In the same spirit and celebratory atmosphere of the Christmas season, the Midwestern Seminary community celebrated the culmination of its students’ hard work, dedication, and perseverance, as the school held its 64th commencement exercises on Dec. 7.
One hundred sixty-seven students were conferred degrees and began their ministry service as the next generation of pastors, missionaries and ministry leaders.
President Jason Allen delivered the graduation address, and in doing so he challenged the graduates from Daniel 3 to be courageous as they carry out their ministry calling.
Referencing the experience of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s trial with Nebuchadnezzar and the fiery furnace, Allen noted, “The moral of this story is not that whenever you find yourself enduring a challenging ministry place or a culture bent on persecution, that you personally will be delivered. The story is that Christ, who shows up here in preincarnate fashion, will be there with you.”
Allen outlined from the passage that these men underwent a great test, exhibited great trust in God, and experienced a great triumph over this situation.
First, these men certainly experienced a great test. In light of the pressure from King Nebuchadnezzar to worship the idol or die, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood by their faith in Yahweh, the true and living God. They disregarded the decree at the peril of their very lives.
Similarly, Allen explained that there may be times in our modern culture when we will be influenced to go with the societal flow.
“Our culture in the 21st Century increasingly demands that we forego Christian conviction and we get ourselves in line with the spirit of this age,” Allen said. “That we dispense with any exclusive truth claims, and that we get along and go along, lest we be found on the wrong side of a culture that makes such weighty demands.”
Allen exhorted the graduates to be aware of these influences, but to stand firmly on our faith in Christ in their midst.
Secondly, Allen explained that in this passage, we find these men exhibited great trust in God to carry them through the trial.
This trust enabled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to face the mighty monarch and let him know that there is One greater than Nebuchadnezzar; and that they would live and die for the Lord their God, no matter what was mandated by this earthly king.
However, these three make no claims of what God will do by way of their own temporal deliverance because they are certain of what God has done for their eternal deliverance.
This, Allen noted, is as true today as it was then, and believers in modern times can have just as much trust for God to see them through their fiery trials.
Allen’s final point was to indicate the great triumph these men had over their situation. While the men were not spared from having to endure the furnace, Christ endured it with them.
“Clearly, we are seeing here a Christophany, a preincarnate occurrence of Christ,” Allen said. “He is there with these three; he is there for these three; he is there delivering these three.
“There is a danger in this story merely to conclude that the remarkable turn of events is that these three came out (of the fiery furnace). The remarkable turn of events is that One went in.”
Concluding, Allen called upon graduates to show the same courage and reliance upon God that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did.
“Know in your fiery furnaces—whether it be a culture that presses in on you and the religious liberty in your station of service, or it be cantankerous church members or whomever would seek to do you harm—be men and women of courage who are trusting in Christ and have the settled courage and confidence these three men in Daniel 3 exhibited.”
To view Allen’s commencement address, visit www.mbts.edu/fall18graduation.