In the Sept. 16 chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Texas Baptist College (TBC), Southern Baptist missions leader Zane Pratt challenged students, faculty, and staff to see the interweaving of all their theological studies with missions.
The chapel service was part of “Global Missions Week” which encouraged and challenged students to be a part God’s work in Central Asia, which is home to 360 million people with only an estimated 120,000 evangelical believers. Southwestern Seminary has sent more missionaries to serve overseas with the IMB than any other seminary in the history of theological education.
Southwestern Seminary and TBC President Adam W. Greenway welcomed Pratt, vice president for global training for the SBC International Mission Board, to the campus, calling him a “brilliant missiologist” and “skilled practitioner.” Pratt, who served as the dean of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism and Missions at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was Greenway’s immediate predecessor in the role at the Kentucky seminary. Pratt, who began serving in his current role with the IMB in 2014, previously served 20 years as a missionary in Central Asia.
Preaching from Luke 24:36-49 and Jesus’ interaction with people following His resurrection, Pratt asserted, “Jesus did not think you could think about biblical studies or systematic theology without thinking about missions.”
In the verses immediately preceding his focal passage, Pratt noted, Jesus showed disciples how the Old Testament spoke of Him. Pratt said this serves as a reminder the Old Testament points to Jesus and the Old Testament should be viewed in light of Jesus because it “also propels us into global mission.”
Pratt, who articulated the Gospel of Jesus Christ beginning from creation, reminded the assembly “this is your message.”
“This is what you are being sent to the world to proclaim: that Jesus Christ is God Himself in human flesh, who died in our place to bear the penalty for our sins,” Pratt reminded the students who represent callings to preach, teach, lead worship, and go overseas as missionaries. “He rose again, victorious over sin, death, and hell, and all who repent and put their trust in Him are reconciled together. And apart from that, apart from the cross and the empty tomb, you literally have nothing else to say.”
Pratt said Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that all the nations of the earth would be blessed. He said “it is not enough” for only one nation to worship the Lord. Using multiple passages of Scripture, Pratt directed the assembly to see God’s desire throughout the Bible for all nations and peoples to worship Him.
“You cannot believe and preach the Gospel and escape its global implications,” Pratt said. Noting repentance and faith are “inseparable” in the New Testament, he challenged the assembly to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins. Additionally, Pratt reminded the gathering to see the work of the Holy Spirit in evangelism and missions.
Pratt encouraged the seminary and college students to view missions, and its link to all theological academic disciplines, throughout the Bible.
“I think as we read the Bible, we come to realize eventually that theology, worship and missions cannot be separated,” Pratt observed. “If our study of theology does not leave us in a state of awe, drive us to our knees, and lead us to worship, then we probably haven’t understood what we studied or we’ve studied with an unregenerate heart.”
Pratt said worship is the response of a correct understanding of biblical systematic theology, but the two must ultimately end in mission. He reminded the assembly this should also encourage believers to want to see others in worship of God, as well.
Pratt concluded his message by challenging the gathering to examine their hearts and how God has called them to take the Gospel to the world.
“I urge you to resolve the question yourself, what your role is to be in the mission that Jesus gave you,” Pratt challenged. “Jesus combined taking the Gospel to the nations with the Gospel that saved us. Jesus combined the command to take the Gospel to the nations to the Gospel that saved you. … It's not something that's just reserved for the few. It's something that all must consider.”
The entire sermon may 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.