WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern celebrated the graduation of 160 students Dec. 12 at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
Daniel Akin, Southeastern’s president, spoke on “The Ultimate Win-Win Scenario” in his commencement address.
“The Lord is now sending you out to serve across North America and around the world to take the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who desperately need to hear it,” Akin said. “We are very proud of you and thankful for you.”
Akin drew from the apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21 for his charge to the graduates: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” which he said has been one of his life verses throughout his Christian life.
Akin placed the verse in the context of four Iraqi children who recently had been beheaded for refusing to deny their faith in Jesus.
“Either we believe [Philippians 1:21] or we don’t,” he said. “Evidently these four children did.”
Paul was in prison because of his faith when he wrote his letter to the Philippians. “Released or executed, for those who follow Jesus, we indeed are in the ultimate win-win scenario,” Akin stated.
“If any words of Scripture could accompany you wherever God sends you and in whatever it is God wants to do through you … it would be these,” he said.
Akin’s hope for the graduates is that “you indeed would be able to grasp with great faith ‘for me to live’ is all about Christ … and to die is simply more of Jesus.”
Highlighting two facets of the passage, he noted that “there is a life worth living” and “a death worth dying.”
The Christian life is deeply personal, practical, purposeful and powerful, Akin said. “Other things no longer dominate my life,” he said. “I live to serve Christ. There is no aspect of my life that is off limits to Him.”
Speaking about the inevitability of death, Akin said, “There is nobody that is going to cheat death.” It comes “whether you are ready or not. For the Christian you can be ready.”
Akin quoted a letter from Karen Watson, a Southeastern graduate from California, who died on the mission field in Iraq in 2004. He said she was “a sister who really did believe that to live is Christ and was equally confident that to die is gain.”
Watson left a letter with her pastor to be read at her funeral if she were to die on the mission field. “To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, His glory was my reward, His glory is my reward,” she wrote. “There is no joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him.”
Akin concluded, “It may indeed be God’s design and His plan that your life will be a short one, that your life will end by the world’s perspective prematurely, perhaps even unjustly and no doubt some would even say unwisely.
“Why were they in that dangerous place?” some might ask. “There is only one answer…. Jesus is worth the risk … the sacrifice … everything,” Akin said. “As you leave here, it is my prayer that everything will be on the table for Jesus.”