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Fear God or ‘munch grass,’ Boyce dean tells seminarians

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The Word of God contains many passages that should terrify humans, Ted Cabal warned Feb. 4 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
As founding dean of the Louisville, Ky., seminary’s James P. Boyce College of the Bible, Cabal was preaching his first sermon in the seminary’s Alumni Chapel when he said, “The three most frightening verses in all the Bible” are found in Romans chapter 1. Verses 24, 26 and 28 are alarming because each verse has the phrase “God gave them over,” Cabal said.
The Lord withholds his divine, sustaining grace and has given over certain, continually rebellious humans to the “lusts of their hearts,” Cabal explained. As a result, many people find themselves “munching grass in a field” like King Nebuchadnezzar did, as recorded in Daniel, chapter 4. The consequence of rejecting God? “Hardening of the heart,” he said.
Preaching from Romans 1:16-32, Cabal said the good news of Jesus Christ prefaces and provides the unifying theme of that New Testament book. He admonished Christians to absorb the urgency with which the Apostle Paul — the author of Romans — proclaimed the truth.
“Don’t you realize how dreadful our condition really is?” Cabal asked. “When we see the [human] condition for what it really is, then we can appreciate the gospel for the good news that it really is.
“The gospel is indeed God’s powerful way of rescuing people,” he said. “The Son of God has come on a ‘rescue mission’ to seek and save like no other. This indeed will stand out more boldly like a beacon on a dark night.”
While reading story headlines from a local newspaper, Cabal illustrated the horrifying human plight Romans 1 describes. Sin — and the depravity of the human mind — have wrecked the human ability to resist temptation, he said.
If newspapers fill up with the results of sin, then Christians should not question why the apostle describes the dismal human condition in Scripture, Cabal said. “Why should the truth of our condition … offend us?” he asked.
Humans trivialize sin and will face judgment unless God saves them through his Son, Cabal said. Since every unforgiven sinner “is lost helplessly before God,” Christians not only need to absorb the urgency of the need to tell others about Jesus Christ, but the message of Christ must “remain central in the Christian task” because those who reject Christ will face God’s wrath.
But American culture “will not give the Lord God … the credit due him,” Cabal said. Humans “skew and destroy the purpose and fabric of life,” he said. Therefore, “all sinners deserve judgment because the Lord has revealed himself — and humans continue to work against the purposes of God.
“Only God can rescue us from ourselves,” Cabal said, noting no effort this side of heaven can alleviate humans from their sinful ways and certain judgment.
Cabal urged all Christians to share the gospel because the “Lord is incensed” and “God’s judgment is all around us.”
The good news is that the wrath of God can be averted, the dean said. Those who rebel against God’s will must first hear the good news of Jesus Christ, “surrender to him, and place trust in Jesus Christ.”
As for the Southern Seminary community and Christians everywhere, Cabal said, “May it be that no one who names the name of Christ … places anything higher in their thoughts than bringing the glory of God due his name as seen in the light of the gospel.”

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  • Mark M. Overstreet