Category Archives: College Life

Romans 7 and the Doctrine of Sanctification

by Josh Liu

Editor’s Note: Josh has once again graciously re-worked a seminary paper (or as I like to call it: “Pastor Mark’ed an article”), this time on the topic of Romans 7. For those who don’t know, this is a somewhat controversial chapter since opinions vary on exactly what Paul intended his readers to understand, given some rather interesting syntactical maneuvers.

On the offhand chance that anyone reading this paper also reads the blog over at the Gospel Coalition, let me just say that Josh absolutely describes Thomas Schreiner’s position qua BECNT accurately, but Dr. Schreiner does seem to have modified his view somewhat since that was published, as seen in his contribution to that blog series. Even theologians change their minds from time to time. But as Dr. Schreiner points out at the end of that article, the different positions aren’t that far apart in the greater context anyhow.

Enjoy!

A Brief Overview of Covenant Theology

by Josh Liu

Editor’s Note: There’s been a fair amount of discussion at LBC regarding Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism lately. Josh has graciously reworked a paper from his time at seminary that provides a helpful introduction, and I heartily recommend it to you.

Seriously, I know it’s long. And a PDF. Read it anyways. It’s very, very good.

If you’ll permit me one additional editorial comment: while LBC unashamedly takes the Dispensational position, we also recognize that the Covenant Theology position falls well within the boundaries of historic orthodoxy. Folks who subscribe to alternative positions (including traditional Westminster Covenant Theology, New Covenant Theology, variations of Dispensationalism, etc.) but are unwavering on the gospel are brothers and sisters in Christ. To use an actual example: if John MacArthur and RC Sproul can be best friends and golfing buddies, then we would do well to emulate both their unwavering commitment to Biblical truth and their graciousness.

But really: read Josh’s paper. He worked hard, and I may quiz you on it.

Total Depravity

by Josh Liu

During seminary, I was presented the following scenario and question:

I have heard a lot of talk lately about the doctrine of “total depravity.” What is total depravity? I have some neighbors who are not Christians but they actually seem pretty nice. Are they totally depraved? They are actually nicer and more gracious than a lot of Christians I know.

Unfortunately, the experience that some unbelievers are “more gracious” than believers is a scathing evaluation of how many Christians are not living in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. It’s true that many non-Christians are genuinely nice! However, that is not what the doctrine of total depravity refers to.

Total depravity refers to the fallen nature of man. Man (or mankind) is completely polluted by sin in such a way that sin affects everything that he does, says, thinks, and desires. As such, man cannot change himself. There are two parts to this doctrine.

First, every person, both non-Christian and Christian, is born totally depraved–sin has corrupted every part of man. Every person is sinful. The Bible attests to this fact. Genesis 6:5 says, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” This assessment of man is true of every unregenerate person presently. In 1 Kings 8, Solomon, addressing Israel after the Ark of the Covenant is brought into the Temple in Jerusalem, makes a comment that “there is no man who does not sin” (v. 46). Even the New Testament affirms this teaching. The Apostle John says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The Apostle Paul drives home this teaching in Romans 1:18-3:20, where he declares Jews and Gentiles are sinners. He emphasizes this reality by declaring, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). No on escapes this condition. King David recognizes that he was born depraved: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5). The reality of man’s total sinfulness is also seen in Ephesians 2:1-3,

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Man is ultimately dead in his depravity to the extent that he lives according to his depraved nature (e.g. disobedience, indulging the desires of the flesh). The only way this can be changed is God’s merciful intervention to transform man’s nature:

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezek. 36:25-27; cf. Eph. 2:4)

Second, man’s depravity touches every aspect of humanity; hence, “total” depravity. Man’s will is polluted by sin (cf. Rom. 1:32; 7:18-19; Eph. 2:2-3). Man’s intellect is polluted by sin (cf. Rom. 1:21; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:17-18). Man’s heart is polluted by sin (cf. Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Mark. 7:21-23). Man’s actions are polluted by sin (cf. Is. 64:6). As a result, man cannot please God. Romans 8:8 declares, “those who are in the [sinful] flesh cannot please God.” “Niceness” is not enough. If you aren’t part of Christ, which is only through repentance of sins and faith in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection to transform your depraved nature, then you can’t be good before God (cf. John 6:44; 15:5).

All of this is not to say, however, that every person is as evil as he could possibly be at all times. Depraved sinners can manifest some “goodness” at times, which is attributed to God’s common grace and restraint of sin. Also, this is not to say that sinners can’t “do” good things. Unbelievers can certainly contribute positive things to society, relationships, and so on. Yet Scripture is clear that such “good works” do not please or honor God since they are not in right relationship with Him (cf. Matt. 7:21-23).

The doctrine of total depravity recognizes that there are varying degrees of manifestations of one’s sinful heart, as well as varying degrees of the seriousness of individual sins. So, you can’t conclude that someone like Adolf Hitler was necessarily more depraved (in the doctrinal sense) than someone like Mother Teresa. Every person is totally depraved, in the sense that no part of their material or immaterial being is exempted from the influence of sin. It is by God’s grace that not every person manifests that evil in every way possible, or to the greatest extent possible. In other words, it is by the grace of God that we fail to live up to our evil potential…but we all still have it.

For your non-Christian friends that seem like good people, remember that they are not “good” before God. Remember God’s perfect standards. He, being the perfect, righteous judge has declared “for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). Yet we have not just stumbled at one point in God’s perfect law, but our offenses are perhaps uncountable. Even more so, we ourselves have fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). You may commend good works in others, but don’t confuse that with equating it to being good before God. Remember Christ’s warning that those who did “good works” but aren’t in a right relationship with God will be cast away in judgment (cf. Matt. 7:21-23).

For your Christian friends, encourage and exhort them to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel, which will manifest the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (cf. Eph. 4:1; Gal. 5:22-23). May you live as salt and light, bearing testimony to the transforming power of the gospel so that those who see will give glory to God (cf. Matt. 5:13-16). Praise God for His mighty power and lovingkindness to transform a depraved sinner to a new nature, covered by Christ’s righteousness!

In His Image

by Josh Liu

What is man? What are his origins? What is his purpose? These are important questions. Thankfully, the Bible provides answers. Scripture states that man was created in the image of God.

The “image of God” is an important aspect of biblical anthropology. Genesis 1:26-27 says:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Only man, no other created thing, has been described to be made in the “image” and “likeness” of God. While no direct definition of these terms is given, their meanings can be understood. Even after the Fall, man is still described to be made in the image of God (cf. Gen. 5:1-2). Sin and human depravity do not abolish the image of God in man. In fact, the image of God is the basis for condemning murder (cf. Gen. 9:6). The New Testament also refers to the image of God, specifically in the contexts of men’s and women’s roles and the sanctity of life (cf. 1 Cor. 11:7; James 3:9).

Wayne Grudem observes that when God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26), God plans to make a creature similar to Himself. Both the Hebrew word for “image” (tselem) and the Hebrew word for “likeness” (demut) refer to something that is similar but not identical to the thing it represents or is an “image” of. The word “image” can also be used of something that represents something else. I think Grudem summarizes the biblical understanding of these words well:

When we realize that the Hebrew words for “image” and “likeness” simply informed the original readers that man was like God, and would in many ways represent God, much of the controversy over the meaning of “image of God” is seen to be a search for too narrow and too specific a meaning. When Scripture reports that God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26), it simply would have meant to the original readers, “Let us make man to be like us and to represent us. Because “image” and “likeness” had these meanings, Scripture does not need to say something like, “The fact that man is in the image of God means that man is like God in the following ways: intellectual ability, moral purity, spiritual nature, dominion over the earth, creativity, ability to make ethical choices, and immortality [or some similar statement].” Such an explanation is unnecessary, not only because the terms had clear meanings, but also because no such list could do justice to the subject: the text only needs to affirm that man is like God, and the rest of Scripture fills in more details to explain this. In fact, as we read the rest of Scripture, we realize that a full understanding of man’s likeness to God would require a full understanding of who God is in his being and in his actions and a full understanding of who man is and what he does. The more we know about God and man the more similarities we will recognize, and the more fully we will understand what Scripture means when it says that man is in the image of God. The expression refers to every way in which man is like God. (Systematic Theology, 443)

What are some implications of this doctrine? There are specific aspects of our likeness to God that impacts how we live.

  1. First, man, similar to God, rules. Man is said to rule, or dominate or have dominion, over creation twice in Gen. 1:26-28. Man is also commanded to subdue the earth, or to bring it into bondage. Eugene Merrill says, “man is created to reign in a manner that demonstrates his lordship, his domination (by force if necessary) over all creation” (“A Theology of the Pentateuch,” 15). God, who Himself rules over all creation (cf. Ps. 103:19), created His image-bearer to rule over the earth by Divine appointment (cf. Ps. 8:4-8). The concept of this appointed rulership is also reaffirmed for the servants of Christ who are His ambassadors (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20).
  2. Second, since all men, male and female, are created in the image of God, every person has been created equal. Each person carries a special dignity and uniqueness from the rest of creation. Animals are not equal to human beings. Also, no particular ethnicity or gender is inherently superior to another. Thus, to murder or curse another human is an offense against God whose image each person bears (cf. Gen. 9:6; James 3:9).
  3. Third, since man is like God and represents Him, man ultimately belongs to Him. Man is not ultimately independent and self-existing. He was created, and will always belong to the Creator. That which has been created cannot successfully rebel against its Creator (cf. Ps. 2; Rom. 9:20-21). So, every person is responsible and accountable to God (cf. Matt. 12:36). Also, each person is created for God’s purposes (cf. Is. 43:7). To disregard these implications will incur God’s wrath (cf. Rom. 1:18-23).

Why is this important? Being made in the image of God is truly foundational. It rejects the secular worldview.

  1. First, it rejects the evolutionary theory. Man is not essentially an evolved complex animal. Man is not an image of animals. So the quest for a common ancestor to trace back to the progenitor of life is completely baseless and a futile search.
  2. Second, man as an image-bearer rejects the arguments, beliefs, and lobbying of animal activists (i.e. that animals deserve the same inalienable rights as humans). While Scripture does not condone the abuse of animals, man is above the animal kingdom. Animals do not share the same dignity and value as humans. While there are physiological similarities between humans and animals, animals ultimately lack the image of God (along with human intellect, values, relationships, etc.). Some animals may demonstrate some extent of “intelligence,” but they cannot demonstrate true rationality, consciousness, imagination, and complex language (e.g. written), all reflective of God. Animals do not make plans in their hearts as man does. Animals do not express the full range of emotions as man (and God). Animals do not discern morality.
  3. Third, the image of God upholds the sanctity of life. Abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide ultimately conclude that life is negotiable. Life does not belong to the individual, but to God whose image he/she bears.

What are the applications of being made in the image of God?

  1. First, your individual worth begins with who God is (cf. Ps. 139:1-24). Instead of focusing on improving yourself or lifting up your self-esteem, pursue Christ-likeness who is the perfect image of God (cf. Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3; 2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 8:29).
  2. Second, our purpose in life must revolve around the worship and glory of God (cf. Is. 43:7; 1 Cor. 10:31).
  3. Third, our functions and roles in life are determined by God (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1ff; Eph. 4-6). Living out our roles faithfully glorifies God and reflects the differing roles between the Persons of the Godhead.
  4. Fourth, show compassion and kindness to all for each person bears the image of God.

Mini-Series on Suffering

by Josh Liu

The regularly scheduled midweek Bible studies have taken a break for the summer. Instead, there has been a combined Bible study for the Youth, College, and Singles on Fridays. For the month of July, College Life was responsible for hosting the combined Bible study (e.g. leading praise, preaching, etc.). With the opportunity to lead a mini series, I decided to revisit my messages on suffering.

My desire is to equip us with good sufferiology: a biblical understanding and response to suffering. The following is an overview of the three part series.

Part 1: The Suffering of the King (Is. 53:1-12)

The purpose of the Book of Isaiah is to foretell the future wrath to come upon Judah and the world because of their offense against God’s holiness, while also foretelling the future comfort to come through the Suffering Servant because of God’s grace. Is. 52:13-53:12 is a five stanza description of God’s anointed Servant, who is Christ. The central thought is the humiliation and suffering of the Servant.

Often times, we focus on external circumstances or personal suffering in a way that causes us to neglect God, doubt God, or accuse God. We may be tempted to think that God does not love us.

However, God indeed loves. Is. 53:1-12 describes four demonstrations of the King’s love through His suffering:

  1. He was rejected so that you would be accepted (vv. 1-3)
  2. He carried your sins so that you would be righteous (vv. 4-6)
  3. He was killed so that you would live (vv. 7-9)
  4. He was crushed so that you would be redeemed (vv. 10-12)

Part 2: Making Sense of Suffering (The Book of Job)

The Book of Job is an amazing account of God’s sovereignty, possible spiritual (invisible) activity, and the raw emotions of shock, confusion, and disorientation after tragedy.

It is helpful to understand the outline of the book. Many are aware of the first three chapters of Job (Job’s life, tragedies, and anguish) and the final four chapters (God responds to Job and restores his fortunes). However, many are unaware of the middle 35 chapters. After a week of silent despair, Job opens his mouth and pours out the anguish in his heart (3:1-26). What follows is a three-cycle debate between Job and his friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar: Cycle 1 (4:1-14:22), Cycle 2 (15:1-21:34), Cycle 3 (22:1-27:34). Also, a young man named Elihu shares his two cents (more of a monologue) concerning his opinion about Job’s suffering (32:1-37:24).

We can observe five perspectives of suffering from the Book of Job:

  1. Narrator: Suffering is a part of God’s plan
  2. Job’s friends: Suffering is a consequence of sin
  3. Job: Suffering is under God’s sovereignty and is unexplainable
  4. Elihu: Suffering does not impugn God’s character
  5. God: Suffering is an opportunity for faith

Part 3: Wrestling with Despair (Pss. 42-43)

The Psalter is a praise book filled with raw pleas and cries to God. It is amazing that such emotional prayers are inspired by God. Psalms 42-43, which should be taken as one, is a lament psalm, wherein a soul wrought with despair is unable to worship God in the temple and is experiencing much suffering and persecution.

Understanding the psalmist’s experience with internal despair may help us better understand, process, and articulate internal strife.

We observe three experiences of the despairing soul:

  1. Longing for God yet afar (42:1-5)
  2. Remembering God yet forgotten (42:6-11)
  3. Pleading with God and hopeful return (43:1-5)

From this three-part series, we are reminded to never forget the suffering of God, understand the multifaceted perspectives of the reasons for suffering, and to always hope in God and respond with worship despite external and internal suffering.

College Life Class of 2016

by Josh Liu

It has been my personal joy and privilege to share my first year of College Life ministry and seminary graduation year with the class of 2016! I have been able to personally witness God’s grace and faithfulness in many of the graduates’ lives, which brings me to praise God for His glory. I want to simply highlight the LBCSD members that are graduating. This is an insufficient testimony to God’s work in their lives; there is so much to be said about each student’s experience and encouragement to the church family. Yet I hope it will spur your own interactions with these graduates. Please take a moment to pray for them and personally bless and encourage them.

Ashley Hur, B.A. Literature/Writing

  • Note to the Church: It wasn’t until coming to LBC that I heard & understood the gospel for the first time. Even though I’m still learning, I can confidently say that I’m a sinner saved by grace. While the teaching here undoubtedly helped me to grow in my faith, the community has encouraged me as well. Since becoming a member, I’ve been so thankful for the encouragement, patience, and love I’ve received from my brothers and sisters. LBC is my home and Lord willing, it will continue to be!
  • Future Plans: I will be staying in San Diego and attending LBCSD for another year as I work at the Cambridge School!

Amy Lee, B.A. Economics, Accounting & Business Minors

  • Note to the Church: I’ve been so encouraged by the tremendous amount of love behind member care. I also love the unity we have as a body of Christ. I am so amazed by God’s sovereignty and His work on the cross in bringing us together despite our differences, pasts, and sinful struggles.
  • Future Plans: Moving to Manhattan Beach to start an audit / tax job in August. Currently looking for a local church.

Celeste Hahm, B.S. Human Biology

  • Note to the Church: One of my favorite memories throughout college is being surrounded by people who love Jesus. It was the first time I had people my age and having the older collegians adopt me as their younger sibling. It was the first time someone lovingly challenged my faith and asked more about my testimony and why I want to live for Christ. I have been shown so much love and have had so much truth poured into my life. College has always been fun and there has always been a reason to be joyful. Even if I was struggling with school or relationships with others, I always had someone to remind me of truth, spur me on, encourage and challenge me. Even when I was super stressed out, I had people who graciously served me and supported me. I was always remind of Christ. Another favorite memory is trying new types of foods. First time having boba and pho and other authentic Asian foods. My food experience has been expanded beyond the horizon.
  • Future Plans: For the summer, I’m going to Texas to work at Nature Nate’s honey company. I will be testing the quality of the honey in the lab and gaining other useful experience. After that, I hope that I’ll be able to return to San Diego, find work and serve in the church.

Derek Dang, B.S. Computer Science

  • Note to the Church: I am thankful for the culture of discipleship and intentional relationships that are built here. This is truly a church family that loves God and loves people. Reflecting on my time here I appreciate how the church seeks to live in obedience to God and to live out the MVP. I have come to call LBCSD my home church and will always be excited for what God has in store for Lighthouse!
  • Future Plans: I am planning on staying in San Diego to continue to serve in the church and looking forward to be a part of Single Life ministry.

Elizabeth Kang, B.S. Cognitive Science (Human Computer Interaction)

  • Note to the Church: I’m incredibly thankful for the love that this church family has shown me throughout the past four years. I’ve been encouraged to see how God has been growing and using each member here as an instrument in the furthering of His kingdom. Thank you for being an example to me of what it means to desire to glorify God in various aspects of your life and what it means to truly love others. I’ll miss you all so much but I’m also excited to see how God will continue to challenge you to loving and knowing Him more.
  • Future Plans: Going back home to Cerritos.

Faith Garcia, B.A. Communication

  • Note to the Church: I am so thankful to have had lighthouse as my church family these past two years. The love and care I have received here has encouraged me to grow in my love for Christ and others. I have seen wonderful examples of Christ-likeness that have pointed me back to the faithfulness and grace of God. I will miss everyone so much, but I will keep you all in my prayers! It may have been short but I praise God for His grace in placing me at Lighthouse San Diego.
  • Future Plans: Will be moving to Oxford, Mississippi for work.

George Fang, B.S. Structural Engineering

  • Note to the Church: I initially came out to this church because I was learning God’s truth from the teaching and sermons. I stayed at this church mainly because of the love that was shown not just to me, but to each other in the church family. I learned what it means to be intentional in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12), and to be exemplifying that in the way I live my life as a young adult who follows after Christ.
  • Future Plans: I plan to go back to my hometown in LA at the end of June after serving in VBS here at LBCSD this summer! Currently still applying/interviewing for jobs and hearing back so it is TBD. I will be attending LBCLA when I am back home in LA.

Humphrey Lin, B.S. Biochemistry and Cell Biology

  • Note to the Church: Thanks Lighthouse for helping me grow and mature in my faith, and I look forward to serving alongside you in the following years!
  • Future Plans: Master’s in Biology at UCSD

Jessica Yu, B.S Human Biology

  • Note to the Church: To the church family, thank you so much for the spiritual support provided through informal meet-ups, prayer, and intentional conversations. Your words of wisdom and even the fun chats were instrumental in my college years. During my transition to college, this made the greatest impact in my life to see the Gospel and teaching of God’s Word lived out in the body. I pray that Lighthouse Bible Church will continue to grow in greater intimacy with Christ and that you may continue to show more grace and love towards all people as you interact with those in and out of the church!
  • Future Plans: I will moving back north to the bay area. I plan on applying to PA school in a year as I finish prerequisites and find clinical work. Please keep me in prayer as I look for a church to attend and to urgently seek fellowship and accountability in this transition back home.

Liannu Khai, B.S. Human Biology

  • Note to the Church: As I reflect on my 4 years of college, I can safely say Lighthouse has played the biggest role in making my college experience such a sweet time. It was here that God revealed to me my deep depravity and need for a Savior through the teaching of God’s Word. It was here that I experienced for the first time what fellowship was and how wonderful it is to be part of one body, sharing the same testimony, striving towards the same goal. Every single person at this church has had a role in growing me and encouraging me, whether through conversation or observation. I am so thankful for all of you!
  • Future Plans: I will be staying in SD for full time work :)

Lorraine Yeung, Biochemistry and Cell Biology, B.S.

  • Note to the Church: Dear LBC family, thank you for being such a huge blessing during my college years. I am so grateful for the ministry at Lighthouse. Thank you for upholding Scripture and preaching Truth to the congregation. Moreover, thank you for your dedication in living out the MVP. I have been so encouraged to see many of you exemplify your love for the Lord through your service- using your God-given gifts and investment of time to build one another up. Praying that as you continue on this race, you will stand firm in the faith, grow in the knowledge of our God, and your love for Him never ceases. Continue to hold fast to the hope in Christ Jesus our Lord, for He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)!
  • Future Plans: I have still yet to decide on that… as of now I will be either staying in San Diego or moving back home to the Bay Area.

Michelle Wang, B.A. Human Development

  • Note to the Church: One of the biggest impacts the body at Lighthouse has been on me is the way that Christianity is modeled. I’ve learned that a hunger for the Word, a cherishing of Christ, and an outworking of the Spirit’s work is not a “super Christian” way of life, but in fact, normal Christianity. I’ve seen that living for Christ is an everyday, minute by minute dependence on Him no matter the circumstances we face, whether as collegians, working adults, single, married etc. Thank you, church body, for being faithful to God’s Word, for being passionate about His kingdom, and for spurring me on to do the same!
  • Future Plans: I will continue to work at my current job as a rehabilitation aide at a physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic and continue to serve at LBCSD for the next year.

Jason Wong, B.S. Computer Science

  • Note to the Church: I’m very thankful for the support and teaching that this church has provided me. Your constant encouragements and fellowship has allowed me to grow toward Christ for the past four years. I look forward to continuing doing so as one body in the future.
  • Future Plans: I am working full-time here in San Diego so I will be staying at LBCSD!

Samantha Lung, Bachelor’s in Child Development

  • Note to the Church: I feel like I have been able to grow so much through the LBC ministry and cannot fully express it through text. However, I will briefly share some of the things that have stood out and contributed to my spiritual growth. The love that people in the church have for one another has constantly and continues to encourage me. Seeing members serve in the church through all different ministries such as the children’s, music, cooking, rides, cleaning, etc. has been such a blessing. I cannot express enough how encouraged I am by members’ joyful hearts to serve others and how much I absolutely love the church. Through many trials, challenges, and the loving support of those in the church, I strive to place my utmost trust in the Lord.
  • Future Plans: Teaching Credential Program at SDSU

Sister’s Appreciation Night

by Humphrey Lin

The church was unrecognizable, as black and white streamers drooped from the ceiling, string lights snaked up the sanctuary poles, and hand-painted portraits of flowers, fruits, and sceneries covered the walls of the foyer. A hundred collegians crowded the foyer, the men dressed sharply in black and white, and the ladies looking stunning in colorful dresses and elegant heels. A hush came over the crowd as a voice announced: “please enter the sanctuary, Sister’s Appreciation night is about to begin.”

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The Preparation

Hours before the event, the church was bustling with commotion, as the College Life men busied themselves decorating the sanctuary and foyer, setting up chairs and tables, and creating centerpieces for the night. Twenty to thirty collegian men of all classes worked tirelessly as the church was slowly transformed into an elegant banquet hall, while more labored in the kitchens of the Costa Verde apartments, creating over a hundred portions of stuffed mushrooms, bruschetta, pork loin, and panna cotta. This night would be the culmination of weeks of planning, deliberation, and practice, not to mention hundreds of dollars in donations. But it was all worth it—to appreciate our sisters to the glory of God.

The Night

The freshman guys darted between tables of excited diners, delivering food, clearing trash, and refilling empty cups of water. Dinner was in full swing, as collegians laughed and conversed over plates of handmade Italian cuisine and an eclectic band of College Life men played Italian folk songs in the background. A short intermission followed dinnertime, and as the guests sat back down, stage lights dimmed, and an unexpected video started playing. A moustache-twirling villain had stolen the freshman guys’ meal cards, and the girls must solve a riddle to get them back. It appeared that each class of the collegian men was in some sort of danger, and the girls must rescue them in turn. As the villain’s plans (and accent) evolved, so did the challenges, and interweaved between hilarious videos, chaotic games, and over-the-top theatrics, each class of College Life men shared special performances to express their appreciation for their sisters in Christ. More than a few tears were shed.

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The Reason

The Bible instructs us as a church to encourage one another with words and acts of service (Ephesians 4:29; Romans 12:10-11). Nights like these are for the purpose of building up, that through our displays of gratitude and service, members of the body would be pushed more towards love and strive more towards Christlikeness (Ephesians 4:15-16). But why specifically the sisters?

Throughout much of history and in many places around the world today, it is incredibly difficult to be a woman. The curse of sin resulted in cruel and oppressive cultures in which the women are regarded as second class citizens and objects of men’s selfish desires. Even though it is much easier to be a woman socially and economically in modern day America, Bible-believing Christian women face pressures from all sides to conform to the twisted beliefs of the world; on one side, media and pop culture seek to objectify women and glorify the physical image and on another, feminism seeks to destroy the Biblical foundations of marriage, submission, and the sanctity of life.

The women of Lighthouse Bible Church College Life live in a world that says physical perfection is beauty, submission is humiliation, and gentleness is weakness. But as a shining light in a time of darkness, they live in a way that demonstrates that the Bible is their foundation and Christ is their Lord, and to be wise is to be beautiful and to submit is to be exalted. Their worth is not found in physical beauty or social status, but rather in “the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4). The women of College Life are rare and beautiful, and they often don’t realize it. But we (the brothers) do, and so does the Lord our God. So with a collective voice and a small token of our appreciation, the men say “thanks, hope you enjoyed the night.”

The Devotion and Practice of Doctrine

by Josh Liu

Introduction

What is “doctrine” and why is it important? There are many misunderstandings about doctrine and its relationship to believers and the church. Someone who says that doctrine isn’t practical may not understand what doctrine actually is. Many think of doctrine as dry, artificially organized information that is divisive, and something that removes worship and intimate relationship with God. Far from the truth, doctrine simply means “teaching,” and is inherently practical. It is a false dichotomy to separate doctrine from application.

Doctrine in the NT Church

Doctrine itself is a biblical term and concept. In Scripture, “doctrine” (also “teaching,” “instruction”) is given particular emphasis in the role of the pastor or elder. Concerning qualifications and responsibilities of pastoral ministry, Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” The word “teaching” is from the same Greek word for “doctrine” (didaskalias). Paul also tells Titus, another young pastor, to appoint elders characterized as “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able to both exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). The example of teaching God’s truth, or doctrine, is also seen in the Old Testament. The Lord gave Moses instruction to teach the nation of Israel (cf. Ex. 24:12); the prophet Ezra read from God’s Word, which was then translated and explained to the people (cf. Neh. 8:1, 8). So, pastors and teachers are commanded to teach doctrine (see also 1 Tim. 4:6, 16; 5:17; 6:1, 3; 2 Tim. 3:16; Titus 2:1, 7, 10).

Doctrine and Life

To remove doctrine from Christianity is impossible. Everyone has doctrine; everyone holds a belief about Christ and what His Word says. It is a matter of whether or not one has biblical (or true) doctrine. Christ and other NT writers often condemned unbiblical, false, and demonic doctrine (cf. Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7; Eph. 4:14; Col. 2:22; 1 Tim. 4:1). Without a proper understanding of doctrine, or a biblical, faithful commitment to doctrine, one may be believing or teaching heresy, and may be committing sin. The opposite of pure, unadulterated doctrine is immorality (cf. 1 Tim. 1:10).

Since doctrine is the teaching of Scripture, it impacts all areas of life and is inherently practical and immediately applicable. The Book of Proverbs is full of maxims, truth principles, for how to live life in a manner that honors God. It is full of doctrine that can be readily applied in various areas of life. It is impossible to apply biblical wisdom or truth principles without doctrine. Again, to not commit oneself to the study of biblical doctrine is to be vulnerable to sin.

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. (1 Tim. 1:8-11)

Egregious sins and the like are what oppose sound, biblical doctrine.

The Breadth of Doctrine

Doctrine impacts our understanding of the person and work of God, of Christ; it impacts our understanding of man, work, life, death, salvation, relationships, church, worship, discipleship, and so on. I’ll provide some examples of doctrines and demonstrate how they are immediately put into practice.

Let’s take the doctrine of creation for example. The Bible states that God has created all things (Gen. 1:1). Thus, you can immediately reject anything contrary to that truth (i.e., evolutionary theory; existential existence). God as creator gives purpose to everyday life. Though life is short, fleeting, and ultimately unfulfilling, God has given you life and this creation to enjoy for His glory (cf. Ecc. 12:1). God as creator encourages believers to persevere through trials knowing that He is sovereign over their lives (cf. 1 Pet. 4:19). God as creator defines men’s and women’s intended roles (cf. 1 Tim. 2:12-13). God as creator directly impacts ethical issues such as eugenics, abortion, and racism.

For another example, a biblical doctrine of work may be informed by Genesis 1:28 where God commands man to subdue and rule over the earth. Ruling (or work) is further understood in the context of God’s curses (Gen. 3:17-19). Still, we see that work is a pre-Fall commandment, not as a result of sin. Thus, work is a good thing. Thus, the NT can exhort believers to work well (cf. Col. 3:23; Eph. 6:5-9).

The Practice of Doctrine

For an example of immediate application of doctrine, let us use the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and suffering as a case study. When one sees that God is in absolute control over all creation, history, circumstances, trials, nature, and so on (cf. Gen. 50:20; Ex. 4:11; Acts 17:24-25; Job 38:1ff), then one can trust God in all circumstances (cf. Phil. 4:6), give thanks to Him (cf. James 1:2), seek to be faithful to His commands, and persevere through all things (cf. Phil. 4:13; 2 Cor. 12:9).

Doctrine, the teachings of Scripture, demands a response. One cannot simply hear the truth and do nothing. James 1:23-25 says,

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Conclusion

In this brief examination of doctrine, we see that it is synonymous with the teachings of God’s revelation given to His people. Doctrine was a central responsibility of church leaders. Doctrine was a priority and practice in worship and life for all believers. Doctrine necessarily leads to devotion and action.

Doctrine is not some sterile study of the Bible (or man-made theological categories) by a disconnected philosopher-theologian in an ivory tower. It is not something reserved for a “super” Christian. It is merely the sum of biblical teachings on any given subject in Scripture that exalts the person and work of God, and informs us how to worship and live faithfully in response. I encourage you to devote yourself to studying doctrine so that you would deepen your knowledge of and intimacy with Christ.

“2016 College Life Retreat Reflections”

by Josh Liu

Lighthouse Bible Church’s college ministry, College Life, had its annual retreat in February 12-14. The theme was “Knowing Our Position and Putting It into Practice.” Pastor Scott Ardavanis of Grace Church of the Valley in Kingsburg, California, delivered five theologically rich and practical sessions: (1) The Great Exchange, (2) The Relationship between Justification and Sanctification, (3) The Nature of Progressive Sanctification, (4) Ministering to Each Other in the Body of Christ, and (5) What Will Heaven Be Like.

Scott Ardavanis 1

Pastor Scott expounded upon the doctrines of Justification, Sanctification (positional and progressive), Ecclesiology (i.e. responsibility of the members of the body of Christ – 1 Thess. 5:14), and Glorification (i.e. the permanence of love in heaven – 1 Cor. 13). You can find recordings of the sermons here.

It was a great time of studying God’s Word, fellowship, games, and laughter. As the reputation goes, the college retreat games were intense and dirty, yet entertaining! I was also personally really encouraged by everyone present–their enthusiastic participation, great attitudes, profound discussions, and intentional investment. However, rather than hearing from me about retreat, I think it would be great to hear from the students themselves!

Each student was asked to introduce themselves and answer the following questions:

  1. What was one significant thing you learned?
  2. What was your most memorable/joyful/thankful moment/experience?
  3. What was one thing you were really encouraged by from someone else?
  4. What’s one thing you want to change as a result of what you experienced or learned at retreat?

Abraham Cheung

My name is Abraham Cheung. I’m a 1st year at UCSD studying Sociology. This is my first college life retreat ever. Looking forward to many more to come!

  1. One important thing I learned was that we have a responsibility to pursue holiness because we have already been made holy when Jesus gave us his righteousness, trading the punishment for our sins.
  2. My favorite moment was the games, especially steal the bacon (which was a squid inside a nasty kiddy pool).
  3. I was really encouraged by the upper classmen reaching out to me. We had good conversations about what we learned and how to apply it into our lives.
  4. My mentality of progressive sanctification has changed the most. Before I did not really know why I should pursue holiness, but now I know that I should because my new position in Christ ought to lead to a holy lifestyle.

Activities 1

Alyssa Chin

My name Alyssa Chin and I’m a sophomore at San Diego State University and studying Child and Family Development. This was my second College Life retreat (but third retreat with the church).

  1. One thing that really stuck out to me was when Pastor Scott taught on the 3 responses we should give to those with different spiritual conditions (the idle, the fainthearted, and the weak). We learned we are to admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, and help the weak. I think for me, it’s easy to be blunt (which can come off as harsh) and not recognize that my brothers and sisters have different needs and are going through situations that require different responses rather than just rebuking. I guess I would only stick to just admonishing the idle but it was helpful to learn what it means to be idle, fainthearted, and weak and how we should rightly respond to each person in a given situation.
  2. The games were without a doubt some of most memorable moments of retreat… or well the smell of the pool of death will not be forgotten..
  3. It was encouraging to see that the captains really encouraged the encouragement buddies by supplying their teams with paper and goody bags. Also, in my cabin, there was a door that connected the two rooms and so it was encouraging to see that the door was left open (for the most part) and people would go in and talk to others, even if they weren’t in the same cabin numbers. It was super encouraging to see the freshmen go out and know the upper classmen. I know that I was really scared of meeting the upper classmen when I was a freshmen and so I would (for the most part) stick with people who I was comfortable with like those in my grade.
  4. As a result of retreat, I hope to be more intentional in my conversations and continue to grow the friendships that were started at retreat by setting aside some time to meet up with new and old friends. Hopefully I can put to practice what I’ve learned, especially the part about being more empathetic for my brothers and sisters in Christ and learning how to be fast to listen but slow to speak.

Jaron Seid

Hi everyone! My name is Jaron Seid, I’m a second year at UCSD, studying Political Science and Accounting. This was my second College-Life Retreat and it was definitely a great one!

  1. Something that I’ve been struggling with recently as far as my own walk with God goes is simply the motivation to endure and run the race. Pastor Scott said something at the end of his third message that really hit me, “There is no greater motivation for holiness than the love of God.” Though that’s a broad statement, it made a lot of sense to me; understanding God’s sacrificial love to undeserving me should motivate me to live a life in constant thanksgiving.
  2. I really appreciated and enjoyed the time of morning worship that Humphrey led, being able to sing hymns of old with nothing but our gross-morning voices really set the tone for the rest of the retreat and was such a sweet time of fellowship!
  3. I was very encouraged by seeing so many collegians meeting new people especially during meal times and building on relationships through those times!
  4. For me, I felt the most applicable and practical thing I could work on is being discerning of what people’s needs are and doing my best through God’s grace to build up brothers and sisters in the specific areas where God could use me.

Activities 2

Noah Seto

Hello! My name is Noah Seto and I am a second year at UCSD studying general biology. This is my second college life retreat and the 3rd retreat I have been to overall while at LBCSD.

  1. I think one of the biggest things that I learned from the retreat was the two parts of sanctification. The first idea of positional sanctification and how we can find comfort knowing that “God has already looked at us in the perfectness of Christ.” Secondly the encouragement for progressive sanctification and being reaffirmed about the fact that “God works in us and we cooperate with the Holy Spirit to make us more holy.”
  2. One of the best things about retreat was being able to sit down with any group of people during the day and have conversations about what they learned or about just how they were doing in general. It was also very nice to get away from the distractions of everyday life in San Diego and spend intentional time with other brothers getting to know one another even better. One of the most memorable moments was the dinosaur rap at the end of a skit and the craziness that ensured after it.
  3. One of the greatest things to see at retreat was how close it seems our college group has gotten and how encouraging everyone has been. It was also awesome to see people introducing and talking to the new people who came out so they would not feel left out.
  4. During my time at retreat I was really challenged to care for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I think being more sensitive about situations so that I can better encourage those who are faint hearted or weak with loving patience is something I want to grow in.

Andy Yeung

I’m Andy Yeung, I’m a 3rd year at UCSD studying Human Development. I’ve gone to two College Retreats, the one last year (2015) and this one!

  1. One significant thing I learned this weekend was the biblical distinction in the ways we should seek to minister to others (admonish vs. encourage vs. help).
  2. My most memorable experience of the weekend was when we turned to face the other half of the college body and sang “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. Singing such a hope, prayer, and encouragement to the other half of the college body was such a blessing in itself to me, helping me to realize that such a goal was my truest wish for each and every one of them.
  3. One thing I was really encouraged by someone else was seeing how many members of the college body reached out to the many of the newer individuals, and some of those who weren’t as well known in the fellowship (of course, there was more potential to be had here, but there was quite a bit of this internal encouragement and welcoming, and for that I rejoice).
  4. One thing I want to change as a result of retreat is how I go about in my conversations and interactions with others. In light of recognizing that my foremost wish for any individual is to see them turn their eyes upon Jesus and hope in Him and Him alone, I want to frame each and every one of my interactions such that they could see Christ more fully and seek Him in all they do.

Activities 3

Erica Truong

My name is Erica Truong and I’m a 3rd year attending UCSD, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Law and Society. This was my 3rd college life retreat.

  1. One significant thing I learned during retreat is that in heaven there will be perfect unity. There will be no disappointments, no tension, and no hindrance to love. We will be able to love perfectly in heaven because we will be filled with His perfect love–thus we would be able to love like Him too because we will be perfectly satisfied in our great God. What an anticipating day to look forward to!
  2. I really enjoyed getting to spend time with my brothers and sisters at retreat (especially those that I don’t get to see quite often)! I am thankful for them and really got to get a taste of the future glory that is to come! It was a really sweet time getting to catch up with them and seeing God’s faithfulness being displayed in their lives.
  3. I was really encouraged by the hard work that the staffers and student staff put together to make retreat happen. I know it probably took time out of busy schedules, and I really am grateful for their service!
  4. One thing I want to work on is being more sensitive and patient towards others who are idle, fainthearted, and/or weak.

Humphrey Lin

My name is Humphrey Lin. I’m a 4th year at UCSD studying biochemistry and cell biology, and I will be graduating this upcoming June of 2016. This was my fourth (and possibly last) College Life retreat.

  1. One significant lesson I learned is that our practice of holiness should be the result of our justified position before God. That we are called to live out our lives the way God sees us–perfect and pure because of the blood of Christ.
  2. One of the highlights of my retreat was when I lost my nametag and had to participate in the punishment that I devised…and ended up eating a whole habanero. The experience was intense, but I was encouraged by how many people seemed to genuinely care for my physical well-being. It was also just an ironic turn of events.
  3. I was really encouraged to see people whom I know to be more introverted step out of their comfort zones to greet newcomers, talk to the speaker, and participate in the events. It really showed me that they are being controlled by the love of Christ, and not by their personalities or fears.
  4. I know you said one thing, but I can’t settle on just one…I want to strive harder to live more holy, to find discipleship, to have more intentional conversations and relationships with my brothers, and to set my mind on the things of heaven.

Lorraine Yeung

Hello, my name is Lorraine Yeung and I am currently a senior studying Biochemistry and Cell Biology at UCSD. This was my last college life retreat and indeed a memorable one.

  1. Through the preaching of Pastor Scott, I learned that justification must be distinguished from sanctification, but never separated. Justification being the roots and sanctification being the fruits.
  2. One highlight from retreat were the skits. The skit preparation allowed us to reflect on the sermons/discuss them and to execute these ideas. It was amazing and a joy to see all the creativity, humor, and participation from the skit performances.
  3. Though we were divided among different teams (red and blue), members from each opposing team continued to find ways to serve one another. Even through the games, though quite competitive, we cheered and encouraged each other with God-glorifying attitudes.
  4. One thing I learned is that “sanctification is not a one size fits all” and when serving brothers and sisters-in-Christ, I must discern the people in the body of Christ, their needs, and how to come alongside them (rebuke the idle, encourage the fainthearted, and help the weak). Most importantly, it must be done from a heart of patience.

Group Photo 1