Do you believe that university life is about more than classes, assignments, studying and weekends? Are you interested in finding more meaning and purpose in your life? Do you enjoy listening to and sharing ideas with others? Then, please join our weekly Bible discussion group.

Campus Bible Talk meets every Monday during the school year (except during holidays and during Reading Week Breaks) at Athabasca Hall, Heritage Lounge, at 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Looking forward, Moving forward

This evening we are going to focus on "Looking forward, Moving forward."  As the year comes to an end and this is our last Campus Bible Talk discussion for this year, we will look at the Bible for advice on how to move forward with our lives, how to grown and to mature in our understanding and knowledge of God and to produce good fruits for God in our lives.

The notes of our discussion are below.
 December 5, 2011
Looking forward, Moving forward
Opening question: Think about something you set as a goal to achieve this year and you did achieve it or something that you want to achieve next year?
The end of the year is typically a time when we spent some time to reflect on the year that is ending.  We may look back and the events that have taken place, be glad of our achievements and have regrets of our failures.  This is also a time when we make promises to ourselves, pledges or resolutions about the New Year.
Today, I would like to take some time and look at the Bible and at its teaching about looking forward and moving forward in our lives.  But, first things first: Why is it necessary to move forward?  Why can’t we stay where we are? And if we must move forward, what does that mean?  How do we do that?
1.         The Need to Move Forward
We can see easily with our eyes and our other senses that live things around us develop and change.  We plant a small seed or a small plant in our gardens and within a few weeks we have a large plant, depending on the type, perhaps even taller than us.  We adopt a puppy, who within months grows to a large dog.  We are blessed with a small child, who a month from now perhaps will not fit in his or her own clothes any more.  If things go well, every living thing is destined to live, grow, develop, mature.
The Bible teaches the same principle applies to our own spiritual life.  When we are born again out of the waters of baptism, we begin our Christian life as a new person.  (2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.)  And God expects this new person, this new creature, to develop, to grow and to mature, to move forward and not backwards.
In 1 Peter 2:2, we are told to “crave spiritual milk”.  The verse reads: Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.  Peter compares the Christians to newborn babies, urging them to look for spiritual milk, which if, of course, the word of God. 
However, when we come to Christ, we do not come out of a vacuum.  We come after being raised perhaps in a world of sin or at least a world that doesn’t know God in its true form and doesn’t have the correct relationship with God.  Maybe we were raised in a Christian home, but still we come to God with a burden of sin.  There are many things we need to get rid of our lives, as we grow and mature in our Lord.  This is exactly what Peter is addressing in the preceding verse to the one we just read: Therefore… This ‘therefore’ ties this passage to the previous verses, where Peter has urged the Christians to be holy as God is holy.  Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
So, we can say that this grown process is a two-fold:
A.        We clean up our old selves of everything that is hindering us in our serving God.
In Ephesians 4:28-29, we read: Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.  29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
We can read many things in here, many problems that may plague our lives today.  Identify what those things are and stop doing them.
B.        We grown in our knowledge of God and bear fruit for Him. 
As we learn in Colossians 1:9-10: 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God
2.         How Do We Move Forward?
Having said that, how do we do this?  How do we move forward?  Here are a few tips:
A.        Be patient with yourself and with others
If you have spent 20, 30, 50 years in darkness, not knowing God and not realizing what is it you need to do to be in the right relationship with you, it is going to take time to make the necessary changes.  As anyone who has done renovations in their homes knows it takes a lot of work and a lot of time and it usually takes some more work and time.  So, do the work, identify what you need to change and improve upon, but realize that it is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  As we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:14: 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
B.        Be there for one another
Change is difficult, especially as we grow old.  New things are confusing, seemingly complicated, even when we want to learn and we want to change.  One of the good things about being a Christian is that you do not have to do this transformation in your own.  You will always have your brothers and sisters and you will always have God on your side.  As we read in Philippians 2:3-4: 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
C.        Grown in the knowledge of God
This is extremely important.  If you do not know that stealing is wrong, you’ll probably keep stealing.  If you do not realize that lying is wrong, you’ll keep lying.  Study the Bible, so that you can find out for yourselves what you need to do to change.  Join in fellowship with other Christians, so that you can see how they act and how they do things, what they do in different situations in their lives, so that you can learn from their best examples and also learn from their mistakes.  And finally, go out and put your knowledge into practice.  It is great to know that you should help someone, but it is much better to help a brother or a sister in need.  It is great to know someone can use a friend to talk to, but it is much better to actually talk to them.  Go out there and move forward and get closer to God as you grown and you mature in Him.
God wants us to grow and mature in our knowledge about Him and to produce good fruits in our lives.  We need to follow God and reach the point where we are living for Him and helping other people also to learn about God.  The more we study the Bible, the more we learn how to do the will of God in our lives, and then we need to go into the world and do the will of our father.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Lesson in Humbleness

The lesson this evening is centered on "A Lesson in Humbleness."  We'll see a parable of Jesus and discuss a few points about our attitude toward ourselves and others, keeping in mind what God wants us to do in our lives. 

Here are the notes of our discussion.

November 28, 2011
A Lesson in Humbleness
Opening question: What does it mean to be humble and what is a situation when you or someone else has shown some humbleness?
The definition for the word “humble” is “to be marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.”  Another definition is “to show submissive respect.”  For example, if we have made a mistake, we can apologize for it and show our humbleness by accepting our mistake and learning from it.
What does the Bible teach in the topic of humbleness?
Our main passage from the Bible today comes from Luke 18:9-14: 9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Now, let’s discuss about the meaning of this parable.
Jesus is telling this parable as a lesson for some people who were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else.  So, right away we see two issues: the people’s confidence in their own righteousness and the way in which they were looking down on everyone else.
What is the problem with having confidence in your own righteousness?  What does the Bible say about it?
In Romans 3:10, we read: There is no one righteous, not even one.
What does this mean?
It means that no one is righteous.  We have all sinned and in the eyes of God we are all sinners.  We cannot trust our own righteousness, because as hard as we try, we all stumble and fall and do bad things in our lives.
So, no one can trust in his own confidence and look down on other people.  The idea of “looking down” on other people means that you think of yourself as better, as being in a higher place, closer to God and that other people are wrong or worse than you are. 
In Romans 2:1-4, we read: 1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Therefore, we should not judge other people, because we are doing and in the past have done the same thing.  If God has forgiven us, that he can and will forgive those other people too, if they seek God.  Also, if we judge, we are taking the place of God and we are by any means to do that.  (James 4:11-12)
Back to the parable.  The Pharisees were the people that pretended to be the teachers of the law, the ones who understood it better and who could help other people with learning it and applying it.  But here we have a Pharisee that is considering himself to be better than these people.  It may have been true that he was not a robber, an evildoer or an adulterer, but still he had his own sins.  And one of these sins was looking down at his brothers and pretending that he was better than the other people.  However, he was not.
On the other hand, the tax collector prayed with humbleness.  Even though he may have been considered an evil person by many Hebrews and other people at the time, because of his job – collecting taxes for the Romans – he understood the true condition of himself and asked God to give him mercy.  And Jesus tells us that God heard the prayer of the tax collected and he was the one who went home justified.
In the last verse, Jesus tells us that those who humble themselves will be exalted.  Which means that when it comes to our salvation, it comes from God and when do not gain it with our own merits.  While there are certain steps that we need to take toward being right with God, it comes from Him and we do not receive it because we are better than others.
God wants us to have a spirit of humbleness, to trust in Him and not to look down on other people.  We are all sinners and not righteous and we all need God to save us from our sins and to help us act in accordance with His will.

Friday, November 25, 2011

After Baptism

Last Monday, we talked about what happens "After Baptism."  We focused on the fact that studying is an important part of our life after baptism, so that we can learn more about how we can continue to please God with our lives.  Taking the Lord's Supper was another act of worship, that we saw the early church did every Sunday.  The early believers spent time in fellowship and prayer and we should do the same, in order to encourage and built one another and to communicated with God, our Father.

The notes of our study are below.

November 21, 2011
After Baptism
Opening question: Think about a situation when you have completed a project (a paper, an exam).  What are the feelings you remember?  What about what comes next?
Often in life, the end of one stage is simply the beginning of another.  We complete an exam, we rest for a bit and then we need to move on to preparing for another exam.  We graduate and then we need to look for a job.  We find a job, but then we start thinking of a better or a different job, and so on.
What does the Bible teaches about what someone is to do after baptism?
The Baptism is the beginning of your life as a Christian.
Baptism may be the end of the process of someone learning about God, what to do to be saved from sin and to get into the right relationship with God.  But baptism is also the beginning of your life as a Christian.  It is not enough just to be baptized and then never have anything to do with God.  Christians are told in more than one passage in the Bible to fellowship with other Christians, to encourage one-another and to help one another.
In Acts 2:42-47, we read: 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
1.         Studying after becoming a Christian
After people were baptized into Christ, they continued to learn.  They studied with the apostles and we should continue to study the Bible and learn more about God and about what we need to continue to do in our lives.  At the moment when someone becomes a Christian, they do not know everything that there is in the Bible (unless they have studied it for a very long time, but even then, there is always new things to learn from the Bible).  Therefore, it is important to continue to study diligently the Word of God.
In 2 Timothy 3:16, we read: 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.  So, we can use the Word of God to learn from it, to learn from mistakes of the characters of the Bible, to learn from the events, to learn how we can correct our own mistakes and how to make our life as pure and as holy as we can.
If we compare our life to cleaning a room or a field from rocks or dirt, we would start with the largest pieces, because those are the most visible ones.  Then, we would move to the smaller and smaller pieces, making sure that we cleaned it as much as we can.  The same is true about our life.
2.         Taking the Lord’s Supper
The Christians also broke bread.  The breaking of the bread means to partake of the Lord’s Supper.  Jesus himself instituted this act in memory of His sacrifice for us.  Let us read from Matthew 26:26-29 about the purpose of the Lord’s Supper:
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
The bread is the symbol of Jesus’ body and the cup is the symbol of Jesus’ blood.
How often should a Christian partake of the Lord’s Supper?
In the Bible, we see an example of the time when the believers gathered together to take the Lord’s Supper.  In Acts 20:7, we read:  7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.  The first day of the week meant Sunday and the reason why the believers gathered on this day was so that they could partake of the Lord’s Supper.
While the Bible does not say explicitly that we should take the Lord’s Supper each and every first day of the week, meaning each and every Sunday, we can infer from the language that this should be done every Sunday.  If you are told that on the first day of the week, you will get paid, are you to expect this pay every week?  What if you were told it would happen on the first day of the month?  Are you going to expect it every first day of the month?
3.         Fellowship with other Christians
The early believers prayed and were together.  We should not stop praying, because prayer is our communication with God.  The power of prayer is great.  In James 5:16, we read that: The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
And in Hebrews 10:24-25, we read that: 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
We should not give us meeting on Sundays to worship God, as well as meet with other brothers and sisters as often as we can, so that we can encourage one another and strengthen one another.
Baptism is the beginning of your life as a Christian.  As we grown in our faith and maturity in God, we should study the Bible, so that we can learn more and more about how we can be closer to God and how we can do His will in our lives.  We should partake continuously the Lord’s Supper, so that we can remember Jesus’ sacrifice and what it means to us.  We should continue to pray and meet with fellow believers, so that we can encourage and strengthen one another.


Friday, November 18, 2011

On Baptism

The topic of our discussion last Monday was "Baptism."  We talked about what is baptism from the Biblical point of view and that this word meant at that time.  The reasons why an adult is baptized were also discussed, as well as the right moment when someone must be baptized.

Below are the notes of our discussion.

On Baptism
Opening question: Can you think on an English word or expression or situation that at first confused you?
The English language, like all other languages, has certain expressions, idioms that can easily confuse people, especially the one for whom English is not the first language.  However, with a little bit of explanation or study, most of these expressions or situations can be learned and understood properly.
Today, we are going to focus on baptism and what the Bible teaches about it.
1.         What is baptism?
Today baptism means different things to different people, depending on their experiences and their upbringing.  However, things were not always like this.  There was a time when baptism meant only one thing: immersion, plunging.  The examples of people being baptism that we find in the Bible, a few of which we will see today, also testify to the fact that baptism meant that someone – always an adult and never a baby – was put under water, so that his body was completely covered by water.
In Acts 8, we read the story of the Ethiopian eunuch.  In verses 26-28, we read: 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet.
And in verses 26-39, we read: 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Did the eunuch have water in his chariot?  Why did they have to go to the water?
In the Bible, baptism is always seen as something done by a grownup, a human being old enough to make decisions for them.  Babies or little children do not have the complete understand that adult human beings have and most of the time they know little of anything.  If baptism is something as important as we believe it to be, then baptism should be done by grownups, who can truly understand and know what is going on and why are they being baptized.
And this lead us to our second point.
2.         Why be baptized?
To a baby, baptism does not mean much, if anything.  However, to an adult, baptism must carry a meaning, if it is to be done.  Our God does not want us to do acts or gestures that have no meaning and serve no purpose.
So, what is the purpose, the meaning of baptism?
In Acts 2:38-39, Paul tells the people who had been listening to his words: 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Baptism is for the forgiveness of your sins.  When a person is baptized, God sees this act of humbleness and submission, conviction and confession and forgives the person’s sin.  And not only that, but in baptism, the person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit.  A part of God is given to us as a gift in order to help us pray and to help us with our daily struggles in our lives.
In Romans 6:4, Paul explains that: 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  Baptism is the outward sign of death, an end to the old person, the sinful man or woman that did not believe in God and did not have His salvation.  The new life means that we are now walking with God, being in the right relationship with Him and enjoying His forgiveness.
In 1 Peter 3:21, we see another example of what baptism does for us.  This verse says that: 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Baptism saves us in the sense that the baptism is the moment when we accept the forgiveness and the salvation from God and when we show this acceptance through this act.
3.         When should someone be baptized?
While there is no set time for someone to be baptized, meaning no specific age or moment in their life, the urgency of doing this act as soon as possible is seen is all examples from the Bible. 
In Acts 22:14-16, Paul describes the story when he was baptized.  He says: 14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’
In verse 16, we see the urgency in the rhetorical question.  Once the person has realized the need to be saved and has understood the message of God, they can be baptized right away and there is no need to wait for anything else.
In Acts 10, the story of Cornelius and his baptism, we read in verses 47-48: 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Once again, baptism follows the reaching of the point when the person knows what he needs to understand his situation as a sinner and his need to be saved from those sins, as well as the offer of salvation that God has given him.  In baptism, the person accepts this offer and receives salvation.
Baptism is the outward acts of showing our faith in God, our need for salvation and our confession that without God we cannot make it.  We are baptized for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is always the right time to be baptized, once the person has understood its importance and its purpose for his salvation.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Time is Now

"The Time is Now" was the topic of our discussion last Monday.  We saw that our time on earth is short, limited and we do not know when our time will end.  That is why it is important to seek God and to come to a right relationship with him now, without delay, for we do not know when our time will come.  We should seize the day, today, to find our Lord.
Please find below the notes of our talk.

The Time is Now
Opening question: Can you think of a situation when you missed a deadline about something, a project, or the catch the bus or the pay a bill?  What were the consequences and how did that make you feel?
We know that many things need to be done on time and that time is one of the most valuable items we have, since we cannot really buy time or add to our time.  Once the time has passed for a certain event, one cannot go back and change things.
What does the Bible teach about how we should make use of our time?
In 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, Paul, one of the apostles, is teaching us that: 29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
What does it mean that time is short?  How is time short?
We never know what will happen tomorrow; therefore, we should do the best with our time that we have now.  No one can add one single day to his life, not even a minute.  We can do many things to keep ourselves health, but a huge number of things are beyond our control in our lives and we do not know how much time we have to live.
In Matthew 6:34, Jesus gives us an interesting thought: 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What does this mean?  What does it mean that “tomorrow will worry about itself?”
We should live each live taking care of the things of that life.  Many people make plans or postpone things for the future, for another time, perhaps next month or next year.  However, life happens and those things we postponed we never get around to doing.  Or even worse, something may happen with our health or our own life and we will never get a chance to do those things we promised ourselves we would.
In Romans 13:22, Paul again reminds the members of the church in Rome that time is precious.  He says:  11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Sometimes we use the language of a “wake-up” call as something that rings the alarm, so that we can do something promptly, right away.  Paul is saying that there is a time for salvation and the time is near.
And in 2 Corinthians 6:2, Paul goes even further, saying: 2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
What does it mean now?  What does it mean that the day of salvation is now?
Anytime is a good time to be saved.  If you had a disease and the doctor told you that there was a cure, when would it be the time or the day when you would start taking the medicine or begin your cure?  Of course, it would be right away, immediately.  The same is true about the salvation of God, about being saved from your sins.  God wants us to take advantage of his salvation now, as soon as we realize the need to wash our sins away and to come to the right relationship with God.
If you have studied and you are convinced of God and of your need to be saved, do not hesitate, because time is short and we do not know when we may run out of time.
God has offered salvation to all mankind, which can chose to accept it or refuse it.  Not knowing the time or the day of our departure from this world, we should seize the day to know God and to be saved.  Today, now, the present is the time to take such an important step in our lives.