School of Theology 2014

Rightly Dividing the Word

This year brought the 39th ­annual School of Theology at the Tabernacle. The guest overseas speaker was Prof Tom Nettles, of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, and author of a new and substantial biography of CH Spurgeon entitled, 'Living by Revealed Truth'.

Dr Nettles gave a keynote address on Tuesday evening under the title, demonstrating and commending Spurgeon’s close adherence to the Word in all aspects of his ministry. He also set the tone for the main theme of the School, by describing Spurgeon’s method of arriving at his message. This proved to be richly stimulating to all in attendance, and of special value to message-preparers.

Among various systems of biblical interpretation, two are most prominent among reformed evangelicals. One of these draws its method from the Bible itself, and may be called the traditional approach. Another is of more recent devising by theological liberals, but is now widely taught in evangelical seminaries. We may call it the new evangelical approach.

The School of Theology sought to commend the more traditional system. This lay behind the sermons of the Reformation and times of awakening and revival. It inspired the preaching of luminaries such as George Whitefield and CH Spurgeon. This is the method that mined treasures of application for generations of believers, before the excessively technical and somewhat humanistic techniques of recent times came to prominence.

Speakers presented ministry opening the message of several books of the Bible, showing as they proceeded how they applied the ‘rules’ of traditional interpretation to arrive at their teaching.

This year’s School of Theology appealed not only to preachers and other message-preparers, but to all who seek clear principles for the understanding of God’s Word. May these sessions be glorifying to the Lord, uplifting to souls, and instrumental in promoting a spiritual view of the Word of the Living God.

2014 - Rightly Dividing the Word

Dr Tom Nettles
Professor of Historical Theology, Southern Baptist Seminary, USA
Living By Revealed Truth
As the author of a unique biography subtitled, The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Dr Nettles inspired emulation of Spurgeon’s submission and loyalty to the Word in times of awakening and of theological upheaval, and unquestioning devotion to Christ. (Tuesday evening)
Spurgeon’s Approach to a Bible Passage
While Spurgeon’s sermons constitute the largest set of volumes by any author in the English language, and have attracted more readers than the sermons of any other preacher, it is evident that most of them could never have been composed using the system of expounding being promoted today. Spurgeon’s traditional approach to the Word will surely enliven greatly our own quest for the Spirit’s intended message. (Two addresses)
The Necessity of Repentance and Faith in Salvation
These twin graces paramount in apostolic preaching, memorably defined in the great Confessions, and so prominent in The ministry of Spurgeon, are frequently downgraded to a mere assent in our day. Dr Nettles will strongly affirm the Christ-centred nature of true repentance. (One address)
Rev John Thackway
Pastor, Holywell Evangelical Church, Wales
A Pastoral and Doctrinal View of 1 Corinthians
This deeply practical letter, containing some of the best-loved chapters in the Bible, suffers much by exaggeration of the corruptions of the Corinthian church, so that it is no longer ‘like our church’, or ‘in our situation’. This study showed the rich themes and counsels that apply to all churches in every age. (Two addresses)
Pastor Ibrahim Ag Mohamed
Assistant Pastor, Metropolitan Tabernacle
Malachi – 'The Messenger of the Lord'
Emphasising the message of the prophet according to the principles of traditional interpretation, these addresses set out the topics covered by the eight questions posed in the book. Themes such as marriage and the marks of the godly abound, crying out for the attention of the expounder. (Two addresses)
Pastor Roland Burrows
Pastor, Station Road Baptist Chapel, Cradley Heath, West Midlands
All the Faith in Hebrews
Pre-eminently a reasoned appeal for living by faith, Hebrews is also a manual of Old Testament interpretation. The modern (mistaken) approach sees the epistle as a tirade against unbelieving Jews. The traditional approach sees so much more. (One address)
Dr Peter Masters
Pastor, Metropolitan Tabernacle
Drawing the Message from the Bible
The quest for the message has become confused in recent decades, with the new methods of interpretation eclipsing the old. The differences are considerable. What are they, how do they affect our understanding and preaching, and which is scriptural? This address showed in a positive way how the ‘old’ well-proved method of the centuries seeks out the pastoral, spiritual application of the text – the voice of Christ to His people. (Wednesday evening address)
The Drama of the Book of Proverbs
Proverbs is often called (by modern writers) a book of ‘sundry moral maxims’, a description that obscures the depths and purpose of its remarkable miniature parables. Two addresses showed the plot of Proverbs, the cast, the themes and some prime examples of spiritual application evident to traditional expounders. (Two addresses)
The Modernity of the Book of Job
Possibly the oldest book in Scripture, yet a demonstration of how Satan’s arguments against the faith never change. In one address a key was proposed for unlocking the counsels, helps and encouragements of this most rare and unconventional of Old Testament books.
Pastor Jack Seaton
Pastor Emeritus, Inverness Reformed Baptist Church
A Spiritual Eye and Heart (Hebrews 2.9)
School of Theology Preparatory Devotional Address
To be observant and receptive to the applicatory and devotional potential of the Word, the eye and the heart must be primed by the practice of spiritual communion with Christ.
Pastor Peter Samuel
Pastor, Patience Baptist Church, Anse-La-Raye, St Lucia
2 Peter – Maintaining Soundness and Final Hope in Churches
Described as the perfect epistle for teaching the procedures for holiness, the glories of the Word, the root of apostasy, and the great hope of Christ’s return, 2 Peter yields up its treasures only by spiritual reflection. (One address)
Darren Cadapen
Trinitarian Bible Society, London
The Impact of Sunday Schools: Social and Spiritual
Tuesday 5.30-6.20 pm: Darren Cadapen (Trinitarian Bible Society, London) surveyed the extraordinary past effect of Sunday Schools on Britain’s spiritual condition, and upon societal morality, proceeding to a review of latest Lessons for Life materials for young people.
Pastor Georgi Viazovski
Reformed Influence in the Russian Commonwealth
Wednesday 5.30-6.20 pm: Pastor Georgi Viazovski pastors a church in Minsk, and also (since 1995) operates a ministry translating and publishing books, and produces a regular magazine for all Russian-speaking lands. The outcome, in terms of reformed pastors and conferences, has been remarkable, and this session gave an insight into the Lord’s work in the CIS.