One of the highlights of my year is the annual Sermon Seminar at Austin Graduate School of Theology. For 28 years now the school has brought in preachers and teachers of preachers for three hard days of nuts and bolts study and reflection and application. From text to pulpit. From 9am to 9pm for three days.
Ben Witherington, who’s written the best commentary on Revelation I’ve ever read, worked with us last night on preaching Revelation 4. Just his two hours alone was well worth the price of admission. Gracious! Witherington took us straight to the throne room of God and inspired all of us with the heavenly vision of the eternal worship of our Lord and God. He led us all to understand that the worship of our God is absolutely the most important thing that happens in the world. It’s more important than what happens in downtown Dallas. It’s more important than what happens in Washington, DC. In London. In Tokyo. The worship of God restores the created order, when God’s creatures join all of heaven and earth — the rocks and trees and birds and beasts, the saints who’ve gone before and the ones who are coming after — to give glory and honor and praise to Almighty God. When creation worships the Creator it restores the order. It takes us to the ultimate goal. It’s important. It’s huge.
Salvation is not the goal. The eternal worship of God is the goal. Salvation is the means to that end.
Harold Shank, from Oklahoma Christian, is taking us through Exodus 32-34. Tim Willis, from Pepperdine, is teaching Jeremiah 1-7. And Stan Reid, the president of the school, is doing 1 Peter.
Like so many others, and just as Shane Hines articulated so well during last night’s worship, I come into this place to sit at the feet of some of God’s greatest teachers…and I’m overwhelmed. I’m not even smart enough to get the jokes. I preach a sermon on Exodus — I preach the life out of that thing, I preach it like crazy — and then I come here and realize I don’t know anything about it. I leave the Sermon Seminar and feel like I have to go back to Legacy and repent for every sermon I’ve preached in the previous year.
I’m here with my great friend Jason Reeves, sharing a hotel room and bags and bags of Lay’s Kettle Cooked chips and Carrie-Anne’s hot sauce. I’ve run in to Jim Martin and David Hunter. I’m catching up with all the Austin Grad crowd, including Charlie Johanson and Eric Gayle and Cynthia Agnell. Greg Neil, the preacher at the church in Marble Falls is leading our worship this morning. And I’m hoping to see Todd Lewis here with him.
Preaching God’s Word is an amazing privilege. Hanging out with God’s preachers is inspiring. I don’t belong here. And yet, by the grace of our Lord, I do.
The Legacy Church of Christ is going to benefit greatly from my being here. But not nearly as much as I do.