LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – “What is happening here will determine whether or not persons who have not yet heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ will hear that gospel and believe in Christ and be saved,” said President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. in his opening remarks at the commencement of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary May 12.
A graduation assembly of more than 2,000 people took to the seminary lawn for the seminary’s 231st commencement ceremony. Faculty, family, and friends celebrated as 345 students representing 24 different countries had their degrees conferred, with 259 in attendance and 86 receiving their degrees in absentia.
Surveying the graduates, Mohler said, “The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ produces this. Godly churches produce this. Faithful pastors preaching the Word of God in season and out of season produces this. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit of God that produces this. … More than anything else, this is not a celebration of human achievement. More than anything else, it is just visible evidence of the faithfulness of God.”
Mohler looked to James 5:7-11 to encourage the graduates with the ongoing need for their work as ministers of the Gospel until the Lord returns. He urged them to establish their hearts on Christ as they prepare for decades of ministry and faithfulness to the local church. Christians can be confident that the Lord is coming to establish His kingdom and fulfill all that He has promised, and it is this eschatological frame that is to guide graduates into faithfulness in Christian ministry.
“The exhortation here is that we settle ourselves and establish our hearts knowing that all things in the name of Christ for the Gospel will be fulfilled,” Mohler said.
Faculty looked on as Mohler charged their students to remain steadfast in their Gospel ministry. As the graduates depart, they go prepared by the faculty to proclaim what they vowed in the Graduation Pledge: “We are soldiers of Christ, arrayed in truth, and we commit the length of our days to the service of our Savior.”
Looking at the graduates, Mohler invited those in attendance to consider what he and the faculty see in them. “We see faithfulness channeled into the lives of these servants of Christ captured right in a picture as all sit together on this lawn. This group of graduates is a picture of faithfulness and promise.” In a final charge to the graduates, Mohler said, “So go! Go do what God has called you to do.”
Also at the ceremony, Don Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean of the School of Theology, received the Findley B. and Louvenia Edge Faculty Award, given annually to an outstanding professor on the seminary faculty. Findley B. Edge taught at Southern Seminary for over three decades and died in 2002. Whitney has served on Southern Seminary’s faculty since 2005.