Servanthood must be the mark of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College family, NOBTS President Jamie Dew said during the school's annual Founders' Day chapel, Oct 1.
Dew noted that from the start of his presidency his vision has been that the seminary family will be a people who "take up the towel and the basin" to serve the broken and the marginalized and take the Gospel to places untouched by its message. Dew was elected president June 4.
Dew then posed a question to the audience gathered at Leavell Chapel. "What does it mean to be a good servant?" Dew asked.
Drawing from 1 Timothy 4: 6-11, Dew explained that a good servant proclaims the message as Jesus proclaimed it.
In today's culture, many claim to be spiritual or religious, but in fact "baptize pagan ideas," Dew explained, adding that a good servant will remain true to Scripture. Dew noted that Paul urged Timothy, as a young pastor, to remember that "theology matters."
"This is why seminary education matters," Dew said. "This is why we must know the truth. We cannot preach a Gospel we don't understand."
Dew warned against two extremes -- making theology an intellectual pursuit only or ignoring theology and relying on preaching and delivery.
Dew challenged the students to be diligent in their studies.
"If God has called you here, this is your act of worship," Dew said. "Be faithful in it to study and prepare … doctrine really does matter."
A good servant also pursues "godliness above everything else," Dew said.
Dew pointed out that Paul's metaphor of an athlete in training means a believer must pursue godliness with the passion of an athlete in order to rid one's self of characteristics that do not reflect Christ.
Pursuing godliness brings abundant life, Dew said. Knowing Christ is more than "a ticket to heaven," but is "life itself," Dew explained.
"Christ is our everything, right now," Dew said. "You exist to commune with God. Therefore, pursue godliness. To pursue godliness is to pursue life itself."
And a good servant suffers and labors for Christ, Dew explained. Dew urged listeners to remember that believers who keep the faith and pursue godliness will suffer.
"I fear we are not a formidable generation who do hard things for Christ," Dew said. "Here's the truth of the matter. If you really want to be faithful and stand on the frontlines for Christ, prepare for difficulties."
Though the crucible of trial will come, God is faithful and will provide, Dew explained.
"There is no ministry without difficulty," Dew acknowledged. "But we do it as those who understand that there's a Kingdom coming, a King who will sit on that throne, a King who satisfies us, and a King who can bring life to the broken of this world. And to that end, we labor and suffer."
Honoring faithfulness to the seminary
Founders' Day acknowledges God's faithfulness to the seminary and recognizes both living and deceased professors emeriti. In attendance was the widow of Billy K. Smith, a former Old Testament professor and vice president of academic affairs.
Chuck Kelley, president emeritus, and wife Rhonda, were presented with a copy of the soon-to-be released festschrift "Engage: Tools for Contemporary Evangelism" honoring his service to the seminary.
Craig Price, professor of New Testament at NOBTS who served as general editor of the book, presented the copy to the Kelleys. Thirty-one faculty members and five doctoral students contributed to the volume which provides a multi-disciplinary approach to evangelism.
Kelley expressed his thanks for the book but said he considered his greatest gift to be the "respect, trust and love" the NOBTS faculty had shown him during his years at NOBTS.
Drawing on the book's title, Kelley challenged listeners to "simply engage the task" and share the Gospel during what he called an unprecedented "crisis of evangelism" in SBC history.