LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Ministers who reject the exclusivity of the Gospel lack the urgency needed for evangelism, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said at the school’s fall graduation Dec. 14.
It was Southern’s 188th commencement, but the first since the events of Sept. 11. Referring to that day, Mohler noted that while the world has changed some in recent months, the Christian Gospel has remained constant.
One unchanging doctrine of that message, Mohler said, is the exclusivity of the Gospel — that is, the belief that faith in Christ, and Christ alone, is the only way to salvation.
“It’s sad to say that there are many who do not believe that that is central to the Gospel,” Mohler told the more than 100 graduates. “The Lord Jesus Himself declared that He is the way, the truth and the life. ‘No man comes to the Father but by Me,’ said the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The consequences of rejecting the Gospel’s exclusivity are enormous, Mohler added.
“If you reject this logic,” he said, “then you will not send, you will not go, you will not preach, you will not declare the promise, you will not set forth the Gospel, you will not warn of hell, you will not offer the assured promise of heaven and you will not preach Christ.”
Future ministers, Mohler warned, must not travel the path of those who have abandoned the doctrine of exclusivity.
“You do not have to look very far to see the awful cost of abandoning this Gospel — empty churches where no Gospel is preached, dying denominations from which no missionaries are sent (and) theological institutions where the dust of death has replaced the training of authentic ministers of the Gospel,” he said.
Preaching from Romans 10:8-15, Mohler said the preacher is central to the spreading of the Gospel. Mohler quoted the Apostle Paul, who asked, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent?”
Mohler said that Paul’s argument can be reduced to a simple logic: “no faith without belief, no belief without hearing, no hearing without preaching, no preaching without sending.”
Despite it’s simplicity, Paul’s argument is not understood by many people Mohler said.
“It is a logic that is lost on those who do not believe that men and women are sinners under the just verdict of God’s wrath,” he said. “If you believe that human beings are something other than sinners facing the assured wrath and judgment of God, (then) there will be no urgency in the preaching of the Gospel.”
Another Christian doctrine — the bodily resurrection of Christ — is central to the Christian faith, Mohler said, pointing to Romans 10:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
“We should note here the centrality and irreducibility of belief in the resurrection,” he said. “… There are some denominations, some institutions, some preachers who will say that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is a doctrinal non-essential (and that) it can be reformulated to be more in keeping with modern metaphysics and the postmodern mind.
“Without the resurrection, there is no ground of hope. Without the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, there is no salvation. And without believing in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, we are not saved.”
Mohler said that ministers should have the sense of urgency that 17th-century preacher Richard Baxter had when he said: “I preach as never I shall preach again. I preach as a dying man to dying men.”
“Most Americans have no notion of the wrath that is to come, nor of their clear and present danger,” he said. “They are at ease here. They may have been jolted out of some complacency by the events of 9-11, but their concerns are far more likely this day for their physical well-being, for our national security and for their 401K plan. They do not understand the peril in which they truly stand. They do not understand their clear and present danger.”
In preaching the Word of God, ministers must not discriminate against people of different backgrounds, Mohler said. After all, he pointed out, the Scripture says, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
“There are no boundaries of race or ethnicity or nationality or cultural limitation,” he said. “The minister of the Gospel has no right to make a distinction where God declares there is no distinction.”
Commencement addresses can be heard on the seminary’s web page at http://www.sbts.edu/news/audio/comaddress.html
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: GRADUATION and MOHLER SPEAKS.