News Articles

Disciple next generation to become courageous leaders, speaker urges

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The same gospel that burned in the New Testament letters of Paul and sparked the Protestant Reformation must be fanned into a firestorm for the next generation, Scottish pastor-author Alistair Begg told students Oct. 29 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
To do that, today’s church leaders must prepare more young “Timothys” to carry the gospel message into the coming century, Begg said, preaching from 2 Timothy 1:1-14 in his chapel message. Whatever the cost, such a spiritual endeavor could foist a generation of bold young preachers to confront the “strange preoccupations of our time.”
Begg illustrated that cost in the story of Richard Cameron, a Scottish reformer who was decapitated for his Christian convictions. The killers presented Cameron’s severed hands and head to his father, who was imprisoned for his Christian faith. Soldiers taunted him with their ghastly booty, asking if he recognized the body parts. “Blessed be God who never makes a mistake, but does all things well,” replied the father.
This generation is in desperate need of men like the Camerons who “will not budge” when it comes to the gospel of Christ, even if such doggedness leads to a bloody grave, said Begg, pastor of Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. But the trouble is, many modern churches epitomize the kind of people Paul was challenging, Begg said.
Begg painted the context of Paul’s letter as that of a church “trembling on the brink of annihilation” from Roman persecution, mass defections from Christianity and Paul’s impending death. Recognizing this, Paul was burdened with the weighty responsibility of ensuring the gospel was passed along to the next generation.
The contemporary church stands before the chasm of a similar crisis, Begg contended. The church “trembles on the brink of capitulation” as it hurtles toward theological and methodological downgrade. Younger men called into the ministry find themselves being asked whether they will surrender to the truncated theology and pragmatic methods of the age instead of God’s appointed means of preaching the truths of Scripture because some churches are in a state of “moral and doctrinal confusion.”
Often these young men, like young, frail, fearful Timothy, will be anything but the obvious choice for a typical congregation, Begg said. This fact indicts the methods used by churches today in selecting pastors, which are set up to “miss the Timothys and to prevent the opportunities upon whose shoulders God has set his hand because they do not meet the prerequisite requirements of these strange people that sit around til late in the night determining what they need for their next pastor,” Begg said.
“This chap [Timothy] would never have made it past the average ‘search committee’ of his day,” Begg said, “if they operated in the way most do today, which hardly has a modicum of biblical value to the process at all and needs to be severely and significantly addressed.”
Begg outlined from the passage the necessary components to disciple a younger minister. Paul was fervent in prayer for his young protege and was encouraging and purposeful in his exhortations. Paul was diligent to spur Timothy to “fan the flame” of the power of God which had been given to him through the authority of the preached Word.
“If we ever make an impact on the generation that comes behind us,” Begg asserted, “it will be directly related not simply to our understanding of the authority that God has given us, having been called into his service, but it will be directly in accord with a sense of intimacy that we both enjoy and convey to those who follow us in the faith.”
Begg is the author of the Moody Press titles “Made for His Pleasure,” “Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure” and most recently “What Angels Wish They Knew,” a primer on the basics of the Christian faith. He can be heard daily across the United States on his radio program “Truth for Life.” Born in Scotland, Begg spent the first 30 years of his life in the United Kingdom.

    About the Author

  • Russell D. Moore