Monday, December 17, 2007

Seminary, prostitutes, adultery, grace and the sovereignty of God

At 11:57am on Thursday, December 13, 2007 I finished my last test for my Master's of Divinity degree at the Master's Seminary. The program took me 3 1/2 years to complete and was immeasurably more difficult than my bachelors in every way - academically, spiritually, physically, emotionally..etc.

It will take me much time to process this experience and I will probably never fully realize it's impact on my life and hopefully the lives of others. This post is not an attempt to understand or reflect on my seminary experience. I merely want to praise God for His faithfulness.

Perhaps the most prominent feeling I have been experiencing as I let the fact that I am done with seminary sink in is a sense of unworthiness. People expect me now to be qualified for ministry just cause I got an M Div. People expect me to have all the answers now and to not struggle with sin, expectations I will never meet. I know that most people dont actually have those expectations for me, yet often that is how I feel. I have learned Greek and Hebrew, studies homiletics, and know the outlines of the Bible and I know I have grown in my understanding and love of the Lord, yet in many ways I am still the same tired, struggling, sinner I was when I started.

So what does that have to do with prostitutes and adultery you might ask? Well, I will tell you. The morning after having the burden of seminary deadlines lifted from my shoulders, I decided to read through the book of Matthew. As you may know, the book of Matthew begins with a 17 verse genealogy of Jesus, starting with Abraham. It is easy to skip over this list of names but to do so would to rob yourself of a passage of inspired Scripture which contains great encouragement. As I read over the genealogy the names that stuck out to me were these: Tamar (:3), Rahab (:5), Ruth (:5) and Bathsheba (:6). The names of these four women represent some of the most sinful and tragic episodes in the Old Testament (Gen 38:13-30; Joshua 2:1; Ruth 1:3; II Samuel 11) yet they are included (and even highlighted - recording the names of women was not a common practice in ancient geneologies) in the genealogy of Jesus. We can look at this and be amazed at God's grace - how he could use things like prostitution and adultery and a Moabite woman to bring the Messiah into the world. Yet we can go farther than that. God didn't just make the most of a bad situation, He chose this way to bring Jesus into the earth. It was His perfect plan all along. Not that sin is excusable or that God is culpable for it, but in His sovereignty He chooses to use sinners to accomplish His purposes. That gives me great hope. God can use a sinner like me. God has chosen to use a sinner like me. The proper response to God's sovereignty is not a fatalistic, it-doesn't-matter-what-I-do attitude, but a bold confidence that God has a purpose for me, even me. A confidence that is in the unchanging faithfulness of the one who was killed and in turn killed death so that I and all those who He brings to Himself can be called His children. A confidence that manifests itself in a growing, burning, and joy-filled obedience to the Lord of all things. Who or what can stand in the way of such God-anchored confidence? Praise the sovereign and faithful God of the universe!

by His grace
for His glory,
jrf

4 comments:

MN aunt said...

CONGRATULATIONS JOHN!
WE ARE ALL VERY PROUD OF YOU

MN aunt said...

CONGRATULATIONS JOHN
WE'RE ALL PROUD OF YOU

Tim Costine said...

congrats man, welcome to the rest of your life. now, time to have a kid to fill up the void!

jrf said...

Thanks Tim, it's bad enough i get the "when are you gonna have kids?" speech from my mom, now i get it from you.