Akin charges grads to run the Christian race with endurance

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) President Danny Akin exhorted graduates during the spring commencement address to run the Christian race with endurance to the very end, found in Hebrews 12:1-3. The address commissioned the 263 seminary and college graduates who walked across the stage of SEBTS’s Binkley Chapel to receive their diplomas on May 10.

“If you’re going to run the race well today [and] also finish well, I believe the Bible provides some real insight into how that can be accomplished in your life for your good but, ultimately, for our Lord’s glory,” said SEBTS President Danny Akin. 

Akin provided three ways in which graduates are to live out the Christian faith. 

First, Akin explained that graduates can be encouraged in their pursuit of Christ by looking to examples in Scripture of those who demonstrated great faith, as seen in Hebrews 11. 

Akin spoke about Larry and Jean Elliot, graduates of SEBTS who were killed March 15, 2004 while serving overseas in northern Iraq. Noting their incredible faith and willingness to serve Christ no matter the cost, he charged students to live with that same commitment to Christ. 

“It is my prayer that, like Job, you will say, ‘Though he slay me, I will still praise him,’” said Akin, quoting Job 13:15.  

Second, Akin encouraged graduates to be focused on the essential as they run the race. Drawing from the analogy given in verse one about “laying aside every weight,” Akin explained that while weights in exercise can be used for good, sometimes they are a hindrance. In order to run the race well, the believer must learn to put aside the good desires for the best God has in store. 

“Weights often in ministry are not bad things; they are good things that get in the way of the best things,” said Akin. 

Likewise, the believer must beware of “the sin that so easily ensnares us, found in verse one. Akin noted his belief that this phrase is referencing the sin of unbelief that causes a person to think Jesus plus something else will bring ultimate fulfillment. 

Akin also explained that running with endurance means not only starting well but finishing the Christian race well. 

Referencing verses two and three, Akin noted that, thirdly, believers are to have their focus narrowly fixed on Jesus and nothing and no one else. He reminded graduates that when life and ministry challenge them, Hebrews 12:3 is an encouragement to look to Jesus who endured the ultimate suffering for sinners. 

“He found joy in the cross because he knew it would make a way for you and me to be saved,” said Akin. 

Akin closed his address with an invitation for vistors to place their faith in Christ before the conferring of degrees. 

To view photos of graduation, click here.

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