Posted by: stpowen | May 10, 2017

The ‘Behold Your God’ Course

The ‘Behold Your God’ Course

Isaiah 40:9.  ‘O Zion, you who bring good tidings, get up into the high mountain;  O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, left up your voice, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”’

Eph. 3:17-19.   ‘…….That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ that passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’

Some things are too good not to share.  For the past several weeks, I and ten other people from my church has been involved with the Behold Your God study course.  We are at present about half way through, but the course has been so beneficial so far, and yet seems to little known in Britain, that I feel I ought to waste no more time in telling my readers about it.

Behold your God has been written and is presented by John Snyder, Pastor of Christ Church,  New Albany, Missouri, USA.  It appears that while studying for a PhD at the University of Wales, he attended the Heath Church in Cardiff and was greatly influenced by its then minister, the late Vernon Higham.  Snyder writes, “Behold Your God is born out of a desire to see the glory of God manifested once again among His people.  This workbook consistently brings us into contact with God’s magnificent self-revelation in the Bible and helps us to apply these descriptions of Him to key areas of life.  The study requires serious contemplation of those Scriptures which most fully unveil God, aiding the reader to acquire a biblically informed understanding of Him who is beyond comprehension.”  Snyder sells himself short here.  The studies are immensely challenging, and will, if the participant is prepared to commit himself to the work required, confront him with the Person of the Triune God in all His holiness.

The course consists of 13 DVDs, one of which is introductory.  It is also necessary for each participant to buy a workbook.  It would be possible, but not ideal, to use the workbooks without the DVDs; it would not work to use the DVDs without the workbook.  Each DVD covers one topic, and consists of a 10 minute biographical sketch of an historical Christian figure associated with the topic, a 35 minute sermon by Snyder, given to a group in his church, and then 10 minutes or so of extracts from interviews with contemporary Christian ministers, presumably chosen for their suitability by Dr Snyder.  These include well-known figures like Paul Washer, Richard Owen-Roberts and Conrad Mbewe, two elderly Welsh ministers, Andrew Davies and Dr Eifion Evans (who has gone to Glory since the interviews were conducted), and two younger American Pastors, Jordan Thomas and Anthony Mathenia.  All these men’s comments are pertinent and helpful.  My group was unanimous in thinking that Paul Washer was particularly helpful.

The twelve DVDs, and the subjects of the biographical  sketches are as follows:-

  1. Beholding God: The Great Attraction!   A.W. Tozer.
  2. Beholding God: Clearing the Way for our Return.   Timothy Dwight
  3. Beholding God in the Bible. George Muller
  4. Beholding God in the Face of Jesus Christ. Samuel Rutherford
  5. Beholding God in the Work of Salvation. George Whitefield
  6. Beholding God and the Response of Personal Holiness. Robert Murray M’Cheyne
  7. Beholding God: Restoring Worship in our Lives.  Charles Spurgeon
  8. Beholding God and Evangelism. Daniel Rowland
  9. Beholding God and our Christian Service. Amy Carmichael
  10. Beholding a Lessor God? Charles Finney
  11. Beholding God: Avoiding the Lies of Pragmatism.  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  12. Seeking the God we are Beholding. Jonathan Edwards

The talks by John Snyder are challenging and well worth hearing in their own right, but the best part of the course is the workbook.  Before listening to each DVD, the participant should have completed five days of study.  It is possible to run the course weekly, but we have found it better to run it once a fortnight to give a chance for those with busy lives to take the necessary time to do the various exercises and answer the questions.  The course is too important to be rushed.

Before the first day’s study, the student is confronted with the question, ‘Are you willing to adjust your life to whatever God reveals of Himself in the coming days?’ As we have seen, Session Six covers  the subject of personal holiness, which is as important a subject of any on the course.  Day one in the workbook starts by quoting Isaiah 6:1-3 and Exodus 15:11, and then establishes the root of God’s holiness:  He is separate from all else.  No one else is like Him.  We are then instructed to read Job 15:15-16; 25:5-6 and to summarize what the verses say about God’s relationship to the stars, the heavenly beings and earthly humanity.

We are then pointed to 1 John 1:5 and Habakkuk 1:13a to see God’s holiness and separation from all sin, and then told to summarize Psalm 5:5-6; 7:11-12 to see how God responds to sin in mankind.  We are told, ‘Few passages shock man-centred church members more than these.  We may find that we are uncomfortable with a God who is this holy…….yet there is no other God.’

Day two covers the positional and practical holiness of the believer.  We are shown from the introductions to Paul’s letters that regardless how much the Christians in the churches may have struggled with sin, they are always regarded as ‘saints:’  set apart for holy purposes ((Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1 etc.).  We are instructed to write down God’s action and purpose in Eph. 1:4; 5:25-26; Col. 1:21-22; 1 Peter 2:24; Titus 2:14.  We are saved for holiness.  We are pointed to Col. 1:13-14 and told,  ‘A Christian may at times behave as he did prior to conversion, but he can never go back to existing in the old realm  The transfer to a new kingdom is a finished work.  In heaven it will not be more complete.  We are holy in our position; and that position before God is the reason why a transformation in our behaviour is possible.  If we do not start here, we will go astray in our religion.’

We then move to an introduction to practical sanctification.  We are pointed to our state by nature in Job 15:15-16 and then to God’s great work of regeneration in the famous New Covenant texts of Ezek. 36:26 and Jer. 31:31, 33.  We are then instructed to copy out Phil. 1:6; 2:12-13; 1 Thes. 5:23 to show how God works within the believer to transform him in character and practice.

Days three and four are entitled ‘Looking unto Jesus.’  It is explained how the Lord Jesus is the foundation of our holiness, and that we look away from the world and fix our eyes upon Him (Heb. 12:1-3).  On the negative side we are pointed to Phil. 3:3-11; 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:7-10, and on the positive side to 2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 2:1-3:11.   We are given this quotation from Matthew Henry:  ‘We have no sufficient strength f our own.  Our natural courage is as perfect cowardice, and our natural strength as perfect weakness; but all our sufficiency is of God.  In His strength we must go forth and go on.  By the actings of faith we must fetch in grace and help from heaven to enable us to do that which we cannot of ourselves.  We should stir up ourselves to resist temptations in a reliance upon God’s all-sufficiency and the omnipotence of His might.’

One of the very helpful applications from these pages is the idea of a mental screen-saver.  On a computer screen the screen-saver is the image that comes up when the computer is not being used.  We should make the Lord Jesus our mental screen-saver so that whenever we are not engaged in work or other important activities (or even when we are!), our thoughts should naturally turn to Him, to meditate pleasantly upon His perfections rather than allowing unwholesome images to flood into our mind.

Day five is entitled ‘a God-ward Life’ and it covers ‘slippery slopes along the narrow path’ such as self-indulgence; the danger of legalism, and our motivation for our pilgrimage which is, of course, our love for the Lord Jesus and our desire to be as like Him as it is possible for a redeemed sinner to be.

I hope this brief summary of one chapter of the workbook is sufficient for the reader to see how Christ-centred and challenging the course is.  As I write this, my group is a little more than half-way through the course, but already it is possible to see in many of them an increased love for Christ, a deeper understanding of the Scriptures and a greater desire for holiness.  I believe the course will be exceedingly beneficial for those who have been saved quite recently and are in need of further discipling and also for older Christians whose zeal for the Saviour may have begun to cool.

 

Further details, and the first week of the course may be found on the website www.beholdyourgod.org  American readers may buy the DVDs and workbook from the website, but in Britain it may be purchased on the Banner of Truth website.

 

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