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Proclaim the Gospel despite trials, Baucham exhorts at seminary

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Bottled water. When the phenomenon burst onto the scene, it answered the question: Would anyone pay for water? In 2004 alone, U.S. consumers spent an estimated $8 billion on bottled water. But why spend so much on water and what does bottled water have to do with revival?

“You buy it because you know it’s pure,” New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary President Chuck Kelley said with a container of bottled water in his hand.

Standing before a crowd of students and faculty gathered for New Orleans Seminary’s campus-wide revival, Kelley poured the pure bottled water into a glass that was already partially filled with mud and dirt. The result was a glass full of murky, cloudy, undrinkable water. The object lesson was clear and cutting.

“God will not pour His anointing into a dirty vessel,” Kelley said.

The March 1-3 revival led by author and speaker Voddie Baucham called students, faculty and staff to inspect their lives and ministries to see if whether they constituted “dirty vessels.” Baucham, also a former Rice University football standout, urged a self-examination of character, motives and resolve in light of God’s calling.

Speaking from 2 Timothy during the revival, Baucham noted, “Every chapter of this letter, we see that two-pronged theme — that theme of preserving and proclaiming the Gospel and, side by side with it, the idea of enduring the suffering that will inevitably come as a result of doing so.”

Christians are called to preserve and proclaim the Gospel and to endure the hardships that go along with it, Baucham said.

“That’s where we are this week,” he said, “to ask God to revive us to that kind of calling, because there are times when, for whatever reason, one of those two things gets out of whack.”

In focusing on the calling to preserve and proclaim the Gospel, Baucham confronted the seminarians with this question: “Are you one of us or are you one of them?” Chapter 3 of 2 Timothy, he noted, forces the Christian to ask himself or herself a similar question.

“That’s the question we all have to answer, because there are people out there who misrepresent Christ and Christianity every day,” Baucham. “Well-trained, well-educated, gifted and rotten to the core.”

In the first half of chapter 3, the Apostle Paul describes people around Timothy who hold to “a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (verse 5). These people rest on their abilities, their talents and their gifts instead of relying on God.

“I want to ask you something,” Baucham said. “Are you involved in ministry now or are you moving toward ministry now because somebody told you that you are gifted? Or are you moving toward ministry because you have a character that will serve as the foundation upon which God can build greatness for Himself and for His namesake?”

Put another way: “Are you developing godly character,” Baucham asked, “or are you just developing skills that will make you a good living someday?”

Returning to his question of “Are you one of us or are you one of them?” Baucham noted that the “them” are the self-reliant, whereas Paul uses Timothy to represent the “us.” In 2 Timothy 3:10-11, Paul contrasted Timothy’s conduct with the others’: “Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions and sufferings.”

“If you’ve been living as one of ‘them’ …, I admonish you. Repent,” Baucham said. “But if you can’t do that, do me a favor. Get off the bus before you embarrass my God.”

Baucham’s message on the final day of the revival focused on 2 Timothy 4:1-5, which centers on the call to proclaim the Gospel, which Baucham described as involving biblical exposition. Preachers are often trained and equipped with the tools to accurately preach the Word of God, he said, but when they leave seminary they encounter a lie being spread on the outside.

“That lie is this: ‘You can’t count on biblical exposition. You can’t grow a church on biblical exposition. What you have to do is wet your finger, stick it in the air and find out what the felt needs of the people are. Start with that and build something,'” he recounted.

Holding up the Bible, Baucham said, “If this isn’t what you start with, it doesn’t matter what you build with.”

Baucham cited numerous reasons for remaining faithful to biblical exposition and ended with this one: It promotes the spiritual growth of both the pastor and the people.

“People who sit under biblical exposition for a long time learn to handle the Word of God for themselves,” Baucham said. “It will build into people’s lives not a dependence on me or an awe of me, but a dependence on and an awe for the Word of God and for the Author of the Scriptures.”

Baucham exhorted the seminarians to live in order to finish well, pointing to Paul’s example in 2 Timothy 4:6: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.”

“Why was this man able to finish well?” Baucham asked. “He saw his life as a sacrifice unto God. By the way, his suffering led to death. The life that is laid down physically is ultimately the outgrowth of a life that has been laid down spiritually.”

In order to do that, Baucham underscored the necessity of living with an eternal perspective.

“Are you living life with an eternal perspective?” he asked. “Do you realize that this is not your home? Do you believe it? Do you mean it? Are you walking with Christ like that?”

    About the Author

  • Michael McCormack