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A call is a promise of God, seminary president reminds

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Encouraging students at a sister Southern Baptist seminary’s spring convocation to remain faithful to their call to the ministry,
Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said, “A call is a commitment of what God will do to sustain you in the place he wants you to go.

“And every time you receive a call from God, you’re also receiving a promise from God,” Kelley said at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Jan. 30. “A promise of his presence, his provision and a promise that he will be there to work with you and through you.”

Directing attention to Acts 18 to a sanctuary filled with both new and old students beginning a new semester at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus, Kelley spoke of the apostle Paul’s call to evangelize the “great pagan” city of Corinth. The strategy Paul used, “as he sought to honeycomb the Roman Empire with churches,” Kelley said, included traveling to a place where Jesus had never been preached, then sharing the gospel and watching as the revolutionary change of Jesus Christ in the life of a new believer began to unfold.

“As lives were changed, the revolution took hold,” Kelley said. “A riot would happen, they would run Paul out of town and he would go on to the next place.”

Paul’s faithfulness to the call to minister to the Corinthians resulted in the salvation of Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue. However, Kelley said, Paul probably knew the salvation of Crispus would result in a riot.

Giving special attention to verse 9, in which the Lord comforts Paul in a vision as he braced himself for a riot, Kelley reminded students that Christ will strengthen those called to the ministry today as well.

“Jesus knew [Paul] was afraid and responded to that fear,” Kelley said. “You will never have a circumstance in your heart that the Lord will not walk with you. He will always do whatever is necessary to sustain you in your obedient following of him.”

The Lord gave Paul another year and a half to evangelize the city of Corinth. Eventually, Kelley said, the Jews, led by Sosthenes, a synagogue ruler, did riot against Paul, dragging him to the bema, or judgment seat in the center of the city, where the Roman ruler Gallio sat and heard the case brought against Paul.

As Paul prepared to defend himself against false accusations, Jesus once again kept his promise by causing Gallio to dismiss the charges, and as verse 17 testifies, the mob turned on Sosthenes, leaving Paul to “walk away untouched, without ever saying a word.”

Kelley also asked students to consider three mistakes Paul could have made with regard to his call of sharing the gospel.

First, Paul could have left the city of Corinth too soon.

“I’m sure Paul knew trouble was in the air, and I’m sure he could have used that as a reason to leave, [missing] the miracle of God,” Kelley said, referring to the Lord’s protection in Gallio’s dismissal of the false accusations against Paul.

Second, Kelley said Paul could have made a mistake by interrupting his enemies.

“Sometimes you need to let your enemies talk, for they will dig their own grave,” Kelley said. “And Sosthenes, with all of his accusations, was doing nothing but storing up trouble for himself. If Paul would have interrupted Sosthenes, he would have taken over the case instead of letting Jesus handle it.”

The third mistake Paul could have made, Kelley said, was staying too long.

“Sometimes you can have a ministry in a comfort zone that is so enticing it will literally seduce you from the open road God calls his pilgrims to walk,” Kelley said. “The day did come when Paul knew it was time to leave Corinth. When God gives you a call, you can trust him.

“The real affirmation of God in your life is not your circumstances, it is his call and his promise,” Kelley said. “And his promise will always be kept and his grace will always be sufficient for you.”
(BP) file photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: CHUCK KELLEY.

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  • Melissa King