Fall 2014 Graduation at Southeastern: To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain.
January 19, 2017
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern celebrated the graduation of 160 students on Dec. 12.
Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern, gave the commencement address titled “The Ultimate Win-Win Scenario.”
“The Lord is now sending you out to serve across North America and around the world, to take the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who desperately need to hear it,” Akin said. “We are very proud of you and thankful for you.”
His charge to the graduates was based on the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Akin said this is one of his life verses that has guided him throughout his Christian life.
Akin related this verse to the four Iraqi children who were recently beheaded for refusing to deny their faith in Jesus.
“Either we believe [Phil. 1:21] or we don’t,” Akin said. “Evidently these four children did.”
Paul was in prison because of his faith when he wrote his letter to the Philippians. “Released or executed, for those who follow Jesus, we indeed are in the ultimate win-win scenario,” Akin emphasized.
“If any words of Scripture could accompany you wherever God sends you and in whatever it is God wants to do through you … it would be these verses,” he said.
Akin’s hope for the graduates is that “you indeed would be able to grasp with great faith for me to live is all about Christ … and to die is simply more of Jesus.”
Akin highlighted two charges from the passage, “there is a life worth living” and “a death worth dying.”
He believes the Christian life is deeply personal, practical, purposeful and powerful. “Other things no longer dominate my life,” Akin explained. “I live to serve Christ. There is no aspect of my life that is off limits to him.”
Akin spoke about the inevitability of death stated in Hebrews 9:27. “There is nobody that is going to cheat death,” he said. “Death comes whether you are ready or not. For the Christian you can be ready.”
Akin quoted a letter from Karen Watson, a Southeastern graduate from California, who died on the mission field in Iraq in 2004. He said she was “a sister who really did believe that to live is Christ and was equally confident that to die is gain.”
Watson left a letter with her pastor to be read at her funeral if she were to die on the mission field. “To obey was my objective, to suffer was expected, his glory was my reward, his glory is my reward,” she wrote. “There is no joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving Him.”
Akin concluded, “It may indeed be God’s design and his plan that your life will be a short one, that your life will end by the world’s perspective prematurely, perhaps even unjustly and no doubt some would even say unwisely.”
“Why were they in that dangerous place?” he said. “There is only one answer … Jesus is worth the risk … the sacrifice… everything. As you leave here it is my prayer that everything will be on the table for Jesus.”
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