By BJMBC Faculty
Four identifiers that mark where BJMBC stands
Where BJMBC Stands
We live in a time when leaders, organizations, denominations, and churches are changing. Change is not inherently wrong. None of us brings a bullock to a tent on Saturday, cuts its throat, and offers it on an altar! On the other hand, change can be in the wrong direction. Sadly, the church that Jesus Christ said He would build sometimes does move away from Him instead of toward Him. The next several blogs will help you understand where BJMBC stands and the kinds of changes we are not willing to make.
Let's start with a clarification related to our name. Obviously, our name connects us to Bob Jones University. After all, we are Bob Jones Memorial Bible College. Sometimes people mistakenly assume some organic connection between us and Bob Jones University. Actually, there is no official connection between BJMBC and BJU. We receive no financial help from BJU. We are not an Asian branch or extension of BJU. We are not under the administrative oversight of BJU. Not in any way. Our name does not reflect official attachment but rather the appreciation by BJMBC's founders for what they received at BJU years ago. They especially appreciate the heritage put in place by Bob Jones Sr. We at BJMBC do too. Bob Jones Sr. stood for an uncompromising stand on and preaching of the gospel. If you want to catch his heartbeat, watch this video about the life and legacy of Bob Jones.
Rather than being a ministry of BJU, BJMBC is actually a ministry of Gospel Fellowship Association. Understanding where GFA stands will help you understand where we stand. The following excerpt from the GFA website explains their stand on "fellowship."
"GFA missionaries practice both ecclesiastical and personal separation and compassionately warn about deviation from biblical truth and practice. We partner with independent Baptist and other like-minded churches that practice believer’s baptism by immersion. We are committed to a reverent, conservative worship style. We are also cessationists, believing the sign gifts have ceased."
The excerpt above suggests at least four identifiers to clarify where both GFA and BJMBC (a ministry of GFA) stand.
1. We are committed to the doctrine of separation and identify with the fundamentalist movement.
First, we are committed to the doctrine of separation, which means we identify ourselves as fundamentalists or part of the movement known as fundamentalism. In the Philippines context, this can be a bit confusing since there is a fellowship of Baptist churches (Association of Fundamental Baptist Church of the Philippines) that call themselves "Fundamental.” By referring to ourselves as part of fundamentalism, we are not alluding to this specific fellowship of Baptists, although we hold common cause with the conservative constituents of AFBCP on many issues, but rather we are identifying ourselves with the larger fundamentalist movement.
2. We identify specifically with Baptist fundamentalism.
Second, we identify with Baptist fundamentalism. Historic fundamentalism actually included Presbyterians, Methodists, and others who held staunchly to the fundamentals of the faith. Believe it or not there were and are fundamental Presbyterians! But we identify more closely with Baptist fundamentalism, which includes independent Baptist churches and likeminded independent Bible churches. Even though GFA does not have Baptist in its name (and neither does BJMBC), our statement of faith is decidedly Baptistic and virtually all of us identify ourselves as Baptist in faith and practice. For example, every director at BJMBC is a member of a Baptist church. The director of GFA is a member of a Baptist church. And the list could go on.
3. We are conservative in our style of worship.
Third, we are conservative in our style of worship. We oppose the contemporary forms of worship often associated with so-called “Praise & Worship.” We are not opposed to recently composed music by conservative composers. We are very supportive of these composers. We stand against contemporary forms of worship that imitate the world such as CCM and its musical cousins. Reverent implies worship that reflects and honors the character of our thrice-holy God. Worship clarifies that the music is for God's enjoyment, not necessarily ours. Musical styles and lyrics that deliberately imitate that of the world surely do not bring enjoyment to a God who has said that friendship with the world is enmity with Him.
4. We are cessationist.
Lastly, we are cessationist. We believe that the kinds of apostolic signs and wonders that God worked during the founding era of the church have ceased (thus, the term cessationist). So we disassociate ourselves from the charismatic and/or Pentecostal churches that still look for signs and wonders. Also, a pursuit of signs and wonders often goes along with seeking some kind of second blessing that will catapult its recipient into a higher level of Christian living--almost as if some blessing was missing at the moment of salvation. Spirit baptism now occurs at the moment of salvation, and we have already received the indwelling Spirit and every blessing in heavenly places in Christ. Now we seek to work out this glorious salvation into our daily Christian lives.
It is a privilege to stand on the side of God and truth, is it not? It is also a grave responsibility. Over the centuries, ministers and lay people alike have toiled and suffered, sometimes terribly, in order to pass biblical Christianity on to the generations after them. May God help us in our day to hold fast the pattern of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13) and pass it on undiluted to the generations that will come after us!
Dr. Joel Arnold is on the Bible faculty at BJMBC.
Whatever else we would say about Luke’s story of the angels and the shepherds, it’s definitely memorable. But less clear is the point. Why did it happen? What does it mean?
I’m going to argue that there’s something huge going on here. I’m going to argue that this event was a teaser—a short preview of what the Messiah would do. It’s proof that someday people and angels will worship side by side, giving glory to this newborn child. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Angels can worship too.
Let’s start by turning the camera around from how we normally view the scene. Why do we always see it completely from the viewpoint of the humans—the shepherds? Look at it not from the view of the men on the ground, but the angels in front of them. Several things come to mind:
Now put that into the grid of what happened here. Angels were there when Satan fell. Angels saw the good creation and man’s subsequent fall into sin. For thousands of years they watched people wallow in the filth and horror of sin.
And yet they were also sent to deliver promises—the hope of a redeemer who would finally deliver mankind from death and sin (Gen 18:1–15; Heb 2:2). They worshipped the Son in heaven’s throne room for thousands of years (Dan 7:10). Then, one day, the glorious Son takes flesh and is conceived in the body of a Jewish woman. An angel delivers the news to Mary (Luke 1:26–38). Nine months later, angels are commissioned to share the grand announcement. After millennia of waiting, hoping and watching, the horror of this wicked world will come to an end. The promise has arrived. The Messiah is here.
Are these angels dispassionately relaying information like heavenly robots? Or should we not remember Peter’s words that the angels also longed to look into God’s masterful plan? They also marveled and wondered at the Old Testament prophecies about “Christ’s sufferings and the glory to follow” (1 Pet 1:10–12). Take even a cursory look at their words, and you’ll discover that the announcement comes straight from the Old Testament!
What are these angels doing? They’re worshipping! They themselves are in awe at what God has starting doing and they can’t help crying out with joy.
Shepherds Join the Heavenly Worship
Now consider the shepherds. Classic art, Sunday school papers, and scenic calendars all get it wrong:
To this point in the story we can be shocked by the contrast. A throng of heavenly beings before a few shepherds? A dark, quiet hillside suddenly transformed by blazing light? The angels have come from the grand splendor of heaven and now they stand in the squalor of a sin-sick earth.
Heaven Meets Earth
And yet this contrast—heaven vs. earth—stands at the center of the story. It’s in the poetry that the angels sing.￼
Heaven has been full of glory for thousands of years. Earth has been a horror of sin and its consequences. Until now. Because through the Messiah, at last, peace has come.
We discover that this brief interchange on a hillside in Galilee had much more significance than we might think. The angels shared the news, but just as important they also worshipped together with the shepherds.
Remember the glory that shone around them? That glory didn’t come from the angels like we assume. Read closer—“the glory of the Lord shone round about them.” For a few minutes, that Galilean hillside became a foretaste of great things to come. For a few minutes, angels and men stood together in awe at the miraculous thing God was doing for planet earth.
What’s the Point?
One more response awaits. We can notice a pattern in how both the angels and the shepherds responded.￼
Not only did shepherds worship with the angels, but they even responded the same way.
And this pattern becomes an imperative to every reader. You’ve received the message. You’ve heard the good news. The hope of planet earth has finally come. This Christmas season, rejoice in awe together with the angels at what God has done. Tell anyone you can about this salvation that He has sent. And then fall before Him yourself and worship.
Reading, learning, growing. God calls us to be changed through His Word. At BJMBC, our goal is to speak truthfully and clearly about that Word, while we prepare a future generation of students to proclaim it.