Ministers must contend for the true Gospel, Mohler tells grads
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – Christian ministers must preach the one true Gospel in an age saturated with false gospels.
In doing so, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told graduates of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary May 16, ministers will discover the Gospel’s power to transform lives.
The Southern Seminary president made his comments during the 191st commencement of the Southern Baptist Convention’s oldest seminary. More than 200 students representing 36 states and eight foreign countries graduated with either master’s-level or doctorate degrees.
A separate ceremony was held later in the day for more than 70 graduates of the seminary’s undergraduate school, Boyce College.
“Our confidence is that the learning that has taken place here is not merely factual and is not merely accurate and is not merely true,” Mohler told graduates, “but is important and vital and urgently necessary for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ that those who minister...might rightly divide the Word of Truth.”
Preaching from Galatians 1:6-12, Mohler drew a contrast between the true Gospel and false gospels. He noted that this text offers several significant insights for ministers seeking to preach the true Gospel.
Ministers must have the courage to identify false gospels of our day, he said. If ministers do not confront false gospels, confusion will erupt in the church.
“Confusion in the church is always due to a false teaching or at least a false understanding of the Gospel, and a false understating of the Gospel inevitably leads to confusion in the church,” Mohler said.
“Human improvement gospels abound. Health and wealth gospels abound. The gospels of easy believism and no discipleship abound. We face this perpetual problem of false gospels, and thus we must always be on watch and guard the flock of God because false gospels kill.”
In this quest to preach the true Gospel, ministers should beware of false authorities that commonly propagate false gospels, said Mohler. Too often, believers think that a high position or a charismatic personality make one a source of authority.
Seminary graduates, he added, must be particularly careful not to think that an advanced degree in theology grants them special authority.
“I hope you’re proud of the diplomas to be presented today, but that diploma is no mark of authority,” Mohler said.
“The church is more often led astray by those who believe they are professionals than those who humbly understand that we, as earthen vessels, are called to be containers of the Gospel that the glory would be in Christ and not us. There is no professional authority.”
The key question for ministers is ultimately whether they will preach a gospel that pleases men or one that pleases God, he said.
“We will either seek to please God or to please men,” Mohler said. “Our frame of reference will either be the transcendent, eternal, infinite God, who has revealed Himself in Scripture, or our frame of reference will be the human beings to whom we will address ourselves. Whose favor will we seek?”
Quoting 2 Corinthians 2:12, Mohler warned that the temptation to please men will always be present.
“What an urgent warning this is lest we reduce our ministry to man-pleasing. We must have as our horizon to please the One who has called us, the only One who is a judge who can declare His verdict.”
If a minister will preach the true Gospel of God’s unmerited favor upon sinful humans, he will experience its power to save, Mohler said.
“The Gospel isn’t about how clever we are in figuring out what God would have us to do,” he said. “In our blindness, in our deadness, in our dullness, in our hardness of heart, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Paul on the Damascus road and to each one of us who knows Him, not as the one we have sought, but as the one who sought us.
“Only one Gospel saves. The Apostle Paul elsewhere says, ‘Woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel.’ It is because he knew the power of the authentic Gospel and the futility and the deadliness and the poison of the false gospels.”
The Christian minister’s responsibility, said Mohler, is to preach exclusively the Gospel which is revealed in Scripture.
“For if our ministry is established upon an admixture of human wisdom and the wisdom of God, we will soon find ourselves preaching another gospel, and we will soon bear the judgment of anathema from those who know the true Gospel,” he said.
“Graduates, we are bold as a faculty to pray that the Lord would use you as agents of the Gospel, the real Gospel, the authentic Gospel, the Gospel that saves. And graduates, understand that the greatest concern of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is that those who would minister in the name of Christ would preach any other gospel. May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified in His church as His Gospel is proclaimed in power, in authority, and in clarity.”