LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Southern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated its historic past and looked to the future during the school’s annual Heritage Week celebration Oct. 9-13.
To mark the event, Southern held three chapel services that featured sermons by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the seminary; Russell D. Moore, dean of the theology school and senior vice president for administration; and Steve Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.
Southern also awarded the Bruce W. Benton Distinguished Service Award to Harry Nurse, a Louisville, Ky., businessman who serves on the seminary’s foundation board.
In his sermon Oct. 10, Mohler continued a series he began earlier this fall on the Ten Commandments, unpacking the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother.”
Mohler focused on three areas the command addresses: the proper role of parents, proper response of children and proper reality of the church as God’s new covenant people.
Parents who view this command as being addressed to children alone make a mistake because parents are responsible for teaching their children about this and other commandments, he said.
“The proper role of parents speaks to the first relationship the child learns, the relationship between child and parents,” Mohler said. “Fathers are key and mothers are crucial in the transfer of doctrine, the development of a worldview and the instilling of dependence upon Scripture. Parents are schoolmasters of the home.”
For children this command includes obedience but also encompasses respect and admiration for parents even after their death, Mohler said.
“The proper response of children is to obey first parents, which leads to obedience to government and then ultimately to God,” he said. “In addition to obedience, we are to bring honor to the name of our father and to the name of mother and to all that has been given us in this patrimony. Those who would dishonor their parents would also dishonor God. We should consider it a great honor to be considered the child of our mother and father and we should pass on this heritage to our own children.”
Finally, Mohler said the command reveals the church as God’s new covenant people.
“In the church, we have not only the responsibility to honor our father and mother, but we are to act as a family toward each other in the church,” he said. “Young men are to honor the older men and older women are to counsel the younger women. It is the responsibility of God’s new covenant people to embrace this reality.”
During his address to students Oct. 11, Moore said Christians should lead lives characterized by mercy because Jesus made mercy possible with his violent death on the cross.
“What the Bible calls us to is something countercultural,” Moore said. “… It is saying to us that when there is a personal injustice — not just a misunderstanding, but a real personal injustice — we refuse to fight back. We refuse to seek that justice addressed personally right then and right there. That is against the flow of all American culture.”
Believers can be merciful because they trust in the justice of God’s Kingdom, Moore said. The world wrongly believes the strongest will survive, but Christians should forgive and know that only those who trust God will survive eternally, he said.
“When you and I are showing mercy, when you and I are refusing to seek justice, we are understanding that in the cross of Jesus Christ, sin is judged,” Moore said. “And we understand that at that great day of judgment every idle word will be called into account. There will be justice.”
The merciful trust in the mercy of God’s Kingdom and refuse to keep records of wrong, he said, adding that keeping records of wrong is often easy to do in ministry. A Christian is not to retaliate when he is wronged because Jesus did not lash out at His persecutors on the cross, Moore said.
“Jesus is not standing here in tie-dye saying, ‘Give peace a chance,’” he said. “Jesus is standing here saying, ‘I am able to be less violent than Allah, I am able to be less violent than the Darwinist power structure of this age, I am able to refuse to seek my own personal judgment precisely because I believe in the violence of God — a violence that touches down at Golgotha.’
“When I seek to lash back, I am only doing so because I don’t believe in judgment at Golgotha.”
Gaines spoke in chapel Oct. 12, during the final service of Heritage Week. He reminded students that God is sovereign in His appointment of ministers to the places in which they will serve. Gaines was elected pastor of the historic Bellevue Baptist Church in the spring of 2005 following the retirement of the late Adrian Rogers.
“As I look back over my life, I have not had to open a door for myself,” Gaines said. “You don’t have to promote yourself in the ministry. In fact, you shouldn’t promote yourself in the ministry. God knows where you are. You don’t have to try to push and try to network. The Holy Spirit knows where you are and God can put you wherever He wants you to be. He knows where you need to be at exactly the right time.”
Ministers should not confuse effectiveness with success because God anoints the performance of His heralds, Gaines said. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah was greatly effective, Gaines pointed out, but he might not be seen as successful by the world’s standards. A pastor who faithfully preaches the Word of God week in and week out in the place where God calls him is truly successful, he said.
Gaines also pointed out that God allows the persecution of His Gospel preachers both for their good and His glory.
“When God is moving and people are being saved and God is blessing the church, don’t let it shock you that God allows the persecution of His preachers,” Gaines said. “God is not doing something to you but for you … because then we share in the fellowship of His sufferings as we are called to do.”