Graduates of Criswell College should be willing to sacrifice their own comfort to go into the difficult and oftentimes messy realities of life with the gospel, said President Barry Creamer in his May 18 commencement address.
During the commencement exercises in the historic and recently renovated Ruth Chapel, 48 bachelor’s and master’s students were present to receive degrees.
Preaching from James 2:10-11, Creamer explained that believers must not compartmentalize their Christianity, but see the entirety of the gospel as central to the way they live and behave. It is not simply enough, he said, for Christians to examine themselves only in the ways in which they are keeping the law of God yet to ignore the areas in which they are being disobedient.
“If we are going to pursue the will of God, then we have to pursue the whole will of God. If we are going to say that we care about the counsel of God, we have to care about the whole counsel of God,” Creamer said.
“We don’t pick and choose passages and decide that those are what our lives are going to be about. And we don’t pick and choose causes that we think are important and say that’s what our whole life is going to be about,” he said. “We pursue the whole counsel of God.”
The desire to understand the whole will of God, he said, is why Criswell College advocates so strongly in its curriculum for expository preaching. This concept is at the root of why Christians should know how to read and interpret Scripture for every scenario, whether it’s participating in a Bible study, preaching from the pulpit, or discussing your faith with coworkers.
And understanding the whole counsel of God means that believers do not always get to choose the situations in which they would like to serve. More often than not, Christian service entails a willingness to get your hands dirty in ministry that is not glorified, but it obedient to the Great Commission.
“The thing that distinguishes Christianity theologically from everything else is the resurrection of Christ,” Creamer said. “When we were so lost and miserable that nobody would have cared about us, He did. In the power of the resurrection we’re supposed to show the world something different than they would find anywhere else.”
Chidinma Ward, who graduated with her Master of Arts in Counseling, also challenged her fellow graduates to remain connected to Criswell and to remember the impact their education had on them so they could pass it forward to others in the future.
“Now we are equipped, locked and loaded to influence the culture for Christ. So as we go out to do that, we will not forget this school. We are connected to the Criswell family,” she said. “And when the time comes to give to the college, when the college calls us back to help in some way—to teach, to speak to the students in a class or in chapel, to talk about Criswell to the people in our circle of influence—I hope that your answer will be yes.”