In an exhortation to students, faculty, and staff during the Sept. 9 chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, offered three actions through which believers can be used by God to fulfill the Great Commission.
Before the message, Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College President Adam W. Greenway welcomed Gray to campus as a fellow Southern Baptist who shares a passion for evangelism.
“Todd Gray is not just somebody that talks about evangelism,” Greenway said. “He personalizes it and practices what he preaches.”
Evangelism “is the heartbeat of Southwestern Seminary since our founding in 1908,” Greenway said before expressing appreciation for the partnership between Southern Baptist state conventions and the seminary. “Any time we have the chance to hear from one of our state convention executive directors, it is a way that we have a chance to say, ‘thank you’ to Kentucky Baptists for what you do to make possible our work here at Southwestern Seminary.”
Gray opened his message with acknowledgment of Southwestern Seminary’s legacy of evangelism, producing a community of people devoted to the Great Commission.
“This school has a rich history of soul-winning and producing soul-winners,” Gray said. “My prayer is that that history and legacy would only continue and be strengthened for many years to come.”
Preaching from Acts 16, Gray used the example of Paul and Silas’ ministry to illustrate how Christians can be used by God and to offer an approach to faithfully fulfill the Great Commission today.
First, Gray said, “go where God says to go.”
Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College students, Gray acknowledged, have already answered God’s call. However, he added, they must surrender to that every day and be willing to yield to the will of the Lord, wherever that may lead.
“If you want to be used of God, it really is that simple, that you make up your mind in serving the Lord Jesus Christ, that the One who died on the cross for our sins was buried, and rose again, and the One who said to Peter, ‘follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men,’” Gray said. “If you and I want to be used by God, the first thing we have to settle is that we’ll go where God tells us to go.”
Just as Paul and Silas responded in obedience to an assignment and calling from the Lord as they followed the Lord to share the Gospel in Macedonia, Gray said, students have answered a call to preach the Gospel.
“You’ve answered a call to Christian leadership on your life,” Gray said. “You’re in this great school receiving from these great professors, who’ve also answered a call on their life, and then God will give you an assignment to do with your life.”
Gray reminded students that Christians have responded to this call for thousands of years, choosing to be obedient to the Great Commission.
“It’s what many of you are going to do with your lives,” he said, acknowledging the various challenges each of them may face as they pursue the will of the Lord. “But you’ll go because you have a conviction that this is where the Lord is leading you.”
The next way a Christian can be used by God, Gray said, is to “say what God wants to say” according to His Word.
Gray recognized that many Christians have different methods for initiating Gospel conversations, including Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism (“Chair of Fire”), who Gray said he has had the opportunity to serve with through evangelism efforts. “I’ve watched him as we had a training in Kentucky where we went and Dr. Queen would find somebody and he would say, ‘Has anyone told you today that God loves you?’”
Through whatever evangelism encounter God brings them to, Gray said Christians must trust that by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, they will have the right thing to say.
Finally, to be used by God, Gray said Christians must “trust God with the results. Trust the Lord for the outcome.”
Referencing verse 14 which describes Lydia’s conversion, Gray said he is encouraged that it was not Paul who had to open Lydia’s heart. “All he had to do was, in obedience to the Spirit of God, was to go where the Lord led him to go, tell the Gospel message the way he understood it as God had given it to him, and God worked through the Gospel,” Gray said.
Gray concluded his message with encouragement to students to work hard in their theological studies, but to remember their primary calling.
“Don’t forget that we have a Great Commission to go into all the world, preach the Gospel to every creature,” Gray said. “That’s what the Lord has called us to be about. Everything that is happening in your life and time right here is meant to feed and empower and sustain you as you carry out God’s will for your life.”
The entire sermon can be viewed here.
Chapel is held every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10 a.m. (CT) in MacGorman Chapel on the campus of Southwestern Seminary. Chapel may be viewed live at swbts.edu/live.