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Southeastern student makes profession at convocation

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–As Jerry Vines delivered the fall convocation sermon Aug. 19 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Rick Wylie sat about 20 rows back from the front of the newly-renovated Binkley Chapel nodding his head in agreement while shouting “Amen.”
The answer to what people should do about their sin is found at the cross, preached the co-pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Declaring there is no gospel apart from Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, Vines addressed the perplexing question of why Christ’s burial is included in the good news of the gospel?
“When Jesus was buried, he’s not the only one that was buried there,” said Vines. “In fact when Jesus was buried there, thousands were buried there and yea millions were buried there. In fact the Bible says if you are born again, you were buried there.”
The gospel is incomplete without Christ’s resurrection, charged Vines. “We serve a living Savior,” he shouted. “What a gospel, what a full gospel! … It changes life when you find out that Jesus Christ is absolutely alive.”
As Vines continued to preach, Wylie, his mood now somber, sat quietly in the pew.
“Up until about half way through that sermon I had been intent on agreeing verbally with what he (Vines) was saying, but it hadn’t gotten into my heart,” confessed Wylie. “About half way through the sermon I got this feeling, the sense that it’s the Holy Spirit saying ‘shut up and listen’.”
Wylie, a first-year master of divinity of student from Gaffney, S.C., said he began arguing with God under his breath about the legitimacy of his salvation.
A licensed minister, ordained deacon, Sunday school teacher and Brotherhood director at Kirby Memorial Baptist Church in Gaffney, a member of Promise Keepers and now a seminary student had to be proof of his salvation, Wylie reasoned throughout the service.
“Including the time my mom carried me I have been in the church over 27 years,” continued Wylie. “God showed me that most of the things that I had done in the church all my life were for selfish motives.”
Shortly after enrolling at Southeastern for summer courses, Wylie said, he began to seriously doubt his salvation. “One of the things that really got me was my fellow students, just seeing the light in their eyes and the glory of the Lord in their countenance and their obvious love for Christ and I knew that I didn’t have that.”
A public profession as a 17-year-old at a summer youth camp suddenly became meaningless. “I knew something was wrong but I didn’t want to have to walk the aisle to face it. It was anguish. It was absolute agony.”
Then at the first stanza of the invitational hymn, “Just As I Am,” Wylie stepped into the aisle, walked to the front and embraced Southeastern Seminary President Paige Patterson.
“I was operating for years under the presumption that I was saved,” confessed Wylie. “I just said, ‘Dr. Patterson, I want Jesus to save me. I want God to save me. I want Jesus in my heart and I don’t want to fight anymore.”
While returning to his seat, Wylie dropped to his knees in the center aisle lifted his hands heavenward and wept. “I didn’t want to walk anymore,” said Wylie, I just wanted to stop and let this whole thing settle in for a minute and rejoice.”
Wylie said he’s not embarrassed or ashamed that it took enrolling in seminary to realize he wasn’t a Christian.
“I did not have that kind of resurrection salvation,” he said. “God allowed me to be less willing to harden my heart one more time. When you hear a message like that preached and you don’t respond the way the Holy Spirit is leading, your heart just gets harder and harder.”
In other convocation activities, David Lanier, professor of New Testament at Southeastern Seminary, was presented the “Faculty Excellence In Teaching Award.”
Lanier, who earned a master of divinity degree and a Ph.D. in New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, has taught at Southeastern since 1992.
Lanier, 47, taught at Criswell College, Dallas, for several years before coming to Southeastern, where he also serves as editor of the seminary’s theological journal called “Faith and Mission.”

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  • Lee Weeks