Montreal BSF-men: The first year

by Louie Vassalos

Louie and his wife Myrtis attend Cote des Neiges Presbyterian Church. Louie led one of the BSF discussion groups, 2018-2019.

Closing Remarks on First Year with Montréal BSF

Here are some parting thoughts on my last 30 plus weeks’ journey as a fellow traveller among a dedicated group of Christian men. As I understand it, the BSF model is essentially oriented to achieve two purposes: To increase our knowledge of God and to enable godly interactions amongst believers who want to grow their relationship with Him and with one another.

One thing we know about God is that He is not only holy (raised to the third power) and wonderfully complex, but He is also a God who is near and accessible. This, among many other reasons, is why He satisfies us and elicits our praise. But on the matter of His complex nature the bible teaches of God’s incomprehensibility. He lies outside the boundaries of our understanding so that we can’t fully know Him. And there are several reasons for this.

One is that not all of God’s attributes are communicable – i.e., they can’t be passed on to us. God has not – and in fact He cannot – share His exclusive attributes. For instance, only God has the property of necessary existence. Unlike all of creation God is not the effect of a prior cause; He is not a created being – we are. We came into being but God always was.

The effect of sin on our hearts and minds is a second constraint that prevents us from attaining a full knowledge of God.

The experience we enjoyed this inaugural year and hope, God-willing, to continue enjoying in years to come, stems from both the study of God’s word and the fellowship that grows organically out of that study.

Finally, there is the cold hard fact that God has sovereignly chosen not to reveal certain things about Himself. As Moses said, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God . . .” (Deut. 29:29a)

All this mystery may not sound encouraging to those who strive for exhaustive knowledge but if we recall Moses ended his statement with, “but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever . . .” (Deut. 29:29b).

So, the upside to this – not that God’s hiddenness should be regarded as a downside – is that there is much that God has revealed to us and intends for us to know. In fact, the unsearchable God has given us ways of searching for Him and the unknowable God has given us means for knowing Him. And for this non-mystery we praise Him and receive blessings as a result.

One such blessing, which several men publicly endorsed at our last meeting through their testimonials, is our men’s BSF. The experience we enjoyed this inaugural year and hope, God-willing, to continue enjoying in years to come, stems from both the study of God’s word and the fellowship that grows organically out of that study.

God’s word and Spirit equip us with a divine perspective and power that brings heaven closer to earth so that we are enabled to pray, “Your Kingdom come; Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. Accordingly, BSF is aimed at bringing God’s revealed word nearer to us that we may know Him better and live out our lives as a consequence of that knowledge.

This now-small group of Montreal men understands that our missionary reach may eventually exceed our expectations, so we’re always looking for Christian soldiers to sign-on by signing up. I don’t want to reduce this to a numbers game because it’s certainly more than that. Though we can each only play one part, that part is something no one else can play. The truth, as we know, is that we are uniquely gifted to be one part in the whole body – a body that derives its power and significance from Christ, its head.

Several years ago, Victor Gavino’s distinct part began to be played out. I thank God for raising up Victor; for giving him the impetus to respond to the spiritual need in our city, particularly for the men of this city. He had the determination and commitment to get this Montreal BSF group off the ground. Needless to say, without his vision and will to see it through we wouldn’t have seen this first year.

And we could not overlook the First Filipino Baptist Church for comfortably housing our meetings in a warm, welcoming space, especially during those raging winter storms. We’re grateful to the whole congregation for their generosity and kindness.

Above all we thank our Lord for His Providence, who’s will it was that we should all unite with a desire to make His name known in this city. May He continue to encourage us and light our way forward. May He bless us and be our blessing.

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