I wanted additional theological training to equip me to serve Christ and His Church more effectively and faithfully. I had obtained a B.A. in religion from a liberal Presbyterian college in Washington State and wanted to get better grounded in teaching that was faithful to the Word of God.
Prior to selecting RTS-Orlando, I had been accepted at another seminary closer to our home in Spokane, Washington and had decided to attend there. However, when I received mailings from both institutions regarding summer class offerings, my wife and I decided that RTS would be the place for us. While class offerings at the other institution included, “Images of Christ in modern drama,” classes at RTS included, “The Theology of John Calvin,” and grounding in biblical theology. Who wouldn’t choose the latter? We loaded up all our earthly belongings in a moving truck and drove about 3,000 miles from Spokane to Orlando.
I was eager to learn and eager to grow. However, I knew that a man’s companions affect his character. When my wife and I were endeavoring to choose between the two schools, I knew that I wanted to be in a community of students and professors who joyfully submitted to the Word of God and who wanted to understand it and apply it rather than explain it away. I wanted to know that my professors loved the Word of God so that even if I disagreed with them (which I did quite a few times during my tenure at RTS!), I would know that we disagreed because of our shared loyalty to the text and not because we had two different standards of authority. I had spent three years battling many of my teachers at the liberal Presbyterian college on precisely this issue. Scripture was not their ultimate authority. I knew that I needed to go to a school where I would get trained by men who were unashamed to confess the Scripture as truth. I discovered I was in the right place my first week of classes. The teaching from the professors was top notch, the camaraderie with fellow students was encouraging, and the reading material edifying. My seminary education at RTS was invaluable. RTS helped hone my exegetical skills and channel my zeal in a profitable direction. I had zeal before I enrolled; that zeal was tempered with wisdom after graduating. RTS also trained me to read the biblical text carefully and to apply it faithfully. In particular, it trained me to be a man in submission – in submission to God and His Word first and foremost, but also in joyful submission to the historic creeds and confessions as well as to my local church elders. This has reaped tremendous fruit over the years.
As one example, the church where I now serve as pastor was planted over my objections. I served as an elder at our mother church and argued against planting this church. I was the lone no vote, however, and the church was planted. Though my counsel had not won the day, I responded in faith to God’s work through the elder board. I had been trained to trust God’s work through these men.
In Providential irony, the next year I was called to serve as the pastor of the church plant I had opposed. And over the last eleven years, the Lord has revealed the wisdom of those elders who voted contrary to me. The Lord has grown the congregation here and we now have two thriving Reformed congregations in the area rather than one. The wisdom I learned from the men at RTS, to live in joyful submission to God, to my fathers in the faith, and to my elders, paved the way for a great harvest.