LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – Seminary graduates must give themselves unreservedly to preaching God’s Word because Scripture is the chosen hammer God puts in the hands of called ministers, one He uses to shatter savingly the hard hearts of sinners, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler told graduates Friday, May 13, at the school’s spring commencement.
Preaching on the call of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah from Jeremiah 23:23-29, Mohler said faithful proclamation of God’s Word is both a hammer and a fire that breaks and burns and transforms the hearts of sinners.
“Just imagine the heat of a million million suns put in your mouth,” Mohler said. “For what is the infinite power of the Word of God? The exhortation of this faculty and my exhortation to you today is give yourselves unreservedly to the ministry of the Word in such a way that the fire the Lord puts in your mouth will come out as fire.
“God’s Word will come forth from your mouths and through your ministries like a hammer that shatters a rock. … God puts words in our mouth and those words are like fire that burn in us. Here is the mandate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: Go set fires. Open your mouth and let fire come out.”
In the seminary’s 229th commencement, 347 students received degrees for the spring semester with 262 walking across the stage on a warm, picture-perfect spring day. Boyce College held its graduation Friday morning, while the seminary’s commencement was held in the afternoon, one Mohler called the warmest ceremony during his presidential tenure. In total, Southern Seminary and Boyce College – the seminary’s undergraduate school – conferred 526 degrees.
Southern’s faculty has faithfully poured the Word into the graduates so they must now go and pour out the Word for years to come in local churches, Mohler said. Because Christ is faithful to His people, the Lord will enable graduates to be faithful to the ministries God gives them. God empowers fragile, fallible humans to proclaim his gospel and works through them to build His church.
“Graduates, we’re about to find out what you’re made of,” he said. “We’re about to find out about your calling. I don’t say that as rebuke, I say that as exhortation in the purest meaning of the word. I know how this story is going to end. By the faithfulness of Christ, He makes His people faithful. And those who will be His faithful servants are led into faithfulness.
“I believe the Lord led you faithfully here as you faithfully answered the call, and I believe what you have received from this faculty is faithfulness channeled into yourselves and your lives and your hearts,” Mohler said. “And I believe He is going to use you as he is already using you to channel faithfulness into the lives of believers, faithfulness into the church, faithfulness onto the mission field, faithfulness into everything you do.”
Ministers who would be true to their calling must preach the Word because only a sovereign work of grace through that Word can do helpless sinners good.
“Our task is to overcome the hardness of the sinful human heart,” he said. “Here’s the bad news: None of us is up to that nor are all of us together up to that. There is nothing we can do to break or to shatter the hardness of an unbelieving heart.
“That which we can’t do, God does. He does it by His Word and that’s our testimony: the hardness of our own hearts had to be shattered by the Word in order that we’d be called to Christ and to salvation, much less have the opportunity to call others as well.”
Mohler pointed out that graduates will never be together again in the same way as they were on Friday afternoon. He exhorted them one final time to go and set loose the fire of God’s Word.
“Sitting here on this warm day on this lawn, you’re never going to sit together like this again,” he said. “Servants of Christ, graduates of Southern Seminary, open your mouth and let the fire come out until you have no breath to breathe. With everything you have, set loose the Word of God to shatter rocks until Jesus comes.”