Journey of Faith
- The journey of faith must have a beginning point in our lives. Share with group members about that beginning point in your life. When? Where?
- The journey of faith is a journey. How does this statement help you understand the nature of Christian faith?
- The journey of faith involves detours. Can you think of Biblical examples of faithful people who were detoured on their journey of faith? What are some examples from your life?
- How does the idea of “detours on the journey” help us in relating to and encouraging brothers and sisters who are struggling spiritually?
- How does understanding the journey of faith as both a personal/individual journey and a corporate journey that we all make together help you understand the meaning and purpose of the church?
How Cosmology Confirms Faith in God’s Word
- What is the “god-of-the-gaps” response use by Christians (in the past)?
- Can you give some examples of the “god-of-the-gaps” argument?
- Why is the “god-of-the-gaps” argument a bad one?
- What has happened in the area of science over the past 50 years or so?
- Why do you think it has been said that scientifically these are exciting times we are living in for the Christian church?
- How is it that we can describe our life on Earth as living in the right place at the right time?
- Explain the correlation between life and discovery.
- Is a full solar eclipse just a good show or does it have some practical purpose for science?
- What does the description of our Earth as “a pale blue dot lost on a cosmic sea” reveal about a person’s world-view?
- Does the description of our Earth as “a privileged planet” offer a better description of our home?
He Remembers That We Are But Dust (Genesis 2:7)
- Can you think of a situation in ordinary secular life where you can know something is true but you can’t show it to be true to others?
- In what way is your Christian belief like that?
- Anselm (Saint Anselm of Canterbury -1033–1109) was the outstanding Christian philosopher and theologian of the 11th century. Anselm said that, “ours is a faith that seeks understanding.” What do you think he meant by that? Do you agree?
- Anselm describes the sort of faith that “merely believes what it ought to believe” as “dead.” Do you agree? What do you think Anselm meant by that?
- What place, if any, does reason and evidence have in the Christian Faith?
- At the beginning of the Cosmos documentary Carl Sagan said, “The Cosmos is all there is, all there was and all there will ever be.” What do you think he meant by that?
Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- Atheist scientist, Richard Dawkins defines Christian faith this way: “Faith is belief without evidence.” Why do you think he said that?
Do you agree? Why?
Our Guilty Silence (Jude 1:1-25)
- What does the word ‘apologist’ mean?
- Do you consider yourself an apologist for Christ?
- Where do you find the word in the Bible?
- Jeff said that every unbeliever has a wall that they have erected between themselves and God. What is this wall? What does it consist of?
- Do you think that Christians have a “guilty silence”? That is, are Christians too silent about their Christian faith? What do you think are the reasons for this? Do you agree with John Stott’s reasons?
- If you were talking to a non-Christian and they said, “Who designed the Designer?” How would you answer them?
- If you were talking to a non-Christian and they said, “Human DNA is 98% chimp. So how can you believe in God & Genesis?”
How would you answer them?
Saying Goodbye (Acts 20:32-38)
2. There is a healthy tension between God’s promises and God’s warnings to believers.
John 10:27-29; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Peter 5:8
Why is there such a need for Christians to be warned? What do we need to be warned about?
3. How can we apply each piece of advice? Discuss how you can individually apply this advice. Discuss how you can apply this advice as a small group. Discuss how you can apply this advice as a church.
Good Advice to Finish the Course
1. Pay careful attention to yourself. Prov. 4:23; 2 Cor. 2:11; Heb. 12:15; 2 Cor. 10:3-5, Philippians 4:8-9; Proverbs 24:16
2. Learn to live simply. Philippians 4:11-12
3. Help the weak. Gal. 6:1-5
4. Seek the grace of God in the word of God.
Empowered By Obedience (Philippians 2:5-11)
- Matthew 5:21-22; 27-28; 23:23-28;
In these passages it seems clear that Jesus is speaking out against simply doing what Scripture says for the sake of doing it. What is he getting at? In other words, what is the right way to obey?
- “God is neither an indulgent Father nor an Ebeneezer Scrooge.” What does this quote mean in regards to obedience to God?
- Often people think that we obey God just because we should, it’s what Christians do. Pastor Dan talked about the purpose of obedience being to glorify God and to bless us. How do we glorify God through our obedience? How does obedience bless us?
- The price of obedience is death to self. The power of obedience is victory and exultation. How did Jesus demonstrate that these statements are truth? Hebrew 12:2
When Pigs Mean More Than People: God Solve My Problems But Save My Pigs! (Mark 5:1-20)
- Pastor Dan talked about comfort being one of our greatest priorities in life. Do you agree? How can the pursuit of comfort affected our walk with God?
- It seems ironic that the pursuit of comfort keeps us from experiencing the peace of God. Read Philippians 4:7 and Romans 16:20. What do these passages say about the peace of God and how have you experienced this peace in your life?
- “We want God to solve our problems but save our pigs.” How does this statement relate to the story of Jesus and the demon possessed man.
- Read Ephesians 2:14-18. If Jesus is the source of our peace, how do we experience and REALLY live in that peace?
Use It or Lose It (Matthew 25:14-30)
- How does the truth of “use it or lose it” apply to our lives and walk with Christ? (Remember the examples of exercise, practice, and others given during the message)
- Why are people afraid of failure? How does Christ set us free from this fear? Can someone share a testimony in this area for the rest of the group?
- How does our view of God affect how we live our lives? What difference does this make in the church and its teaching as a whole?
- What do you believe the Lord would have said to the one talent man if he had invested the talent, but failed to produce a return?
- What are some ways we can use our gifts and talents that may not be overtly Christian, but still serve as a witness for Christ?
- Take time to reflect on the Virgin Mary’s response to the news that as an unmarried woman she conceived the Son of God. What are some things we can learn from Mary’s courage and faith?
The Scandal of Grace
- We learned that the word translated “offense” is from the Greek word “scandalion.” How does the word “scandalous” shed light on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ?
- How “scandalous” is the gospel as it is communicated in our day?
- What are some things that churches and disciples can do to communicate the scandal of grace in our world?
- Is it possible that church members in our day could be as scandalized by the life and ministry of Jesus (grace and the gospel) as were the religious leaders in Jesus’ day.
- The purpose of the parable of the eccentric land owner was to communicate the truth that grace reveals the evil in the hearts of people. What are some ways you have observed or experienced this in others, or in your own life?
Read Galatians 6:11. How does the word “scandal” or “offense” as used to describe the cross of Christ shed light on what Christianity is all about?
1. Regarding the topic of inclusiveness, there is inclusiveness of those outside the church and inclusiveness within the church. The former is a tricky subject and could be another discussion, but let’s talk about inclusiveness and tolerance within the church, especially a congregation like SIBC. Please tell us what you feel tolerance and inclusiveness within the church exactly is or should be.
2. What do you think are the key barriers to this kind of tolerance and inclusiveness within the church…do they involve theology and doctrine, or attitude, or misunderstanding, or what? And what can we do about these barriers?
3. On the other side of the issue, what do you feel are the boundaries, if any, that might limit tolerance and inclusiveness…how far should we go in this, are there limits to inclusiveness or participation in any ways…and perhaps even the deepest question of who is a Christian and who is not?
4. Jesus Himself seemed to be quite inclusive…so much so that the conservative church leaders of His day condemned him for it. He included Samaritans, prostitutes, tax collectors, Roman soldiers, and others considered outsiders of His day in His fellowship. What do you think He, our Master, was trying to say to us about inclusion?
5. If inclusiveness within the church is modeled by Jesus Himself, and is clearly something we should be doing as the church, then what kinds of things will foster that and what kinds of changes in how we do church might have to be modified for it to be inclusive?