SWBTS grads charged to be messengers of peace, hope
"Where there are people who are lost, you are going to find them and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ," he said. "You're going to go out into a world of war and trouble and difficulty, and you're going to be the messengers of peace and harmony and hope for the future."
Patterson preached on Jesus' interaction with Nicodemus in John 3, noting that, in spite of Nicodemus' religiosity, there was evidently a "gnawing sense in his heart that told him he was not right with God."
Patterson told the graduates that they must now look for Nicodemus themselves.
"You will find him on every side street," Patterson said. "You will find him in his home at night. You'll find him in the theater. You'll find him in a coffee shop. Nicodemus is everywhere -- religious, but troubled, given to religious concerns, but deeply disturbed in his heart that he is not quite right."
Beyond finding such people, Patterson said, the graduates must also share with them an important message: that they must be born of both water -- physically -- and the Spirit -- through the Gospel.
Patterson summarized this message that must be delivered to unbelievers:
"If you will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, if you will trust Him as your Savior, the moment you believe in Him, you will be forgiven; you will be made new; you will be given new life," he said. "Death will pass from you, and you will have only life. That is what God will do for you."
Among those charged with communicating this life-giving message to a dying world was master of divinity graduate Nirintsoa Mamitiana. An Antandroy from Madagascar, Mamitiana came to Southwestern in the fall of 2014 for the specific purpose of eventually returning to his native country in order to start a Bible school there, raise up a new generation of pastors, and work with church plants in order to reach this east African nation with the Gospel.
"I am very grateful for my studies here at Southwestern," Mamitiana said, "and I am really looking forward to going back to start what God has called me to do."
Also of note in this commencement ceremony was the graduation of Lyndale James Holloway, who received his doctor of educational ministry and is the great-, great-grandson of Southwestern founder B.H. Carroll. And Samuel Cameron Coyle was Southwestern's first Ph.D. graduate in the field of archaeology.
The 244 graduates collectively represented 30 nations.