Why Bible School?

School
noun
1.
an institution for educating children.
“Ryder’s children did not go to school at all”
synonyms: educational institution; More
2.
any institution at which instruction is given in a particular discipline.
“a dancing school”

ed·u·ca·tion
noun
the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.
“a new system of public education”
synonyms: teaching, schooling, tuition, tutoring, instruction, coaching, training, tutelage, guidance

A good friend of mine wondered why one should go to a bible school to be a pastor. To be precise, I took up a theology course not to be a pastor but to help our pastor and the church by teaching God’s Word (I was assigned by my fellows to teach). My classes are not online (though I supplement my education a lot from well reputed online resources) but I go to a real physical class with classmates and a teacher. Though the Bible does not explicitly say that one has to go to a Christian bible school verbatim to learn about the Lord Jesus Christ, but there are a good number of verses that actually shows and commands community education.

The Old Testament Era Education

In the Old testament, scriptural and community education (forerunner of bible school perhaps) is commanded among the Jews as they were to observe, meditate and live by the law carefully. Moses (later on Joshua) was commanded by God to instruct and educate the Jews about the law and its ordinances. The Levites were also designated as teachers of the Mosaic Law. Here are a few examples of instructions:

Exodus 21:1Amplified Bible (AMP)

Ordinances for the People

21 “Now these are the ordinances (laws) which you shall set before the Israelites:

Deuteronomy 31:12Amplified Bible (AMP)

12 Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the stranger (resident alien, foreigner) within your cities, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect], and be careful to obey all the words of this law.

Joshua 1:8Amplified Bible (AMP)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be [a]successful.

Levites teaching the Mosaic Law:

Deuteronomy 33:10
They shall teach Jacob your judgments, and Israel your law: they shall put incense before you, and whole burnt sacrifice on your altar.
Nave’s Topical Index

2 Chronicles 17:8,9
And with them he sent Levites, even Shemaiah, and Nethaniah, and Zebadiah, and Asahel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehonathan, and Adonijah, and Tobijah, and Tobadonijah, Levites; and with them Elishama and Jehoram, priests.
Nave’s Topical Index

2 Chronicles 30:22
And Hezekiah spoke comfortably to all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the LORD: and they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers.
Nave’s Topical Index

2 Chronicles 35:3
And said to the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy to the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; it shall not be a burden on your shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and his people Israel,
Nave’s Topical Index

Nehemiah 8:7-13
Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
Nave’s Topical Index

It is a fact that the original disciples and apostles had the privilege to walk with our Lord in the flesh and learned from him firsthand. Jesus taught them in a persuasive dynamic manner with authority from easily relatable parables to hard theological truths which the disciples at times found hard to understand. Not only his disciples but even Jewish rabbis recognise Jesus as a great teacher and even Nicodemus considered Jesus, a teacher from God (John 3:2).

Now let us touch Matthew 28‘s the Great Commission…

The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted [that it was really He]. 18 Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”

Making disciples means education and schooling (general to particular discipline) and is not just limited only to a one-on-one discipleship training but it involves the head pastors or elders to teachers to witnessing believers. The great commission already became an institution in the book of Acts as the Apostles went to preach with power, travelled and the numbers of disciples grew even more despite opposition and persecution.

In the Book of Acts:

After the great commission and the ascension of Christ, we entered the book of Acts were the believers assembled themselves together in the upper room. Later on after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the day of Pentecost, the apostles together with the believers were growing in numbers as well as gathering together frequently. This were technically the church and now the apostles would want to devout their time to prayer and teaching the Word of God and would not want to be distracted by other matters so hence they appointed a food committee.

Acts 6:2-5Amplified Bible (AMP)

So the [a]Twelve called the disciples together and said, “It is not appropriate for us to neglect [teaching] the word of God in order to serve tables and manage the distribution of food. Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word. The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected [b]Stephen, a man full of faith [in Christ Jesus], and [filled with and led by] the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (Nikolaos), a proselyte (Gentile convert) from Antioch.

Yes, there were no instituted Christian bible schools that existed in the time of Acts because the church was just being born at that time but there were already “theological” schools existing prior which produced the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Paul himself went and received his education in the school of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), considered the most noted rabbi in history and a doctor of the law. Gamaliel was the rabbi who argued against the killing of the Apostles (Acts 5:34-39).

In the Epistles of Paul

1 Timothy 4:12-13 Amplified Bible (AMP)

12 Let no one look down on [you because of] your youth, but be an example and set a pattern for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in [moral] purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to public reading [of Scripture], to preaching and to teaching [the sound doctrine of God’s word]. 

We ourselves can observe Paul’s education as extensive and not just about the Mosaic law but even Hellenistic philosophy (Paul is noted arguing with the Hellenists in Acts 9:29). Paul’s amazing exposition in his Epistle to the Romans about God’s relentless grace and righteousness that comes by grace through faith (justification by faith, doctrine of election,  the responsibility of man, etc.) shows the depth of his education in the Old Testament to the revealed Word of God in Christ. Paul also showed great apologetic (apologia – a formal written defense) arguments against the Judaizers in the Epistle to the Galatians who wanted to bind the Christians to legalism.

Here is one example of Paul reiterating justification by faith and reminding us the purpose of the law before Christ.

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, (Galatians 3:23-26)*

Bible School is a Ministry

A bible school either in a university setup or in a small church would certainly consists of pastors and teachers of the Word. Please take note why Christ appointed the 5 fold ministries in Ephesians 4:11-13:

Ephesians 4:11-13Amplified Bible (AMP)

11 And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], 12 [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; 13 until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].

Bible school or bible education is also a ministry.

About Pastoring and Theology

Acts 20:28Amplified Bible (AMP)

28 Take care and be on guard for yourselves and for the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd (tend, feed, guide) the church of God which He bought with His own blood.

Pastoring is basically shepherding the flock or congregation. What a shepherd does is taking care of the sheep by feeding and sheltering them so with pastors, they feed the congregation with God’s words, helping them grow into mature Christians and taking good care of them just like a father would to his family.

Theology

Theology on the other hand is a broad field of study about the nature of God, belief and doctrines. Christians who take theology courses either a 4 year bachelor course or a 2 year course doesn’t mean he is automatically a pastor. Some would take theology to have a better understanding of scripture while others want to be a teacher of the word.

One can be a pastor or a teacher or both. Pastors are also teachers in a certain degree for they teach (tend, feed, guide) but not all those who are teachers wants to pastor (overseer or supervise) and lead the church. Pastors are like fathers too for they father the congregation like tending sheep.

Let us be reminded that Paul the apostle himself was a great theologian. It would be a great blessing if some (if not many or all) of our pastors are also practical theologians themselves especially in this age where false doctrines are becoming rampant.

I am sure you can search for great articles about why enrolled to a bible school or a bible course on Google search but here is basically why:

  1. Solid Foundation – Having a solid foundation in biblical studies or Christian theology is a great blessing for the body of believers. It is a blessing because you can effectively explain essential sound doctrines to your fellow brethren anywhere, anytime. Please check 2 Timothy 4:2 about being prepared in season and out of season.
  2. Identify Errors – Some preachers and pastors tend to overlook the importance of sound doctrine. Knowing what is sound (truthful) helps us judge (measure, asses, discern) what is biblical truth from false. 2 Timothy 4:2-3 tells we should be ready to rebuke and correct because people would no longer put up with sound doctrine and instead would listen to what they want to hear that will suit their selfish or carnal desires. 2 Peter 1:22 warns us of false prophets and teachers that would secretly bring destructive heresies.
  3. Maturity – Just as stated in Ephesians 4:11-13, we should be fully equipped, growing in the knowledge of God, becoming mature believers that we may reach the fullness of Christ and we are effective in fulfilling the Great Commission in Matthew 28.
  4. Teach Effectively – Just as I have presented above, we Christians are commanded to teach the ways of the Lord. Just in my 1st year alone in my schooling I have learned some valuable study/teaching methods which I probably would not have encountered outside the school. One such method is block diagramming of the verses. Very helpful especially in creating an outline sermon and observing the text.
  5. Proper Interpretation – Or biblical hermeneutics.  This is important especially in a school setting because people who tend to interpret alone (like locking themselves for days alone) outside the principles and methods of interpreting the scriptures has the high risk of developing a false doctrine and heresies, a recipe for establishing a cult sect especially if he or she would not allow these “revelations” be examined by the brethren. Apart from 2 Timothy 4:2-3, We are also commanded to correctly handle the truth in 2 Timothy 2:15. 2 Peter 1:20 also reminds us that the prophecy of scripture did not came by private interpretation but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. How one does know it comes from God? Test it with the scriptures (just like the Bereans in Acts 17:11) and if it doesn’t agree then it is not of God. 1 John 4:1 tells us to test every spirit whether they are of God. If that person gets mad when you test his or her “revelation” in the light of God’s Word no matter how much the person claims anointing or called by God, chances are it is not from the Lord. People who are in error and insist in that error are usually violent or short fused so exercise caution and wisdom.
  6. Proper ExegesisExegesis is basically interpreting the text in context and as intended by the author. You are drawing out what the author or the text really say. It is to avoid the method of inserting our own personal ideas or agenda in the text which is called eisegesis. Eisegesis is making the bible agree to us instead of us agreeing to the bible and this will lead to error. The 4 Basic steps of exegesis: Observation, Interpretation, Correlation and Application.
  7. AccountabilityHaving someone to correct you, lookout for you, guide you as you do so with your brethren helps fight errors and temptations as well as remould your character in humility and patience (2 Timothy 2:24). We are to grow in oneness in faith and knowledge in Christ as mentioned in Ephesians 4:13. Hebrews 10:24-25 perfectly states about accountability as well as encouraging all of us to gather or assemble both in worship and instruction (education).

Hebrews 10:24-25Amplified Bible (AMP)

24 and let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, 25 not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.

So to conclude this article, I would like to restate that it doesn’t really matter if you study theology or bible education in a university setting or in a small church or even in a home setting, as long as there’s a teacher who teaches you sound biblical truths then you are in the right path. Exercise discussion with your brethren what you learned from the sermon, church, article or class some time. In doing so you help each other’s “iron” sharpened (Proverbs 27:17). Wherever or whatever bible education is available as long as you can commit to give time and effort then go for it.

Most importantly, you being an educated Christian (armed both spiritually and theologically) should not be limited in the classroom or church pews or even the pulpit. We have to go out there and reach out to all people, proclaim the gospel and walk in Christ’s love as we help the community become prosperous for the glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

God bless!

p.s.

* Galatians 3:23-36 – Basically, it doesn’t mean we no longer observe any law at all. It means that we are now justified by faith and not by the works of the law. However, the law Christians are commanded to obey is now the Royal Law or the Law of Christ and not the Mosaic Law. We can now obey the law of Christ because of the power of the Holy Spirit (and the resulting process of regenerationEphesians 2; a new creation – 2 Corinthian 5:17).

Remember what Jesus said in John 13:34-35? – 34A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus did summarised the whole Mosaic Law in Matthew 22:36-40 (Love God first then love your neighbour as thyself) which he came to fulfill the requirements of the Law for our sake as he said in Matthew 5:17-18 and finally fulfilled those requirements when he said at the cross “It is finished.” in John 19:30.

Christians are now under the Law of Christ: 

Galatians 6:2Amplified Bible (AMP)

Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].

1 Corinthians 9:21Amplified Bible (AMP)

21 To those who are without (outside) the Law, [I became] as one without the Law, though [I am] not without the law of God, but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.

The Royal Law:

James 2:8Amplified Bible (AMP)

If, however, you are [really] fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, if you have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit]” you are doing well.

The Law of Christ or the Royal Law is not burdensome unlike the Mosaic Law:

Acts 15:10Amplified Bible (AMP)

10 Now then, why are you testing God by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to endure?

1 John 5:3Amplified Bible (AMP)

For the [true] love of God is this: that we habitually keep His commandments and remain focused on His precepts. And His commandments and His precepts are not difficult [to obey].

A few examples of Christ’s commands and precepts:

Love Your Enemies

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?” (Matthew 5:44–46).

Lay Up Treasures

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).

Forgive Offenders

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21–22).

Be Born Again

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:5–7).

Baptize My Disciples

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

Make Disciples

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19–20).

Love Your Enemies/Bless Those Who Curse You

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?” (Matthew 5:44–46).

A New Command

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

And this is what it meant when Jesus finally fulfilled the requirements of the Law:

But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:6-13)

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, (Galatians 3:23-26)

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands– remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Ephesians 2:11-16)

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

My post script above is sort of a nutshell about New Covenant Theology.

Here’s another nutshell about NCT:

https://www.gotquestions.org/new-covenant-theology.html

Contrasting New Covenant Theology with Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology in a nutshell:

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-does-john-piper-believe-about-dispensationalism-covenant-theology-and-new-covenant-theology

Additional links about Bible Education:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/education-in-bible-times.html

http://theologicalmatters.com/2016/04/01/why-go-to-bible-college-or-seminary/

My Bible Education:

http://bibletraining.com/dd_sponsors/crossing-cultures-international-cci/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s