Today’s a big day for us and for our church. It’s a day for which you have prepared many years now. You will be examined today by professors from our local seminary and several local pastors regarding your doctrinal qualifications for the Gospel ministry.
In God’s good providence, I was reminded even just this week how thankful I am to have a husband who spends many hours each week endeavoring to handle the Scripture accurately. I was reading JI Packer on the difference between expiation and propitiation and was struck again by how important it is to be precise in theology. We admire precision in many other professions, but when it comes to theology, we can tend to think that when someone devotes many years of formal study to it they are just pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge or studying heady things that don’t have any bearing on real life. I mean what good does being able to dialogue about how the three persons of the Trinity interact with each other when your heart is breaking and the world as you know it seems to be crumbling before you? But precise knowledge of Scripture has everything to do with real life. Orthodoxy is at stake. God’s glory is at stake. Even man finding his ultimate joy and purpose is at stake. The faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints must be contended for by men who know it well.
Our church has already been examining your character qualifications for the past years to see that you display the character qualities held forth in Scripture for a minister of the Gospel. Praise the Lord for His grace in your life and preparation for this calling evidenced by their unanimous vote of your qualifications in that regard.
Your academic institutions have recognized your academic achievements by your graduating with honors. First, with your Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Bible and minoring in Greek and then with your Master of Divinity. And I like to remember that I was by your side for both!
And today, even before the professors and pastors have their opportunity to examine you doctrinally, I as the person who knows you best on this earth, want to commend you for the diligence to which you have applied yourself specifically in studying the Bible for Gospel ministry. I remember the first sermon I heard you preach before we were even dating (can you believe that has been over 10 years ago?!). It was from Hebrews about perseverance. My sweet mom looked at me with tears in her eyes when you were done and said, “I would be honored if you would marry someone who is that passionate about God’s Word.” I too was impressed, but couldn’t get over what she said about marriage! I guess the rest is history…she got what she wanted! 🙂 But from that first sermon through the late nights and early mornings of your study of Scripture which have been part of our entire dating and marriage relationship, I know doctrinal precision is important to you. I know that you study semantic ranges of Greek and Hebrew words because you want to be clear and say what the Bible says and nothing more. I know that in preparation for teaching and preaching you struggle through difficult interpretational issues and passages, like in the last sermon you preached from Job, so that our congregation will know that God’s ancient, precious Word is still undeniably relevant to us today. And I know that you work hard to study context and the broad scope of Scripture and the implications and applications of a passage because you know that what you are doing is far too important for carelessness or creativity.
I’m looking forward to the outcome of today and I want to pledge to you my continued help and support in the Gospel ministry. God’s Word is too important for me to complain about your long hours of study. Too many people aren’t worshiping Jesus for me to think that I need you here for dinner every night. The Gospel needs to be proclaimed regularly, clearly and precisely by competent, qualified men such as yourself. Remind me that squeaky doors, broken air vents, leaking faucets and other home improvements can wait. Someone can fix things when we’re gone if we never get to them. But it is a short step from here to eternity and I want to help you spend and be spent for the One who gave His life for us. SDG.
I love you and will always be your most faithful and adoring co-laborer in the Gospel.