FROM THE SEMINARIES: Convocations at MBTS, SEBTS
In today's From the Seminaries: Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Allen underscores Christ's love for the lost
By T. Patrick Hudson
In a message from Luke 19:1-10, Allen noted that the story of Zacchaeus is far more than the song many learned when they were young. The biblical account, Allen said, "conveys the act, the heart and the determination of our Savior to find a man and save him -- a man who was most unlikely to be saved."
In sharing of this story, Allen compared and contrasted Zacchaeus' situation with that of the "rich young ruler" from Luke 18.
In Allen's first point, he said Jesus intentionally sought a sinner. Zacchaeus was wealthy from serving as the chief tax collector and was likely among the most despised people in society due to corruption.
Allen added that wealth has differing effects on people. Some can be hardened, he said, while others can be left with emptiness, such as Zacchaeus who was seeking to fill a void, which likely left him looking for Jesus.
And Jesus was looking for Zacchaeus, approaching the small man in a sycamore tree to have a relationship with him, Allen said.
"Kingdom topography is always inverted," Allen commented. "Jesus delights in turning upside down the conventional wisdom and expectations of the world .... Jesus reaches up, sees this sinner, calls him down, and Zacchaeus climbs down .... This implodes the conventional religious wisdom of the first century based on merit, on works, on law-keeping, on outward appearance, on self-righteousness.
"But if we're not careful we need it to implode the conventional religious wisdom of the 21st century as well."
In his second point, Allen said Jesus loves to save sinners, pointing out, however, there are two types of people -- those who accept Jesus and others who do not.
Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler were quite similar, both in similar stations of life and states of heart, both wealthy, both seeking Jesus, Allen said. However, one departs lost while the other finds salvation. They key between the two, Allen said, is that Zacchaeus expresses unqualified repentance, whereas the rich young ruler was more transaction-like in his interaction with Jesus.
As a side note, Allen lamented there is little repentance being preached these days. "When I was a kid, I heard repentance preached often. Repentance is a relic of a previous generation, not ringing from evangelical pulpits much or, even worse, perhaps being intentionally shelved because it may repel those who are visiting," Allen said.
"Let me remind us this morning that repentance is a sweet word, an essential word and a life-giving word," he said. "It is sweet act, a sweet expression, a sweet change of heart that is essential and life-giving as well. Without repentance, there is no conversion. Without repentance corporately, there is no revival."
Allen further noted that the Zacchaeus story is about the worth of a soul. Not many people would have seen him as a likely candidate for salvation, but Jesus placed his affection on Zacchaeus and saved him.
In his third point, Allen focused on the sermon Jesus preached. In calling Zacchaeus a true "son of Abraham," Jesus offended the Pharisees who were sons of Abraham physically. But because of his faith in Christ, Allen said Zacchaeus became one spiritually.
"We ought to love what Jesus loves and like what Jesus likes," Allen said in his conclusion. "We are never more like our Christ than when we share His love and compassion for that which was lost."
To view Allen's message in full, visit https://www.mbts.edu/video/spring-2018-convocation-dr-jason-k-allen.
Ashford at SEBTS convocation: Endure opposition through Scripture
Ashford examined observations the apostle Paul made in regard to enduring opposition, drawing from 2 Timothy 3:10-16. (Verse 16 is Southeastern's theme verse, which notes, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" [ESV]).
"We should embrace the moment [of opposition] instead of resenting it," Ashford told Southeastern students, as they will find themselves in a variety of ministry contexts that bring varying forms of opposition.
Opposition to the Gospel can come from within the church from those who are not truly followers of Christ, Ashford said of such moments that can be shocking but are to be expected.
"There are going to be people who seem to be inside of the circle of faith and they will try to come against you and defeat you," he said.
Ashford reminded students that the words they read in Scripture are the words of God Himself. Being saturated in Scripture, he said, is vital to enduring pushback in the Christian faith.
"If you want to be sustained, nourish yourself with Christian Scripture," he said. "Soak yourself in it so that the narrative of the Bible is the master narrative that governs your life."
Through Christ and the power of Scripture, believers can face opposition, Ashford said, closing his Jan. 23 address underscoring God's empowering of His people. "Our God, in His goodness, took our name, 'Evil One' or 'Imposter,' on His shoulders on the cross and in exchange gave us His name, 'Righteous One.'"