On Saturday we were able to hold our first official Bible Study with the Thabong boys since our return. I say “official” because throughout the construction of the fence, we’ve had several great opportunities to have spiritual discussions with DJ, Brilliant, and recently JT.
This past week all the schools finished the latest school term, giving the learners a month off of school because of the World Cup. Usually the winter break only lasts two weeks. This holiday opportunity gave all the guys a chance to return from their respective institutions of higher learning.
Prior to our departure in September we had been going through a study book called Won by One. It covers all the major doctrines in a very brief 3 pages each. It is great because it gave us a launching point on each topic, but then allowed for the boys to ask questions at the points where God was working on them specifically at that time. While we were gone most of the guys continued their studies, even after they left town for university in January. In fact, Sam, Alex, Lucas and Makhasi all attend the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein and they were able to continue the study there with other students.
While we were gone we heard from time to time that a question would arise that they needed clarification on. So we took this opportunity with the return of our study to bring any questions that they may have. I was amazed and encouraged by the depth of some of the questions. In particular, it seemed that several of them centered around the topic of Sanctification.
Sanctification can be defined as separation from sin. There was a bit of confusion however in the different aspects of sanctification. You see, the Bible teaches that once an individual trusts Christ as the only payment for sin many things happen. For instance, they are now Justified – meaning made righteous before God. They are Regenerated – meaning given new life, or being born again. They are Indwelt – meaning the Holy Spirit now lives within them to comfort, encourage, and convict. The boys have clearly begun to experience many of the effects of their salvation, and it is thrilling to hear them discuss these things.
In our discussion on Saturday we covered the three aspects of our sanctification. First, God is able to save us penalty of sin. Romans 6:23 says “The payment of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So at the moment of salvation an individual never needs to fear their eternal destiny because the penalty has been removed and eternal life has been given in its place. Second, God saves us from the power of sin. Romans 6:14 says “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Prior to salvation we are slaves to sin, to serve ourselves unquestioningly. Now we have the choice whom we will serve. Third, we will one day experience salvation from the very presence of sin. I Thess 5:23 says “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christians have the blessed hope that not only will we have eternal life with the God of the universe, but we will be created anew without the limitations, pain and suffering caused by the curse of sin.
This teaching prompted a couple other questions. Brilliant asked what you say to people who claim that salvation by grace means you can do whatever you want. JT asked why some days things seem to be going so well spiritually, you are close to God and you feel that He is working in your life, then you fall back into the same old sin and feel as if you have failed. Without getting into a couple different sermons on these topics, we were able to find some verses that gave the answers to these very questions. Romans 5 & 6 talk about our appropriate response to the freedom we have in Christ. Romans 7 speaks of the internal battle that confronts anyone who would choose to live for Christ. And Paul says in 7:24-25 “Oh, disgusting man that I am! Who can deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!...”
I personally found these questions personally both convicting and encouraging. Convicting because these guys often show more spiritual perception and growth than I do. Encouraging because these questions are further evidence of a truly regenerated heart. I told them that every Christian should be struggling with the same feelings. If you aren’t wondering why you battle with sin, it means that you’ve likely never been saved to begin with.
All in all, the 3.5 hours seemed like 5 minutes. I can’t begin to express to you how awesome it is to be around guys who, in the midst of a culture of depraved behavior, desire to live for God and have a testimony for Him. It makes me wonder if I would have the same passion they do if I were faced with the same challenges. Praise God for His grace in our lives!