WAKE FOREST, N.C. -- A moment of invitation yielded eight professions of faith after President Paige Patterson delivered the Dec. 14 commencement charge to 124 Southeastern graduates, on the Wake Forest campus.
From the pulpit of Binkley Chapel, Patterson spoke a word of challenge to the graduates, and then turned the attention to the loved ones of the graduates.
"The graduates rejoice today in graduation, but many of them are aware of precious loved ones right here in this building who have never actually appropriated for their hearts and lives the Prince of Peace," Patterson said to the chapel crowd of more than 1,500.
"If there has never been a moment when you asked Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Prince of Peace, to become your Savior, then you still can't understand what Christmas is about and you'll never fully understand that to which your loved one who is graduating today has given himself or herself," Patterson said.
Patterson clearly explained that the only way one could ever have perfection and go to heaven is an exchanged life.
"You give Jesus your life, which he died for on a cross, and he gives you his life which is perfection and righteousness," Patterson said.
Focusing on Isaiah 9, Patterson charged the graduates, representing 20 states and 13 countries, to tell the story of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.
"In the eighth century before Christ, there lived a man who was granted insight beyond anything that anyone from that older dispensation could possibly have imagined," Patterson explained about the prophet Isaiah.
"And it was to him that God granted the privilege of telling the first story of Christmas, 750 years before it actually transpired," Patterson said. "It had to be the hand of God. It is inexplicable otherwise."
Patterson commissioned the new graduates to continue to tell the world the liberating news of the Messiah's birth.
"As you go forth from this institution you will accomplish a great deal in the earth. Wherever you find hunger, you will attempt to alleviate that. Where there are other social needs, you will do all that you can to meet those needs. Wherever there is sorrow, you will seek to comfort in the name of our Lord," Patterson said.
"But let me challenge you today to understand that, in the final analysis, there are many who will join you in those enterprises, but you are commissioned to do one thing that others cannot do and will not do: that is to tell the story that Isaiah has told so poignantly and beautifully in this text."
Patterson explained that the Savior the graduates will go forth to serve is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
"He is the one before whom every knee shall bow and ultimately every tongue will confess that he is Lord and Christ," he said.
"What greater calling could anyone have than to tell the story of this remarkable sovereign of the universe, who has seen fit to reveal himself ultimately by becoming man himself."
He is a remarkable King worthy of proclamation because, first of all, he is a Wonderful Counselor, Patterson said.
"This one whom you go forth to proclaim is the wonderful, awesome, unknown yet revealed Counselor. He is the only one who can bring comfort and direction to the human heart," Patterson said.
"When all other counsel has failed, when every other human device has met its match, when nobody else has anything to say, when the psychiatrist has declared that he can help no further, when the sociologist has no further accent to put on the matter and when the anthropologist has said all that he can say ... your mouths will still be opened for you to point to a Wonderful Counselor who inevitably transcends every difficulty of human life."
Second, Patterson said the little baby born in Bethlehem is more than just a Wonderful Counselor: He is also the Mighty God.
"Eight centuries before Christ, the prophet Micah called the name of Bethlehem and said that it was there that the Messiah is going to be born. Kings from the east came to the Christ child and when they walked into the room with that little infant, the Bible says, they prostrated themselves before him," Patterson recounted.
The kings of the earth prostrated themselves, and "somehow when they came to where this little King was born, humble circumstances and all, their hearts convinced them that he was more than just the normal baby born. This was indeed the Almighty God in the disguise of a human being."
Third, Christ is a remarkable King worthy of being proclaimed because he is the Everlasting Father.
"How many kings have been in your life to whom you can say 'Father?'" Patterson asked the graduates.
"How many kings can you not only approach, but say 'Abba Father?'"
Finally, Jesus is a remarkable King because he is the Prince of Peace, Patterson said.
"Jesus Christ is ultimately the only way for peace," Patterson said.
"We ought to work through our government for peace. We ought to work through the United Nations for peace. We ought to work individually for peace." But Patterson explained that unless the Lord Jesus moves in the hearts of men, there will be no peace.
"He is still calming the waters, and he is still in the business of breathing off the storms of life," Patterson said.
Patterson concluded by urging the graduates to live Christ-centered lives.
"I urge you and challenge you today to have his name on your lips again, again and again," Patterson pleaded.
"Never to stand and teach, never to counsel, never to sing, never to preach but that you find the name of Jesus, that little baby ... God in human flesh ... God incarnate ... and speak of him and point men to him, for he alone can bring salvation."
Concluding the service, Patterson extended a public invitation in which the eight indicated a decision to receive Christ.
By Kelly Davis