Life affords two paths, a contrast between opposite characters and opposite conducts: a path to prosper or a path to perish.
Dr. Ken Fentress, senior pastor of Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Md., told OBU students they must choose between the two paths. He presented his message, which followed the current chapel topic of "The Psalms," as the 2012 fall Hobbs Lecture Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 10 a.m. in Raley Chapel.
Reading from Psalm 1, Fentress said the first half of the Scripture reveals that the person who delights in God's Word will prosper. The second half of the psalm declares that the person who delights in wickedness will perish.
The psalm reveals several factors which determine why a person who delights in God's Word is blessed, Fentress said, beginning with a focus on what such a person avoids. The Scripture details that a prosperous person avoids the counsel of wicked people, avoids the way of sinners and avoids the worldview of mockers.
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"The wisdom of this world is actually antithetical to the counsel of God," Fentress said, quoting support for his point from James 3:15. "Today the counsel of the wicked has become popular among Christians in many different ways. For example, some Christians would rather rely upon lifestyle advice from non-Christian literature than consult the faithful wisdom of God's infallible Word. Some Christians would rather rely on the advice of a non-Christian therapist than consult the wisdom of a mature, faithful pastor or Christian layperson in the local church. Some Christians would rather rely on advice from reality TV than submit to sound, biblical theology."
Fentress said even if a person does not verbally mock God, their lifestyle can trample on the grace of God. He said when a Christian avoids the worldview of mockers, they avoid someone who has disdain for God, someone who disrespects the authority of God or someone who totally disregards anything related to God.
According to Psalm 1, Fentress said, a prosperous person also accepts the Lord's instruction, meditating on it day and night. He asked students how often they personally open the Bible and read God's Word by choice.
A mark of genuine Christian faith, he said, is that a person wants to read and to know the Bible. A Gospel-centered transformation in a person's life is reflected in a desire, delight and devotion to the Word of God. He referred to Psalm 119:97, in which the writer declares his love for God's teaching.
"This is not some holier-than-thou piety, nor is it some sort of a superficial religiosity," Fentress said. "We're talking here that Scripture is speaking about the genuine, transforming power of God's grace in the life of the believer."
He said a person also will prosper because of where he or she is anchored. Psalm 1 presents a comparison, noting a prosperous person is like a tree, planted beside streams of water and bearing fruit. The image reflects a person who is firmly grounded, stable and strong, Fentress said, as well as one who has a source of nourishment resulting in wholeness, holiness and healthiness.
Contrary to the path to prosperity, Fentress reminded students, is the path to doom. He said the Scripture relates the image of wheat chaff which is winnowed from the good grain and, useless, blows away in the instability of the wind.
"If you have disregarded the Word of God and, in so doing, if you have made a mockery of God and trampled upon God's grace, you assign yourself to divine judgment," Fentress said. "For God's grace is evident, and it is clear God has been good to you, even if you have paid no attention."
Fentress challenged students to choose which path they will take: the path of righteousness carved out by God's grace, or the path of the wicked, upon which people perish.
The Herschel H. and Frances J. Hobbs Lectureship in Baptist Faith and Heritage was OBU's first endowed lectureship beginning in the fall of 1980. The Hobbs Lectureship program annually sponsors a lecture at OBU and is one of four OBU lectureships designed to help students grow in their knowledge of Baptist theology, Baptist history and studies of the Bible.