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Patterson: Christ’s return ‘only hope’ for suffering world

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–In a world filled with suffering, the Christian hope for worldwide relief is centered on the return of Jesus Christ, Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said during the seminary’s spring convocation.

“It is the only hope,” Patterson said. “We are obligated to make peace as best we can. We are obligated to put down tyranny wherever we must. We are obligated to do all those things, but in the end they fail. Don’t ever put your trust in the sagaciousness of men to create peace on the earth. They cannot do it. Instead, pray, ‘Even so, come Lord Jesus.’ And when Jesus comes, there will be peace on earth.”

Patterson commenced a 12-part spring sermon series on “The Last Days,” which will feature a look at the end times through exposition of passages from Daniel, Isaiah, Romans, Revelation and other books of the Bible. In his first sermon, Patterson introduced the series with “seven disclaimers” about studying the end times.

Opinions about the end times, he noted, “are almost as varied as the interpreters who hold those views themselves.” Even some professors at Southwestern would not necessarily agree with his views, he said, and that should cause no one to be surprised.

“If what has happened — that is, history — is notoriously difficult to determine, how much more difficult is it to determine that which has not yet happened, i.e. — prophecy?” Patterson asked.

Patterson pointed out that orthodoxy concerning the end times is founded upon the angel’s promise at the beginning of Acts that Jesus would come again in the same way that He left the apostles at His ascension. Those who disagree about the details, he added, should at least “be encouraged by God’s sovereign control over history.”

Patterson based the first sermon on Isaiah 10-12, titling the message “When Lambs Intimidate Lions.”

“When we come to the text of Isaiah, we are introduced to a hope of an end times event that sees the universal reign of the Messiah,” Patterson said, adding that Revelation indicates this reign will last 1,000 years. “The description of that reign is quite prolific: In those days, there will be no more suffering because of malnutrition … because the harvest will return to such abundance when the curse of Adam is lifted.”

This period also will be characterized by worldwide peace and the renewed “domesticity of animals,” Patterson added. During the reign of the Messiah, who is called the “Rod from the stem of Jesse” in Isaiah 11, God will bring a remnant of the Jews who have been scattered throughout the world back to the Promised Land.

Patterson then cautioned the Jan. 18 chapel audience: “As people look at what is going on in the Middle Eastern conflict today, some believers are quick to argue the point that everything that Israel does is right,” he said. “Israel has returned to the land in unbelief, exactly as God said she would. She does not follow Christ, the Messiah.”

It is incorrect for believers to say either that modern-day Israel is completely right in their actions or that the Palestinians are completely wrong, Patterson said.

“In the affairs of all of us fallen men, we all make mistakes, and there are tragic blunders in human relations that occur on every side,” Patterson said. “What we can say, however, is that somehow God has preserved the Jews. Isn’t that amazing?”

Finally, Patterson noted that Isaiah calls salvation through the Messiah “buckets of living water.” When the Messiah returns, “you shall go to the wells and drop the bucket in, and as long as you fetch it, it will just keep coming, slaking your thirst forever and ever and ever.”

During the convocation chapel, two newly elected faculty signed the seminary’s book of confessional heritage, indicating their agreement to teach in accordance with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Edgar G. Cajas came to Southwestern as an associate professor of church music in the school of church music. Originally from Guatemala, Cajas earned a bachelor of science degree from La Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala. He then earned two master’s degrees in music from Southwestern and a doctoral degree in music education from the University of Oklahoma.

Edward H. Pauley joined the Southwestern faculty as vice provost for academic programs and a professor of philosophy. Before coming to Southwestern, Pauley served as the executive director at the Universities Center at Dallas and as an academic administrator and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of North Texas. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. He received a master of arts degree in philosophy at Boston University, after which he was a recognized student at Oxford University for one year. He then returned to Boston University, where he completed a doctoral degree in philosophy.

“We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Pauley to our faculty,” Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost, said. “He is a godly man who possesses a rare combination of talents in both the classroom and in administration. He has energy and a love for students that make him a wonderful addition to our seminary family.”

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  • Benjamin Hawkins