I believe in getting a good education and in having the proper degrees needed for successful ministry. Among all the degrees which can be conferred upon a person, there are the following: an associates degree, a BA, BS, a MM (Masters of Ministry), MDiv (Masters of Divinity), DD (Doctorate of Divinity), Thd (Doctorate of Theology), and Phd (Doctor of Philosophy). I am sure I have left some out, so I will not labor the point. There are others, I am sure.
But of all the degrees that can be earned, there are two that are the most important. The first is the UPS degree. Every Christian has it and every preacher, pastor, missionary and Christian worker should labor in light of it. A person is not qualified for any ministry in the kingdom of Christ without this degree. It doesn't take much on our part to earn it. In fact, every Christian has earned it. This degree has been conferred on each of us already. It is recorded in the halls of true academia already. What is it?
The UPS degree- "Un Profitable Servant". This degree is conferred based on Luke 17:10: "So likewise, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded of you, then say, 'we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do'." God himself confers this degree upon everyone enrolled in the school of Christ. All of us hold this degree. We have earned it, having finished all the work necessary to be considered a true unprofitable servant, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities thereunto.
Let every Christian and servant of Christ realize that this degree has been conferred on us and is hanging on the wall of our lives already. It follows after every use of our name in everything we do. It marks every sermon, every good work, every labor of love, and every effort we make in life. Having done all, in the end, that degree expresses everything about our accomplishments. So see yourself as John Doe, UPS.
Then there is a second degree which we are working on-- or at least we should be. It is the highest, most desirable of all degrees. There is no accomplishment beyond the earning of this highest achievement of learning and knowledge. It is a degree program that every of one us ought to be motivated to earn. We should be working on this one day and night. It will be a great day when this degree is conferred on us. And it ought to be desired and expected with real anticipation.
The second degree is the famous and prestigious WD degree - "Well Done, thou good and faithful servant-- enter thou into the joy of your Lord." - Matthew 25:21
Are you working on your second degree, now that you already have your first one? Labor hard; the course work is extensive but nothing is more satisfying.
The thought strikes me this morning with fresh reality-- If every Christian and every preacher walked in light of the first degree they have already earned- the UPS degree, and if they then realized there is no higher degree that can be ever earned than the WD degree, we would have a much more educated and wise ministry and a much improved class of students in the kingdom of God. If every preacher only had these two degrees, it would be a wonderful thing and we would have a highly educated ministry.
Leonard Ravenhill, when asked where he went to seminary, used to reply: "Bush University." When people said, "Oh, I've never heard of that one- who else went there that I would have heard of?", Ravenhill said, "Moses."
That's the university we should all graduate from.
By the way, there is another degree mentioned for a few men, which is not for anyone else. It is for deacons in the church of Jesus Christ. Christ has a degree for them and they should realize it and rejoice in it, that it can be conferred on them: "For they that have served well as deacons purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 3:13) You deacons-- go after that good standing and great confidence for yourself as a minister of Christ to his people.
These degrees summarize everything that is important in the higher educational system of the kingdom of God. You've earned the first degree. Now work on the second one more.
Warmly yours, increasing in the knowledge of God and his ways, I remain,
- Your fellow UPS scholar with honors, and future WD candidate