Southwestern graduates reminded that Christ makes ministry possible
God is able to do the impossible despite difficult ministry situations, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson told a new class of seminary graduates during the school’s fall commencement service at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 9.
During the ceremony, which is traditionally referred to as a “commissioning service,” the seminary conferred degrees on 282 students from 29 states and 12 foreign countries, such as Botswana, South Korea, Ukraine, Brazil, Indonesia, the Cayman Islands, India, Taiwan, Italy, Canada and Malaysia. Twenty-five students received doctoral degrees. Sixteen students received the first undergraduate diplomas awarded by The College at Southwestern.
In light of the holiday season, Patterson employed Micah’s prophecy of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem as the basis for his commencement address. Micah would not have been able to correctly predict Christ’s birth in the small town of Bethlehem without God’s ability “to do the impossible,” he said.
“As you venture forth … to ministries to which God has called you … please go forth knowing that what is impossible for man is totally possible with God,” Patterson said. He warned students that no ministry is easy. However, ministers should trust God in difficult situations, he said.
Patterson also told graduating students to trust in the reliability of God’s word.
“I would remind you today that God’s word is absolutely, 100 percent true. You can trust it when you can trust nothing else. And the evidence of the veracity of God’s word is greater than any evidence I can imagine,” he said. Patterson told students that the Bread of Life entered the world in Bethlehem, literally translated as “the city of bread.”
“So may I commission you today to be preachers of the Bread of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ?” Patterson asked, emphasizing that Christ fulfills humanity’s “deepest hunger.”
Patterson reminded graduates that their ministries will not always be significant by the world’s standards. However, they should look forward to the reward which God will give them, he said. Authority in ministry is based on the calling of God, and God will reward ministers when they stand before him.
Finally, Patterson challenged graduates to remember those who are unimportant to others.
“It is one of the hallmarks of the Christian faith: Jesus always had time for the little children. He always had time for the blind and the lame. He always had time for the sick and afflicted. And he always gave them more than just a message of hope. He gave them ultimate hope in the message of salvation,” Patterson said. He encouraged graduates to follow Christ’s example by looking for those who are loved by no one else in this world.