The London Theological Seminary End of Year Service was a grand occasion. Kensit Memorial Chapel was packed to capacity. The great congregation comprised of members of the faculty, students past and present, members of churches with students at the Seminary, friends from Kensit Evangelical Church and supporters from other local fellowships. The service was ably chaired by the affable chairman of the board, Irving Steggles. We began by singing The God of Abraham praise. The congregation certainly had a lot to thank God for. Nine students graduated this year, some from the UK others from as far afield as Madagascar and the Philippines. Each spoke warmly of the the Lord's help in their studies. Clearly, time spent at the Seminary will have a lasting impact of the lives and ministries of these men. That has been the case for this LTS alumni anyway.
Outgoing Principal, Philip Eveson gave his final end of year report. He emphasised that LTS is a theological seminary not a Bible college. The aim of the Seminary is to train men for the Ministry by grounding them in the various theological disciplines; exegetical, biblical, systematic and pastoral. He welcomed the appointment of his successor, Robert Strivens and expressed the hope that under his leadership LTS would continue to grow and develop.
The preacher was Michael Haykin. In his opening remarks, he testified to the help that he had received from the ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, founder of the London Theological Seminary. Like me, Haykin had never heard "the Doctor" in person, but the writings and example of Lloyd-Jones had a huge influence on his life. In beginning his message Haykin quoted the words of Martin Luther,
"I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip and my Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing. The Word did it all."
The preacher argued that the main theme of the Acts of the Apostles is the onward advance of the Word of God. He drew attention to some of Luke's summary statements that bear this out, Acts 6:7. 12:24, 19:20, 28:30-31. Haykin then focused on the example of Apollos in Acts 18:24ff. Apollos was: I. Instructed in the Way of the Lord. II. Taught accurately concerning Jesus. III. Fervent in Spirit. In many ways he was a model gospel preacher. Through the preaching of such men, the Christian message rapidly spread throughout the Roman Empire. Rather than being swayed by the latest trends like the Charismatic movement, or Toronto Blessing, or the Emerging Church, Haykin urged the leaving students to preach the Word. Fads and fashions come and go, but "the word of the Lord endures forever." (1 Peter 1:25).
Appropriately enough, the service closed with the rousing hymn 'We rest on Thee', our Shield and our Defender!, sung as it should be to the tune Finlandia.
After the service we enjoyed a buffet tea on the college lawn. It was good to meet up with some LTS old boys who I had not seen for almost 20 years (I was there from 1988-1990). But the day was not over. Next up came a Thanksgiving Service for the work of Principal, Philip Eveson and his wife Jeniffer. Watch this blog for a report of proceedings.