If you’re thinking about Bible College next year (or at some stage), what are some of the things you should be looking for? While there are quite a few important ones, here are five that should be at the top of your list.
High view of the Word of God
The Bible is a supernatural Book. It claims to be inspired, or breathed out by God (2 Tim 3:16), and Peter tells us that God wrote it by carrying along men (2 Peter 1:20-21). If this is true and as the Bible says, God cannot lie (Num 23:19, Tit 1:2, Heb 6:18), and knows all things (1 Jn 3:20) being perfect in knowledge (Job 37:16), then there are no errors in it, it carries God’s authority, and it is all we need for life and godliness. Being inspired by God, the Bible is profitable for teaching, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:17), therefore a Bible College, and its staff should hold the Bible as its highest authority, and everything it teaches should align with the Bible.
High view of preaching
Because the Bible is central, and the Bible holds preaching as necessary (2 Tim 4:2)1, then a Bible College should teach its students to preach through the Bible, teaching its sense so the hearer can understand it (Neh 8:8). From Moses to Modern day, faithful teaching of the Word of God has been to explain what God said, bridging the historical, cultural and language barriers so that those who hear it can understand it and be transformed by it.
Focus on personal holiness
If God has told us what pleases Him (Micah 6:8), then because He wrote it in the Word, it carries His authority, and it must be obeyed. While we all know that personal obedience is not simply a matter of following a legal code, obedience comes from a right relationship to the Lord, and then a right understanding of how to live by the Spirit of Christ. If holiness isn’t part of what a Bible College focuses on, it isn’t focusing on God’s will for His people (1 Thess 4:3, 1 Pet 2:9-11).
Right understanding of the church
The church is more than a social group. The church is the body of Christ, powered by the Spirit of Christ to do the work of Christ and proclaim the message of Christ. The body needs to work together because God works through people working together to achieve His end, which is to glorify God by proclaiming Christ (Col 1:28, 1 Pet 2:9). The church is the corporate body gathering to glorify God in worship and scattering to glorify God in deed and speech.
Directly accountable to the church
The faculty of a Bible College ultimately serve the church and so they should be accountable to the church. This should happen in two ways. Firstly the faculty should be exercising their gifts and abilities for the benefit of the church under the oversight of the leaders of the church. Secondly, the church should have direct oversight of the ministry of the Bible College. The theology of the Bible College should be held in check by the practical requirements of faithful day to day ministry to the flock. When the Bible College is disconnected from the needs of God’s people, theology will become pragmatic (focused on what works rather than faithfulness to Christ and His Word) or it will liberalise, reflecting the whim of men buried too deeply in their own world. If this happens, the Bible College ceases to serve the church, and begins to subvert it.
If you are considering a Bible College, and you are concerned about being faithful to Christ, make sure you ask them about these five things.
At The Shepherd’s Bible College, our educational programme is built around these five things, take a look.