The sun sets on another semester here at Sydney Missionary Bible College. Year 2 has been harder. We’ve felt busier. God has been good amidst our failures. His Word has searched us deeply and illuminated Christ to us when we needed gospel hope. We’re looking forward to the next few weeks to connect with friends and family and prepare for the second half of the year.
As I’ve compiled previously (Year 1.1, Year 1.2), here are some quotes of what others have said this semester – nuggets of wisdom worth more than the baubles of World Cup football. Most of these were from lectures and chapels; some were from conversations over lunch and dinner with staff and students; a few are quotes from other places. I hope some of these “proverbs” are helpful to you.
From Greek Week
“Congrats on getting through first year. You’ve done the hard yards, now you can start digging for gold.” – Mal Gill
“I pray this will be a difficult year for you, so that you’ll find your identity in Christ.” – M.G.
“Romans is just Isaiah by Paul.” – M.G.
“John’s Gospel is the simplest. But he’s also the most theologically profound. We can be profound and easy to understand.” – M.G.
“Greek is like underwear. Offers good support, should rarely be seen in public.” – M.G.
“If your mind is stretched, that’s OK. We’re talking about the depths of God, and He’s not going to be in simple dot points.” – Mark Adams
“There’s a difference between evangelicals and Catholics regarding attitudes about tradition. Yet we have our own popes. We’re loathe to call them that, but I suspect they function that way. You’re probably inserting their names in your head now.” – Ian Maddock, on the danger of church tradition functioning as a ruling (or co-ruling) norm in theology
“Part of me would love for you all to be carbon copies of me. But that would short-circuit your learning.” – I.M.
“Good theology is often a matter of good grammar. Leviticus tells us sacrifice is not an act of giving up, but giving to God costly acts of devition. Leviticus 1 answers the question: what shall we willingly give to the Lord for all he has done for us?” – Geoff Harper
“Natural theology offers helpful tools. But we can’t argue people in the Kingdom. We need to have confidence in the gospel.” – M.A.
“Is God three? Yes. Is God one? Yes. Is Jesus fully God? Yes. Is Jesus fully human? Yes. We shouldn’t be surprised that the Bible is full of antinomies.” – I.M. on reconciling two apparent truths
“There’s something really neat and tidy about TULIP. There’s lots in it that’s true. But there are lots more strands and threads in the Bible. We should be cautious of collapsing everything about salvation into an acronym. It’s not everything.” – I.M. on understanding Arminian objections to Calvinism
“When we can’t trace your hand, help us to trust your heart.” – Morgan Renew, a prayer concerning God’s sovereignty and the problem of evil
“We’ll get into sticky territory if we use the Trinity as a model for male-female relationships.” – M.A.
“Our culture’s obsession with sex as a core human need makes it hard for Christians to be safely single.” – M.A.
“The bible is mainly interested not in answering, ‘Who am I?’, but ‘Whose am I?'” – M.A.
“[Biblical languages are vital] because on the mission field, you may end up being the only person who knows Greek or Hebrew.” – Geoff Harper
“No second hand knowledge of the revelation of God for the salvation of a ruined world can suffice the needs of ministry whose function it is to convey this revelation to men, commend it to their acceptance, and apply it in detail to their needs.” – B.B. Warfield
On missions and ministry
“After the terrorist attack in our school, people asked us: is it safe to go back? Well, God will care for us, whether we live or die.” – G.N., former missionary in Pakistan
“The first 20 years of ministry are the hardest. The hardest person to deal with is not other people, but myself, my own sin and weaknesses.” – LT Hopper, who shared about ministry with physical and spiritual arthritis
“We don’t realise how immersed in secularism we are. I was a water-logged Christian in port; or even a submarine Christian.” – Josh Apicezek, CMS France
“Religious freedom is a uniquely Christian contribution.” – Michael Kelleher speaking at the Navigate conference [read a review here]
“I was never converted out of homosexuality, but out of unbelief.” – Rosaria Butterfield at Navigate Conference
“The gospel comes in exchange for the life you love, not in addition to it.” – R.B. at Navigate conference
“[For your LGBTI neighbour to listen to you share Christ], you must have a relationship that’s stronger than your words.” – R.B. at Navigate conference
“I used to think being a missions mobiliser meant presenting Matthew 28 [Go into all the world…]. But what’s actually been more effective is to present Matthew 27 – Jesus dying as a perfect sacrifice of atonement for our sins. Then the rest will flow on from there.” – DB, missionary in South East Asia
“Terrorists as well as saints are the outcome of spiritual formation.” – Dallas Willard on the importance of spiritual formation, Renovating the Heart p.2
“We don’t just learn spiritual formation to prepare for cross-cultural ministry. Entering cross-cultural ministry will lead to spiritual formation.” – Jonathan James
“For every three years you’re away, it takes a year to feel readjusted to home.” – DN, about returning from missions in Pakistan
From chapels, books and life
“Our goal at this college is for God to form the image of Christ in you. We want to deliver you from barren academia.” – Stuart Coulton’s commencement address
“One of the worst catastrophes for the church is Christian leaders whose capabilities outstrip their character.” – S.C.
“For those so inclined, study and books are a lot more attractive than people and pastoral problems; indeed, because the book that is our chief study is the Bible, we may actually justify our callousness towards people by claiming the priority of the study of the Bible, when a little self-examination suggests that at least in part we are pursuing our preferences.” – Don Carson, The Trials of Theology: Becoming a Proven Worker in a Dangerous Business, p.119 [article here]
“Unity only works when we remember what God has done to make us one – it cost him His Son.” – Kit Barker, on Psalm 133
“You can’t walk away from the supremacy of Christ and doubt your forgiveness. You also can’t walk way and think Jesus is only moderately important.” – S.C. on Colossians 1:16-23 [audio here]
“I LOVE weeding! It’s like pulling out SIN!” – Heidi Sham
“[For the early Israelites,] Presenting a present to God was a bloody and self-involved affair. It’s worship with an apron.” – G.H. on Leviticus 1
“So has your character changed in any significant way? Or have you just grown fat and useless?” – S.C. on Psalm 19