Preaching symbolizes God speaking to his people and must remain the church’s central focus, said Mark Dever in the Mullins Lectures on Christian Preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Feb. 23-25.
“Whenever God speaks to man it is an act of love,” said Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and president of 9Marks Ministries. “He speaks as an act of grace. We do not deserve it; we contribute nothing to it.”
The gospel should therefore never be absent in sermons, Dever said, but present and central. Using Ezekiel 37 and Mark 7 to show the power of the preached word, Dever said sermons must call dead bones to live and the deaf to hear.
“Never preach without calling sinners to repent of their sins and place their trust in Christ,” said Dever.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — James William Cox, a renowned homiletics professor who taught at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for more than four decades, died Feb. 21 in Louisville, Kentucky, at 93.
Born in Kingston, Tennessee, on Jan. 18, 1923, Cox trained generations of pastors and wrote several notable books on preaching. He joined Southern’s faculty in 1959 as professor of Christian preaching and in 1981 became the first occupant of the Victor and Louise Lester Chair of Christian Preaching. He retired in 1993 and served as a senior professor until his death.
“Dr. James Cox was one of the greatest scholars of preaching of the past century. His knowledge of homiletics and the history of preaching was unsurpassed,” said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. “He was also a Christian gentleman who was always ready with a kind word and a faculty member who warmly encouraged his colleagues. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his faithful wife of so many years, Patricia, and the Cox family.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Southern Baptists must consider racial reconciliation as important as abortion and same-sex marriage, said leaders and pastors at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during a Feb. 17 forum.
“Southern Baptists got [race issues] so wrong for so long that we have to deal honestly with it, because we do not have credibility,” said Matthew J. Hall, vice president for academic services and assistant professor church history. “Southern Baptists were not just implicated in racial injustice, we were directly feeding it. We have blood on our hands so we can’t try and address other issues of injustice and kind of leap over this one.”
Hall participated in a “What’s the Word” panel discussion on racial reconciliation hosted by the ONE student group, which says it seeks to reconcile ideas across race and gender lines through cross-centered conversations. Other participants included Felipe Castro, director of Hispanic initiatives at Southern Seminary; Curtis Woods, associate executive director for convention relations at the Kentucky Baptist Convention; and Kaitlin Congo, member of the leadership team for the Arise City Summit. Jarvis Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation, moderated the discussion, which focused on the historical and biblical issues surrounding racial reconciliation.
“The reputation of Christ and the beauty of the gospel is far more glorious and worth fighting for than those momentary things that the enemy wants to leverage to disqualify those that God is leveraging for leadership within the body of Christ,” said Horton, church planting resident for The Summit Church, a multisite church based in Durham, North Carolina.
Expositing Psalm 51, Horton’s message, “Reclaiming Integrity is Our Value,” focused on the importance of integrity leading to the confession of sin, the confrontation of sin, and Christians modeling compassion to the godless.
Marriage is foundational to God’s creation mandate, said James M. Hamilton Jr. at a Feb. 17 lecture sponsored by the Commonweal Project at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“The work God gave the man to do is not to be disconnected from marriage and family,” said Hamilton, professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary. “In fact, marriage and family enable man to accomplish the work God gave him to do.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — The gospel demands change, write Boyce College professors Denny Burk and Heath Lambert in a new book, Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says About Sexual Orientation and Change. Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, and Lambert, executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and visiting professor of biblical counseling, recognize the truth of the gospel is for homosexuals because it is for all people. They argue that while homosexuality might be an uncomfortable subject to talk about, the Bible sets clear boundaries that need to be pervasively championed.
“If we withhold that truth from them out of fear of offending them, then we don’t love them. We cut them off from salvation,” they write. “The only way for them to be saved is to receive Christ. The only way to receive Christ is by repentance and faith.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — As husbands and wives consider biblical marriage with Valentine's Day approaching, a new book by professors at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary offers historical reflections on marriage from major figures in church history.
In Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past, co-authors Robert L. Plummer, professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern, and Matthew D. Haste, associate professor of ministry studies at Columbia International University Seminary and School of Ministry in Columbia, South Carolina, provide biblical reflections and personal application to accompany each historical selection. The idea for this book began with Plummer’s desire to collect the main ideas from other marriage books he was reading.
“My thought was, 'I wish I could just take one paragraph out of that because that's the main point, and just read that because I don't really have a whole lot of time.' I just really wanted the meat of something,” Plummer explained. “Then when I would read something like Luther's famous essay on the estate of marriage, I would realize that it was written 500 years ago, but it was really good. … I really liked the feeling of being connected to the historic witness to the church.”
Describing Ephesians 4, Plummer said that Held in Honor embodies the passage’s explanation that God raises up leaders and teachers continually throughout history. This book seeks to provide condensed historical documents as personal witnesses of the challenge and beauty of a God-centered marriage.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Extending forgiveness reflects the heart of the gospel, said Kentucky Baptist leader Paul Chitwood during a Feb. 11 chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“There is no way that the gospel is put on more beautiful and powerful display than when a believer is able, willing, and ready to extend the forgiveness that we have received,” said Chitwood, executive-director treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “Genuine forgiveness is a shocking display of the truth of the gospel.”
Preaching from Matthew 18:33, Chitwood’s message, “The Gospel Mandate of Mercy,” offered a remedy for the pastor’s “common cold” of bitterness. In understanding the miracle of mercy and forgiveness offered to every person through Jesus, Christians are able to extend amazing mercy and forgiveness to others.
Chitwood’s experience in pastoral counseling immersed him in the reality that offering forgiveness is one of the “most profound struggles that human beings face.”
“More often than not, the root issue that was exposed during pastoral counseling was a root of bitterness that was growing within the soul,” he said. “And like gangrene, the infection was overtaking every relationship and every sphere of that person’s life. Sadly it’s an ailment as prevalent as the common cold even in the church. If we will be faithful gospel physicians, we must be prepared to diagnose this condition and to apply the balm of the gospel.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will host and live-stream the NCCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Mideast Regional basketball tournaments, Feb. 25-27. It marks the first time Boyce has hosted a postseason tournament.
The three-day event will feature teams from Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Boyce College will join Crown College, Johnson University, Kentucky Christian University, Piedmont International University, and Welch College in the men’s tournament. The women’s tournament will feature Johnson University, Kentucky Christian University, University of Valley Forge, and Welch College.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) —Expository preaching, personal evangelism, pastoral care, and congregational prayer are essential for church revitalization, said West Virginia Baptist leader William D. Henard III in a Feb. 9 chapel message at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“God is calling some of you to be church revitalizers. And you may go into a church and say… ‘There is nothing I can do.’ I want to let you know that there is always something you can do in [a struggling congregation],” said Henard, executive director-treasurer of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.
In his message, “Orthodox But Out of Focus: When a Church Needs Revitalization,” Henard, an adjunct professor of evangelism and church growth at the seminary, said 2 Timothy 4:1-5 illustrates that even when church revitalization is difficult and pastors feel limited in their ability to engineer change, they can be faithful in the four tasks of revitalization.