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Lesson 2 - Leader

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Way of Life-Lesson 2:  The Purpose of Life
(Small Group Leader’s Copy)

Leader’s Notes

This lesson builds upon last week’s creation account.  It has two goals:

1.       It aims to answer the question “What is the purpose of life?”  (This question is actually a part of a larger question – “Why did God create the world?”)

2.       It sets the stage for the next lesson – The Origin of Evil.

The Purpose of Life

The first goal is attained by looking back at Genesis 1.  The author of the Genesis 1 creation account emphasizes that God is a good God.  God creates the world in a good and orderly fashion.  He provides for all life by creating beforehand what they need (ground for plants, plants for animals, he places man in garden, etc.).  At the end of every creation act (day) the author emphasizes “it was good.”

As we discovered last week, the pinnacle of God’s creation was the creation of humanity.  Why?  Because only humanity was created in God’s image.  Furthermore, God then commands man to spread his image throughout creation – in terms of breadth (“be fruitful and multiply”) and depth (“subdue the earth”). 

Our next question should be, “What does it mean to spread God’s image?”  God reveals many attributes in the Genesis 1 account.   As we already mentioned, however, one attribute seems to take center stage – namely the goodness of God.  God wants us to reflect his goodness back to him.  Is that an argument for the position that humans are created inherently good?  No.  God’s goodness has a different connotation here.  We see a synonym  for God’s goodness in Exodus 33:18-22.  Moses asks God to “show me your glory.”  God replies and says, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you…”  A few verses later God says that when his glory passes by, he will cover Moses with his hand.  God’s goodness is synonymous with his glory. 

So what is our purpose?  God created us to reflect and spread his glory throughout creation.  God’s greatest passion is for the greatest good…and there is nothing better than his glory. God’s ultimate act of goodness, therefore, is when he shares his glory with us – i.e., when he allows us to enjoy his glory.  This is a common theme throughout all of scriptures.  The whole of salvation history is a story of God spreading throughout the earth “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14).  God makes this abundantly clear in Isa 43:7 where he refers to his people as those “whom I created for my glory.”

Gen 2:4 – 2:25

Our second goal is to set the stage for the next lesson – The Origin of Evil.  This Genesis 2 section appears to be a second creation account.  Repetition of words and main characters leads to a subsequent account:  the Fall.  Therefore, we could reasonable argue that the second compositional unit includes 2:3-3:24.  Viewed together, we have a better idea of the author’s intent behind this second creation account – namely, to set the stage for the origin of evil.

The emphasis in Genesis 2 is the relationships between Man and Earth (v. 4-9), Man and God (v. 10-17), and Man and Woman – i.e., society (v. 18-24).  The point of this passage is not another creation account.  Rather, it points out that God provided for all of Man’s needs.  Adam and Eve had complete contentment through their fellowship with God and each other.  They did not feel deficient and therefore had no need of clothing to cover up the limitations of their humanity (25).  This state of harmony was contingent upon Man remaining in a relationship of dependent trust upon God (not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – a Hebrew idiom for independence).  This was not a job description for Man, nor some arbitrary commandment, nor even some type of test.  It was simply an indicator of faith – a faith that believed God was indeed good, trustworthy and capable of providing for all their deepest needs.


!! Icebreaker Question

Here’s a few possible questions to get the group talking.

1.       How do you feel about the idea of being guided by God?

2.       What do you think the purpose of your life is?  Do you think we can create our own purpose or discover one that already exists?

3.       In what ways do you think God might reveal his plan to you?

Read:  Gen 1:26-30

1.       Review question:  According to this passage, how are humans different from the rest of creation?

·         Man was created in the image of God.  (vs 26)

Question:  What does it mean to be created in God’s image?

·         Man was created to rule over creation (vs 26 – Some believe, however, that this merely expands on the first point – i.e., as part of being created in the image of God, we are to rule).

2.       What was the first thing God did after creating people?

·         He blessed them (vs  28)

3.       What commands did God give humanity after creating them on day 6?

·         “Be fruitful and multiply” 

Question: How does this command affect the revelation of God’s nature throughout the world?

        Answer:  It would spread God’s image throughout the world

·         “Subdue the earth.”

Question: How would people created in God’s image rule over the earth?

        Answer:  In a praiseworthy manner that would help the whole earth to reflect God’s image fully.

4.       What do these commands indicate about God’s purpose for creating humanity?

·         He created us in order to reflect his image fully throughout creation – by multiplying out across the earth and in the way we order the earth to reflect God’s image.

Additional Questions: 
    What does it mean to reflect God’s image?  (What would this ‘image’ look like? )
    How do we do that?

Say: Let’s look at the next passage to see if we can get some clues about how God wants us to reflect his image.

Read Gen 2:4 – 2:25

Say:  The author of this passage seems very intent on describing a setting.  This passage seems to be building a framework for a climax that we will look at next week.  Let’s see if we can figure out what is happening here. 

5.       Who or what do you feel is the most interesting character or object in this passage?  Why?

·         Alternate Questions: 

What new characters does the author introduce in this passage?  (Man – Adam, and Woman – Eve)

What other part of creation gets introduced here? (Garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil)

6.       What attributes of God do we see in this passage?

·         Creator

·         He is good (vs 9).  This ties back to Chap 1 and reiterates this primary quality that the author is trying to emphasize.

·         He provides.  This defines moreso what makes God good.  He is capable of meeting all of our needs.

·         He communicates.

7.       What does “knowledge of good and evil” mean?

·         This will be impossible to answer based on the information in the passage.  It is essential, however, to ensure that the Bible Study participants have a good grasp of it.  If there is time, you may want to actually turn to the references or you may want to quickly summarize the answer.

Answer:  It does not represent evil since God possesses such knowledge and he is not evil.  Young children do not have this knowledge (Deut 1:39, Isa 7:15), and the very old have lost it (2 Sam 19:35).  Hence, adults in their prime have it.  So, when the ancient readers saw this phrase, they understood it to mean the kind of knowledge that mature adults possess – a knowledge that allowed them be  independent and therefore responsible for the decisions they make.  (See Unity of the Bible by Daniel Fuller).

8.       What commandment does God give man? 

·         Do not  eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Question:  What does that mean in light of our answer to #7?

Answer:  God did not want humanity to live independently from him.

9.       What kind of relationship did God originally intend for us to have with him?

·         He created us to be in a trusting, dependent relationship w/ him.  Even as early as Genesis, God’s relationship to us is depicted like the relationship between a good and loving Father and a trusting dependent child.

Question:  Getting back to an earlier question, what would it look like to reflect God’s image.

Answer:  We would demonstrate God’s goodness by trusting in him to meet our every need.

·         Note:  If you still have time, you may want to have everyone turn to Ex 33:18-22 in order to help them see the parallel between God’s goodness and his glory.  Finish up w/ Isa 43:7 which succinctly answers the question:  “What is the purpose of life (or why was I created)?”  – the answer: you were created to glorify God!


Lesson 2:  The Purpose of Life

Read:  Gen 1:26-30

1.       Review question:  According to this passage, how are humans different from the rest of creation?

2.       What was the first thing God did after creating people?

3.       What commands did God give humanity after creating them on day 6?

4.       What do these commands indicate about God’s purpose for creating humanity?

Read Gen 2:4 – 2:25

5.       Who or what do you feel is the most interesting character or object in this passage?

6.       What attributes of God do we see in this passage?

7.       What does “knowledge of good and evil” mean?  (See Deut 1:39, 2 Sam 19:35)

8.       What commandment does God give man? 

9.       What kind of relationship did God originally intend for us to have with him?

Summary

  • God created people to…

Additional references:  Exodus 33:18-22, Isaiah 43:7

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