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‘Christmas mandate’ offered to fall SBTS graduates

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — The mission of seminary graduates is to announce the birth of Christ and the clear truth of salvation, president R. Albert Mohler Jr. told the fall 2014 graduates of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Southern Seminary conferred degrees upon 207 master’s and doctoral students during the 214th commencement exercises in Alumni Memorial Chapel, Dec. 12, in Louisville, Ky.

In an address from Luke 1:67-80 titled “To Give Knowledge of Salvation to His People: A Christmas Mandate for Christian Ministry,” Mohler stressed the significance of the approaching Christmas holiday as an opportunity for graduates to refute a “terminal theological confusion” in churches today.

“The clarity of the Christmas story reminds them that they are to be defenders of the faith, teachers of undiluted truth, guardians of the treasure entrusted to them, heralds of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Mohler said. “They have learned so much in their studies here, and they will learn even more as they teach others.”

Preaching on Zechariah’s prophecy in Luke 1:67-80 concerning John the Baptist’s role as the forerunner of Christ, Mohler likened the task of graduates as “counter-revolutionaries for the kingdom of Christ” to proclaim his birth and salvation.

“Those who will graduate this day will join the faithful line of preachers, missionaries and ministers before them who, like John, gave knowledge of salvation to the people, by declaring the tender mercies of God that promise the forgiveness of sins,” Mohler said.

The “crystallizing simplicity of the Christmas message” stands in stark contrast to the theological confusion existing in pulpits and churches today, Mohler said. He described the sense of urgency with which graduates must proclaim the truth of this Gospel.

“The Christmas story cannot be reduced to a sentimental tale that gives humanity a warm glow,” Mohler said. “This is either the greatest truth ever declared, or it is the saddest lie ever told.”

Examining Luke 1:66, in which the witnesses of John the Baptist’s birth ask what the child will be, Mohler turned the question on the audience. While faculty and family members cannot know how God will use the graduates in ministry, Mohler said, they can know with certainty that “they are to give knowledge of salvation.”

“They have been taught the faith once for all delivered to the saints,”
Mohler said. “They have been skilled in ministry and equipped for mission. They have received their mandate from on high. And now, we watch them go.”

Mohler closed the address with a Gospel call on behalf of the graduates, urging the audience to “know that the baby lain in Bethlehem’s manger is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father, but by Him.”

A complete manuscript of the address, “To Give Knowledge of Salvation to His People: A Christmas Mandate for Christian Ministry,” is available at www.albertmohler.com. Audio and video of Mohler’s address are available at sbts.edu/resources.

    About the Author

  • S. Craig Sanders