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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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Human Beings According to the Bible

"Human Beings According to the Bible" was the topic of our study yesterday.  We saw how God has created us in His image and has given us both a body and a spirit.  We need to take good care of both these components of our being.  We need to nourish and exercise not only our body, which is temporary, but even more our spirit, which is eternal.
These are the notes of our discussion. 

April 11, 2011

Human Beings According to the Bible
Opening question: What is your favorite (appropriate) part of being human?
Today we are going to look at the Bible and what characteristics does it tell us about human beings.

1.         Every Human Being has a Spirit
In Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, we read: 6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
The word or term “ecclesiastes” means literally “the assembly speaker”, that is, “the preacher.”
What is Solomon saying here?
In verse 6, Solomon is painting a picture here of death – that everything is gone – the silver cord is severed, the golden bowl is broken, the pitcher is shattered, the wheel broken at the well.  All these show that these items cannot be used anymore and cannot be fixed anymore.
In verse 7, Solomon says that dust returns to the ground and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
So, according to the Bible, the human body is not just made of the physical cells that we have, the parts that we see, but also of the spirit that God has given us.  Our spirit is our true personality.
In James 2:26, we read:  As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
What is James saying here?
One cannot have a body that is alive without the spirit – or without the spirit the body is dead.

2.         Our Spirits are Eternal
In 2 Corinthians 5:1, we read: For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
What is Paul saying here?
While our physical body is temporary, our spirit is eternal.  There will come a time when our body will be destroyed by death, but our spirit will continue to live forever.  Whether it will live with God in heaven or whether it will be suffering in hell, that will depend on the choice that we make while we are alive here on earth.
God created man with a free will – meaning that people can and do make choices and decisions, which are independent and free from outside control.  It is true that we are influenced by our friends, relatives and circumstances, but ultimately we are the ones who make the decision and live with those decisions.
How does this affect what we do with our body and our spirit?

3.         We Need to Take Good Care not of our Body, but Also of our Spirit
How do we take care of our body?
We eat, we rest, we sleep, we exercise.
We need to take good care of our spirit too.  In the same way that we are feeding our body, we need to feed the spirit.  In the same way that we exercise our body, we need to exercise our spirit.
But what do we feed the Spirit?
We feed our spirit the word of God.
Jesus himself said in Matthew 4:4 that: Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
In the same way that when we eat healthy we are able to look great and healthy and when we exercise our body will show it, in the same way if we remain in the word of God and we study it and feed our spirit with it, then we will be able to show good fruits or the fruits of the spirit. 
We can produce the fruits of the spirit, as we read in Galatians 5:22-25:  22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.   25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

God has created us in His image and has given us both a body and a spirit.  We need to take good care of both these components of our being.  We need to nourish and exercise not only our body, which is temporary, but even more our spirit, which is eternal.

Campus Bible Talk 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Do You Believe In?

Last evening we talked about What We Believe In.  Growing up we all had various ideas about life, but as we find out more information, our beliefs and attitudes change.  We looked at the Bible and at Jesus and read a few passages, with the goal of understanding how our beliefs can still change as we learn more about God and about His word. 

Please find below the notes of our discussion.

April 2, 2011

What Do You Believe In?

Opening question: What things did you believe in when you were a child that now that you have learned more about life you do not believe it anymore?
When we were children, we talked like children, we thought like children, we reasoned like children.  But when we became adults, we learned more, we studied more and we put our childish ways behind us.  This is what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 13:11. 
There was a time when Paul followed the lessons of the Hebrews, thinking that that was the right teachings of God.  But when he learned more about the word of God, he became a Christian and began teaching people about the Bible and Jesus.
We will look at a few things from the Bible about those things that we can believe today, after we analyze and learn all the facts about ourselves.

1.         I Believe in the Bible
We have been studying the Bible every week, opening its pages and reading different verses.  But, what is the Bible?  Why are we studying it?  What can we believe about the Bible?
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we read: 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
What do these verses say?
Every word in the Bible came from God and we can benefit from these words.  We can learn from them and be corrected in our ways.  We can be trained by the Bible, so that we can do good works for God.
Another few verse that testifies to the supernatural character of the Bible are found in 2 Peter 1:20-21: 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.  21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
What do these verses say?
In the same way that a president’s speech is not written by the president, but by someone under the president’s authority, the writers of the Bible wrote under the authority of God as the Spirit of God guided them.
There are many other characteristics about the Bible that lead us to believe it is the Word of God.  40 people were its human authors and they wrote over a period of time of more than 1,600 years.  They were of a different background of origin, some where Hebrews and there was at least one that was not.
Many scholars have tried to disprove the Bible and its authority, claiming the Bible is full of errors and inconsistencies.  However, if studying carefully and patiently, the Bible is proven to be without any error and everything in it is true and correct.
I believe that the Bible is the word of God and that it can teach me how to know God and how to learn about what He wants from me.

2.         I Believe in Jesus
We have studied about Jesus and who He is.  Today, we are going to look at a couple of passages about why do we believe in Jesus and what do we believe about him.
In previous lessons we have seen God speaking to man, commanding them to listen to Jesus and believe in Him.  In Matthew 3:17, we read that: 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” God Himself gave testimony that Jesus is His son and that He was pleased with Jesus’ work on Earth.
In John 14:6, Jesus declares that: 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If we want to go to the Father, know God and be with Him, we can do this only through Jesus, by believing in Him and doing what He asks from us.
What does “except” means?
It eliminated every other option, every other man, every other ideology.  We can go to our Father only through Jesus.
And in Acts 4:12 we read Peter saying that: 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
If I want to have peace and salvation in this life from my sins and eternal life with Jesus and God in heaven, Jesus is the only one who can give me that.  I believe that Jesus can do that for me, if I follow Him, learn about His will for me and do his commandments.

The Bible is the Word of God, spoken through His mouth and written through the word of people guided by the Spirit of God.  If we believe that, then we will consider its lessons as holy and we will obey them.  If we believe in Jesus, that He is the Son of God and that He can save us, we will follow His words and fulfill His will.

Campus Bible Talk 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Attitude of Contentment

Attitude of Contentment was the topic of our study last Monday.  We looked at the example of Paul and Silas while in jail in Philippi and how they rejoiced in though they were in chains.  Then, we focused on the words of Paul in the letter to the Philippians, when he says that he has learned to be content in any circumstances.  We concluded that while disappointments and difficulties will often occur in our lives, we can learn how to be content with what we have.  God has promised to be with us forever and to bless us with everything we need.  We can trust God’s promises and we can expect Him to be with us throughout all our lives, if we are seeking Him and trying to follow His word.

These are the notes of our discussion.

March 28, 2011

Attitude of Contentment
Opening question: Have you ever been in a situation when you or someone close to you had experienced a great disappointment, but later on you found out that something even better happened in your life?
No matter how hard we try to achieve our goals, there will be times when we miss our mark, when we experience disappointment and what we fall short of our expectations.  What does the Bible say about these times?
We will look at a couple of examples from the life of Apostle Paul, which will help us to understand what should our attitude be when we are in these situations.

1.         Singing in Jail
In the book of Acts of the Apostles, we read about the activities of the early church, the apostles and the first disciples and how they taught people about Jesus.  Paul, one of the apostles, went on a few missionary journeys to tell people about Jesus.  The story we are going to read about today takes place in Philippi, which was a town in today’s Greece and is found in Acts 16:16:25:
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.  17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”  18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.  19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.  20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”  22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.  23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.  25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Although Paul and Silas had done nothing wrong, they were beaten and thrown in jail.
How do you feel when something unjust is done to you?  Let’s say you received a mark that you do not think you deserved?  Or you were at the bus stop at the right time, but the bus is early and he leaves without you?  How would you feel if you did something good and you were thrown in jail?
Of course, our initial reaction is disappointment and perhaps anger.  And it is natural to feel that way.  But, the Bible is teaching us to have a greater, better way to deal with such disappointment.  The teaching is that we can trust in God and know that He is with us and is going to take care of us regardless of the circumstances.  It is easy to be happy and cheerful when everything goes well, but the true character of a person is shows by his actions in a time of trouble.
Why were Paul and Silas singing?  What was the source of their contentment?
Jesus has said it clearly just before leaving his apostles that He was not going to abandon them.  He told them in Matthew 28:20: 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
God will always be with as long as we trust in Him and seek Him.  The story of Paul and Silas continues in verses 26-34: Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.  27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.  28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”  29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”  32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.  33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.  34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
While today God does not intervene in a miraculous way, He is always present in our lives and we can see His blessings every day.  He has provided us with good families, good health, jobs, school and many opportunities to do good and to help one another.

2.         Content in Any Circumstances
In the letter to the Philippians, Paul is saying in chapter 4:11: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  Then, in the next verses, 12-13, he explains the reason why he can be content in any circumstances: 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Why was Paul content no matter what happened to Him?  Who is he referring to when he said “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”?
What had happened in the life of Paul, other than being imprisoned in Philippi?  In 2 Corinthians 11: 24-27, Paul describes some of the most unfortunate moments in his life.  He says: 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
If God could help Paul overcome all these disasters in His life, He can help us too in our lives.  Even if we may not go through all these difficulties that Paul experienced, whenever we are in moments of trouble, disappointment, anger, sadness, whatever the circumstances, we know that we can be content and always trust in God.  He will always provide for us what we need.

While disappointments and difficulties will often occur in our lives, we can learn how to be content with what we have.  God has promised to be with us forever and to bless us with everything we need.  We can trust God’s promises and we can expect Him to be with us throughout all our lives, if we are seeking Him and trying to follow His word.

Campus Bible Talk 2011