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, December 13, 2016

The Solution to the Problem of Sin

In our last meeting, we discussed the Problem of Sin. We saw the fall of Adam and Eve, when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and we looked at the results of their sin. The Bible says it clear that we are all sinners and that sin brings our physical and spiritual death. However, God has a plan for the salvation of mankind, and we going to start to look at this plan today.

Opening Question: Have you ever had to pay a fine for returning a book late to the library or for violating a traffic rule or regulation?

When we do something wrong, whether it is something small or big, there are consequences that we pay.  At times the consequences extend only to our own lives, but sometimes these consequences can affect other people in our lives, our relatives, friends or even strangers.

We talked last time about the problem of sin.  Sin brought death into our lives - physical death and spiritual death, separation from God.  However, when God created man, He did not want him to live under the power of sin, under the threat of death and separation from God.  God wanted man to live in a close relationship with Him.  And He had a plan since the beginning for this to happen.

In Genesis 3:14-15, we read about the curse that God put on the serpent (the Devil) and the promise that one day an offspring of the woman (Eve) was going to crush the head of the serpent: So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

God says He will put enmity or strife, warfare, between the serpent the Devil and the woman – between the serpent’s followers and her offspring.  Offspring is her family.  Jesus comes from her family and this is the first prophecy or foretelling of the future about Jesus.  Jesus is going to crush the head of the Devil, whereas the Devil is only going to bruise Jesus (that happens when Jesus goes to the cross to pay for our sins).

John 3:16 is perhaps the best known verse in the Bible.  It says: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

What does this verse tell us?
God loved the world.
God gave His one and only Son.
God wants whoever believes in Him not to perish.
God wants them to have eternal life.

In Romans 5, we read, beginning in verse 1, then verses 6-10: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.... You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

What does it mean to be justified?
To be justified means to be declared free of blame or of the penalty.   We have been declared free because of the blood of Jesus.

What does it mean to be reconciled?
Reconciled means to be accepted, to re-establish a lost relationship, to be settled, at peace.  We are at peace with God because of Jesus.

In 1 Peter 2:24, we read: “He [Jesus] himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

If Jesus took all our sins, this means that we do not have sins anymore in our lives.  Remember that Adam and Eve were afraid of God and ashamed, because they had broken His laws and His commandments when they ate from the tree God told them not to eat from.  Now, we can approach God with confidence and without any fear because Jesus took the penalty and paid it for us.

But how do we receive this state of peace with God and of salvation from our sins and the promise of eternal life with God? 

We have all taken the first step, which is to learn about these promises and this salvation.  The Word of God is the only way to learn about these things.  If we read it, study it, and meditate upon it, we will learn about the things that we need to obtain peace with God and salvation.  We will learn the commandments of God and what in particular He wants from us to do to be saved.

Hebrews 9:14 tells us that the blood of Christ cleanses our conscience from our sins: How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

In 1 John 1:7, we read: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

The blood of Christ continually cleanses us of our sins.  No matter our sins, if we come back to God and walk according to His commandments, we can have the forgiveness of our sins.

In Matthew 7:7-8, we read: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

God has a plan in place for resolving the problem of sin.  Jesus gave Himself so that our sins may be forgiven. Christians are justified and reconciled with God through the blood of Jesus Christ, our Savior. God has a plan of salvation for mankind and if we seek God diligently, we will definitely find Him. Finding God will give us peace on this earth and eternal life with God in heaven.

Look to our previous Blog entry here for more information on this plan of salvation.

The Kingdom of God on Earth

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “kingdom” and how would you describe a “kingdom”?  Perhaps an old or new movie comes to mind, perhaps an event related to living Kings or Queen or fictional characters from a movie.  Many countries are still kingdoms and are ruled, to an extent, by a monarch.

How does the Bible describe the Kingdom of God on earth?

In Mark 1:14-15, we see Jesus speak about the Kingdom of God.  These verses say: "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.  “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!"

What was the good news?

The Kingdom of God had not arrived at this time, but it was near. 

The good news also told people how to get to this Kingdom of God.  In another place, Jesus said, in Matthew 16:28: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

People in the time of Jesus misunderstood Him.  They thought He was talking about an earthly Kingdom.  Even after Jesus died and was risen, His disciples asked whether now he was going to establish His Kingdom. Even today, people do not have a clear understanding of the Kingdom of God.  Some people think that Jesus will come and create a new Kingdom on earth that will last for 1,000 years or for a very long time.

In Luke 17:20-21 Jesus said: Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

The kingdom of God was in their midst because Jesus was there.  And the Kingdom of God is not physical, but spiritual and it was within the people.  So, what was this “kingdom” that was in their midst or within them and that some of the people did not die before seeing the kingdom come?  Of course, this does not refer to Jesus’ second coming or any other physical kingdom.

What happened after Jesus died and was risen?

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave His apostles a command: "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

These people that believed and were baptized were added to the group of believers that followed the teachings of Jesus.  They continued to do this, to learn, and to teach others about how God had a plan to save them.  This group of believers were called Christians and the church is the Kingdom of God on earth.  This is what Jesus was talking about and what He actually established.

Now, the church is like an image of the Kingdom of God in Heaven, but not the same thing.  Like a photocopy, it is not quite exactly like the original.  Or like a hockey player in training that is not exactly a player yet.  The church tries to be as perfect as it can, but the Kingdom of God in Heaven will be utterly perfect.

How does one enter the church or the Kingdom of God on earth?

Jesus said in Matthew 18:3-4"And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

What are the qualities that children have?  Why is it important for us to be like little children?

In John 3:5, Jesus told a man who asked Him about the Kingdom of God: "Jesus answered, 'Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.'"

How is one born of the Spirit?  And of the water?  In Acts 2:37-41, we see Peter preaching to the people gathered in Jerusalem.  He tells them what they needed to do to be saved: "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'  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.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.'  With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.'  Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."

By being baptized, we receive the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of our sins, and the promise of eternal life with God in the Kingdom of God in Heaven.

The Kingdom of God is not like other kingdoms that have been or still exist in the world.  The Kingdom of God is the Church, albeit a blurry image of the true Kingdom of God in Heaven.  We can enter into this Kingdom by being baptized for the forgiveness of our sins and to receive the Holy Spirit and the promise of eternal life.

Trusting in God

We live in a world where trust must be earned and seems to be in short supply. No matter who people are (or think they are), they will one time or another fail us. Most of us have faced disappointments, which have taught us that we can only depend upon themselves. The slogan “If you want a job done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.

Not so with our Lord.

1. Trust in God
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." ~ Proverbs 3:5

But why trust in God?  Because God keeps his word. "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" ~ Numbers 23:19

Because God has all wisdom. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” ~ Romans 11:33 

2. Include God in your life and have a relationship with Him
What does it mean to have a relationship with someone?  You take into account not only your own needs, but also the needs of the other. You get to know them, understand them, and include them in your plans.  Proverbs 3:6 says, "in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." 

Plan and pray – praying not as an afterthought, but as a precursor to your plans and your actions.

Read James 5:16: "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

3. Put God first in your life
It’s easiest to put ourselves first. When something good happens, we want to congratulate ourselves with a reward. When something bad happens, we want to console ourselves or find someone to blame.  But look at Proverbs 3:9-10: “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” And see Matthew 6:25-33, too.

The Communion in worship

History of Communion
The communion has its history and roots dating back to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. The night before they were freed, each family was to kill a lamb, have bitter herbs and unleavened bread. They were commanded to observe this feast through their generation to remember their deliverance. The feast was to start with a week called the "Week of Unleavened Bread.  Look to Exodus 12:1-4, Matthew 26:17-19, Luke 22:7-13.

The inauguration of the communion
As Jesus and the disciples were having the Passover meal, he took the opportunity to institute the communion.  He blessed bread and wine (fruit of the vine, grape juice) and gave them to the disciples to share among themselves. He made a promise to eat with them in his kingdom, the church. The Passover meal and the communion were eaten the night before Jesus was crucified.  See Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:14-20.

The communion in the church
The communion is also called the Lord’s Supper and "breaking of bread."  As Jesus had promised to eat with the disciples in his kingdom, immediately after the church - the Kingdom - was established, the early church had the breaking of bread as part of their weekly worship.  See Acts 2:42.  We take the communion today, so we can fellowship with our Lord. Also read Matthew 18:20.

The weekly observance of the communion
The disciples meet every Lord’s Day, Sunday to remember and proclaim the death of Jesus (Acts 20:7).  Some people do not seem to have a problem with giving, singing, praying, and preaching every Sunday, but they have a problem with taking the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.

The abuse and instruction for the communion
The church in Corinth was abusing the communion by eating and drinking. Paul had to correct them and give guidelines.  See 1 Corinthians 11:17-33:
·         The communion is made of bread and wine
·         The bread and wine are blessed
·         People should examine themselves before partaking of communion
·         The communion is to remember the Lord’s death and proclaim Him
·         Abuse of the communion has consequences

The bread and wine we partake is a memorial
The bread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.

Historical evidence
The Didache was a training manual for new churches, written around A.D. 50-70.  It says, “Every Lord’s day, gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions.”  And describing the early church’s gatherings, Justin Martyr (100-165 AD) explains how communion was done every week. “When our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying, ‘Amen!’ Then the Eucharist is distributed to each one, and each one participates in that over which thanks has been given. And a portion of it is sent by the deacons to those who are absent.” (Historical Theology, Greg Allison, p.637).