by T. Patrick Hudson
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated its 56th commencement exercises on Dec. 12. The event was highlighted by seminary president Jason Allen’s keynote address and the honoring of longtime faculty member Jim Anderson.
Speaking to 59 graduates, their families and friends, Allen opened the service with a Gospel presentation, and then added, “It is our prayer and ambition that this service would so bear witness to our Lord Jesus Christ that you would be stirred in your interest to become a follower of Christ. All that we do here, and all that you will see in this hour, is rooted in our unshakable belief in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For the Seminary itself,” Allen noted, “it is a day of joyful sobriety and hopeful seriousness as we send forth graduates in the name of Christ to serve his cause, advance his kingdom, strengthen his church, and bring glory to his name.”
Allen’s address was from 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, and focused on the subject, “Ministerial Faithfulness.”
Many churches do not know what to look for in a pastor, Allen said, nor do many ministers know what to look for in themselves.
His exhortation to graduates was to “know what you are to do for the name of Christ;” and that the best measure of one’s ministry is not via the term “ministerial success,” rather by “faithfulness to the Scriptures, the church, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In his first point, Allen said it is imperative that ministers maintain a pure Gospel witness, regardless of the challenges which might arise.
“We are reminded in this passage that Christ’s victory is our victory; his triumph is our triumph; and we march with him conveying the fragrance of the Gospel,” Allen said. “Faithfulness in ministry looks like this — having a pure Gospel witness. It should be recognizable, to those who are being saved, as a winsome, encouraging reminder of the Gospel of Christ. But to those who are perishing, it should be a constant witness to their need of Christ and a constant reminder that they are lost apart from Jesus.”
Secondly, he said maintaining a pure call is vital to faithfulness and triumph in ministry. Reflecting on the Apostle Paul”s words, “Who is adequate for these things?” Allen said, “There is a sense in which none of us in the room is adequate — and Paul is not adequate — because of our fallenness and our human limitations. It is one thing to be adequate and another to be called and qualified. You show up and leave this room today with a sense of call on your life. That is a sacred and precious call. It is not tethered to your adequacy, but it is tethered to your biblical qualification.”
In another moment of counsel to the graduates, Allen said, “Guard your call; keep it pure; cultivate it; kindle afresh that call within you….You were given a particular call to Gospel service. It was entrusted to you and is now to be guarded and stewarded by you. Therefore, “Do not let your gifting take you,” as one writer has said, “where your character will not keep you.””
Allen’s third challenge to the group was to maintain a pure motive.
“In Paul’s day and in our day some 2,000 years later, there are people who enter the context of ministry seeking recompense as their primary concern,” he said. “Satan will work any way he can, and one very real way he works is to get at the material desires we have, to seek to twist our call, and to morph our character to be people driven more by a payday than by declaring Jesus has paid it all.”
Allen concluded saying, “Set your aim to be faithful to your call, faithful to the Gospel, faithful to the Word of God, and faithful to the local church. As you maintain a pure witness, call, and motive, then you will hear what we long to hear one day: “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Following his address, Allen recognized Jim Anderson, who has served Midwestern Seminary and Midwestern Baptist College since 2000 in multiple capacities, including founding dean of the college.
Honoring Anderson, Allen said, “This is one of the finest Christian men I have ever known. He has served here in a number of roles for more than a decade — most especially and consequentially, he served as founding dean of Midwestern Baptist College. Dr. Anderson radiates the Gospel, always being ready to serve. There are so many things he has done abroad and so many things he has done here for us … so we wanted to be able to celebrate him and recognize him on this special occasion.”
In other news from the ceremony, Midwestern Seminary awarded its first master’s of theological studies degree to five recipients, and conferred degrees upon its second and third doctor of philosophy candidates.
T. Patrick Hudson is executive assistant to the president at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com).
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