Editor’s Note: Silas Naklick graduated from The Master’s University in 2020 with a degree in biblical exposition. He is set to begin his second year at The Master’s Seminary in the fall. What follows is a first-person account of his time at TMU.
A strong desire for pastoral ministry, along with God’s providence in the small details of life, eventually brought me to The Master’s University in the fall of 2016.
I had previously worked at my home church directing a youth program oriented toward inner-city teens, and I had many opportunities to speak from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. Despite this experience, I did feel somewhat inadequate in specific areas of biblical knowledge. I tended to remain in the New Testament epistles, almost to the complete neglect (with the exception of the Psalms and other select passages) of the first 39 books of the Bible.
While I believe that God worked in my preaching during these years, it was evident (especially in retrospect) that a more thorough education would make me more effective in ministry. I have had time over the last year to review many sermons I preached before my time at TMU, and I’m blessed to see how God has shown me so many biblical concepts and spiritual truths since then, growing me in a way that will help me teach better for the rest of my life.
I would like to share four particular takeaways from my time at TMU that have forever changed the way I read the Bible and do ministry.
1. An Understanding of the Grand Metanarrative of Scripture
Most of the TMU alumni I speak to say that they gained a better understanding of the Bible’s interconnectedness during their time there. One professor, in his Biblical Interpretation class, would typically use the term biblical metanarrative to express how the Bible is one grand story, beginning with Genesis and culminating in Revelation. Looking back, this is one of the most valuable truths I learned as a student, especially considering my desire to be a pastor.
Being able to connect the theological dots for those sitting in the pews is of immense importance. When this takes place, not only is preaching happening but laymen are being shown how to interpret Scripture with Scripture by tracing thematic threads. I learned how The Law connects to the prophets, and how the prophets connect to the gospels, etc. I no longer view the individual books of the Bible as disconnected parts, but as individual members of a whole.
2. A Proper View of the Land of Israel
During my third semester at TMU, I spent three months studying in Israel at IBEX (TMU’s Israel Bible Extension program). The semester offered something of immense value: an accurate picture of places and events in Scripture.
Every reader of the Bible brings a certain image to the text at hand. This could be from a movie, or even from photographs by family members who have traveled to the Middle East. Whatever that mental image is, it’s being projected onto the text. In my case, I previously pictured the landscape from the 1959 film “Ben-Hur,” which was supposed to be depicting Israel, but was actually largely filmed in Italy.
What a trip to Israel does is replace faulty mental images that we have projected onto the Bible. It enables the reader to use his or her experiences in the land of the Bible to bring clarity to the text. No longer do I picture Galilee as a barren desert, but as the beautiful lakeside land it truly is.
3. Examples of Practical Christian Living and Sanctification
The genuine spirituality of the professors at TMU is invaluable to students seeking to live a spiritual and practical Christian life. Academic influence may be valuable, but spiritual influence is much more so.
Paul told the Corinthians to imitate him because he imitated Christ. In the same way, students at TMU are blessed to have role models whose examples they can imitate, leading to greater Christlikeness. I remember hearing one professor talk about his dedication to memorizing Scripture with his family. This is the type of authenticity that breeds spiritual influence. I thought to myself, “I want to be like that!”
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that we’re always being conformed to Jesus’s image. If all a student has at the end of four years is an academic degree, what a pity! There is great spiritual benefit in enjoying close relationships with professors who love the Lord, and this is a key distinctive of TMU.
4. A Perspective of Legacy
After four years of hard academic labor, and after learning about the history of TMU (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College, or LABC), I am often reminded of the importance of leaving a biblical legacy. Many have studied at the TMU campus. But how can a student go on from there to leave a lasting impact wherever he goes? Paul wrote these words to Timothy at the end of his life:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Faithfulness, perseverance, resolve and — most importantly — love and anticipation for Christ are what culminate in a biblical legacy that transcends time and decay. Paul was ready to leave the Earth because he had accomplished the most important task: keeping the faith.
What I experienced at TMU was a faculty and a student body dedicated to discipling believers, helping them to be transformed into the likeness of our Lord through a life of faithfulness. Looking back at my time prior to TMU, I can truly say that God has worked in remarkable ways to draw me closer to Him since then. Moving to Santa Clarita, California, to study at such an amazing institution is one of the best choices I have ever made.
To learn more about TMU’s School of Biblical Studies, click here.