Many parents, youth pastors, and teachers have the same anxious feeling every time their students graduate. They wonder, “Will this student press on in the faith or will he/she become another statistic?” I have written some things I believe will help high school graduates successfully navigate the often murky waters of college in a distinctly God-honoring way. Every year I read these aloud in an address to the graduating seniors at Sylvania Church and distribute to them a copy, and I want you to feel free to do the same if you think it would be helpful.
11 Lies to Reject & 11 Truths to Embrace After High School Graduation.
1. REJECT the lie that lasting satisfaction may be found outside of God. EMBRACE the truth that nothing in the universe will ever satisfy and nourish your soul like the Person and work of Jesus. ((Psalm 16:11, 63:1-5; John 4:13-14, 6:35. Also, What Is the Gospel? by The Gospel Coalition, What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert, and Desiring God by John Piper.))
2. REJECT the lie that denying the possibility of other ways to be made right with God is arrogant, judgmental and/or unloving. EMBRACE the truth that affirming salvation through Christ alone upholds the infinite worth of God, ((Romans 3:21-28; Ephesians 1:3-14; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 10:1-14.)) is consistent with the testimony of Scripture, ((John 3:16-21, 36; John 8:42; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Galatians 1:6-9; Colossians 1:21-23.)) is necessary for salvation, ((Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; Hebrews 2:1-3a.)) and is one of the most loving ((This is a common objection from unbelievers. Granted, the manner in which the Gospel is proclaimed is not always loving, but the act of proclaiming the Gospel is not unloving. In fact, the act of proclaiming the Gospel is precisely the opposite. Consider, for example, the following analogy. Would it be unloving for a parent to warn his or her child about playing in the street during rush-hour? Of course not. To the contrary, failing to warn a child about playing in rush-hour traffic is the crime, horrifically wicked and absolutely unloving. How, then, could a person be called unloving for warning a person of the horrific danger of rejecting Christ? Interestingly, as the following video highlights, Penn Jillette, outspoken atheist of the famous Penn & Teller, understands this point well.
)) and humble ((James 4:1-10. Believers are often accused of great arrogance for holding the position that the Bible defines as the essence of humility. And the biblical perspective certainly makes sense. After all, is it not the height of arrogance to deny and/or correct God?)) things a person can do.
3. REJECT the lie that defending Christianity (i.e., apologetics) is the same as preaching the Gospel. EMBRACE the truth that while the humble use of apologetics can be a great support for the Gospel, ((Acts 17:1-4.)) it is not the Gospel. Apologetics do not save ((1 Corinthians 2:1-5, 11-16.))â€”the Gospel does. ((Romans 1:16; cf. John 3:16, 14:6; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:9-10.))
4. REJECT the lie that science has disproven God ((The existence of God simply cannot be proven or disproven via scientific experimentation.)). EMBRACE the truth that this claim demands more of science than it is able to provide: while science is useful for answering some of lifeâ€™s â€œhowâ€ questions, it cannot answer lifeâ€™s ultimate â€œwhyâ€ questions, namely, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”. ((Some of my favorite resources on this particular issue are The Reason for God by Timothy Keller, Apologetics to the Glory of God by John Frame, Defending Your Faith by R.C. Sproul, and Who Made God? by Edgar Andrews.))
5. REJECT the lie that absolute truth cannot be known. ((As a side note, the assertion that truth cannot be known is itself an absolute truth claim, and, as result, is self-refuting.)) EMBRACE the truth that God is the source of absolute truth and that He has ultimately revealed truth in Person of Jesus. ((John 14:6, Hebrews 1:1-2.))
6. REJECT the lie that the Word of God is not entirely accurate/trustworthy. EMBRACE the truth that the Bible is divinely inspired, perfectly inerrant, ultimately authoritative, and completely sufficient Word of God. ((Check out â€œWhy We Believe the Bible, Part 1â€ at Desiring God for an explanation of what these phrases mean, and why they are absolutely necessary doctrines to embrace and love. For further reading on why I believe the Bible, check out the following resources textual and theological resources: New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide by David Allen Black, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by Bruce Metzger, The Canon of Scripture by F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F.F. Bruce, Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible by Sproul, Beeke, Ferguson, Godfrey, Lanning, MacArthur, Thomas and White, The Missing Gospels by Darrell Bock, and Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Cultureâ€™s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ by Darrell Bock and Daniel Wallace.))
7. REJECT the lie that doctrine/theology doesnâ€™t matter. EMBRACE the truth that doctrine/theology lay the essential foundation for the Christian life. ((Notice, for example, that the flow of many of Paulâ€™s letters is doctrine first, then practical living. The reason for this seems best captured in Paulâ€™s transition from doctrine/theology to practical living in Ephesians 3:14-4:1. For further reading, check out Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper.))
8. REJECT the lie that living a life worthy of the Gospel doesnâ€™t matter. EMBRACE the truth that orthodoxy (right theology) must produce orthopraxy (right living). ((The entire book of 1 John hones in on this very reality, but one could also point to John 14:21, Galatians 5:22-25, etc., etc.))
9. REJECT the lie that Godâ€™s pleasure depends mainly on the outward result of your efforts (i.e., Aâ€™s in school, recognition at work, etc.). EMBRACE the truth that Godâ€™s pleasure depends mainly on the reason for your efforts (i.e., whether your effort was aimed at honoring Him) ((1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17.)).
10. REJECT the lie that Jesus understands if your busyness essentially eliminates your devotion to Him. EMBRACE the truth that such practice is idolatry, which means that while circumstances (i.e., college, job, family, etc.) may change the amount of time you have for the following things, no circumstance should eliminate them: (a) personal devotion to Scripture ((Each psalm, for example, is essentially a personal devotion and you see the value of personal devotions perhaps nowhere more clearly than Psalm 119.)), (b) devotion to the church ((Hebrews 10:24-25, 13:17. Also, check out (for free!) on 9marks.org, â€œIs Church Membership Biblical?â€ by Matt Chandler)), which includes corporate devotion to the preached Word ((Ephesians 4:11-16. Meaningful devotion to corporate worship is commanded in Scripture, and God blesses and equips His people through corporate worship in ways that He does not bless or equip them during times of personal (solitary) worship.)) and the fulfillment of the one another commands in Scripture toward those within the local church ((Romans 12:3-21; Ephesians 4:15-16; Hebrews 3:12.)), (c) and devotion to evangelism ((Matthew 10:26-33; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 2:9. There are tons of potential excuses: â€œitâ€™s not your job/calling,â€ â€œitâ€™s not allowed in your workplace,â€ â€œitâ€™s not kosher in society,â€ â€œit may offend someone,â€ â€œitâ€™s judgmental,â€ â€œyou may create an awkward situation,â€ â€œyou may not know how to answer every question,â€ etc. But all of Godâ€™s people are saved to tell the greatness of Jesus. Some great resources are The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever, Tell the Truth by Will Metzger, and ChristianityExplored.org.)). Of course, there are others ((Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney is an excellent book for exploring spiritual disciplines.)), but these make the point well: neither the diligent pursuit of God nor submission to His commands are ever optional.
11. REJECT the lie that God will normally reveal His will for your life in â€œdreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random Bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc.â€ ((The quotation is the subtitle of a book by Kevin DeYoung entitled Just Do Something. Get it. Read it. Itâ€™s ridiculously well done.)) Embrace the truth that Godâ€™s will is for you to do whatever you want to do, so long as you are enjoying Him ((Psalm 37:4.)), devoting yourself to prayer ((Colossians 1:9-12.)) and the Word ((Psalm 119:105.)), wanting Godâ€™s will to be done and seeking to live in accordance with Godâ€™s general will for your life (i.e., the Bible).
Great Resources for High School Graduates:
In 6 Books Every High School Graduate Should Own (And Read!), I’ve tried to give a brief, but helpful introduction to the books I most highly recommend for graduating seniors. It also includes links to great prices on those books, although the prices will obviously change over time.
What Would You Add?
Having read the 11 way to keep loving Jesus after high school graduation, what would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.