Missions and evangelism remain the church’s task until ‘the end of the age,’ says Mohler at Southern Seminary spring convocation
The church should prioritize the preaching of the gospel, both at home and abroad, until the end of the age, said R. Albert Mohler Jr. at the spring convocation of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on February 4.
“So long as we are here, we have work to do. So long as this age continues, we have a task, a calling, a commission,” said Mohler, who is president of the seminary. “The only reason for this age to continue is that this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed to all nations — to the whole world.”
His address, which was an exposition of Matthew 28:18–20 and titled “To the End of the Age,” noted that there are three distinct ages in human history: the age before Christ, the age after Christ, and the age when Christ will return to inaugurate his kingdom.
This age, the one after Christ, though marked by pain and suffering, is also marked by the good news of the gospel. Scripture makes it clear, Mohler said, that Christ has not yet returned so the gospel may spread further.
“Evangelism and missions aren’t just something we do, they are the only reason why this age continues,” he said.
The church stands at the heart of this commission, according to Mohler. Missionaries must take the gospel to the nations with the goal of forming churches out of new believers. As the people of God wait for the return of Christ, the church is at the center of God’s plan of redemption — a foretaste of what is to come when Christ inaugurates his kingdom.
“The church is the embassy of heaven; the church is the kingdom of Christ, visible as a promise of the kingdom of Christ that will be triumphant,” said Mohler. “Wherever you find true Christian missionaries, you will find true Christian churches.”
The task of the seminary is to cultivate future church leaders — those who will take the gospel to the nations, teaching them all that Christ has commanded — so that they may more faithfully proclaim the gospel, Mohler said. The driving force behind everything done at the seminary — from how professors teach to how students study — is the building up of the next generation of those who would be about the work of this age.
Drawing from the broader context of the Gospel of Matthew, Mohler noted that the proclamation of the gospel is evidence that the end of the age approaches.
“Christ has not come, so we haven’t reached the nations yet,” Mohler said. “The gospel [therefore] is to be preached to all the world.”
The end of this present age, Mohler said, will end in catastrophic destruction. Referencing T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men,” Mohler inverted the classic line, saying that our age will end “not with a whimper, but with a bang.”
“The present age is marked by death pangs, but there’s an age that is coming that will be announced with birth pangs,” he said. “We are waiting for a cosmic redemption.”
Mohler expressed gratitude for the tangible fruit that he sees in the school’s influence over the 26 years since his election as president . Yet he also made it clear that the seminary’s work is only legitimate when it trains men and women to take the gospel to the nations.
“Why are we here at Southern Seminary and Boyce College?” asked Mohler. “The only rationale for the existence of a school like this is that the gospel will be proclaimed to the nations because of what happens here — more effectively, more energetically, more faithfully, and more expansively. Otherwise, there’s no justification whatsoever for the existence of a seminary because this entire age is going to pass away, and if it’s not about the gospel, it’s not going to last.
“Everything that is Christ’s will last.”