We’re back in the full swing of things at Bethlehem College & Seminary. Having just completed our Pastor’s Conference, and having just enjoyed a foretaste of spring, I know I’m bundled up, refreshed, and ready to tackle a new semester.
And with a new semester comes new challenges for us students and the world we are being trained to serve. The Iowa caucus has been completed with results many did not expect, ISIS remains a threat, ethnic divides still pollute our understanding of identity, and issues of gender and sexuality remain a central theme of discussion. Wars and rumors of wars continue. There’s a mixture of hope in our political future, and a bleakness of knowing the cultural landscape and moral fabric of our nation has changed so much. So how can we as Christians be authentic with the realities of the cultural change without whining about them? How do we suffer as Christians, and simultaneously serve our neighbors?
I love that the Lord is honest about the reality of the groanings of this world. He tells us through Paul that the “whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22). Stop and think about that. The whole creation has been screaming in pain from Adam’s sin and the Lord’s curse until now. What a vivid and accurate picture to describe the state of the world we inhabit!
And “not only the creation, but we ourselves who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, namely the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). Aren’t we all, creation and humanity, chained together on a ship swaying over tides we cannot see, headed to a future that’s entirely uncertain? How can we be patient in waiting, how can we be faithful, how can we have hope when all of our experience of this sea of life is in agreement with us that the world is not as it should be?
Read on. The Spirit of Jesus himself is interceding for us to the Father who controls all things, “according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). Did you hear that? The game is rigged! Jesus, who promised never to leave you or forsake you in the world, who sent His Spirit to live in you, is not only standing at the right hand of the Father and ruling, but His very Spirit in you is seeing your plight in this world and asking the Father to move things in such a way that everything is working for your good. All three Persons of the Trinity are conspiring to work to keep you in the peaceful eye of Sovereign love as the tornado of the world swirls around you! The Spirit is “interceding for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:27). We don’t have a Cosmic Lord who is a remote dictator, but a Lion-Lamb Shepherd, the true brother born for adversity who uses his Lordship for our good! He’s not ashamed to call us his brothers or his people- his family! – Since he became like us and knows all of our weaknesses, he knows we need help, and He grieves with us – and then gives us the faithful endurance and patience we need in a world gone wrong. He’s not slow as some count slowness, but He’s patient- and He’s giving us that patience through His Spirit helping us to fix our minds on truth and know that we have a sympathetic ear we can authentically cry to about the brokenness of this world. The end of our battle is fixed and the victory has already been appointed!
You read on and you find that God was working for your good from before you were born. He foreknew you, predestined you to be conformed to the Image of Jesus, called you and awakened faith, counted you righteous in light of your sin because of Jesus’s flawless faithfulness, and He says you’re already glorified- your future is so secure because your Father has unconditionally set his love for you (Romans 8:29-30). Who shall separate you from the love of God in Christ? If you are called according to his purpose, that is if you are one who trusts in Jesus to be your most valuable possession, this word says that the Lord will work all things for your good. In a tornado of terrifying uncertainty, what a glorious reality to know that the tornado rests in the sure and steady hand of God, and that you are not just covered with His hand to see His goodness but are brought in through the veil to the Holy of Holies. Who shall dare to separate you from the love of God in Christ? Would you rob a bear of its cubs? Would you insult a man’s wife to his face? Shall God-dishonoring policies, terrorism, or increasing hostility to Jesus be enough to create a wall large enough to hold out his love? By no means! How will He, who did not let the love He had for Jesus stop Himself from loving us, not with Jesus graciously give us everything we need?
Practically, where does being loved by the most loving and powerful being in the universe leave us? What do we find rising in our hearts? A desire to talk with Him. When you know your Father is entirely committed to your good, you know that He won’t give you snakes but fish, not stones but bread. The I AM will give you the root of all existence- Himself- to drink from, supplying you with the Living Water of Jesus through His Holy Spirit.
First Year Seminary Student
Tim Tomlinson’s Message at Chapel,
January 21, 2016: “Reaching Across the Generations For the Glory of God”
Join us for our weekly Chapel Service on Thursday, February 11th, 12:45-1:45pm, featuring Jim Bloom on the Innerchange ministry.
1. Continue to pray for the admissions process as we assemble our next class of students. Pray for the admissions team and also for the applicants – that God would be orchestrating a group of students devoted to the deep study of scripture and seeing the glory of God in all things.
2. Pray for us as we begin searching for a new faculty member for the school. As we grow, our need for additional faculty is upon us. Pray that we would find the right faculty members that would fit the mission, vision and ethos of the school.
3. For President Tomlinson as he attends the Annual meeting for Association of Biblical Higher Education, that God would show that time to be fruitful and helpful in every way.
4. Pray for us as we work to build the long-term financial stability of the school. We thank the Lord for so many faithful contributors and we continue to work toward building financial strength so that the school will continue in its vision and mission until the Lord returns.