KBC executive director challenges Southern Seminary to rejoice in the glorious gospel
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, posed the question, “How shall we respond to the gospel?” in a chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, March 11.
Preaching from Galatians 4:1-7, Chitwood, who previous was assistant professor of evangelism and church growth at Southern Seminary, encouraged believers to rejoice in the gospel, revel in the adoption secured by Christ and rest in the spirit of God’s son. Chitwood illustrated each of these points by a particular geographical location from his own personal experience.
Beginning in Gorée Island, Senegal, an island known for its slave-trading history, Chitwood invited his listeners to “rejoice” in redemption from the slaveholder of sin. Drawing from Gorée Island’s history, he highlighted the even greater slavery of sin.
“This, friends, is the gospel: to set at liberty those that are oppressed,” Chitwood said, explaining this as the image that Paul gives in Galatians 4:3. “How should we respond? Should we not respond with rejoicing that we have been set free from the slaveowner of sin?”
Moving to Galatians 4:4-5, Chitwood said that his second geographical location was Chongqing, China, with a stop en route to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Through these locations, Chitwood invited listeners to “revel” in “adoption from the orphanage of Satan.”
For Chitwood, adoption has personal meaning and a journey that began in the slums of Rio de Janeiro with a desperate young mother begging Chitwood and his wife, “Please take my daughter … Give her hope. Give her a future,” through which they began a journey that led to the adoption of their daughter, he said.
In Chongqing, China, a “baby lay tied by the ankles in a metal bed that she shared with two others.” He said her first 10 months were spent like this until “the heavenly father allowed” Chitwood, “the privilege of becoming her earthly father.”
Chitwood said adoption is “a prevalent theme” in Scripture, “because it so clearly depicts the gospel.” Not only this, adoption itself “displays the very heart of God.”
Citing James 1:27, Chitwood emphasized that the church has a God-given “assignment” to “extend” his care for the fatherless. He said that from 100 million orphans worldwide to the 7,000 children within state care in Kentucky, “the need and opportunity of adoption has never been greater.”
Addressing the objection that adoption is expensive, Chitwood pointed to the $50 billion spent on pets yearly in the United States. This sum, “in the most conservative of estimates,” is enough to adopt five million of the estimated 100 million orphans in the world.
In his third and final “stop,” drawn from Galatians 4:6-7, Chitwood brought his listeners “back home to Kentucky.” Turning to spiritual application, he said that a proper response to the gospel is to “rest in the spirit of God’s son.” This spirit, according to Chitwood, is “present within each believer’s life” and moves believers to address God as father.
Rather, “This presence of the spirit of God’s son in our life, the first — and most basic — indication of our adoption, is that we have a new way of addressing God: Father.”
Chitwood concluded: “Oh the joy of having a heavenly father who lifts our lives from the gutter and loosens our bonds and gives us hope and a future. How shall we respond to his gospel? Oh rest in his Spirit.”
Audio and video from Chitwood’s sermon are available at www.sbts.edu/resources. For those interested in foster care or adoption within Kentucky, Chitwood recommended Sunrise Children’s Services (www.sunrise.org).