Dear Seminary Students: Love the Word & People of God
Seminary is an incredible opportunity to grow in knowledge of the Word of God and theology in general. It can also be a place where one’s spiritual life suffers a slow, steady decline.
I can remember a friend of mine who had gone to Bible College and came back to the church I was attending. I considered this friend of mine to be a strong Christian, and he was well respected in the high school and college ministry at my church. But when he came back from Bible College, he stated he had more questions after completing his degree than he had when he started the program. Over time, I began noticing he started coming less and less. As my friend was working through his questions, I noticed that the tone of his questions went from being reverent to God’s Word to being critical of God’s Word.
While this happened more than a decade ago, this incident has stuck with me, teaching me never to lose a passion for God’s Word.
Based on that experience, I implore you to please spend personal time reading your Bible every day. I know that may seem silly of me to say; you are studying to prepare for the ministry, after all. And besides, you have a thousand things to read—including the Bible—as part of a theological degree program. And yet I know all too well the distractions of seminary on my own spiritual growth. I’ve also seen many go out of seminary with faith a mile wide and an inch deep. Consider this article a wake-up call to fall in love afresh with the God of all grace and His Word.
In seminary, I struggled with reading my Bible in my personal life. Theology can be a dangerous weapon when placed in the hands of those who have zeal, but lack a genuine passion for God’s Word; they may know the right answers, but they don’t know how theology relates to all of life.
Consider the Apostle Paul: He knew the Bible, describing himself as a “Hebrew of Hebrews” (Philippians 3:5). Despite all that head knowledge, the Apostle Paul didn’t boast about his degrees; instead, he preached Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). This led to him suffering immensely for the Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:16-33).
In light of this, please consider the following suggestions:
Set Aside Time for the Word
Dear Seminarian, spend quality daily time in the Word of God outside of your academic and ministerial responsibilities. Remember, you are not first a seminary student or ministry leader; rather, you are first a learner (disciple) of Christ. As such, you are to continually grow in the grace and knowledge of God’s Word (2 Peter 3:18).
Some days I read one chapter in my Bible, and other times much more. Be flexible and not stingy with your personal time in the Word. Find time each day to spend quality time alone in the Word.
Set Aside Time for Prayer
Growing in passion for God’s Word means spending quality time in prayer. Prayer and regular time in the Word are a means of grace. Men such as Luther, Calvin, and Spurgeon, were known as men who dedicated their lives to the Word and prayer.
Get an Accountability Partner
You should consider finding an accountability partner, a seasoned Christian who is older than you and of the same gender as you. This person can help hold you accountable for your time engaging the spiritual disciplines and pray with you about life, your theological studies, and ministry responsibilities if you have them.
Ask Questions Now
Seminary is an incredible time to ask good questions in submission to the biblical text, to learn about church history, biblical languages, preaching, and ministry. It is also dangerous for the unprepared and unfocused. God Himself will hold you accountable for the increased knowledge you will gain. As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, with much knowledge or wisdom comes much sorrow (Ecclesiastes 1:18).
Dear Seminarian, your studies in seminary will challenge your faith on multiple fronts. You will have questions that you may not ever be able to find answers to, for the Lord Himself has told us that this will be the case (Deut 29:29).
Don’t be like my friend who questioned the biblical text and wasn’t heard from again at church. Spend daily time in the Word and wrestle with the thorny theological issues with trusted guides so you can get answers to your questions. Develop a white-hot passion for the Word of God, the gospel, and God’s people while you are in seminary.
Love God’s Church
The local church needs men and women who love the gospel, who love God’s Word, and who love them. And you can grow in this love by finding a local Bible-believing church where you can fellowship with God’s people, sit under the Word, and learn from your pastors. Please don’t neglect your walk with the Lord, and don’t sacrifice your spiritual life on the altar of your seminary education. Seminary is a time for you to grow in Christ. Use this time well—not only will your knowledge of the Word increase, but so will your love for Jesus and others.
Dave Jenkins (MAR, MDiv, Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary) is the executive director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the executive editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast and Warriors of Grace Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter (@davejjenkins), Facebook (Dave Jenkins SOG), and Instagram.
"Scripture: Sufficient For You" by Dave Jenkin