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God promises to never leave, Akin tells SEBTS grads

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin encouraged 169 new seminary graduates and 30 undergraduates Dec. 7 to trust in the steadfast promise that God will never abandon them.

Akin highlighted two points in his commencement message from Hebrews 13:5. First, he said God is the one who makes this promise. Noting similar Old Testament promises from Deuteronomy 31:6,8 and Joshua 1:5, Akin explained that God has promised to never leave His children in the past nor will He leave His children in the present.

“This is a truth that was real for Old Testament saints; it is a truth that was real for New Testament saints; and it is a truth that is real for you and me today right where we are,” he said.

The all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God of Scripture is not taken by surprise by circumstances that will occur now and in each graduate’s future because He is sovereign, Akin said.

“No matter where you go, He’s already there waiting on you,” he said.

Second, Akin explained how God’s children are the recipients of this promise. In the context of the verse, Akin cited the apostle Paul’s exhortation to live a life free from the love of money and to live a life with contentment, both of which precede the stated promise at the end of Hebrews 13:5. The Christian’s response, he said, should model that of Psalm 118:6 (quoted in Hebrews 13:6), which states, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

“Of course, the answer is he cannot do one thing that your sovereign, loving, heavenly Father does not allow,” Akin said.

Drawing from the Greek, he said the literal translation of Hebrews 13:5 uses a double negative twice to emphasize the promise.

“It’s as if God anticipated that we might have doubt,” Akin said, “and so He doubles up twice to guarantee His promise: ‘I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.'”

“Graduating class, … every one of you that is here today, that promise can also be yours. All you have to do is ask Him,” Akin said, closing the commencement with an invitation for salvation, as he does at each semester’s ceremony.

Photos from Southeastern’s graduation can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/southeastern/sets/72157704544233085/with/45365104475.

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  • Lauren Pratt