By Mark Masucci
A few days ago my wife received a message on her facebook site from a past student. This person did the SBS here in Montana way back in 1994-95. She has been in full time ministry since that time. She wrote to say that her SBS was still one of the greatest times of her life. Her subsequent marriage in 1996 bumped the SBS experience to #2. But I digress. She also wanted to encourage us to continue doing what we do in the SBS because it made such a huge difference in her personal life and ministry. That got me thinking. What is that we do that is so great? I came up with a long list, but I will share the top 2 things that I see we do here in the SBS and why it’s great.
Reason what we do is great #1 – The Inductive Method
What a great way to study through the Bible! We teach our students to go through the text, every text, book by book, verse by verse, until they have examined the entire Bible in one year. We observe the text; we read it for what it says and we listen to the Bible. Why is that great? I was talking with a church friend and we were talking about favorite and not-favorite books of the Bible. He said that Leviticus was one of his least favorite books. Not surprising, we hear that a lot with students. Then I told him that the book of Leviticus repeats the word “holy” over 90 times! I posed the question, “If it is true that Leviticus repeats the word ‘holy’ more than 90 times, what do think the book might be about?” He thought about it for a minute and then said, “Probably about the holiness of God. And maybe how he wants us to be holy?” I then explained to him the basic structure of the book – Part One: How to approach a holy God and Part Two: How to maintain fellowship with the holy God. Then I gave him a little historical context for the book – How Israel needed to know this because God had called them to be his people, his special possession and how they were to be a reflection of him to the world. We also talked about how Israel might have understood that message (interpretation) and then what that might mean for us as God’s New Testament people (application). He got very excited about the message of Leviticus, saying, “I have never seen the book that way before. I am going to go home and read it tonight!” The next week I asked him about Leviticus. Yes, it is one of his new favorite books of the Bible. All because Leviticus repeats the “holy” more than 90 times!
Reason what we do is great #2 – Working with students
One of the things that I have enjoyed the most during my 13 years of SBS is teaching in the SBS is watching students get revelation of a book or passage. This has happened both during lectures and during one on one conversation. The scene typically goes like this: we are discussing a passage and the student poses a question or thought to which they want an answer. We talk about the passage, making more observations and asking what the readers might have understood or what the author may have intended. And then, Wow! They see something that they had not seen before. Enlightenment! Revelation! They understand the passage like they had not before. And suddenly the text comes alive, and God speaks to them and the learn something amazing about God, or what he has done for them, or who they are in him. Now they can’t get back to their charts fast enough because so many great thoughts are racing through their brain. The want to capture all that they just learned. But it doesn’t stop there. At the end of the year during the sharing time they retell the story of that day -how God spoke to them and how they learned this amazing thing and how their life with God will forever be different, and better.
Then you get a message from them fifteen years later saying that the SBS was one of the best seasons of their life, and how they are the person they are today and they have the ministry they have because they did the SBS and God transformed them by his word. And they are so thankful to the Lord for the opportunity they had to study his word: every word, book by book, verse by verse, until they examined the entire Bible in one year. And they encourage you that your hard work as a staff person – your toil, sweat, tears and sleepless nights – was worth it. God had used you (even as a lowly staff person!) to invest into them precious gift of his word. And they are forever different.
This is why what we do is great!