The Supremacy of God in all things . . .
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.(Romans 11:36)
The passion of TBI is to see all of life with God at the center. God as revealed in Jesus Christ is the center of the universe, the center of the Bible, the center of history, the center of family life, and the center of ministry. We unabashedly exist to spread a passion for His supremacy in all things. He will be the center of our study and ministry.
. . . for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ
Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You judge the peoples with equity, and guide the nations upon the earth.(Psalm 67:3-4)
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."(Isaiah 52:7)
And again it is said, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”(Romans 15:10)
The supremacy of God is good news of happiness for people of all cultures. God’s greatest glory and man’s greatest joy are not two distinct pursuits. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. The one transcultural reality that knits all people of all cultures together is that, as God's image-bearers, we have a yearning for joy that can only be satisfied in God through Jesus Christ. So our passion for the glory of God overflows into a passion for the joy of all peoples. We enter into the heart-cry of the Psalmist: Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You.
The importance of rigorously reading Scripture in context . . .
When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ.(Ephesians 3:4)
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.(2 Timothy 2:15)
We believe that the Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God, written by God’s revelatory spokesmen under the inspiration of God, using their own language conventions and personality. Through careful reading we will diligently seek to discover the human author’s intended meaning, and in so doing we will discover God’s intended meaning. Therefore one of the chief aims of TBI is to develop reading skills that will enable the students to mine the spiritual gold of truth from the Scriptures for themselves and their ministry, and to train them to pass on these skills to those who will come under their influence. Thus great effort will be expended to learn how to follow the biblical author’s train of thought in the context of his own writing and historical milieu. Our hope is that the students will master a method of discourse analysis that has come to be known in different circles as “arcing,” “bracketing,” or “tracing the argument.”
The Bible needs to be understood and communicated not only in its parts but also in the whole . . .
For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.(Acts 20:27)
Since there is one Divine Author behind all the human authors of Scripture, it is essential that we seek to understand how all the parts of Scripture fit together to communicate the whole purpose of God.
What is this body of doctrine that Paul calls “the whole counsel of God,” which took more than two years of daily teaching in the school of Tyrannus to impart (Acts 19:9-10; 20:31)? It is our conviction that biblical theology is best understood when it is seen in the light of God’s purpose unfolding and weaving its way from Genesis to Revelation on the timeline of redemptive history. Thus our hope is that our students not only will learn to understand Scripture in its parts, but will also gain a coherent sense of the whole of Scripture. Our aim is to pass on as clearly as possible the vision of God and His purpose that we have come to cherish through years of study and teaching and pastoral ministry. But we seek to do this with an even weightier emphasis on teaching exegetical skills which will empower the students to read the Scripture for themselves and formulate their own understanding of the whole purpose of God. We expect to learn much from our students as we study and tremble before the Word of God together.
The local church is to support and send out a certain kind of person . . .
Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.(3 John 8)
What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.(2 Timothy 2:2)
The careful teaching of the Word of God by precept and example is at the heart of how a church in the power of the Holy Spirit produces this certain kind of person whose core characteristic is that he or she “have gone out for the sake of the Name" (3 John 7). Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). The Word of God changes lives, because trust in God changes lives. Faith comes by hearing; and hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Faith working through love (Galatians 5:6). All God’s people need Bible teaching, but not all God’s people are gifted to be teachers of the Bible. Paul commanded Timothy to find “faithful” and “able” men and then to entrust them with the apostolic teaching. A crucial role of TBI is to find those who are “faithful” and “able,” and to deepen and strengthen their faithfulness and ability to handle the Word of God with life-changing power.
We are admonished to be doers of the Word and not hearers only . . .
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Apostolic instruction was for the expressed purpose of ministry training. According to James 1:22, the Word of God is something to be done, not merely something to be heard, read or thought about (as crucial as that is!). Our passion is to obey the Great Commission, which includes teaching all the nations to observe (i.e. do) all that Jesus taught (Matthew 28:20). Or, as Paul expressed it in Romans 1:5, “through [Christ] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His Name among all the nations.” Though we are confident that our teaching will be intellectually challenging, our express purpose is the training of leaders to be diligent doers of the word and effective equippers of God’s people for the work of the ministry.
God is not served by human hands . . .
Nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.(Acts 17:25)
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.(Mark 10:45)
In all our labors we realize a desperate need to be served by God before our serving Him and in our serving Him. Very close to the center of our philosophy of ministry is the word from 1 Peter 4:11: "Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." If we are to do all things for the glory of God, we must learn how to be served by God in our serving.
This is why all our teaching and ministry is bathed in prayer. "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me" (Psalm 50:15). Calling on God is the way we glorify God in our study. Prayer is our expression of desperate need for God in all study and teaching and preaching and pastoral labor. We cannot study aright without prayer. "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law" (Psalm 119:18). We cannot see spiritual wonder and beauty without God's Spirit helping us in answer to prayer. Prayer is the confession that we are not God but depend on the true God every moment of our study. He must serve us in our serving Him, or we will dishonor Him and destroy ourselves.
We do yield to the tension between academic rigor and spiritual passion expressed in prayer. We agree with Benjamin Warfield when he wrote, "Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. 'What!' is the appropriate response, 'more than ten hours over your books, on your knees?'" (The Religious Life of Theological Students, in Mark Noll, The Princeton Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, p. 262)
To read the Bethlehem Elder Affirmation of Faith which is ascribed to by the TBI Board and the core faculty, click on this link: Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith.