A Presidential Charge to RTS Charlotte Graduates 2009

FacultyGraduates, fellow servants of Christ Jesus and of His Gospel, I want you to go forth from here with a vision of the glorious Kingdom of Christ, and with the power of the ordinary means of grace: Word, Sacrament and Prayer. These are the supernatural means to accomplish a supernatural goal, the transformation of the human soul and even the transformation of man and his world. Graduates, fellow servants of Christ Jesus and of His Gospel, I want you to go forth from here with a vision of the glorious Kingdom of Christ, and with the power of the ordinary means of grace: Word, Sacrament and Prayer. These are the supernatural means to accomplish a supernatural goal, the transformation of the human soul and even the transformation of man and his world. There are men and women and boys and girls all over this nation and all over this world who need what you have been given. There are men and women and boys and girls all over this nation and all over this world who need what you have been given. 

I charge you from God’s Word to do so with your very lives. For in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 we read:I charge you from God’s Word to do so with your very lives. For in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 we read:

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

From this passage I charge you to remember that we shared ministry with you, so that you will share ministry with others. From this passage I charge you to remember that we shared ministry with you, so that you will share ministry with others. 

Here are three mandates for you to take away from this passage in order to share ministry:Here are three mandates for you to take away from this passage in order to share ministry:

Minister to People

“So, being affectionately desirous of you”⎯ “of you…”“So, being affectionately desirous of you”⎯ “of you…”

Paul’s ministry was not conducted in isolation. It was public. His theology was not esoteric. It was practical. It was lively. And it was for the people. Some might think it is ridiculous to hear me say that you, as ministers, must minister to people. But, take it from a guy who can get this simple truth confused himself, you can do otherwise.Paul’s ministry was not conducted in isolation. It was public. His theology was not esoteric. It was practical. It was lively. And it was for the people. Some might think it is ridiculous to hear me say that you, as ministers, must minister to people. But, take it from a guy who can get this simple truth confused myself you can do otherwise.

Sharing ministry means being people-centered. Christ came to die for human beings. He ministered to humans. Your studies, your ministries must be focused on God, on His Word, but finally upon people. Preach to broken hearted people and you will never lack for a congregation.Sharing ministry means being people-centered. Christ came to die for human beings. He ministered to humans. Your studies, your ministries must be focused on God, on His Word, but finally upon people. Preach to broken hearted people and you will never lack for a congregation.

Minister in Love

“We were ready to share with you…because you had become very dear to us.”“We were ready to share with you…because you had become very dear to us.”

As you minister to those given to you by God, your heart will be filled with affection. As Christ loved you, so you now minister in love to others. Your theology must now be transformed into a theology of Calvary love for those in need. When you distill the essence of what you have received here at RTS Charlotte it will always smell sweet with the love of God in Christ for poor sinners. Always, always, minister theology in the love of Christ. As you minister to those given to you by God, your heart will be filled with affection. As Christ loved you, so you now minister in love to others. Your theology must now be transformed into a theology of Calvary love for those in need. When you distill the essence of what you have received here at RTS Charlotte it will always smell sweet with the love of God in Christ for poor sinners. Always, always, minister theology in the love of Christ. 

Minister Your Life

Paul wanted to

“Share…not only the gospel of God but also our own selves”⎯”our own lives.”

Paul wanted to “Share…not only the gospel of God but also our own selves”⎯”our own lives.”

For Paul all theology was personal. For Paul all theology was personal. 

What does that mean? Every preacher only has one sermon. It is what God has done in your life. Today as you graduate from seminary, remember, right now, how Christ saved you, how He placed you in a Christian home, how He led you to your wife, how He led you to the place where you first heard the call. Remember His grace to you. That is your sermon. What does that mean? Every preacher only has one sermon. It is what God has done in your life. Today as you graduate from seminary, remember, right now, how Christ saved you, how He placed you in a Christian home, how He led you to your wife, how He led you to the place where you first heard the call. Remember His grace to you. That is your sermon. 

Like Paul, whose one sermon of God’s grace shown to a violent persecutor of the Church, shows up in everything he does, so you must preach out of the sacred encounter you have had with the living Christ. That is your sermon, the message of your life, the Gospel coming to broken people from a one of God’s own ministers who has received His touch. There is nothing more powerful.Like Paul, whose one sermon of God’s grace shown to a violent persecutor of the Church, shows up in everything he does, so you must preach out of the sacred encounter you have had with the living Christ. That is your sermon, the message of your life, the Gospel coming to broken people from a one of God’s own ministers who has received His touch. There is nothing more powerful

I have mentioned many times about how Dr. Simon Kistemaker had charged me personally, when I accepted this call, to see and believe that when I look into the eyes of seminary students, I must see beyond to the 100, 1000, 10,000 souls who will receive what I share with just one. This is the glory of our ministry that God has given us.I have mentioned many times about how Dr. Simon Kistemaker had charged me personally, when I accepted this call, to see and believe that when I look into the eyes of seminary students, I must see beyond to the 100, 1000, 10,000 souls who will receive what I share with just one. This is the glory of our ministry that God has given us.

And so it is today as I look at you. You have a gift, a rare gift, and the gift of sitting under godly pastor-scholars for an extended period of time as they shared the Word with you, and their very lives.And so it is today as I look at you. You have a gift, a rare gift, and the gift of sitting under godly pastor-scholars for an extended period of time as they shared the Word with you, and their very lives.

Now you go to those 100 and 1000 and 10,000 souls⎯to the little girl on the front row, the adolescent on the back row, the middle age couple caring for their aging parents, the first year college student struggling with the great existential questions of life, the judge and the homemaker. Go and share with those men and women, boys and girls the doctrines that you have learned here, doctrines that bring life, doctrines that are summarized by having a mind for truth and a heart for God.Now you go to those 100 and 1000 and 10,000 souls⎯to the little girl on the front row, the adolescent on the back row, the middle age couple caring for their aging parents, the first year college student struggling with the great existential questions of life, the judge and the homemaker. Go and share with those men and women, boys and girls the doctrines that you have learned here, doctrines that bring life, doctrines that are summarized by having a mind for truth and a heart for God.

Minister to people. Minister in love. Minister your lifeMinister to people. Minister in love. Minister your life. And in doing so, like Paul, your theology will become your biography. . And in doing so, like Paul, your theology will become your biography. 

And isn’t that the Gospel? That the Word become flesh.And isn’t that the Gospel? That the Word become flesh.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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About Michael Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D. (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David's College), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author. He is, also, an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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