The Gospel Project Vol. VI

Notes Journal

Volume VI (Winter 2013-14)

Session 13 – “Christian Care”

2/19/14 – I prefer to look at this lesson as “Christian Stewardship”, instead of “Christian Care”, which is reflected in the point titles I’m using. I’ve also chosen to use Genesis 1:28 and 2:15 as the texts for the first point instead of 9:8-17. That being said, here’s how I’ll open it up:

Opening Question: “How would you rank the Church regarding the environment and why?”

I. Stewardship of Creation (Genesis 1:28, 2:15)

A. We were made to be active stewards

B. God’s love extends to what He created (Psalm 145:8-9)

C. God is mindful of creation (Matthew 10:29-31)

Discussion: “How does our attitude toward creation reflect our attitude toward the Creator?”

II. Stewardship of Possessions (Matthew 6:19-24)

A. Collecting isn’t the problem; it’s the substance of the collection

B. Treasure is what you cherish

C. Something will eventually give when trying to serve two masters

Discussion: “What are some warning signs of a “two-master” problem?”

III. Stewardship toward Others (2 Corinthians 8:1-4)

A. Jesus displayed generosity in His ministry

B. The Macedonian believers actively sought to be generous

C. The attitude of the giver is crucial (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Discussion: “How is the gospel message linked to personal generosity?”

For the week: Consider what you’ve been entrusted with (time, talent & treasure) and seek an opportunity to bless someone else.

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Session 12 – “Human Life”

2/14/14 – I’m glad to see Max Lucado’s story, “You are Special” mentioned in the opening. It’s one of my favorites and I’ll use it to set up the discussion. Unfortunately the writer left out a key part of Max’s story (Punchinello was pointed to Eli by another Wemmick named Lucia who had already experienced Eli’s love) and I’ll add that in to mine.

For Discussion: “What parallels to real life do you see in the story concerning dots and stars?”

I. Every human life has inherent value (Jer. 1:5)

A. We’re made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27)

B. We’re “knitted together” (Psalm 139:13-16)

C. Our worth as a person isn’t dependent on momentary status (S.L.E.D. example)

Discussion: “What kind of things can be affected by our views of people’s worth?”

II. Taking the lives of the young, old, or weak is a sin (Gen. 9:5-6)

A. Children aren’t really ours, they’re entrusted to us

B. “Usefulness” and “quality of life” positions us as judges

C. Denying God as originator of life opens a door to anything (Singer quote p.146)

Discussion: “How should we as the Church be different in our attitudes toward life, when compared to the culture around us?”

III. Christ can forgive and heal those who’ve taken a life (Acts 22:1-5)

A. Sin isn’t measured by it consequences

B. Forgiveness is based on Jesus’ accomplishments, not ours

C. As forgiven people, we’re to forgive ourselves too (Romans 8:1)

Discussion: “How can the burden of guilt hold us back in serving Christ?”

For the week: Consider and pray about your view of people. Do you see them as the Bible describes them (God’s view) or a mixture of personal feelings and culturally accepted views?

_____________________

Session 11 – “Marriage”

2/5/14 – Marriage is a wonderful, God designed gift. Unfortunately in today’s cultural environment, the definition of marriage is considered flexible. In consideration of that:

For Discussion: “What are some ways you’re seeing marriage be redefined or minimized as an institution?”

*Note: For a brief blog post concerning same-sex marriage click here

I. Marriage is a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman (Matt. 19:1-9)

A. It’s a sober declaration of intent for the future (use Tim Keller quote p.132)

B. Jesus refocused the conversation back to God’s original design

C. The covenant vow made by each at the ceremony is to God, not the other person, so allowance for breaking it is only on God’s terms

Discussion: “What can happen when marriage is contingent upon the spouse’s actions/reactions?”

II. Marriage is practical (1 Corinthians 7:1-9)

A. It’s the only proper place for sexual activity

B. It’s the primary place to be accepted and affirmed

Discussion: “What are the potential results of pursuing these things outside of marriage?”

III. Marriage provides a picture of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33)

A. It should be a daily demonstration of selflessness

B. Husbands are to lead by example and love like Christ does

C. Wives are to recognize the structure God designed and reciprocate the Christ-like love shown by the husband

Discussion: “What are the biggest contrasts between a biblical approach to marriage and a secular approach?”

For the week: Since biblical marriage reflects heavenly principles, think about how speaking “for” the right view of marriage is more productive than speaking “against” the wrong views.

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Session 10 – “Holy Sexuality”

2/1/14 – Sexuality is part of our being. God made us that way and His word provides guidance on it. Unfortunately, throughout history, the people of God have struggled to define and live within healthy boundaries regarding sex. To get the conversation started, let’s consider this question:

For Discussion: “In your experience, has the church adequately addressed sexuality? If not, what’s been the main failure?”

I. Sexuality is given by God (Gen. 2:8-9, 15-25)

A. We are made to relate (Adam was lonely)

B. We are made to complement each other (spouses complete each other)

C. Becoming “one” is God’s design

Discussion: “How is sexuality a timeless God-honoring activity, and how is it subject to cultural shifts?”

II. We are all sexual sinners (Romans 1:21-28)

A. God has the sole authority to define what is moral and immoral

B. We have all fallen short of God’s glory regarding purity

C. Dysfunctional sexual appetites focus on created things, not the Creator

Discussion: “What are some ways sexuality has become a form of idolatry in our culture?”

III. Sexual health depends on repentance and faith (Luke 5:29-32)

A. Knowing Christ is the beginning of seeing sex through a God-honoring lens

B. A believer must be spiritually healthy, in order to be sexually healthy

Discussion: “What is the main contrast between a biblical approach to sexuality and a secular approach?”

For the week: Ask the Lord to reveal any areas of sexual unhealthiness in your heart, and pray for His leading in a God-honoring approach to sexuality.

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Session 9 – “Hell”

1/22/14 – The question of hell is a key part of the gospel and can’t be ignored to properly communicate the reasons for Jesus’ coming. This lesson is well written and I’m staying with the 3 section titles. Because there are so many opinions and questions on the subject, I’m opening with this:

For Discussion: “What are some general thoughts in our culture about hell? What are your thoughts and questions about it?”

I. The reality of hell honors the choices of God’s image bearers (Luke 16:19-31)

A. The rich man ultimately got what he wanted-life without God

B. God takes no pleasure in people going to hell (using Ezek. 18:32 not v.23)

C. Hell was originally made for Satan and the rebellious angels (Matt. 25:41)

Discussion: “In your opinion, what’s the most unsettling thing about hell?”

II. The reality of hell magnifies the glory of God (Exodus 9:13-17)

A. God will get glory either way – (through believing now or at the judgment)

B. God’s ways are beyond our understanding (Is. 55:8-9)

C. God is central in the universe, not us

Discussion: “What difference does it make to embrace the truth of God as the central figure of the universe?”

III. The reality of hell gives urgency to evangelism (Romans 10:11-17)

A. Affirming the truth of hell (without functioning like it) is “practical denial”

B. Affirming the truth of hell (and acting on it) is being “on mission”

Discussion: “What does this mean for us going forward?”

For the week: Think about those you know who don’t know Christ. Make a point to pray for them specifically and for opportunities to share with them.

____________________

Session 8 – “Suffering”

1/15/14 – I’ve changed the format on this one up a little by using three subjects for exploration and will start by asking this question:

For Discussion: “With critics pointing out suffering as evidence of God’s inaction or punishment, what are your thoughts on His involvement?”

I. Origins of Suffering (Job 1:6-12, 1 Peter 4:12-16)

A. Evil was/is aggressively active – Job had been protected from previous attempts, meaning Satan was already trying to harm him

B. Pain is part of this world – Peter says we shouldn’t be surprised by it in this fallen world

C. God is not unaware – God was way more involved and active than Job knew from the beginning

Discussion: “What difference does it make to recognize the origins of suffering?”

II. Orientations in Suffering (Job 1:20-22, James 1:2-4)

A. Focus – Job’s initial words were recognition of God’s sovereignty. He grieved, but worshipped. He asked questions, but was still considered righteous.

B. Consider – An accounting term-count, compare the results

C. Production – Patience and completeness describe the end of a process

Discussion: “Why do you think God never specifically answered Job’s question of why?”

III. Opportunities with Suffering (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

A. Be Comforted – God is the only one able to handle our pain and struggles

B. Give Comfort – One familiar can share in the connection to God’s comforting

Discussion: “What are some “right ways” and “wrong ways” to approach comforting someone who is hurting or struggling?”

For the week: Try to give comfort to someone you know who is suffering by simply letting them know you’re thinking of them.

_____________________

Session 7 – “The Character of God”

1/8/14 – I plan to open by reading the Dawkins quote and asking a two-part question:

Discussion Question: “How would you respond? Can God be angry and loving at the same time?”

I. Is God Angry? (Deut. 7:1-5)

A. Sinful Anger vs. Righteous Anger – Sinful anger is based on self-centered feelings and emotions (I deserve…); where righteous anger is rooted in godliness.

B. Context of Canaan – Vile and extreme wickedness

Discussion: “Why was God concerned about the holiness of His people?”

C. God’s great mercy – over and over again the scripture shows God to be slow to wrath (Amorites-Genesis 15:16, Nineveh-Jonah 1:2, 3:5-10); plus He shows mercy every day by simply holding back His glory from obliterating us in our sinful state (Exodus 33:20)

Discussion: “Do we see contrasts/similarities between Old and New Testaments?”

*Note: For me, there is more teaching “mileage” exploring “preferential” instead of “racist”, so I’ve changed point II to read:

II. Is God Preferential to Jews? (Matthew 15:21-28)

A. Jesus’ Focus on Israel – From the beginning the plan was to bless the world through the nation of Israel (Isaiah 42:6)

Discussion: “Are we in danger of becoming prideful in our position like the Jews were?”

B. Jesus’ Commission – Once the mission was completed, the disciples were charged with reaching the entire world (Acts 1:8)

C. Jesus’ Bride now and later – Quickly the early church crossed racial/national boundaries and the Kingdom is for all people (Colossians 3:9-11, Revelation 7:9-10, 21:24)

Discussion: “How does God view the various people groups and how should we?”

For the week: Anger and prejudice are very powerful emotions. Think through what types of anger or prejudice you’ve experienced and pray about what adjustments may be needed.

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Session 6 – “The Meaning of Life”

1/2/14 – This is a great subject to explore, and the lesson includes some fantastic quotes. I prefer to combine the first two points into one and separate the last point into two. I think the best way to start is a two-part question:

Discussion:

1- “What are Atheists for?” (In addition to denying God, what are they proponents for?)

2. “What are we for?” (In addition to disagreeing with their position, what should we be proponents for?)

I. Apart from God there is no right or wrong (Eccl. 3:16-20)

(Suggest using Craig and/or Russell quotes)

A. Life-If life ends at the grave, then right/wrong really makes no difference.

B. Morality-There is a natural sense of right/wrong-legal system.

C. Standard – Like C. S. Lewis’ thought about a straight line, we know something is crooked because it’s compared to something.

Discussion: “What would our society look like if everyone truly believed there is no accountability for one’s actions?”

II. Apart from God life has no meaning or purpose (I Cor. 15:12-19)

A. Christ’s Resurrection – If Christ didn’t rise from the grave, He’s not worthy to place faith in.

B. Our Resurrection – If there is no resurrection for us, our faith is just temporary and futile.

Discussion: “How does our future life with God, impact our life today?”

III. In Christ, life has meaning and purpose (I Cor. 15:57-58)

A. Victorious – Living with an understanding that Christ has overcome the world for us.

B. Immovable – Living with feet on absolute solid ground.

C. Abounding – Living with the satisfaction that our efforts have eternal impact.

For the week: Observe how there is a sense of “justice” in people (even when they don’t profess faith in Christ) and how it’s a great conversation starter.

______________________

Session 5 – “One Among Many?”

12/28/13 – The opening illustration in the book is a great picture to start. After describing the garden the author mentions, I plan to open with:

Discussion Question: “When someone says all religions are basically the same, how do you respond?”

Next, I plan to mention some bullets from a Quick-reference sheet on Jesus to set-up the discussion-for a PDF copy of the sheet click here.

I. Jesus is Uniquely “The Way” (John 14:1-11)

Uniqueness as novel or new vs. uniqueness according to the Bible

A. The Way – Jesus (and/or His teachings) isn’t a path leading somewhere; He literally is the access to the Father (John 10:9).

B. Grace and Works – At the core of the desire to choose one’s own path suitable for eternal reward is a self-centered spirit (pride). We are saved through grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Discussion: “How does pride factor into conversations about these things?”

II. Jesus is Uniquely “The Truth” (John 14:6)

A. First-Person – Unlike Prophets who came before, Jesus wasn’t representing God, He was/is God.

B. Old Tolerance and New Tolerance – It’s important to understand the difference. Quote:

“To accept that a different or opposing position exists and deserves the right to exist is one thing; to accept the position itself means that one is no longer opposing it.” – D.A. Carson

In my opinion, the traditional view of tolerance means that people have the right to be wrong.

Discussion: “Jesus’ claim involves His being “exclusive” and “inclusive”; what does that mean for our mission?”

III. Jesus is Uniquely “The Life” (John14:6)

A. Two Deaths – Jesus defeated both kinds of death, spiritual and physical (Romans 6:4-11).

B. Real Life – Jesus changes our hearts, which is the only way to experience true lasting peace and joy (John 10:10).

Discussion: “How would you briefly describe the three top reasons to trust Jesus for who He says He is?”

For the week: Think about the difference between what life looks like when following “a way”, compared to when one knows “The Way”.

_________________________

Session 4 – “The Bible Part 2”

12/19/13 – In preparing for this lesson, I noticed a consistent theme among scholars concerning textual criticism; much depends on the presumption of the reader. In other words, if a person approaches the scripture assuming it’s not reliable, they’re likely to place more value on non-biblical sources. The same of course is true when we approach the scripture as being reliable. In 2 Corinthians 3:14-18, Paul says the Holy Spirit “unveils” our hearts to the truth when we come in faith. The scripture wasn’t written to satisfy the critics’ expectations, it was written as God chose to communicate it. That being said, let’s explore:

I. The Bible as Consistent

First Glance vs. Closer Look

  • (Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38) – The difference of Jesus’ genealogy between Matthew and Luke are a common objection. A closer look reveals the difference as Matthew using a classic “set of 14” to highlight the promised Davidic Messiah (focused on legal lineage), and Luke tracing back to Adam to highlight Him as Savior of the world (focused on biological lineage).
  • (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10) – The difference between the two accounts of the same event seems to show inconsistency and error. Matthew didn’t mention the servants’ part of the conversation, just the two main people (Jesus and the Centurion). Luke doesn’t contradict, he just provides more detail.

Discussion: “How does understanding the original audiences of the different writers help to see a clearer picture?”

II. The Bible as Accurate (Luke 2:1-3)

A. Historical – As a general rule, objections to scripture being historically accurate (Quirinius passage, early people stories like Cain & Abel) have more to do with the secular history writings being incomplete, instead of proving something different.

B. Scientific – This objection assumes that certain things can’t or couldn’t have happened as described. For example creation, plagues, miracles, resurrection, etc.)

Discussion: “What parts of the Bible do you find most difficult to reconcile with history or science? Why?”

III. The Bible as Trustworthy (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

A. Unity – A Grand Story pointing to one specific Person – Jesus.

B. Central Message – From Adam to the Revelation, the over-arching theme of the Bible is the problem of sin and the redemption of mankind.

C. Transforming Power – The truth of God’s Word changes lives.

Discussion: “How do the unity, message and power of God’s Word give us an overall framework to deal with objections concerning the text?”

For the week: Think about and share with someone this week how Old Testament stories point to Christ and His redemptive work.

________________________

Session 3 – “The Bible (Part 1)”

12/12/13 – I plan to open by asking this question:

Opening Question: “What’s the difference between something “old” and something “old and unique”?”

I. Inspiration: The Holy Spirit Inspired the Writing (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

A. The Numbers – Written over a span of 1,500 years, by 40 different writers in 3 languages.

B. Inspiration – “God-breathed” – There is a difference between inspiration that prompts creativity (like a beautiful sunset) and the Holy Spirit inspiring someone to write scripture (1 Cor. 14:37, 2 Peter 1:16-21)

C. Personalities Were Kept – In the scripture texts; we can see the difference between the personalities of the writers.

Discussion: “What does it say about God and His revealed truth that He chose not to override (or hide) the personalities of the writers?”

II. Canonization: The Holy Spirit Guided the Process

Note: Inerrancy is dealt with in the next lesson (Session 4)

A. A standard – The word “canon” or “canonization” means a standard or measurement. For the Old and New Testaments, there was a process for determining if writings were scripture or another type (helpful but not inspired, inaccurate, heretical, etc.).

B. Approaching the OT & NT – The OT began with God literally writing the 10 Commandments onto stone; then directing Moses to write the first 5 books while in the wilderness (which he placed by the Ark of the Covenant-Deut. 31:24-26). Afterwards, Joshua (and eventually others) added to the sacred writings (Joshua 24:26). However, a sense of “canonicity” guided the process (under God’s direction) for writings to be considered authoritative. For the collection of works that became the NT, there was a basic rule for acceptance; those written by the Apostles themselves or their known associates. All 27 NT books are believed to have been authored by the end of the 1st century (with the Revelation to John being last) with no record of disputes over canon at the Council of Nicea 325 AD (meaning the list of 27 wasn’t in contention).

C. Disclosure – It’s important to note that Jewish scholars (with the TANAKH) and Christian scholars when researching, deliberating, and translating, have cited their findings openly. In other words, a good study Bible will advise the reader in the margins of any text that has come into question.

D. Apocryphal Books – Apocryphal writings may contain truth, but the 66 books of scripture are truth.

Discussion: “Does it help you to know there was a “process”? If so, how?”

III. Preservation: The Holy Spirit Preserved the Word

A. Throughout history the Word has always been protected, even during times of extreme hostility toward it or disregard of it (2 Kings 22:3-20).

B. It’s present now for a purpose-2 Timothy 3:16-17

  • Teaching – correct thinking
  • Reproof – confronting us when we’re wrong
  • Correction – changing our course
  • Instruction – to be complete, and thoroughly equipped for good works

Discussion: “What does the reality of preservation say about the importance of the scripture and the teaching in it?”

For the week: Take inventory this week of how high the Bible is on your priority list based on your interaction with it?

_____________________

Session 2 – “The Glory of God”

12/8/13 – I like starting this lesson with a discussion question based on this verse:

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV

Opening Question: “What does this mean to you and how should it affect your daily life?”

I. What is the Glory of God? (Exodus 33:19-23, 34:5-9)

A. Manifest Work – His glory expressed

B. Excellent Reputation – His great name

C. Inherent Beauty – His powerful presence

Discussion: “Considering these three points, what should our attitude and approach be toward God?”

II. Our Identity and God’s Glory (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)

God is glorified in our lives through Christ in us. As we live each day, we should reflect:

A. His work in and through us (His Manifest Work)

B. His faithfulness toward us (His Excellent Reputation)

C. His powerful presence in our life (His Inherent Beauty)

Discussion: “How does the story of Moses (when he came down from the mountain) relate to our routine interaction with people around us?”

For the week: Since our lives should reflect God’s glory, take notice this week of what that picture looks like. In other words, how would someone describe God through my life’s communication about Him?

_____________________

Session 1 – “A Christian Worldview”

11/30/13 – I plan to start by writing a statement on the board from the book (p.11), “If we are to be biblical Christians, we must read the Bible in order to read the culture.”, then using it to open with this question:

Opening Question: “What are some specific subjects/teachings in the Bible that impact your worldview?”

Note: The sub-points in Point 1 come from a post/worksheet I used in 2012 called the “The Thought Train” (based on a Chip Ingram book). You can view and print the post/worksheet here.

I. A Christian Worldview-Set Apart (Romans 12:1-2)

A. Family Life – As the spiritual leader in our home, the right thinking positions me to see my role in the proper perspective. The weight of the responsibility is still there, but what I’m trying to be looks different. It’s not a performance measurement, it’s a character measurement.

B. Goal Setting – In the process of reading, praying, and contemplating, the Holy Spirit can align my thinking with His. I must give up my way of thinking, and pray for His. It’s not complicated, but it does cost and the price is to hand over self-centered, me-oriented pursuits.

C. Protection – The right thinking through Christ brings the peace of God (Phil. 4:7) which guards our hearts from the many pitfalls waiting for restless, anxious attitudes (Phil.4:7). When my mind is busy thinking on the right things, it isn’t free to entertain the wrong things.

Discussion: “Which one of these three is the toughest? Why?”

II. A Christian Worldview-Being Transformed (Romans 12:2a)

A. Don’t be pressed into the world’s mold (word picture of “conform” originally meaning clay mold)

B. It’s a daily renewal process of being filled with the right thinking

C. We see ourselves through the correct lens

Discussion: “How do we measure progress when considering “being transformed”?”

III. A Christian Worldview-Living it (Romans 12:2b, 9-21)

A. Discerning God’s will (v.2b)

B. Dealing with other people (9-21)

Discussion: “What are some challenges to “living” a biblical worldview, versus just talking about it?”

For the week: Pray for discernment in how to apply a biblical worldview at home and how to incorporate it constructively on social media platforms.

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