Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Preparation Time

Since starting Seminary I have found almost everyone to be very supportive and encouraging.
There are however stereotypes which exist about higher Christian education. I have heard (once from the mouth of a former pastor of mine) Seminary referred to as the "Cemetery" the place where faith goes to die. I don't want to get into all the reasons why this stereotype exists but I would like to speak against some of them for a minute. (As a short side note I would say that it is important which Seminary one chooses to study at. The "cemetery" stereotype may be unfair but there is a reason it exists. Make sure you choose one that is fully committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and holds to a verbal, plenary, inspiration of the Word of God. A Seminary that does not wholly believe in the full council of God is not a school worth attending.)

Some of the people I have met who dislike an institution like Seminary are extremely fired up about Christ and His call to evangelize. These individuals are very admirable, they are fun, exciting and at least for a while, encouraging to be around. They see Seminary as a waste of time, the gospel message is simple enough for a child to understand why waste years studying it when you could just be out doing it? Many times, especially since I have an undergrad degree in Bible, I find this type of thinking very tempting, I could easily throw this 700 page theology textbook out the window and go get on a plane (honestly, Dr. Akin, 700 pages is a bit cruel).

When these thoughts are getting me worked up and impatient I think of the other side. Christ waited until He was 30(ish) to start His public ministry, which only lasted 3.5(ish) years. For 30 years He worked, prepared, and studied. After the apostle Paul was converted in Acts 9 he went through several years of preparation and ministry amongst the Jews before the Holy Spirit lead the church in Antioch to commission him and Barnabas and send them out to the mission field.

The message of God's love and plan of salvation is so simple that even a child can believe. But God's Word is also so rich, full, and deep that even the greatest minds and thinkers have yet to fully comprehend its depth. Three years of Seminary study is just the beginning, it would take more years than I will have to grasp the fullness of His truth. If all Seminary does is prepare me for a lifetime of studying God's Word then it will have been worth it.

Billy Graham was once asked, "If you had your life to live over, what would you do differently?" He said, "One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough. I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups when I should have been studying and preparing. Donald Grey Barnhouse said that if he knew the Lord was coming back in 3 years, he would spend 2 of them studying and 1 preaching. I'm trying to make that up now."

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