Previous article in this series: February 1, 2014, p. 197.
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
[Note: This editorial is the third part of the convocation speech given publicly for the current school year, held in September of 2013. The first installment demonstrated the biblical basis for requesting fellow saints to “pray for us.” The reasons for praying for the seminary are the three parts of the speech. The first is the spiritual nature of the work. The second is the difficulties faced. And the third is the importance of the work.
In the first section, we pointed out that the work of seminary training is an aspect of the work of the ministry of the gospel. The instruction is authoritative instruction from ordained ministers that God uses to qualify men for the work of the gospel ministry. Thus prayer is necessary for the professors, that God will maintain them as faithful teachers and preachers of His Word. The students need our prayers that God will give them receptive hearts and minds, apply the Word to their souls, and thus prepare them for the work.
The second installment set forth the need for prayer in light of the difficulties to be faced. The main struggle is the battle against sin, even as professors and seminarians.
The men will face more difficulties in the ministry. And we must be especially aware that these young men will be ministers in a very evil age, the end of the ages.
We turn now to the final part, namely, the importance of the work. As with all good speeches, the last part is the briefest. It should also be the climax. We will let the reader judge that.]
Finally, pray for us because of the importance of the seminary’s work, that is, equipping men to be faithful, Reformed ministers of the gospel. The work of the minister is indispensible for the church.
In the wisdom and providence of God, the church of Jesus Christ depends on preaching, and therefore on qualified, Reformed preachers. Preaching is the power of God unto salvation. Preaching is the means God uses to work and confirm faith. The sheep hear the voice of the good Shepherd through faithful preaching, spoken by faithful ministers, and they follow Him. As believers, our spiritual life depends on preaching, and thus on Spirit-equipped, Christ-ordained preachers!
The importance of the seminary is obvious. If the seminary fails, so that either the professors do not fulfill the duties God has given, or the young men do not heed the instruction given, the churches will not have qualified, Reformed—Protestant Reformed—preachers. Young men will graduate who lack the ability to exegete the Scriptures. Men will accept calls to pastorates who do not know how to make two good, logical sermons or to communicate (deliver) them in such a way that the people can understand the Word. They will not have the ability or the inclination to teach the youth in catechism. They will not know, or will not care, what the church has faced in the past or how the church dealt with issues, and thus be incapable of guiding aright the church of the present.
Or, worse yet, young men will enter the ministry who do not know the truth. The churches will have ministers who are not convicted of the truth. The students never received the love of the truth. The confessions will be unknown to them and the language of the Reformed faith unfamiliar.
That is the beginning of the end for churches supplied with such seminary graduates, and the decline (swifter than we might think) will soon result in unbelievers in the pulpit. And decimated churches. For the preaching will no longer edify, exhort, or comfort God’s people. It will cease to possess the power of the keys—able to open the kingdom of heaven to believers, and shut it against unbelievers. A generation will pass that knew the truth, and then another generation will arise after them that knows not the Lord, nor His saving works (). Worst of all, the preaching will cease “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” ( ).
Understanding that importance, that indispensability, of faithful preaching, people of God, pray for us.
Pray for us because God gathers His church in all the world out of all the nations, through preaching. According to Revelation 6, Christ sends the white horse and thus directs the course of the gospel. The Heidelberg Catechism rightly confesses that “the Son of God…gathers, defends, and preserves to Himself by His Spirit and Word, a church chosen to everlasting life” (Lord’s Day 21). As that elect church is gathered out of the nations, through preaching, Christ comes ever closer, and more swiftly.
For the work of missions, for the gathering of the church out of the nations, for the swift coming of the Lord, pray for us, that we may have faithful missionaries.
Finally, know that, through faithful preaching, God’s truth is defended and maintained in the world. Good and faithful preaching develops doctrines ever more clearly and sharply. It condemns the lie. It defends the truth, which truth enters into the hearts and minds of the believing hearers. The faithful ministers wield the sword of the Spirit. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines forth from clay vessels—the preachers.
The significance is obvious. If professors do what God calls them to do—preach/teach the Word to the students faithfully—and the Spirit applies the Word to the hearts of the students who earnestly love and embrace the truth, the blessing will be that seminarians are equipped to do the work of Reformed preachers. And the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ will continue to shine in our pulpits.
But if the seminary is not faithful, and the students are not equipped spiritually, intellectually, and morally, then the light will be extinguished. Then close the doors of the seminary, and write over them: Ichabod—the glory has departed. And the Protestant Reformed Churches will have no reason to exist.
So vital is this work.
So crucial it is, then, that you pray for us.