Report on the 2010 Bible Course


When we as participants reflect on the 2010 Bible Course, which took place during August 16-27, we can say with assurance that God answers prayers! This year over 60 participants, representing 11 local congregations across Canada, met in Chilliwack, B.C. to learn more about God and His word. During the time there, the Lord’s presence was with us and He poured out His blessing on all the participants. The time spent together in studying His word, in prayer, and in fellowship was an edifying experience for all of us.<p>

Every morning began with a short devotional, usually lead by a Bible Course participant. Following this we would have a time of prayer. The time we spent together on our knees brought us closer to God and to each other. We experienced God answering our prayers every day. We had four classes every day with breaks in-between and time for lunch.

The first class of each day was Systematic Theology with Pastor Ron Taron from Steinbach, Manitoba. The first topic within this session was titled “Who is God?” On the very first day we learned about the question, “Where does the idea of a God come from?” One of the responses we discussed was intuition. God is just and has given each one of us an intuition to know what is right and what is wrong. Those who never have an opportunity to hear the gospel will be judged by this intuition. If we try to prove God's existence by telling someone that we just know He is there intuitively, we probably will not convince them, so we looked at how we can prove this more effectively. Aside from an incredible designer, there is no explanation for the complexity, beauty and magnitude of the world. The existence of our mind, conscience, and moral nature cannot be explained by any theory. We also learned about the different attributes of God, including His omniscience (all-knowing). Some people may wonder “If God already knows where we will spend eternity, how we can have a free will?” Just because God already knows the outcome of all our future decisions, does not mean that He is making the choice for us. God can do all He wills to do, but will not do all He can.

The second topic we looked at in Systematic Theology is “The Nature of Man.” God made us and we are responsible to Him because we are His! People may ask, “Why did God create us with a free will when He knew that millions would be lost forever?” God wants a relationship with us, and wants us to serve Him out of love. If love was forced or automatic, would it even be love? Because of this free will we are also capable of sinning, and our nature is depraved. We need God in order to have victory over the temptations we will face. Next time we are tempted we should stop and ask ourselves, “What is the lie in this temptation?” and then “What will the consequence be?” Satan will often tempt us with doubt, and we might not even realize it. Before we know it, we let our guard down. He will then bombard us with other temptations and make them seem justified. This is what happened to Adam and Eve. They had everything they could have asked for in the Garden of Eden, yet they doubted God's goodness. When we think of sin, we most often think of sin of commission, which is doing what we shouldn't do. We often overlook or forget about sin of omission, which is failing to do what should be done. We have to be careful. If God shows us what He wants us to do, and we neglect to obey, it is a sin, but He does not want us to be so caught up in it that we lose the joy in serving Him. God is patient and understanding. He does not expect us to witness to every lost soul we see in a day, but if He lays something on our heart, we must be willing to do it.

The third and final topic was entitled “God’s Plan of Salvation.” God’s plan of salvation is centered on Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus Christ in terms of God’s plan of salvation? In 1 John 2:2 Jesus “…Himself is the propitiation for our sins.” To propitiate means “to appease” or “to turn away the wrath of an offended person.” It is another term for atonement and reconciliation. Jesus died to reconcile us with the Holy God. Jesus was nailed to the cross for the salvation of all mankind, so that we might obtain pardon for our sins. The entire verse in 1 John reads, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the whole world.” In 2 Peter 3:9 we read that God does not want any of us to perish “…but that all should come to repentance.” The Bible teaches that salvation is available to all those who seek it and are willing to accept God’s mercy. While it is true that Christ offers salvation to all, it is not given automatically. Seeking God requires faith, repentance and obedience on the part of the seeker. There were many important and interesting details of salvation, which we discussed, including: our spiritual awakening, Godly sorrow and the assurance of salvation. Salvation is the greatest need man has…and the greatest gift God gives. Through this lecture series, we were reminded that God’s efforts to save humankind are remarkable and a sign of God’s incredible love for us.

The second class of each day was with Pastor Reinhard Roesler from Toronto, Ontario. In this class we looked at the will of God. Romans 12:2 was our key verse: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” It is impossible for us to do God’s will if we do not allow Him to renew our minds. Our way of thinking needs to change from our old, sinful way into God’s holy way. With a renewed mind we will be able to see everything around us through His eyes. In order to find the will of God we also have to be obedient to His word. Why should God reveal His will to us if we would not listen anyways, or only if we like what He has to say to us? We examined God’s word regarding the purpose of our lives. Ephesians 1:12 tells us “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” This is the ultimate goal of all of God’s creation. He made everything, including us, to bring Him glory. This verse changes our perspective. Our life is not at all about ourselves. It is about much more than our own present fulfillment, our peace of mind, and our happiness. It’s all about God!

In the next two lessons we learned to differentiate between the sovereign and the moral will of God. Because God is sovereign He can always do His will and no one change that. Even so, we have a free will to choose to do God’s will or go our own way. Often we experience things in our lives that we do not have control over and that we cannot understand. In Isaiah 55:8-9 we read, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways my ways’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” This verse teaches us that there are things in life that we just have to leave up to God because, even if we want to, we cannot understand them at this point in time. We can be sure that His ways and thoughts are perfect. The question might arise whether or not it is useful to ask for God’s will if He carries it out anyways? The answer is “Yes!” because we can choose to be part of God’s plan or not. God can use other people if we say “No.” It is a great privilege to be used by our almighty God! That is why we want to ask God for His will and follow Him in obedience.

During the second week we looked at how to find God’s will for our lives. We learned about methods which are not reliable, such as dreams and visions, or casting lots. Asking for signs and waiting for open doors are also uncertain methods in finding God’s will. The most reliable way to ascertain the will of God is to pray, read His word, ask advice of mature Christians and be patient in waiting for His leading. We also learned that God gives us some freedom in making our decisions, such as in choosing who to marry or what kind of career path to take. However, we know that anything we do that is against the word of God cannot be His will for our life. The Bible is our best source in determining God’s will.

Pastor Harry Klinger from Hamilton, Ontario taught the third class of the day entitled “Humble Apologetics.” To bring an apologetic means to bring a defense. In 1 Peter 3:15 we read, “but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” As followers of Jesus we must always be ready to defend our faith, but we should do so with humility and respect. In this class we looked at different beliefs about the origin of God as well as proofs of God’s existence. We learned about various cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses and we had the opportunity to practice how to bring a defense to people who are a part of these groups. In the second week of our sessions with Pastor Klinger we looked at what the Church of God has to say regarding holy living and God’s standards for holiness. The Hebrew word for “holy” means “sanctified” or “set apart” for divine service. 1 Peter 1: 15-16 tells us that “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” God requires holiness of us; we are clearly set aside to live a holy life for Him. We cannot be holy on our own but God empowers us through His Holy Spirit to live a life free of sin. We are to be dead to the world and sin. We also discussed whether or not it is possible to fall from grace or if we should believe in the “once saved always saved” doctrine. There are many people who believe that there is no way to fall from God’s grace. In class we concluded that this could not be true if we follow what the Bible teaches. There are many examples in the Bible of those who have fallen from God’s grace. In Revelation 3:4-5 we read that the church at Sardis had fallen from God’s grace, and in 2 Timothy 2:17-18 and 1 Timothy 4:1 we read about Christians who lost their salvation because they were led astray by false doctrine. Everyone who sins must repent and turn their back to sin in order to restore their relationship with God.

The last lesson of each day was with Pastor Gerry Krebs from Chilliwack, B.C. Throughout the two weeks, we studied the topic “Practical Christian Living.” We received wise advice for certain areas in our lives which we can apply to our walk with God. One of these areas was overcoming temptation. First, we examined the nature of temptation and the nature of sin. Temptation is not a sin but it can lead to sin when we give in to that temptation (James 1:12-15). We have proof that temptation is not a sin because Jesus himself was tempted, as we read in Matthew 4. We also discussed the idea of going through trials in our lives. God tests our strength, patience and our faith in Him through these trials. The source of temptation is very simple. Temptations come from Satan directly and not from God. They also come from our own desires. In James 1:14 it says that “…each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires.”

Knowing our enemy is very important and enables us to recognize, target and withstand the fiery darts of the devil. Satan comes in many deceiving ways, and we need to be ready to take action to overcome those temptations. In 1 Peter 5:8 it says, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” and in 2 Corinthians 11:14 it says that “…Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” Satan uses many weapons that he thinks will make us fall, however, we can be assured that God is always on our side and He will help us quench those fiery darts; all we have to do is take up the shield of faith.

It is important that we have strategies for fighting the devil, and we must be equipped and ready to fight. James, in his letter to the early church in Jerusalem, writes that we must “…submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” In Ephesians 6:10 we are encouraged to “be strong in the LORD and in the power of His might.” Being ‘in the Lord’ means being in union with God and being obedient to Him. The power to win spiritual battles is found by fully submitting to Christ. We must also have confidence in God that He will help us. We have to remember our riches in Christ: we belong to God’s family, we have peace with God and He is our good Shepherd. We must also cultivate our inner life by taking time daily to be with God. In Matthew 26:42 it says, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We also need to guard our minds. A wandering, unfocused mind presents great danger. We can redirect our thoughts to what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. How can we overcome temptations? First, resist the devil steadfastly in the faith, second, do not linger to see whether he will go or not, and third, draw near to God with all your heart and always remind yourself of the consequences of sin. If we put on the armour of God in Ephesians 6 we will always walk in victory. Our prize is the crown of life which God has promised for those who endure temptation.

Pastor Gerry introduced the topic “Managing Finances God's Way” with a glimpse of money in the Bible, which emphasized its importance. More than two thousand verses in the Bible talk about money! We learned about different approaches of money management, focusing on God's pattern versus cultural norms. God's approach is radically different from the world’s approach; people should be able to see that we are Christians just by looking at our spending. We then looked stewardship, which means being entrusted with someone else's wealth and being responsible for managing it in the owner's best interest. We hear often enough that our money and possessions all belong to God, but do we really think about it? If you gave money to a person in need and told them to use it to buy a meal, you would be disappointed if you found out that they spent it on something else. It is basically the same with God. He wants us to manage our spending to honour Him, not ourselves. God wants us to be giving and generous, and He rewards us for it. It is important to keep track of our spending and ask God for guidance. We also discussed tithing, which God requires of us. Sadly, weekly churchgoers only give an average of 3.4% of their income to the church. If we think about how richly God has blessed us, we should give as much as we can back to Him. God also instructs us to give to the poor and to provide for our families, but in Exodus 23:19 it says, “The first of the first-fruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.” We tithe out of obedience to God, but we should not do it out of obligation. We finished off the topic of finances by looking at debt and credit card spending. Dangers exist when we have debt. For example, having debt might cause us to doubt God’s provision. We learned about making good investments and that there are exceptions where we may have to go into debt in order to make a good investment, such as buying a house. The key is to pray about it and consider the consequences carefully. It is helpful to keep the verses in Matthew 6:19-20 in mind, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

The last topic we looked at was “Spiritual Mentoring” in the family of God. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” God cares about our relationships with our brothers and sisters. A spiritual mentor is a follower of Christ who has matured in their faith and invests in the growth of young believers to support and nurture them. If we consider how often the Bible says “one another,” we realize how important our relationships are to our spiritual life. Spiritual friendship involves praying together and for one another, encouraging each other and learning from God's word together. It requires patience and prayer, and will not happen overnight. We looked at communication and how difficult it is to get to know a person if you only talk about what is going on around you. Trust needs to be built up before the deepest level of communication is reached. The relationship will usually start at the surface level and over time progress into something deeper. In order to get to this point, the relationship needs love, loyalty and truth. Genuine friendships cannot exist if we are unwilling to share or hear the truth. Lastly, we looked at conflicts in relationships and how to resolve them. In Matthew 5:9 Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Spiritual friendship and mentorship was the last topic we learned about at the Bible Course, and it closed the course on an encouraging note. We were reminded that spiritual conversations and friendships did not have to end when the Bible Course did. When we are back in our daily routines it is more important than ever to have spiritual friendships, where we can keep each other accountable and pray for one another. The friendships formed and strengthened during the two weeks in Chilliwack have been beneficial in sustaining the joy experienced at the Bible Course. Above all, we praise God for His love, His patience, and for pouring out His blessing on us! May the fruit of this year’s Bible course remain for years to come.

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