Mohler: As its 150th anniversary approaches, SBTS exists to defend the Christian faith

Communications Staff — June 16, 2008

As The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary approaches its 150th year of existence, its goal continues to be passing on the faith once for all delivered to the saints in service to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, said R. Albert Mohler Jr. at the SBC annual meeting June 11.

Delivering Southern’s annual report, Mohler referenced the question posed in Luke 18:8: “When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?” Mohler said the question is not if Christ will have a church, but if that church will be faithful.

“Will He find a demonstration of faith? Will He find the faith once for all delivered to the saints embraced, taught, articulated, handed down?,” he said. “Just look at the New Testament and how much of the emphasis, the imperative of the New Testament is about handing down the faith intact, in full, in joy to successive generations.”

Mohler said the purpose of theological education, and thus the purpose of Southern Seminary, is to follow Paul’s exhortation to pass on the treasure of the Christian faith.

“We take as our mission exactly what Paul instructed Timothy [to do],” he said. “We take as our charge being able to give an answer to the Lord when He asks ‘when the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?’”

Southern is devoted to training men and women sent from local churches whom God has called to ministry, Mohler said, and he exhorted church leaders to continue sending out such persons.

“I want to thank you for exercising the ministry of your church,” he said. “I want to encourage you in that ministry to understand that in a fully thriving, fully faithful ministry God is going to be calling out those who will be the servants of the Gospel, those who will be the preachers of the Word, those who will be church planters and missionaries. If that is not happening in your church I want to urge you to ask why?”

Mohler said Southern is grateful for the opportunity to train the more than 4,400 students currently enrolled at the seminary. Southern prioritizes theological scholarship among its faculty and in its ministry training, Mohler said.

“We have an emphasis on our campus on scholarship for the cause of the Gospel,” he said. “We want to make sure that those men who have the assignment to teach and preach the Word of God will do so faithfully and will hand down the faith in tact, in full, in joy.”

Mohler said Southern also exhorts its students to have fervor for evangelism.

“Right now, there are student groups with [Southern Seminary] faculty all over the world employed in student missionary efforts this summer and that happens all around the calendar year at Southern Seminary,” he said. “I am glad to tell you that right now we have graduates of Southern Seminary serving in places the names of which we can not even identify for cause of safety.”

The next generation will be either increasingly deeply and convictionally pagan or deeply and convictionally Christian, Mohler said, and he prays that the churches of the SBC will foster the latter.

“In this post-Christian secular age we now face the challenge of recognizing that we are going to know who the Christians are and we are going to know that pretty quickly,” he said. “We are going to know where the faithful churches are and we are going to know that pretty quickly. We are going to know where the faithful denominations are and we are going to know that pretty quickly. I pray that when the Lord comes He will find the churches of this denomination faithful.”

For nearly 150 years Southern Seminary has served local churches, which Mohler said could only be so because of the mercy and grace of God. He said it is the seminary’s goal and joy to train the next generation to defend the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

“I am glad to tell you that there are thousands of students on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the vast majority of them studying to be pastors of your churches,” he said. “They are filled with biblical conviction because they have been swimming against the tide. They are taught from the full treasure of Christian truth because they deserve nothing less. And they are aimed toward the world to see the glory of God demonstrated and the name of Christ declared among the nations.”

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