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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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A God of Wrath or a God Without Wrath?

There are many people with an unhealthy view of God. Some people believe God is an angry tyrant with unreasonable expectations for mankind, ready to strike people dead at any moment. They believe His primary characteristics are wrath and fury. While it is sad people feel this way, it is equally heartbreaking that others believe the God of the Bible has no rules or expectations for mankind and will punish no one. We must have a balanced and biblical understanding of God’s character.

Are We ALL God’s Children?
Where I think a lot of the confusion begins is with the idea that everyone is a child of God. When people begin with the premise that God’s relationship to humanity can best be described as a parent-child relationship, they are bound to make many false assumptions. They build their theology on the idea that God feels about every single person the way a loving parent feels about his kids.

There is just enough truth in that premise to make it sound biblical. It is true that God loves every single person. He loves even the most notorious sinner. And the apostle Paul borrowed the words of a pagan poet to say, we are all the “offspring” of God (Acts 17:28). But Paul was not saying all humanity is part of God’s “family.” In fact, he was urging people to repent, because of the coming judgement (Acts 17:28-31).

The Bible does not teach that we are all God’s “children.” It does not describe the relationship between God and humanity as a parent-child relationship. In fact, it describes the relationship between God and humanity more in terms of a King and His enemies.

A King Who Loves His Enemies
It would seem logical for a parent to give his life for the sake of his children, but that a King would give his life for his enemies seems preposterous. Yet that is the story of the Bible; that is the story of the gospel.

God’s chosen people (Israel) had joined humanity in rebellion against Him; but instead of sending a destroyer, God sent a Savior. He sent His Son not to kill, but to be killed. That is a love that truly baffles the mind.

The apostle Paul wrote it this way in Romans 5:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He is telling us to do exactly what He did for us. The triune God of heaven paid the highest possible price to reconcile His enemies to Himself.

It dilutes the power of the gospel to begin with, “We’re all God’s children.” We must begin with, “We are all loved by God, in spite of the fact that we have been engaged in a rebellion against Him.”

Children of God Through Christ
Furthermore, the Bible teaches that only those who accept the Kingship of Jesus are given “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). If everyone is already a child of God, then what kind of a relationship is created by becoming a Christian?
When a person becomes a Christian, he or she is adopted into God’s family. The relationship changes. God sends “the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ (Galatians 4:6). When we become Christians, we are looked at and loved differently than we were before.
This is the power of “reconciliation.” And that’s what the Good News of Jesus Christ is all about.

Who Is God?
If we are going to love Him, live for Him, worship Him, and bring the lost to Him, then we must understand who God is claiming to be. He is not claiming to be an angry tyrant who wants to destroy everyone, nor is He claiming to be a fairy godmother.

He is the Great I Am. He is the Ancient of Days. He is the Almighty. He is the sovereign King who reigns on high. He cares about His honor and His glory. He loves mankind more deeply than we could possibly understand, while His wrath against rebellion burns more deeply than we could possibly endure.

God doesn’t want anyone to perish; He wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:8-9). “But the day of the Lord will come…” (vs. 10). He is coming to judge.
He will treat His children like His children and He will treat His enemies like His enemies. Now is the time for reconciliation. Now is the time for repentance. “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

~ Originally by Wes McAdams at; submitted by Christian Basar

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Despair of Atheism vs. the Hope of Belief in God

Recently, I read an article by a Russian theologian named Alexey Osipov.  Here I will share a brief excerpt from his article.  In this selection, Osipov contrasts Atheism (which he essentially calls a "faith of despair") with belief in God, which offers hope for those lost in a confusing world. 

(I have modified very few parts of the excerpt just slightly to account for some grammatical or formatting issues.)
Thus, the first problem is "Religion or atheism."  At different conferences, even at high-level ones, I meet well-educated, erudite people, not smatterers, who always ask me the same questions: Who is God? Does He exist? And even: Why should I need Him? Or, if God exists, why does not He make a speech at a UN session and declare His existence? People say even such things. What should I answer?

In my opinion, we can answer this question using the central idea of modern philosophy, which is best of all expressed in the concept of existentiality. What is the objective of human existence, what is the sense of human life? Certainly, first of all, there is life itself. What else can it be? What sense do I strive for when I sleep? This sense of life can only be in comprehension, "enjoying" the fruit of one’s life and activity. And no one ever claimed or believed and will do in future, that the ultimate sense of human life may be death. This is where the impassable divide between religion and atheism lies. Christianity states: for human this earthly life is only the beginning, the precondition and the means to prepare oneself for eternity: Get ready, eternal life is waiting for you. Christianity says: to enter it you have to do this and be like this. And what is the idea of atheism? There is no God, no soul, no eternity, so believe, human, eternal death is waiting for you! Don’t you feel terror, pessimism and despair at such words? It makes one’s blood creep: Man, eternal death is waiting for you. Not to mention strange argumentation, to put it mildly, to substantiate this idea. Just this phrase makes human soul shudder. No way;  I cannot accept such faith.

If one has lost his way in the woods and is looking for the way home and having found somebody asks him: "Is there a way out here?" And the other one answers: "No and don’t look for it, settle in here as you can" Would one believe him? I doubt it. Would he not search further? And finding another man, who would say: "Yes, there is a way out, I’ll tell you the signs and marks how you can get home"  Would not one believe him? The same happens, when one chooses his views between religion and atheism. As long as a person retains a spark of searching for the truth, for the sense of life, he cannot accept the concept, that at the end he as a personality and accordingly all other people will find eternal death, and on the way to it we should prepare better economical, social, political, cultural medium. And afterwards everything will be O.K. - tomorrow you will die and we will bury you at the cemetery. Wonderful!

I have showed you just one side - psychologically a very important one - which I believe is enough for each person with a soul that is still alive, to understand that only this religious view of the world allows us to tackle the sense of life, when we accept for our foundation the One, Whom we call God.
~ Alexey Osipov, submitted by Christian Basar

If you would like to study more about this "Foundation, the One, Whom we call God," how about joining our Campus Bible Talk discussions at the University of Alberta?  During the school year (September through April), we meet at the Heritage Lounge in Athabasca Hall on Mondays at 6 PM.  We are of course on our summer break, but we should be starting up again in early September.  Our discussions are very informal, and after a quick lesson and discussion, we conclude with snacks and conversation.  We would love to see you there!