Dr. Daniel Fuller was my mentor at Fuller Seminary, and has been a lifelong friend since then. Occasionally on these pages I will submit “reprints” of articles he wrote between 30 & 40 years ago. I trust you will find these as encouraging to your faith as I have to mine. Here’s the first …
Dr. David Hubbard preached on The Joyful Sound for three years, and with thousands of you I rejoice in his God-given ministry of faithfully preaching the Word to the blessing of so many. Indeed, there are still some letters that come in asking me why I didn’t carry on the preaching after my father died. The answer is that God made it clear to me that my ministry was not preaching on a popular level, but rather training people, and especially future ministers of the gospel, in how to interpret the Bible accurately.
I became a teacher of “hermeneutics” at Fuller Theological Seminary. “Hermeneutics” is the term to denote the science of biblical interpretation. Knowing how to interpret the bible correctly is just as important as affirming that it is the verbally inspired Word of God. Asserting that the Bible is true will safeguard the truth of God’s Word only to the extent that we also derive meanings from Scripture which God intended to impart when he inspired holy men of old to write his Word. Obviously it is very important for those who embark on this awesome responsibility of preaching and teaching the Word to understand what is necessarily involved in thinking God’s thoughts after him accurately.
I carried on this ministry of teaching hermeneutics for over twenty years, and I rejoice in God’s blessing in it, especially as former students, now serving all over the world, drop by or write from time to time and tell me hermeneutics is helping them in their present ministries.
None of us has any say in the gifts that God imparts to us for the ministry he wants us to carry out. 1 Corinthians 12:11 says that the Holy Spirit gives a ministry and gifts to each “as he wills.” I had wanted to be an evangelist like my father. I tried very hard to become one, but the Lord never signified any particular blessing in this. Then one day when a professor took sick at Fuller Seminary, I was asked to pinch hit and teach his course. (It was on the Gospel of Mark, and I had written a thesis on that Gospel.) I felt so much more at home teaching than I had trying to be an evangelist. But more important, there was evidence of God’s blessing on me as I taught seminary students how to study the Bible.
God’s ways are as much higher than our ways as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:9), but how wonderful to go God’s way instead of our own. Surely God, who created each of us and knows the beginning and the end of all things—surely he knows better how to make our lives useful and happy than we do. For each of us to carry out God’s particular plan is to do God’s will, which is good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). Therefore, as God leads us to perform the particular work he has for us, we need never fear that we will wind up being square pegs in round holes!
It is amazing how many Christians do not realize that God has a ministry fore each of them to perform. “The same Spirit apportions to each one individually as he wills.” God does not show every Christian what his gift is as soon as he is born again, but in due time the Lord will make this clear. However, we should realize that it’s possible for one to get out of the will of God and not carry out the ministry which the Lord has given. To Archippus, a member of the church atColossae, Paul said, “See that you fulfill the ministry which you have received in the Lord” (Colossians 4:17). Certainly no one in his right mind would want to reject the ministry God had given him for something else. That’s the surest way to be a square peg in a round hole! And how terrible not to carry out the plan that God has for each of us, for surely God, who made us, who is the Lord of the Church and of the harvests, knows far better than we just where each of us fits in.
So, my primary interest is seminary teaching. But as director of The Joyful Sound, I was committed to working along with Dr. Hubbard in every way to keep this radio broadcast going. And I was particularly happy to be editor of the periodical Today’s Christian in which this column appeared for six years. I trust that the Lord used this as one more way in which The Joyful Sound ministered to people.
Daniel P. Fuller