FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – “Welcome to the war.”
Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson greeted new students with this startling statement during his spring 2014 convocation chapel message, Jan. 23.
“Unknown to you,” Patterson continued, “on the day that you registered for classes, there was, on your back, a target. Satan determined from that point that he would disrupt your life. That he would cause you difficulty, sorrow and heartache. … Around every corner, Satan will be watching. he will do everything he can to take you away. You are walking into danger.”
Patterson’s sermon served as the first in a 12-part series titled “Walking toward Danger: Why a person should use caution when entering the ministry.”
“I will, in the first five messages, introduce you to the officers in your unit,” Patterson said. “These are the ones who walk point as you walk behind into the battles that you will fight throughout your ministry. And having introduced you to the five officers that are a part of your unit and that will be there as your guides, then we're going to actually walk into the woods of conflict and find out in the remaining seven messages what it is that we are facing and how we as born-again believers should respond to that.”
Preaching from Galatians 3, the first “officer” to which Patterson introduced students was the law.
“There are two kinds of law,” Patterson said. “There is law that is perfect – and that is God's law – and there is man's law, which is a study in convention and in bad law.”
From the text, Patterson derived three reasons the law exists. The first, from verse 19, is because of transgressions.
“Because it turned out that we were a lawless breed, God gave a law,” Patterson said. “The law that God has given in his Word is a reflection of His person. … The law is given to you so you can see the magnitude of the glorious righteousness of God and know that you can never live up to that status.”
Additionally, Patterson said, the law guards sinners as a restraint from evil as well as from personal destruction.
“God has hedged a safe pasture for you; it’s called the law,” Patterson explained. “And as long as you live within the law, you will enjoy the blessings of God. But tunnel through the fence and get on the outside and, inevitably, you will encounter the sorrows of life that follow in lawlessness.”
Verse 24 reveals the final reason for the law’s existence— the law serves as, in Patterson’s words, “a schoolmaster.”
“It brings us,” Patterson elaborated, “taking us by the hand, showing us our own inadequacy, revealing to us the greatness of God, and says, ‘Come and follow me.’”
In addition to Patterson’s sermon, the convocation also included the welcoming of two newly-elected faculty members, Scott Aniol and Dean Sieberhagen, as well as two new presidential faculty appointees, Paul Gould and Stephen Mizell.
To download, watch, or listen to sermons from Patterson’s “Walking Toward Danger” series, visit www.swbts.edu/chapelseries. For a complete schedule of chapel speakers, visit www.swbts.edu/chapelschedule.