Our staff team read though Mark 4 together in one of our recent regular devotionals, and it was great to be able to come to a reasonably well-known passage and still learn more from it.

The majority of the chapter is given over to the parable of the sower and its interpretation and as we looked over it, we wondered if perhaps we might have misinterpreted it in the past. While we might fairly read this parable as a lesson about what faithful receipt of the gospel looks like, we also need to note its emphasis on fruitfulness. The parable does not simply teach that the seed that fell on the good soil survived. Rather, it emphasises the fact that that seed multiplied abundantly. There is therefore a strong connection here between spiritual health and fruitfulness.

The comparison with the seed that fell among the thorns is instructive. The text does not say that the plant which grew from it died, but simply that the word was choked and it yielded nothing. That is, it survived, but was fruitless. So again, the issue is not merely whether the seed germinates and grows, but whether it produces anything good.

Too often Christians polarise faith and good works. This perhaps stems from a fear that if we speak too much about good works, or good character, we will compromise the gospel of salvation by grace alone. However, the Bible says that even though our good works and good character can never save us, they are an absolutely essential part of Christian life. In fact, the parable of the sower teaches us that there is little to celebrate in the person who receives the word and endures but does not produce any kind of fruit at all. Similar ideas are found in Ephesians 2:8–10 and James 2:14–26.

At Bible College SA, we are acutely aware that all we have is thanks to God’s providence and generosity. We can make no natural claim on salvation, nor can we suggest we deserve any of the material blessings that we enjoy. But we do want to say that as people who have received the free gifts of forgiveness and eternal hope, we should be striving in service of Jesus and his Kingdom. We do pray that our lives and faith would issue in great fruitfulness to his greater glory.

Tim Patrick

On the academic front, the Bible College SA year runs with the calendar year which means that we are currently between first and second semester. We have students who are resting up after a solid semester of work and also getting ready to start up again in a few weeks. We may also have some new students starting out with us in the second half of the year which is very exciting.

Faculty have now wrapped up marking and are also actively preparing for semester two’s classes. In many cases these follow directly on from semester one (eg. Introduction to New Testament and Old Testament, Greek and Hebrew, Systematic Theology), and that is also strengthens the sense that the College year maps neatly onto the calendar year.

However, when it comes to finances, the College runs from July to June and so those involved with the management of our budget and operations think of the year differently. We are now in the process of wrapping up all of the administration related to the financial year that has just ended and getting underway with the new work plan that is connected to the new budget.

At this point in the financial year, we must give a huge thanks to all of our partners who so generously donated over the past twelve months. Thanks to your support, we were able to meet our giving targets, and this means that we can proceed with good confidence into our plans for the year ahead. We feel incredibly humbled by this result, and we give great thanks to God for working in and through our wonderful supporters.

Of course, we completely understand that as much as we do appreciate financial gifts, our partners support us most by praying for our ministry. More than anything, we value you bringing us before our heavenly Father in your prayers, and we trust that we are in the solid position we are today simply because he has plans for us to do more good works towards his purposes. Therefore, again with great thanks, we are excited to continue offering the ministry of the College into his service.
In the next few weeks we will be sending out a survey to everyone on our email list. It will only be brief—taking just five minutes or so—and we would really appreciate if you would complete it for us. We hope to use the information it generates to continue building our work for the glory of Jesus.

Our new Registrar, Rebecca Vincent, begins work with us in July. She will be replacing Kathy Fopp who is finishing up with us as her family moves to England for a new ministry position. We are delighted and excited to welcome Rebecca to our team and look forward to her bringing her considerable skills and experience to what is quite a complex role. We feel confident that she will quickly fit in very well with all of the staff and students.

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I studied electrical engineering and Japanese at university, and worked as an engineer for three years after graduating. I enjoyed my job, but had a passion for sharing the gospel with international students - and work started to feel like it was getting in the way! So I quit and did a two-year ministry apprenticeship with FOCUS (Fellowship of Overseas Christian University Students) at the University of Adelaide. I loved it and want to continue in this area in the future, and Bible College was the next step to become well-formed for a lifetime of ministry.  

What are you currently studying?
First year Master of Divinity. This semester I'm studying Hebrew, Jesus & the Gospels, OT Foundations, and Hermeneutics.

What do you like most about studying at BCSA?
I love how keen everybody is to get into their studies! It's quite a different feel from my engineering student days, where most people just wanted to do the bare minimum to get the parchment at the end. BCSA has a positive kind of peer pressure that encourages me to do my best - even when finding 15 different references for an essay feels like hard work! 

In what ministry do you hope to work when you finish at BCSA?
God has given me a heart for Japan and a love for students, so I'm hoping to do student ministry in Japan once I'm finished.

What is one thing you are learning at the moment that is particularly insightful?
I'm currently working on an essay for OT Foundations looking at Exodus 32-34 (the golden calf incident, Moses' intercession, and the covenant re-established) and the role that these chapters play in the book of Exodus as a whole. One interesting theme that has come up as I've been trying to rack up the references is how this incident links in with the book's theme of slavery and redemption. Israel was enslaved physically in Egypt before being rescued by God, but after being freed they were still enslaved to something worse - sin. As we look at Exodus in the wider narrative of the Bible, this greater freedom would not find its ultimate fulfilment until Jesus. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)
• A great first semester of teaching and learning, and the chance for a break for students before they start up their studies again in second semester.
• A great end to our financial year and for all our supporters’ acts of generosity that enable us to continue training the next generations of gospel workers.
• Our hard-working faculty who put in so much effort to provide our students with world-standard formation. And also our excellent office staff who do a magnificent job of keeping the College running so well on many different fronts.

• A good start to semester two for faculty and students—including any new students who will be beginning their studies with us.
• Ongoing faithful year-to-year oversight of our operations and continued good support for the year ahead.
• Rebecca Vincent as she settles into the Registrar’s role, and the Fopp family as they make a big international move.

Please also remember Queensland Theological College, one of our sister colleges, in your prayers. Pray that under God, Gary Millar and the whole team would faithfully prepare the next generations of gospel workers for Brisbane, Queensland and beyond.

Tuesday 30 July
City to City Incubator Day 1 - Cameron Munro

Saturday 17 August
Partnership Dinner 2019
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