Tony Johnson’s Valedictorian Address (2012 Bear Valley Bible Institute)

On behalf of the graduating class of 2012 I would like to thank the faculty and the staff of the Bear Valley Bible Institute for their instruction, their guidance, and there patience. I would also like to thank the Bear Valley congregation for their support and love for the school and the students. We are all deeply indebted to you.

In an address to the Harrow School during the dark days of World War II, Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never, give in.” I am not quite as eloquent as Mr. Churchill, so in the few minutes I have this morning let me simply say, “Don’t Quit!”

To the Bear Valley congregation, I would say to you – “Don’t Quit!” You have just finished celebrating your 50th anniversary, and this morning you are marking the completion of 47 years of training preachers. Consider what you have done and are doing for the kingdom of God. Hundreds of pulpits are filled with Bear Valley graduates, men and women are serving in the mission fields around the world, men are serving as elders, deacons and leaders are in congregations across the country, and men and women are faithfully serving and teaching because of your support for the school. Don’t quit, the kingdom needs the good work you are doing.

To the faculty and staff of the Bible Institute, I would say to you – “Don’t Quit!” Sometimes as students we forget when complaining about writing six sermons for a class, that it means that you have to read and grade 90 of them. When we complain about writing five ten page papers, you have to grade 75 of them, reading hundreds of pages. We don’t say thank you enough for the work you do. From you we have learned how to become better students of God’s word, how to dig deeper, and how to think critically. Don’t quit, the kingdom needs the good work you are doing.

To the undergraduates that are here this morning, I would say to you – “Don’t Quit!” It gets even better the second year. It’s tough, but the Bible education you are receiving is invaluable, whether you ever fill a pulpit or not. Don’t Quit, the kingdom needs men and women who are devoted to Biblical truth.

And to my fellow graduates, I would say to you – “Don’t Quit!” Today is the completion of one part of our journey and the beginning of another. In another speech, Churchill stated, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Such is the case with us today, so don’t quit!  Regardless of what your plans are, what we have done in the past two years has better equipped us as servants of God, so don’t quit! 

Far too many have quit. Some have quit to take a job that pays more. Others have quit because preaching can be hard work and so often you feel unappreciated. Still others have quit preaching the truth, because it is easier to preach what people want to hear rather than the truth of God’s word. Don’t you quit. Don’t quit learning. Don’t quit serving. Don’t quit putting the truth of God’s word before the whims and passing fancies of this world. Don’t quit preaching the word, in season and out of season. Don’t quit reproving and rebuking when necessary, and don’t quit exhorting whenever possible.  Don’t quit, because the kingdom of God expects great things from you.

I know the quality of the men who I have spent the last two years with. I know the quality of the women who have completed the women’s program. Because I know the quality of the class of 2012, I expect great things from you as well, and I know you will not quit.


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