How the Spirit and the Word Prepare You for the Lord’s Supper

“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of...

Do Not Give Up

Galatians 6:9-10, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” For several years, I had an...

Facing Temptation and the High Priestly Ministry of Jesus

On today's episode, a listener writes in today and asks, “How does understanding Jesus High Priestly ministry relate to dealing with temptation? What you’ll hear in this episode The Two-Fold Result of Christ’s Death. The Active Help of Jesus in Temptation. Christ Like...

John Calvin: For a New Reformation edited by Derek W.H. Thomas and John W. Tweeddale

Over two thousand years of church history have produced a wide assortment of Christian leaders, theologians, and churchmen.  One man who exerted an enormous amount of influence in his day was John Calvin. In recent years, theologians and pastors have revived an...

The Peril of Self-Deception

Galatians 6:7–8, “7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Material...

How the Bible’s Irony Combats the Prosperity Gospel

Ups and Downs Our life consists of ups and downs. We are usually surprised by both, but we should not be so surprised, since the Bible testifies that such ups and downs are part of the divinely designed warp and woof of life. This is true of both the believer in...
Letter, Letters to Students: Midnight Fire: How Your Conversion Fuels your Ministry, Servants of Grace
Letters to Students: Midnight Fire: How Your Conversion Fuels your Ministry

Posted On October 8, 2019

My Beloved Students in Christ:

“Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Timothy 1:2 ESV).

Since my appointment to the role of interim provost at Erksine Seminary, I have thought many times that I want, more than anything, to use this servant role to encourage you. I often have, in my ministry, sought to realize this vision of ministerial mentoring candidates and other Gospel workers, through the means of a letter. The Lord strengthened the Early Church through epistles. While mine are not divinely inspired, but I promise that they will be from the heart. So, I am calling this monthly note to you, simply, “Letters to our Students.” I want another more from them than to see you benefit, in some way, by God’s power, and to be able to share these letters with others.

I hope to write twelve letters on twelve essential features of a sustainable and spiritually healthy pastoral ministry. I begin with an indispensable pastoral quality that will be with you for the rest of your life: your conversion to Jesus Christ.

Whether the Lord God called you as a child, or an adolescent, or in adulthood; whether God saved you through godly parents in a Christian home, or by another’s testimony in a lonely prison cell, this much is undeniably true: your call to follow the Lord Jesus is the singular most compelling feature of your ministry. Without question, “Christ in you” is the “hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) for those who need Christ. Yet, that hope is most often conveyed in an incarnational way.

When Paul was modeling what a Christian shepherd looked like to young Pastor Timothy, the great Apostle of the Heart Set Free used his own testimony. In this way, Paul demonstrated that the greatest “tool” for church planting and revitalization is the supernatural work of God in a human soul. Read his words in 1 Timothy chapter 1. Consider the power of Paul’s disclosure of his life to Timothy and to the church at Ephesus:

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:12-14 ESV).

Years ago, I learned the truth about the power of “every preacher’s one sermon.” This “one sermon” is not that celebrated homily you keep in your pocket for wowing the folks, or impressing a search committee. I am not talking about that kind of “one sermon.” I am talking about what we see in the life of Paul. Paul had one sermon that God had saved a violent persecutor of the Church and made him into an ambassador of God’s grace in Christ. Wherever he went, the Apostle Paul carried the “one sermon” in his messages. John Piper once related how his calling was like Paschal in the way that God’s in his own life created a spiritual energy to preach:

I don’t know if you’ve ever read Pascal’s conversion story, but he carried all of his life long, sewn into his coat, a piece of paper where he had written down the date and “Midnight, fire.” He had met God. And I didn’t meet God, but I met a call to preaching that was, at that point, irresistible.

Paschal has one sermon. You might call it, “Midnight Fire.”. Piper has one sermon. You might call it “Desiring God.” Your “one sermon” is not that you give your personal testimony each time you preach. Nor, do I mean to say that you should use personal illustrations each time you preach. I mean this: that you can never get over the love and grace that God showed to you. If that fire is burning, deep inside, stoked by prayer and devotion, then every sermon you preach will possess that electrical charge from heaven.

When a preacher is aflame with the love and grace of God in his own life, or a teacher, missionary, chaplain, or evangelist just “can’t get over God’s mercy,” then you can be sure: the Spirit of God will use that experience of yours to “season” your sermons, “salt” your studies, and “sear” the indelible delights of God into your Bible messages.

What is your one sermon? What is your “Midnight Fire?” Whether you are studying Old Testament, New Testament Greek, Systematic Theology, Homiletics, or Pastoral Counseling, remember that God called you, first, to be His son, His daughter. You are in seminary at Erskine because something happened. And that something is that God’s eternal love came to rest upon “even” you.

My identity is that one sermon in my life. I always know this: that Almighty God demonstrated His unsearchable mercy in saving this filthy sinner and calling him to preach the glorious name of Jesus Christ that I once blasphemed. Why? The hymn writer, Samuel Francis (1834–1925), wrote the reason, and I love to hear it sung in that mysteriously beautiful Welsh tune, “Ebenezer” (Thomas Williams, 1890):

“O the deep, deep love Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love; leading onward, leading homeward, to Thy glorious rest above.”

“O Lord Jesus: that just makes me want to preach.” And that response within us to the unfathomable love of God in one’s life,  is the “One Sermon” that will “light-up” a message, whether from Genesis, Job, Matthew, or Revelation. That is the power of Christ alive in you.

I am humbled and honored to serve you in this beautiful ministry called Erskine Theological Seminary. We are so blessed that you were led here. We want to do our all to invest our very lives in you so that souls will be saved, lives will be transformed, and the Kingdom of God will come in demonstration of His glory and power through “Midnight Fire.” And only God can give you that. So, let us burn brightly in your Studies, your ministry, and your life.

Commending you to Christ Jesus, I remain

Yours Faithfully,

MICHAEL A. MILTON, Ph.D., MDiv, MPA

Interim Provost

James H. Ragsdale Chair of Missions and Evangelism

Reference

“Who Is John Piper?” Desiring God. Last modified September 25, 2019. https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/who-is-john-piper?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedpress.mea&utm_campaign=Feed:+dg-articles.

Related Posts

Letter, Letters to Students: Midnight Fire: How Your Conversion Fuels your Ministry, Servants of Grace

How the Spirit and the Word Prepare You for the Lord’s Supper

“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of...

Letter, Letters to Students: Midnight Fire: How Your Conversion Fuels your Ministry, Servants of Grace

Do Not Give Up

Galatians 6:9-10, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” For several years, I had an...

Letter, Letters to Students: Midnight Fire: How Your Conversion Fuels your Ministry, Servants of Grace

Facing Temptation and the High Priestly Ministry of Jesus

On today's episode, a listener writes in today and asks, “How does understanding Jesus High Priestly ministry relate to dealing with temptation? What you’ll hear in this episode The Two-Fold Result of Christ’s Death. The Active Help of Jesus in Temptation. Christ Like...

Letter, Letters to Students: Midnight Fire: How Your Conversion Fuels your Ministry, Servants of Grace

The Peril of Self-Deception

Galatians 6:7–8, “7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Material...

Letter, Letters to Students: Midnight Fire: How Your Conversion Fuels your Ministry, Servants of Grace

How the Bible’s Irony Combats the Prosperity Gospel

Ups and Downs Our life consists of ups and downs. We are usually surprised by both, but we should not be so surprised, since the Bible testifies that such ups and downs are part of the divinely designed warp and woof of life. This is true of both the believer in...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share36
Tweet8
Pin1
Email
Reddit