October 2006 - Vol. 1

The Redeemer: Bible Week 2006
by Gavin Walsh

Gavin Walsh, from Charis Community in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is a recent university graduate.  He is currently in a work training program
in London, England, and a participant in Antioch Community and Koinonia, an evangelistic outreach to university students in central London

After a week of a life less ordinary at Bible Week near Munich, Germany, I am quietly sitting on the S-Bhan train heading to Munich International Airport, mulling over what the Lord taught me in the last few days, thinking about the people I met and the challenges God put before me. Bible Week 2006 was not a “piece of cake”! With only 25 university-aged people from Glasgow, Dublin, London, Brussels, and Munich it was a small group of earnest disciples.  Our Bible theme was redemption.  Our study book was, Redeemer: Understanding the meaning of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, written by Steve Clark.

Dr. Dan Keating, an elder in the Servants of the Word in the USA and a professor of theology and scripture at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, gave us a series of talks and guided discussions.  Anyone who has read the book Redeemer knows that it isn’t a "quick" or "easy" read. So Professor Dan had the job of “unpacking” the many layers of biblical terms for understanding the meaning of Christ's redeeming work.

This Bible study stretched me and all the participants to wrap our finite minds around some very complex but immensely important theological truths. What was God's answer to the "fall" of the human race? What kind of redeemer did God have in mind? What was so special about Jesus? Why couldn't God have used some ordinary human being, like you or me, to solve our human dilemma? Mixed in among these theological topics where some bible study techniques such as memorization and "in depth" analysis of bible verses.

The weather was great, the material was challenging while at the same time accessible, and the hospitality was without question exceptional!

Throughout the week we looked at many different elements of redemption and tried to apply these to our own lives. We talked about God's purpose for the human race, how we where created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 5:1) and were made to be in union with him and in unity with one another.

Dan brought us into a deeper understanding of the fall and its consequences for our relationship with God. We talked of how the fall brought about a "gap" between us and God the Father. No matter how much we tried to close it by ourselves, our restoration of relationship with God needed a person who was human but also something more than that a person who was both God and Man. This gap, fortunately, was closed by the only person capable of doing it Jesus Christ our eternal mediator, the eternal Son of God. God's incredible love for us is nearly impossible to fully comprehend. To free a slave God gave up his only begotten Son!

Over the course of the week we explored what the Scriptures say about Christ's death as a sacrifice, as a substitutionary punishment for our sins, and as the payment that cancelled the debt of sin. And we looked at the way this redemption gives us personal victory over death and new life in Jesus Christ. Jesus has paid the price so that we can become citizens of heaven. Through our rebellion we created the gap between us and God, but Jesus took our place and filled the gap for us. This was the greatest gift of all, Jesus showing his eternal love and concern for us by giving himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

We ended our week of study with some practical orientation for applying these truths to our daily lives. We can expect challenges, trials, and difficulties in this life, even as we grow in discipleship. But that is not all. Christ asks us to go higher with him, to trust him more, and to take a bigger plunge by surrendering our lives to Christ. But with that plunge comes a lot of grace, with the help and power of the Holy Spirit who is at work in our lives! We can share in the victory of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Interspersed among the teachings and fellowship, God took the opportunity to move in extraordinary ways. Personally, God brought me into a deeper understanding of his ‘supernatural’ nature. I had a vision of an angel. Right there in front of me. It was an image of peace, sincerity, and comfort combined with the image of a warrior and protector.

This time in Germany is just another brilliant example of what God is doing across the European Middle Eastern region of The Sword of the Spirit. I think that this is a tremendous time to tap into what God has for his people. I think God is challenging us to give that little bit extra, to make just that bit more of an effort. To speak of our faith to our friends and family and to trust that God and his angels will be right there beside us no matter what happens, no matter what the world throws at us.

“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-14

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