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.

You may also email us anytime at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Lying

We spent some time last evening talking about the topic of "Lying".  We noted that lying usually makes us feel angry, disappointed, sad and overall is something we would prefer it did not take place in our lives.  We looked at the way the Bible describes lying, as a sin and we talked about practical way of avoiding lying and trying to always tell the truth.

The notes of our discussion are below.

July 25, 2011
On Lying
Opening question: How do you feel when your find out that a close friend has lied to you about something?
Often we may find ourselves in situations in our lives and in our relationship with other people when we either say or are told a lie.  Our feelings in these cases may range from guilt, to sadness, to anger, to rage.
Today, we are going to look at a few Biblical examples of lying and how to address this issue in our lives.
1.         Is lying a sin?
Some people in the world do not have a problem with lying.  People lie for many reasons: to avoid the consequences (I didn’t do that); to move along in their careers (taking the merits for things they have not done); to impress their friends and relatives (that is why fish grow even long after their dead).  Some lies are justified by the outcome from them, for example a general lying to the soldiers in the fields about reinforcements arriving in order to boost their spirits or the doctor lying to the patient about the state of their disease, to increase their courage to fight the disease.
In the Bible, we are introduced to the sin of lying in the Garden of Eden.  In Genesis 3:4, the serpent (the Devil), told Eve that she was not going to die, even though God clearly commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The consequences of this “lie” that Eve believed were both spiritual and physical death for all mankind.
The position that God takes with regard to lying is expressed very clearly in Exodus 20:16, the verse that commands the Hebrews: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour. 
We are told in Colossians 3:9: “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.”  Lying is an evil practice and we should have none of it.
If the sin of lying is such a detestable things that God hates it, according to Proverbs 6:16-19, how do we deal with it?
2.         Stop lying and start telling the truth
As with other kinds of sin, the solution to the sin of lying is to stop doing it and start telling the truth.  This may be difficult, if lying is something that you have struggling in throughout all your life.  But many things do not come easy in life and the more you try, the better you will be at telling the truth.
Avoid putting myself in a situation where I may be lying or forced to lie.  If you have friends who are lying to you all the time or you feel like you have to lie to them when you go out with them, then you may want to consider your friendship.
An alternative to lying is choosing not to answer a question if you believe it is quite sensitive.  If you believe that it is too sensitive to tell someone how much money you make, don’t lie, but say something to the effect of “I’d rather not talk about that” or “that’s something I don’t like to talk about.”  People may not get your clue the first time, but eventually they will.
At times, lying is only the cover for a greater sin in our life, the symptom of another disease we may have.  If that is true, we need to address the underlying sin.  If you did not do anything sinful yesterday, there is no need to lie when you are asked “How was your weekend?  What did you do?”  If there is nothing sinful in your activities at work, there is no need to lie when co-workers ask you about something and so on.  If you are actually working and not playing solitaire, you will not fear questions such as “What are you doing”?
3.         The benefits of telling the truth
First of all, lying is sinning and we are commanded not to live in sin.  The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)Revelation 21:8 reserves for liars in the lake of fire and definitely I do not want to be there.
Moreover, telling the truth is always beneficial, not just for you, but also for the people around you.  If you are honest, you have nothing to fear or stress out in your life (oh, what if people found out about this or that – I have to make up an explanation for this or that) and you can be a good influence about God and Christ to other people.  We all know the story of the boy crying wolf and definitely we do not want to be that boy.  Other neighbours, acquaintances, friends will tell sooner or later whether we are truthful or not and will not believe us even when we are trying to tell them about the truths of the Gospel.
Jesus himself said in Luke 16:10 that “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."  The more you are truthful and honest in your life, in everything that you do, the more God will use you in his plan of saving the world and proclaiming the gospel to the lost.  If you show that you can be trusted with little things, the truths of daily life, God will entrust you the truths of His kingdom as well.
Lying is a sin and God hates all kinds of sin.  It is important for us to stop sinning and be honest with everyone and about everything.  In this way, we will be able to reach the lost souls of this world and proclaim to them the Gospel of salvation from God.
Campus Bible Talk 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Lesson in Leadership

Last evening we discussed the topic of "Leadership" and what qualities should a leader have, in order to be able to face difficult situations and address them in a proper way.  We looked at Acts 6 and how the Apostles handled a disagreement among believers and what qualities they displayed while resolving this dispute.

Here are the notes from our discussion.

July 18, 2011
A Lesson in Leadership
Opening question: What is a quality that you value in a person of authority or a leader?
There are many qualities that we would like to see in a leader or qualities that we strive to achieve, such as courage, wisdom, asking for help from others (delegation), etc.
An event from the Bible gives us some insights on a situation where the Apostles provide a great case of leadership, along with some qualities that we will discuss today.
In Acts 6:1-7, we read:  1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.  6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
This is a case of a disagreement among brothers and sisters in the early church, because some of the widows were being overlooked or neglected in the daily distribution of food.
What did the Apostles do to show leadership in addressing this situation and what qualities did they display in this case?
1.         Courage
First, the Apostles did not deny that there was a problem, but showed courage in facing the problem and working to find a solution for it.
There may be situation when people do not want to even acknowledge that there is a problem and try to sweep away the complaint(s) as unfounded or too small to pay any attention to them. 
The Apostles did not do that.  They did not go into the merits of whether this complaint was founded or not and whether this neglect had taken place or not.  They realized that it was important not to have disagreement in the church and to strive toward unity. 
They had the courage to face this problem and to work toward a solution for it.
2.         Wisdom
Sometimes people may feel that the best solution is to tell the people what to do.  We may have even told people, given people a solution when they came to us with a problem. “You need to do this” or “you should do that.”  However, there may be problems when you give people the solution.

What may be these problems?
The Apostles did not give the solution to the people.  They did not chose people and put them in charge of the distribution of the food – instead they asked the people – all the people (we see here the wisdom of including everyone who is affected by this situation and inviting them for their thoughts on the matter) to chose seven men whom they trusted and who were able to work on this issue.
3.         Seeking help
In verse 2, we see that the Apostles had been tasked by God to minister to word of God, to preach the Gospel to everyone.  So, it would have been difficult for them to do both, as they would have had to give us some of the time dedicated to preaching the word to taking care of the distribution of the food.
So, the Apostles asked for help from people chosen by the general gathering of the believers and they also made sure that these people were capable to doing this job.  It is important to ask for help, but it is also important to ask for help from people that are actually able to give you efficient help with the job you need them to do.
Whether you are in a position of leadership or not, we need to show certain qualities that God has indicated are pleasing and acceptable to him.  We cannot run from problematic situations in our lives, but we need to face them and resolve the problems.  We need to be wise to the best way to resolve problems and whenever it is possible, if our plate is full, we can seek help from people who can truly help us in our situation.
Campus Bible Talk 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Generosity and Hypocrisy

"Generosity and Hypocrisy" were the topics of our talk on Monday evening.  We looked at the example of the early church, how they shared everything they had and the generosity displayed by believers who sold their lands and homes so that there would be no needy people among them.  Then, we studied the story of Ananias and Sapphira, focusing on their sin of hypocrisy and its tragic consequences.

Please find below our study's notes.

July 11, 2011
Generosity and Hypocrisy
Opening question: What has been an act of generosity that has really affected you personally or someone close in your life?
We can mention many occasions when we see generosity in our lives, whether it is by receiving a scholarship or a charity event or whether it is providing a few items for someone less fortunate.
Today, we are going to look at a famous example from the Bible and talk about a lesson in generosity and hypocrisy.
In Acts 4:32-27 we read: 32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.  33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all  34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales  35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.  36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”),  37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
These are general and specific examples of generosity.  The believers shared their possession, meaning they gave to the ones who did not have.  Note that “there were no needy persons among them.”  The process was simple: The people who were blessed to the extent that they had property to give to the less fortunate believers, did so and gave the money to be distributed for food, clothing, shelter, etc.
This was a time when there were many believers in Jerusalem and many of them did not have a place to stay, extra clothes or food and definitely needed or could have used the help provided to them in this way.
What does this example teach us about being generous today?
In Acts 5:1-11, we read the story of Ananias and Sapphira:  1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.  2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?  4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.  6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.  8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.  11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
What did Ananias and Sapphira do?
Ananias and Sapphira pretended or tried to appear as they were giving everything (all the money from the sale), when they were not.
Why was this wrong?
Because it was a lie, both to the Apostles, and to God.  Ananias and Sapphira hid some of the money, but said that they were giving everything.
There was no obligation for Ananias and Sapphira to sell their land and give any of the money.  This is not expected to be done by all and it was not done by all (those who could/had).
How do we feel when someone has been lying to us?  Why is lying a problem?
Why Ananias and Sapphira were punished in this manner?
1.         Their sin of impurity – hypocrisy and lies could not be allowed in the new community of Christians that was just being started.
2.         God showed his displeasure for insincerity – God does not lie (Titus 1:1–2) and he does not approve of people lying.
We may not be punished immediately for our sins, but we can rest assured that God is aware of them and that we will give account one day for everything we are doing in our lives - Revelation 20:12

Campus Bible Talk 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Does the Bible Teach About Faith?

Last evening we restarted our Campus Bible Talk after a few weeks break for summer.  We looked at "What Does the Bible Teach About Faith?"  We looked at the way in which the Bible describes faith, in Hebrews 11, and what kind of faith does God require from us.  We talked about how we can grow in our faith and how we show our faith through the acts in our life.

Here are the notes of our discussion.

July 4, 2011
What Does the Bible Teach About Faith?
Opening question: What is something you believe about Canada but which you have not seen with your own eyes?
Whether it is the Northern Lights or the fact that during the summer there are areas in Canada’s north that have sunlight for twenty-four hours, there are many things that we believe because we have heard from other people, people we can trust, even thought we have not seen them with our own eyes.  This is a good definition of faith – believing something you have not seen.
What does the Bible teach us about the faith?
1.         How Does the Bible Describe Faith
In Hebrews 11:1, we read:  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
According to this verse, faith means:
a)    “to have confidence in the things we hope for” – the promises of God, even though we do not have them yet, we are sure that we will receive them (in the same way that if your mother or father promises you that they will do something for you or will give you something and you know you can trust them); and,
b)    “assurance about what we do not see” – the realities of the spiritual world – I can think of buying an apartment just by looking at the blueprint or a model of what the apartment or the house will look like, a showhome.
The importance of faith is clear from verse 6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
What does it mean “impossible”?
We cannot approach God without believing that He exists and that He will keep His promises – in the same way that a house cannot be built without a foundation, we cannot even think of getting closer to God if we do not believe in His existence.  This is a process that may take different lengths of time for different people, but it is a process that should take place before one can begin to get closer to God.
2.         The Biblical Faith is Based Upon Facts – not Blind Faith
A lot of times we may be told to believe something just because someone says it – without any facts, without any evidence, without anything to support that.  While sometime this may be necessary (as in when a friend tells you a story or an event that happened to him and he is the only source of that information), this is not the type of faith that the Bible requires from us.
In Romans 10:17, we read that:  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 
Where is Biblical faith based upon?
The Biblical faith is faith based upon the evidence, on the true message about Jesus, about his life, his miracles, his teachings and his sacrifice.  These events did happen!
The decision to have faith in God or not is a personal decision that every person makes for himself.  Although we are influenced and at times persuaded by our friends and relatives, we should not believe in God simply because my teacher, my friend or my family believes in God. 
3.         Acting Upon Your Faith
The Bible talks about having “little faith” and “much faith” and also discusses the notion of “living faith.”
What does it mean “living faith”?
“Living faith” means that our faith should be alive in our lives.  We should live in such a way that other people around us can see our faith active in our lives.  The words of James are very useful in describing the importance of faith to be visible in our lives.  James says in his letter, chapter 2:14-19: 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.   19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
If you have faith in God, this means that you believe His commandments and you will work upon those commandments.  So, when God tells us that we should “love one another” we need to do so believing it is best – 1 John 4:7-8:  7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This is true also for the other commandments in the Bible, which every word comes from God.  If we have faith in God, we will obey Him fully and continually, all the time.
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  The Biblical faith is based upon facts and is not blind faith.  Believing or not in God is a personal decision, that we should take carefully and wisely.  And finally, our faith, when we begin to have it, should grow and stay alive in our hearts and in our lives.

Campus Bible Talk 2011

What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?

"What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" was the topic of our discussion on May 16.  We noted that God has freely given us the grace of salvation, even though we are sinners and we deserve death for our wrongdoings.  Grace should be be accepted by faith and is not received by works; however, we should continuously try to walk in this grace that has been given to us.

The notes of our discussion are below.

May 16, 2011
What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?
Opening question: What is something you have received for free (gift, winning, etc.) recently and how did that make you feel?
When it is our birthday (or another holiday) and people shower us with gifts, we feel great; we are happy and joyful and enjoy the friendship and the presents we receive from our friends and relatives.  In the same way that our friends show their love and care toward us by the presents they give us, God has shown us His great love by the presents he has given us.
What does the Bible teach us about the grace of God?
1.         God has Given Us Freely the Grace of Salvation
What does the word “grace” means?
Dictionaries give different definitions, but in the context of salvation, it means something that cannot be earned and which is not deserved – it is a gift.
In our last lesson, we discussed sin and its consequences.  We talked about how we are all sinners, guilty of wrongdoings.  The just reward for our sins should be death, as we read in Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
However, our God is not only just, but also merciful.  He gives us this mercy, this forgiveness of our sins, through His grace, as a present, that we do not deserve, but which we can accept, if we want.
In Romans 11:6, we read: And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
How do we receive grace?
We cannot earn or get “grace” by our works.  It is beyond anything that we can say or do.  We receive “grace” when God gives it to us.
In Ephesians 2:8-10, we read:  8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.  10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
2.         Grace Should be Accepted by Faith
In Romans 4:4-5, we read: 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
While it is true that we cannot earn our salvation and the grace of God, we still should have faith and truly believe that God is and that he can give us this salvation and this grace.  The verses we just read say that faith justifies us, meaning that if we trust in God, he will consider our sins as erased, as if they have never happened and we can enjoy fellowship with Him.
How important is having faith in God?
Hebrews 11:6 makes it very clear the importance of faith in the God’s plan of salvation.  This verse says: 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
3.         We Should Continue to Keep our Faith
Having faith in God is not a one-time act – we trust in God at one point and then we stop believing in Him.  The Bible is clear that we should continue to trust in God and to act in accordance with His teachings every day of our life, throughout all our life.
In Galatians 5:4-5, Paul warns us against trying to “earn” our salvation and against “falling away” from grace.  This verse says: You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.
It is possible to fall away from grace.  It is possible to first have faith in God and then lose it.  While we should avoid this from happening in our life, it is also important to remember that we can regain this faith in God.  Many things can happen in our life, which may cause our faith to be shaken and unfortunately at times lost.  However, God is always waiting for us to return to Him and his gift of grace is always available to us.  But let us accept this grace now that we can, for we never know what may happen tomorrow.
In 1 John 1:8-10, we are reminded of the promise of God that He will forgive our sins, if we confess them to Him.  These verses say:  8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
We cannot earn our salvation, but God gave give it to us, freely.  As long as we accept it by faith and continue to hold on to the grace of God throughout all our live, we can have fellowship with Jesus and God and we will be justified of our sins.

Campus Bible Talk 2011