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Here Am I: With Joshua Joseph

14 January, 2008

CreedorChaos presents Here Am I, a series of short interviews with a wide variety of people who have received from God an equally wide variety of gifts and callings, about their past, present, and future in the hands of their faithful savior. In this installment Phil talks with student Joshua Joseph just after successfully completing his first semester at Westminster Seminary California.

phil22.jpgPhil:  Congratulations on completing your first semester at Westminster Seminary California! How was it?  

Joshua:  I must admit the education thus far has been very rigorous. Learning two languages at once, plus all the other courses, has been very demanding.  But I’m grateful for my education. I just love the Christ-centered teaching…and the importance the faculty places on their students receiving a scriptural understanding of the Gospel. 

P:  That reminds me of the conversation we had when we first met. A couple months ago we Joshua in Bostonwere in the lounge after a game of soccer, and we both shared how we came to Westminster. 

J:  That’s right. 

PWhat you said was encouraging and interesting. Do you remember what it was?

J: I recall telling you that I grew up in your typical contemporary evangelical Christian environment. After my conversion at twelve, I made great effort be a good Christian. Slogans like “What would Jesus do?” became my motto. By the time I was 24, I had done just about everything my church, as well as the popular evangelical Christian literature I was reading, had taught me that pertained to being a good Christian: I prayed and read the Bible everyday, I brought non-Christian friends to church, I volunteered in church and community, I lead Bible studies, I helped the poor in Africa, I won Bible study contests, I obeyed my parents, I got straight A’s, I never smoked or got drunk.       

P: Wow! You did all that? People must have thought you were a “super” Christian.

J:  It’s funny… I remember being complimented for being such the “perfect” Christian by both Christians and non-Christians, but I knew deep inside that I wasn’t. I just played the game well. But deep inside, I knew that I wasn’t ready for Jesus’ second coming. There was a part of me that said I still had to do something more or that I had to eliminate some secret sin in my life so that I could make myself holy enough to face God.

P: So can you tell us some of those secret sins?  Just kidding! 

J:  [Chuckle] I won’t go into detail, but I can tell you this: After being lauded the perfect Christian, I did go through – what they call – a “backslide” period. During this stint, I started behaving much like my heathen friends. This was an eye-opening experience for me because I realized how much of a hypocrite I was: In my “What would Jesus do” phase, I used to condemn them for their wayward behavior.   

P: What else did you learn during this period?

J: Well, I discovered my arrogance, but most importantly I discovered my utter sinfulness.   

P: Total depravity?

J: That’s right! And with the help of passages like Isaiah 64:6 and Romans 3, I realized that no one is righteous or good. Even on my best day as a Christian, I am but filthy rags in front of a righteous and holy God. What was most shocking was I had more in common with Hitler than with Jesus. 

P: That discovery must have turned your world upside down.

J: Yes, reading the Bible from the stark perspective that I am unrighteous before a holy God, helped me to see the purpose of the law – how it convicts us of our sins and reveals to us our wretched, sinful state. Through the law, we become conscious of our hopelessness and helplessness. We realize that our own efforts are truly futile. The Law then becomes a school master that drives us to Christ.

P: Is this when the Gospel became real to you?

J: Yes, as I continued to delve into scripture, I began to see that only through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness could I have a right standing before a holy and glorious God. I stopped trusting in my “good” works and I started trusting in the righteous and perfect work of Jesus Christ. Through his life, death and resurrection, I am saved. I finally understood the good news of the Gospel.    

P: Well, praise God! So then how did you end up being called to ministry?

J:  I’ve lived in five major cities, and by virtue of moving around I attended over a hundred Christian evangelical churches. In search for that church that faithfully preaches the Gospel, I have discovered that an overwhelming majority of churches are not preaching the Gospel. The message coming from the pulpit tends to be in the genre of prosperity, self-help, and morality. It tears my heart to see so many churchgoers ending the Lord’s Day and entering another week without hearing the message of Christ’s saving work. Through my discovery of the Gospel and through my struggles finding a Gospel-preaching church, I felt the urgency for the Gospel to be proclaimed. Simply, God was calling me to ministry.

P: How did Westminster come into the picture?

J: During my search for a church, I felt like a loner – am I the only one who believes that the Gospel should be preached in its entirety every Sunday? Is there something wrong with me or are there others who feel the same way? So I searched the internet extensively listening to hundreds of sermons and Christian radio programs hoping to find like-minded Christians. In the end, I was ecstatic to find a handful of pastors and radio hosts faithfully preaching the Gospel. I later did a background check of these Christians and found a majority of them were educated at Westminster. And so to make a long story short, I ended up flying half way around the world to Westminster Seminary California in Escondido, CA to pursue an M.Div.  

P: Praise God that through His providence you’re here! Joshua, thanks for your time and may God bless your ministry richly. Any last words to your fellow seminarians and to our readers out there?

J: Preach Christ and preach Him boldly!

  1. Claire Lee permalink
    3 March, 2008 6:33 am

    hi!!! It’s me, Claire
    Joshua! you were still alive??? hhh
    \good that i could hear from ya~
    i’m in the States since last fall w/ my hubby
    for his preparing his study in a seminary(not decided which school to go to yet, thou…)
    (i got married last Spring *^^*)
    Any way i gotta go now and i’ll talk to you soon again!
    Bless you and your study, yeah?!


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