An air of anticipation and excitement filled the Daniel Lee Chapel at Midwestern Seminary as President Jason Allen formally opened the new academic year during the Fall Convocation service on Aug. 31.
In addition to Allen’s formal address, preached from Ephesians 5:15-17, the Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College community welcomed ten new trustees to campus for the group’s annual orientation.
During his convocation message, Allen encouraged new and returning students, staff, faculty, and guests to take the upcoming semester and God’s call upon their lives seriously in a message entitled “Redeem the Time.”
Allen explained that the Bible often depicts Christians’ status in the world in terms of contrast. He focused his address on the distinction noted in Ephesians 5 between those who live according to godly wisdom compared to those who walk according to the foolishness of the world.
“Biblical wisdom is counterintuitive,’ Allen said. “This is especially true in the year 2021. Nonetheless, with confidence, we are presented with the fact that the gospel is indeed God’s perfect plan. To follow Christ, to live for him, and to obey his word is, indeed, the wisest course of action any of us can take.”
Throughout Scripture, he said, we are reminded that the mark of one following God’s course of wisdom in the present age is that he is redeeming the time. In contrast to the world’s offer of more “life hacks” and its encouragement to live for the moment, Allen suggested an alternate, more biblical approach to redeeming one’s time.
The first appeal of the Ephesians passage, according to Allen, is to think soberly. In the passage, Paul encourages hearers to walk carefully. “Each one of us is in danger, day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment, of walking foolishly,” said Allen. “We have seen lives wrecked in recent years, some at a distance through news stories, some closer to home through families, churches, and other ministries.
“We know where people have taken steps toward foolishness. We tend to think of foolishness as a category as those great moral blunders and, yes, those are foolish, but here in this passage, there is a reminder that a great act of foolishness is not redeeming one’s time for the Lord.”
The word ‘redeem’ in the passage means to “buy back,” he continued. Believers are to “buy back” the time they are given in order to serve the Lord. In the passage, Paul is not referring to the everyday tasks and responsibilities one carries, and he is not commending a hurried lifestyle. Instead, he encourages believers to “set their minds on things above” and to be strategic and wise about present circumstances and opportunities. The motivating factor behind Paul’s message is not simply that time is short, Allen noted. Instead, Paul encourages believers to walk wisely and strategically because “the days are evil.”
Allen explained that the encouragement to redeem one’s time is not an exhortation to utilize more “life hacks” or productivity tools. Redeeming the time has little to do with refining one’s “bucket list” or strategically maneuvering in terms of one’s career advancement or progress in life. Instead, four primary realizations characterize the believer who is redeeming the time.
First, redeeming the time means recognizing and honoring biblical stewardship. “Think about who you are in Christ,” Allen said. “Think about the roles God has given you: husband, wife, young man, young woman, teammate, student, professor, administrator. These are the roles and responsibilities God has given you. God has given you those primary categories of kingdom stewardship in light of the fact that the days are evil, and we must redeem our time.”
Second, redeeming the time means making sure one’s life counts for Christ. Citing John Piper’s famous sermon entitled “Don’t Waste Your Life,” Allen encouraged those gathered toward a meaningful existence in service to Christ: “We want to focus our lives on what counts for Christ. As the old couplet goes: ‘Only one life will soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last.’”
Third, redeeming the time means acknowledging that our time is not our own; it is God’s time. The time we have is not ours, to do with it whatever we wish. We are not on a quest for more “me time.” Rather, our time is God’s time, and we are to make the most of it by seeking to do His will.
Fourth, redeeming the time brings sharper ministry focus. Allen noted frequent conversations with those training for ministry who sense a call to ministry yet do not know what to do next. “God is not looking for hypothetical ministers. If that is settled, if you are indeed in Christ and called by Christ, then get on with ministry service. Don’t spend your life saying, ‘One day, I will do it,’ only to look back decades later with regret.”
Allen noted the significance of the call to ministry and the comparable significance of one’s response to that call. “My understanding of the call to ministry is that it is so grand, appropriate, and biblically right that to not sit up and respond to the Lord’s call is a treacherous way to respond.
“The gospel call is promiscuous; the call to ministry is not. The gospel call is indiscriminate; the call to ministry is not. It is a specific calling, a focused calling. We are part of a conscripted force. It is as though Paul is saying to us, in this passage, “The days are evil. Look around! Our world is collapsing. Christians are facing deprivation and persecution. The church is in need. The nations are longing for messengers. Redeem the time; go pursue him. Don’t waste your life.”
Allen closed the message by encouraging listeners to actively engage in the work of discerning and pursuing God’s call on their lives.
To hear Allen’s complete Convocation message, visit: https://www.mbts.cc/fa21convocation
Incoming trustees welcomed to campus for fall orientation
Midwestern Seminary also recognized ten incoming trustees, invited to campus this week for the seminary’s annual orientation. The group represents an abnormally large group of incoming trustees for the institution due to the cancellation of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in 2020. The group will formally join the board at the trustee’s official business meeting later this year.
The ten incoming trustees are: Rev. LeRon G. West (Gilcrease Hills Baptist Church; Tulsa, Okla.), Dr. Jonathan Hayashi (Northern Hills Baptist Church; Holt, Mo.), Dr. Nathan Rose (Liberty Baptist Church; Liberty, Mo.), Dr. Larry Lewis (Vann Avenue Baptist Church; Evansville, Ind.), Mrs. Lisa Gunn (Morrison Heights Baptist Church; Clinton, Miss.), Stephen Weeks (Redemption City Church; Philadelphia), Daniel Torres (Swerve Church; Brooklyn, N.Y.), Carl “Jason” Spade (Fairlawn Baptist Church; Parkersburg, W.Va.), Mr. John Rainwater (Immanuel Baptist Church; Little Rock, Ark.), Mr. Nathan Naoumi (Shadow Hills Church; Las Vegas).