'In the beginning' is crucial, students told

Boyce College dean Dan DeWitt speaks to the wisdom-themed Renown Youth Conference at Southern Seminary.
Photo by Emil Handke
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- It's not wise to "start somewhere other than, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,'" R. Albert Mohler Jr. told 600-plus middle and high school students.

"The start of your story is in eternity when God created the heavens and the earth and determined that you would exist," Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said at a wisdom-themed youth conference at the undergraduate Boyce College on the Louisville, Ky., campus.

"You were made in His image," Mohler said.

Preaching from Proverbs 9, Mohler encouraged students to study the Bible's wisdom literature, noting that a person's life flows from where they start their worldview. If that start is apart from God, it will also end apart from God, he said.

Dan Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration and professor of Christian ministry and leadership, and Boyce College dean Dan Dewitt joined Mohler in teaching the main sessions of the March 5-6 Renown Youth Conference, among the various student conferences sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention's six seminaries.

Dumas, whose new book "Live Smart: Preparing for the Future God Wants for You" releases this spring, taught from Psalm 139:1-12 in noting that wisdom comes from a high view of God. Since a person lives out their view of God every day, having a properly informed view of God will touch each detail of their life, he said.

"We don't run from theology, we run to theology," Dumas said. "It's cultivating a knowledge of God. [Christian theology is] a right and proper view and understanding of God, and everything else in your Christian life is built on that.

"If that foundation is cracked or wobbly, you're going to have all kinds of issues. If you don't have a big God, you're going to have massive problems."

Dumas encouraged students not to wait until they are older to obey God. Procrastinating in following God is a sin, he said. From Proverbs 1 Dumas underscored Solomon's message to young people: "Fear God, honor your parents, choose your friends wisely, and obey God immediately," he said. "If you shun wisdom today, there will come a day when wisdom shuns you."

DeWitt, who recently wrote an apologetics book "Christ or Chaos," taught from Psalm 103 on how God blesses those who follow Him by forgiving sin and healing their spiritual condition.

"God not only forgives us but He begins taking all the junk, all the cancer of sin, and He starts making something beautiful," DeWitt said.

"The sum of these truths [can] find a way of penetrating your heart and they begin working their way through you from the inside out," he said.

In addition to the main sessions, nine breakout sessions were offered on a variety of topics, from missions to biblical manhood and womanhood, featuring Boyce or Southern faculty members, including Randy Stinson, senior vice president for academic administration and provost; James M. Hamilton Jr., professor of biblical theology; and Jeremy Pierre, associate professor of biblical counseling and dean of students.

Audio and video from the Renown conference are available online at sbts.edu/resources.

Bonnie Burke is a writer for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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