Welcome to Session Two! I hope you’ve gathered a sister or two to talk about Believe. If not, consider recording your answers to the questions in your personal journal.
Last week we focused on 5 basic building blocks of what Christians believe. When we know why we believe these five things we begin to form a firm foundation for our faith.
It was over eighteen years ago, but I still remember it. The professor of Old Testament stood at the front of the class behind a table. On the table were two jars, two piles of rocks, two containers of pebbles, and two cups of a sand. He began to pour the items into one jar beginning with the smallest item first and said,“Faith is made up of many beliefs. Some are like tiny grains of sand and others seem big like these rocks. The question is: Which is which?”
He continued pouring until he came to the five rocks. In the end, only two of the five rocks would fit in the jar. He went on to say, “When we place the small things in first, then often times there is not room for the big things.” He took the next jar and began again, only this time in reverse. He placed the rocks in the jar… then the pebbles… finally the sand. “What are your rocks?” he asked. “If you can identify your five core beliefs, those five things that will never, never change, then the rest will fall into place around those rocks.” The rest of our six weeks together was focused on figuring out our rocks.
Hopefully this week on Believe helped you to do the same… to develop a clear understanding of your rocks. You may still have a few questions lurking about belief. Some portion you’re not quite sure about. Keep pushing yourself… keep asking God to reveal them to you. These form the firm foundation on which a solid faith is built. When the storm comes, and it will, faith built on solid rocks will stand.
The first of our rocks to talk about is…
Believing God Exists
Experiential knowledge of God is the only true way to know that He exists.
True Christian experience must always include a genuine encounter with God. without this, religion is but a shadow, a reflection of reality, a cheap copy of the original once enjoyed by someone else of whom we have heard.
— AW Tozer, Evenings With Tozer
What personal experience have you had with God that made Him real in your life?
Believing God Is God
- Job 36:26
- Job 37:5
Both verses in the NIV translation tell us God is so great He is beyond our understanding. In our attempt to understand God, we sometimes limit Him with our own human frailties. Remember, the potter and the pot?
How have you limited God in your walk of faith walk by seeing Him through your own human weaknesses?
It is wise for us to accept that our understanding of God (creature to Creator) will always be limited. He is beyond our understanding.
How are you at accepting God is God? are you OK with not being able to fully understand Him or His ways? does this hinder your faith? Put it in words.
The Bible tells us what the proper attitude toward God should be.
- Proverbs 1:7
- Proverbs 9:10
- Proverbs 15:33
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. This is an important part of accepting God is God. His greatness, power, judgment, justice.
Do you consider fear of the Lord a good thing or bad thing? Explain.
This fear of the Lord thing can be a slippery slope. Let me see if I can describe it. This kind of fear is not the kind that sends you hiding under the bed or running for the hills. Not fear you experience in high places or the adrenaline rush when you have a near miss while driving your car. This type of fear is wrapped up in the unknown of what happens next. It is dark and sinister and has no end.
Fear of the Lord is understanding God has the power to do all things, and yet His only motivation is love. This fear drives us to our knees and inspires prayers of gratitude. And the best part… we know the ultimate end of the story.
God is awesome.
Vocabulary to Revive
Visit the Vocabulary to Revive page and read Awesome. The index of pages is found at the bottom in the blue box.
We are All Sinners
Read: 1John 1:8
We have a great capacity for self-deception. We can justify our actions in so many ways. We blame others as the cause of our behavior. Sometimes we even deceive ourselves regarding the sin of others (our children, loved ones, spouses).
Have you deceived yourself regarding sin in your own life? how?
What about the sin of others? how have you deceived yourself?
Let’s look at what the Bible says about the heart of people.
- Isaiah 64:6
- Romans 3:10-12
- Mark 10:18
Are there “good” people in the world?
Over and over we hear people say, when justifying someone’s sin: But they’re a good person at heart.
According to God’s Word, this is just not true. Jesus said there are no good people. Sin broke us from the inside out, even what we think is righteous is filth. [See Isaiah 64:6.] Jeremiah in Lamentations says: Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? (3:39). The trouble in this world was caused by our sin.
There is a popular question the world asks and they often use it to support the premise that there is no God: Why do bad things happen to good people? I heard someone once give an answer to this question that clearly upholds the biblical worldview and helps to see things more clearly. The answer was: There are no good people.
What is most significant to you regarding the truth that all have sinned? there are no “good people”?
The consequence of sin is death. Therefore, since we have all sinned, we all die.
When death entered the world through Adam and Eve’s sin, they did not just drop dead. The same is true for us. We sin daily, but do not drop dead. Yet, the consequences of our sin still brings death.
Besides literal death of the body, what are some things that die because of sin?
There will be consequences for our sins and the sins of others as long as we walk this earth, but there is a way of restoration and redemption. In His great mercy, God made a way to bring life back to those things which have died because of sin: His Son, Jesus.
Jesus — God Incarnate
- Acts 10:43 [Note: In this verse believes in = pisteuo eis.]
- 1Peter 2:24-25
- John 3:16-17
Why did God send Jesus to stoop low and become like those He created?
Jesus is the perfect and divine sacrifice. There is nothing we can do that will not be forgiven. His work was/is perfect and complete.
Some day you may do something (or perhaps you already have) that you think is unforgiveable, something you want to hide away in shame and guilt. Something you can’t forgive yourself for. Don’t fall for this trap. It’s a lie.
When we believe we’ve done something unforgiveable, it’s a form of pride. Thinking we can do something so terrible Christ’s sacrifice isn’t perfect enough to remove it. That’s a lie. We must learn to accept Christ’s perfect gift and apply it to ourselves as well. Jesus commands us: Love your neighbor as yourself. If we can’t love ourselves enough to forgive ourselves, how can we forgive others.
Have you struggled with a sin you couldn’t forgive yourself for?
- Titus 3:4-6
- 2Corinthians 12:9
Christ’s work on the cross is God’s abundant provision of grace (Romans 5:17) for those who receive it. There is a glorious picture of God’s “abundant provision” in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus thanked God for five loaves of bread and two fish. With it He fed over 5000 people: They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over (Matthew 14:20). God’s abundant provision of grace is way more than we’ll ever need.
The Bible is God’s Word
How do we know that the Bible is God’s Word? The short answer is: by faith. But there are many apologists (defenders of the faith) who reinforce our faith with reason.
The Bible is actually a collection of books — 66 of them, written by more than 40 authors, over the course of some 1500 years; yet it is one unified book. It tells one story, about one God, who sends one Savior — Jesus Christ — into the world. The more you study it, the more you see Christ — not just in the New Testament, but also in the Old Testament.
—Dean Davis, Christian Research Journal
The Bible, as a historical document, has far more evidence for its accuracy than any other ancient writings. The many copies of Scripture in different languages within a relatively short period of time (historically speaking), confirm the accuracy of the documents and many of the events of the New Testament can be found in other historical texts outside Scripture. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the physical evidence for the authenticity of Scripture. But again, we accept that it is God’s Word by faith: the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Apologists can help us accept God’s Word as His Word through reason and evidence. But it all comes down to how we receive it.
Read: 1Thessalonians 2:13
The best evidence is experiential knowledge gained through treating Scripture as if it really is God’s Word. Obeying what it says. Prayerfully seeking Him about what He’s saying to us through it.
What personal experience have you had that increased your faith in the Bible as the Word of God?
There are only a handful of books I’ve read more than once. Certainly no other book I go to daily. The very fact that every time I open His word it is fresh and new is the very reason I believe it is His word. If you asked me to describe it in one word I would say, “living”. There’s just no better way to describe it. Throughout my entire life I have looked for answers in His word, and He has never disappointed me. It may not be the answer I expect… sometimes not what I want to hear… but that’s the beauty of His book. When I approach His word through the lens of Holy Spirit I can’t get enough. It draws me in and back every single time. For me, it is all the proof I need.
For me, Scripture is His Word, because from early on in my walk with Him, He has consistently sent me to Scripture in answer to my prayers. The most significant was during a difficult time in my marriage. I cried out to Him (literally) and a book and chapter came to mind. I hadn’t read it before and my knowledge of the Bible was very superficial at the time. When I went to that location in the Bible it spoke perfectly to my prayer. It was His answer to my prayer. This has continued. Many times in response to prayer a verse or story from Scripture comes to mind. He speaks to us through His Word, therefore it is His Word to His people.
In our walk of faith, after we Believe the next step in practicing faith is to Pray. We acknowledge God’s presence in our life through prayer.
pray — 1. to request in a humble manner 2. to address God or a god with adoration, confession, supplication or thanksgiving
—Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
What attitude is associated with prayer, according to the definition?
The definition of pray reveals the importance of attitude. Prayer should be done humbly, addressing God with adoration and thanksgiving. The act of coming before God with our confessions shows not only humility but honesty. God needs to be approached in truth. Supplication is the act of asking for something earnestly and humbly, we are not to be demanding. When we pray, we need to remember who we are speaking to.
What are four ways to pray according to the definition?
Not only does this definition illustrate an appropriate attitude, it also contains the four parts of prayer: Praise (Adoration), Confession, Thanksgiving, Intercession (Supplication). As we go through our week, in addition to looking at prayer as an act of faith, we will address each part of prayer.
Pray is our faith action for Week 2.
Have a great week.