Pursue faithfulness, not worldly success, says Mohler at Boyce graduation
The good life is the faithful life, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told 150 college graduates at the May 11 commencement ceremony of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The graduates who received diplomas were part of a 170-person graduating class, which is the largest in the history of the school.
Each May across the United States, graduating college students listen to inspiring messages about how successful they can be. They are told they can achieve anything they put their minds to and are encouraged to do something significant. Mohler suggested the Christian gospel — and by extension a student’s education at Boyce — inspires a more mundane kind of achievement: faithfulness.
“Everything, graduates, that you have experienced at Boyce College — every assignment, every class, and every term — has been invested in helping you to hear the words of Jesus and do them,” Mohler said.
Preaching from the parable of the two houses in Matthew 7:24-29, Mohler said the lesson is often misapplied. It is not about careful professional planning or living with a general sense of direction. It is about faithful obedience to Christ, according to Mohler. It represents the Christian life — a life of faithfulness or a life of ruin. The parable flies in the face of worldly wisdom.
“Conventional wisdom says, ‘Trust yourself, build your life, go do something significant, make a big obituary,’” Mohler said. “But Christ said, ‘It all comes down to whether or not you hear these words of mine and obey them.’”
The investment in the lives of college students — from parents to professors — is made so they would hear and obey the words of Jesus, and through their ministries help others to follow suit, Mohler said. As students go into their ministries, they must understand that their lives can be a strong attraction to Christianity for the outside world.
“Some of you will teach and preach the Word faithfully,” Mohler said. “Some of you will be going to teach in schools — public and private, Christian and secular — we pray that wherever you go and to whomever you teach, Christ will be made known through you as you teach with excellence. There will be some going into business, and the Bible makes clear that God made us in order to do things and that God’s glory is also [revealed] in applying energy and expertise to the doing of things that need to be done for the building up of a community. May you do so to God’s glory.”
There are only two outcomes in life, according to Jesus’ parable: a house that stands and a house that falls. The house that stands is a life marked by obedience and faithfulness, and is a powerful testimony to what it means to stand for the truth of the gospel. The house that falls brings shame and reproach to the church, Mohler said.
“We hope and pray that every moment you’ve spent at Boyce College is a lesson that has assisted you to build your house upon the rock,” Mohler said.
Graduates should resolve not to do anything that might compromise the gospel, harm the church, and jeopardize their ministries, said Matthew J. Hall, dean of Boyce College. Christians live in a world infatuated with falsehood, dishonor, vulgarity, ugliness, and wickedness, Hall said. The temptation to compromise personal holiness will be strong, especially in an American church that has been weakened and plagued in its public witness. Such a bleak spiritual landscape requires a realistic perspective.
“Some of you will not make it,” Hall said. “There will come a point — whether months or years from now — where you will see a trail of broken promises, broken hearts, and broken homes. And to be even more pointed: there are some who began with you in this journey at orientation and are not seated with you at graduation because of the reality and the trauma of a world inflicted by sin. Like an infestation, the world, the flesh, and the devil conspire against you to overtake you.
“So I want to give you a word of warning, but also exhortation: By the time the infestation shows up, it’s already too late. A good defense is not enough; you need an offense.”
The Bible offers a lot of vivid wisdom for confronting sin — gouging out eyes, cutting off hands, and putting indwelling sin to death. But the whole counsel of God in Scripture emphasizes that believers who want to fight sin and win must fuel the flames of their love for God, Hall said.
“Don’t be fooled, class of 2018: Holiness and purity will always be scoffed at,” Hall said. “It will never be cool, it will never be politically expedient. It will always be costly. But resolve now to pursue purity in your speech, in your thoughts, and in your conduct.”
During commencement, Mohler also presented the inaugural Charles W. Draper Faculty Award to David Bosch, associate professor of business administration at Boyce College. The award is named in Draper’s honor, who died in June 2017 after nearly 20 years as a professor at Boyce College. Draper was a founding professor of Boyce College when the school relaunched as the fully accredited James P. Boyce College of the Bible in 1998, replacing the non degree-granting Boyce Bible School. Draper served as associate professor of biblical studies before becoming chair of the department of biblical studies in 2013.
Draper’s wife, Retta, was present for the award presentation, along with his brother, James T. Draper, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and former president of LifeWay Christian Resources. Mohler said Draper was “known for his faithfulness and tenacity in the classroom,” along with his deep love for the Scriptures and his students.
Bosch, a Boyce professor since 2015, has extensive professional and academic experience in business administration, having previously worked for Fortune 500 companies in the areas of corporate finance, treasury, strategic planning, and supply chain management and teaching in the business school at Asbury University from 2011 to 2015.
Founded in 1974 as Boyce Bible School, the institution began offering bachelor’s degrees as James P. Boyce College of the Bible in 1998 under Mohler’s leadership. The name was later changed to Boyce College. Students can earn a variety of bachelor’s and associate degrees through numerous programs, including Boyce Online, seminary track, and dual enrollment.
More information about Boyce College is available online at boycecollege.com. Audio and video of the commencement address are available at equip.sbts.edu.