Wednesday, July 10, 2013

As You Pray: A Biblical Attitude

By Jeff Kingswood
Chairman of the Board

As we ask you to pray for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, I would like to direct your attention to the conclusion of Daniel's prayer to God in Chapter 9 of the book that bears his name. There we find Daniel imploring God to redeem the remnant of Israel which are held in captivity in Babylon.
The attitude of Daniel’s prayer reveals to us three things necessary for our prayer life and our intercession for the Lord’s work, be that at GPTS or elsewhere.
A biblical attitude of prayer involves three things: 
  1. A heartfelt love for the one true God as He has revealed Himself to us.
  2. An attitude of humility that recognizes our need and dependence on God.
  3. A realization that though we deserve nothing, God will give us everything for the sake of the name of our Savior Jesus Christ.
The first attitude we see in Daniel's prayer is that of heartfelt love for the one true God as He has revealed Himself to us.  As you read this prayer of Daniel's, it is clear that Daniel is not just coldly going through a formula. This is a heartfelt pouring out of his soul and its desires before the God whom Daniel loves and trusts. It is full of passion. It comes from the heart.
Prayer flows out of a relationship. That is what makes prayer possible. Daniel is able to pray in this way because he knows the God with whom he is speaking.  Daniel knows God's character because he has studied scripture, and he knows how God has acted in the past in His dealings with Israel. 
Daniel has known God personally, and his thankful obedience to the law of God has brought Daniel great courage in times of trial.
As you read the introduction to this prayer in verse 2 of chapter 9 you see that Daniel is not basing his prayer for the release of the captive Israelites on some vague hope but rather on the prophecies given by God to the prophet Jeremiah.  Daniel's prayer is simply that God would fulfill what God has already promised His people. Daniel is praying God’s Word back to Him.
The second attitude of prayer is an attitude of humility that recognizes our need and dependence on God. That is the biblical attitude show by Daniel in verse 18.  Daniel dares to come before God not because of who he is but because of God's great mercy. We need always to keep that in mind. 
Look at the words of Daniel's prayer: O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 
We are chosen by God not because of anything good or worthy in and of ourselves. Out of sheer undeserved mercy God chose some to be His children in Jesus Christ. That knowledge brings about the humility that Daniel displays. We don't deserve a thing. Our attitude in prayer ought to be: “It is only because of your great mercy, Lord, that we dare to come before you at all. Please hear our prayers. We deserve nothing and all that we receive is mercy.”
That brings us to the third point which is that an attitude of Biblical prayer requires a realization that though we deserve nothing, God will give us everything for the sake of the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Daniel prays in verse 19:
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name."
Why does Daniel implore God to answer his prayer? For the sake of God's name! 
The pagan nations were laughing at the people of Israel. They were mocking them and saying, "O look at them now. Where is their God now? If their God were real wouldn't He save them?"
Daniel is jealous for the glory of God. I am sure that he wasn't thrilled about being in exile, and he would like to have been freed to return to Israel; but what drives him to prayer is the glory of God.
“Lord, restore your people and the city of Jerusalem so that people will see that you are faithful and they will be forced to praise your name. For your name. For your sake.” Daniel realizes that his pleasure, his pain, his suffering or his satisfaction mean very little in God's great scheme of things and that what really matters is the glory that is given to the name of God. Daniel is jealous for the glory of God!
Pray with us at GPTS that we will have a jealous concern for the name of Jesus. Pray that we will labor in prayer to see that His name is not stained with our sin and that our blessings will speak to others of His mercies to us. May that attitude of humble thanksgiving color our prayer life through and through.


How to Spend Some Rewarding Summer Days

A perfect summer day, according to writer James Dent, is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.

An even more perfect summer day is one spent being enriched during one of Greenville Seminary's two back-to-back summer programs — The Summer Institute and the Summer Theology Course.


This year's Summer Institute, to be held Aug. 5-9, will be of particular interest to pastors as we focus on effective preaching, although the program will be of interest to laymen as well.

GPTS President Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. will lead an examination of the sermons of 10 great preachers who have been effective proclaimers of the Word of God. The template for our discussion will be sections out of R.L. Dabney's Sacred Eloquence and John Carrick's The Imperative of Preaching. 

Visit our web site (gpts.edu) for details. To read a brochure about both programs, go here. Download a brochure from here.

Pastors who take either course are eligible for 30 continuing education units. A certificate will be awarded at the end of the course upon its completion.

Just prior to the Summer Institute, Dr. Benjamin Shaw will conduct a unique study of the Book of Ecclesiastes, using the Hebrew text. The class will be held July 29-Aug. 2. The course is entitled "The Breath of Life: Living in an Ecclesiastes World." This will be an exposition of the Book of Ecclesiastes based on the Hebrew text.

"The first class session will be devoted to the discussion of introductory matters: who, what, when, where, and why. The remainder of the class will simply move through the book sequentially, with discussion focusing on preaching the book," says Dr. Shaw. He suggests that students read a couple of Ecclesiastes commentaries and, if possible, do a rough translation of the book for themselves before attending.

The class schedule is as follows: Monday 1-4 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m, and Friday 9 a.m.-12 p.m.



Financial Report for June 2013 and Fiscal Year 2012-13

Greenville Seminary closed out its 2012-13 fiscal year on June 30. The tables below show our overall financial condition as of the end of June. As can be seen, the seminary ended the fiscal year with a deficit of nearly $76,000. Donations of $923,964 were $178,993 above the $744,971 in unrestricted contributions received from individuals and churches the previous fiscal year. Total income for the 2012-2013 fiscal year of $1,148,369 was $185,993 higher than the $962,376 received in the previous fiscal year. We are grateful to God and His people for these increases. Our expenses for the just-concluded fiscal year were $120,156 higher than those of the previous fiscal year. The deficit shown in our general fund report below is the result of the fact that $135,000 we received from a bequest was transferred to our Capital Fund, as planned. 

Please pray with us that God's people will be blessed with resources which God may inspire them to use in support of our ministry to His church. We see prayer as a vital foundation for realizing our material needs. We invite you to take time to read the special message from our Board Chairman Jeff Kingswood at the head of this newsletter.


With the beginning of our new fiscal year, your gifts during this month are crucial to our financial stability and for our operations during the summer months. Typically, with common summertime downturns in charitable giving and an absence of tuition income, these months are a critical period for meeting our ongoing financial obligations. We need your help.

Remember, gifts to GPTS are tax-deductible and may include cash, securities, property or a variety of planned giving instruments. 

GENERAL FUND - JUNE 2013
Donation Income$73,690
Other Income$7,235
Total Income$80,925
Expenses$86,828
Net Income-$5,903

GENERAL FUND - FISCAL YEAR 2012-13
Donation Income$923,964
Other Income$224,405
Total Income$1,148,369
Expenses$1,089,331
Disbursed to Capital Fund$135,000
Net Income-$75,962


CAPITAL FUND UPDATE
Capital Campaign Goal*$3,500,000
Received$3,262,911
Long-term Pledges Outstanding$583,508
Total Received and Pledged$3,845,670
Outstanding Obligations$35,000
Monthly Interest Payment$3,424
Remaining Mortgage$691,442


*Although the formal fund-raising campaign goal has been more than realized, additional funds are needed to amortize the balance of our mortgage.





If you would like to make a convenient online donation to Greenville Seminary, click the  "Donate Online" button above. Whether or not you can contribute financially, here is another way you can help the seminary: Spread the Word! Do you know someone that would be interested in learning more about our organization or supporting us? If so, share a link to this newsletter or our website. Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 





The Gospel Idea of Preaching


By Robert Lewis Dabney, 1820-1898

FROM the days of Enoch, who prophesied (Jude 13), and of Noah, who was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter ii. 5), to our day God has employed “the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” To us who hold that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants, both the warrant for preaching, as a religious ordinance, and the model for its performance, must be given from the Word of God. The patriarchs, the prophets, probably the Aaronic priests and the pious kings, preached to Israel. But the first full description of the nature of the exercise is the oft-cited passage from Nehemiah viii. 1-8, when Ezra and his associates “read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” Here we have the true scriptural idea of the preacher’s function: to make the people understand what is in God’s word. The Christian minister’s commission is in these words: “Preach the word; (herald the word;) be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Tim. iv. 2.) The object of preaching is the salvation of the soul; and that salvation consists in a redemption from the guilt, love and practice of iniquity. The instrument of this redemption is God’s truth, as he has revealed it. “Sanctify them through thy truth.” The preacher is most explicitly called a herald; that is, the deliverer of a message. Now, the herald does not make his message, he merely transmits it. He has nothing to do with judging its wisdom or fitness; let him simply proclaim it as it is given to him. This was God’s command to an ancient preacher: “Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” (Jonah iii. 2.)

Or, the preacher’s office may be illustrated by the work of one who uses a die put into his hands, to form impressions on some plastic substance. The sinful soul is that substance. The Word of God is the die; and the divine image of knowledge and true holiness is the impression to be formed. God, who made man’s soul, and therefore knows it made the die; and of course he best knew how to make it, to produce the impression he desired. Now, the workman’s business is not to criticize, re-carve, or alter the die which is committed to him, but simply to press it down upon the substance to be shaped. In this view, how plain is it that all preaching must be accurately representative of Bible truth, and in Bible proportions? Else it is not God’s work. The preacher’s business is simply to take what he finds in the Scriptures, and as he finds it, and press it down upon the understandings, hearts, and consciences of men. Nothing else is his business as a preacher. The die is just so sharp and hard, so large and so perfect as God would have it. He judged it was the right die to produce the impression he intends. This is enough for us. . Here we have a few obvious truths which none will dispute who are known as evangelical Christians. But if we are not mistaken, they contain the following deductions by which many things, very prevalent in the practice of persons considering themselves evangelical, are condemned.

1. Not only must Bible topics form the whole subject matter of preaching, but they must be presented in scriptural aspects and proportions. ... “The preacher’s business is just to show the people what is in the Bible,” as God has there set it forth.

2. These principles cut up by the roots the whole fashion of “preaching up the times,” as it was quaintly called by our Scotch forefathers. ... “Are Bible principles never to be applied, then, to the correction of the social evils of the day by those who are the appointed expounders of the Bible?” So far as God so applies them in the Bible, yes; but no farther. Let the preacher take the application of the principles, as well as the principles applied, from the Word of God; let him take, not only his starting position but his whole topics, from God’s word, and he will be in no danger of incurring that sarcasm, as biting as it is just, directed against those who “take their texts from the Bible, and their sermons from the newspapers.” ...

3. From the scriptural idea of the preacher’s work we may learn what is the true nature of that spirit in the minister, which thinks it is necessary to take a more ample range in preaching than simply showing the people what the Bible means. How many are there who would shrink back with dread from what they consider so confined a walk of ministerial labour. ... There have been two stages in the defection of the church from the simplicity of the gospel in past days. The first has been when the ministry have held to the truths of the gospel system, but have insisted on arranging and presenting them according to the methods of the fashionable human philosophy of the day. The second—and it is close to the first—has been when they have gone to human philosophy, both for their arrangement and their doctrines. The eras of efficiency and spiritual might have always been prior to both stages, when the ministry was content to set forth Bible truths in Bible aspects. ...

4. If the business of the preacher is simply to make the people see and feel what is in the Word of God, preaching should usually be what is popularly known as “expository.” In most cases it is no fair exposition of the divine meaning to single out a single proposition from its connection, and fix the whole attention on it, to the exclusion of those truths which God has placed beside it. The Scriptures are a whole. ... Passages of Scripture must be unfolded in their connection. Yea, whole books and epistles must be so applied to the Christian soul. And where we depart from this method, to preach topically upon a single proposition of the Scriptures, it should yet be a true exposition, an evolution of the meaning of the spirit in that text.




To download and read the complete article, go here.



R.L. Dabney was a Southern Presbyterian pastor, theologian and professor at several universities. He enlisted in the Confederate army as a chaplain and became chief of staff to General "Stonewall" Jackson. He distinguished himself in several battles. “He was a matchless teacher. He possessed a clear, powerful intellect, which grasped the substance of the most profound philosophical themes and made them plain. He had had that close contact with men, that practical experience of affairs, which enabled him to present difficult subjects in their relation to the thought and needs of every-day life. He exemplified the difference between a learned book-worm, who knew his subject only from a theoretical viewpoint, and the profound master who presented it in relation to the actual experience of his hearers. Dr. Dabney had that rare gift of making systematic theology not a study of dry bones, but a living system, most interesting and instructive, because throbbing with reality and power" (Henry M. Woods).

GPTS.EDU and You

The GPTS graphics arts staff has been working on redesign and streamlining of the Greenville Seminary web site. This project is on-going and may take some months to complete.

We would like to hear from our web-site users, sharing your experiences with the site. Tell us what you like and what difficulties you may have had finding what you were looking for. Your suggestions about things like site navigation and needed or useless content will help. Some little-used pages will likely be eliminated and other pages will be consolidated.

Our goal is to make the web site more "user-friendly" and to give it a more contemporary look for today's web-savvy users. Contact graphic designer Rob Dykes (rdykes@gpts.edu) or Development Director Garry Moes (gmoes@gpts.edu).

Dr. Pipa's Interview During the PCA General Assembly

Greenville Seminary President Dr. Joseph Pipa was interviewed on "Knowing the Truth," a local Christian radio station program hosted by Kevin Boling. Dr. Pipa is a frequent guest on the program, and he appeared in June during the Presbyterian Church in America's General Assembly in a live broadcast from the assembly's meeting site in Greenville.

Go here for a video recording of the broadcast. Dr. Pipa appeared during the second segment of the program, beginning at about 22 minutes into the broadcast. (Slide the progress bar to 22:30 to see and hear this interview).


The General Assembly's location in Greenville gave the seminary a unique opportunity to expose the denomination to our campus and our ministry. More than 180 people filled the seminary Commons on Wednesday June 19 for a Southern Barbecue Dinner and reports by Dr. Pipa and Development Director Garry Moes. Guests also had an opportunity to tour the campus and visit our bookstore.

We praise God for the growing interest within the conservative wing of the PCA in what GPTS has to offer.