FROM THE SEMINARIES: Hemphill preaches SWBTS chapel message; Carson delivers MBTS Spurgeon lectures
Christ's glory shines through
believers, Hemphill says
By Julie Owens and Alex Sibley
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Kenneth S. Hemphill, the seventh president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, returned to the Fort Worth campus as the seminary's chapel speaker Oct. 22.
In his introduction of Hemphill to the chapel audience, Greenway shared that 25 years ago, Hemphill was elected Southwestern Seminary's president "amidst the backdrop of excruciating difficulty and division, which he had nothing to do with." Hemphill had served "east of the Mississippi" in a variety of pastoral roles, including pastor of the First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Va., and founding director of the Center for Church Growth at what was then the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board).
"But 25 years ago, he was willing to take on a task that, candidly, was one that lesser men would have not taken on," Greenway said. "And for nine years, Ken and Paula Hemphill served our seminary with distinction, with compassion. I am proud to say that I came here 20 years ago as an M.Div. student when Ken Hemphill was president -- my president."
When Hemphill stepped into the pulpit to begin his sermon, he began by acknowledging what a "treat it is to be back home at the dome."
"Thank you, Dr. Greenway, for the invitation to share, an opportunity to be in this pulpit," he said. "And I am proud to call you 'our' president."
Hemphill, who had led the invocation prayer at Greenway's inauguration the previous night, proceeded to preach from John 17. He encouraged the chapel audience to let Jesus' power shine through them and be seen by the world.
"That Jesus might shine from the cross is the very essence of His earthly ministry," he said.
Hemphill observed that John 17 is "a prayer spoken in the shadow of the cross" as Christ prepared Himself and His disciples for the crucifixion. Throughout John 17, Jesus invests His followers with the glory that God had given Him and tells His disciples that they will go on to do greater works, Hemphill said.
"I suppose today our biggest fear is that the instruments of God -- that's us -- know our own frailties, our own lack of passion many times," he said. "But that ignores the glory, the gift given to Jesus by the Father, and the glory invested in us."
Hemphill recalled that in her book Given, his daughter Tina Boesch uses the word "shine" to convey the significance of seeing a divine blessing -- the burning bush, the face of Moses or the face of God. Shine, he said, is "the perfect combination of grace and truth."
Paraphrasing the first few verses of John 17, Hemphill said that Jesus prayed for Himself, "Father, the hour has come. Shine through your Son. I shined for you on earth, having accomplished the work you have given me to do. Now, Father, shine through me so clearly that they will see the glory I had with you.... In these moments on the cross, shine through me so clearly that they see only you."
Hemphill said the disciples were to be the continuation of this "earthly shine." He continued, "They would know that the love of the Father expressed in His Son will be in us. That is the essence of shine."
"The Father sent Jesus into the world to shine, to reflect His glory, to be a clear representation of the Father," Hemphill said. "The magnificence of God's shine is reflected like light through a prism when diverse members of the body are unified in mission and in desire to reflect His shine in daily living.
"You are on a mission to enable you to shine. Missions does not start when you graduate. You are on a mission now. God has put you in a mission field, and every encounter, every event, you have the opportunity to shine so that God is glorified."
His voice breaking, Hemphill recalled that after his father died, his mother wept each time her children left after visiting her. "So it becomes very personal when, before the crucifixion, Jesus says, 'Dad, my desire is that everyone you've given me will be with me, so they may see my glory, which you've given me.'"
"Folks, this is what heaven is like," he said. "Heaven is glorious because there, we will have unrestricted, unimpeded, irrepressible shine, face to face."
Don Carson delivers
C.H. Spurgeon Lectures
By T. Patrick Hudson
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) -- With a focus on preaching narrative texts, Don Carson delivered Midwestern Seminary's seventh annual Spurgeon Lectures on Biblical Preaching at Midwestern Seminary on Oct. 22-23.
"The Spurgeon Lectures have become a staple at Midwestern Seminary," Allen said. "Now in its seventh year, we've experienced God's favor through the pastors and scholars who have delivered these lectures and modeled for our seminary community what it means to preach biblical, expository messages from God's Word.
"We have been thrilled to host Don Carson for this year's lectures. To sit under the teaching of a man who is among the most respected biblical scholars in the world, if only for these two days, is an inspiration to our seminary community. Dr. Carson's breadth of knowledge, yet humility in teaching, as well as his commitment to expositional preaching emulates all we desire our students, faculty, and staff to understand about biblical preaching -- which is our overarching goal in hosting the Spurgeon Lectures."
Conferring Carson as a Spurgeon Fellow, Allen recognized him "for his ongoing leadership in equipping church leaders, for his commitment to the expository preaching of God's Word, and for his service to the broader evangelical community."
In his lectures, Carson preached sermons from Genesis 39 and John 20:24-31 and then explained seven priorities that are necessary when preaching narrative texts.
These priorities include: making sure to tell the story; making sure to tell more than the story; making sure the narrative text is tied to the surrounding passage, book, and overall canon; making sure people see what would be lost if the passage/chapter of the book was gone; understanding that the sermon outline may, but doesn't necessarily, need to follow the narrative flow of the text; understanding that introductions to the narrative text may begin by playing into the narrative; and never forgetting you're preaching a sermon and that people need to hear God's Word.
From Genesis 39, Carson's message dealt with Joseph's temptation, how he dealt with it and, thus, truths for how believers today can deal with temptation.
Carson noted that Joseph endured multiple temptations from Potiphar's wife by being of godly character and living a life of integrity. He also was prepared to call sin wicked, knew not to "play with fire," was more concerned about his purity than for his prospects and, above all, feared God.
Despite Joseph's best intentions and purity in actions, he wound up in jail. Difficulties, too, can happen to modern-day believers. Carson noted timeless truths from the passage that "God often chooses to bless us in difficult circumstances rather than to place us in happier ones" and that "God's providence was working behind the scenes to bring about the creation of a nation, and toward preservation of the messianic line."
To the last point, Carson noted that if Joseph hadn't been sent to prison, ultimately, he wouldn't have wound up as Pharaoh's prime minister. He also wouldn't have been placed in a position to spare his family and, thus, the nation of Israel during the famine. This, in turn, led to Joseph's family being secured in Egypt, and a promise of the Messiah to arise from the line of Judah.
"That brings about the promised seed of Abraham," Carson said. "And, thus, the reason you're sitting in chapel today in Kansas City, the reason you've been redeemed. Oh, I know, it's the plan of God.
"God wasn't going to let His plan fall to the ground, but humanly speaking, the reason why you're here is because Joseph kept his zipper up."
Carson's second address focused on doubt, particularly that of the disciple Thomas as seen in John 20.
He noted that doubt in people can have many causes as well as many solutions when being addressed. This particular case of doubt in Thomas' life arose from his desire to have faith and belief in Christ's resurrection yet not be gullible.
Thomas had heard the stories of Christ's resurrection and appearances, but he was skeptical until receiving unequivocal proof of Jesus' being alive. Once Jesus appeared and provided that truth, Thomas was astonished and confessed Jesus' deity saying, "My Lord and My God." Finally, the result of Thomas' belief was a lifetime of service and proclamation of Jesus being the risen Lord.
The timeless message Carson derived from the passage is that because of Thomas' belief that Jesus' promises and resurrection are really true, he now has become part of the apostolic link of the first witnesses passing on their testimony to a new generation of men and women all around the world that they may see and believe. This result has ultimately led to the current generation of believers and will be passed along to future generations of believers.
"If we have fellowship with the apostles, who have fellowship with the Father and the Son, then we join in this worldwide community of redeemed people who have fellowship with the Father and the Son because of the mediatorial work of the apostles in this regard," Carson said.
Past guest presenters for the Spurgeon Lectures and, thus, Spurgeon Fellows inductees include John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, R. Albert Mohler Jr., H.B. Charles, Jr., Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan.
To view the Spurgeon Lectures, visit http://www.mbts.edu/news-resources/.