From the President of IBC: Educational Musings
Indiana Bible College has been a wonderful and amazing ministry ever since God allowed it to come our way from its beginnings in Seymour, Indiana. From the day Micky and I considered accepting this challenge, we have felt God directing it step by step. God has continued to bless this project and now, over thirty years later, the impact of IBC has been felt throughout our fellowship and even around the world. We are thankful that our graduates have entered every area of ministry work: youth leaders, missionaries, pastors, music directors, church planters – I am overwhelmed by the wonderful men and woman that God has blessed from our student body. I believe, by the grace of God, the future looks bright for IBC.
Education is important. I believe every preacher needs to be aware, in a general sense, of the importance of knowledge. A broad base of knowledge, both biblical and cultural, when coupled with spiritual anointing, will give your preaching both power and depth. Preachers should be readers. I do not just have a library, I read my library. One should never fall into the trap of thinking education is somehow bad or carnal. Education is a tool that God can use each time you prepare a message. At Indiana Bible College we focus our classes upon preparing for all aspects of ministry. If you attend a secular university with the intention of being a doctor, lawyer, or whatever profession you choose, what they teach you about that profession is vital to your success. We strive to do the same with God’s call to ministry.
I do not believe that a college degree is required to be a successful minister of the gospel; but on the other hand, if you do not have a keen understanding of the world we live in, the dynamics of our society and the world around us, you will certainly be hindered. Our job here is to prepare the hearts and attitudes of young people for successful ministry. Jesus intensely trained the apostles for three and a half years. He poured into them the knowledge of how to walk in the Spirit and an understanding of the scriptures, both by example and Word.
It is vital that those who minister in the Word understand history, culture, and especially the Word of God. Preachers need a good education, either formal or self-directed, and have a firm grasp of Bible doctrine. We seek to send out graduates that love this Apostolic truth and holiness and know how to walk in the Spirit – and not just know it but have a passion for both. Spirit and truth – these are the foundation of everything we do.
The Importance of Education
There is an inherent danger with secular education outside of Bible college. I attended Indiana University for a time early in my ministry and I quickly realized that there is a dynamic of secular education that can get ahold of you. So I chose a different path. You do not want to get so wrapped up in educational pursuits that you miss what God truly wants you to do.
There is also a danger of educational poverty. You need to have a broad understanding of what is happening in the world and how it is affecting the church. We are watchmen on the wall. We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices. Without knowledge, we cannot address the challenges that our people encounter daily. Bible college provides a chance for young people to focus upon church, salvation, speaking the Word, and carrying the gospel to people – they need to feel this, get it deep in their hearts, and become comfortable practicing it. Once embraced, they can then add to that whatever they want – be it a Ph.D. or some other degree. Bible college provides a solid foundation that can be easily built upon. Our mission is to put into a person the knowledge and Spirit that Christ put into the Apostles. It was something that completely transformed their lives. Their passion became to preach Christ and Him crucified.
A number of books have been written recently documenting that when a denomination loses control of their Bible colleges, they quickly spiraled down a path toward secularism. They also lose the importance of biblical truth and faith in the inerrancy of God’s Word. So our focus must remain upon the baptism of the Holy Ghost, the power of doctrine and holiness, and the great commission to evangelize the world. Students need to nail down what they believe, not only academically, but also spiritually. Truth must live within them. The great pastors and pioneers of Pentecost past emphasized the importance of the Oneness message and the Holy Ghost speaking with other tongues – and with this, they transformed the world. It was not a focus upon education, but on Spirit baptism. At Indiana Bible College we attempt to bring a balance between Spirit and Truth. Once that foundation is laid, they can go on to build a powerful ministry or seek additional educational pursuits.
I am fascinated with the fact that in today’s world, Pentecostal Christianity is the faith that is surviving and flourishing around the world. It is the Pentecostals that are revolutionizing Christendom. Therefore, our goal is to give students a passion for truth to change their world as well. Regardless of what aspect of ministry they choose they must have the skills to protect themselves from the philosophies of liberalism that are destroying this nation. Every missionary will tell you that in many foreign countries liberalism and communism are destroying people’s lives. The same is at work in our world. We must have spiritual anointing to go into those dark elements of our society and shine the light of truth. We must have an absolute conviction that the Apostles were not connected to the Romans, Greeks, or the worldly elements of their day. Instead, they were connected to God.
The Holy Ghost is a teaching Spirit. It leads us to know and understand things in a supernatural context. It gives us confidence and assures us we have the truth and are lacking in no good thing. We need our souls set on fire. In the book of Acts, they filled their world with this Apostolic truth. If there was a way to trace truth and Spirit baptism down through the ages, I think we would find that same passionate Spirit alive within every generation. Much of the written record was likely destroyed, but I believe God has always had a people that upheld this truth and believed in the full measure of the Spirit.
The balance of Spirit and Truth
Know this: there is an ultimate truth and we must love that truth. God is truth and that truth will set you free. It will frame and mold your life. Secularism teaches that everything is relative, that there is no absolute right and wrong – everything is acceptable under certain conditions. But moral and cultural relativism is destroying both our society and secular education. The apostles gladly sacrificed all they had for the Word of God and carried it throughout all the known world. We seek to instill this same passion for Spirit and Truth in every student. Some catch it, some do not. But we strive to have all exposed to the power of the Gospel in some way. It is an ongoing effort. We are not anti-education. We are pro-Spirit. We must get this message into their hearts before the world indoctrinates them. The devil is attacking young people on every level.
Time Magazine had on a recent magazine cover, “The Great Reckoning: This Is the Moment to Change the World.” The secularists are determined to remake society into their version of a new world order. To combat this, we need our Bible colleges now more than ever. We need to drill into the hearts of our young people that there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. That is the heart and soul of truth.
The Apostles Doctrine is the most vital, lifechanging message in the world. It will bring happiness and joy like nothing else. “Joy unspeakable” is an apt description. I often tell students that you should try to do things that you believe in with all your heart and do them well. Then let God’s will settle in around you and never look back. Similarly, if you plan your own life, you will under plan what God has for you. We want to birth laborers for the Kingdom – pastors, youth workers, missionaries, ministers of music – with a passion for truth and the anointing of the Spirit.
If IBC has had any success it has been because we have tried to do a few basic things well: teaching doctrine and stressing the importance of the Spirit to transform the hearts of men. These simple truths have been embraced and taught by the excellent staff and teachers at Indiana Bible College. They share Micki and I’s passion that we must plant this truth within each student. A lot of credit must also go to Calvary Tabernacle for the tremendous sacrifice they have made to make IBC possible.