NOBTS graduation: God's call gives confidence
"Someone once asked [Rogers] if he heard an audible voice when God spoke to him," Kelley explained. "Rogers answered, 'No, it's much louder than that.'"
Kelley reminded listeners of the certainty they had of God's call to ministry when they began seminary. As graduates take the next step, Kelley urged them to remember that God will work out His plans for their lives.
Kelley used a cell phone as a teaching aid to demonstrate that a "call from God" does not mean a phone conversation with heaven, but does mean assurance of God's designation for service. The call to ministry may be unexpected, Kelley explained, adding that God called him to evangelism though he is introverted.
"It's not a matter of what you know or think about yourself," Kelley said. "It's a matter of what God wants to do with you."
Noting that NOBTS graduates carry the Gospel to places around the world, some even to security-sensitive places, Kelley drew from the life of Abraham to point out that God's call does not ensure a life of ease.
"Being called by God doesn't mean being comfortable," Kelley said. "But it does mean being confident."
Kelley pointed back to the devastation to the NOBTS campus following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to highlight God's faithfulness even when His calling leads through difficult circumstances.
"God may call you from a bigger church to a smaller church. God may call you from a happy church to a fighting church," Kelley said. "God may call you to dangerous situations that make your parents extremely concerned about the fate of their grandchildren. God may call you to places you never imagined you'd be. You may do something great. You may do something small."
Regardless of the circumstances, God will be faithful, Kelley said.
"To be called is to know you may not be advancing as the world sees advancing," he said, "but you will be continuing to serve the almighty God … who created and called you out from all the people on the face of the earth."
NOBTS Provost Norris Grubbs told the graduates, "Our prayer for you is that you be people of faith who share your faith; to be people of hope who share hope; and that you be people of love who love."
He added, "This graduation class alone can impact thousands for Christ."
In extending a welcome to families and friends of graduates, Grubbs noted that some listeners may not hold the same faith views as their graduate. Grubbs encouraged them to "ask your graduate what it is about Jesus that makes them want to give their lives to Him."
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary conferred 98 master degrees and 25 doctoral degrees including eight doctor of philosophy degrees.
Receiving the doctor of musical arts degree was Tyler Brinson, recipient of the 2015 Dove Award for Choral Collection of the Year, with songwriter and producer Geron Davis, for the recording project "Splendor of Heaven."
Leavell College, the seminary's undergraduate program, conferred 34 bachelor of arts degrees. Eleven bachelor's degrees were granted to Louisiana State Penitentiary inmates in Angola, La.; one at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, St. Gabriel, La.; one at Mississippi State Penitentiary, Parchman, Miss.; and two at Phillips State Prison, Buford, Ga.
The Lockman Foundation presented each graduate and awardee a copy of the New American Standard Bible.