Have you ever had a difficult time seeing why God works the way He does?
God does seem to work in mysterious ways. About five years ago, Pastor Terry Kern and I started a new venture—the Northern Plains Biblical Seminary. We started the seminary as an organization that proclaims the Word of God. Over time, God led us to begin a Bible School in conjunction with the seminary. As a result of these ministries, we eventually started Truth Fellowship Live. Our goal in these ministries is to faithfully teach the truths of the Bible.
Even as we have relied on God to empower these ministries, we have at time asked the tough questions. Are we doing what God wants us to do? Are we relying on the power of God rather than our own human capacities? What should be our next step in this ministry?
Thanks to a wonderfully giving business man, the seminary has been in a very usable space since we started offering classes. In fact, Truth Fellowship Live found its beginning at this location. One year ago, TFL moved from its shared space at NPBS and set up at a new location in Bismarck. For a number of reasons, NPBS must leave its Mandan location. To keep the ministry of NPBS on track, we are moving the seminary into the space of TFL.
We know this sounds convoluted, but the bottom line is that NPBS and TFL will again be ministering the Word of God from the same location. We will be starting classes at NPBS during the second week of February. The question that comes to mind is “what is God doing?”
Well, I cannot answer that question. There are, however, some things we can be certain of:
- God wants us to always give Him the glory.
- God wants us to serve Him and Him alone.
- God wants us to faithfully handle the Word.
- God wants us to trust Him with the future of both NPBS and TFL.
So, we are busy moving NPBS and we do so with great expectations of the future of NPBS and TFL. To that end, we will teach the Bible. NPBS was founded and grounded in the Word of God – the Living Word (Jesus, The Christ) and the Living Word (The Bible). We are unashamed in our declarations that there is no greater pursuit in life than to pursue understanding and knowing the Word of God.
Someone might say, “Well, isn’t the greatest commandment to ‘love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?’” We would answer, “Yes, of course, the Bible tells us that. However, there is really only one way for anyone to grow to love God with their whole being, and that is through diligent study of the Bible. In fact, all paths to spiritual growth and having a vital and productive Christian life and ministry are paved with the diligent study of the Word of God.
We look forward to seeing how God will use this ministry in advancing His plan. Together with TFL, we have a great opportunity make an impact in the lives of many people. I would like to make a couple of observations.
We are committed to the literal and straightforward interpretation of the Bible
This is not an uncommon principle of many Christian organizations and Churches. But at NPBS and TFL we are committed to the Bible. I have heard far too many people in ministries make the same claim. But, then they will make conditions on their handling of the Bible.
First, many ministries are more committed to church growth than to maintaining sound doctrine. In order to attract more people, the Word is liberalized. Major doctrines are watered down or even completely ignored for the sake of filling the pews. Neither TFL nor NPBS subscribe to or hold fast to the concepts of the church growth movement.
Second, I have heard it said that certain doctrines need to be compromised because we must “broaden the umbrella of our ministry.” This again takes away from the Word as God gave it to us. Our job as a ministry is to present the truth. At times, this will be a distraction to certain people who visit. But, in the end, God is responsible for any growth within the Church.
We won’t always understand where God is leading
God’s ways are often rather mysterious. I was reading in Numbers 21 the other day. I was amazed that God was consistently leading Israel, but Israel was consistently betraying God.
God was taking the nation of Israel on a 40-year trek through the wilderness. The Israelites were constantly complaining about their situation to Moses and ultimately to God. Their eighth complaint demonstrated their blindness toward God’s provision of manna. God’s deliverance of them in battle (Num 21:1–3) had no connection in their minds with being grateful for his provision.
God sent poisonous snakes when the people complained regarding food and water. At this, the people again repented and recognized their sin. Moses prayed for the people and God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and lift it up on a pole. The people could look at it and be given for life despite their being bitten by poisonous snakes (21:8–9).
Why did God handle this situation in this way? God gave the people an image placed on a pole. The people certainly didn’t understand. It was not long before the bronze snake was used as an idol and had to be destroyed (2 Kings 18:4).
Again, the people failed to connect the dots. It was not the image that healed the people. It was God. The people were to look at the bronze snake and remember that God forgave them and would heal them.
God used this image to describe how God would deal with sin in the future. Jesus, like the bronze serpent, would be lifted up so that those who place their trust in God will be healed (given eternal life). The thought of elevation to heaven (John 3:13) leads to the thought of Jesus being lifted up (cf. John 8:28; 12:32). Moses raised a bronze snake on a pole as a cure for a punishment due to disobedience. So Jesus would be lifted up on a cross for people’s sin, so that a look of faith gives eternal life to those doomed to die.
God had this plan in mind ever since Adam sinned in the Garden. We don’t always see how God’s plan works out, but we do know that it will. We know that God wants people to respond to His love by trusting in the sacrifice made by Jesus.
We also know that God leads and we follow. Therefore, God is moving NPBS to a new location, not to hinder our ministry but to bolster it. We will trust God regarding this ministry and we are looking forward with eager expectation that God will use both NPBS and TFL for His purposes.
Will you please pray for NPBS as we make this move over the next couple of weeks? Also, pray that both TFL and NPBS remain faithful to the Word of God.