A number of months ago now, I guess back in June, I had the opportunity of preaching at the Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference in New Orleans. It was quite an opportunity to stand on the 50 yard line of the Louisiana Superdome, where the New Orleans Saints usually play football, and preach to 25,000 pastors and their wives seated up on three tiers of grandstands.
It was a wonderful time to speak and to call them to accountability as those who serve the Lord Jesus Christ by leading His church. And at that time, I shared with them a perspective on the ministry that I found that I think was a bit stunning and perhaps somewhat exciting to them. Let me share it with you as we think about our seminary convocation tonight. It is the word to a pastor or one who would be a pastor.
“Fling him into his office, tear the office sign from the door, nail on the sign “Study.” Take him off the mailing list. Lock him up with his books and his typewriter and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts and broken hearts and the flick of lives in a superficial flock and before a Holy God. Force him to be the one man in our surfeited communities who knows about God. Throw him into ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Engage him to wrestle with God all the night through, and let him come out only when he’s bruised and beaten into being a blessing.
“Shut his mouth for ever spouting remarks and stop his tongue for ever tripping lightly over every nonessential. Require him to have something to say before he dares break the silence. And bend his knees in the lonesome valley. Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry for God. And make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk with God and man. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone. Burn up his ecclesiastical success sheets. Put water in his gas tank.
“Give him a Bible and tie him to the pulpit and make him preach the word of the living God. Test him, quiz him, examine him, humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finances, batting averages, and political infighting. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist. Form a choir, and raise a chant, and haunt him with it night and day, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
“And at long last, he dares assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a word from God. If he does not, then dismiss him. Tell him you can read the morning paper and digest the television commentaries and think through the day’s superficial problems and manage the community’s weary drives, and bless the assorted baked potatoes and green beans better than he can.
“Command him not to come back until he’s read and reread, written and rewritten, until he can stand up worn and forlorn and say, “Thus saith the Lord.” Break him across the board of his ill-gotten popularity. Smack him hard with his own prestige. Corner him with questions about God. Cover him with demands for celestial wisdom and give him no escape until he’s back against the wall of the Word. And sit down before him and listen to the only word he has left, God’s Word.
“Let him be totally ignorant of the down street gossip, but give him a chapter and order him to walk around on it, camp on it, sup with it, and come at last to speak it backward and forward until all he says about it rings with the truth of eternity. And when he’s burned out by the flaming Word, when he’s consumed at last by the fiery grace blazing through him, and when he’s privileged to translate the truth of God to man and finally transferred from Earth to heaven, then bury him away gently and blow a muted trumpet and lay him down softly. Place a two-edged sword on his coffin, and raise the tomb triumphant, for he was a brave soldier of the Word, and ere he died, he had become a man of God.”
That calls us to a fairly formidable task, doesn’t it? The calling to which God has called men that involves shepherding His flock is a serious one. And I would like to draw your attention to 1 Timothy chapter 3 and one verse just to note the seriousness of it. First Timothy chapter 3, verse 1, “It is a trustworthy statement: if a man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach.”
Now, in these very few words at the outset of this wonderful chapter, I believe we have something of the essential quality of the calling of God into ministry outlined. I want to just draw out several thoughts. First of all, being called to pastor, being called into the ministry of the church is an important calling. That is noted in the very way the chapter begins. It is a trustworthy statement or this is a true saying. Now, that little phrase was a formula used in the early church. In fact, sometimes you would know it as this is a faithful saying. It is used five times by Paul in the Pastoral Epistles. It is used only by Paul and only in the pastorals.
Unquestionably, this little saying – “It is a faithful saying,” or, “It is a trustworthy saying,” or, “This is a true saying” – was a formula used in those early years to identify some common axiom. And axiom is a self-evident truth. The church had come to the conviction that there were a number of self-evident truths. They became almost like bywords, common sayings, sayings which were so well-developed and so often given in the early church that they were a common expression.
Paul is saying that this matter of a man aspiring to the office of overseer, aspiring to a very fine work is a common saying. He means by that that it is repeated oft and again. It became one of the maxims, one of the self-evident truths commonly expressed in the early church.
And that simply reminds us that if the church was talking about this all the time so that it became commonly expressed, it was evidently a very important statement which leads us to conclude that the call to leadership in the church’s life was an utterly essential thing. It was essential that the church have leadership. Here, in this use of this statement, is the strong commendation of the importance of leadership.
The early church was always saying this because they were always in need of leadership. Being called to the ministry is an important calling. Were we to take the time to go through the book of Acts, we might stop at chapter 14 and verse 23, chapter 15 a number of times to see the importance of spiritual leadership in the church. We might also assess that in chapter 20. We might be reminded of it in Philippians 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:12 and 13. We might again stop long enough to look at Hebrews 13:7 and 17 to see again how utterly essential to the life of the church leadership is. And then we wouldn’t forget – would we? – 1 Peter 5, how important to shepherd the flock. The Lord is always sought for leaders. In some ways, apart from the very work of God Himself in an individual’s life, spiritual leadership is the most essential element of church structure. So, it is an important calling. There is really no more important calling than this.
The Lord has always sought for leaders. You can go all the way back into the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 13:14, and you read there, “The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart.” You find again the words of Ezekiel 22:30, “I searched for a man who should stand in the gap before Me for the land.” God has always looked for leaders. There is a great need in the church for spiritual leadership.
George Liddell wrote years ago, “Give me a man of God, - one man/Whose faith is master of his mind/And I will right all wrongs/And bless the name of all mankind./Give me a man of God - one man/Whose tongue is touched with heaven’s fire/And I will flame the darkest hearts/With high resolve and clean desire./Give me a man of God – one man/One mighty prophet of the Lord/And I will give you peace on Earth/Brought with a prayer and not a sword./Give me a man of God – one man/True to the vision that he sees/And I will build your broken shrines/And bring the nations to their knees.”
The church needs spiritual leaders – leaders who are willing to endure and suffer for the sake of objectives great enough to demand their wholehearted obedience.
Samuel Logan Brengle was one of the truly great leaders of the Salvation Army, a man of scholarship as well as singular spiritual power. He outlined the road to spiritual authority and leadership in very challenging words. Listen to his words. “Leadership is not won by promotion but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confessions of sin and much heart-searching and humbling before God; by self-surrender; a courageous sacrifice of every idol; a bold, deathless, uncompromising, and uncomplaining embracing of the cross; and by an internal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified.
“It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves, but rather like Paul, by counting those things that are gain to us as loss for Christ. That is a great price, but it must be unflinchingly paid by him who would be not merely a nominal but a real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on Earth, and in hell.” End quote. God is looking for the noblest of men because of the importance of that calling.
Secondly, it is not only an important calling, but it is a limited calling. Please look back at the verse. It is a trustworthy statement, “If any man aspires...” Here we have a word in the masculine form, and I believe there is a limitation here. There is a limitation to men. It must be noted, by the way, that all the descriptive adjectives, clear down through verse 6, are in the masculine form. The point has already been made, back in chapter 2, verses 11 to 15, that women are to receive instruction with submissiveness and not to teach or exercise authority over a man but remain quiet. And then there is reason given for that. This is a limited calling. It is a calling for godly men.
It is a calling for men only. No Old Testament priest was a woman. No Old Testament prophet, with an ongoing prophetic office, was a woman. Though a few women did speak for God occasionally, they had no ongoing prophetic ministry. In the New Testament there was no woman apostle, no woman elder, no woman evangelist identified. No book of Scripture was written by a woman. That is not to say women are inferior; that is not true – not true at all. They have a different role. They are equal in spiritual privilege. They are equal in spiritual capacity. They are equal in spiritual blessing and blessedness. They are equal in spiritual promise. They are, in many cases, equal in spiritual effectiveness, if not, in many cases, even more effective. But when it comes to the teaching and the ruling office, that is limited. It is a limited calling. So, God is looking for some men to fill a very important calling, the most important calling in the world.
There’s a third thought that comes out of this verse. Not only is this calling important, not only is it limited to men, which narrows, as it were, the pool of available resources. But thirdly, it is a compelling calling. He says, “If any man aspires,” or, “If any man desires, he then desires a fine work.” Two times in this verse the word for “desire” is used. Two times. They emphasize the compulsion that is involved in the heart of a man. It is for men who are compelled.
The first word means to reach out after – oregō – to stretch oneself, to grasp something. It’s used here and a couple of times in Hebrews. The second word is the word epithumia which is often used in a negative sense for a wrongful passion, here for a rightful desire, a passionate desire. This is a calling that belongs to men of passion who stretch out because they’re passionately driven to this.
I read you somebody’s description of how a pastor ought to act, and some of you might be saying, “That’s a too-demanding kind of exhortation for me to deal with.”
Others might be saying, “Let me have at that.”
In the power of the Spirit of God, that would be what I would like to be. And the difference is the compelling of the heart. I never compel anyone to go into the ministry or the pastorate. If that is not an all-consuming desire of the heart, then either the call of God is not there, or sin is there which means the call of God is muffled. Either way, they aren’t fit for ministry. If the call isn’t there, or if the sin is there, muffling the call, then who am I to call them to ministry?
Patrick Fairbairn said, “Such desire is” – quote – “not the prompting of a carnal ambition but the aspiration of a heart which has itself experienced the grace of God, and which longs to see others coming to participate in the heavenly gift.” End quote.
Jeremiah 45:5 said, “Are you seeking great things for yourself? Seek them not.” I fear there might be some people today seeking church leadership for themselves. I doubt if that would be the case in Paul’s time as often as it is today. Oh, there were always some Diotrephes who rose to leadership because they sought the preeminence, but it would seem to me that because of the risks associated with the ministry in Paul’s day, self-seeking people might have been a little more hesitant to pursue it. After all, there was risk, the danger of death, great difficulty, hard work, little pay, lots of trouble. And desire, in those days, might have been more generally the result of Christ-created motives.
But let me hasten to add, too, that even then the desire was not for the office, and the desire was not for the place, and the desire was not for the title, the desire was for the work. Please note verse 1, “It is a fine work he desires to do.” If you aspire to the office, it’s perverted; if you aspire to the place, it’s perverted; if you aspire to the title, it’s perverted; if you aspire to the work, it’s right.
Samuel Brengle said, “The final estimate of men shows that history cares not for the rank or title a man has borne, or the office he has held, but only the quality of his deeds and the character of his mind and heart.” End quote.
Ambition for office corrupts, but compulsion to do God’s work for the welfare of His church and glory of His name is worthy of commendation. Paul was such a compelled man, who said, “Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.” Other men were equally compelled, I suppose.
Hugh Latimer, the popular preacher of the English Reformation, in the sixteenth century, was compelled to preach because of the lostness of the people, because of the emptiness of the clergy and the dead church of the Dark Ages. His most famous sermon of the plough was given, and he called for men who would be true leaders of the church. Here’s what he said, way back then, “And now I would ask you a strange question,” said Latimer, “who is the most diligent bishop and prelate in all England, that passes all the rest in doing his office? I can tell, for I know who it is; I know him well. But now I think I see you listening and harkening that I should name him. There is one that passes all the other and is the most diligent prelate and preacher in all England. And will you know how it is? I will tell you; it is the Devil.
“He is the most diligent preacher of all others. He is never out of his diocese. He is never from his cure. You shall never find him unoccupied. He is ever in his parish. He keeps residence at all times. You shall never find him out of the way. A call for him when you will, he is ever at home. He is the most diligent preacher in all the realm. He is ever at his plough. No lording or loitering can hinder him. He is ever applying his business. You shall never find him idol, I warrant you.
“Where the Devil is resident and has his plough going, there away with books and up with candles, away with Bibles and up with beads, away with the light of the gospel and up with the light of candles – yea, at noonday. Up with man’s traditions and his laws, down with God’s traditions and His most Holy Word. O that our preachers would be as diligent to sow the corn of good doctrine as Satan is to sow darnel or tares! There was never such a preacher in England as he.”
And then he concluded, “The prelates” – or preachers – “are lords and not laborers, but the Devil is diligent at his plough. He is no unpreaching prelate; he is no lordly loiterer, but a busy ploughman. Therefore, you unpreaching prelates, learn of the Devil to be diligent in doing of your office. If you will not learn from God nor good men to be diligent in your office, learn from the Devil.” Now, there is a passionate man.
It is only men of some compelling for the work that should be in the ministry. The call might be a strong desire expressed in these words, “The heights by great men reached and kept/Were not attained by sudden flight/But they while their companions slept/Were toiling upward in the night.” It is an essential call, an important call. It is a limited call. It is a compelling call.
Fourthly, it is a responsible call. He says, “If any man aspires to the office of overseer” – or bishop, episkopos, one who looks over. “Bishop” has become a term so covered with ecclesiastical trappings that it might be better just to use the term “overseer” as the NAS does. But it describes a spiritual leader, a pastor, and a shepherd. It is a responsible calling. The responsibility is the oversight of the church.
In Acts 20, the overseers are reminded that they have to take care of the church which God has purchased with His own blood - a very wide range of responsibility. There is preaching; there is teaching, presiding, exercising care, wielding authority, discipline – that’s the overseer. Probably the closest thing to this concept, in the time in which this text was written, would have been the overseer’s of the Qumran community, the heterodox Jewish sect of Essenes. These overseers in the Qumran community had the duty of commanding, instructing, receiving alms and accusations, examining people to determine their spiritual condition, dealing with sins, and generally shepherding the people. The Hebrew word for them was mabacher. It was a wide range of responsibility the overseer had. And one should not pursue such a responsibility apart from an understanding of its breadth. To rule clearly, to preach, to teach, to lay hands on and pray, to care for and love, to establish in the doctrine, to build up leadership and ordain them, to set the pattern by example – and it goes on and on, very, very serious. In fact, the responsibility is so serious that Hebrews 13 says we have to give an account to God for everything we do. And so serious that if a leader falls into sin, he’s to be publicly rebuked before everyone. It’s an essential and important calling. It’s limited to men. It should come from a compelling passion, and one should understand the responsibility involved.
Fifthly, it’s a worthy calling. It is a worthy calling. He says, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” A good work – kalou – a noble work, an excellent work, an honorable work. Here is the high estimate of the pastorate.
In the seventeenth century, Cotton Mather, that American Puritan, was having a powerful ministry in Boston. And in his directions for a candidate of the ministry, he wrote these words, “The office of the Christian min rightly understood is the most honorable and important that any man in the whole world can ever sustain. And it will be one of the wonders and employments of eternity to consider the reasons why the wisdom and goodness of God assigned this office to imperfect and guilty man.
“The great design and intention of the office of a Christian preacher is to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men, to display in the most lively colors and proclaim in the clearest language the wonderful perfections, offices, and grace of the Son of God, and to attract the souls of men into a state of everlasting friendship with him. It is a work which an angel might wish for as an honor to his character, yea, and office which every angel in heaven might covet to be employed in for a thousand years to come. It is such an honorable, important, and useful office that if a man be put into by God and made faithful and successful through life, he may look down with disdain upon a crown and shed a tear of pity on the brightest monarch on Earth.” End quote.
One of my spiritual heroes, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Preachers & Preaching wrote, “To me the work of preaching is the highest, and the greatest, and the most gracious calling, glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.”
And Will Sangster of Westminster Central Hall in London, in World War II days, wrote, “Call to preach? Commissioned by God to teach the Word? A herald of the great King? A witness of the eternal gospel? Could any work be more high and holy?” It is a worthy calling.
Way back in the fourteenth century, John Wycliffe wrote, “The highest service that men may attain to on Earth is to preach the Word of God. This service falls peculiarly to priests and therefore God more straightly demands it of them. And for this cause, Jesus Christ left other works and occupied Himself mostly in preaching, and thus did His apostles, and for this God loved them. The church, however, is honored most by the preaching of God’s Word, and hence, this is the best service that priests may render unto God. And thus, if our bishops preach not in their own persons and hinder true priests from preaching, they are in the sins of the bishops who kill the Lord Jesus Christ.” End quote. So noble a calling is it that to hinder it is to be as guilty as those who killed Christ. It is a noble, worthy calling.
Sixthly, this verse tells us this is a demanding calling. He says it is a noble, fine, honorable work. It is a work. It is not just an honored position; it is a lifelong task. Paul said to Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist.” To the Thessalonians, Paul wrote and said, “Honor those over you for their” – position? - no – “for their work’s sake.” Paul, in Ephesians 4:12 talks about the work of the ministry. It is a demanding calling. It is diligent, hard work.
And then finally, it is a holy calling. Verse 2, “An overseer, then” – “then” takes us back – because it is an essential calling, because it is a limited calling, because it is such a compelling calling, because it is such a responsible calling, because it such a noble calling, because it is such a worthy calling or a – not only a worthy calling, but a hard calling, a demanding calling, an overseer, then, must be above reproach. He must understand it’s a holy calling. Because only a holy man could approach such a formidable task.
As we approach a new year, and we look to what God has for us in the seminary in the days ahead, it is my prayer that we will know the kind of men that this verse describes, and that they will bear the kind of fruit that would glorify our God.
Father, we pray that You’ll press to our hearts the truths that come from You, in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
It’s my great joy at this time, as we think about this task, a formidable one to shape the young men that God sends us into noble servants of Christ – it is my joy to place a responsibility for this leadership in the hands of my dear friend and brother Dick Mayhue. I want to give you just a little bit of background so that you’ll know some things about him that you might otherwise not know.
He has already stepped into his duties as vice president and dean of the seminary, plus professor of pastoral ministries at the seminary. He’s a graduate of Ohio State University and then Grace Theological Seminary, where he received his master of divinity, his master of theology, and his doctorate in theology. He continues to this day to serve as a visiting professor at Grace Seminary in Indiana.
He held various positions before his conversion in the United States Navy from 1966 to 1971. He has served as an anti-submarine warfare office aboard destroyers, piloted an air cushion vehicle in South Vietnam, was an operational briefer for the Commander of Naval Forces in Vietnam, and served as an instructor in the anti-submarine warfare school in Sand Diego. He ministered with the staff of the Grace Brethren Church in Worthington, Ohio, for several years, and served as an assistant pastor and directed their Bible Institute.
From ‘77 to ‘80, he taught New Testament and Greek and pastoral ministries at Grace Theological Seminary. Prior to coming here to Grace for the second time, he served as senior pastor of Grace Brethren Church in Long Beach, a great flagship church, really, of the denomination, the fellowship. He’s written a number of books, all of which have been a blessing and encouragement to me. I’m particularly excited about the newest one called Spiritual Intimacy which everyone should read. And God has given him a wonderful wife Bea, two young adults, Lee and Wade. And Dick has become beloved to all of us because of his ministry. I’m going to ask him to come and say a word to us as he begins his new leadership role. Dick? Come.
Dr. Richard Mayhue: Challenging charge. I’m certainly unworthy, from a human perspective, to receive it. Unprecedented times that we live in, and they demanded a unique and a biblically-oriented training ground for pastors. It was the vision of, really, I believe, two men – our president, Dr. John MacArthur, and my colleague, Dr. Irv Busenitz - that really gave birth in the sovereign providence of God to launch The Master’s Seminary in 1986. We’re now in the ‘90s, and I think we find them spiritually charged with kingdom advantage and expectancy, but at the same time, they’re filled with political and military and economic uncertainty, not to mention being confronted by all the darkness that Satan and hell can throw at us.
Epics like these have always provided the stage on which God Himself has performed great works for His own glory through a redeemed people who are both submitted and committed to God’s eternal purposes.
I believe, as were the days of our Lord, so are our times, and never have the opportunities been greater either in number or kind, but then the obstacles have never been greater either or so formidable as the church approaches the third millennium. And so it is that The Master’s Seminary shoulders the divine imperative to train up a new generation of godly leaders for Christ’s church.
And so it is in the context of our president’s charge from 1 Timothy 3:1 and in light of the biblical mandate to run the race of ministry in winning style, that I willingly accept, noted with fear before the Lord, the very serious responsibility of vice president and dean at The Master’s Seminary.
I’d like to respond to that charge and to those duties with several personal pledges, and they are made first to our Lord, and then to our board, and to our president, and to our faculty, to our student body, to our alumni, to those who prayerfully and financially support us, and, ultimately, it’s to the worldwide body of Christ that begins right here at Grace Community Church.
First, I pledge to adhere unswervingly to our founding purpose of training pastors to shepherd and equip Christ’s church. The Master’s Seminary came into existence to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ by equipping men for excellence in service to Christ in His body. We must never – and I would repeat “never” – lose sight of our purpose so that we never detour from our original, biblically chartered course.
Second, I pledge to keep The Master’s Seminary faithful to our biblical foundations. They originated in God’s inerrant Word. They were formed and developed through the exegetical process in order to be proclaimed expositionally. They encompass the best of reformational and dispensational theology, and our curriculum and our classroom content must constantly reflect these absolutes so that we never deviate from God’s truth.
Third, I pledge to enrich our faculty leadership. Every member of The Master’s Seminary faculty fits a five-fold profile, and they would include that they are men of God, that they are men of God’s Word, they’re men of scholarship, they’re men of Christ’s church, and they’re men of compassion for people. I must hold them, and they, in turn, must hold me accountable to these qualities in order to continually model the example of Christ and never of anyone else.
Fourth, I pledge to insist on an educational philosophy that’s consistent with Scripture. And by that I mean majoring on biblical certainty, not doubt or theory; striving for spirituality in our students that mirror intellectualism; preparing men to serve the Lord, not merely to know about Him; emphasizing a methodical, disciplined approach to studying the Scriptures rather than a haphazard pattern; encouraging excellence and never accepting mediocrity; committing the faculty to be examples, not mere experts; and stressing the imperative to function in the body of Christ, not merely to minister on independent duty. And in so doing, we’ll be training servants of Christ and avoiding that constant temptation to train scholastics.
Fifth, I pledge to emphasize the well-articulated equipping goals of the seminary. And they really are two-fold: one personal and the other pastoral. Personally, in the sense of cultivating a holy, intimate relationship with God; that’s the area of spirituality. And then having a compassionate, gracious relationship with people; and that’s in the area of sociability. And then pastoral goals with regard to studying God’s Word with precision, speaking God’s Word with power, serving God’s purpose with zeal; shepherding God’s flock with care, and shouldering God’s battle with bravery. This way we’ll always be prayerfully building the complete man of God and never falling to the temptation of stopping short of the goal.
Sixth, I pledge to lead The Master’s Seminary in the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, who held in balance every aspect of leadership. He walked behind as a servant. He walked alongside as a brother. And He walked ahead as a God-appointed leader. Christ must always be acknowledged as the preeminent head of The Master’s Seminary, which is both, in fact, and in name, His seminary. These pledges for me are non-negotiable. They’re non-negotiable for the faculty, for the student body, and really for all who would be a part of The Master’s Seminary at every level. To deviate from them would be to initiate a subsequent self-destruction which has claimed a large majority of American seminaries which once held, like us, to a precious faith.
So, it is in concert with the faculty, and obviously in the strength of Christ, that I promise to protect The Master’s Seminary against its foes and to advance the cause of Christ through its contributions.
Carl Henry, noted elder statesman of the conservative faith recently challenged our generation of Christian leaders to shift our focus from the great achievements of evangelicalism in the past to evangelical courage in the future. Believing that I find my sufficiency alone in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that by God’s Word I’ve been equipped for God’s work, I’m committed to obey the Master and to serve His seminary with that same evangelical courage that Paul commended to Timothy, “For God has not given us the Spirit of timidity, but of power and love and a disciplined mind” - 2 Timothy 1:7.
And so it is with these lofty thoughts that are humanly impossible that we believe would be made reality by the power of God that I would warmly invite my faculty colleagues and our student body to embrace these same pledges as their own, to hold me accountable to these pledges, and to continue with me as co-laborers at raising up a new generation of pastors which, I n fact, will be for the next decade, the next century, the next millennium which will all converge in less than ten years when we enter the year 2000 together. And only by God’s grace, and only through His adequacy, and only through your prayers would any or all of that be made reality, but I believe, and I know you do, too, that God is able.
I’m going to invite Dr. Irv Busenitz and Bobby Nance, president of our student body, to come and, I trust, affirm on behalf of our faculty and on behalf of our student body that, in fact, all that I’ve said and pledged are merely repeats of those things that have been mandated by our Lord and the Word of God. Irv?
Dr. Irv Busenitz: Dick, on behalf of the seminary faculty and staff, I want to extend to you our words of congratulations, our words of commitment to stand beside you, and our promise of faithfully praying for you. We extend our words of congratulations, because the position into which you have been placed is one of great honor. It is one into which we believe God has sovereignly placed you.
As was noted earlier, God has uniquely prepared you and gifted you for this day, and for this we rejoice with you. We extend our words of commitment to stand alongside you, because the task before you is a great and very demanding one. It is our desire to stand alongside you, to serve our Master together with you, to shoulder the weight of the job with you, and, as far as is possible, to make your work joyous and rewarding.
We extend our promise to faithfully pray for you, because the task that you have been given is an impossible one apart from the power of God working through you. It is our desire to be your faithful advocate before the Father’s throne. It is our prayer that you will be endowed with His power so that you will run and not be weary, that you will walk and not faint. It is our desire that you be endowed with His vision, divine vision, so that the goal will be clearly visible to you, and that you will be able to pursue the prize with zeal and confidence. It is our prayer that you will be bestowed with His blessing on your work so that you will have the assurance of His guiding presence.
The words that so many centuries ago God gave to Moses at the installation of Aaron and the priests, words that are very common to us and well-known to us would sum up our prayer for you. It is our prayer that He would bless you and keep you, that He would make your face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, and that He would lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
Dick, may the Lord grant our request to you in great abundance. Now, Robert Nance – Bob, would you please come up and share a response from the students? After which Mr. Don Hescott, the executive vice president of The Master’s College and Seminary will come to lead us in our prayer. Bob?
Robert Nance: Dr. Mayhue, on behalf of my fellow students, the student body of The Master’s Seminary, it is my desire to express to you our confidence in God’s sovereign preparation and direction of you to this place and for this work which He has given you this evening.
In addition, it is my desire to convey to you and to express before my fellow students and this congregation our desire to serve as co-laborers with you in helping you to complete the task which God has prepared for you. It is our desire to pray for you faithfully, to encourage you in any way that we can. And it is also our desire to see that we live our duties out responsibly as students of the Word that we are indeed prepared insofar as it’s possible to be faithful men of God, men who preach the Word faithfully, and men who stand upon it. So, thank you for your work and for your encouragement to me over these past weeks.
Mr. Don Hescott: Will you join with me in prayer, please?
Father, we are grateful for this hour. We’re so grateful for this wonderful, wonderful experience that all of us have had the opportunity to share in tonight. We’re grateful for the challenge that has come from our pastor-teacher and our president as to the man of God and the challenge that You have given to us to raise up men of God at The Master’s Seminary who will move out into a world who need to know about Jesus Christ and His love and be faithfully taught the Word of God.
Thank You for the hundred and sixty-two men who make up the student body of The Master’s Seminary and for the challenge that is ours as board members, as administration, as faculty to produce men of God to teach the Word of God.
Now, Father, we’re so thrilled with Your appointment of our brother, Dick Mayhue. We thank You for the unique way in which You have prepared him to assume the responsibilities as vice president and dean. We thank You for the way that You have worked in his life since the day that You found him and He trusted You. We thank You for all of the educational processes that you have brought him through. We thank You for the experiences that he has had as a pastoral team member of our church. We’re thankful for the privilege that You have given him to pastor his own church, and then that, in Your timing, You brought him for such an hour as this.
Thank You for his dear wife Bea and for her constant support as she stands with him. And we know that the prayer of Dick as he has challenged us with the opportunities before us as a seminary, as he has so beautifully laid them before us this evening, might be that same prayer that Jabez prayed so many years ago, when he said, “O Lord, bless me indeed. Enlarge my coast. Keep Your hand on me and keep me from evil, that it might not grieve Thee.” And God granted him that which he requested.
We commit our brother to You tonight. We commit ourselves to being all that he needs as an administration, as a faculty, as a staff, and as a student body. And we’re trusting You for great things in the days ahead until You come, as we are steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. To this end, our Father, we commit Dr. Richard Mayhue to You for Your leading, for Your direction, and Your blessing as he leads our seminary in these days. And we give You the praise and the glory for all that You will do, in the name of the Lord Jesus we pray, amen.
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