Rev Joseph Poon
Pastor, Bible-Presbyterian Church of Western Australia, Perth
This year, Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) celebrates its Diamond Jubilee since its founding in 1962. Thank God for how He has enabled and kept for us a uniquely Bible-Presbyterian Bible College today. Thank God for seeing FEBC through 60 years!
Over the years, you may have noticed several announcements or prayers in the bulletin referencing the FEBC. Why do we promote, pray for, and give our support to FEBC?
Why Must There Be a Bible College?
It is often quoted that “without the Bible College, the Church would die”. The church, by God’s definition, is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). A Bible College never replaces or overshadows the church, but instead supports it to fulfill this role. It is the church’s duty to teach. The Bible College enables the church to do so by training those who are called to teach. Just as we fully expect nurses and doctors to receive the needed training for their respective roles, we must also expect that those who are called to minister God’s word to be properly trained too. A well-rounded training is required – not just lessons of the books of the Bible, but of the Biblical languages, hermeneutics, apologetics, and of the practical aspects of ministerial life, just to name a few. Preaching is not simply putting together a collection of historical backgrounds gleaned from textbooks, nor choosing the “most viable” interpretation from today’s multitude of readily available online and printed resources. Those who minister the Word must be trained in “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) and know how to apply the right principles in interpreting, understanding, and teaching God’s Word. Such preparation is beyond what a layperson, however intelligent, would pick up by himself or learn through the church. This preparation is filled by the Bible College. Bible College training provides the foundation and begins the sharpening process of the gifts which God would have gifted every one whom He calls to the ministry of the Word.
Why the Far Eastern Bible College?
Anyone receiving a preparatory training from FEBC will be taught the fundamentals of the faith that are consistent with what we as a church uphold and teach. Having materials, resources, and teachers from other Bible Colleges or universities that are Baptistic for example only causes confusion and disunity in faith and practices. I still recall how we had to edit Children Sunday School materials which taught that infant baptism is a heresy. And this is just material for children, not adult Bible study lessons! Conversely, FEBC material will be doctrinally consistent with that of Presbyterian church government and beliefs.
When we send someone to FEBC for training, we need not fear that through it he would have imbibed Baptistic or modernistic viewpoints. We have seen some who after graduating from a so-called independent fundamental Bible College accept modern English versions, accept textual criticism, and lead in the fight against the perfectly preserved Bible. Others begin to adopt quasi-Baptistic views on church governance and Bible interpretation. One of the key means to preserve the unity of beliefs and peace in a church is by ensuring that we take in potential ministers of the Word who have graduated from our own denomination’s Bible College.
Besides these doctrinal aspects, one’s period of study together in the College also forges bonds with those that one studies with and lives alongside for several years. Some of these valuable friendships often continue beyond the time of study in FEBC, especially when the students serve in or start-up Bible-Presbyterian churches upon graduation. It enables iron to sharpen iron, and also mutual support and encouragement among BP church pastors as they labour to strengthen God’s truth and work in various parts of the world according to His calling.
Established, Tested, and Used by God
Just do a Google search, and numerous online resources and Bible colleges turn up, some even offering free courses. Those who have been with us for some time may know that some pastors have started what they term as a “Bible Institute”, even in BPCWA. Running a Bible college is no easy task. There must be credible, properly trained, and quality lecturers. Proper administration of the school, setup of a suitable library, and maintaining the accreditation of the college for the programs it offers are just some other aspects to mention. But beyond all these, FEBC has stood firmly in the defence of God’s Word despite intense pressure to compromise. Any institution that calls itself a BIBLE college or CHRISTIAN university that does not defend the inerrancy, infallibility, and preservation of the Bible is using a misnomer. Having understood the importance of a sound Bible college to a church, we rejoice and thank God for seeing the College through the past 60 years. Many of our worshippers have benefited from the work of the faithful lecturers at FEBC through their online courses. Signing up for these courses is one way that we can support FEBC financially, even if we are not called to the fulltime ministry. Do not just look for free courses and jump onto other institutions because of that. This is even more important during times such as these, when there is a drop in enrolment of students from overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supporting the Work at FEBC
To be viable, there must be the “economies of scale”, which are needed for the everyday administration of the Bible college. A Bible college has many overheads to take care of, such as that needed to run the dormitory and kitchen for the overseas and stay-in students, a theological library, and other administrative support. These are no minor costs and having more students will allow it to have a better economy of scale. As long as FEBC is a good and sound institution, we must do our part in giving it our undivided support and promotion so that it has a sound base of students and financials for its operation. If FEBC fails because of a lack of support on our part, then we have no one to blame but ourselves because we will not have a sound college where we can send future ministerial students for training.Let us also support the work through much prayer before God’s throne. As history speaks for itself, Satan will always desire to undermine the work at the Bible College, for it can cause much harm down the road to the churches that it helps to support. Pray for the Board of Directors of FEBC to work with one accord for the sake of God’s churches. Pray that the lecturers will be faithful to teach God’s Word in perilous times. Finally, pray that God will send those He calls to FEBC to train them for His work so that they will spread His truth to all nations. “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2). “Pastoral Letters”, BPCWA, 6 March 2022
A DECADE SINCE THE COURT OF APPEAL RULED IN FAVOUR OF FEBC AND VPP
A Personal Reflection by Dn Emerson Ang of Truth BPC
Every generation has their battles to fight. In our time, we witnessed how this present generation had to battle for the truth of God’s Word. FEBC stood firmly on the verbal and plenary preservation (VPP) of the Word of God. Truth BPC was born out of this battle for the truth. God has given our church this heritage. Let us not look back at a past “golden age” and simply reminisce. We are called to continue the battle and fight for the truth of God, not with weapons but by living out God’s truth, to share God’s Word with those around us.
God moves in a mysterious way. Does it not seem strange to you that God had chosen to proclaim the doctrine of the perfect preservation of Holy Scripture by using a small Bible College like FEBC in a small country like Singapore? A deeper look into Singapore’s history may help us see the wonderful workings of our faithful God. This country inherited its legal system from the British which is based on the principles of the Bible, and Singapore is renowned for its adherence to the rule of law. God has also, in His mercies, given Singapore stable political, economic, and legal systems to ensure that the battle for His truth can be fought and its fidelity declared as a testimony for all to see. It is therefore the responsibility of God’s people, placed in such privileged situation, to do their best and use all the means available, according to God’s Word, to uphold and fight for His truth.
The importance of being faithful in little things. Many of us may wonder if the things done are of any significance. In the various court hearings, we get to read the minutes of the Board and Session meetings. If the secretary at the time of writing had not been faithful to record the minutes, the outcome could have been drastically different. This is an encouragement to all who are serving the Lord to be faithful in all matters.
In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, a person could only serve in the Temple’s work when his genealogy was found in the records stored in the Temple. Book-keeping may be one of the “mundane” areas of service, repetitive and not very “glamorous.” However, whether a person can serve as a book-keeper or not is determined by his faithfulness. Let us be encouraged to do all the tasks that God has given to us in a faithful manner, knowing that God can use it for His purpose in His time.
Standing firm on God’s truth may be costly, but it will be worth every cent or ounce of energy spent. Our Lord Himself sacrificed His life for our salvation. The battle for God’s Word has shown us that God is sovereign. He alone has preserved His Word. What is required of us is to make sure we are on the Lord’s side come what may. (Excerpt from Shine Forth, Vol 15, 2021)
1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, S(308899) firstname.lastname@example.org 6254 1287
© 2022 True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church