A seminary literally means a “seedbed.” RTS Charlotte is a seedbed for Gospel preachers and other Christian works who are called by God and come to sit under godly pastor-teacher. Our goal is that they leave with a mind for truth and a heart for God, and multiply our ministry through the nation and the world.But this morning I was asked to give you a vision for this great institution and I have three brief parts of that vision to share.
Our Vision for a Seminary is a Vision that is Born out of a Divine Mandate
The Great Commission of Jesus Christ is our mandate. And Jesus said in Matthew 9.37 that we should pray that the Lord of the Harvest would send out workers into His harvest. And for those who answer that call, another part of our mandate is clear:Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2Timothy 2.15Our Lord did not take up His public ministry until he was 30 years of age. Paul tells us that he went to Arabia for three years after Christ called him to the ministry. And so too we believe that the Gospel ministry demands a time of preparation in the Word and in spiritual formation to take up the mantle of teaching authority in the church.Our mandate is to prepare pastors and missionaries and teachers, but especially, Gospel preachers to go to the ends of the earth to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.That is what RTS Charlotte is doing: raising up a new generation of Gospel preachers for such a time as this.And we are doing that in a certain way and so, secondly, we have:
Our Vision for a Seminary is a Vision that is Based upon a Biblical Method
It is said that when new students came to old Princeton, the great Charles Hodge would welcome them by saying, “You will learn no new thing here.” He meant that the old Reformed faith would be taught. Amen. I say the same thing. Our method is often reproduced in a saying, “A mind for truth and a heart for God.” We want our students to leave with a clear grasp of being able to preach and teach what men call the Old Reformed faith, which I believe is simply the Gospel. For Jesus said that”you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8.32).This is what our nation needs to hear. But we also send our students who love God, who love the Word of God, and who love human beings and want to see them saved.This method of a mind for truth and a heart for God requires our students experiencing this in flesh.That is why we are committed to pastor-teacher-scholars: men of God who have been with God, who received their calling from God and speak not just as academics, but Gospel preachers on fire with the truth and the love of Jesus Christ.Thirdly, our mission, and this is my favorite because it is the same mission I have had as a church planter, as the founder of a Christian school, as senior minister of First Presbyterian, Chattanooga and now as president of RTS. It is Paul’s glorious mission that is ever before him:
Our Vision for a Seminary is a Vision that Bears up our Glorious Mission
I always tell my son to begin with the end in mind. And our end, our goal, our final vision, gives us our mission today. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2.19-20:“For what is our hope or joy or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you as the presence of Jesus when He comes again. For you are our glory and joy.”My friends, the mission of our seminary is to send our preachers of the Word of God so that one day we will see souls “safe in the arms of Jesus” Christ as a result of our faithfulness in the Gospel today.Let me close by saying that such an undertaking is a ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ. And that we need the Church. We need our students in the Church for their learning must happen in conjunction with the ordinary day in and day out ministry of the local church. I thank you for welcoming them, for using them, and modeling Christ to them. And like any seminary serving the Church we have needs. We need student housing. We need updated facilities and expanded facilities like a library, and my dream, a new chapel erected to the glory of God.But most of all we need prayer and support to realize this vision. For my part, I want to preach the Gospel in the region, and across the nation, in order to be obedient to God’s mandate to raise up workers for the Harvest, to be faithful with His methods to rely on His Word and His Spirit to do it, and to be about His mission to transform our world, one soul at a time until, they are all safe in the arms of the Shepherd in the sky.There is no greater mission that this. And there is no greater time than now.