“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
Today I want to relate to the entire church the importance of the spiritually uplifting experience I had in participating recently in the recommendation of a young man to be ordained to the ministry. On Saturday, April 10th, Bro. Lino Zamacona and I traveled to Modesto as guests of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church to sit on an ordination council. Since I know the pastor of this church, I expected that the young man being ordained would have a fair grasp of the scriptures and would be able to defend his beliefs. Previously, we had been supplied with his doctrinal statement, which I thought was well written and fairly expressed the correct doctrinal interpretations of scripture.
One of the interesting aspects of an ordination council is the variety of preachers that attend, each coming with some interpretation that may not be agreeable to all present and especially not agreeable to the candidate for the ministry. This means the candidate will have to answer questions that come from a different theological bent and in so doing he must be so well versed in his own beliefs that he is able to refute a different interpretation. This is often the downfall of many ministerial candidates. An unprepared candidate and one that has simply memorized his own statement of beliefs cannot bluff his way through opposing arguments especially when the questions are unforeseen.
This is one purpose of the council. Does the candidate really have such a grasp of the scriptures that he can skillfully use them and substantiate his interpretations of scripture? In this case, the answer was a resounding yes! I have been distressed for quite some time about ministerial candidates that come out of independent Baptist schools with an inadequate grasp of necessary theological concepts. This candidate could very well articulate the importance of justification by faith alone and the correlation of the imputation of Adam’s sin to the human race and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to those who receive Christ by faith. Going beyond this, there was discussion about regeneration and why repentance and faith are fruits of regeneration and not the cause thereof. The scriptural proofs of this are not for novices.
These are only a very small part of the four and one half hours of examination. But perhaps the most telling part came in the very beginning. After this, we knew we were in for a treat. This young man started his doctrinal statement with a doxology in which he proclaimed his absolute surrender to the sovereignty of God. He expressed that salvation was not first intended for us but for God’s glory. This was especially refreshing since there is so much coming out of schools today that ignore this and give man primary consideration in salvation. A person’s viewpoint of the sovereignty of God will permeate his entire doctrinal outlook. Is regeneration monergistic or is it synergistic? Clearly this young man gave all glory to God alone.
So, this is my praise for this week. Thank God that He is still raising young men to preach the Doctrines of Grace and to lead a new generation of Christians in the truths of God’s Holy Word.
Pastor V. Mark Smith