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The logic of the course content
Below is a summary of the main biblical ideas that the course seeks to cover, and the order and logic that connects them.
Seminar 1: Getting started
The course of our lives is determined by who we are (our background, nature, relationships, etc.) and where we are headed (our purpose, future, goals, dreams). Who are you? Where have you come from? Where are you headed? This seminar aims to open up these ideas, and help participants start to get to know one another.
Seminar 2: God's creative purposes
To understand ourselves and our destiny we need to start with creation, for we are all creatures of the one good and sovereign God. God is the potter, we are the clay, and he made us intentionally and deliberately. His purposes for us are outlined in Genesis: to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it, to have dominion over all other living things. This means that the rationale for our lives—who we are, and why we are on this planet—is not self-generated. We don't impart meaning to our own lives. God our creator writes our mission statement and determines the course of our lives. And this grates against most of our deepest and most basic human beliefs.
Seminar 3: What went wrong?
We don't like bowing to God's rule. Adam and Eve didn't like it, and so they rebelled and were judged. They decided to write their own rules—to break God's rule—so they were judged and cast out. This is now who we are: rebels under judgement, excluded/alienated from God and his purposes, and under the reign of decay and death.
What does this mean for God's purposes? They seem to be frustrated. God's plan seems to have gone off the rails almost as soon as it got under way. What does this mean for us and for our lives? The world we live in and the course of our lives is described perfectly in Ecclesiastes. We sense meaning but we can't properly grasp it, and it all seems absurd. We need to feel the weight of this: the frustration and unpredictability of human life; the universality of injustice, evil and death; the foolishness of thinking that we can sort out our own lives and control them.
Seminar 4: God's answer
There is an answer to the death, decay and absurdity of this fallen world and our lives. God's purposes are not frustrated. God's answer is revealed first in the Old Testament and then finally and majestically through his Son (Heb 1:1-4). If God's answer to sin and evil and death is found in the Scriptural revelation culminating in Jesus, then this has radical implications for how we think about our lives. What God says is not an additional item to be fitted into the busy agenda of our lives. Instead, it completely rewrites the agenda of our lives. (This seminar is really about the sufficiency of Scripture.)
Seminar 5: God's agenda
So what is God's agenda for the world and for our lives? The Bible reveals that his big purpose is found in Christ—in fact, Christ is the purpose, the rationale, the agenda.
Passages such as Acts 17:22-31, Ephesians 1:1-10, Colossians 1:1-20 and Titus 2:11-14 reveal that God's agenda or purpose is history-long and worldwide. God has sent his Son Jesus into the world as a man to be the Christ and ruler of a new kingdom, to which redeemed and purified people from every nation (not just Israel) will belong. He has sent his Son to be the king of a new kingdom of God, a new creation, where there is no sin or pain or suffering or decay or death. Summary: God's agenda is to glorify Jesus the Christ by transferring forgiven rebels like us out of the domain of darkness and into his eternal kingdom.
Seminar 6: Christ's death, my life
How does God's agenda connect with the course of our lives? The answer lies in understanding the key moment in God's plan: the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus died as our substitute, taking upon himself God's anger at our sin, and bringing us justification and redemption and reconciliation with God. But Jesus also died as our representative—that is, his death was our death (2 Cor 5:14-15; Gal 2:20). This means that when we are united with Christ by faith—that is, when we become Christians—a whole new life begins. Our old life is dead and gone, and we are raised up to lead a new life in which we live for the One who for our sake died and was raised.
So we actually have two lives: our old rebellious life that was crucified with Christ; and a completely new life that we now live by faith in the Son of God. It is the course of this new life that is now our concern.
Seminar 7: Transformation
Question: if our old life has been crucified with Christ, why do we still sin? Answer: it is because of the 'now' and 'not yet' nature of the kingdom of the Son. We have been transferred to his kingdom (past tense) and we are now raised up with Christ and seated with him (Eph 2:1-7)—but there is a delay, an overlap, in which we continue to live in a sinful world, and in a sinful body with a sinful mind, as we wait for the return of Jesus.
And so God's agenda for our lives is not just to transfer us to the kingdom of his Son, but also to transform us to be mature in Christ as we wait for his return. The new life we now live 'in Christ' is a life of killing off sin and clothing ourselves with the character of Christ. A fuller summary of God's agenda for the course of our new lives in Christ is: to transfer forgiven rebels like us out of the domain of darkness and into his eternal kingdom, and to transform us towards maturity in Christ as we wait for his return.
Seminar 8: God's method
Taking a step back: how does God achieve his agenda in the world? What is his method or strategy for transferring and transforming?
Essentially it comes down to three P's: proclamation of God's word, prayer for the Spirit to work, and people (who do the proclaiming and praying). It is the privilege and responsibility of every Christian to be part of God's agenda in the world—not only by seeking maturity in Christ in our own lives, but also by building others towards maturity in him.
How do we do this?
➡ We move ourselves towards maturity in Christ by prayerfully setting our minds on Christ and his word.
➡ We move others towards maturity in Christ by prayerfully speaking God's word to them.
So far, we have seen that God has an agenda for the course of our lives (to transfer and to transform), and that we put that agenda into practice in our lives by striving towards maturity in Christ in our own lives, and by seeking to move others forward towards maturity in Christ as well.
But how does this overriding agenda in our lives intersect with our everyday life at home? At work? At church?
Seminar 9: Where to now?
Given all that we have learned, how do we start to implement this new vision for the course of our lives?
In particular, who are the people (in our work, family and church lives, both Christian and non-Christian) we are going to pray for, and seek to move towards maturity in Christ?
The one-to-one skills that participants have been learning will be invaluable in this.