Let me just start by reminding you of this: If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ and have been justified by his blood, and you await your future glorification, then for the rest of your life God means to sanctify you. As Jesus prays for his followers in Gethsemane before his arrest, he says to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
If your reason for doing an SBS was to know truth and you thought that once it was over that you’d have all your questions answered and you’d have this Christian life thing completely figured out, I hope you’re figuring out that’s just not how it works. If you’re anything like me, then for every question you came in with, you have ten more tacked on to it. And my prayer for each SBS student is that as they turn in their final book, they wouldn’t think: Yup, I get it. I know the Bible. But instead: Wow, there is still so much that I don’t know… but now I know how to approach the text in faith, ask good questions, and think in a way that leads to sound interpretations and applications.
SBS is not an end in itself. This school is meant to equip you for a lifetime of study. You are to be a student of God’s Word not just for 9 months in cool new country for another gap year, but for life.
These would be my recommendations for SBS graduates based on what I learned in the months following my own SBS:
Don’t act based on how you feel. Bible study is a spiritual discipline. And a discipline is something that you do regardless of how you feel. Our emotions change with the wind. God’s Word endures forever. Practice discipline. On that same note, you don’t need a break from the Bible after SBS. If you feel this way, repent and ask God to change your heart.
Structure is good. Don’t rebel against the very tools you just spent 9 months practicing and equipping yourself with. The method is good. The structure of a reading plan is also good. Let it hold you accountable. Pick a reading plan and commit to it. There are so many 1 yr. or 2 yr. plans to choose from.
You’re never done. When you begin a plan you should have already determined that when you finish, you’re starting another one. Throughout your SBS there will be more than one time that a question comes up that you just don’t have the time to fully wrestle through. How comforting to know that there are things so wonderful that we cannot understand but also that we have the entirety of our lives to study and consider.
It might look different: maybe you don’t print out your charts anymore and you just use a notebook to use the method. But keep writing things out. This is extremely helpful and will force you to turn your incomplete and abstract thoughts into coherent words. I’m also willing to bet you will no longer be able to commit every waking hour to your study. Although it probably won’t take up the bulk of your day, your time with God in His Word will always be the most important part of your day.
Don’t skip application. For some reason after my SBS, I’d oftentimes find myself so quick to slam my Bible shut after I was satisfied with my interpretation. Remember, It’s not about just acquiring knowledge. Don’t become a Pharisee.
Pray, pray, pray. Pray that God will give you hunger for His Word and discipline to engage with Him through it even when you don’t feel like it. Pray for humility, wisdom, and faith as you approach God through His Word. You can pray these prayers with confidence knowing that God wants to use the truth of His Word for your sanctification.
Don’t let your SBS amount to just another cool memory. Let it be foundational and transformational. And consider how God might use it as you walk in obedience to the marching orders Jesus left us with before his ascension: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” --Matt 28:19-20
Sunny Coast SBS grad ‘19