Each week we will be posting discussion questions here to help us "inwardly digest" our teachings from the scriptures.
Knowing God Week 9- God’s Wisdom and Ours- Nov. 20, ‘11
1. In Sunday’s sermon it was remarked that to be created in God’s image means that God communicates or imparts some of his own moral attributes to the creature called man, like his holiness, righteousness, truth, love and wisdom. This is what it means to be a new creation in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:17) And yet there are other attributes of his nature that he retains, like his omniscience, his immutability and his independence. Christians are to seek the former and not the latter. With regard to wisdom Packer cautions that in our travels upon the “the highways and byways of life” we can mistakenly think to have wisdom means to know the outcomes of the paths of life (i.e. the perspective God keeps for himself, seeing all the roads, where they lead, etc.) rather than taking wisdom as the ability to make right choices in the turns and intersections of life (i.e. The perspective the creature has as a traveler on the road.) Discuss ways in which you have mistaken the attributes God retains rather than the ones he imparts in your seeking of wisdom. How might you better seek the wisdom God imparts?
2. Read Proverbs 8:1-21. Try to list as many of the characteristics or ways of wisdom described here. Which do you find striking?
3. Continue reading Proverbs 8:22-31. These verses imply that wisdom is a “spiritual creature” of God involved in the work of creation. How do you see the wisdom of God revealed in nature?
4. What are the blessings of wisdom? (vs 32-36) How have you experienced these blessings and in what ways would you like to experience them more?
Knowing God Week 8- God’s Wisdom- Nov. 13, ‘11
1. In his book Packer writes that “Wisdom is a moral as well as an intellectual quality… more than mere intelligence or knowledge…for us to be truly wise in the biblical sense, our intelligence and [knowledge] must be harnessed to right end. Wisdom is (a) the power to see, and (b) the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, (c) together with the surest means of attaining it.” --- Discuss this definition. What strikes you about it?
2. Read “Canticle 10” in the Book of Common Prayer (below).
Canticle 10 “The Second Song of Isaiah” (Isaiah 55:6-11)
Seek the Lord while he wills to be found; *
call upon him when he draws near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways *
and the evil ones their thoughts;
And let them turn to the Lord, and he will have compassion, *
and to our God, for he will richly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, *
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, *
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as rain and snow fall from the heavens *
and return not again, but water the earth,
Bringing forth life and giving growth, *
seed for sowing and bread for eating,
So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; *
it will not return to me empty;
But it will accomplish that which I have purposed, *
and prosper in that for which I sent it.
3. What does the Isaiah passage say about God’s wisdom and power?
4. How is this helpful in times of disappointment and trial?
5. How does this passage support Packer’s definition of God’s wisdom?
6. Read psalm 105:1-22 paying particular attention to the life of Joseph in verses 16-22. How did God’s word “test” (the Greek means “seared through”) Joseph?
7. How is “wisdom justified by her deeds,” as Jesus said, in Joseph’s life?
8. How does this challenge your thoughts of God’s “plan for your life?”
Knowing God Week 7- The Majesty of God- Nov. 6, ‘11
1. In Sunday’s Sermon we heard how Christians need to hold the view of God’s majesty in tension with his personal nature and how we sometimes limit these unconsciously. Did any limits you have placed on God come to mind on Sunday? And if so, what scriptures correct this?
2. Read Isaiah 40:21-28. What is the overriding theme of the passage?
3. Luther told Erasmus that his thoughts of God were too human. How does verse 25 rebuke the Israelites for their wrong thoughts of God?
4. How do contemporary Christians fall into a similar mistake and how does Isaiah’s question correct such thinking?
5. Over and over the Israelites, like Christians today, thought God had abandoned them. How does the question in verse 27 rebuke the Israelites for wrong thoughts concerning themselves?
6. In what ways does the broader Church in N. America have similar wrong thoughts? And how do Isaiah’s question correct such thinking?
7. Packer writes that God’s question in verse 28 (read it) rebukes the Israelites’ and our slowness to believe in God’s majesty. Read John 14:6-9. Like the Father, Jesus continually confronted people’s unbelief. How slow are we to believe in God as God, sovereign, all-seeing and almighty?
8. Share together reading Job 38-41 dramatically. How does this reveal God’s majesty? And what effect does it have on Job (42:1-6)?
Knowing God Week 6 – God Unchanging- Oct. 30, ‘11
1. God is Unchanging (Immutable). Does this truth challenge you when you read the Old Testament? Why or why not?
2. Some of the clearest statements that 1) God’s life does not change (Exodus 3:14) and 2) God’s character does not change (Exodus 34:5-7) are portrayed in the dramatic narrative of the Exodus.
a. How do you reconcile his character revealed in Exodus 34:5-7 with your understanding of the Christian Gospel?
b. How do you see these traits demonstrated in the life of Jesus?
c. How does this reconcile with a more liberal gospel?
3. God’s truth does not change. Read Psalm 119:89, 151-152. In contradiction to this “Process Theology” embraced by the emergent church believes that God is always changing or progressing, that God is evolving. In that view the bible is a collection of stories about God rather than revelation from God.
a. How does the knowledge that God’s truth does not change help your thinking on contemporary life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, marriage or sexuality?
b. Does this encourage you to share what you have in God’s word? Why or why not?
4. God’ ways do not change.
a. How is the story of Jonah consistent with the message of the Gospels?
b. How is modern Christian life consistent with the New Testament?
c. Do God’s ways seem to be different now, if so in which way?
5. God’s purposes do not change. Read 1 Samuel 15:29 and Number 23:19 and Psalm 33:11.
a. Yet there are a number of passages that speak of God “repenting.” Read Gen 6:6-7, 1 Samuel 24:16, Jonah 3:10, Joel 2:13-14).
b. How do the actions of men cause God to repent of his actions in these examples and yet stay true to his purposes (repentance, redemption, salvation)
6. God’s son does not change. Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8). Does Christian life appear to be consistent with what Jesus taught? How might we change to be true to his example and word?
Week 5 – He Shall Testify- Oct. 23, '11
1. How do the three persons of the Trinity fit into your life, your prayers, your ministry?
2. Redemption is initiated by the Father (Galatians 4:4), accomplished through the Son (1 Peter 3:18), and is applied by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).
a. How do you feel about each of these? Do you connect more with some than others?
3. Packer, likely speaking to his evangelical leaning readership, focuses on the neglect by Christians of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Read John 12:49- 50, 17:8, 14 and16:12-14. Discuss how these relate to the original Apostles.
4. How do these verses apply to Christians today?
5. Read 1 Cor. 2:1-5, what is the Holy Spirit’s mission? How is his mission being accomplished through you?
6. Christian Scientists teach Jesus healing actions as a “method,” Mormons believe that Jesus became a son of God as they will too, that Jesus is not God; some liberal Christians believe Jesus is “A way” to God, Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet. Discuss how a robust understanding of the Trinity provides a defense against such ideas.
7. Read Romans 8:1-30. Discuss the relationship a Christian should have to the Holy Spirit.
Week 4 – God Incarnate- Oct. 16, ‘11
1. Read John’s prologue (Jn. 1:1-18). John is very clear that Jesus is “the Son of God.” And yet in his prologue he wanted to avoid any confusion this phrase my cause because it had other meanings in both Jewish and pagan writings. Packer writes that the prologue tells us seven things about the divine Word.
a. “In the beginning was the Word” (1:1) – Here is the Word’s eternity.
b. “And the Word was with God” (1:1) – Here is the Word’s personality.
c. “And the Word was God” (1:1) – Here is the Word’s deity.
d. “Through him all things were made” (1:3) – Here is the Word creating.
e. “In him was life” (1:4) – Here is the Word animating.
f. “And the life was the light of men.” (1:4) – Here is the Word revealing.
g. “The Word became flesh” (1:14) – Here is the Word incarnate.
Finally in verse 18 John makes clear who Jesus really is, that the Son of God is the Word of God. The child in the manger is God. As you think about this, what is your reaction to these attributes?
2. And yet this child is God become man. Read Heb 2:17-18 and 4:15-16. As incomprehensible as this truth is, why was it necessary for God to become man? What does that mean to us today?
3. Read 2 Corinthians 8:9. What meaning does this apply to the Incarnation?
4. What light does Phillipians 2:7 shed on “he became poor?”
5. Discuss ways in which Jesus demonstrated both his divinity and his poverty.
6. What implications does this have for the conduct of Christian life? How is this helpful in the face of weakness, challenges and hardship?
7. What does it mean to be an adopted son or daughter of God?
Week 3 – Knowing and Being Known- Oct. 9, '11
1. Packer makes the following assertions at the beginning of his third chapter, “knowing God and being known.”
What were we made for? To know God.
What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God.
What is the “eternal life” that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God.
“This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (Jn 17:3)
What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me’” (Jer 9:23-24)
What of all the states God ever sees man in, gives God most pleasure? Knowledge of himself.
“I desired…the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,” says God (Hos 6:6).”
What is your reaction to these statements? Does this alter your thoughts of Christian life? Why or why not?
2. Read JOHN 14:5-17.
3. Many people find the assertion that to know God you must know Jesus Christ his son (John 14:6) as exclusivist and unloving. The Christian view this (that God has come as man that man might know God) as the ultimate act of loving condescension. Discuss how you might communicate this to those that object that Jesus is the only way to God.
4. What does Jesus say in this passage about knowing God? How does it make you feel?
5. Read 1 JOHN 2:1-6; 12-14.
a. What does the apostle John say is the proof that we have come to know God?
b. How is love for God made complete in us?
c. Does anything strike you in this passage?
6. Read Psalm 139:1-17 aloud. This is an extended meditation by David on being known by God. Discuss an occasion in which you became aware of God’s loving knowledge of you. What was its effect on you?
7. Are there ways that you identify with Adam hiding in the garden more than David luxuriating in God’s love for him? How might you become more like David than Adam?
Week 2- The People Who Know Their God- Oct. 2, '11
1. Packer writes that one can know a great deal about God and about a life of godliness and yet not know him very well. What do you think that means?
2. In the sermon we heard the following five effects on those who know God:
a. They do not dwell on former losses and disappointments (see Phil 3:7-10.)
b. They have great energy for God.
c. They have great thoughts about God.
d. They show great boldness for God.
e. They who know God have great contentment in God.
What do you think these mean and how true are they of you? (Address each point in turn.)
3. How did their knowledge of God spur Daniel and his friends into action in their day? How might knowledge of God spur us into action in our day?
4. Read Matthew 7:22-29, “Build your house on the rock.” What strikes you in this passage?
a. In this teaching, Jesus is addressing Christians of the Church. What is the difference between actions that demonstrate knowledge of God and those that don’t?
b. What do you think verse 24 means in contrast to verse 22? What does it mean “to obey the will of the Father”?
c. The following remarks in the Commentary on Matthew from Mitch and Sri may be helpful:
“The point of this parable is that religious confession is no substitute for a personal relationship with Jesus and the obligation to obey his Father’s will. If our creed and our conduct are out of alignment, then our profession of Jesus as Lord is not a true submission to his lordship. The mere fact that believers can perform miracles in Jesus’ name, which is an exercise of charismatic grace, is no proof that sanctifying graces has penetrated their lives or brought them closer to Christ.”
Are there ways in which you may be doing “Christians things” and yet disobeying the will of the Father in your life?
Read and pray Colossians 1:9-14
Week 1: The Study of God- Sunday, Sept. 25, '11
Discussion starter: Give an example of learning something about a friend that helped you know them more.
1. Sunday’s sermon focused on Jesus’ words in John 17:1-3. Read the verses aloud. Does this challenge your view of salvation? Discuss what you think Jesus means by this.
2. Many churches in western cultures seem to value things like “embracing ambiguity and uncertainty.” Why do you think churches want to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty? How does this align with this passage?
3. This study series is simply a Study of God or in other words, Theology. What do you think of when you hear the word "theology"? What would you say is your attitude to theology?
4. In Psalm 119 the psalmist confesses his love for God’s truth (read vs 12, 18, 97, 103, 125). He starts the psalm giving his reasons why (read vs 1-2, 5). What do you think of these reasons? How have you seen this in your experience?
5. On page 20 of Packer’s book he lists the following five basic truths or foundation principles of the knowledge about God which Christians have:
a. “God has spoken to man, and the Bible is his Word, given to us to makes us wise unto salvation.
b. God is Lord and King over his world; he rules all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore him.
c. God is Savior, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue believers from guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as his children and to bless them accordingly.
d. God is triune; there are with the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it and the Spirit applying it.
e. Godliness means responding to God’s revelation in trust and obedience, faith and
worship, prayer and praise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God’s Word. This, and nothing else is true religion.”
Which of these particularly strike you and why?
6. Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-3. How can the study about God be spiritually dangerous? How do you think we turn knowledge about God into knowledge of God?
Closing Prayer: Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (BCP p. 236)
Every Member Evangelism:
ONE Step at a Time – PRAY
· PRAY throughout the 40 days of Lent for God to use you to spread the Kingdom of God this season.
o Simply pray, “Lord, I ask that you would use me to share the faith and advance your kingdom this week.”
o Remember, Jesus prayed all night before calling the twelve to be his apostles.
o We must continually pray for Christ’s power to manifest in any sharing of our faith, so that the people will hear and respond to God’s call.
o Otherwise we are like the police officer with no bullets in the gun who said to the criminal, “I say STOP, or… I’ll say STOP again.” God’s power goes forth through prayer. So let’s pray for God to go forth through us.
ONE (star) fish at a time- PICK
PICK a specific person (or persons) to pray for. Ask the Lord, then
pray for their relationship with Christ and the opportunity to be an
agent of grace to bring the kingdom of God to them. Like the little
boy walking down the beach scattered with thousands of live star
fish, picking up one at a time and throwing them in. We may not
evangelize the world but we can make an eternal difference in the
life of one person at a time.