Dearly Beloved Brethren,

The Bible Presbyterian (BP) Church in Singapore started 60 years ago in the year 1950. Our Church is Tabernacle Bible Presbyterian (BP) Church and each one of us ought to know why we are BP and the history behind it. As someone said, “history” is really “His story” i.e. God’s story and it is a great encouragement to see the Hand of God in the formation of the BP Church in Singapore. We thank God for leading us to Tabernacle BP Church. Though we are not a perfect Church, we strive to stand firm in the Word of God to preach and defend it earnestly.

Below is a summary of the book by Rev. Dr. Timothy Tow “The Singapore B-P Story” that I have written as part of my Far Eastern Bible College online assignment. I pray you will be blessed in reading “God’s Story” of the BP Church in Singapore. Rev Timothy Tow was called Home to glory on 20 April 2009.


The author of the book, Rev. Dr. Timothy Tow, is the founder of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Singapore and the Far Eastern Bible College. The author is most fit to tell the story of the B-P Story as he has seen it all and personally experienced every moment of the history and growth of the B-P Churches since its humble beginning in 1950. The book is shared to us in easy-to-read style and yet it is heart moving and inspiring to challenge the reader to see the Hand of God at work in the B-P Churches even before it was formed in Singapore and how God has used the Author and other faithful servants of God in such a wonderful and mysterious way in the story of the Singapore B-P Church.

The purpose of the writing of this book is clearly spelt out by the Author as recorded in 2 Corinthians 10:13 “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come”. The Author wanted all B-P sons and daughters to know their roots and the works of God in the B-P Churches as well as the failings so that history will not be repeated and that each new generation will strive to be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ till He comes again. The battles have been fought faithfully by the founding generations of the B-P ministers and leaders and it is the Author’s desire that their examples and stories be told to their children and children’s children.

The book is very clear that the Singapore B-P Church which began in 1950 started as a separatist Church and a strong constituent of the 20th Century Reformation movement. It is strongly against the Ecumenical Movement, Charismatic Movement and all forms of Liberal and Modernist teachings and that one must earnestly contend for the faith. Of course, it is sad to note that as the B-P Churches grow, deviations from this original position and doctrinal stand came and eventually resulted in the dissolution of the B-P Synod.

The Roots of the Singapore B-P Church

The Singapore B-P Church has seven roots which led to its founding in 1950. It is our Sovereign God who has prepared and pre-determined all these “roots” so that the tree of the Singapore B-P Church can spring forth and grow. The seven roots are as follows in this order chronologically : French, English, Scottish, German, Chinese, American and Singaporean.

  • The 16th Century Reformation root in which the B-P Church imbibe the Reformed Theology, particularly that of John Calvin the French theologian.
  • The English Presbyterian Mission root which sent her missionaries to our ancestors in South China.
  • The Scottish root in the person of William Chalmers Burns who was sent as a missionary to China in 1847 and established a Church in Swatow. The Author’s maternal grandfather was saved in Swatow and later became a minister of the Gospel. Some of the Chinese people who were saved in Swatow migrated to Singapore.
  • The German root in the person of Dr. Rudolph Lechler who was a missionary in a fishing village called Iam Tsau, 25 miles from Swatow. He planted a Church in Iam Tsau in which the Tow and Lim clans have descended directly from.
  • The China root in the person of Dr. John Sung whom God used greatly as a revivalist. He came to Singapore in 1935 and from Dr. John Sung the founding fathers of our B-P Church were fired with a zeal for evangelism and consecration to full-time service.
  • The 20th Century Reformation root sounded by Dr. Carl McIntire, President of the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC) when the Author was studying in Faith Seminary in USA. A chapter was especially dedicated to explain this American root in which we see how modernism and ecumenism crept into the fundamental churches in USA and this is a stark reminder that it can happen to the B-P Churches in Singapore. Thank God for faithful men of God like Gresham Machen and Carl McIntire who stood firm and preached the truth despite being ousted from their Church and Seminary. Because of their faithful testimony and stand for the Lord, the Author was blessed and touched by God to bring the same message of truth to Singapore and hence the B-P Church in Singapore is founded on the principle of separation from Ecumenism.
  • The Singapore root in those who took a firm separatist stand in the 20th Century Reformation namely Rev. Silas C T Hsu and Dr. Tow Siang Hwa.

The Birth of Life B-P Church

The humble and small beginning of the Life Church English Service started in 20 October 1950 at Prinsep Street. This new English service was pastored by the Author who has returned from his theological studies in USA. It is a marvel today to see how God has blessed and work mightily even in such lowly beginning. In 20 October 1950, who can imagine the B-P Church is what it is today in Singapore and reaching out to so many countries in the world? God’s way is not man’s way and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

There is no doubt that the founding fathers of the Singapore B-P Church love the Lord and are very zealous in the work of the Lord. The Church quickly organized with Family worship, Sunday School, Fellowship groups and even started Bible camps. It must be noted that one key area that is focused on is evangelism and the Church was effective in reaching out in daily witnessing to the unbelievers. Mission was also in their minds. They were ready to venture into Malaysia with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and took every opportunity and open door as God directing their path for the Gospel sake. This led to the founding of the Malaysia Pioneer Mission.

While building the young Church, the leaders especially the Author never forgot the ministry of the defence of the Faith. Their mother church, Life Presbyterian Church, was affiliation to Malayan Christian Council (MCC) which is part of the ecumenical movement. They made a motion to the Synod to withdraw from the MCC but was not successful and hence the decision to be separated from the Synod in obedience to the Word of God. In order to distinguish from the Synod churches, the prefix “Bible” was added and the Church was called Life Bible-Presbyterian Church. In January 1955 the birth of the Bible-Presbyterian movement started. The Church also voted to affiliate with the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC) and with its Far Eastern chapter, the Far Eastern Council of Christian Churches.

The Lord has also provided Life B-P Church with a piece of land at Gilstead Road to build a Church as the place at Princep Street was not big enough for the growing congregation. The Lord also touched the hearts of the people to give cheerfully for the building of God’s House.

The Birth of Far Eastern Bible College

The vision of starting a Bible College was shared as early as 1954 to the leaders by the Author. It is very vital that full-time workers be trained for the expanding ministries and also for the propagation of the Gospel and defence of the Faith throughout the Far East. The Bible College will be able to nurture future leaders of the B-P Churches. By God’s grace and leading, Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) was open on 17 September 1962. The College was constituted an independent constitution and located within the site of Life B-P Church at Gilstead Road.

The act of faith and trust in God by the Author to start FEBC is truly God-given and a great testimony to all of us today. We have seen the blessings of FEBC in training so many pastors and missionaries of the B-P Churches. The teachings of FEBC have also enabled many students to imbibe the doctrines of biblical separation and contending of the faith in all the fundamental doctrines of the Bible.

Dissolution of the B-P Synod

The Lord has blessed the B-P Churches and by the late ‘80s, there were already 25 B-P Churches formed. With growth, internal differences also arose over the practice of biblical separation. In fact as early as 1968, the Author has already witnessed a dissentious spirit creeping into Life B-P Church. There were some in the Church session who supported Dr. Billy Graham in which the Author pointed out his compromises in his “cooperative evangelism” method. The B-P Synod was dissolved on 30 October 1988. In the statement made about the dissolution of the Synod, the issues were centred on “strong differences in interpreting the Doctrine of Biblical Separation, Fundamentalism, and Neo-Evangelicalism. Concerted attempts were made during the past two years at reconciliation through personal discussions and formal meetings. Even a moratorium failed to resolve these differences and break the impase. Dissolution is accepted as the last resort.

One of these issues is that the Zion-Camel BP Churches maintained that tongues had not ceased, and that these were meaningful ecstatic utterances. It was clear that within the B-P Churches, a liberal camp has entrenched within the Synod. The Author even wrote a book about Charismatism to explain that tongues have ceased and that Holy Spirit revival in Church history such as John Sung’s revival has no mention of tongues at all. In addition, a Pastor within the liberal camp even cast doubts on God’s Word in his writings. An example is that he said we cannot determine whether the Flood was over the whole world or only on a part of it.

With the dissolution of the B-P Churches, each B-P Church will continue to exist with its existing name and autonomy. It is clear that after the dissolution, some B-P Churches are sailing with the neo-evangelical current and into the ecumenical mainstream. Hence today, not all B-P Churches are truly “B-P” in its original founding principles of biblical separation.

The Growth of the B-P Churches at Home and Abroad

The book covers a large detail of the formation of the B-P Churches in Singapore and abroad. It incorporates the eight:”first-line” B-P Churches’ own account of their growth and missionary expansion. These were written by Dr. S H Tow for Calvary; Rev. Burt Subramaniam for Jurong; Rev. Daniel Cua, Elder Teo, Elder Dr. Ang, Elder Lui and Mickey Chiang for the “Mountain” B-P churches; Rev. Bob Phee for Sembawang; Rev. Philip Heng for Galilee; Rev. Dr. Quek Kiok Chiang for Faith; Dr. Quek Swee Hwa for Zion; and lastly Rev. Dr. Timothy Tow for Life. From the account written, the reader will know how each B-P Church is founded and the mission stations that are formed and supported by the B-P Church.

The foreign countries that the B-P churches have reached out to include: Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, Saipan, Canada, Thailand, Philippines, Africa, England, Vietnam and Burma.

Each account of the start of a B-P Church is usually due to a few faithful servants of God who have a burden for the Gospel to reach a certain area and willing to open their homes and give their time and effort to the formation of the Church. Usually most have a humble beginning as a Sunday School class or a home open for fellowship. Invariably, we see how God blessed the work and with the expansion in number, a proper Church building is needed. Again, one would read of God moving the people to give willingly and that He will provide sufficient funds for His House to be built.

One would also read of the difficulties faced by the different B-P Church. Sometimes the number would dwindle and other problems could be due to division. But in each case, we see the Higher Hand of God leading the Church through their difficulties and leading them to higher ground in each trial. Indeed no Church is spared of such trial but God is always there to help them.

Another observation is the help and support given to each other in the process of the growth of the B-P Churches. This could come in the form of love gifts or interest-free loan to sister B-P Church. Also, the Author in particular has always given himself to support and serve in many B-P churches in their infancy stage. He has also travelled often to mission stations and sometimes would stay for a few months to teach in the overseas B-P Churches.


There is no doubt the Author of the book has been greatly used of the Lord in the “Singapore B-P Story”. Yet, no reader will never find any air of pride or self-glory by the Author of his achievements. His main concern is that the all B-P members should know the history of the B-P Church so that we will remain faithful to the Lord and His Word.

One touching portion of the book is the Author’s sharing of the sudden departure of his wife and daughter in the car journey to the church camp at Cameron Highlands in 1965. There must be great pain and sorrow of heart experienced by the Author but yet he remains faithful to the Lord and ready to accept the will of God even in such a calamity in his life. Truly we can learn so many spiritual lessons from the Author, Rev. Dr. Timothy Tow.

After reading the book, one is very sure of the sovereignty of God that He has done this great work in the B-P Church in Singapore. May we never forget the work of God and be found always faithful to Him all our lives as Rev. Timothy Tow has lived his life for the Lord.

Elder John Leong