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Rankin urges seminarians join God’s unfaltering plan to redeem the nations

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Ministerial students whose hearts pound and pulses race during global missions week may be able to talk themselves out of a burden for the lost overseas, but they will lose out on the opportunity to participate in bringing the nations into the kingdom of Christ, Jerry Rankin told a Sept. 17 audience at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Recounting how a recent trip to what is said to be the tomb of biblical figures Esther and Mordecai in Iran, the president of the SBC’s International Mission Board said God may have placed them on the seminary campus precisely “for such a time as this.”
Rankin’s chapel message coincided with the IMB-sponsored Global Missions Week on Southern’s campus. Dozens of SBC missionaries spoke in classes and manned colorfully decorated exhibits to educate seminarians about international missions. The highlight of the week was the IMB’s missionary commissioning service Sept. 15 inaugurating the service of 67 new IMB missionaries.
Expounding upon God’s providential placement of Jewish Esther within the royal courts of the vast Persian empire in order to save his people, Rankin challenged students to consider whether God had placed them “for such a time as this” for service in an even more expansive empire, the kingdom of God.
“Jesus said the gospel of that kingdom, the good news, will be proclaimed in every nation among every people in the whole world and then the end will come,” Rankin said.
Noting when the decree of deliverance for the endangered Jews was announced in Esther 8 the fastest steeds and the quickest couriers were sent to dispatch the news, Rankin pleaded with seminarians to recognize the necessity of speedily carrying the message of redemption through faith in Christ to a world of rebels soon to be engulfed by hell itself.
“How much more urgent is it for us today to declare the good news that hope and deliverance and salvation has come,” he said. “Most of the peoples of our world have never heard that message of deliverance. They’re still under the bondage of death, living in darkness and hopelessness and the bondage of sin, because we have not accepted the urgency, the imperative of that message, that mandate, that a decree of salvation has been issued by our Lord.
“Go and declare it to every nation and in every language of the peoples,” he continued. “And who knows if you are coming into the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Rankin pointed to the examples of the Apostle Paul and William Carey as those who recognized that God had strategically placed them to confront unreached peoples with the gospel of a crucified, resurrected and ascended Christ. The dire need for such God-called proclaimers has not ended with the onset of the modern era, Rankin contended.
“Who will go and plead with the Muslims across North Africa that Mohammed and their allegiance to Allah is not the way of truth?” he asked.
Rankin highlighted Mordecai’s counsel to the young queen in Esther 4:14 in which he warns her that if she remains silent the Jews will find deliverance from another source, but the household of Esther and her father would be destroyed. Similarly, he said, those who shirk the cause of global missions will not ultimately frustrate God’s purposes, but they will find themselves held accountable for lack of obedience to his commands.
“God’s purpose will be fulfilled,” he said. “There will come a day when there will be those from every tribe and people and tongue and nation, a remnant of every people, gathered around the throne and worshiping the Lamb.
“There’s no question about God’s providence,” Rankin continued. “The only question is whether or not we will be the one to be faithful and obedient to join God in his mission. He doesn’t need you. He doesn’t need the International Mission Board. He doesn’t need Southern Baptists.”
Those who spurn God’s call to take the gospel to the nations and instead opt for a “cushy suburban pastorate” will find that others will take their place on the mission field, but they will pay the price of losing the opportunity to be used for the work of global evangelization, Rankin said.
He asked seminarians to consider how the fact God has called them to salvation through his Son mandates them to risk everything for the advance of his redemptive purposes.
“One day God called you into his kingdom,” Rankin said. “Why? Could it be for such a time as this, as God is moving to reach and touch the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message of deliverance?”

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  • Russell D. Moore