WAKE FOREST, NC (December 17, 2010) – One hundred and fifty two students were awarded diplomas by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and its undergraduate school, The College at Southeastern, during the fall commencement exercises on December 17 in Wake Forest, N.C.
Twenty-two students graduated with associate or bachelor’s degrees, while 130 students graduated with master’s or doctoral degrees. The graduates hail from 18 states and five foreign countries.
During the graduation ceremony, Southeastern’s president Daniel Akin gave the address to the gathered friends and family and the charge to the graduates, preaching on the text of what he calls the “greatest verse in the Bible,” John 3:16. The verse is one of the most well-known of all Scripture passages, and Akin said it is because it entails a love story – a divine love story.
Akin broke the verse down phrase-by-phrase, exegeting the text so the magnitude of the love story can be understood.
“This verse teaches us that there was a point in time when God wrote in red blood, ‘I love you,’” Akin said. “This verse will inspire these graduates to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.”
“For God so loved” teaches that the creator of the universe loved with such passion as to act on our behalf. Love, Akin said, is not an abstract idea or an emotion, but rather it is an action where you seek the good of others.
“It’s not about what you can get but about what you can give,” he said. “We give and we love because he gave and he loves. These men and women will go because they have been captivated by this love.”
The recipients of this passionate love is every tribe, every tongue and every nation, as seen in the words, “the world,” in John 3:16.
As of 9:30 a.m. the morning of graduation, Akin – who was citing resources from the International Mission Board and the Joshua Project – said there were still 1.6 billion people of the world’s more than 6 billion inhabitants who have never heard of God and how he loves them.
The proof of God’s love is that he gave his only son – the greatest present and greatest gift. “When God gave his son he gave his best,” Akin said. “And God is the only good father who brought his son into the world with the express purpose that he would die for sinners like you and like me.”
This free gift of salvation is offered through Christ’s work on the cross for all who believe – what Akin calls the greatest invitation.
“He says, ‘Come to me and I will receive you.’ That’s why we go and put our lives on the line, because he says he welcomes all sinners. It says, ‘whosoever’ and that whosoever includes me and you.
“God’s love is sufficient to save the world but efficient to save those who believe,” Akin said. “Believe. It’s such a simple path.”
Akin invited the friends and family members of the graduates to think about the realities of heaven and hell and the choice between the two. It was the desire to tell people about how to rightly choose between the two that motivated the students to train at Southeastern, and it is these same realities that motivate them to pour their lives out in places across the globe now.
In speaking to the graduating students, Akin reminded them to always be ready to tell people about a savior who loves them and died for them.“Please never lose the simplicity of the gospel. It’s not complicated. It’s very clear. Make sure you keep it that simple and clear.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.