WAKE FOREST, NC (May 28, 2010) –More than 200 graduates of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern walked across the stage in Binkley Chapel on May 28, receiving degrees in a variety of disciplines.
The 225 graduates, who hail from 22 states and five foreign countries, celebrated their graduation exercises in separate commencement services, one for graduates of The College at Southeastern, an undergraduate school, and one for graduates of Southeastern Seminary. The graduates earned associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
Southeastern president Danny Akin gave the charge to the graduates, teaching out of 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. Briefly looking at other Scripture verses which are often quoted as “key” verses, Akin said the chosen text, which speaks about new life in Christ, should be included, as it is a challenge to the graduates and to all people.
“This verse teaches us that in Jesus, all things can be made new,” he said. “Unfolding these verses reveals a world of biblical truth.
“If anyone – this is all-inclusive and universal – of the 6.8 billion people on the planet is in Christ, they are a new creation. If any one of you is in Christ, you are a new creation.”
Sharing how he came to know the Lord as a 10-year old boy, he said it does not matter your age, your background or what you have done, “it can happen to you. In Christ, there can be a new beginning.”
Calling this the “scandal of particularity,” Akin said it is through Christ alone that we can be given a new beginning. Citing the recent rescinding of the invitation to Franklin Graham to pray at the Pentagon, Akin said, “it is because he unashamedly proclaims that the hope of the world is found in Christ. There is no hope found in Buddha or Mohammed. In Christ alone, you can be a new creation.
“If this isn’t true, you have wasted many years of your life and much money as a student here. If this isn’t true and if many roads lead to heaven, why did God send his son to die? We stand with Jesus when he said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
It was this staunch belief in the exclusivity of Christ that motivated the graduates to accept positions and places of service and ministry that are very difficult, Akin said.
“It’s a spiritual union that changes everything,” he said. “I once was lost, and now I am found. I once was a dead sinner and now I am alive in Christ. That is why these students have come here – because they have hope for a world to hear of the new creation they can be in Christ.”
The graduates will be moving to work in strategic, difficult places around the nation and around the world, because Christ commanded them to, Akin said. He said that with the Lord as our “commander in chief,” we are simply to go and to serve wherever he calls us. “God says, ‘Go,’ and we say, ‘Yes, sir.’”
The glorious message of reconciliation, found in these verses and throughout Scripture, is what compelled the students to study all these years, Akin said, and it is what compelled him to plead with the gathered friends and family to examine their own hearts.
“Some of you here are not in Christ. Today, you are still lost. The message of salvation in Christ is what compels these men and women to go.” Akin said some of the graduates’ lives will be cut short for Christ and for his glory. “This message has changed their lives, and they long to see it change your lives as well.
“My prayer for you, graduates, is that you will serve well and finish well, for the glory of God.”
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.