Last night was the commencement service for The Irish Baptist College, the institution through which I am working on some studies. After all the introductions, interviews etc that make up these events, the closing message was brought by Steve Brady. Steve is principal of Moorlands College in England. He is a fine Bible teacher. (He is also an ardent Evertonian: the previous time I saw Steve was at Goodison Park where Everton had just opened the season by beating Manchester United).
Steve preached through the classic call passage in Isaiah 6, highlighting five things about the kind of people God wants to use in 21st century ministry.
- People who glimpse the glory of God. The end of all true theology is to know God; theological students must beware lest they end up with a big head and a barren soul.
- People who recognise the reality of sin. Isaiah’s problem was not that he was feeling small and creaturely before an awesome Creator, but that he was feeling weak and sinful before the awesome purity of God.
- People who know the certainty of forgiveness. “A heart at leisure with itself.”
- People who sense the enormity of the task. Degrees in theology are a dozen a dime; value comes if they make you a better servant – RFA (ready for anything). Refuse to allow your soul to be infiltrated by an unholy reluctance.
- People who believe in the victory of the mission. A true understanding of eschatology should be optimistic. The future is bright, the future is
The spirits that surround Thy throne
May bear the burning bliss;
But that is surely theirs alone,
Since they have never, never known
A fallen world like this.
Oh, how shall I, whose native sphere
Is dark, whose mind is dim,
Before th’ Ineffable appear,
And on my natural spirit bear
The uncreated beam?
There is a way for man to rise
To Thee, sublime Abode;
An Offering and a Sacrifice,
A Holy Spirit’s energies,
An Advocate with God
(From the hymn Eternal Light, quoted by Steve.)