This is Benjamin. He has worked in another department on our base for most of the time we’ve been meeting, but he recently started to work with COC. He came to our Bible study a few times before, but now has started to come consistently. I don’t know him well and I’m not sure how well he is keeping up, but we are happy to have him.
Last Thursday we talked about Israel in the wilderness: manna, water from rocks, spying out the land, and forty years wandering. Today we talked about Israel conquering the land, the judges and Kings Saul, David and Solomon. I know it sounds like a lot, but we moved pretty quickly. I read some key passages and described what Israel went through: a pattern of victory, rebellion, judgement, repentance, repeat. There weren’t any questions from today’s stories, but we did have an interesting conversation at the end.
While reviewing, I had put some water in a glass jar and then added some soil. I asked them if the water would be clean if I added some clean water. Then I added clean water a few times each time asking, “Is it clean now?” Of course it was not and they could see that. I told them this is an illustration of how sin has corrupted us and doing good deeds cannot remove the sin and guilt. No matter how much “good” we do in an effort to cover our sin, it will not work.
The two ladies who come once every three or four times were there today. I’m not sure how they decide when to come, but they have not attended regularly. After the illustration, one of them explained her belief that sin is out in the world and if we participate in it, it comes inside us. However, if we stop sinning, the sin goes away. In other words, we can get rid of sin (and its guilt) if we live the right way. I briefly explained that I do not think that is true, nor do I think that is what the Bible says. Then Kawage jumped in and said that we cannot remove our own guilt. The Israelites, he explained, had to trust God and make sacrifices and then Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice. When he finished saying this, he looked to me for approval. I was torn because he is correct and I am very happy about that, but we have not gotten to Jesus and I do not want jump ahead. As I was saying something like, “That’s good thinking, but we are not there in the story yet,” James spoke up saying, “Joseph is telling us the story from the start. He started at the beginning and he is telling us the whole story. Right now we are in the middle and we cannot jump to the end. (and with a big smile on his face) Joseph is still telling us the story and there is more to come.” Kawage, recognizing James’ point, then said, “It’s like your story about when you came to PNG. It’s like someone thinking you came from Australia. They haven’t heard the whole story.”