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“Holding forth the Word of Life” Philippians 2:16
“Holding fast the Faithful Word” Titus 1:9
“Without the Bible College, the Church would die” said the late Rev. Dr. Paul Contento. Without knowledge, the Church is destroyed (Hosea 4:6). In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded His Church not only to evangelise the world—“make disciples of all nations,” but also indoctrinate His people—“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18–20).
In the light of the Great Commission, the Church needs the Bible College to:
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). This verse, by Paul to Timothy, is a favourite verse of many a Bible College and rightly so. The Church needs faithful pastors, not “payful” preachers whose motto is “more pay more preach, less pay less preach, no pay no preach,” “whose God is their belly” (says Paul in Philippians 3:19) and “whose religion is their kitchen” (adds Calvin).
The Bible College crucible should weed out those who enter the ministry for selfish reasons. The grind of daily homilies with practical duties should test the mettle and worth of every student. Those who endure suffering and prove themselves faithful, usually emerge mature and equipped for the ministry. Those not called will soon fade away and disappear.
The Church does not need the clever and the cunning, but the humble and the faithful. There are students who may not be ‘A’ academically, but they do their very best, and their hearts are right before God and man. Though weak, they are clean. The Church needs such men and women.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:26–31).
In this day and age, Bible Colleges are needed to train strong doctrinal preachers faithful to the Perfect Scriptures. Dr McIntire has rightly said, “Strong doctrinal preaching is absolutely essential if a church is to be a faithful church of Christ. There is no place in the church of Christ for a single preacher who denies the Word of God.”
Indeed, there is no place in any church or any Bible College for any preacher who denies the infallibility and inerrancy of Scriptures, and believes the Bible today contains errors. A Bible College that does not believe in a 100% Bible does not deserve to exist.
How can a preacher be faithful if he does not believe in a perfect Bible? He cannot!
A Bible College needs Faith.
Faithful men are needed to:
In any true Bible College, there must be a passionate proclamation of the foundational convictions of the Christian faith and of the good news of what Christ has done for the salvation of sinners. A Bible College curriculum must be first and foremost Bible-centred and steeped in doctrine and theology with an emphasis on the biblical languages.
The promotion of the Christian faith cannot be had with a smattering of Bible and theology and half-baked practical ministry courses that most seminaries today offer. Practice comes out of doctrine. Doctrine begets practice.
Proof of this can be seen in the intensive, systematic Biblical studies programme that Paul conducted in the School of Tyrannus that led to many conversions and changed lives—“And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. … So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:18, 20).
A Bible College needs Truth.
Honest and brave men are needed to:
A Bible College is like a military institute to train godly Christian soldiers to protect the doctrinal purity of the Church. The Apostle Paul showed by example this important aspect of Bible College ministry. He told the Ephesian church, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:27–32).
The Apostle Jude likewise wrote, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
In these last days of falsehood and falling away, the Church must be doubly vigilant if she is to be kept from being swept away by the tide of unbelief and apostasy. The Bible College can serve as the Church’s protector. The College must always be on the alert to spot the latest doctrinal virus that seeks to infect the Church. She must be the first to sound the alarm. She must do her research. She must publish her findings. She must expose these harmful agents.
Singapore is well-protected against SARS. This is only so because she has a well-armed institution in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and an expert staff of doctors and nurses to deal immediately and effectively with any incoming threat. How about the Church? Does she have a Bible College with a biblically well-trained faculty to fend off any invading doctrinal germ? Is it any wonder that Dr Contento warned, “Without the Bible College, the Church would die”?
Today, there are two SARS-like doctrines that the Church must watch out for. The first is open-theism or neo-theism that presents a God who does not know everything about the future, questioning His omniscience. The second is neo-fundamentalism or neo-deism that teaches a God who is incapable of preserving all of His inspired words in the Holy Scriptures, questioning His omnipotence. Be warned, beware!
The Bible College needs Courage.
May the Lord raise up more Bible Colleges that will prepare faithful servants to promote the Christian Faith and protect the Church’s purity in the Word of God. The Lord is calling devout and brave men to join His army and ministry. Why won’t you answer the Lord’s call?
Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo is the academic dean of Far Eastern Bible College.
– Published in Bible Witness, Vol 4 Issue 1 (January – March 2004)