FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Master of Theology student Preston Atwood urged students and faculty to boast only in the Lord during a chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, April 19. Selected to speak during the seminary’s Student Preaching Day, Atwood is the first student to proclaim God’s Word from the pulpit of the seminary’s new MacGorman Chapel and Performing Arts Center.
Atwood was chosen from among other master’s-level students enrolled in preaching classes during the fall 2011 and spring 2012 semesters. The seminary’s preaching faculty selected him based on the excellence of his sermon preparation and delivery in class.
According to David Allen, dean of the School of Theology, the annual Student Preaching Day recognizes capable preaching students by letting them speak before their peers, and it also “fosters genuine expository preaching.” Training students to deliver expository sermons, he said, is “what we are about here at Southwestern.”
Before preaching during the seminary’s chapel service, Atwood was recognized by Southwestern Seminary graduate Greg Love, a minister at the First Baptist Church of Euless.
“It is my privilege to be here on behalf of the First Baptist Church of Euless and our pastor John Meador,” Love said. “The First Euless faith family is proud to partner with the flagship seminary for expository preaching and to award a check of $500 to the first student selected to preach in the MacGorman Chapel.”
During chapel, Atwood preached from Jeremiah 9:23-24: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the LORD” (NKJV).
Atwood pointed out that the word translated “glory” in this passage often describes praise. The word is contained in the familiar Hebrew term, Hallelujah—“Praise the Lord.” Throughout the book of Jeremiah, Atwood said, God accused the people of Judah for their boasting and for the trust they placed in their own wisdom, strength and riches. People have boasted in their own wisdom ever since Eve plucked the forbidden fruit, believing that it would make her wise, Atwood said. Christians today may face the same temptation.
Those who boast in their own strength, Atwood said, act as idolaters. They refuse to “give glory to God for their own victories.” In the book of Jeremiah, he pointed out, God criticized the people of Judah because they forgot that God was the one who miraculously brought them out of Egypt and into the Land of Promise. God’s people believed they were self-sufficient and no longer looked to God, in his strength, to uphold them.
As the book of Jeremiah also reveals, the people of Judah also boasted in and abused their riches. They not only poured their wealth into godless and inappropriate investments, but they also “didn’t use their money for things that were profitable. In fact, with most of the wealth they were receiving, they continued to exploit and oppress the poor.”
“We should boast only in the God of the Bible,” Atwood said. While intellectual and experiential knowledge differ, Atwood said that “in order to boast in the God of the Bible and to know him truly, we have to know him as he is revealed in Scripture.” In Jeremiah 9:24, God is revealed as “the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.”
Atwood challenged seminary faculty members and students not to confuse their “Bible knowledge” for knowing God in a relational way. “We have to believe in who this God is,” Atwood said, “but we also have to obey.”
Turning to 1 Corinthians 9:16, Atwood also challenged students to boast in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who believe should walk “in that Gospel by living a Gospel-centered life …, but also verbally sharing the Gospel.”