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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--The uniqueness of the call to Christian ministry is bound up in the fact that ministers will not finish what they started because they are laying the foundation upon which God is constructing His church, R. Albert Mohler Jr. told graduates at fall commencement exercises Dec. 11 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Preaching from 1 Corinthians 3:1-11, Mohler told the graduating class of 223 students that the call to ministry is not one of completing a task, but of faithful Gospel proclamation which God grows and finishes.
"The biblical conception of the Christian ministry is, as we should not be surprised to find, radically at odds with worldly wisdom," Mohler said. "According to the New Testament, one of the most important insights about the Christian ministry is this: We will not finish what we begin. This is not to say that we will never set goals and reach them or that we will never complete plans and programs. It does mean that the Christian ministry must be seen in the context of faithfulness extended from generation to generation until Christ returns to claim His Bride."
Mohler encouraged graduates to serve in the ministry with a constant awareness that God is the agent of all true Gospel ministry. God's workers plant and water, but God grows His Church and expands His Kingdom, Mohler said.
"The congregation is God's field and God's building," Mohler said. "Every minister must take care to build faithfully upon the foundation. The one who plants and the one who waters are nothing in themselves. The agent of all true Gospel ministry is God Himself. As [1 Corinthians 3] makes clear, the worthiness of our work will be fully disclosed on the day of judgment and tested by fire."
Mohler warned graduates not to view their ministries as a profession or a job, but as a sacred and solemn calling in which God works through human instruments to complete His Kingdom and bring glory to Himself.
"Graduates of the Southern Seminary class of December 2009, if you aim to finish what you start in ministry, you will aim too low or finish what is not Christ's," Mohler said. "Go out to plant, but also to water. Sow the good seed of the Gospel, even as you cultivate and irrigate. Build faithfully upon the foundation laid by Christ and the apostles. Receive the stewardship of ministry that is passed on to you and give your all to this calling so long as you live. Then, pass this ministry to a generation yet unseen and unborn to continue this ministry and extend the reach of the Gospel until Jesus comes.
"Start something you cannot finish and give yourself to it for the length of your days, with the strength of your life, to the glory of God. Dream dreams and see visions, and take up this calling as you plant and water in the fields of Christ. Build carefully upon the foundation laid for you. The hopes and prayers of God's faithful people go with you."
Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.