In my last post I said I would like everyone I know to do at least one year of Bible college. I had an email question asking me why I think this is so important.
I think doing one year of focused Bible college helps us to really take time out to focus on Christ, our salvation, who we are in Christ, our calling and growing in our faith.
My first year of college was done online through Tabor Adelaide. I had done previous units at Perth Bible College, but doing the year at Tabor was my first real focused effort at studying the Bible as my sole focus.
The units I did in this year were…
- Introduction to the Old Testament
- Introduction to the New Testament
- Introduction to Biblical Theology
- Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
- The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
- Christian Leadership
- Pastoral Care
- Pastoral Ethics
- Creative Living (knowing who you are in Christ)
At the time this course was called a Certificate IV in Christian Life and Ministry. These days it probably most closely aligns with the Diploma of Theology at Tabor.
I chose this course because I was already serving in my local church and I was involved with PASSIONAustralia.org. I found this gave me a good foundation for what I was doing and a good beginning to the extra studies I did after that.
For me this was a great foundation as it taught me the Bible basics and the basics of ministry. It also firmed up who I am in Christ and who I am created to be.
Romans 15:1-2 is one of my motivation passages that keep me wanting to help others grow in their faith.
The heart of these verses is that the stronger and more mature people in their faith should be helping those who are less mature in their faith to grow.
It doesn’t matter where we are along the spectrum. We might be a Christian with a basic knowledge of the Bible or a Bible college professor, or somewhere in between, we all have a part to play in helping people grow and mature in their faith.
This is a major reason why I trained to be a Pastor and I have my website PASSIONAustralia.org. My heart is for people to come to Christ and grow in their faith. I want people to become lifelong followers of Christ.
My hope is that everyone I know would do the following things…
- Come to know Jesus in a personal way and find peace with God.
- Do some basic discipleship training.
- Attend and serve in a their local church.
- Undertake at least a year of Bible college to mature in their faith.
When we do these four things we give ourselves the best chance to live the life God intended for us. To be in relationship with God, to be assured of our salvation, to know who we are in Christ, to be obedient to God’s commands and to serve Him all the days of our lives.
How about you? What passages motivate you to help people grow in their faith?
It has been more than six months since I finished my studies at Bible college. I have had some time to let it all sink in and reflect on it.
While I feel that I have learnt a lot about the Bible and Theology, there are some lessons that I did not have assignments or exams for, that I am especially happy about. Here are a few…
1. I love God more
2. I love others more
3. I am more in tune with the Holy Spirit
4. God’s eternal plan for my life is my only priority
5. I am more conformed to Christ’s image
Going in to my studies I wanted more Bible knowledge and I wanted to get prepared for what God had in store for me. And while my studies helped with those things, it is the lessons above that I am most thankful to God for.
Seven years of hard study has been well worth it! It has been life transforming.
I found another useful short course on ChristianCourses.com this week. It is called “Theology Basics”. Here’s a description of it…
“Theology Basics is a FastTrax course designed to familiarize you with the foundational truths contained in the Bible. In it you will examine the doctrines of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, salvation, the church, the spirit world, and the future. By the completion of this course, you will see how each of these doctrines fit into God’s plan for the redemption of the human race for His glory.
Media-based lectures are the key learning activity within each lesson. This course has transcripts and audio versions of all Flash teaching segments. Use the audio or transcript if you have a low-speed Internet connection.”
As it is what they called a FastTrax course, you listen to a lecture, answer some reflection questions and finish with a short quiz. I am doing it to brush up on some of the basics and to see if it is useful for new believers.
If you are interested you can find it here for free.
I was just reading over some of the units I have studied and I came across three that I thought that might be useful to some people. They are available at ChristianCourses.com.
Ten Reasons to Believe in the Existence of God
Some have proposed that the belief in God was invented by people who needed a sense of protection and spiritual meaning. Yet despite these kinds of challenges, there are convincing evidences that support a belief in the God of the Bible. Students are guided into examination of the limits of science, the argument for intelligent design in nature, and the claims of Christ relative to deity.
Ten Reasons to Believe in the Bible
In a world full of religious books, all claiming authority over the lives of their followers, is there good reason to believe the Bible is any different? Any better? Any more reliable? The source of spiritual authority we choose to commit our lives to will impact how we live and who we become. Students learn why they can have confidence in the teachings and wisdom of the Bible.
Ten Reasons to Believe in a God Who Allows Suffering
Students are challenged to wrestle with difficult issues of faith. One of those is the reconciliation of the power and love of God with the suffering that occurs in our world. Students discover that difficult questions about unexplained suffering find satisfying and understandable answers in the pages of Scripture.
They are available for free or you can pay a small fee and they count towards a recognised Degree program. You can find more information here.
I was just having a look of the units I have studied at Bible College this morning. They really start to add up if you stick with it over time.
I have done these units either as a full time or part time student. I started at Perth Bible College in the 1990s, through ChristianCourses.com (2005-2006) and more recently at Tabor Adelaide (2008 on).
As I look at the list of units I have a sense of achievement, of growth and learning and I feel a bit tired when I think about all of the assignments and deadlines!
Anyway, here’s the list…
- Creative Living (Living in the image of God)
- Understanding God and Ourselves
- Introduction to the Old Testament
- Introduction to the New Testament
- Survey of the New Testament
- Survey of the Old Testament
- Introduction to Christian Belief
- Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
- Introduction to Christian Counselling
- Understanding Human Behaviour
- Pastoral Care (Inside and outside the church)
- Ministry of the Spirit
- Pastoral Ethics
- Soteriology – Doctrine of Salvation
- Personal Evangelism and Sharing your faith
- Public Speaking and Preaching
- Understanding Culturally Appropriate Mission
- Facilitating Individual Learning
- Working Effectively with Young People in a Youth Work context
- Undertake research activities (researching a church culture or local area)
- Equipping with the Gospels
- Equipping in the Christian Faith
- Guide to Christian Growth
- Ten reasons to believe in the existence of God
- Ten reasons to believe in the Bible
- Ten reasons to believe in Christ rather than religion
- Ten reasons to believe in a God who allows suffering
- Ten reasons to believe real Christians can look like they are not
It has been hard work, like any studies I guess. But in a way Bible College is harder because you have all of the personal growth and attitude changes that need to take place in the midst of it too.
If you are thinking about doing some Bible studies I would encourage you to do so. The work you do lasts not just for this life…it lasts for all eternity!
Over the last few years I have started to use the New Living Translation (NLT) version of the Bible more and more. I just like that it is easy to read, understand and apply to my life.
Recently I have purchased a NLT Life Application Study Bible. I wanted it so I could do the same study I do with my New International Version (NIV) Thompson Chain Reference Bible.
Here are some of the features from the website…
- Thousands of Life Application notes help explain God’s Word and challenge you to apply the truth of Scripture to life
- Personality profiles highlight over 100 important Bible characters
- Book introductions provide vital statistics, overview, and timeline to help you understand the message of each book
- 200 thumbnail maps highlight important Bible places and events
- Christian Worker’s resource: a special supplement to enhance the your ministry effectiveness
- 260 charts help explain difficult concepts and relationships
- Harmony of the Gospels built right into the text of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
- Daily reading plan
- Topical index to all notes, charts, maps, and profiles
So far I have found it really good and really enjoyable to use. I have especially enjoyed having a notes section at the bottom of each page that gives background and explanation to hard verses.
I would highly recommend it if you are looking to buy yourself a study Bible.
Here is a video for ChristianCourses.com. It introduces them and talks a little bit about the courses they offer. If you are interested in learning about the Bible, this is a great place to start.
I have done a number of courses at ChristianCourses.com including Old Testament Introduction and New Testament Introduction, and a number of the Apologetics courses.
I have found them very helpful and practical. I especially like that you can work through them at your own pace and they are free!
I am back at Bible college this year doing some more units to keep learning and growing. Something I think is important as a Christian.
As I was thinking about an assignment I have due, I was remembering my first go at Bible college back in the early 1990’s. I was thinking how much things have changed.
On my first time around the college set an assignment and they expected you to use the Bible, your own reflections and maybe a Bible dictionary or a commentary.
These days you need to use at least five substantial references plus the Bible. You need to use direct quotes and/or refer to these sources to show that you have read widely.
While I can see this referencing is important, I still find it hard sometimes that a man’s thoughts in a book can carry more weight than the Bible read reflectively with the help of the Holy Spirit.
As I type I wonder how men like Smith Wigglesworth would go at Bible college these days. He was famously known for being a man of just one book – the Bible!
When I was at Bible College one of the assignments I had to do was about the four main groups of people that were around when Jesus walked the earth. This was to give us an idea of what life was like at that time and to give us a context for Jesus’ words.
The four main groups we have to look at were the Pharisees, Saducees, Essenes and Zealots. Here’s a very brief rundown of each group…
Pharisees – very strict sect who followed the law of Moses and had over 600 laws to guide their daily lives. They spent a lot of time interpreting the laws and trying to apply them to their everyday lives. They believed Israel was a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation and thought that if all of Israel could keep the law for one day, then the Messiah would come. Jesus spoke out against them because they were more interested in keeping the law than showing compassion to those around them and looking good on the outside.
Saducees – they also followed the law of Moses but rejected many of the oral traditional laws that the Pharisees held. Their main focus was the Temple and Temple activities. They did not believe in an afterlife or future judgement. They believed that God did not intervene in the affairs of men and their motto was if it is to be, it is up to me. Because of this they survived by cooperating with the Roman authorities which gave them much power in the Jewish religion. To be a Saducee you must be of priestly heritage. The Saducees were the main teachers in the Temple.
Essenes – this group of people saw themselves as the only people who worshipped the true faith and that they were the true remnant of Israel. They believe all others had left the true teachings behind and the Temple had been corrupted. Because of this they separated themselves in their own communities and lived a very strict monastic lifestyle. They believed that God would come and judge the rest of the Jews and the world and vindicate their beliefs about God and true religion. They avoided all unnecessary contact with non-Essenes.
Zealots – they were part of the Jewish patriotic party and opposed the Roman occupation of the region at all costs. Their motto was we will have no king, but God. Their goal was a land truly free from Gentile defilement, just as God had originally intended according to them. They sometimes used violence to bring their cause to pass. Some of the community of Jews saw them as bandits, but they saw themselves freedom fighters.
The interesting thing about this assignment and it really helped me to understand life in New Testament times a little bit better. I thought I would share it so it would help you too.