Over 150 students graduated from the College at Southeastern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) on Dec. 13. The ceremony was hosted in Binkley Chapel and was filled with a buzz of Christmas cheer as SEBTS graduates, students, faculty, staff and friends gathered to celebrate the occasion.
One hundred and thirty students received their master’s or doctoral degrees, and 25 students graduated with associate or bachelor’s degrees. The graduates are from 19 states across America and five international countries.
Mark Liederbach, dean of students at SEBTS, described the ceremony as a time of thanksgiving to God for the graduates, their families and friends. “Today is a day of recognition, celebration and worship,” he said. The worship time included the singing of popular Christmas carols.
The aim of Southeastern’s training is to “equip students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission” (Matt. 28:18-20). Students completed difficult coursework and had the chance to enjoy the reward of their efforts.
Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern, gave the charge to the graduates. He began by honoring the graduates and their supporters. “Apart from these folks behind you this would not have happened,” Akin said. “In a real sense they are graduating with you today.”
Akin challenged the audience to live a bold life for Jesus. He spoke about the recent death of Ronnie Smith, a Christian, who lived in Libya with his wife and son where he taught chemistry.
Akin quoted John Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, who wrote about Smith’s testimony. “The whole point of Ronnie’s life is that there is something worse than death. So he was willing to risk his own life to rescue others from something far worse. … Finally, I call thousands of you to take Ronnie’s place. They will not kill us fast enough. Let the replacements flood the world.”
Throughout Akin’s message, he focused on the passage of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).
“Everyone here this morning is the object of God’s love,” he said. “Because this verse [John 3:16] is at the very heart of the Scriptures, we must take this good news to our neighbors and to the nations.”
Akin stated that as the object of Christ’s saving love, others should be inspired to share God’s love with every tribe, tongue and nation (Rev. 7:9). Out of the 16,819 people groups in the world, 7,296 people groups are unreached and therefore 4.7 billion people do not have adequate access to the Gospel. “I believe that our God finds that unacceptable,” Akin said. “They are part of the object of His concern, if He cares about them, then we should care about them too.”
He encouraged the audience to not allow the opportunity to pass by to know Jesus and accept His gift of eternal life.
“I pray that we will be reminded again and again that God is the only Father who brought a Son into the world for the only purpose of dying,” Akin said. “When God gave His Son, He gave His best, and He gave His best to die.”
To view photos from graduation, please click here.
To watch to listen to this message online, please click here.
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.