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EDUCATION BRIEFS: Will Graham, at Southeastern, underscores integrity

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WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Taking his cues for ministry from the Apostle Paul’s first letter to Timothy as well as from his grandfather’s “Modesto Manifesto,” Will Graham taught Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students ways to safeguard their ministries for the glory of God.

Graham, of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, is the grandson of the famed evangelist. A Southeastern alumnus, Graham spoke in chapel about lessons he learned from his grandfather, principles from 1 Timothy 4:6-16.

Looking primarily at verse 12, Graham said there is much to be learned about how to live close to the Lord and have a clean ministry. The principles Paul imparted to Timothy were ones Billy Graham built his ministry around, having written a statement of values he intended to keep.

“Right before they went to Modesto, Calif., for the Los Angeles crusades, my granddaddy’s heart was heavy because ministers and pastors were falling by the wayside because of corruption,” Graham said in his Oct. 1 message.

His grandfather and his staff listed the pitfalls they desired to avoid in their ministry, “and they all came down to those found in 1 Timothy 4:12. I want to impart some things he taught me and determined in 1948 — what they called the Modesto Manifesto.”

Graham first said believers, and especially ministers, should be careful to be truthful in speech and comments.

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“Don’t fall into speculation or misrepresentation of information,” Graham said. “Stop scratching itchy ears. Preach the Word. Proclaim it. Truth is God — it’s His character. Any misrepresentation of the truth is misrepresentation of Jesus Christ.”

Graham also said his goal is to live like he belongs to Christ.

“Stop living like functional atheists, living your lives as if you don’t know Jesus. If there was ever a time when the church needed to be accurate in their conduct, it’s now. Be above reproach,” he said.

Furthermore, Graham said believers need to set an example in love. “We are commanded to love one another, and this is how people will know we belong to God.”

Instead of following the command to love, Graham said many believers have watered the concept down to how well they tolerate one another.

“This lack of love is detrimental to the body of Christ,” he said.

In addition to setting an example in love, Graham said his grandfather followed Paul’s admonition to set an example in faith and purity.

“Many people in ministry lead by sight, not by faith. When God tells you to do something, do it,” he said.

One thing God has commanded is purity, and Graham said this applies to purity in morals, sexuality, thoughts, actions and more.

“Never give Satan even more of a foothold. He’s got too much of a foothold now,” he said.

Graham said his grandfather implemented certain standards in order to be above reproach in purity, including never being alone with a woman other than his wife in any situation.

“These are things I am trying to put into practice in my own ministry,” he said. “We only have one life. Then we have eternity to rest. Guard your ministry.”

PROFS AIM FOR ‘ENGAGING’ N.T. INTRO — Two New Testament professors at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a colleague from a Baptist college have written a book that aims to introduce pastors and students to the world of New Testament scholarship while also nurturing their faith.

SEBTS faculty members Andreas Köstenberger and Scott Kellum and Charles Quarles from Louisiana College have written “The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament,” released by the B&H Publishing Group of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Köstenberger said that while this book fulfills all of the functions of a classic New Testament introduction for seminary classes, it goes beyond those functions.

“We wanted to create a classroom text that is more engaging and spiritually nurturing, without sacrificing academic excellence. For this reason we also included devotionals for each of the 27 New Testament books,” said Köstenberger, professor of New Testament and Greek and director of Southeastern’s Ph.D. program.

Kösteberger said that while most New Testaments introductions focus on questions of authorship, dating and so forth, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown also discusses literary and theological themes. Kellum, associate professor of New Testament and Greek, noted that the book also contains valuable information about discussions of the Second Temple Period, the nature and scope of Scripture, the unity and diversity of the New Testament and more.

Köstoeberger said that while the authors hope the book will be used in seminary and college classrooms, they also hope it will be a tool for pastors and other students of Scripture in the church.

“Ideally, the book will be used in conjunction with Scripture and a good study Bible and an Old Testament intro,” Köstenberger said. “In a day when biblical illiteracy is on the rise, a tool such as this can impart to readers the important core knowledge about the Bible that is essential if we want to live in keeping with God’s Word.”

9MARKS LEADS CONFERENCE AT SEBTS — In the first of nine planned conferences by 9Marks, an organization devoted to promoting healthy churches, pastors were invited to the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and were challenged to uphold expositional preaching.

“Sadly, the things that should characterize a church do not characterize churches in this part of the country,” Mark Dever, founder of 9Marks, said at the conference. “We want to give you an idea of something we do in order to think through how to improve your preaching, from guys that know you, love you and have the same theology as you do, bringing you godly wisdom and godly criticism.”

Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, preached on the Kingdom of God from Mark 4:26-34, noting that the mustard seed grows independent of the man’s work.

“Throughout the growth process, he is represented as sleeping — no plowing, no tilling. It is self-growing seed, so far as the man is concerned. Of course it depends on God,” Dever said. “Ultimately, it’s not dependent on the man for the seed to grow.”

Even so, believers still have a responsibility to help the Kingdom grow.

“In this parable, Jesus is telling the disciples the Kingdom would grow, regardless of human effort. It’s not ultimately dependent on human action. However, it’s certainly not going to happen without human action — that’s the point of the Great Commission,” Dever said. “It’s an act of faith every time you preach the Word, knowing you can’t bring life but if you preach it, God will give life.”

Daniel Akin, Southeastern’s president, spoke on preaching the Word well.

“What you say is more important than how you say it, but how you say it has never been more important,” Akin said, speaking from Ecclesiastes 9:12-14 and noting that faithful preaching involves instruction, admonition and exhortation.

“God is the teacher. We are just the messengers,” Akin said. “We deny, then, that the preacher has any message from God apart from the text of Scripture.”

Akin counseled, “Preach in such a way that the entire meaning of the Bible passage is taught in exactly the way it was intended. Good preaching will always have knowledge. It will always have a strong teaching element. Without it, it may be entertaining, but it won’t be nourishing. I call it cotton candy preaching. It tastes good while you’re eating it, but 10 minutes later you’re starving because it has no nourishment.”

Thabiti Anyabwile, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman, spoke on cultural barriers that hinder expository preaching in non-white contexts. Noting preaching styles that include “whooping, howling and whining,” Anyabwile said “for far too many, these styles have become synonymous with good preaching. Thus, many people think exposition is not relevant. They think if you’re committed to exposition, you won’t be able to reach the people.”

He pointed to Nehemiah as an example of faithful expository preaching in the midst of shifting cultural norms.

“Everyone could understand the meaning for the impact of understanding, not primarily about emotions,” Anyabwile said. “We preach this way to impact the understanding of God’s people.”

Mike McKinley, pastor of Guilford Baptist Church in Sterling, Va., and C.J. Mahaney, founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries, also addressed the Sept. 25-26 conference.
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Based on reports by Lauren Crane and Jason Hall of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.