Tag Archives: World Assembly

The Bible in my life

The Bible is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. It is healing for the soul; it is the breath of God himself. Through it, God challenges and comforts, rebukes and restores, exhorts and encourages. It is, in its entirety, God’s revelation of truth to us.

But the Bible can also be misused. That is why the great IFES discipline of inductive Bible study is important: learning to understand Scripture on its own terms; respecting the context and obeying the message, no matter how uncomfortable it may make us feel.

Bible study can also too easily become an abstract exercise. That is why I love that one of the core IFES values is not simply “the Bible”, but “Scripture Engagement”. All Bible study should not ultimately and primarily be about us, but about God, his character and his invitation to use this Holy Revelation to get to know him better.

When Darrell Johnson was interviewed at the 2015 World Assembly, he shared how, before he opened a passage to prepare for preaching, he would ask himself (referencing the Song of Solomon) “what does this passage tell me about him whom my heart loves?”. That should be the question for all of us when we open Scripture at any time, whether we are preachers or Bible study leaders or not.

Speaking personally, my journey with Scripture has gone through various stages. I was privileged to be taught it as an infant sitting at my parents’ feet and was fascinated by it as a listener; it was a bedtime story for me. In adolescence as I committed my life to Christ and read it regularly as a spiritual discipline, I saw it as a story to me; a set of exhortations to help me live well as a disciple.

Then as I grew in the faith, I realised it was a story about me; I saw more clearly my own shortcomings in the lives of its flawed heroes and marvelled at the sufficiency of Christ to cover all my sin. As I studied it more deeply in seminary and embarked on a preaching ministry, it became (not always for the best) a story from me; truths that I felt commissioned to pass on to others. Eventually I realised that these strands all needed to come together and, as I grasped more firmly the depth of God’s grace, they became a story growing within me. As I engage with Scripture, the Spirit who inspired those authors is the same Spirit who is convicting and changing me. That is a journey I am still on, and if I can, I want to bring others with me.

David Montgomery, IFES Europe Regional Secretary

Messengers of Hope – The University in God’s Story

This World Assembly theme was developed in a series of Bible expositions from Luke and Acts. What follows is an excerpt from one exposition. You can listen to it fully and to the other World Assembly Bible expositions at https://ifesworld.org/worldassembly.

Please read Acts 1:1-11 before continuing with this article.
In her exposition on Acts 1, Janna Louie from InterVarsity USA invites us into a deeper hope – a hope that brings meaning and perspective to our lives and to our broken world.

Jesus reframes power for the apostles. Not only will God’s Spirit be manifest through what the world deems weak, but the Spirit is given to a broken and vulnerable people. In this reframing, God deepens their hope. God’s Spirit is not self-protective. God’s Spirit is not nationalistic. Instead, the Spirit expands their hope for what is possible.

The apostles expected King Jesus to bring about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, but restoration will be greater than their hopes for Israel. Instead of seeing themselves merely as victims to be vindicated, they are witnesses who testify to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They are given a vision in which they are no longer just the oppressed, but they bear the testimony of Jesus across the borders and boundaries created by the empire. They are not confined to walls built by superpowers, but they join God’s Spirit to reach across man-made walls. Their testimony will not just be confined to Jerusalem, but will go to all who are within Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. In this statement, Jesus deepens their vision about restoring the kingdom of Israel. The testimony of Jesus will not be confined merely to the Jews, but will be manifest through them to the Gentiles. Their hope reaches beyond their community to include the Gentiles – and even their oppressors. Relief from oppression is too small a hope. Instead, Jesus invites a vulnerable community to steward the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus even to the ones who make them vulnerable.
[…]
The power of the Holy Spirit is an invitation first to see the resurrected Jesus in the places where we live. It is to see our homelands with Jesus’ eyes. To bear witness to the hope of Jesus where we are most vulnerable. The power of the Spirit is the power that enables us to endure in the places that cause us pain. The command to receive the Spirit’s power is not a quick fix. It’s a power that refuses to conquer and dominate, but perseveres in suffering. To touch and to heal. To grieve and to mourn. To wait with hope. It’s the power to testify of Jesus’ life in the very places we live. […] The Holy Spirit’s power invites a vulnerable people to transform the world around them.

You can listen to the whole exposition here.

At the table

There have been a number of ‘wow’ moments that have dramatically changed my life, especially regarding the way I view God and ministry. One such moment was the 2007 IFES World Assembly in Canada. The Bible expositions from the Gospel of Luke by Peter Kuzmic (Croatia), Jacques Buchhold (France) and Ziel Machado (Brazil) were soul-searching and very challenging. Ziel Machado’s first exposition stood out for me and at the same time took a strong grip on my heart. I could not let go of it until I put it into practice. Ziel Machado reflected on where ministry is done: the table as a place of acceptance, community and kindness; contrasting it to the desk, a place of business, achievements and success.

It was so challenging to me personally as I reflected on how I was involved in ministry. Was I doing it at the table or from my desk? At that time, I had served for four years as staff worker in my national movement, the Student Christian Organization of Malawi (SCOM). At that point, ten more years of service were ahead of me. God spoke to me so clearly that student ministry was to be done at the table, where students should feel welcomed, where they could be built into strong communities of believers, and as a way to take Christ to their universities. This changed how I was involved in student ministry. I took this Word from God in a literal way and opened my home to students, transforming the table of my home into a place of ministry. Countless students have eaten at this table: it became a place of discipleship and evangelism to so many young people.

At my home’s table, students who were struggling academically got confidence and performed better. Around it, Christ revealed Himself to many students and gave them a purpose for living. At this table, broken relationships have been restored. It was at that table where students have found life partners. Gathered around the table, students have learnt from Christ. At my family table, students have seen the frailty of our humanity and the sufficiency of God’s grace through interacting with my wife, our son, and myself, engaging with God’s Word and allowing it to bring amazing fruits in our lives. The Word of God must always be allowed to move from the head to the heart, then to the hands and feet: that is when we experience genuine transformation.

Duncan Chiyani, EPSA Associate Regional Secretary for Southern Africa