LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Southern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated its rich history during the school’s annual Heritage Week celebration Oct. 8-12.
To mark the annual event, Southern held three worship services in Alumni Memorial Chapel featuring sermons by President R. Albert Mohler Jr., Theology School Dean Russell D. Moore and Florida pastor Hayes Wicker of First Baptist Church of Naples.
Mohler also presented the Bruce Benton Distinguished Service Award to Ken Towery, president of Ken Towery’s Auto Care Centers in Louisville. Towery has served on the Southern Seminary Foundation Board since October 2006.
In his sermon, Mohler continued a series on the essential Christian doctrine contained in the Apostles Creed by examining the phrase “born of the virgin Mary.” He argued that the virgin birth fulfills promises first made in Genesis 3 and is a foundational and essential doctrine of the faith. He examined the parallel but distinct accounts of the virgin birth in Matthew 1 and Luke 1.
“The most important truth that comes from these two passages is that this (the virgin birth) is God’s unilateral act, this is God fulfilling His promises, this is God redeeming His people,” he said. “For the One who is born of a virgin is the One who will die for His people’s sins. The One who is born of a virgin is fully God and fully man.”
Getting to the beginning of the story of Christ’s virgin birth requires going all the way back to Genesis 3, where God promised there would be One who was the seed of woman who would crush the serpent’s head, Mohler said.
“From Genesis 3 onward, humanity knowingly and unknowingly has been looking for the birth of the Child who would reverse the curse,” he said. “But this One would not come by natural conception. No child who was conceived as Cain was conceived would be without Adam’s inherited and imputed sin. The only seed of the woman who could reverse the curse was One who was conceived by the sovereign God.”
The virgin birth affirms the true incarnation of Christ and the miracle that Jesus was conceived without sin, Mohler said. He also said the virgin birth fulfils Scripture, specifically God’s promise in Isaiah 7:14 that a virgin would conceive and bear a son who would be called Immanuel.
Must a person affirm the virgin birth to be saved? While it is not necessary to be aware of the virgin birth at conversion, once a person becomes cognizant of Scripture’s teaching on the subject he must then accept that teaching or identify himself as one outside the fold of Christianity, Mohler said.
“We must believe in the virgin birth, because if Christ was not born of a virgin then where does the story start? There is no other option,” Mohler said. “If Jesus is born of Joseph, then we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. If this child is conceived of any human father, then we are dead. Such a child could not reverse the curse. The problem is there are some people who know about the virgin birth and reject it and that is a problem. These people have placed their faith in something other than the Christ of Scripture.”
During his address, Moore urged Christians to overcome their inaction in evangelism by fearing God and experiencing the power of God.
Preaching from John 12:16-43, Moore said believers often fail to fear the condemnation unbelievers face if they will not trust Christ as Savior.
“I wonder if sometimes we miss that the reason we’re not sharing Jesus is because we’re not fearful enough,” he said.
Another reason Christians fail to share their faith is that they fear being viewed as strange more than they desire God to be glorified, Moore said.
“Could it be that that’s the reason why so few of our churches are baptizing many people?” he said. “Could it be that we are clamoring for the glory of man — prancing preachers, happily successful lay people — instead of people who see and recognize the glory of God in a cross?”
Preaching from the parable of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 20, Wicker told chapel attendees that Christians must set their hearts on living for the glory of God. Believers must not answer the question “What’s in this life for me?” according to their selfish desires, but must see themselves as existing for God’s glory, Wicker said.
“The men in this parable thought mainly of themselves, but this is a parable of grace,” Wicker said. “If the reference point in your life is what you get out of it, you will see people ultimately as those you can use or as those who abuse you. You will see God as someone you can manipulate. You will see life either as a sweet deal or a raw deal. It will all be about you.
“Salvation is a gift of a sovereign God. … Life and birth are a gift and death is a door and people are potential glorifiers of God. … The bottom line is not what is in it for me, but what is in it for God.”
David Roach, Jeff Robinson and Garrett Wishall are writers for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Audio from all three sermons is available at http://www.sbts.edu/resources/Audio_Resources/Heritage_Week.aspx.