The Most Important Directive I Learned in College & Seminary

Last year around this time, I preached a message in Midwestern Chapel that I called ‘The Most Important Diagnosis I Learned in College & Seminary,” which followed by 2019 message, “The Most Important Discovery,” 2018’s “The Most Important Discipline,” and 2017’s The Most Important Doctrine.”

This year, I returned to this theme with “The Most Important Directive I Learned in College & Seminary.” In an age of confusion, this directive has proved (and still proves) to be one freeing and motivating sources of joy and life-giving purpose I have found in living the Christian life—and I hope it might prove to be for many of you as well.

Four years after having sent William Carey to India, the Baptist Missionary Society sent John Fountain to aid Carey and send a report of what he found. Here’s part of his report, dated November 1796:

[Carey] labours in the translation of the Scriptures, and has nearly finished the New Testament, being somewhere around the middle of Revelations. [sic] He keeps the grand end in view, which first induced him to leave his country, and those Christian friends he still dearly loves.[1]

He keeps the grand end in view.

William Carey, a modern missionary pioneer who endured much hardship, persevered in faithfulness and worldwide influence until the age of 73. How did he manage faithfulness in the Christian life in challenging times? As Fountain observed, from his earliest days of missionary activity until the end of his life Carey kept the grand end in view.

So what is this grand end? While it is right to say that the entire Bible points to and reveals the grand end, I believe there is one verse that sums it up well.

In Galatians 3:8, the apostle Paul says, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’”

Here, Paul explains that God has always had the salvation of the nations in mind. From the beginning, he conveyed to Abraham his plan.

Indeed, to be gospel-centered is to recognize that the gospel was intended for Abraham in the Old Testament-past as a forward looking, faith requiring message, revealed with the miraculous advent, perfect law-abiding life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, that we are also to receive now as a backward-looking, faith requiring message, and we are to take that message to the nations of earth.

Until Christ returns, believers in Christ Jesus are are to keep this directive, this grand end—the good news of the gospel for the blessing of all nations—in view and not get distracted or displaced by present troubles.

Using the Apostle Paul’s inspired illumination of God’s plan via Galatians 3:8, I aimed to show:

  1. What is the most important directive I learned in College & Seminary
  2. What do we need to know to understand this directive?
  3. What should we do with this directive?

The most important directive I learned during the years when I was in College & Seminary is that the gospel-centered Christian is, by default, a World Christian, and that changes the trajectory of everything I do in life.

The glorious promise of hope and joy here is that the believer who, like William Carey, keeps the grand end in view will therefore, like Abraham, see one day all the nations and peoples blessed (Gal 3:8) to the glory of God.

To hear the entire message you can watch this recording from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary & Spurgeon College:

[1] “From Mr. Fountain to Mr. Fuller,” November 8, 1796, in Eustace Carey, Memoir of William Carey, D.D. (Jackson and Walford, 1836), 286, italics added.

For an expanded treatment of this topic see also Jason G. Duesing, “The Pastor as Missionary,” in Portraits of a Pastor, Jason K. Allen, ed. (Moody, 2017).