I. Our Identity
This training program for pastors is designed particularly (although not exclusively) for those who cannot be uprooted from their churches or residences and be relocated to other places to attend a three year training program in other Reformed Baptist institutes for pastoral training in the Philippines or outside. Although we continue to support other Reformed Baptist Institutions for the training of men for the ministry, the persistent requests from other men that cannot benefit from such programs must be addressed. Therefore, with much trepidation, and yet trusting in God’s provision of the Holy Spirit, Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Cebu has sought to face up to such a challenge for as long as the need is present.
This training for pastors is unashamedly of Reformed Baptist persuasion, with the following doctrinal distinctive.
1) Orthodox Distinctive (Essential Christian Distinctive)
- The Principle of Authority: The Infallible and inerrant Scriptures is the highest and the ultimate authority, not just when it comes to God and redemption (which are the focus of Scriptures) but in everything that it addresses – including science, history, geography, ethics, religious practices, or any other topic.
- The Tri-Personality of God: Although there is only one True and Living God, and yet there is a plurality of distinct Persons in the one true and living God: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- God’s Works of Creation and Providence: God created everything visible and invisible in a span of six literal days, and He controls everything that comes to pass in all His works of creation.
- The Person and Work of Christ: Jesus is the Messiah and He is God who became a true human being without ceasing to be God, He lived a perfect life of obedience to the will of His Father on earth, He died on the cross of Calvary to atone for the sins of His people, He rose physically from the grave on the third day, and He ascended into heaven to reign in power as God’s only mediatorial King and Priest, and He is going to come again to accomplish completely the work of salvation.
- Salvation apart from Human Merits: Salvation is not based on human merit but solely on the merits of Christ’s blood and righteousness received through faith alone.
- Holiness of Life: Although holiness cannot be the meritorious basis of our acceptance with God, and yet it is a necessity that believers pursue a life of gospel-based obedience, because “no holiness, no heaven”.
- Eternal Destinies: There are only two eternal destinies of men after this life: the eternal bliss and glory with God in heaven for all true believers, and the eternal and conscious punishment in hell for all unbelievers. Also, the idea of purgatory as a halfway house to heaven is a concoction of human minds with hearts that have been trained in greed.
2) Calvinistic Distinctive
- The Plan of Salvation – Unconditional Election: God chose from eternity those whom He will save in Christ from sin, not because of foreseen faith or anything good in them, but solely because of God’s sovereign will and purpose.
- The Accomplishment of Salvation – Limited or Definite atonement: God sent His Son in order to atone for all the sins of those whom He chose from eternity to save.
- The Application of Salvation – Total Depravity and Inability, Free Offer of the Gospel, Irresistible or Efficacious Grace. All the faculties of human beings have been twisted by sin that no one in the natural state can please God, and no one can come to Christ in true repentance and faith apart from God’s saving grace. The gospel is to be freely, sincerely, and passionately offered to all (elect and non-elect) as the only way to be reconciled to God and as the highest expression of God’s common grace. The chosen ones or elect are the objects of God’s saving grace and mercy from eternity that the free offer of the gospel will be accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit in order to bring efficaciously all of them to become partakers of Christ.
- The Life in Salvation – The Preservation and Perseverance of the Saints: God in Christ will keep all those whom He has chosen from eternity to save and brought to repentance and faith in Christ at conversion that none of them will ever fall away completely and be ultimately lost. But at the same time, all those who have been brought to repentance and faith in Christ must of necessity persevere to the very end in order to enjoy completed salvation, and not be severed from Christ and perish in judgment.
3) Covenantal Distinctive
- One way or method of Salvation: God’s way and method of salvation since the fall has always been one and the same – through faith in the promised seed: Christ. There were no different ways or methods offered for salvation in the different dispensations of redemptive history.
- Only one people of God: God has only one covenant people or nation on earth – the nation of Israel. Under the Old Covenant, this consisted of the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whom God delivered from the bondage of Egypt and their subsequent generation through natural procreation. But because of the failure of the nation Israel to keep their covenant obligation, God replaced the Old Covenant with them with a New Covenant (established on better promises) with the believing remnant of the nation of Israel during the death of His Son, and then grafted the believing Gentiles into that community during the apostolic era. So the old Israel of God has now become the New Israel of God – the Church of Jesus Christ.
4) Puritan Distinctive
- The Liberty of Conscience: Only God can bind the conscience of any human being through His Word, freeing it from the tyranny of men. And only the blood of Christ can cleanse the conscience and free it from guilt.
- The Simplicity of New Covenant Worship: Worship in the New Covenant must of necessity be simple because of the regulative principle of worship and the reality that the regulations instituted in the Old Covenant worship under the Levitical Priesthood was only a shadow of true worship in the New Covenant under Christ’s High Priesthood.
- The New Covenant Day of Worship: Sunday (the Lord’s Day) is the new creation Sabbath and the day of worship for God’s people in the New Covenant; because, while the last day-of- the- week Sabbath commemorated the old creation that was ruined by the fall, the first-day-of-the-week Sabbath commemorates the new creation that was inaugurated at the resurrection of Christ on the first day of the week.
- God-honoring Marriage: Marriage is an integral part of our humanity as originally created by God. Therefore, marriage must be held in honor all, and no one should despise it. Moreover, marriage must be regulated by the God of revelation because He was the One who designed and instituted it.
- Involvement in Civic Duties: The civil government is a common grace institution that God has established to maintain relative justice, order, and peace in a nation. Therefore, recognizing, submitting, supporting, praying, and even working with civil authorities are only proper.
- Experiential Christianity: God’s work of grace and salvation in us must be interpreted by God’s word given to us; or we will not properly interpret or understand those experiences, we will likely misrepresent them to others, and we will also be in danger of pagan mysticism, occultism, and strange worldly philosophies.
5) Baptistic Distinctive
- The Separation of State and Church: Neither is the State above the Church nor the Church above the State, but both are under God and each serve two distinct purposes. The State serves a common grace function under God while the Church serves a saving grace function under God.
- The Autonomy of the Local Church: Although the universal church of Christ comprises of all true local churches of Christ, and yet each local church is a complete unit of its own, ruled by Christ as its head through the apostles and New Testament prophets whose teachings and directives are now preserved in Scriptures. Therefore, no local church, or group of local churches, or bodies created by churches, or ministers from other churches, has any authority over another local church. But each local church has an equal and separate sphere of authority, each governs herself according to the teachings of Christ, and each is directly answerable to Christ.
- The Rule of Elders in the Local Church: Each local church is to be ruled by a plurality of biblically qualified elders selected by the whole congregation.
- Regenerate Membership: Only true believers have the right to become members of the church. Therefore, only believers, whose profession are credible, are to be received and to be retained as members of the church.
- Believer’s Baptism Only: Only believers are to be baptized with water, not their children who still are not converted; because water baptism symbolizes union with Christ, death to sin and newness of life in Christ, and being cleansed from sin.
- Supper of Remembrance: The Lord’s Supper is not a means of special grace but a special means of grace. The grace received by faith in hearing God’s word is the same grace received by faith in partaking of the Lord’s Supper. The only difference is that in the Lord’s Supper we are aided to receive that grace by faith in the word of God with a visible symbol or reminder that was instituted by Christ Himself.
II. The Foundational Perspectives of the Training Program
The foundational perspectives of the training program are based on the key text that deals with this issue in the most comprehensive way. Paul writes to Timothy in 2Tim 2:2 “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
A. Note what are to be entrusted.
The things Timothy has heard from the apostle Paul in the presence of many witnesses, these are what are to be entrusted by Timothy to faithful man. Earlier Paul refers to “the things” that are to be entrusted as “the standard of sound words” (see 2Tiim 1:13-14). These are the teachings that the apostles of Jesus taught under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit. The things that they taught were not just their words but the very words of the living God (Jn 14:25-26; Jn 16:12-15; 1Cor 2:6-11; 1Thess 2:13; Eph 3:1-5). These are the things that Timothy is to entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. And these words or teachings have now been summarized, comprehended, preserved, and universally published for us in the completed Scriptures.
These standard of sound words must include a comprehensive knowledge of the word of God or theology (Rom 15:14; Col 1:9), the knowledge and ability to handling the Scriptures accurately (2Tim 2:14-15; 2Pet 3:16), and the wisdom to apply the teachings of Scriptures in concrete situations (Col 3:16; 2Tim 3:16-17).
B. Note also what it means to entrust these things.
The verb “entrust” παράθου in the middle voice is a technical term for giving something to someone in trust for safekeeping. It means “to commit, to deposit, to entrust”. The idea is that something highly valuable is deposited or entrusted to someone. It assumes knowledge of the teachings of the word of God on the part of the one entrusting, and the willing reception of that knowledge by the one who has been entrusted. This is crucial to our understanding of ministerial training.
The current idea that ministerial students should just be given the different theological positions about different issues, and it is up to them to determine what position they will embrace, flies at the face of this text. Ministerial training involves helping the students determine what is the biblical teaching and entrusting to them those teachings for safe keeping.
Furthermore, the idea that ministerial training involves more of just giving men skills and techniques in “running a ministry” flies at the face of this text. As mentioned above, the focus should be a comprehensive knowledge of the word of God or theology, the knowledge and ability to handling the Scriptures accurately, and the wisdom to apply the teachings of Scriptures in concrete situations.
C. In addition, note who are to be entrusted with those things.
The text says “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Indicated here is that there are two qualifications for those who should be trained for the ministry. They have to be “faithful men”, and they have to have the potential of being “able to teach others also.”
To be faithful means to be reliable, dependable, loyal, and trustworthy. This includes 1) faithfulness in one’s commitment to God and His word (2Tim 2:13-14; 3:13-15; Pro 23:23), 2) faithfulness in one’s silence (Pro 11:13; 17:9; 16:28; 20:19), 3) faithfulness in one’s commitments (Pro 20:6; 25:13,14; Ps 15:4; Acts 15:36-41), 4) faithfulness in one’s testimony (Pro 14:5; 6:19; 25:18), and 5) faithfulness in confronting sin in others (Pro 27:6; Lev 19:16-18; Mt 18:15; Lk 17:3). Although we cannot expect sinless perfection in this matter (Eccl 7:20), there must be sufficient measure of consistency in this matter and an evident humility to repent and confess when one fails.
To have the potential of being able to teach others assumes some mental and verbal ability to communicate God’s word clearly and apply it practically. This potential ability to teach does not have to include the ability to teach in a monologue delivery of God’s word in the public preaching and teaching of God’s word, but the potential ability to teach privately and more interactively. Moreover, to have the potential of being “able to teach others also” includes a measure of firm but gracious disposition in the manner of teaching God’s word (2Tim 3:24-26; Pro 12:18; 15:1-2).
D. Furthermore, note who are to entrust these things to others.
The text refers to Timothy. What Paul has entrusted to Timothy, Timothy must now entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. And what is common to both men is that they were both active in the work of the ministry. They were not ivory tower theologians who spend their time studying and teaching things that are of no practical or functional value and relevance. They were not mere theorists who were not engaged in the actual work of the ministry. They were men who were practitioners, whose theology was forged in the anvil of actual involvement in the pastoral ministry. Therefore, their theology was of utmost pastoral functionality and relevancy. This is vital because as Paul reminded Timothy in 1Tim 1:5-6, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussions.”
This is also important because the instruction of God’s word should not only be verbal but visual – not only by word but also by example (John 13:15; 1Cor 11:1; Phil 3:17; 1Thes 1:6; 2:14; 2Thes 3:7-9; Tit 2:7; Heb 13:7). Therefore, those who teach faithful men so that they can teach others also must themselves be biblically recognized by the church as qualified to do so. Those who train men must themselves be living examples of the things that they teach others.
E. Finally, note the assumed context the entrusting is to be done.
The assumed context is the church, which Paul described in his previous letter to Timothy as “the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1Tim 3:14-15). The word “church” here is a specific term. It refers to the universal church as it comes to its appointed, visible, and organized expression in local churches like the one Timothy was working in as an “evangelist” (2Tim 2:5) or an apostolic delegate sent by Paul, a living apostle of Jesus Christ, to act as his representative. In the context of that letter, Paul laid out specific directives about the corporate gatherings of the church for prayer and the conduct of women in those corporate gatherings (1Tim 2), the qualifications of local church officers – elders, deacons, and even female assistants to deacons (1Tim 3), and other important affairs that involves the local church like the care of its widows (1Tim 5), the treatment of elders in the church (1Tim 5), etc.. So it is clearly the church as it has come to expression in a local church which is described as the “pillar and foundation of the truth.” And that is the assumed context in which ministerial training is to be undertaken.
But why is the church the assumed context? It is in the context and climate of the church that ministerial training will best and will safely thrive (not the traditional Bible College or seminary that is separate and independent from the church). The church is structured and run by the wisdom of Christ Himself (not human wisdom) in a way that will best serve one of its vital functions – “the pillar and foundation of the truth” – to proclaim the truth verbally and exemplify it, to defend the truth from those who seek to undermine it, and to transmit the truth to subsequent generations. When ministerial training is not done in the context and climate of the church as concretely expressed in a local church, theological education has the perpetual tendency to deviate into irrelevancy and error.
This does not mean that every local church has to have its own program for ministerial training. Not all local churches are equipped with the gifts, graces, and resources to do the work. Therefore, cooperative effort among churches is needful in terms of teachers and other resources like advice or counsel and finances. The ministerial training, however, must be under the oversight of a local church, so that it will not become an independent or a separate entity from the church. Moreover, although the proposed program does not necessarily require that those trained have to be members of the hosting church, or will have to become members of it, and yet, there has to be close coordination between the hosting church and the churches or leaders of the churches where they belong.
III. The Specific Implementation of the Foundational Perspectives
A. The Goal of the Program
The primary and ultimate goal of the program is to train men for the pastoral work – to help them develop both their gifts and graces for the pastoral work and office. Focusing only on harnessing their gifts but not their graces is not really going to promote the well-being of the church. (Rom 15:14; Pro 9:10; 1Tim 3:1-7; Tit 1: 5-13).
Moreover, the pastoral work involves prayer and the ministry of God’s word (Acts 5:4). And the pastoral ministry of God’s word involves two dimensions: the public teaching and preaching of God’s word and the more private, interactive, and tailor-made ministry of God’s word in counselling – as Paul puts it in Acts 20:20b, “…teaching you publicly and from house to house” (See also Col 1:28 and 1Thess 2:10-12). These two sides of the pastoral ministry of God’s word are vital, and they should never be separated. Separating the two will make both inadequate.
If the church has a strong public preaching and teaching ministry of God’s word, a lot of time will be saved in terms of counselling and teaching God’s people privately and interactively. Many questions that they have or problems they are struggling with would be answered or solved through the public ministry of God’s word. Moreover, every time counselling is done, there is no more need of giving thorough and detailed instruction again about topics the members have already received through the public teaching and preaching of God’s word.
But if the public ministry of God’s word is divorced from the more private, interactive, and tailor-made ministry of God’s word in counselling, even the publicly ministry of God’s word would tend to become academic and detached from the real experiences and struggles of God’s people. Only the public preaching that has been forged, not just in the study, but also in counselling where the struggles of God’s people are openly discussed, will have the edge of being intensely relevant, practical, personal, and helpful. The preacher knows what exactly the people are struggling with. There will be the sense of necessity and urgency in the public preaching of God’s word. The preaching will not be shadow boxing or doing a performance that has to be made because the bell has rang already. Moreover, counselling uncovers hindrances that lead to failure in implementing what has been preached and taught publicly. These hindrances include excuse making, blame shifting, lack of discipline, and the presence of complicating problems. Unless the pastoral ministry of the church includes the more private counselling, pastors will never know what these hindrances are and will not be able to deal with them.
Therefore, the goal of the program is not just to train men to teach and preach publicly God’s word, but also to train men to use the Scriptures in counselling situations. In fact, even men who may never have the ability to teach and preach publicly but have the gift of teaching and counselling privately or more interactively should benefit from the program. Although all elders may not have the gift of publicly preaching and teaching God’s word, all elders should strive to have a thorough theological education to become a more sound and effective counselor of God’s word, to oversee functionally the public preaching and teaching ministry of the church, and to guard the church from error.
Furthermore, some aspects of the program are also for the benefit of Christians in general who have no aspiration for the office of the pastorate or those who are not presently showing potentials for the ministry. God gave pastors-teachers to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service for building up of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12). And foundational to the work of service that the saints must be equipped for service is “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). It is as God’s people are well-instructed and firmly established in the truth, and freed from false teachings and false ideas that they will be able to minister God’s word to one another in love, and build each other up. This is essential and foundational to congregational nurture. Therefore, why deny the benefits of some of the aspects of the program that will be a help to them?
B. Our Methodological Approach
- Approach in Terms of Courses
The main approach is to have the courses taught in modular form personally by live teachers six times a year. Each module will last for five days (from Monday to Friday – from 8am to 5pm). These modules will be recorded and videoed particularly for those who may not be able to attend some or all classes because of a regular and daily schedule of a secular job.
- Pastoral Approach in Terms of Instructors
Since the central purpose is to train men for the pastoral ministry, the regular instructors will be men who have demonstrated competence for such a ministry themselves, as made clear earlier. Occasionally, certain technical courses may be taught by those not in the pastoral ministry.
- Ecclesiastical Approach in Terms of Administration
This training for the pastoral ministry is a ministry of Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Cebu. As such it operates under the oversight of the elders of that church. Something of the biblical necessity, advantages, and propriety of this setup have been made clear above. The biblical importance of cooperation between local churches in the matter of theological education has also been stressed already. Because of the importance of such cooperation the eldership of Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Cebu is committed diligently to seek for this ministry the counsel, cooperation, and commendation of churches of like faith and practice.
The leaders of churches that help in providing instruction and/or in finances will be invited each year by the elders of RCBCC to discuss freely and openly any issues that they want to discuss about the program. A date will be set each year for such free discussion and input.
C. Our Procedure for Beneficiaries of the Program
- The Identities of the Beneficiaries and the Procedure for each of them
A. For those who will not avail of the whole training program
Some of the basic courses will be made available even to those who are not aspiring for the pastoral work or those who have not been examined as to their fitness for the complete training program. However, those who want to join any of the courses must communicate with the elders of RCBCC and must be granted permission by them to join some of the courses.
B. For those who are already in the pastoral work and office who want to be part of the whole training program
In the providence of God, many lack sufficient training who are already in the pastoral ministry. Although we see the abnormality of this situation, the program is designed to help these men become better equipped for the work of the ministry while they continue to serve the churches that they belong to.
In the absence of a fellow elder in the church they belong to, these men are to come under the temporary supervision or oversight of any biblically qualified pastor or pastors nearby that the elders of RCBCC can recommend. Or in the absence of that, they are to come under the temporary supervision and oversight of the elders ofRCBCC or any of the pastors who part of the program.
For any of these men to join the complete training program, admission to it requires that the legitimacy of his intention be assessed by the elders of RCBCC. He must inform the elders of RCBCC of his intention and be interviewed by them. The assessment will mainly be based on the qualification for training indicated in 2Tim 2:2, as explained earlier. Only upon the approval of the elders of RCBCC will anyone be received into the complete training program. And this assessment is to be reviewed annually by the same, and the privilege of training can be either continued or terminated.
C. For those who aspire for the pastoral work who are members of RCBCC and who want to be part of the whole training program
For any of the member of the church of RCBCC who aspires for the pastoral work, admission to the training program also requires that the legitimacy of such a man’s aspirations be assessed by the elders of RCBCC. He must inform the elders of RCBCC of his intention and be interviewed by them. The assessment will mainly be based on the qualification for training indicated in 2Tim 2:2, as explained earlier. Only upon the approval of the elders of RCBCC will anyone be received into the complete training program. And this assessment is to be reviewed annually by the same, and the privilege of training can be either continued or terminated.
D. For those who aspire for the pastoral work who are members of sister churches of Reformed Baptist persuasion and who want to be part of the whole training program
For anyone who wants to join the complete training program that is not a member of RCBCC but of a sister church of a Reformed persuasion, admission requires a similar process mentioned above. However, his application must have the approval and endorsement of his own elders before it will be considered by the elders of RCBCC. Moreover, his oversight will remain under the church where he is a member. However, free information from the church where he belongs must be given to the elders of RCBCC to help them in their own assessment as to the legitimacy of his aspirations. And this assessment is to be reviewed annually by the same, and the privilege of training can be either continued or terminated.
E. For those who aspire for the pastoral work who are members of sister churches not of the Reformed Baptist persuasion and who want to be part of the whole training program
For anyone who wants to join the complete training program that is not a member of RCBCC but a sister church not of the Reformed Baptist persuasion, admission requires a similar process mentioned above. However, his application must have the approval and endorsement of his own elders before it will be considered by the elders of RCBCC. Moreover, his oversight will remain under the church where he is a member. However, free information from the church where belongs must be given to the elders of RCBCC to help them in their own assessment as to the legitimacy of his aspirations.
If he has become Reformed in his persuasion, and his church will not approve of his intention to join the complete training program on the basis of negativity towards Reformed doctrines, then he is to be told that one option for him is to transfer his membership to a church that is of Reformed persuasion. He can either become a regular member of a Reformed church nearby or an associate member of a Reformed church in case there is no Reformed church nearby or he cannot relocate to a place where there is one.
F. For those who aspire for the pastoral work who is not a member of any church and want to be a part of the whole training program
For anyone who is not a member of any church and wants to join the complete training program, he is to be persuaded that he must first become a member of a church before considering training for the pastoral work.
- The Educational Guidance for Those who will join the Complete Training Program
A. Initial Assessment and Plan
In conjunction with the interview with the eldership by which a man desire to join the whole training program is evaluated and recognized, one of the pastors will meet with him to make an initial assessment of what courses he requires (in light of the master curriculum plan of the program) to complete a thorough, theological education. Appropriate credit will be given for areas of theological study previously mastered. On the basis of this discussion and initial overall plan will be drawn up which indicates how and in what time-frame such a theological education will be completed. This plan will include a schedule of classes or modules. This plan will be subject to occasional modifications as the man’s situation changes by mutual agreement between the pastors and the man.
B. Yearly Re-assessment and Direction
Each year a pastor will meet with each one of those who are part of the whole program and re-assess the projected classes or modules for the coming year. He will also provide any direction needed and discuss any necessary modifications in the overall plan for each. Records will be kept of the course grade achieved by those who are part of whole program.
C. Final Recognition
When anyone completes the program or curriculum and the thorough theological education it embodies, this will be publically announced to the church for thanksgiving and the matter appropriately recognized. A certificate of recognition will be granted to every student who completes the course of study. The completion of the theological education, while normally implying that the elders of Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Cebu generally approve of a student’s aspirations to the pastoral office, does not necessarily carry with it their commendation to any particular sphere of ministry. This is a distinct issue dependent on the judgment of the elders regarding additional factors. Moreover, each local church must examine the biblical qualification of these men before calling them to the pastoral office as required by and exemplified in Scriptures (1Tim 3:10; Acts 6:1-7).
- The Special Oversight of those who are part of the whole Training Program
Each year each recognized aspirants to the pastoral office and his developing qualifications for this role will be specially considered and discussed by the eldership. The assessment and evaluation of the elders will then be communicated to each trainee by one of the pastors in a meeting with him.
IV. The Courses Offered for the Whole Training Program
A. The Importance of Thorough Theological Education and Training
Although God may call into the ministry and evidently bless the ministry of a man who lacks thorough theological education and training, it remains the duty of those who would undertake the training of men to set a high requirement for training for a high standard of competence in the pastoral work. In the words of Pro 21:31, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord.”
B. The Master Curriculum Plan
Based on the classic Reformed tradition of a thorough theological education, the courses offered for the whole training program includes the following.
- Systematic Theology – Aim: to provide a comprehensive knowledge of the major teachings of the Bible from a topical standpoint without flattening out the contours of the revelatory process in redemptive history.
- Introduction to Systematic Theology
- Canonics: What the Scripture teaches about the Scriptures (Doctrine of Scriptures)
- What the Scripture teaches about God (Doctrine of God)
- What the Scripture teaches about God’s works of Creation (Doctrine of Man)
- What the Scripture teaches about God’s work of Salvation
- The Plan of Salvation (Doctrine of Predestination)
- The Promise of Salvation (Doctrine of the Covenants)
- The Accomplishment of Salvation (Doctrine of Christ)
- The Application of Salvation
- The Main Agent (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit)
- The Blessings Bestowed (Doctrine of the Christian Life)
- The Community Formed (Doctrine of the Church)
- The Completion of the Salvation (Doctrine of the Last Things)
- Ethics: What the Scripture teaches about how we are to live
- Exegetical Theology – Aim: to provide knowledge and skills in biblical interpretation.
- Content of the Books of the Bible
- Hermeneutics (the skill in interpreting the Bible)
- Knowledge of the Original Languages of the Bible
- Historical Theology – Aim: to provide historical perspective of the development of the church and Christian theology after the apostolic era.
- Post Apostolic
- Dark Ages
- Protestant Reformation
- Modern Era
- Pastoral Theology – Aim: to provide knowledge and skill in the effective communication and propagation of the word of God.
- Apologetics (the rational defense of the Christian faith)
- Polemics (the exposure of pseudo Christian teachings)
- Homiletics (the public teaching and preaching of God’s word)
- Pastoral Counselling and Oversight
- Liturgics (leading the worship and other services)
- The Call to the Pastoral work and office and Dangers to Watch in the Pastoral work
- Planting Churches (or Missions)
C. Detailed Course Descriptions
- Systematic TheologySystematic theology is the topical study of the major teachings of the Scriptures viewed comprehensively. One apprehension people have about systematic theology is the danger of flattening out the contours of the revelatory process in redemptive history. But systematic theology must be sensitive to and should include in the treatment of each topic the progress of revelation in redemptive history. Therefore, it should be a combination of what is often called now as “systematic theology” and “biblical theology”.Introduction to systematic theology and the doctrine of the Scriptures will be dealt with in one module. And the doctrine of Scriptures includes an in-depth treatment of the necessity, inspiration, authority, sufficiency, perspicuity, attestation, canon, preservation, translation, interpretation, relevance of Scriptures, as well as showing how people reject the Scriptures.The doctrine of God will be dealt with in one module and includes an in-depth treatment of the existence, knowledge, nature (or attributes), names, and decrees of God.The doctrine of man will be dealt with in one module and includes an in-depth study on the beginning of everything, and the origin, identity, composition, free agency, and history of man. The history of man includes man’s original relationship with God, man’s original integrity before God, the fall of man, the condition of man after the fall, and the common grace of God after the fall.The doctrine of predestination and of the covenants will be taken as one module. This includes an in-depth study of the doctrine of predestination (election/reprobation), the seed promise, the Noahic covenantal complex, the Abrahamic covenant, Mosaic covenant, Davidic covenant, Messianic covenant, and the New Covenant.The doctrine of Christ will be taken as one module and includes an in-depth treatment of the identity of the one sent to accomplish salvation (the person of Jesus Christ), and His work in accomplishing salvation.The doctrine of the Holy Spirit will be taken as one module and includes an in-depth study of His identity and His work as the main agent in the application of salvation.The doctrine of the Christian life will be taken as one module and includes an in-depth study of the blessings that are given in the application of salvation – calling, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification and glorification, assurance of salvation, and the preservation and perseverance of the saints.
The doctrine of the church will be taken as one module and this includes an in-depth treatment of the community form in the application of salvation: the identity, history, the government of the universal church, the government of the local church, the membership of the church, and the tasks of the church (worship, advocacy of the word, nurture of members, disciple of the unruly, benevolence, prayer meeting, baptism and the Lord Supper).
The doctrine of the last things will be taken as one module and includes an in-depth study of the events that will happen before and during the second coming of Christ and the completion of salvation.
Ethics will be taken as one module and includes an in-depth study of the defective and inadequate views of ethics, the foundations of biblical ethics, and the universal and foundational commandments of God and how they relate to contemporary ethical issues of our day.
- Exegetical theologyBiblical Introductions of the OT will be taken in one module and for the NT another module. The objective of this course is to provide an acquaintance of the authorship, the date of writing, and the basic contents of each book of the Bible. In this course, the focus is not on speculative reconstruction particularly of the authorship and date of writing so common in our day, that are really just tentative and in many cases unbelieving, but on the internal witness of the Scriptures themselves that the Holy Spirit has provided.Hermeneutics will be taken as one module and includes a more in-depth study of sound principles of interpreting the Scriptures as a divine-human document and seeks to develop the skill in implementing those principles.Acquaintance with the original languages of the Scriptures include the study of Greek and Hebrew. Since most students will realistically not be able to memorize and master the original languages of Scriptures, and since whatever knowledge is gained through the conventional approach is only quickly lost after studying them tediously, and since bible programs in our day are available to help in the exegesis on the original languages, the modules for the original languages will not include the memorization of the vocabularies and parsing but only the basic concepts and rules of grammar of the original languages, and teach how to use the bible programs that will help in the exegesis of a passage.
- Historical TheologyHistorical theology is needful in order to provide some historical perspective of the growth of knowledge of the teachings of Scriptures and the dangers of errors that have plagued the church in its long history. There will be only two modules for this as the goal is not an in-depth study but only a mental sketch of the whole landscape in the hope that the students will read and study more in the future about some of the details of them as the need arises.
- Practical/Pastoral TheologyApologetics will be taken as one module and includes an in-depth study of the biblical approach in giving a rational defense of the Christian faith to those who refuse to recognize the authority of the Bible as the infallible and inerrant word of the living God, and the skill in doing it.Polemics will be taken as one module and will focus on providing sound biblical principles and skill in exposing the errors and dangers of false teachings of pseudo Christian groups.Homiletics will be taken as one module and will provide basic principles of public speaking (including outlining), and particularly the public preaching and teaching of God’s word.Counselling and pastoral oversight will be taken as one module and will provide sound principles of the practice of biblical “nouthetic” counselling.Liturgics will be taken as one module and includes biblical principles and practical helps in in leading the public worship and gatherings of God’s people (public prayer, singing of hymns, reading of Scriptures, prayer meetings, conducting baptism and the Lord’s Supper, etc.) and other extra-church services that pastors may be occasionally called to lead and conduct (weddings, funerals, etc.)The call to the pastoral work and office and the dangers to watch in the pastoral office will be taken as one module and includes an in-depth study of how a person is called into the pastoral office and the dangers he must watch in serving in that office.Planting churches or missions will also be taken as one module and will provide sound biblical principles for missions and church planting work.
D. The Academic Standards for those who are Part of the Whole Training Program
Each module or course will have to have an examination to be scheduled by the teacher sometime after the five-day module. The purpose of this examination is three-fold. First, it is to motivate the students to strive to understand and put into memory the things they have learned, so that it will become readily accessible in an extemporaneous ministry. Moreover, it is also for the purpose of helping the teachers to evaluate how much the students have understood and retained of the course. Furthermore, it is to test the dependability of the student in doing his assigned task.
No student will be deemed to have successfully completed the work in any course who does not achieve a cumulative grade of 75 or above for his course work. No individual test, project, or assignment will be accepted which does not achieve a score of 71 or above.
If a student is unable to complete an assignment by the due date, he is to contact his instructor ASAP. Late compliance will be penalized by the instructor at his discretion.
E. The Length of the Whole Course or Program
The length of the whole course will be a total of 24 modules (10 for Systematic Theology, 5 for Exegetical Theology, 2 for Historical Theology, and 7 for Practical/Pastoral Theology). Each module will consist of 5 days of teaching (from Monday to Friday and from 8am to 5pm). These live modules will be offered 6 times a year (every two months) and the whole course will last for 4 years. The intervening period between modules should be devoted to reading assigned books for each course (if any).
Those who cannot personally attend to some modules for some providential reason must listen to or watch the recorded lectures and take the required examination and assignments as previously agreed by the instructors.