Character & Calling


Character

"For the church to survive the new millennium, it needs gospel presentations that entice, preaching that affirms, and worship that keeps them coming back for more." How would the apostle Paul respond to this statement? Paul cared about character, ministry, and personal vocational holiness. Paul told Timothy to seek the Lord with all his heart, to die more and more to sin and to live more and more to righteousness, to cultivate the character to show himself as a workman approved by God. Many of today's Christians are looking for better methods, but God is looking for better men.

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15

Christian character - pastoral character - grows out of disciplined study of the Word of God. Paul's "approved workman" accurately handles the word of truth. That's why we require academic, rigorous, diligent study of the Bible in its original languages to the end of preaching God's Word to God's people for growth in grace. Our prayer is that God will use the purposeful and diligent study of the Scriptures to begin to shape godly character in the lives of our students that they might truly become pastor-theologians.

While God shapes you in the vigorous labor of classroom study, you will not be alone. God builds pastoral character in the context of relationships, surrounding you with the gracious wisdom of men who have gone before. At RTS, faculty are not only professors; they become mentors. Pastoral character is formed as you attend their lectures and read their books, but you will also interact with them over lunch, laugh with them in the halls, pray with them in their offices, and worship with them in a community gathered from all over the world and united by one purpose, that Christ may be formed in them.

 

Calling

At some point most of us question whether we are "called" to the ministry. How do we know? Paul's directions in I Timothy 3:1-7 helps us immensely (though he doesn't use the term "call" in this passage). Paul suggests at least three elements will be in place for one who is called. There will be a desire (v. 1) - we will want to give oversight to Christ's flock. What we want to do may be God's way of leading us; our desires may be pointers to God's will. Then there must be character, in its various dimensions: personal (vv. 2-3), domestic (vv. 4-5), spiritual (v. 6) and public (v. 7). Note that in all these "qualifications" the reigning concern is godliness (and many of the qualities in vv. 2-3 depict a man under control). Finally, Paul hints that gifts should be evident ("able to teach," v. 2). But don't agonize over gifts too much. Keep the emphasis where Paul does – on godly character. After all, Jesus made it clear that some of the most gifted ministers would be damned (Matt. 7:22-23).

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