Monday, May 07, 2007

Tom Nettles will stay at Southern

On April 23 I announced that the elders of Grace Baptist Church were recommending Dr. Tom Nettles to the church as a candidate for Associate Pastor. After months of serious prayer and consideration, we and Dr. Nettles believed that the Lord had led us to this point and could well be leading us to unite in pastoral ministry in Grace. Tom and his wife, Margaret, visited with the Grace family over the past weekend and Lord's Day. Just prior to last night's final worship service, He informed me that the Lord had convinced him that he should withdraw his name from consideration and should return to his teaching responsibilities at Southern Seminary.

I informed our church during the evening service and Dr. Nettles spoke with heartwarming humility and transparency about how he had come to this unexpected and abrupt change of heart. He spoke of a renewed sense of call and a burden of stewardship to the opportunities the Lord has given him in teaching seminary students. Needless to say, we were all deeply saddened as we considered that the future we had anticipated was not to be. Nevertheless, we could not help but rejoice in the Lord's goodness in leading in such a clear way. That has been our prayer from the beginning--that the Lord would direct us to do His will. Though He has done so in a way that we did not expect and which we would not have chosen, He has unmistakably done so, and He is to be praised.

There are many lessons to be learned through all of this and we hope not to miss any of them. We will keep our time of congregational meeting on Wednesday night, but will now turn that into a season of biblical reflection and prayer. We will also keep the appointed day of prayer and fasting on Friday, but now, instead of seeking the Lord's guidance about issuing a call to Tom Nettles, we will be seeking His guidance and spiritual provision for our immediate future. We plan to end that day with a baptism at the beach.

James clearly instructs us that we should only make our plans with a humility that remembers, "if the Lord wills" (James 4:15). The last 4 days have provided a very poignant reminder of that truth. The Lord is good in all His ways. The cross of Jesus Christ stands as an eternal testimony to that fact. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).

On behalf of Grace Baptist Church and the Nettles, thank you for your prayers. We believe that the Lord has heard and answered. I am excited about Tom's future ministry at Southern. If the Lord grants him life and strength, I believe that his best, most productive days are in front of him. The counsel that I have given to students at Southern for the last 10 years remains the same: take every course that you can from Tom Nettles. He will help you understand the Gospel both in its nature and in the way that it works.

On a lighter note, this announcement will hopefully regain me some friends and slow down the "dislike mail" (it really didn't rise to the level of "hate," but some of them flirted with the edges of "perturbed") from students and others who were lamenting the thought of Tom not being around to teach at the seminary any longer. I fully understood their sentiments and rejoice with them at the Lord's leading. The kingdom of God is certainly far greater than any single church or school. The events that have transpired will, I believe, serve the cause of that kingdom very well for years to come.


scripturesearcher said...

God's will be done in the lives of all of us!

GUNNY said...

Whew! That was close.

So ... does that mean you still have an opening to fill?

; - )

Tough to follow that candidate, however! said...

This has to be a tough spiritual/emotional ride for everyone at Grace and the Nettles. Praise God for his sovereignty and his gracious care of us all. We are continuing to pray for you all.

jeff said...

Tom and Tom:

As much of a heart wrenching decisions as this must have been for one and all, I believe this is the right thing for Doc to do. His gifts and calling have been well demonstrated over the years and his voice is one that future leaders in the SBC need to hear!

Warms regards,

Jeff Straub

Caddiechaplain said...

2 Toms,
God's will is to be understood not by sensless or rash methods but by careful thought!(Eph. 5:15-17) There was nothing senseless or rash in the process you both exercised. This process you just went through is a testimony of how God's Holy Spirit can and will answer our prayers as we diligently seek Him with our whole hearts.
Thank you both for your love for our Savior, His Church, and the World.

Timmy Brister said...

I recall last week Dr. Nettles saying that this was not a done deal and earnestly requesting prayer in this matter. The result of this tells me a couple of things which I find incredibly encouraging.

1. While everyone else was presumptuous, you were not. Such an opportunity could easily have been denied the prayer and sensitivity to the Lord's leading, but this is evidently not the case. Thank you for showing us humility and kingdom focus in your decision making.

2. As close as Tom and Tom are, they are no where as close to each other as they are to the Lord who directs their steps. I don't know if I were given an opportunity to minister alongside a lifelong friend and brother in Christ, I could turn it down. Yet this shows that your allegiance to Christ and desire to obey Him trumps all things, even the closest of ties. This will certainly serve as a lesson for me as I seek God's leading in the future, especially about seeking His kingdom first above all things.

Allowing us to pray and observe how recent weeks has been indeed a roller coaster ride, but it also been a sober reminder that God has a plan which he reveals to us not in a popular opinion poll but in the prayer closet where only One counts. God bless you, Grace Baptist, and Dr. Nettles for seeking His face.


M. Jay Bennett said...

Though I'm sure Grace is saddened that Dr. Nettles withdrew his name, I am glad he decided to stay at Southern. His Calvinistic influence is badly needed among SBC future pastors. Though i never have sat under his teaching, his book By His Grace and for His Glory made an impression upon me as a young Calvinistic Baptist prior to seminary.

One Salient Oversight said...

I'll do it. I'm not Baptist and I live in Australia... ;)

PFK57 said...

So what exactly did you do to "CharlesBob" at the so called "Calvinist Flyswatter"?He/they are gloating how Tom struck out.

J.D. Rector said...

There is no greater joy in this earthly ministry than to know that you are in God's will and submitting to His gracious will.

The apostle Paul admonished us that whatever we do, we are to glorify God. Grace and Dr. Nettles are to be commended for honoring and glorifying God with their lives and decisions!

wgmoore55 said...

I, too, am happy for pastors and prospective pastors to have the opportunity to study under Dr. Nettles. May God be pleased to give him many more years in the classroom.