LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – Though a time may come when they are tempted to wonder how much good they’re doing in Gospel ministry, everything faithful ministers do for Christ will impact both time and eternity, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler told graduates Friday afternoon (May 7) during the seminary’s spring commencement.
In the school’s 227th commencement, 241 students received degrees. There were 325 total graduates for spring semester, with 241 walking across the stage to receive their diplomas in Southern’s first in-person graduation ceremony since December of 2019. From the class of 2020, which was unable to hold a live commencement service due to the pandemic, 167 returned to walk with the class of 2021.
In total, Southern and Boyce College – the seminary’s undergraduate school – sent out 593 graduates, including those from 2020.
In his commencement address from Ephesians 1:15-23, Mohler encouraged seminary graduates to take an eternal perspective into ministry.
“As ministers of the Gospel, there’s going to be some moments you don’t expect,” Mohler said. “Perhaps in a moment of urgency or a moment of exhaustion, perhaps at the end of the day when you’re ready to close your eyes, you’re going to wonder if all of this really makes that much of a difference.
“Don’t do a reality check in the mirror – it won’t go well. Do a reality check in this: the Father has given to the Lord Jesus Christ all rule and authority and power and dominion and a name that is above every name – not only this age, but also in the age to come. You recognize that the Christian ministry is the only work to which human beings can be called that is consequential, not only in this age, but also in the age to come.”
Graduates investing their lives in support of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is never wasted, Mohler said, because God’s work echoes into eternity in ways perhaps never visible on earth.
“You recognize that what you do in investing your life in faithful ministry is not just going to show up in faithful churches and in acts of Christian faithfulness,” he said. “It’s not just going to show up in the rightful knowledge of the Christian faith or in the knowledge of Scripture; it’s going to show up not only in this age, but also in the age of come.
“Indeed, it will only be fully visible in the age to come. And here’s the good news: Nothing that is done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and according to His power can ever be lost, it can only be multiplied, and it will only be on that day when we see that picture so much infinitely larger than this picture that we will know what this picture means.”
The Class of 2021 will never again meet together in this life in precisely these circumstances, Mohler said. Though faculty and friends will miss the newly minted SBTS alumni, they didn’t come to seminary to stay.
“There is tremendous joy as we see you now graduate, but there’s also a sense of loss,” he said. “The loss is because we have come to know you, and we have come to love you. Now, you go, and that’s the way it’s been since 1860. We bid you come, but we cannot keep you. That’s not why this school was established. That’s not why Southern Baptists and Bible-believing Christians make certain that this school endures and is faithful to the Word of God and to its mission.
“We don’t get to keep you because God has plans for you, and it’s that very plan that brought you here. It’s His calling that brought you here, and it’s His calling that will take you from here. And this is humbling to recognize: This lawn is filled with specific human beings gathered together, and we will never see this picture again. But that’s OK, because in another sense we will—but it will be a far bigger picture beyond our imagination.”
Boyce College confers 125 degrees
In the 23rd commencement of Boyce College held Friday morning, 158 graduated, 125 walked and 60 graduates from 2020 also participated in the live ceremony which did not take place last year due to the pandemic.
In his charge to the graduates from Ephesians 6 on the full armor of God, Mohler said those going out from the college are not entering into a world at peace. Graduates are being sent into a fallen world, a world embroiled in intense spiritual warfare.
“We are handing you over to a fight,” he said. “There is no physical armor adequate for the protection we need against the authorities, the cosmic powers, the powers of this present darkness. There’s no physical armor that will come close to being adequate.
“But all that we need is given to us by God described here (Ephesians 6) by the apostle Paul in the different pieces of armor. We are to ‘stand therefore,’ and that is the ultimate command: we are to be strong in the Lord and it will be demonstrated by the fact that we stand. Faithfulness is in standing and unfaithfulness is in falling.”
Boyce graduates go out into the war armed with a single weapon that will be enough for them to remain faithful to Jesus Christ, he said. Mohler challenged them to be conduits of truth in the face of a culture filled with falsehood.
“We are told that we are to put on the belt of truth and fasten it,” he said. “At Boyce College, our first task is to teach the truth, and not just any truth – the revealed truth of the Word of God. The great doctrines, the great theological principles, the great truths, the great moral teachings of Scripture and the skill of learning Scripture – all these things have been invested in you because this is where Christian faithfulness starts.
“This is how Christian faithfulness will be channeled through you to members of churches, to Christians young and old. Wherever you serve and however you serve, you will become conduits of truth to others. Fasten that belt tightly.”
T.J. Betts, professor of Old Testament interpretation, 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 more than three decades and died in 2002.
David DeKlavon, who served as associate professor of New Testament interpretation at Boyce from 1997 to 2020, received the Charles W. Draper Faculty Award. The annual award is named in honor of longtime Boyce professor Charles W. Draper, who died in 2017 after many years of faithful service on the Boyce faculty.