Dave Owen, Associate Pastor of Evangelism and College Ministries at Providence Baptist Church, led the third session. Dave has served at Providence since 1995. His message, Affirming Truths that Matter, was taken from II Timothy 4:1-8, which is Paul’s charge to Timothy to remain faithful. How do we remain faithful? By affirming and persevering in the truth. Owen’s thesis was:
A student ministry that is passionate about bringing fame to God is one that is saturated with the Bible, centered on the Gospel, devoted to the family, and committed to the local church.
This thesis was naturally broken down into his four points.
I. REVERENCE FOR THE PREACHING OF GOD’S WORD
II Timothy 4:1-2 spells out five imperatives (preach the Word, be ready, reprove, rebuke, exhort).
We ought to preach with appropriate seriousness and intensity, given the weight of God’s Word–which is what we ought to preach, rather than our opinions or the latest fad. To preach is to passionately and publicly proclaim. As the Puritans said, we ought to preach “as a dying man to dying men”.
We are to proclaim God’s truth “in season and out of season”. In others words, both in and out of the pulpit, regardless of how unwelcome our exhortations may be or how inconvenient it may be for us to offer them.
The rising generation questions why the Bible needs to be preached. They need to be reminded that the preaching of God’s Word introduces them (and nurtures them) in the gospel. Gospel-centered preaching is the announcement of the good news (what Christ has done) rather than mere advice. Sadly, various surveys indicate that professing Christian teens often embrace something closer to a moralistic, therapeutic deism than historic Christianity. For example, notions such as the exclusivity of Christ are jettisoned. To fight this tendency, it is important that Christ be preached from all the Scriptures (Luke 24). “The gospel is the university that ever class of Christianity is held” — we must continually put before our students the centrality of the gospel for all of life.
II. THE HEALTHINESS OF RELATIONAL INSTRUCTION
In II Tim. 4:2, Timothy is commanded to fulfill his ministry with “complete patience and teaching”. Don’t just put up with people–love them with great patience and instruction. Meaning, you keep teaching them. We have to love the sheep not by affirming self-esteem but by trumpeting great truths over their hearts and heads such that we impact their souls for eternity.
Where can we affirm this relational instruction? 1) In the home, through healthy family play time and worship time. 2) In the church. We need to trumpet the value of the local church–especially to students, who do not naturally embrace the value of the local church in this day of commitment-phobia. Consider the way Paul shared not only the gospel but his very life as well (I Thes. 2:7-12).
III. REJECTING FALSE DOCTRINE AND ACCEPTING TRUE DOCTRINE
I Tim. 4:3-5 emphasizes the importance of protecting doctrinal purity. Many students walk away from the faith in part because there is no great substance in what they were taught. Their instruction did not confront worldliness with a winsome appeal to the superior satisfaction of a life of holiness. Students often think of Christianity as a system of do’s and don’ts (moralism) apart from the beauty of Christ who commands and empowers radical, inside-out lives of obedience (not motivated from a sense of obligation, but from a sense of superior satisfaction). Thomas Chalmers unpacked this theme in his great sermon The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. The danger in our day is that we assume the gospel in our ministries: we take the great truths for granted, so we fail to carefully pass on the faith. D.A. Carson once noted:
“One generation preaches the gospel. The next generation assumes the gospel. And the next generation loses the gospel.”
We must confront this danger in our day.
IV. PERSEVERING IN THE RACE OF FAITH
In II Tim. 4:6-8, Paul explains that he is nearing the end of his earthly pilgrimage. He has his eyes fixed on the prize of Christ. It is as if Paul is running with “His feet on earth and his head in heaven”. He is encouraging Timothy to finish strong by following Paul’s example of longing for the return of Christ. Hebrews 11:24-26 shows the same mentality: Moses refused the perks of being associated with Pharaoh’s household. He chose the reproach of Christ because he was looking to his eternal reward. We must impress upon our students the need for perseverance in the fight of faith for the sake of the great reward. Many non-Christians endure great pain for less eternally significant rewards. We ought to encourage Christian students to labor for eternity by considering how they might use their gifts and skills in the service of Christ’s kingdom. Fields like medicine are quite serviceable in foreign missions. Math can be taught at secular universities in closed countries. Others have used engineering backgrounds to coordinate the GPS system with the location of unreached people groups. The opportunities are manifold.
Let us, by God’s grace, raise up a generation of extraordinary Jesus Lovers that will love and be devoted to their families, love and be committed to the local church, know their Bibles—both what they believe and why they believe it, and center their lives on the gospel for the fame of Jesus Christ.
Update: Message Audio in MP3 Format