With COVID and world unrest filling the news, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College President Jamie Dew began his Convocation address Aug. 17 with a question. “Do you ever feel hopeless?” he asked.
Convocation marks the official start of a new semester. Faculty and students gathered in Leavell Chapel on the NOBTS campus.
In a world filled with suffering, brokenness, and darkness, believers can feel hopeless, Dew said. “Yet God has called each and every one of us into that darkness to be salt and light,” Dew explained.
The world’s brokenness cannot be solved by human effort and ability, Dew reminded listeners, adding that believers then ask, “how should we live?”
“This is ultimately the Lord’s battle,” Dew said. “This is ultimately the Lord’s kingdom that is coming. It is by and through His spirit that His kingdom will unfold, that His people will be made strong, and the Gospel will go forward."
Dew explained that Paul reminded believers in Ephesians 1-3 who they are in Christ and then explained in chapters 4-6 how they should live.
Believers face three fundamental challenges that are answered in Ephesians 4:1-6, Dew said. First, what must believers do? Second, how can believers accomplish the task? Lastly, why should believers work to accomplish the task?
First, believers are called to “walk worthy of Christ,” Dew said. The command to walk worthy of a savior who is “spotless and perfect” should “haunt” them, Dew explained, admitting that the command makes him “shudder.”
“How could I ever, how can you ever, live up to that?” Dew asked. “There is a very real sense in which, despite the fact that you and I are called to [walk worthy of Christ], you and I can’t. How can I, how can you, ever actually live worthy of Christ?”
Dew explained that only through the indwelling of God’s Spirit can believers accomplish the calling to walk worthy of Christ and live Christlike lives, Dew explained, and he urged listeners to make pursuing Christ in holiness their number one priority this academic year. Pointing to verses 2-3, Dew said five virtues are marks of a Christlike life: humility, gentleness, patience, love and unity.
“There’s no place for hubris in your life as a Christ-follower, no place for arrogance, pride or boastfulness,” Dew said. “… Christ calls us to take up the towel and basin and wash each other’s feet.”
Rather than following the cultural norm of treating others with harshness and abrasiveness, Christ-followers must be gentle and patient, as Christ was, Dew said. Pointing to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21-23, and other scripture, Dew said unity is important to God and reminded listeners that the task can only be accomplished by the indwelling of God’s Spirit and communion with Christ.
Why believers must live worthy of Christ is found in verses 4-6, Dew said. Believers have the same hope, serve the same Lord, and “share the same Redeemer,” he explained, and then challenged listeners to pursue Christ and His kingdom above all else.
“NOBTS and Leavell College, let’s do that,” Dew said in closing. “Let’s do that this year.”
The service began with a welcome to new faculty members and recognition of faculty service anniversaries.
Norris Grubbs, provost, noted that NOBTS was founded by vote of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1917, prior to the penning of the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message. The NOBTS faculty at their founding formed the document the Articles of Religious Faith that outlined their beliefs and their commitment to uphold them faithfully. Every new faculty member since has signed the document along with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
New faculty members signing the NOBTS Articles of Religious Belief and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 were: Cory Barnes, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; Ethan Jones, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew and Tyler Wittman, assistant professor of theology.
Faculty members marking service anniversaries were: