Faithfulness of Abraham beckons ministers to be “ambassadors of the invisible,” Mohler tells SBTS graduates

Communications Staff — December 12, 2006

Ministers must proclaim the Gospel while trusting, with faith like that of Abraham, that God will keep His promise to build a kingdom, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s 198th graduating class Friday.

Preaching from Hebrews 11:8-19, the seminary president pointed to Abraham as a key biblical witness to the faithfulness of God. More than 140 graduates received degrees during Southern’s fall commencement at Alumni Memorial Chapel. Mohler admonished graduates to follow in the footsteps of Abraham and invest their lives in eternal verities that are invisible to the human eye.

“As we look out into the future and we imagine what God will do through these graduates, we are seeking to see what is now invisible,” Mohler said, “but that does not mean that it is not real. It is more real than that which we can see and that gives us the confidence that brings us here. These graduates are being sent out to be ambassadors of the invisible.”

When God called to Abraham, he was an obscure and elderly man from a little-known city and he did not know where God was calling him to go, Mohler said. Abraham merely believed God and left Ur for an unknown land that God promised to give him. Today’s ministers are called to trust God in the same manner,” Mohler said.

“Some of these graduates think they know where they are going and they may for now,” he said. “Some may not know where they are going and they are in the same position as Abraham. But for all of us, when we look into the future, we do not know where we are going.

“If we could fast-forward into the future and imagine a gathering where all of us are together again and we look backward over the expanse of time to see where these graduates have gone, I am absolutely certain we would be surprised and the most surprised would likely be those who did the going.

“We don’t know where you are going, but we do know who is calling you and we know who is sending you. The one you serve, the one who has called you, does know where you are going and it is a ministry of promise. Someday, when you look back on your ministry, you will see that God had prepared the way for you wherever you went.”

Though Abraham lived a nomadic lifestyle in a tent, Mohler pointed out that Hebrews 11 tells readers that he was looking for a city whose builder was God. By faith Abraham was able to see the invisible city of God as being more real than earthly cities, Mohler said.

Modern ministers must also endure in proclaiming the Gospel by laboring for the city that is not yet visible, the eternal city of God, Mohler said.

The two cities are driven by opposing worldviews, Mohler said, referencing “The City of God,” a classic work written by fourth century church father Augustine of Hippo. The city of man is motivated by self-love and pragmatism, but the priorities in the city of God include love to God and neighbor along with proclamation of the Gospel, Mohler said. Just as Abraham did not confuse the two cities so the contemporary minister must not make the city of man his priority, he said.

“It may be at many points in your ministry that you are living in a tent, and you are just going to have to know that you are living in a city,” Mohler said.

“The problem is that our vision is often backwards. Some Christians mistake the passing city for the eternal city because the city of man looks so real. It has buildings and streets. It has laws and culture. It has visible inhabitants and visible allurements. But the city of God is yet invisible. There are visible hints but we know that we do not yet see the city and yet we know that it is more real than the city we can see.”

When Sarah gave birth to Isaac, she was 90 and Abraham was nearly 100. These circumstances demonstrate that God is faithful to keep all of His promises and serve as encouragement for ministers to watch God work in ways that are clearly supernatural, Mohler said.

“Your ministry, following Abraham’s example, will be to trust that God is faithful to all of His promises, every single one of them: that God will be faithful to the promises that do not yet seem fulfilled, that God is first of all faithful to save through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, that God is faithful to build His church, that God, even now, is faithful in building His city,” he said. “You will know that it is true even when you do not see it. You will know that it is true even though it seems impossible that it could be true.

“I urge you to watch for what God does in you and through your ministry that, like the birth of Isaac, represents the elimination of everything but a supernatural explanation.”

Mohler closed by challenging graduates to exercise the faith of Abraham in every aspect of their ministries.

“When you said you were coming to seminary, a lot of people with secular eyes and with no sense of this kind of faith, assumed you were throwing your life away,” Mohler said.

“Some were wondering why you would spend all of this time studying an ancient book and all this doctrinal stuff. There are those who wonder why you would give yourself to preaching and believing and teaching things you can’t see. Irrationality from that perspective is that you are following one (Abraham) who set out not knowing where he was going.

“Abraham’s calling is so much like our own. Are you ready to go out not knowing what you are going? We are ready to send you. And we are going to look with the eyes of faith to see what God is going to do through you.”

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