September 20, 2012
I’m taking Educational Ministry of the Church as a Semlink class at the moment and, as part of that class, you need to read Richard Baxter’s, The Reformed Pastor. I think this is the third time I’ve read this book for my M.Div., but as far as I’m concerned it should be required reading for every class!
And as I read this great book at the start of this new academic year I began wonder…what would Richard Baxter say if he spoke at the Gordon-Conwell convocation…
“What is your goal for this coming semester? For this year? For your time here at GCTS?
If you are a student here today then let me ask you, what are you hoping to learn or discover? What truths are you hoping to test, or examine? What skills are you hoping to hone? What would success look like for you?
And if you are a member of the faculty then let me ask you, what are you hoping to teach, communicate, persuade, encourage or discourage? What are your goals for your students and for yourselves? What are you hoping to read or write, acquire or achieve? What would success look like for you?
As you have thought about this coming year, planned your schedule and chosen your classes, what is foremost in your heart and mind? Where would you like to be in a year or three years or ten years time?
My dear brothers and sisters at the start of this year, a year that I hope will bring you more in love with the Lord and closer to His word, I beg you to put all those other thoughts that you have in your hearts to one side until you have answered this one question…
Are you saved? Have you surrendered your life to Christ and declared him to be the Lord over your past, present and future? Have you died to yourself that you might live for him? Is he your all in all? Is he your everything, is he enough?...”
Of course Baxter would never say it like that. He would say it much better. That’s why students at seminary are required to read his book 355 years after he wrote it and why nobody should be required to read my blog…ever!
But amazes me every time I read the opening chapter of The Reformed Pastor is that he starts by challenging the ministers he is writing to examine themselves and the state of their souls and asking them if they are truly saved.
So should we not also start this year in the same way?
You are a student or a teacher of God’s word. You will learn to read the languages the Bible was written in or teach others to do the same. You will learn the history of the church, the application of the Truth, how to exegete, how to preach and how to counsel.
But do you really know Christ?
Baxter said this:
“Oh what aggravated misery is this, to perish in the midst of plenty! – to famish with the bread of life in our hands, while we offer it to others, and urge it on them!”
In the course of this year the word of truth will often be on our lips and the Word of God will be on our shelves in many different languages. We will quote it in our papers. We will preach it in our sermons. We will share it with others and learn to offer it in comfort. We will argue about it, examine it, study it, learn it by heart and recite it.
But as we start this year the first thing that you and I must do is to ask ourselves, do we really believe it? Live by it? Obey it and strive to keep it?
Whatever else we do this year, let’s start by asking ourselves, am I really a Christian?
Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.