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Chapman tells seminarians: Know the purpose of calling

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–It is imperative for seminary students to know the purpose of their ministry calling, Morris H. Chapman told students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary March 26.
In an aside at the outset of his message, Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, referenced the letter from President R. Albert Mohler Jr. inviting him to speak in chapel at Southern and to preach the Word according to 2 Timothy 4. “I believe the Word of God is inerrant, but I want you to know that I take Dr. Mohler’s word literally,” Chapman said of the text he had chosen, 2 Timothy 4:5-8.
On a more serious note serious note, Chapman said of Mohler, “I’m praying that your president lives for a long, long period of time … because I believe that as historians look back over this period of time in Southern Baptist life, he will be the one individual who will be spoken about the most as a leader and contributor to who Southern Baptists are.”
From the Timothy passage, Chapman exhorted students to emulate the example of Paul who went through life’s journey knowing the purpose of his call to ministry. Paul knew “his life was being poured out like a beverage. His very life would bleed from him,” Chapman said. But Paul faced the end of his life with confidence because he had fulfilled his purpose. “He had given Christ his all. He had held nothing back.”
The primary responsibility in fulfilling one’s purpose can be found in the command to preach the Word, Chapman said. “Paul is giving Timothy the responsibility of the care of the churches and the leadership of the saints,” Chapman recounted. “The first words of the final charge from Paul to Timothy are to preach the Word. … Preach the Word, not book reviews, not politics, not economics, not current events of the day, not a philosophy of life, not unproved theories of science, but the Word of God.”
In verse 5, Chapman cited four additional commands through which ministers purposefully fulfill their calling. First, ministers must be on the watch. “Be on the watch. Stand steady. Be alert. Hold on to the things which count: your character, your integrity, your truth, your courage,” Chapman said.
Also, ministers must be prepared to endure hardship and afflictions, Chapman said, exhorting, “Don’t be afraid to suffer for the Lord. … Paul carried more of his share of the burden. To him, the work was not a job, it was a ministry. And for that reason, he expected to make a sacrifice.”
The third command is to do the work of an evangelist. “Our nation’s greatest need is not simply showers of blessing,” Chapman said, “but torrential rains of revival. We desperately need for God to open the floodgates of heaven and bring a spiritual tidal wave.”
But revival will not come until God’s ministers shed tears over lost souls, Chapman warned. “God wants us to have a burden for souls, a passion to see them come to Christ, an urgency to sow the seed now. Whatever your pursuit on this campus, and whatever your field of study, God is calling every Christian to sow the seed.”
Finally, Paul commanded Timothy to pursue his calling until its completion, Chapman said. “Life is not a hundred-yard dash, it is a marathon,” he said. “Your dedication to your calling is to be lifelong.” Chapman bemoaned the loss to the ministry of one friend he made at seminary who later wrecked his ministry, his family and his church.
“My heart has ached when I’ve seen some of our most brilliant teachers, most compassionate pastors, most powerful preachers, most promising students, most faithful church members fall by the wayside long before the race is over,” Chapman observed. “Once great servants, but now deserters because they loved this present world. No wonder the church is becoming powerless in our generation.
“Leave your mark on the world,” Chapman challenged students. “Bend the things of the world to be your servants. But never bow down to the world. Never trust in the things of the world. Never long for the things of the world despairing if you lose them. Let there be a longing in your heart for Jesus.”

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  • Craig Christina