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FROM THE SEMINARIES: Calling, mission focus of NOBTS, SEBTS convocations

“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered. It is a command to be obeyed," SEBTS President Danny Akin, quoting missionary Hudson Taylor, told students at the seminary's convocation service Thursday (Aug. 19).

‘Walk worthy of Christ’ Dew urges at NOBTS Convocation

By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS (BP) – With COVID and world unrest filling the news, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College President Jamie Dew began his convocation address Aug. 17 with a question: “Do you ever feel hopeless?”

“This is ultimately the Lord’s kingdom that is coming,” NOBTS President Jamie Dew said at the school’s convocation Aug. 17. “It is by and through His spirit that His kingdom will unfold, that His people will be made strong, and the Gospel will go forward.”

Convocation marks the official start of a new semester. Faculty and students gathered in Leavell Chapel on the NOBTS campus.

In a world filled with suffering, brokenness and darkness, believers can feel hopeless, Dew said. “Yet God has called each and every one of us into that darkness to be salt and light,” he said.

The world’s brokenness cannot be solved by human effort and ability, Dew reminded listeners, adding that believers then ask, “how should we live?”

“This is ultimately the Lord’s battle,” Dew said. “This is ultimately the Lord’s kingdom that is coming. It is by and through His spirit that His kingdom will unfold, that His people will be made strong, and the Gospel will go forward.”

Dew explained that Paul reminded believers in Ephesians 1-3 who they are in Christ and then explained in chapters 4-6 how they should live.

Believers face three fundamental challenges that are answered in Ephesians 4:1-6, Dew said. First, what must believers do? Second, how can believers accomplish the task? Lastly, why should believers work to accomplish the task?

First, believers are called to “walk worthy of Christ,” Dew said. The command to walk worthy of a Savior who is “spotless and perfect” should “haunt” them, Dew explained, admitting that the command makes him “shudder.”

“How could I ever, how can you ever, live up to that?” Dew asked. “There is a very real sense in which, despite the fact that you and I are called to [walk worthy of Christ], you and I can’t. How can I, how can you, ever actually live worthy of Christ?”

Dew explained that only through the indwelling of God’s Spirit can believers accomplish the calling to walk worthy of Christ and live Christlike lives, Dew explained, and he urged listeners to make pursuing Christ in holiness their number one priority this academic year. Pointing to verses 2-3, Dew said five virtues are marks of a Christlike life: humility, gentleness, patience, love and unity.

“There’s no place for hubris in your life as a Christ-follower, no place for arrogance, pride or boastfulness,” Dew said. “… Christ calls us to take up the towel and basin and wash each other’s feet.”

Rather than following the cultural norm of treating others with harshness and abrasiveness, Christ-followers must be gentle and patient, as Christ was, Dew said. Pointing to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21-23, and other Scripture, Dew said unity is important to God and reminded listeners that the task can only be accomplished by the indwelling of God’s Spirit and communion with Christ.

Why believers must live worthy of Christ is found in verses 4-6, Dew said. Believers have the same hope, serve the same Lord, and “share the same Redeemer,” he said, and then challenged listeners to pursue Christ and His kingdom above all else.

“NOBTS and Leavell College, let’s do that,” Dew said in closing. “Let’s do that this year.”

The service began with a welcome to new faculty members and recognition of faculty service anniversaries.

Norris Grubbs, provost, noted that NOBTS was founded by vote of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1917, prior to the penning of the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message. The NOBTS faculty at their founding formed the document the Articles of Religious Faith that outlined their beliefs and their commitment to uphold them faithfully. Every new faculty member since has signed the document along with the Baptist Faith and Message.

New faculty members signing the NOBTS Articles of Religious Belief and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 were: Cory Barnes, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; Ethan Jones, assistant professor of Old Testament and Hebrew and Tyler Wittman, assistant professor of theology.

Faculty members marking service anniversaries were:

  • 35 years: Dennis Cole, professor of Old Testament and archaeology; Jeanine Bozeman, professor emeritus of social work
  • 30 years: Charlie Ray Jr., distinguished professor of New Testament and Greek
  • 25 years: Michael Sharp, professor of worship studies
  • 20 years: Archie England, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; Joe Sherrer, professor of discipleship and ministry leadership
  • 10 years: Jong Gil Lee, associate professor of expository preaching; Randy Stone, professor of Christian education

Fulfill the mission of King Jesus, Akin charges students

By Lauren Pratt/SEBTS

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – Students, faculty, and staff at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) gathered in Binkley Chapel in a spirit of celebration and excitement for the upcoming semester Thursday (Aug. 19).

President Danny Akin challenged students to consider Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples, found in Matthew 28:19-20.

Akin quoted Hudson Taylor, saying, “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered. It is a command to be obeyed.”

He reminded students that the Great Commission gives assurance of biblical convictions and a clarity on God’s mission in the world. In Matthew 28:19-20, it’s clear that Jesus gives this command with His authority and power as God and has promised all believers that He will go with them wherever He calls them. His presence serves as a comfort to His people as they make disciples of all nations.

“Wherever you go, whatever you do, never forget King Jesus is already there waiting on you,” Akin said.

SEBTS seeks to incorporate a love for God, His Church, His truth and His world into the hearts of every student. Akin said SEBTS is committed to its love for God and the truth of His Word in six distinct ways. These include the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, the exclusivity of the Gospel, the centrality of penal substitution, the beauty of a biblical complementarian theology, the importance of the local church, and the inherent and eternal value of every human made in the image of God.

“When we love the truth rightly, ultimately we are loving well the Lord Jesus Christ,” Akin said.

Christ has called believers to be salt and light in a lost world and has made it clear, specifically in Matthew 28, that each believer is called to make, baptize and teach disciples of Jesus Christ throughout the world, Akin said. He added that this is the mission of every believer and it’s the mission of Southeastern to train students for this work. The outflow of that mission will involve a love for the Church and the world.

Revelation 5 and 7 depict the day when every nation, tribe, and tongue will worship together in heaven, Akin said. SEBTS is not only committed to training students with a global vision for the Church but is committed to training students to love and serve the Church as Christ does.

At the beginning of this semester’s convocation service, several faculty were recognized. Julia Higgins and Karen Swallow Prior, who were elected to the faculty in April, signed the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Higgins serves as associate dean of graduate program administration and assistant professor of ministry to women. Prior serves as research professor of Christianity and Culture. In addition, Jim Shaddix was honored with the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award. Shaddix serves as the W.A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching and professor of preaching.

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