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Patterson to SWBTS grads: Minus God, you’ll fail

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Another graduating class from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Fort Worth and Houston campuses was commissioned to “preach the Word” and “reach the world” during the seminary’s fall commencement service, Dec. 15.

In his commencement address to the 245 college, master’s and doctoral graduates, President Paige Patterson charged each individual entering the ministry to be devout in his walk with God.

Reflecting on the times and culture in which the graduates are being commissioned for ministry, Patterson noted the ever-present need for the Gospel. “I think all of you would agree with me that this world doesn’t need anything as much as it needs a savior,” Patterson said.

He further explained that the world’s leaders attempt to provide solutions, but all fall short and ultimately fail. Patterson reminded graduates that the world wants to know how to find peace. And Christians are charged with sharing with the searching world that the solution is found in knowing the Prince of Peace.

“We have a sin problem in this world that has literally stood it on end,” Patterson said. “We need a savior.”

Patterson then acknowledged that as students at institutions across the United States graduate with their chosen degrees, they will likely be challenged to “go out and do your very best.” To this, Patterson offered a warning.

“I stand before you to admonish you not to do your very best, because it will not work,” Patterson said. Apart from Christ, he explained, best efforts and best intentions in ministry will ultimately end in failure.

“Minus God’s movement in your life, minus God changing the hearts of the people to whom you speak, minus the moving of God to bring revival in the hearts of the people, you will fail,” he continued. “If you are to be successful in your ministry, it will be because all of those efforts have been crowned with a ministry of the Holy Spirit of God.”

Prior to the conferring of degrees and presentation of diplomas, Steve Gaines, Southern Baptist Convention president, offered a prayer of commissioning for those called to share and teach the Word of God at home and around the world.

“Send them out, Lord,” Gaines prayed. “May the world be delightfully different because they have come and they have prepared and now they are ready and they are going out to preach the Word and reach the world.”