The following remarks by Richard L Rice on August 11, 2018, were delivered to the first graduating class of Berean School of Ministry, Tala, Kenya.
We’ve assembled here today to recognize each of the students who have worked hard, studied faithfully, striven to achieve, and fulfilled all the requirements to become the first graduating class of Berean School of Ministry.
In the United States we hold graduation ceremonies much like this, but we use another word to describe this event: commencement. The word “graduation” means to give a diploma, but “commencement” means to begin or start. Today, graduates, is a new start, a beginning for you.
You’ve sat through long lectures, memorized the map of ancient Israel, read through much of the Bible, and studied and prepared for exams. These activities have been planned to increase your knowledge of God’s Word for your own spiritual growth and for teaching God’s Word to others; but this school is only a foundation for other things. What you build, and how you build, on this foundation is up to you. The foundation is the beginning of the rest of your life and service to the Lord Jesus.
Learning is life-long process. Your time at Berean School has been short and far too short to really know the infinite God or His Word to mankind. The Bible was written over a period of nearly 2,000 years – there is no way to understand it in only 3 or 4 years. Make this commencement day the beginning of a continued daily studying and learning the Scriptures for yourself.
Whether you use the knowledge gained in this school as a pastor, or just a better equipped servant in your daily life, knowledge and life-long learning are not the goal. Big heads filled with lots of information don’t make us better people. Through these past years I’ve reminded some of you through emails and WhatsApp and Facebook messages, the words of the Apostle John in Third John 3 and 4: I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Know the truth. Share the truth. Defend the truth. Contend for the truth. But be very sure that you are also walking in the truth. Your obedience to the truth shows that you understand the truth.
The truth of God is found in the Word of God. His Word is the truth. And God’s Word is sufficient for your every spiritual need. The Bible Is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Spirit of God uses the Scriptures to feed you, sustain you, build you, equip you, correct you, teach you, and prepare you for every good work. It is not prayer, or spiritual gifts or singing, or even ministry that is sufficient for your every spiritual need. Make today the beginning of life and ministry which is grounded and founded in the Scriptures alone.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Rome that the power of God is manifested today in the preaching of the Scriptures (Rom 1:16). The gospel is the power of God unto salvation because it’s the Scriptures that reveal Jesus the Saviour. They speak of Him (Heb 10:7). On the Road to Emmaus, Jesus opened the Scriptures to the disciples (Lk 24:32).
John Calvin, one of the pillars of the Protestant Reformation, said, “The Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them.” Never read your Bible without finding Jesus in its pages. Never preach a sermon without showing your hearers the glory of Christ. The commencement of your spiritual life began with Christ by grace through faith – now be certain that every step after this graduation is carefully guarded in Christ and with Christ by grace through faith.
May God richly bless you, my beloved.