/ Evangelism / Barry York

Springing to Life at RPTS

The following post is sponsored by Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

As I look around the grounds outside Rutherford Hall, the main building that houses RPTS, I see the beauty of the Lord's spring handiwork. The lawn out front is healthily adorned with the emerald green grass. The Japanese Maples in front of the chapel have faithfully burst forth once again with their variety of red, purple, and green hues. The haciendas are full, and also framed with the black mulch Josh and his student workers have dutifully placed around them. Our campus in the midst of Pittsburgh illustrates the earth rejoicing over the life that God the Creator gives us.

The glory of the spring outside Rutherford Hall also reflects what takes place during the final quarter of the academic year at RPTS. For the months of March through May represent a special time in our curriculum. Among several classes, there is a combined effort to bring the lifegiving gospel to those around us.

Our Professor of Systematic Theology, Dr. Rick Gamble, has his students engage in significant apologetic encounters with skeptical friends and family members as an assignment in his course on defending the faith. Students take the presuppositional apologetics they are learning and interact with others on the truths of Christianity. Students regularly share, in the hallways and around the lunch table at RPTS, about inroads they are making with friends in gospel discussions.

The spring quarter is also when we have our yearly class on evangelism. You cannot catch fish by just lecturing about fishing. You must also actually do the hard work of throwing the net in the water. Likewise, adjunct professor Ed Blackwood gave his class a list of activities to choose from that meant they would share Christ with others. They were busy!

Some students knocked on around 200 doors in the neighborhoods around RPTS and had substantial gospel conversations with 53 different people. Eight different investigative Bible studies were hosted by students where twelve unbelievers regularly studied the gospel. Four different "Andrew Dinners" were held, where unbelievers are invited to a meal with a gospel presentation following, and eighteen people came (pictured below is one of these dinners hosted on the front lawn of RPTS and shows Ed preaching the gospel to them). Other activities included fourteen "1-3-5" meetings (where 1 friend is invited to coffee or lunch, is asked 3 questions about his spiritual life, and then the student was given 5 minutes to respond); a number of hours spent doing street evangelism in a nearby Jewish neighborhood with one of our graduates working with Christian Witness to Israel; passing out evangelistic tracts; or creating and sharing an evangelistic video to share on social media. By God's grace, two professions of faith have already been made and others are continuing to interact significantly with the gospel.

In the Biblical Counseling Institute across the street, students were also putting into practice their studies. One class did "role play" as Professor Keith Evans, along with some seasoned assistants, played the part of counselees that students were observed advising and helping. However, other students were involved in "true" counseling cases, as people from local churches, struggling with a variety of issues, are referred to BCI. Students who are seeking licensing through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors then work under Professor Evans' careful tutelage to offer them the wisdom of God's Word.

The springtime is also when RPTS offers two homiletics courses. Newer students take Introduction to Preaching, as they learn how to prepare and proclaim a message. For all but one of these students, this sermon was their first ever - and for the other student this was only the second sermon he had ever preached! In the other class, the students learned how to prepare doctrinal sermons guided by catechism questions. As the homiletics professor, I was most encouraged by the students' efforts in preaching beyond their messages in the RPTS chapel. From California to New Jersey, from online formats to Teen Challenge chapels, from empty pulpits to internships under seasoned pastors, they brought the gospel of Christ near and far.

In each of these endeavors, much prayer undergirds them. For we desire not only for the students to learn to counsel, preach, defend, and evangelize, but be used of God to bring forth life and fruit to others. The psalmist says, "Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth" (Ps. 96:11-13). How I thank the Lord that at RPTS the students are called to bring the joy of the gospel to those around them, and then watch as they spring to life and do just that!

If you would like to learn more about RPTS or apply for classes, visit our website, email our admissions department at apply@rpts.edu, or call us at (412) 731-6000.

Barry York

Barry York

Sinner by Nature - Saved by Grace. Husband of Miriam - Grateful for Privilege. Father of Six - Blessed by God. President of RPTS - Serve with Thankfulness. Author - Hitting the Marks.

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