December 2021 Student Newsletter

Why Are The Poor in Spirit Blessed?
Russell Haffner

In Matthew 5:3 Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." In the original language the Greek word translated as "poor" carries the idea of one who is reduced to begging, destitute of wealth, influence, position and honor. In the days of the New Testament beggars were common. They were unable to support themselves and had no other option but to beg for their daily needs. They were totally dependent on the kindness and generosity of others. In much the same way we must realize that we are totally dependent on God.

In His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus preached the principles of His spiritual kingdom. We should notice that as He began the lesson He emphasized man's dependency upon God. Our journey to becoming a child of God begins with having an honest and good heart (Luke 8:15) that realizes without God we can do nothing. We have no ability to save ourselves. We must look to God and be willing to obey what He has commanded us to do. If we do not accept our complete dependency on God, we will never obey Him or serve Him. We must accept our own lost spiritual condition and our need for guidance. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). It is not possible to live faithful to God if we are not willing to submit to His guidance.

Notice again in Matthew 5:3 Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The word "blessed" means that the "poor in spirit" will be eternally happy. How is this possible? Because they will be the ones who recognize their dependence upon God for salvation and will both seek and obey His commands. In this way "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Those who submit themselves in obedience to God will be added to the kingdom. The "kingdom of heaven" is defined as that spiritual body composed of those who are saved. On earth, that kingdom is the church and when the end of the world comes Christ shall, deliver "up the kingdom to God" (1 Corinthians 15:24). Those who are in the kingdom, shall then be blessed to be in the presence of God throughout eternity. Those who refuse to recognize or accept their spiritual poverty will never seek and submit in obedience to God's commands. They will be eternally lost.


The "Mark Complete" Button

If you have already watched several lessons you may have noticed the “Mark Complete” button located below each video. This feature helps you to track your progress as you view the videos. We encourage you to always click this button when you finish viewing a lesson. The marking of lessons serves as a guide for your own information to mark your place in the study. Even if the lesson is marked complete you can return to watch it again as many times as you want.

For additional information please see the Help Center at the school website. In the Help Center you will find an article which will walk you through the necessary steps to track your progress by marking each lesson complete. It is titled: How-to: "Mark Complete" Lessons.

November 2021 Student Newsletter

Is God Too Strict?
Russell Haffner

There is no doubt that God is loving, compassionate and merciful. He has done everything possible to save us from our sins (John 3:16). But, we should never assume that God's desire to save man overrides His attitude toward sin. In the same context as John 3:16 we find:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:18-19).

Our God loves us, but we must come to the light to have a relationship with Him. This is why Paul said, "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Roman 11:22). The God who loves and cares for us is the same God who upholds justice. Our responsibility is to "continue in His goodness."

It is true that God is rigid and strict when it comes to His law and obedience. He will not change His law to accommodate us. However, this does not mean He is not merciful, kind and compassionate. It would be wrong to think that God is just waiting to punish us as soon as we get out of line. God is longsuffering and patient. He is giving us time each and every day to turn our backs on sin, and turn to Him in obedience. However, if we refuse to turn our backs on sin, God cannot have a united relationship with us. Some may see this as God being too rigid and strict, but what they fail to realize is that God cannot have fellowship with sin. It goes against His very nature. When we sin, God does not leave us, we leave Him.

Isaiah 59:1-2 says, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."

We cannot negotiate with God concerning His attitude toward sin. We must approach Him through our Savior Jesus Christ with an attitude of obedience and deep repentance, understanding that we are sinful and in need of His forgiveness. He is always eager to forgive us when we obey Him. He is like a loving parent who forgives His children when they admit their mistakes. Parents are often strict, but they love their children and want the best for them. The Father's strictness does not take away from His love.


Fifteenth Bible Land Passages Video Now Available

Have you ever wished to visit the Bible lands? If you are not able to make the journey yourself the next best thing could be watching these programs. These instructional video presentations, shot on location, let you explore many of the religious and historical sites in Israel, Jordan and Palestine. They are produced by WVBS and are completely free to view online. completely free to view online.

"Passage 15 | Shiloh: The Place Where God Once Dwelt" - Nestled deep within the heartland of the West Bank in Israel lies the biblical city of Shiloh; the place where God’s tent of meeting was located for over 300 years. Today this storied city lies in ruin, but archaeologists are determined to unearth its secrets. In recent years a number of important discoveries have been unearthed in Shiloh and Bible Land Passages was there to document the evidence, discuss the significance, and provide faith-building lessons from the land of the Bible.

These videos may be found under the “About” option on the blue menu bar by clicking the “Recommended Videos” link. When you click this button you will be taken to a page which will be continually updated with information concerning free videos available for online viewing which may be of interest to you.

October 2021 Student Newsletter

Are You Humble, Courageous and Wise?
Russell Haffner

An accomplished business leader once said, "Be humble to see your mistakes, courageous to admit them, and wise enough to correct them." This is excellent advice, not only in the business world, but in Bible study as well. Sometimes when we study God's word we discover we were wrong in what we thought was being taught in the Scriptures. We must have the humility to see when we are wrong, the courage to admit our mistake and then the wisdom to correct our misunderstanding. The steps to help us through this process are very important.

  1. We need to see our mistake. This requires an honest study of God's word. It is important that we study the Scriptures without preconceived ideas. We must know what the Bible teaches, not what some person told us it teaches. God's word should be treated with respect. This demands humility, understanding that we don't know everything. If we do not have humility we will never see our mistakes.
  2. We must admit the mistake. The next important step is to admit that we sometimes get things wrong when it comes to the Scriptures. We will never be able to make a correction without this admission. We must have the courage to see our error and accept that we made a mistake. However, at times our pride stands in the way. Proverbs 16:18 warns, "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall." We will be better learners when we have the courage to overcome our pride.
  3. We must have the wisdom to make corrections. It would be foolish to make the same mistakes over and over again. If we persist in making the same mistakes, then we really haven't learned to improve our approach to the Scriptures. We want our study of the Bible to be a learning experience. The goal is to overcome and grow from the misunderstandings we have had in the past. By choosing to learn from our mistakes, not only will we become better students of God's word, but we will also grow in our wisdom.

It is often painful to learn we have made a mistake in our understanding of the Bible. That's why we should always strive to humble ourselves and admit our lack of knowledge. Remember, admitting when we are wrong is a sign of courage and readiness to improve.


How To Start Your Lessons

Perhaps you have enrolled in the school but have yet to start your first course. Beginning your studies is easy to do. Once you login to your account simply choose the course you would like to study from the "Course Schedule" option located on the blue menu bar of the school website (https://school.wvbs.org/course-schedule/). The "Course Schedule" reflects the designated order that Formal Students must follow. Informal and Auditing Students are recommended, but not required, to follow this schedule.

Once you have selected the course you would like to study you need to register for the course by clicking the "Register" button located on the course page. When this is done, you will have full online access to the course. You can begin watching the videos immediately by clicking the "Lesson 1" link. From each lesson page you will be able to view a 30-40 minute video lesson presentation.

If you are a Formal or Informal Student you will not only see tabs on the course page for Description and Syllabus, but also for Exams, Course Notes (for some courses) and Course Books (for textbooks published by WVBS). Click on the appropriate tab and the document will be displayed. These materials are provided to Formal and Informal Students completely free online. If you desire printed pages, there is a "Print" button located to the upper-right of the displayed document where you can print personal copies.

You may register and begin viewing the courses at any time. There is no official start time for any of the courses. They are always available - 24/7. Why not start your lessons today?

September 2021 Student Newsletter

Have You Stopped Paddling?
Russell Haffner

Jesus has not promised Christians a trouble-free life (Matthew 10:16-28). Christ warned His disciples, "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub (ruler of the demons), how much more will they call those of his household!" (Matthew 10:25).

Living the Christian life requires enduring persecutions and hardships. Christianity is not easy. It takes true commitment and complete devotion. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 the apostle Paul called Christianity "work" and "labor" because it is hard and it requires effort. If we are to be successful we must give ourselves fully to the ongoing work of the Lord.

The life of a Christian is like paddling a canoe upstream. Some areas of the river are wide and slow, but some areas of the river are narrow and fast. We should not think the trip is going to be easy when we reach those wide, slow places in the river. There is often a temptation to relax and forget that we still need to paddle. If we don't paddle the current will soon slow us down and gradually send us backward.

The lesson is this - there is no time in our lives when we should take time off from serving God. If we don't keep paddling we will soon drift away. James 1:22 tells Christians to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only." James 4:17 says "to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." Luke 10:27 says "we must love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind." Matthew 6:33 tells us to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."

Too many Christians think they can simply "float on the river" to heaven without any effort. James 2:24 says, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." Those who teach "faith only" salvation have missed the point. We must pick up our paddles and keep paddling our way up the river that leads to our heavenly home.


Statement of Faith

The WVBS Online Bible School has no statement of faith, creed book or religious manual. The only statement of a Christian's faith which is needed is the Bible. If a statement of faith says less than the Bible it has left something out. If a statement of faith says more than the Bible it has added to God's word (Revelation 22:18-19). Let us abandon the opinions of men and seek to practice and teach only that which is found in God's word. The staff of the school is composed of Christians seeking to teach others about the Bible. The material produced is designed to be used by anybody seeking a greater understanding of God's word.

The goal of the school is to serve God and His people by doing His will to the best of our ability. We have a genuine desire to glorify the Father, His beloved Son, His word and His blood-bought church and not to glorify ourselves or any other men.