond the reach of its power. In fact, the only time we are safe from matters of adultery is when we reach the boundaries of heaven."
The key verse in Proverbs 5 is verse 19, and the key word is "captivated," Jackson said.
"God's design for sex," he said, "is that a man's wife captivate her husband and that the husband would captivate his wife.
"There are two principles worthy of our attention found in Proverbs 5: We are to be aware of the deadly danger of adultery and also to not be naïve of the fact that we are all candidates of adultery."
Throughout Proverbs, Solomon is speaking from experience to his son, Jackson noted. Solomon is teaching his son about the importance of wisdom and folly in light of the sin of adultery.
"Solomon is saying, 'Listen to the words that I speak, son. Stay on the straight and narrow.' Likewise, Jesus echoes this teaching in the Gospels: 'Narrow is the path for those who seek righteousness.'
"So, husbands, be careful to distance yourselves from enticement and sin, and wives, continue to 'flirt' with and love your husbands."
A growing fascination with a person is usually one of the first signs that an individual is on the road to physical adultery, Jackson said.
"An emotional adultery," Jackson said, "opens the door to physical adultery. We must remember that sexual adultery and, yes, even pornography is before the all-seeing eyes of God."
Concluding his Sept. 21 message, Jackson asked the chapel audience: "What does Proverbs 5 teach us about 'red-hot monogamy'? Well, first, husbands and wives should keep the fire of romance burning always, and secondly, husbands and wives, purpose your love relationship with God with all your heart."
Michael McEwen is the news & information specialist for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
God stirs missionary hearts during
SWBTS Int'l Church Planting Week
By Benjamin Hawkins
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Reading a geography book for school at the age of 9, Sam Scott* learned about the people of India and God set his heart on fire for taking the Gospel to India. Now a student at the College at Southwestern, Scott said the campus International Church Planting (ICP) Week stirred once again his passion for sharing the message of Christ with the people of India.
Scott attended the College Pizza Night at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's World Missions Center, where he was able to speak with missionaries who encouraged him and gave him a better sense of what it takes to serve on the mission field. He also learned more about the customs and culture of people in India and other areas of Asia.
"After I left," Scott said, "I felt strongly in my heart, even more than before, that India is where God wants me to go."
Art Savage, associate director for global mission engagement at the World Missions Center, said many students from the College at Southwestern, especially, expressed interest in missions during ICP Week.
"At all the events that we have had this year," Savage said, "the number of college students that are coming and showing great interest in missions is just phenomenal."
Missionaries who visited campus for ICP Week noted the response of college and Southwestern Seminary students alike, Savage said.
"God is stirring up the hearts of our students to pray, 'Does God want me to serve somewhere other than right here?'" Savage said. Some students have sensed a call to serve overseas while others desired to be more faithful in evangelism even as they serve in the United States.
Throughout the Sept. 10-14 ICP Week, students had opportunities to learn about missions from people who are currently serving in the field. Many professors invited missionaries to speak in their classes, and missionaries gave testimony to the work of God around the world during the seminary's chapel services. Additionally, the World Missions Center organized numerous events throughout the week.
The week began with a meeting where students learned about underground house churches in China. Savage said missionaries helped students understand that this movement "is a mile wide, but one inch deep." Many people in China are professing faith in Christ but "they have no one there to really help them know how to grow deeper and really become strong disciples of Christ."
People in these churches, especially church leaders, need theological education. Recognizing this need, Savage said, students "have a new motivation for continuing their education."
Later in the week, the World Missions Center hosted One Magnificent Obsession, where students learned about and prayed for a Last Frontier people group in East Asia. The seminary also hosted "East Asia One Day," a bilingual -- English and Korean -- conference where students prayed for and learned about the work of God throughout East Asia.
During one chapel, a missionary from East Asia urged students to follow Christ by having a heart for the lost and by faithfully proclaiming the Gospel.
"There is no greater joy in all the world than bringing lost souls into His Kingdom," the missionary said. "Countless numbers of souls all around the world enter a Christ-less eternity every single day, having never heard the Gospel even one time.... Make a lifetime commitment to do everything possible to 'rescue the perishing, care for the dying,'" and to "snatch lost souls" with the Gospel.
After the missionary's message, Southwestern President Paige Patterson reminded students, faculty and staff members that sharing the Gospel should be the highest priority in life.
"The only thing that ultimately matters is our witness for Christ to the nations," Patterson said. "If the Gospel is really true, if Jesus Christ died for all men, if it is the case that they must repent of their sin and place their faith in Christ in order to be saved, and if we don't take that message to them, then we are responsible before God.... We claim that we serve Christ, and yet we don't give ourselves . Who will go? Will you go?"
*Name withheld for security purposes.
Benjamin Hawkins is senior newswriter for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).
Profs take counseling class
on the road
By Sharayah Colter
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Counseling professors John Babler and David Penley offer a seven-session certification in biblical counseling each fall and spring at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Fort Worth campus, where they teach candidates the need for, purpose of and how-to's of biblical counseling. In the last several years, the duo has broadened that training to include sessions at churches as far away as Philadelphia.
Through their counseling training program, Babler and Penley seek to equip a broad scope of people in informal lay counseling. In addition to the seminary's master's and doctorate programs in counseling, they also see a place and a need for training a wider cross-section of the church in biblical counseling.
"You're a counselor whether you recognize it or not, whether you want to be or not," Babler said, explaining that giving advice or guidance is, in effect, counseling. "One of the things we emphasize is the importance of informal counseling."
Yet, without learning how to counsel or the importance of counseling with Scripture, people often simply offer common sense and lessons from experience instead of biblical truth when giving informal counsel, Babler said.
And that is where the biblical counseling certification comes into play, available to equip the church body in a ministry Penley says has long been its responsibility anyway.
"We kind of look at it as part of the ministry of the body that's been in the Bible all along," Penley said. "It allows staff to focus on those counseling situations that are perhaps more in-depth, whereas many times a layperson can help someone talk through something and see something from a biblical perspective, and it won't get to the point where it has to go upstairs, so to speak, to the pastor or staff members. I think there is value in having people trained in your church that you know have the training and the confidence to minister to folks in that way."
Whether formal or informal, both Penley and Babler emphasize the fact that the Bible is sufficient for every counseling task.
"No secular theory or tool will do what Scripture says God will do," Penley said.
Babler agreed, saying that counseling the biblical way is neither late emerging nor less effective than the psychology-based discipline.
"Jesus is and was the Wonderful Counselor," Babler said. "I'm not willing to let the world take the Word away from us."
So, Babler makes a point to bolster and undergird the discipline of biblical counseling wherever he goes, always looking for opportunities to help others understand its value and necessity.
Lee Ann Lee, children's minister and biblical counselor at First Baptist Church in Crosby, Texas, invited Babler and Penley to offer the counseling training program at her church after meeting Babler when he taught a crisis counseling course in Houston. At that point Lee planned to pursue licensure for counseling after finishing her undergraduate degree but soon changed her plans and enrolled at Southwestern's Havard campus in Houston to complete a master of arts in biblical counseling instead.
"When I first started taking the classes, I was a skeptical person," Lee said. "I was somebody who thought, 'Hey, I need to go get my license so I can help people with real problems. I was kind of skeptical of what a church counselor could provide."
Yet, what she learned in Babler and Penley's class helped her to see that Scripture is more than sufficient for any counseling task and that biblical wisdom is more than appropriate for those "real problems."
"I have completely -- from the things that I have learned -- discovered if God is who He says He is, if the Bible is what it says it is, then the Bible has the answer for every problem that we face," Lee said. "The Bible is absolutely superior to any other option."
Lee has seen an overwhelming response from members of her church in the counseling certification class Babler and Penley agreed to offer on site at the church in Crosby, just outside of Houston. With about 30 members taking the class, Lee says the certification course is already helping people to counsel others in their church and community through issues such as marriage difficulties, among other things.
"The biblical counseling course has helped to prepare me to better help those I am already in a position to help," class member Michelle Holloway told Lee. "It is showing me how to integrate Scripture into a counseling format and show others that the Word of God is truly sufficient to handle any and all problems."
Another student, Andrew Harpold, said that similar to Lee, the classes have helped him see the value and superiority of the Bible in counseling.
"I have studied secular psychology all of my college career and would sit in class knowing that these theories did not support the biblical view," Harpold said. "The biblical counseling class showed me that the Bible has enough to say to sufficiently counsel someone."
Lee said with the infusion of biblical counseling training into their congregation, the church hopes to begin a lay counseling ministry in November. Though the details have yet to be set, Lee is confident that the church's decision to incorporate biblical counseling through lay people will lead in a God-glorifying direction.
"Through taking the classes, I became convinced that having a lay counseling ministry could be very important, and our pastor said thatthat's a direction that he would like to see us go." Lee said. "If we are in relationship with other people, we are going to have opportunities to counsel people, so this is just a way of equipping the body of Christ to minister God's Word. Everyone is coming out of this stronger themselves in their own walk with Christ. They're growing, and as a result of that they're able to share withother people, and that's fantastic."
Sharayah Colter is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).
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