Pursue a ‘first-hand faith,’ Bowman encourages assembly in chapel message

Kathleen Bustamante


God transforms believers who exchange a second-hand faith for a first-hand faith, David Bowman preached in a Feb. 15 chapel message to the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Texas Baptist College community.

In his introduction of Bowman, Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Seminary and TBC, highlighted the “longstanding and vital relationship and partnership” between the seminary and the Tarrant Baptist Association, for which he expressed gratitude.

In his opening remarks, Bowman expressed his appreciation for Greenway’s leadership and his warm relationship with TBA, noting that he prays daily for the president, faculty, staff, and students, stating, “I want the days that we’re living in now and the days ahead of us to be the very best in the history of this seminary.” 

Bowman directed the attention of the assembly to Acts 19:11-20, which describes the exchange between the seven sons of Sceva and an evil spirit. The spirit overpowered the men, who failed to replicate miracles performed by the apostle Paul because they lacked “first-hand faith” in Jesus Christ. 

“God can take what we have and maximize it to change lives forever,” Bowman explained, noting how God used objects touched by Paul to cure illness. He also referred to the miracles God performed using Moses’ and Aaron’s staff, David’s sling and five stones, as well as a little boy’s lunch of bread and fish.

“Paul is doing extraordinary miracles through no big effort of his own,” Bowman added. “He’s just obeying God. He’s where God wanted him to be, doing what God wanted him to do, and God was bringing about extraordinary results.”

In contrast, he showed that the seven sons of Sceva were unsuccessful at casting out demons because they lacked a “first-hand faith relationship with Jesus,” which left them beaten and naked. But, as he noted, “while the men were prevailed upon by a demonic man, God’s Word prevailed in the hearts of those who received it.”

Bowman reminded the assembly that to develop a first-hand faith believers must pursue their own walk with God rather than settle for someone else’s relationship with God. Referring to Deuteronomy 6:4-9, he encouraged the assembly to take the “ordinary stuff of life and apply it to every circumstance.”  

Another way to build a first-hand faith, Bowman said, is by applying the biblical commands to “love the Lord your God with all of your mind” and to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart.”  Bowman encouraged students to stretch their minds while at Southwestern Seminary, and to spend time alone with God every day. He also encouraged the assembly to learn the difference between Bible reading and Bible study. 

Referencing Genesis 28-33, Bowman contrasted Jacob with Abraham and Isaac. He showed that Jacob moved from a second-hand faith to a first-hand faith after wrestling with, and eventually trusting, God. 

Noting the change in name of Jacob to Israel, Bowman concluded his message by observing, “Israel moved more directly into the purpose and plan of God with a limp than Jacob could with all of his strength and speed.” He added, “Jacob could manipulate people and situations; Israel deferred to God to lead the way, to show the way, to move him along the way, in His timing and His strength.” 

Bowman served in pastoral ministry for 20 years prior to becoming executive director of the Tarrant Baptist Association in 2001. Earlier in his career, he was an evangelism coordinator on staff of the Baptist Student Ministry at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. Bowman earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Southwestern Seminary. 

Bowman’s entire message 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 Baptist Theological Seminary. Chapel may be viewed live at swbts.edu/live.