How many graduation ceremonies have you attended where the speaker tells the graduates that they may well have wasted their years of study, that the degree they’ve earned doesn’t matter all that much, that they are no more self-sufficient than they were when they started, or that they now stand in a more dangerous position than they did when they started studying? I’m guessing not many. But I’ve been to several. In fact, every graduation ceremony that Eternity Bible College has ever held is full of such warnings. Watch this 9-minute video to hear Francis Chan and others warn our graduates about the danger of what they’ve just accomplished.

The reality is, there are lots of bad reasons to get a Bible education. These reasons are so bad, in fact, that if any of these describe your motivation for pursuing a Bible education, then that’s a good reason to reconsider.

1. Don’t get a Bible education to fuel your pride.

Biblical knowledge should not lead us to see how great we are. It should make us better servants. So if you find your head swelling because of the Bible facts you know, then you have prostituted God’s word and made it into a means of social capital. You have turned saving truths into damning lies. As long as you view the Bible as a source of doctrines that you can use as weapons to shoot others down and bolster your own self-importance, you’d be better off to stay away from the book altogether.


EBC GRAD W09 672. Don’t get a Bible education to become more self-sufficient.

If you want to study the Bible so you don’t have to rely on others, so you can get your study out of the way, or so that you can stand on your own two feet spiritually, don’t bother. In God’s economy, self-sufficiency is the equivalent of blasphemy. If you don’t see your need for God, his wisdom, and his provision at every moment, then you’re guilty of self-reliance—which is the opposite of faith.

Believing that you are not dependent on continued study of God’s word or the insights of other Christians shows that you believe you have what you need. Some pursue a Bible education in order to confirm what they already know. Then they get upset with their teachers for not teaching something they believe ought to be taught in this or that course or not teaching it with sufficient force or emphasis (I’ve seen this happen many times). If you already know everything you need to know, then no educational experience can help you. You’ve destined yourself for a life of ignorance.


3. Don’t get a Bible education to become a speaker or an intellectual.

We all look up to intellectuals. To those who have the answers. And we look up to speakers who can forcefully proclaim the truth. But if either of these is your greatest goal in life, a Bible education won’t serve you well. God’s truth is meant to be lived, not just understood or even proclaimed. Now, being a brilliant thinker or a convicting speaker may well be the outflow of a life lived in submission to God’s truth and mission. But if all you’ve ever wanted is to be a Bible scholar or an arena-preacher, then you should put your Bible education on hold until your goal is to live in accordance with God’s truth—whatever that might end up entailing.


There are many good reasons to get a solid Bible education. I would switch careers if I didn’t believe that. But I’ve seen students come for many of the wrong reasons. We have to work very hard to ensure that our students develop a godly motivation for their studies in addition to developing solid theology and ministry training. So we begin the warnings at orientation and, as the video at the top of this post shows, we keep the exhortations rolling right through to graduation day.


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Mark Beuving currently serves as Associate Pastor at Creekside Church in Rocklin, CA. Prior to going back into pastoral ministry, Mark spent ten years on staff at Eternity Bible College as a Campus Pastor, Dean of Students, and then Associate Professor. Mark now teaches online adjunct for Eternity. He is passionate about building up the body of Christ, training future leaders for the Church, and writing. Though he is interested in many areas of theology and philosophy, Mark is most fascinated with practical theology and exploring the many ways in which the Bible can speak to and transform our world. He is the author of "Resonate: Enjoying God's Gift of Music" and the co-author with Francis Chan of "Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples." Mark lives in Rocklin with his wife and two daughters.


  1. Mark,

    One of the main reasons I came to Eternity is because of this emphasis on humbly learning how to study and use the Word. But my question is if this; has there been or could be at EBC a denial of graduation because a student is showing that they are impenitent when it comes to intellectual pride? Or what would EBC do if one of their alumni showed such pride? This is important to me because if this is lost this Christ glorifying distinctive could be lost. There is a bit more on my mind on this but let us start here.

    • Hey Tandre!

      The answer is no and yes. No, we haven’ withheld graduation due to pride, but yes, we can choose to do so. Built into the process of assessing graduates are non-academic standards, including a demonstration of godly character. We assess this in part through our professors, but each student also needs the full recommendation of their mentor and/or pastor in order to be cleared for graduation. So if a student has not been progressing adequately in this regard, they could be held from graduation until we see a change in this. We have had a few students where pride or other factors were a concern leading up to graduation, but in these cases we were able to work with the students and still clear them for graduation. We don’t this arbitrarily, we only do it because it’s built into our assessment process.