Awash in the decorum and spirit of the Christmas season, the Midwestern Seminary community celebrated the culmination of its students’ hard work, dedication, and perseverance, as the school held its 62nd commencement exercises on Dec. 9.
President Jason Allen delivered the keynote address and 135 students were conferred degrees as the next generation of pastors, missionaries and ministry leaders were ushered into Kingdom service.
Allen challenged graduates predominantly from Romans 1:16-17 to never take the gospel for granted. After all, he said, the gospel had been the focus of their studies for an extended period of time, and they would now go forth and employ it into their various ministry contexts.
From the passage, Allen brought three exhortations to graduates: to speak the gospel boldly, to expect the gospel to work powerfully, and to embrace the gospel personally.
In verse 16, the apostle Paul states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” Allen noted that ultimately Paul is saying, “I feel no shame through my public affiliation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Allen noted that for all of the faithfulness Paul put into proclaiming the gospel, it netted him beatings, imprisonment, being mocked and laughed at, and eventual execution. Yet, through it all, Paul remained faithful and ambitious – desiring to give both Greeks and barbarians the things he’s gained from his trust in the gospel.
“He is the recipient of the abundant grace of God, the abundant mercies of Christ,” Allen said. “It has changed his life. He has experienced forgiveness, liberation from the bondage of sin. Thus, he is eager to go about preaching and speaking the gospel. Nay, more than eager, he is indebted to his lost neighbors to do just that.”
Allen urged graduates to never forget the grace God has imparted to us in proclaiming the gospel to others.
[quote]“To the extent that we fail to remember all that we have gained through Christ, our own ministerial passion and our own gospel passion will soon wither,” Allen said. “To the extent that we never get over what we have gained in Christ—the forgiveness he has given us, the change of life we have experienced—the more impassioned our ministry for the gospel will be….
“Priority number one, as you walk across the stage today, is to remember your call to a bold embrace, a bold preaching, of the gospel of Christ.”[/quote]
Secondly, Allen expressed that as gospel ministers, we must expect the gospel to work powerfully. Verse 16 goes on to say, “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
He noted that the culture we live in desperately needs to hear the message of the gospel. “Whether you grew up in the buckle of the “Bible Belt” or whether you are speaking of places on the globe that have no access to the gospel, these peoples need the message of Christ for salvation…There is salvation for everyone, for everyone, who believes…”
Allen added that the gospel changes people in three essential ways – they are saved from the penalty of their sin; they are saved from the power of sin; and they are saved from the pain and guilt of sin.
“I say to you, if you are in Christ you have been made free and you are free indeed. I say to you that if you are not in Christ, so good is our Savior that he comes to you and frees you—not only from the penalty of such sins, but as you believe in him, from the pain of that sin as well.”
Allen’s final point to the audience was to embrace the gospel personally, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed.
He explained that a person must have a completely righteous life to gain heaven, and it is obvious that we cannot obtain this perfection on our own. However, Allen noted that the best news about one having faith in Christ is that when one accepts the gift of salvation that God so freely gives, it imputes to that person the righteousness of Christ. Each person, however, must accept the gospel personally. No one else can do this for them.
“We preach that message and, as we do brothers and sisters, we preach good news!”
Concluding, Allen called upon all in the audience to accept this message personally.
“Maybe today is the day that God has found you,” Allen said. “Maybe he has you here not to celebrate someone walking across the stage, but to celebrate something much greater – you giving your life to Jesus Christ.”
To view Allen’s commencement address, click here.