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COMMENCEMENT: Southern Seminary

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. encouraged fall graduates to trust God’s Word and “ground your ministry in the great story of God’s redemption.”

Mohler opened his sermon outlining the story of Charles Jennens and George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah.” Following a brief story about the motivation behind the famous oratorio, he then reflected on the foundation of the work’s arrangement

“Where does this great work begin?” Mohler asked during the Dec. 10 sermon. “How would one go about telling the story of God’s redemptive work? Messiah begins with a text from Isaiah in the great recitative, ‘Comfort Ye,’ drawn from Isaiah 40:1-5.”

Handel wrote the composition, Jennens the lyrics.

“… Jennens began the story of our redemption with this prophecy of Isaiah, believing that it is ultimately fulfilled only in Christ,” he said. “The message of comfort first addressed a future when Judah would suffer under Babylonian captivity, and was eventually fulfilled only in Christ, our Messiah, who rescued his people from captivity to sin and death. The promise of comfort is the promise of salvation, without which there can be no comfort. The good news is that in Christ our warfare is ended, our sins are pardoned, and the glory of the Lord is fully revealed.”

The prophet Isaiah firmly rooted this promise in the declarations of God, and that declaration makes all the difference, Mohler said.

“That one sentence grounds all our hopes — ‘For the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.’ Our knowledge of the Gospel is not based in human speculation, but in the revealed Word of God,” he said. “We have not come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord by means of syllogisms or rational calculus. We did not come to know salvation by induction or deduction, but by revelation. We know the great good news of the Gospel because the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

“Our confidence is full because we have heard God speak, and we receive and trust His Word in all of its dimensions. We live by the Holy Scriptures because we know that they are the written Word of God. We trust in Christ, the incarnate Word, who, from the beginning, was with God and is God.”

Encouraging graduates to trust entirely in the words of God, Mohler concluded his address by calling the next generation of pastors, teachers, missionaries and counselors to offer their lives to the cause of the Gospel.

“May you pour out your lives in service to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the ministry of the Word, and the Church as the bride of Christ,” he said.

“Ground your ministry in the great story of God’s redemption of sinners through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Compiled by the staff of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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