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The Gospel Dilemma - My Faith Challenged

Study Guide For Chapter 1

Is it OK to even question?

            Jesus causes his enemies to question in Matthew 22:42-45.

            Nicodemus was questioning in John 3.

            How does questioning differ from unbelief?

            What other Biblical supports can you see to demonstrate that it is good to question?

IMPORTANT

In this portion of our study, you are being asked to do something unusual.  We will be looking at portions of the gospels that have been problematic for many believers.  Our natural tendency is to attempt to solve these problems or to gloss over them.  Perhaps you have insights that have helped you with these portions in the past.  At this time you are being asked to define why these portions have plagued many. Please withhold your solutions for now.   The recognition of the problems as perceived by many, whether they have plagued you or not, can be the gateway into better understanding. 

Opening Illustration

Many have trouble with the bold promises of answered prayer given by Jesus in Mark 11:22-24.  Read these verses and note Jesus’ promise.

pg 6 para 6 We all have experiences of unanswered prayer, but are there any ‘monuments’ to unanswered prayer in your life?

pg 6 para 7  Lewis viewed the Lord’s promise in his own words as being downright “embarrassing.” Even with his great intellect, he could not reconcile this staggering statement, especially in the shadow of his own wife’s untimely death from cancer.  He stated: “I have no answer to my problem, though I have taken it to about every Christian I know, learned or simple, lay or clerical, within my own Communion or without.”   C. S. Lewis, Christian Reflections, “Petitionary Prayer: A Problem Without An Answer,” Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1967, p. 150.

Have you ever wondered why the Lord did not answer your prayer?   

pg 7 para 2&3 Have you ever wondered if God’s seeming failure to answer your prayers was a judgment on your life?

A Sense of Loneliness

The high expectations of the Sermon On The Mount are staggering.  Can anyone meet Jesus’ demands in Matthew 5?  Carefully consider Matthew 5:21-22, 27-32, and 48.

A more critical question would be, do you meet the demands of Matthew 5?

Why Can’t I Do This?

pg 10 para 2-4 Why might Matthew 18:34 - 35 and Matthew 6:12 - 15 cause this woman to begin questioning her salvation?

pg 10 para 5 - pg 11 para 1  Have you at times struggled with a sense of failure because of not meeting Christ’s demands in the gospels?

Do the Gospels Offend You?

pg 13 para 2 & 3 What is your reaction to Lewis’ statement that all the most terrifying texts come from the  mouth of our Lord?

Compare and contrast the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5:17-20 and Paul  in Galatians 3:19-25 with regard to the Law of Moses.

The Problem

Jesus and salvation. - Compare and contrast the teaching of Jesus and Paul with respect to salvation.

Matt. 19:16-22 ¶ And behold, one came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, " You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.

Luke 10:25-28 ¶ And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?" And he answered and said, " You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."

Rom. 3:21-24 ¶ But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

Eph. 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Other Difficult Teachings

pg 18 para 2 Two attempts are suggested as ways people attempt to keep Jesus’ commands.  One way is to trivialize them and the other is to see them in a relativistic manner.  What do you think the author meant by each of these two ideas?

            1.  To trivialize Jesus’ words-

 

 

            2. To see them in a relativistic manner-

 

The teaching of John’s Gospel with respect to salvation is in harmony with Paul’s lettersThe object of The Gospel Solution is to develop a context that makes sense of the seeming conflict between the synoptic gospels, (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and the rest of the New Testament.  We hope this study is a blessing to you.

Hopefully The Gospel Solution can guide you, and it will not be the blind leading the blind.  It is OK to question the Bible because the Bible stands up to all honest questioning.

The Gospel Solution - My Problem Resolved

Study Guide For Chapter 2

From the authors study of Matthew, Mark, and Luke some observations were made that led to four principles of interpretation.  These four principles are profitable for resolving the conflicts developed in Chapter One of The Gospel Solution.  It is important before moving on to determine if these principles are indeed Biblical.  Observe the suggested scriptures for each principle, and determine if it is supportive.

Opening Illustration

The author referred to a widely held view of the solar system. Why was Ptolemy’s view questioned and reevaluated?

How does this illustration relate to chapter One of The Gospel Solution?

 

A Case of Covenants  Page 24 para 2 ff.

Principle #1: Transitional

The ministry of Jesus is lived under the old covenant. While it prepared people for the coming new covenant, it was primarily directed towards those still living under the law.

The most basic observation one can make about the Bible is that it is divided into two major sections, the Old and the New Testaments.  The words ‘testament’ and ‘covenant are interchangeable when applied to the two major Biblical agreements: between God and Israel, and between God and the Church.  In this study guide we refer to the actual agreements as ‘covenants,’ and the written portions of the Bible as ‘testaments.’ This arbitrary distinction is the same as used in The Gospel Solution.

The first direct reference to the new covenant in the Bible is in Jeremiah 31.  Read Jeremiah 31:31 -34. 

According to verse 31 and 32, when and where was the old covenant made?

The writer of Hebrews tells us of the beginning of both the old and the new covenants.    Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians to help them understand the relationship of the two covenants.  Please read Hebrews 9:15-21.

According to verses 18-21, when was the first covenant made?

What was sprinkled on the people, the Law, and the Tabernacle?

According to verses 16-18 what was necessary for a covenant to take effect?

Look at the words of Jesus in the inauguration of the communion, Matthew 26:27, 28. 

How does Jesus tie His death to the new covenant?

Based on these passages, it is concluded that Jesus’ death is the beginning of the new covenant.  Therefore, Jesus lived His life during the time of the old covenant period.  His purpose was to prepare for the beginning of the new covenant at His death.  His life is lived before the new covenant just as Adam, Noah, and Abraham lived before the beginning of the old covenant.

Other passages of interest are;

Exodus 19:5-8  The covenant offered and accepted by Israel.

Exodus 24:3-8 The covenant with Israel ratified with the blood of animals.

The Need for Conviction pg 27 para 4 ff.

Principle #2: Conviction

The purpose in the Lord’s teaching ministry was to bring his people, the Jews, to a conviction of sin so that they could grasp their need for a savior and be ready for grace.

The Gospel Solution would never have been written if it were not for the seeming conflicts encountered with the words of Jesus and the teaching of the epistles.  These seeming conflicts compel us to find a way to reconcile the teachings of Jesus with the gospel of grace.  This second principle is the key that unlocked the door of understanding for the author.

            Read what Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:17 -19 and 19:16-19.  Compare these teachings with what Paul teaches in Romans  6:14 and Galatians 2:16. Now read Galatians 3:19-22 and Romans 5:20.

According to Matthew 19:17, how does one ‘enter into life’?

According to Galatians 3:21, can any law ‘impart life’?

The solution the author is suggesting for this seeming conflict comes right out of Galatians 3:19-22. 

According to Galatians 3:22 what is the immediate purpose of Scripture? 

(At the time Galatians was written, ‘Scripture’ would have meant The Old Testament.)

From the same verse, what is the ultimate purpose of Scripture for those who believe?

How is this taught in Galatians 3:24, 25?

What word in Galatians 3:24 is a synonym for Scripture in Galatians 3:22?

The author is suggesting that Jesus’ primary teaching purpose during His lifetime was to facilitate the purpose of the Law, to show all men that they are sinners.

Other passages of interest are;

Romans 3:9-20 The Law makes all the world accountable to God.

Matthew 3:1-12 Old covenant ministry of repentance contrasted to new covenant regeneration.

Matthew 5:17 -30, 48  The Law as presented by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount.

Catch the Lord’s Flavor  pg 32 para 3 ff.

Principle #3: Evocative

Jesus meant to evoke (or even provoke) a response from his audience rather than just to clarify his meaning. The significance of what he said was often meant to dawn on his hearers with unexpected and subtle power.

Why did Jesus teach in parables?  Mark 4:10 - 12

According to John 2:18-22, did the disciples understand  what Jesus meant in verse 19 during His earthly ministry?

According to Matthew 16:17 who revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Christ?

According to Matthew 16:20, did Jesus want the disciples to teach that He was the Christ?

What does Matthew 26:63; Luke 22:67 and John 10:24 seem to indicate about the openness with regard to Jesus’ being the Christ?

According to Luke 2:48-50 did the Virgin Mary understand Jesus?

Comparing Mark 3:21 with Mark 3:31, why did Mary and other relatives of Jesus come to Capernaum?

If Jesus had clearly taught His own resurrection from the dead, how would one account for;

            1. Why the women went to the tomb to finish the burial on Easter?  Mark 16:1-3

 

 

            2. The response of unbelief on the part of the disciples to the resurrection? Mark 16:11; Luke 24:4, 11, 21-24; John 20:9, 13.

Did the disciples understand Jesus’ teaching about the resurrection Mark 8:31-33;  Mark 9:10;  Mark 9:30-32.

Other passages of interest are;

Matt. 16:11   The disciples misunderstand Jesus.

Luke 9:44, 45, Luke 18:34, John 10:6, John 12:16, John 20:9 -Jesus’ teaching intentionally concealed from the disciples.

John 6:52-71  Jesus intentionally offends many of His disciples.

Luke 12:41 Note the vague relationship between Peter’s question and Jesus’ answer.

Seeing the Bigger Picture pg 36 para 4 ff.

Principle #4: Interwoven Context

Any single passage within the synoptic Gospels should be viewed and understood in the light of the larger context of the Scripture surrounding it. Adjacent passages are often interwoven together to interpret one another.

One of the most exciting elements of this approach to understanding the gospels is the insights found in interwoven context.  This is not a reference to a few verses nearby, but a collection of questions, answers, miracles, parables and events.  These are larger portions than are normally taught in a church service.  Luke 18:9 - 19:10 is typical of what the author talking about.  Note the living out of the parable in Luke 18:9-14 in the following events in the life of Jesus.

            18:9-14 The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-collector

            15-17 The disciples treat children with contempt. cf. v.9

            18-23 The Ruler trusted he was righteous. cf. v.9 with v.21

            24-30 Note! Peter’s self interest. cf. Matthew 19:27

            31-34 Note! The disciples do not understand Jesus.

            35-43 cf. v.13 The blind man seeks mercy.

            19:1-10 cf 18:13-14  The tax-collector is justified.

Verses that seem particularly out of place are almost certainly ‘in place.’ Looking for why they are there will pay big dividends.  They stick our like out of tune keys on a piano and grate on our sensitivities.

Can you see an interwoven context in Matthew 14:1 - 16:12?

James Brooks on page 73 of his commentary, Mark, Broadman Press 1991, gives some examples;

Mark 4:1-20; 5:21-43; 6:7-29; 11:12-25;  14:1-11; 14:53-15:15.

One of the examples developed in Chapter 11 of The Gospel Solution  is Luke 17:1-19.

Some Final Thoughts

pg 39 para 4,5 What two aspects of Jesus’ ministry are distinguished by the author?

What parallel does the author make between Jesus’ hearers and modern readers?

pg 40 para 2 How would you distinguish  application from interpretation in Scripture?

Why did the author go to an extreme in drawing sharp distinctions in interpreting the gospels?

Is Jesus Looking for a Few Good Men - The Rich Young Ruler

Study Guide Chapter 3

 

 

Opening Illustration

If someone were to ask you how to be saved, would you tell them they had to;

            1) keep the Ten Commandments

            2) plus give everything they owned to the poor,

            3) and then to follow Jesus?

Compare and contrast this to Acts 16:30-31

How Good Is Good?

pg 43 para 2 Would the rich young ruler have thought of Jesus as God?

pg 42 para 4  Read Matthew 16:20.  In His public ministry, was Jesus openly declaring either His deity or that He was the Christ.

Do you suppose the disciples would have thought of Jesus as God at this time in His ministry?

How does this conversation relate to the principle of Jesus being evocative?

pg 43 para 4 Which of the four principles of transitionalism would you think is most at play in this exchange?

Keeping the Commandments?

pg 44 para 2 Please look up Romans 3:20,  Galatians 2:16 and 2 Corinthians 3:7 to see if the author uses them in context.

If someone were able to completely keep the commandments their entire life, would that person need to be saved?

How would James 2:10 impact someone's understanding of keeping the Law?

How Were Old Testament Saints Saved?

pg 45 para 1 According to Ephesians 1:4, when did God decide to send His Son to be the Savior of the world?

According to Romans 5:20, why was the Law given?

pg 46 para 2 According to Galatians 3: 6-9 and Hebrews 11:1-2 how were the Old Testament saints saved?

How Much Does Salvation Cost?

Using the normal value judgments of society, and applying them to the rich young ruler and to Zaccheus,  what is your response to the inability of a “good” man to give all his wealth to the poor and the natural response of a “bad” man who receives salvation to spontaneously give half of his wealth to the poor?

Make a specific list of the commands that Jesus gave to inherit eternal life.

Matthew;

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mark;

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Luke;

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Compare the lists you have made with the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.  This is done for you on page 48 of The Gospel Solution, but it is important for you to evaluate this material for yourself.

(There are various manners of enumerating the Ten Commandments.  Some systems break the commandment  against coveting into two portions.  These systems give three commandments toward God and seven toward man.  This is done by lumping the command to have no other gods with the command against idols.  Even with a list of seven commands toward man, the two that are left off both deal with coveting.)

pg 49 para 2-4 and pg 50 para 1 which element of transitionalism is at play?

pg 50 para 2 What does the author see as the danger of misapplying scripture?

pg 50 para 3 According to the author, what is the proper relationship of works and faith in the Christian life?

Threading the Camel Through the Needle

pg 51 para 1-3 There are two general categories for interpreting what Jesus was trying to say with His camel and a needle statement.  One approach is that it can be done, but it is difficult.  The author suggest a second possibility.  What is the author’s suggestion?

pg 52 para 2 Based on the disciples response to Jesus, what do you think the disciples thought Jesus meant?

pg 52 para 3 & 4 Why do we normally equate ‘eternal life’ and ‘being saved’?

Is it conceivable to have ‘eternal life’ without being ‘saved’?

Does a person who is not lost need to be saved?

A Few Good Men?

pg 54 para 1, 2 How can being “good” turn into a handicap?

pg 54 para 3 According to Luke 5:27-32, did Jesus come to seek “a few good men”?

Luke 5:32 refers to the “righteous” in contrast to the “sinners”.  Is there a group of righteous people who are not sinners when considered on their own merit? 

If there are no “righteous” people, why does Jesus refer to them?

How is this related to transitionalism?

pg 54 para 4 According to Matthew 3:1-6 what is John the Baptist’s purpose?

pg 55 para 3 & 4 Romans 3:9-20 uses a series of Old Testament verses to show man’s sinfulness. 

Isaiah 64:6 appears to be a specific reference to Israel, but what do you think God would say about your righteousness?

pg 56 para 2 What do we have to believe before coming to Christ?

Interwoven Context;

Page 58 ff. of The Gospel Solution  develops the interwoven context of this story in Luke.

A challenging exercise would be to develop the interwoven context in Matthew of Mark.  Some starting observations of interest;

I would suggest Matthew 19:1-20:28 and Mark 10: 1 - 45

Matthew 19:3 a test of Jesus as He demonstrates His power

Matthew 19:7 an appeal to the Law by the enemies of Jesus

Matthew 19:10 the disciples reveal their pride.

Matthew 19:13-15 pride of the disciples and the humility of Jesus.

Matthew 19: 27 compare  Peter and Ruler with regard to coveting.

Matthew 20: 1-16  a parable of the self-centered.

Matthew 20:17 cf 20: 20,21 cf 19:27  greed on everyone's part.

Matthew 20:24 all the disciples fail.

What If I Just Can’t Forgive - Forgive Us Our Trespasses

Study Guide For Chapter 4

Opening Illustrations

How effectively could you have forgiven those who abused Diana Ortiz if she were your daughter/sister?

pg 62 para 2 In this illustration, why do you suppose the mother would not believe her daughter?

How might the mother tell the story, but put the blame on the daughter?

Isn’t it possible the mother might actually commend herself for forgiving the daughter?

How Must We Forgive

pg 62 para 5

How is Peter’s suggesting to forgive seven times a sign of self-righteousness?

Read Matthew 20:20-28  How was Peter doing at being forgiving?

Read Mark 10: 35-45 We know the  disciples squabbled over who was the greatest.  Do you suppose all of them had trouble forgiving?

pg 63 para 2 Do you suppose Jesus wants us to keep accurate records to know when we reach 490 times?

Note! Jesus’ pattern of building on a question with a parable.

pg 64 para 2  Matthew 18:34  Even in an eternity, how could we ever pay God the entire debt we owe Him?  (Outside of the cross.)

pg 64 para 3 After the synoptics, there are no places in the New Testament that make salvation conditional on forgiving others.  How would you interpret that fact?

pg 64 para 4 Would you really want God to forgive you as you have forgiven others?

What specific things have you experienced in your life where you have needed to forgive?

At times it is difficult to remember specific times of unforgiveness in our lives, but events will cause them to surface on occasion.  (Note the illustration on pg 71 para 3.)

Is There Any Hope For Us?

pg 65 para 3 Do Jesus’ words at all suggest that wanting to forgive is enough?

pg 65 para 4 “Resent”  from the Latin to reexperience negative feelings. Have you ever had feelings of resentment overwhelm you years after an event?

Do you ever feel  condemned by testimonies of people who apparently have forgiven gross injustices?

Do these testimonies ever remind you of Peter’s boast, “Though all would forsake you, I (Peter) will never forsake you.”?

pg 66 para 1-3  Do you have latent bitterness against those who should be closest to you?

(e.g. your mate, siblings, children, parents)

pg 67 para 1,2 pg 68 para 1-3 Note the contrasts between;

Matthew. 6:12-15 ; Matthew 10:35          

And

2 Corinthians 2:7-11, Eph. 4:32; and Col. 3:13

pg 68 para 4 What motives does Jesus appeal to in Matthew 18:35?

What motives does the Apostle Paul appeal to in Eph. 4:32 and Col.3:13?

What Was The Lord Saying?

pg 70 para 2,3

Do you see your sins against God as greater than the sins of others against you?

Compare 2 Samuel 12:1-4 and Psalm 51: 4

Why does David see his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba as primarily against God Himself?

pg 70 para 4 Do you feel a joy when evil is punished?

Could this be a sign of unforgiveness on your part?

God’s judgment is real and will be exacted, but it is never God’s desire. Jonah 4: 1-2

Does our pleasure at the judgment of others demonstrate how unlike God we are?

Are Unforgiving Christians Bound for Hell?

pg 72 para 2  Do you see the contrast of self perfection and the perfection that comes through the cross of Christ?

pg 73 para 1,2 How does a Christian being frustrated over their own inability to forgive demonstrate the reality of their faith and their salvation?

What Color Is Your Parachute?

pg 73 para 3,4 How does this illustration relate to the old adage, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”?

Why should Christians be the most humble of all people?

pg 75 para 2,3,4  How does the gospel turn a recognition of our sinfulness into good news?

pg 75 para 5 Compare the concept of remnant sin in the life of the believer with what Paul says in Romans 7:15-25.

How Can Anyone Be This Good? - The Good Samaritan

Study Guide Chapter 5

“You can either be good or you can be comfortable.  Now, most people choose to ‘solve’ the problem by giving 10% of their income or some other number they feel comfortable with.  But if there are people literally dying because they don’t give 15% are they good?  They’re not even a little better.....And I’m not immune to this problem.  I don’t give 100%.  So I’m evil.  The only thing that’s different is that I walk through every day of my life thinking, ‘I’m a little bit evil.” 

Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip “Dilbert,” in the New York Times January 24, 1999

Opening Illustration

pg 81 para 1 ff Do you sometimes find it easier to sympathize with the plight of animals than with people?

What was the world’s response to the movie “Free Willie”?

pg 82 para 3 How does modern communication make meeting the needs of those around us more daunting than in ages past?

pg 82 para 4 How can a story be “beautiful” and at the same time cause great guilt?

pg 82 para 5 On page 52 of The Gospel Solution, there is a suggested distinction between “eternal life” and “salvation”.  What is that distinction?

What is the primary difference between the question asked by the rich young ruler and the lawyer in Luke 10?

So Tell Me Your Answer

pg 83 para 3 ff How would you have answered Jesus if you had been the lawyer?

Did you receive eternal life by keeping the two great commandments of the old covenant?

pg 84 para 4 Why are these six words of Jesus so terrifying?

pg 84 para 6 What is the significance of there being two tables of the Law?

See pg 48 for a visual presentation of the two tables of the Law.

Who Is My Neighbor?

pg 85 para 2 Who is your neighbor?

Luke gives us two times when people sought to justify themselves.  One here in our story.

What does it mean when it says the lawyer was trying to justify himself?

Compare how the word “justify” is used in the second place in Luke 16:15.

Read Romans 3:30.  How would you  contrast how God justifies us with our own self-justification?

pg 85 para 4-6 How does Jesus shrewdly avoid an argument through the use of a parable?

How Can Anyone Be This Good?

pg 86 para 1-4 What do you suppose Jesus’ purpose was in using two such religious men as examples of failure?

Why is the parable strengthened by the one who helped being a Samaritan?

How is the story stronger because a Samaritan helped a Jew, than if a Jew had helped a Samaritan?

pg 87 para 1-5 What personal sacrifices does the Samaritan make in the parable?

Visualize yourself making an open ended commitment for someone who is a stranger.

How does this commitment make you feel?

Would you spend your last dollar for the care of your child or other close loved one?

Would you spend your last dollar for the care of your enemy?

Do you ever resent what is spent on foreign aid to other countries?

 

The “Boomerang” Question

pg 88 para 4 Look up these other examples of boomerang questions.

            Matthew 21:40  compare this with Matthew 21:45

            Mark 9:33

            Mark 11:30

How is the Lawyers answer certain to cause him problems?

pg 88 para 7 What are the terrifying words in Luke 10:28?

Why are they so terrifying?

pg 89 para 3 Jesus gave six terrifying words in Luke 10:28 (“Do this and you will live.”) Then He gives five more terrifying words.  What are they?

If your eternal life depended on living up to the standard of the Good Samaritan, where would you spend eternity?

Such a Nice Story?

pg 89 para 4 ff How does reducing the story of the Good Samaritan to a relative pattern of Christian living reduce its impact?

How does the context of Luke 10:25-37 demand a complete fulfillment of the standard of the Good Samaritan for eternal life?

What Was the Lord’s Purpose?

pg 91 para 2 ff What do you think was the Lord’s purpose for telling this parable?

We do not know the lawyers reaction to the words of Jesus. Remembering that the Jewish leaders reaction to Jesus was quite hostile, what negative comments do you suppose the lawyer might have said about Jesus?

How Does This Apply?

pg 95 para 5  The Gospel Solution suggests the parable was never meant to lead directly to eternal life.  How is the parable meant to lead indirectly to eternal life?   (see pg 96 para 4)

What About the Church?

pg 97 para 1 Have you accepted the gift of salvation through the cross of Jesus for yourself?

If you have not accepted this gift, do you hope to meet God’s standard on your own merit?

pg 97 para 2  How would the mixing of Law and Grace place us on probation rather than give us salvation?

pg 97 para 4-5 How does giving up on loving our neighbor as ourselves for salvation actually enhance the quality of the life we live and how we love those around us?

pg 97 para 5  Some have suggested that Jesus was literally the Good Samaritan.  One problem with this view is that we know that Jesus was a full blooded member of the tribe of Judah.  Therefore He could not have been an actual Samaritan.  But the Good Samaritan is a picture of the kind of person Jesus was in fact.  Jesus made His enemies whole at His own expense on the cross.

pg 101 para 2 - 3 How is the story of Mary and Martha tied to the parable of the Good Samaritan?

How is it shown that the story of Mary and Martha is out of context for thematic reasons in Luke’s Gospel?

pg 101 para 4 - pg 102 para 1 How are the woes of Luke 11:37-54 related to the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan?

Note the relationship of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the Lawyers to the Lawyer in our story.

Do I Really Love God Enough - The Great Commandments

Study Guide Chapter 6

 

Opening three illustrations

Why would a dedicated Christian feel like such a failure at loving God, while an unchurched gentleman would feel quite successful  at loving God?

The most dangerous lies are those that are mostly true.  Is it necessary to go to church to love God? 

If one truly loved God, would they go to church?

What answer would you have given Rabbi Stanley Wagner?

The Great Commandments

pg 106 para 2 What are the two great commandments?

pg 106 para 3  What is the source of the two great commandments? (See page 84 para. 3 of The Gospel Solution)

 

The Purpose of the Great Commandments

What would be different in your life if you loved God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind?  What do  you suppose these four words mean?

Heart - perhaps the things we value/love-

Soul - perhaps the value we place on life itself/ego-

Strength - perhaps the activities we work at-

Mind - perhaps the things we spend time thinking about-

How do you measure the love you have for your mate?

How do you measure your mate’s love for you?

For some the most telling proof of their limited love for God is in their thought patterns.  Some Christians become angry at God because He has disappointed them.  (loss of a love, death of a child, childlessness, disappointment with ones lot in life) Is there some glaring area in your life that shows you do not love God with all of you heart, soul, strength and mind?

pg 109 para 3 How does “You are not far from the kingdom of God,” imply the man is still lost?

pg 109 para 4,5  What do you see in the lawyers answer that made Jesus treat this lawyer more sympathetically than the lawyer He encountered in Luke 10:25 ff?

pg 109 para 6 How does “You are not far from the kingdom of God” imply the man is close to salvation?

 

 

 

The Two Covenants

The primary theme of Hebrews was to inform the Jewish Christians of the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant.  Based on the following verses in Hebrews, in what ways is the New Covenant superior?

Hebrews 2:2-4?

Hebrews 3:1-6?

Hebrews 7:20-25?

Hebrews 8:1-7?

Hebrews 9: 11-14  &  18-25?

Hebrews 10:1-4 & 10-14?

In Galatians 4:21-31, Paul speaks of an allegory about the two covenants.  How would you interpret Galatians 4:30 & 31?

How Should We Love God?

pg 113 para 2 Had you realized that the command to love God was not repeated after the Gospel of Luke?

pg 113 para 3  In what ways does 1 John 4:10 contrast with the greatest commandment?

pg 114 para 1  The idea of the two great commandments not being part of the New Covenant is so radical that some struggle with the suggestion.  If you are struggling with this, ask yourself, “Can I keep those two commandments?”

New Commandments for the New Covenant

pg 114 para 2  What are the two summary commandments of the New Covenant in

1 John 3:23?

pg 114 para 2  The two tables of the Law, the two great commandments of the Old Covenant and the two commands of the New Covenant are similar in what way?

pg 114 para 3 & 4 What is the greatest contrast between the first  command in the two covenants?

pg 115 para 2-4  What are the two major contrasts between the second command in the two covenants?

pg 117 para 1  The major truths of the New Covenant are repeated throughout the New Testament.  Please look up the passages in footnotes 76, 77, and 78 on page 117.

 

The Power to Be Good

pg 118 para 1 & 2  According to Romans 4:5 and Ephesians 2: 8-10  What place does works have in your salvation?

pg 118 para 3 According to James 2:10, is a pretty good attempt at keeping the Law enough?

pg 118 para 4  through pg 119 para 3  How is the command to love the brethren self fulfilling for the Christian?

pg 119 para 5  Would you rather depend on the strength of your faith, or on the faithfulness of Jesus?

pg 120 para 2  What is the result of recognizing the place of grace in salvation?

pg 122 para 1 How would pretending to be keeping the two great commandments of the Old Covenant make us like the enemies of Jesus?

 

Why Do I Feel So Condemned - The Sermon on the Mount

Study Guide Chapter 7

 

....the Lord Jesus Christ did not come to tell us what we have to do in order to make ourselves Christians.  There are some who think they can put themselves right with God without mentioning Christ at all.  But there are others who believe that His main purpose in coming into the world was to teach us, and to instruct us, and to give us a stimulus and an example as to what we have to do in order to save ourselves.  But that is equally wrong.   What He tells us to do is even more impossible than the law that was given through Moses.   The Sermon on the Mount, which is our Lord’s exposition of the Ten Commandments, shows how utterly impossible it is for anyone to keep the Ten Commandments in his own strength.  Our Lord did not come to tell us what we have to do in order to save ourselves; He came to save us.  He came to do something for us, to act on our behalf.  That is the very essence of the gospel. 

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones,  Ephesians Volume 1,  Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1978, p.150

As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for ‘ here means  ‘liking’ or enjoying, I suppose no one ‘cares for’ it.  Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge hammer?  C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1970, p.182

Opening Illustration

Look back at the quote of Philip Yancey on page 9 of The Gospel Solution.  Comparing Tom Weaver’s and Philip Yancey’s reaction,  have you ever been struck by your own failure while reading the Sermon on the Mount?

Quickly read through the sermon in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 or Luke 6:20 - 49.  Note areas of particular concern for you.

The Beatitudes

Do you find it desirable;

            to be poor

            to be hungry

            to weep

            to be hated by men?

pg 126 para 3 What would a person be like who was extremely hungry or thirsty? 

Think of a time you may have been dieting.  Think of any cravings you might have had.  Has the desire for food ever occupied your mind so much that you were driven to eat, perhaps in secret so no one would know?  If we become obsessed when dieting, what if we were actually starving?  Do you ever feel so driven for righteousness that you can think of nothing else and cannot rest unless you do righteous deeds?

pg 126 para 4  the ‘woes’ of Matthew

The counterpart to the Beatitudes are even more perplexing. 

            Are we to be poorly fed?

            Are we to mourn at weddings, birthdays and parties?

            Are we to resent those who praise us?

            Are we to disparage our children so they can be blessed?

How Do We Treat Others?

pg 127 para 5 Do you find it easy to love Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Osama bin Laden, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy...?

What would you tell a parent whose child was killed by some fiendish murderer? 

Would you tell them to pray for the murderer?

If it was your child, could you pray for your child’s murderer?

Do you pray for those who sell drugs to children?

pg 128 para 2  Think of other movies you have seen.  How did you feel at the moment of resolution?

Ben Hur at the chariot race?

Saving Private Ryan when the Germans where stopped at the bridge?

“101 Dalmatians” when Cruella DeVil got her come-upance?

pg 128 para 3  How does the command to give to those who ask of you apply to telemarketers?

If you are a pastor, have you ever had hateful feelings toward your church board?

Have you ever had hateful feelings toward your pastor?

pg 128 para 4 Distinguish between the Golden Rule and the negative version of that rule.  what are the implications of that distinction?

pg 129 para 2,3  List a few of the kind deeds you have done for those you love.

List any kind deeds you have done for those you consider ungrateful and evil.

List any kind deeds done for you by individuals who would consider you their enemy.

pg 129 para 4, 5  How does anger and lust make us murderers and adulterers? 

Do you think advertising appeals to our lust?

What does the pervasive presence of pornography on the internet imply about the nature of many men?

Are any of these men Christians?

pg 130 para 2  The author closes this paragraph with, “I can’t do any of this!”  Can you?

(If your answer is yes, The Gospel Solution is not the book for you.)

The Danger of Hypocrisy

pg 130 para 3  How do these three illustrations demonstrate hypocrisy?

pg 131 para 2 The author lists several examples of his hypocrisy. 

Can you think of any examples of politicians/businessmen who are hypocritical?

Can you think of any examples of your hypocrisy?

pg 131 para 3 How can a love of Jesus and an honest desire to do  good sometimes lend itself to promoting hypocrisy on our lives?

The Call to Obedience

pg 131 para 4 Can partial obedience fulfill the demand of obedience?

pg 132 para 4 Try to imagine what it would have been like for the original hearers of this sermon.  Jesus was not  widely respected.  He was distrusted and reviled by those “church” leaders,  both the pharisees and the sadducees.  Some even in His own family considered Jesus to be mentally unbalanced.  (Mark 3:21, John 8:22)  With these reservations about Jesus, what do you suppose your reaction would have been to this sermon?

pg 133 para 2 If a person could fulfill the demands of the Sermon on the Mount, would they need grace? 

Do the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 7:19 resonate in your life?

The  Roman Centurion’s Reaction

Note the contrast in the attitude between what Jesus taught in Luke 6:32 and that of the Jewish elders in Luke 7:4, 5.

pg 134 para 2  What was the contrasting opinion of the elders toward the centurion and the centurion’s view of himself?

Could the centurion's view of himself be related to his godly lifestyle?

pg 135 para 2 Note the various meanings of the same word in different contexts. How does the word “worthy” vary between Luke 7:4 and Luke.7: 6 & 7?

Another example is the word “Good” in Luke 18:19 and Luke 23:50.

Another example is the word “World” in John 3:16 and John 18:36.

Only a Few Good Men

pg 135 para 4 through pg 136 para 2  What does the author think is the narrow gate/door?

pg 136 para 3  What are some of the purposes of the Sermon on the Mount for Christians today?

If it were not for Jesus and the cross, would you see yourself as a sinner who was in desperate need of salvation?

How could a judgmental attitude on your part be interpreted as not fully seeing yourself as a redeemed sinner?

pg 137 para 2  Compare and contrast the absolute standards in the Sermon on the Mount with the progressive growth called for in the letters, such as Ephesians 4:15 and 1 Peter 2:2.

Don’t Misunderstand

pg 138 para 2 What message does the Sermon on the Mount prepare us for?

pg 138 para 3 Why are sensitive and introspective individuals  prone to pain and guilt from reading the Sermon on the Mount?

pg 141 para 3 What are the two meaning of the lepers words?

 

Am I Too Religious? - The Prodigal Son

Study Guide Chapter 8

 

There are those who teach that the whole of the doctrine of salvation is found in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  But that is not so; and it was never meant to be so.  That parable was meant to teach one thing only, namely, that God was ready to forgive publicans and sinners as well as Pharisees.

D, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Ephesians Volume One page  166  Baker

Opening Illustration

Would those who came to Jesus be welcome in your church?

pg 143 para 3 How do you feel about the sentence, “But our God isn’t fair.”?

He’s Reading Their Minds

pg 145 para 2 To who did Jesus aim these three parables in Luke 15?

pg 145 para 3, 4 Do you receive criticism well?

Do you find the negative reaction of the religious leaders understandable? (Understandable does not mean correct or commendable.)

The Lost and Found Department

pg 147 para 2 What is the seeming purpose of the first parable?

pg 147 para 4 How does the author suggest the Pharisees would interpret the 99 sheep who did not go astray?

Read the story told by Nathan for the purpose of bringing King David to the point of conviction.  2 Samuel 12:1-7

pg 148 para 2 In this second parable, Jesus reiterates that there is joy in presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.  What is left out of the parallel statement from the first parable?

pg 148 para 3 Have you ever seen someone make a spiritual profession while your attitude about them was; “Well, we will see.”?

pg 148 para 4 Note the progression of the percentage in the lost items.  Later in the chapter the author develops one more stage in the progression.  Can you guess what that next step will be?

The Prodigal Returns

pg 149 para 4 Does the son’s generous reception seem fair to you?

Contrast this to King David receiving back his son Absalom in 2 Samuel 14.

pg 150 para 3 What does the author suggest as the two conflicting thoughts of the Pharisees?

The Sins of the Older Brother

List the nine sins of the older brother suggested in the book.

pg 151 para 4

pg 151 para 2 

pg 152 para 3

pg 152 para 4

pg 152 para 5

pg 152 para 6

pg 153 para 2

pg 153 para 3

pg 153 para 4

Can you think of any other sins of the older brother?

pg 153 para 5 What does the author suggest as the real contrast between the two brothers?

The Coming Sequel

pg 154 para 2 What sort of a standard should we use if we want to make ourselves look good?

pg 154 para 3, 4  What is  the first step toward salvation?

pg 155 para 1-3 The author suggests this parable is unfinished for a reason.  What is that reason?

Who Is the Older Brother?

pg 155 para 5 Have you seen any of the nine sins of the older brother in yourself?

pg 156 para 2 Do you ever feel that certain people don’t deserve to enter heaven?

Ted Bundy is supposed to have made a decision for Christ before his execution.  Does it seem fair that he would go to heaven? 

Have you considered that some of Ted Bundy’s victims will possibly not go to heaven?

The Rest of the Story

pg 157 para 2 When Pharisees become Christians do they necessarily give up legalism?

Do gentile Christians ever exhibit tendencies of legalism?

Do you ever exhibit tendencies of  legalism?

Are We Able to Fish for Men?

pg 158 para 2 Are you living your life in such a way that others would be drawn to the Savior?

pg 158 para 3 What is one of the destructive attractions of legalism?

pg 158 para 4 How would your children/parents see you with regard to being legalistic?

pg 158 para 5 Is it OK to reject legalists?

Do you care as much about legalists as Jesus did?

pg 160 para 1  When evaluating your own righteousness, do you compare yourself to God, or to other people?

pg 160 para 3 Do you judge carnal sins more severely than self-righteous sins?

Why Doesn’t God Give Me a Sign - Lazarus and the Rich Man

Study Guide Chapter 9

 

Opening Illustration

Have you ever asked the question, “Why doesn’t the Lord give a sign?”

What does the request of the Jews for a sign from Jesus tell you about the power of miracles to build faith?

After the ten plagues  on Egypt, including the Passover, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the events of Mt. Sinai, was the faith of the Israelites strong?

The Crafty Steward

What sins does the crafty steward commit in this parable?

The Real Audience

What are the four keys to understanding the parable suggested by the author?

pg 165 para 6

pg 166 para 2, 3

pg 166 para 4

pg 166 para 5

pg 167 para 2 What parallel does the author draw between the stewardship in the parable and the stewardship of the pharisees?

pg 167 para 4 What does Jesus imply about the stewardship of the pharisees?

pg 168 para 1 The author believes that the four gospels are carefully developed editorial presentations of the life of Jesus.  Nothing is done in a haphazard manner.  Therefore, he seeks to find how verses are designed to fit when they  appear out of place or appear clumsy on the page.  He likes to call these verses ‘vignette’ verses.  Some examples of these kinds of verses are Mark 10:18, Mark 11:14, Luke 16:28, John 21:11.

What was the authors view on why Jesus brought up the subject of divorce?

 

The Two Economies

What are the two methods of achieving holiness?

What does 2 Corinthians 5:21 tell us about our righteousness through Christ?

The Pharisees did not believe in Jesus for which of the following two reasons?

            1) Lack of a miracle?

            2) Their lack of repentance from their sin?

Lazarus and the Rich Man

pg 169 para 5 Which of the principles of transitionalism is at play with this parable?

pg 170 para 3 Is Jesus condemning wealth or commending poverty?

pg 170 para 4  &  pg 167 para 2 What parallel idea does the author see in the use of money in these two parables?

The Barb in the Story

pg 171 para 4 - pg 173 para 3 How does the rich man express his unbelief even in Hades?

If we suggest that God should do something miraculous so that others might believe, how are we like the rich man in Hades?

pg 173 para 3  What did Jesus say was an adequate basis for faith for those who were willing to believe?

 

 

Now Why “Lazarus”?

Some suggest the use of a name, (i.e. Lazarus) implies the story may be a real event rather than a parable.  The author feels the use of the extremes in the story, the details of the story that could  only be known by someone who could see heaven and hell, and the unnamed rich man point to a parable and not a historical event. 

pg 173 para 5 Are the two men named “Lazarus” the same man?

pg 174 para 1, 2 What is the author’s suggestion as to why Jesus used the name Lazarus in the parable?

pg 174 para 3  What was the reaction of some of the Jewish leaders to the resurrection of the real man Lazarus?

pg 175 para 1 What great miracle of Jesus led to a request for a sign and ultimately a major falling away from Jesus?

pg 175 para 3 What four opportunities did Cain have to make himself right with God?

pg 175 para 4 In what way is Balaam like the Pharisees?

An interesting study would be to list the six opportunities Balaam was given to submit to God.

Why No Miracle?

pg 176 para 1,2 What does the author suggest about the commonness of miracles in the Bible times?

pg 176 para 3 What three periods of time does the author suggest as having the greatest concentration of miracles?

pg 176 para 3 What is the suggested purpose of these miracles?

Having Ears to Hear

pg 177 para 1 What does seeking a sign from God as a requisite for faith imply about the quality of God’s revelation, the Bible?

pg 177 para 2 Are you willing to let God be God?

pg 178 para 2 What was Jesus’ desire for the Pharisees?

pg 178 para 3, 4, 5 What does the author suggest is ‘unbelief’?

Do you ever think of yourself as a Christian because you are good enough to be a Christian?

Are you judgmental of others?

pg 179 para 3 How does judging others demonstrate you have developed a standard of righteousness of your own that you have substituted for God’s standard?

Who Will Cast the First Stone? - Church Discipline

Study Guide Chapter 10

 

Those who are filled with unholy ambition are glad to see a brother blemished by some transgression.  Yet they do not see that their spiritual pride is the worst blemish yet.” R.C.H. Lenski

Opening Illustrations

Think back on any times you have seen public discipline in a church setting.

Were you uncomfortable with what you saw?

Did the process seem in harmony with how you picture Jesus and His ministry?

The Meaning of Matthew 18

pg 185 para 4 What bold suggestion does the book make about the teaching ministry of Jesus?

pg 186 para 2 How often does the word ‘church’ appear in the four gospels?

Which is the only gospel that includes the word ‘church’?

pg 186 para 3, 4  Two examples are given of words translated consistently one way in the King James Bible and in various manners in most other translations.  What is the primary determining factor for how a word should be translated in a specific instance?

pg 186 para 5-7  The author suggests that ‘church’  in Matthew 18:17 should have been translated ‘congregation’ and mean Jewish synagogue.  What are his three contextual reasons for this idea?

The All Important Context

pg 187 para 4 which principle of transitionalism does the author think is vital to Matthew 18:15 - 17?

pg 188 para 1, 2 Comparing these two paragraphs with Luke 9:46-48 and Mark 9:35, how do the disciples display their failure to comprehend the Kingdom of God?

Do you ever see this negative trait of the disciples in yourself?

pg 188 para 3, 4 Occasionally we read of someone who in response to Jesus’ words has actually plucked out an eye or  cut off a limb or had themselves castrated.  Is this an effective method to avoid sin? 

According to Mark 7:20, what is it that defiles a man?

If self mutilation does not work for stamping out sin in one’s life, what reason does the author suggest for Jesus using these strong words?

The Brother Who Offends

pg 189 para 3 Jesus shifts the discussion to bring the emphasis from little ones who are offended by us, to us being offended by others.  Of these two subjects, which brought a reaction from Peter?

1) offenses by disciples against others, particularly children.

2)  offenses brought by others against the disciples.

pg 190 para 3 If we forgave as Jesus teaches in Matthew 18: 22 would it ever be possible to use Matthew 18:15-17 to discipline others?

pg 190 para 3 What are two elements of encouragement for us?

pg 190 para 4 Does the author suggest that because he thinks Matthew 18 is not about discipline in the church, that we should never judge others?

Misusing Matthew 18

pg 191 para 2    The author suggest a use of Matthew 18, not from its interpretation, but from its application.  (An old adage of Bible study is that a passage has one interpretation but many applications.)  What is that application?

pg 191 para 3, 4 The author never confronted his minister friend.  Was that a correct course of action/inaction?

pg 192  para 1 How does this paragraph relate to the opening illustration of this chapter.

pg 192 para 2 Which principle is not taught in Matthew 18.

            1) Humble ourselves

            2) Seek reconciliation

            3) Avoid offending others

            4) Take offense at sin

            5) Offer forgiveness

            6) Seek reconciliation

What About Church Discipline?

pg 192 para 4 What action does Paul propose in First Corinthians 5?

pg 193 para 2 Is judgment of non-Christians appropriate for the church?

pg 193 para 3, 4 Does the author think the man in First Corinthians 5 is a true believer?

What do you think?

Some other passages of interest/ reflection are Second Thessalonians 3:6-15 and Ephesians 4:17-32.  

 

 

Who Should Be Disciplined?

pg 194 para 3 What sins does the Apostle Paul address in the Corinthian church?

With all of this sin, why is this one man singled out?

pg 194 para 4 What does the author consider the three elements necessary  for public church discipline?

pg 195 para 2 How pervasive is sin in the lives of Christians?

According to Romans 7:15 - 24 how pervasive was sin in the Apostle’s life?

How pervasive is sin in your life as a Christian?

If you should happen to feel sin is not significant in your life, how do you distinguish yourself from the Pharisees in the gospel accounts?

pg 195 para 4 Who is the accuser of the brethren?

Does repentance equate to victory over sin?

Some of the disciples of Jesus were originally disciples of John the Baptist.  John’s primary message appears to be repentance from sin.  Assuming these disciples must have been repentant, did these disciples sin as disciples of Jesus?

Did sin motivate the disciples of John the Baptist in John 3:22 - 26.

pg 195 para 5 In what way was the man’s sin in First Corinthians 5 encouraged by the church?

Don’t Let the Church Go Ugly

pg 196 para 2 Read through the three scripture passages suggested for correct church discipline.

Think about specific cases of church discipline you have personally witnessed.  (Not cases you have only read about or know of from  afar.)  Were they appropriate?

pg 196 para 3 What two ugly elements does the author feel pollute most ‘church discipline’?

What does the author mean by the phrase, ‘an ugliness that is baptized by their misapplication of the scriptures’?

pg 198 para 1 Who takes primary responsibility for the discipline of believers?

The Redemptive Lifestyle

pg 198 para 2 What does the author mean by the phrase, ‘primary reference’?

pg 198 para 3 Looking at the attitudes of the disciples in Matthew 18, would you suggest they were gentle or humble?

pg 198 para 4 Have you ever let yourself be cheated as an act of faith?

Have you ever subsequently said bad things about the person you allowed to cheat you?

pg 199 para 3 Why was David so indignant over the man who had supposedly stolen a lamb?

How was David readily able to ask and expect God to forgive him?

List three characteristics of a redemptive lifestyle-

pg 200 para 1

pg 200 para 4

pg 201 para 2

pg 201 para 4  What bold but hopefully appropriate thing are you saying about yourself when you seek to restore someone caught in a trespass? 

How will you balance the self-proclamation as ‘one who is spiritual,’ with personal humility?

pg 202 para 3 The author suggest that the church is not a pure people, but a                           community.

How do the wedding policies of your church reflect the attitude of Jesus toward sinners?

pg 203 para 2 Do you see in yourself something of the inappropriate attitude of the disciples of Jesus?

Why Don’t I Have Enough Faith? - Mustard Seed Faith

Study Guide Chapter 11

Opening Illustrations

If the parents had taken Wesley to a doctor or resumed his insulin, what response do you suppose they might have received from their church?

pg 209 para 3 What would be your answer to the last question in the paragraph, “Didn’t even one person have adequate faith.”?

The Mustard Seed Faith Passages

pg 210 para 2 Does the typical Christian that you know move mountains or trees by their faith alone?

Does the exceptional Christian that you know move these things?

The Root of the Problem

The following two questions are very difficult!  You may be unable or unwilling to answer them.

pg 211 para 3 How have you offended others because of sin in your life?

pg 211 para 5 How do you feel when those who have offended you have an unfortunate event in their life?

The Desire for a Magic Solution

pg 212 par 4 - pg 213 para 2  What attempts have you seen in yourself or others to manipulate God through thoughts, words or actions.

pg 214 para 2, 3  Have you ever used the ‘put God to the test’ or the ‘grit your teeth’ method of prayer?

How would you distinguish these two methods of ‘prayer’ from a genuine prayer of faith?

The Mustard Seed Mystery

pg 214 para 5 What two meanings are often suggested for the meaning of ‘mustard seed faith’?

pg 215 para 4 What are the two problems the author sees with these two suggestions?

A Simple Faith

pg 216 para 3  The author believes the reference to ‘mustard seed faith’ is not a promise, but an ________________________ .

pg 216 para 5 - pg 217 para 1 How do the events of Acts 8:14-25 relate to some false teaching on miracles today?

pg 217 para 2 How could a misunderstanding of Jesus’ words with regard to ‘mustard seed faith’ cause a genuine believer to doubt their faith?

What About the Slave?

Which principle of transitionalism is being developed in this section.

pg 217 para 4 How would you distinguish ‘faith’ from ‘faithfulness’?

The author uses the phrase, “the church can apply,” in this paragraph.  How would you distinguish Bible interpretation from a biblical application?

Explain the author’s warning in the last sentence of this paragraph.

pg 218 para 2 Are you being faithful in your Christian disciplines?

The Obedient Leper

pg 218 para 4 What unusual element of this miracle is emphasized in this paragraph?

pg 219 para 3 Compare this paragraph with John 4: 9 and 20 to see how the Jews and Samaritans felt about one another.  Also notice Acts 21: 29-31.  This passage deals with a gentile rather than a Samaritan, but it demonstrates the way Jews felt about their temple.

pg 219 para 6 - pg 220 para 3 The author applies this passage to the faith life.  Are you being obedient to God’s will for you?

Five groups are listed.  What are these five groups, and what are the duties listed?

Which of these groups apply to you, and how are you doing?

Do We Have Enough Faith?

The book goes beyond its scope of the synoptics to address a parallel problem passage in John’s Gospel. 

Which of the following is the greater work;

            -the salvation of a man by faith?

            -the resurrection of Lazarus?

            -giving sight to a man born blind?

            -healing a man born lame?

If all four of these events were reported in your newspaper as current events, which would receive the least attention?

Most of us would consider the three healing miracles more phenomenal than salvation.  What does that say about us?

 

Why Doesn’t the Lord Answer Me? - Unanswered Prayer

Study Guide Chapter 12

 

Opening Illustrations

How would you have answered the father’s question, “Why didn’t God answer our prayer?”

If it were your child who had died,  would you have found your answer to that question satisfactory?

An Embarrassing Promise?

pg 226 para 2,3 Most Christians, because they have good theology, condition the words of Jesus far beyond the text.  C. S. Lewis takes the words for what Jesus actually says.  How would you paraphrase Lewis’ problem?

pg 227 para 1 How is Mark 11:23, 24 supportive of the positive confession movement?

pg 227 para 4 Which principle of transitionalism does the author turn to for reconciliation?

The Cursing of the Fig Tree

pg 228 para 4 - pg 229 para 2  Looking at Mark 11: 13 & 14 , does it seem reasonable to curse the fig tree for not having figs out of season?

pg 230 para 3 There is a reference to ‘living parables’.  How might the parable of Luke 13: 6-9 be related to Mark 11: 12-26?

The Cleansing of the Temple

pg 231 para 1 Where is the record of the first time Jesus cleansed the Temple?

Note - Jesus began and ended His ministry with the cleansing of the Temple.

pg 231 para 4 The principle of purchasing a sacrifice and items for the festivals was established by Moses.  (See Deuteronomy 14: 22-27) 

pg 232 -All   If this trade was legal, how are the merchants robbers?

How Big Is This Promise?

pg 233 para 4  How long did it take the fig tree to wither?

pg 233 para 4  Some have suggested that “No” can be considered an answer to prayer.   Why doesn’t this satisfy what Jesus actually said in Mark 11?

Is It a Living Parable

pg 235 para 1 Which element of transitionalism is discussed in this paragraph?

pg 235 para 2 This paragraph shifts to another element of transitionalism.  What is this element?

pg 235 What are the two events in Mark 11 that are symbolic illustrations of judgment?

Do You Have Faith?

pg 236 para 1-4 How can a theology that praying with faith guarantees one will receive what they ask for cause one to doubt their own salvation?

An Interesting Inclusion

pg 237 para 1 What is the great danger of judging the Jews who were enemies of Jesus?

pg 237 para 2 How is this portion of Mark 11 parallel to Matthew 6: 5-15?

pg 237 para 3 - pg 238 para 1 What are some indications that we might be a den of thieves?

pg 238 para 2 This short story, by W. W. Jacobs can be read on-line at  http://english-zone.com.

pg 238 para 3, 4 In your past study of this portion on prayer, have you spent time thinking about your need to forgive?

Our Real Motives

pg 239 para 1 , 2 William Hendriksen in his commentary on Mark published by Baker, conditions answered prayer on;

            a humble and childlike faith

            a sincere heart and mind

            a will to persevere

            a love for all concerned

            submission to God’s sovereign will

            prayed in Christ’s name

            a loving heart

If someone were to say they fulfilled this list, would you be able to distinguish them from the Pharisee in the parable?

New Covenant Balance

The author goes beyond the scope of The Gospel Solution,  to emphasize the importance of prayer in the life of the believer.  A recognition that prayer does not bind God to act should not be extended in any way to diminish the great importance and power of prayer.

pg 239 para 3 What are the two sides of the balance on prayer as taught by James in his letter?

The Lords Goals

pg 240 para 3 - pg 241 para 1 What is the suggestion as to three goals of Jesus in this portion on prayer in Mark 11?

pg 241 para 4 How does a proper understanding of this section on prayer serve to encourage us as believers?

Some Final Thoughts on Prayer

How does transitionalism help us to understand why the letters of the Apostles in the New Testament are more easily understood and applied than the Gospels?

 Is Divorce the Unforgivable Sin? - Jesus’ Divorce Teachings

Study Guide Chapter 13

 

Opening Illustration

Since the writing of The Gospel Solution, the man who thought the author was too easy on divorce has been divorced and has remarried.  Now he agrees with the author’s position.

Why can we accept the failings of those we know and love, especially ourselves, and condemn those we dislike or those who are nameless and anonymous?

Do We Follow the Lord?

pg 246 para 1 & 2 What would your denomination do if one of it’s widowed pastors/leaders married a divorced woman?

pg 246 para 3 - pg 247 para 3  Would rejecting the divorced and remarried make us more like the pharisees than Jesus?

What’s Your Position?

What is your position on divorce and remarriage?

How has your position been modified over the years by the experiences of yourself and those you love?

Those Hardhearted Pharisees

pg 246 para 3- pg 251 para 1 What new element of the teaching did Jesus add to the debate?

pg 251 para 2 Does the response of the disciples surprise you?

pg 251 para 3 The author makes an interesting assumption about the uncertain meaning of the disciples statement.  What do you think the disciples meant?

            1) It is better for a man to remain celibate than to marry if divorce is not an option.

            2) It is better to just live with a woman if divorce is not an option.

            3) Some other meaning.

pg 252 para 1-3 Which two elements of transitionalism are combined and high lighted in these three paragraphs?

New Rules for the Church?

pg 252 para 4 - pg 254 para 2 This section of the book has five paragraphs demonstrating why the author thinks the teaching of Jesus cannot be new rules for the church.  Which paragraph fits which of the following five reasons.

            1. Those who cannot defeat lustful thoughts are also guilty of adultery.  Therefore they would need to be condemned along with the divorced and remarried.         

            2. There would be no basis of repentance outside of celibacy for divorced individuals.

            3. Grace is as effective after salvation as it is before salvation.

            4. The burden of the New Covenant would be more sever than the Old Covenant and everyone would be condemned by the New Covenant.

            5. The public teaching ministry of Jesus does not include the gospel of grace.

 

Is Divorce and Remarriage Ongoing Adultery?

pg 254 para 3 How would you distinguish “condemnation” from “conviction”?

pg 255 para 2 How would you characterize Jesus’ opinion, and that of the gospel writers, of Moses  and Moses’ writings based on the follow passages?

Matthew 8:4

Matthew 17:34

Matthew  23:2, 3

Mark 7:10, 11

Mark 12: 19-27

Luke 2:22

Luke 16:29-31

Luke 24:27

Luke 24: 44

John 1:45

John 3:14

John 5: 45, 46

John 7: 19-23

Some read the words of Jesus, “Moses permitted,” to imply “But Moses was wrong and should not have allowed divorce and remarriage.  Based on the references above in the Gospels, does this negative connotation with regard to Moses’ teaching make sense?

pg 255 para 3 What distinction does Jesus make with regard to the Samaritan woman’s relationship?

Can God Ever Approve of Divorce?

List the four times in the Bible where divorce is spoken of in a positive light.

pg 257 para 2 What does the author mean when he contrasts ‘property rights’ and ‘marriage rites’?

pg 258 para 3 What is the significance of Malachi 2:15 and Galatians 4:21-25; 28-31, with regard to Abraham’s divorce?

pg 258 para 4 How would hardheartedness be involved in each of these four examples from scripture?

What Is God’s Plan

pg 260 para 4 How does teaching that a divorced person must remain celibate put that teacher in direct conflict with Jesus teaching in Matthew 19:12?

pg 261 para 2, 3, 4  How is the teaching against remarriage in conflict with the Jerusalem Council?

What About I Corinthians 7

While still in the manuscript form, several individuals asked the author about I Corinthians 7: 10 & 11.  Doesn’t this forbid remarriage after divorce?  The author gives four reasons why he does not believe that that was the intent of the Apostle Paul.  Put the four reasons in the order given in the book.

            1. Paul gave a general freedom to marry.

            2. This is one of twelve times in this chapter where Christians are encouraged to             remain single.  Why is this the only time it is binding?

            3. ‘Not under bondage’ does not make sense, unless it means free to marry.

            4. Paul recommends marriage as a concession to sexual desire.

How Can We Apply This?

pg 264 para 1 How is I Timothy 5: 11-15 (a portion dealing with widows, and not divorce women) related to the logic in this paragraph?

pg 264 para 4 The author suggests that generally divorced people should live their lives anticipating that they will marry again.  He believes this is the most effective way to live ones life to the glory of God.

What five things does the author suggest for those who are divorced?

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

Does Transitionalism Work?

Study Guide Chapter 14

 

 

The three gospels previously written, having been distributed among all, and also handed to him (John) , they say that he admitted them, giving his testimony to  their truth; but that here was only wanting in the narrative the account of the things done by Christ, among the first of his deeds, and at the commencement of the gospel.  And this was the truth.  For it is evident that the other three evangelists only wrote the deeds of our lord for one year after the imprisonment of John the Baptist and intimated this in the very beginning of their history.   Eusebius   Ecclesiastical History , Book 3 Chapter 24, pg 108, Baker  1995.

Will Transitionalism Help You?

pg 269 para 4 Where does the author suggest is the source of Christian doctrine?

pg 270 para 2, 3 What are some fears expressed about transitionalism?

pg 270 para 4 In contrast to fear and guilt, what should motivate a believer to live righteously?

pg 271 para 2-4 Alan Greenspan once reported that the ability of U. S. employers to freely lay off employees gave them a freedom to hire employees more readily, resulting in less unemployment.  How is this related to these three paragraphs?

What Makes Us “Good”?

The section speaks of two systems of life.  Fill in the spaces with the correct answer.

                        Christian                                             Before Faith

Birth Event

Spirit

Service

Motive

Law

Spirit of Adam

Legal expectation

Supernatural

Condemns

Dead to Law

Holy Spirit

Natural

New nature

Sinful nature

Newness of spirit

How New Is Transitionalism?

pg 274 para 2 Transitionalism is not new doctrine, but a ___________________ of  _______________.

pg 274 para 3 The Gospel Solution has no new principles, but is only a _____________  of ideas hinted at in other places.

All of pg 275 -  Four theologians, a Catholic, an Evangelical Free, a Presbyterian, and an Anglican, all express a seeming conflict between the synoptics and the epistles.  Looking at C. S. Lewis’ quote, how does Lewis contrast Jesus’ teachings to Paul’s?

Why Do We Have the Synoptics?

Put the following reasons in the order given in the book.

            A historical knowledge of the life of Jesus.

            Interprets the Mosaic Law and reveals God’s holiness.

            Helps us see our own need for a Savior.

            Reveals the passion ministry of Jesus.

            Means of preparing an unbeliever for the gospel.

            Reveals the Lord and His genius.

            Prepares us to understand the epistles.

            Reveals Jesus’ interaction with individuals.

            A historical event requires a historical setting.

What About John’s Gospel?

pg 279 para 2, 3  What is John’s stated purpose for his Gospel?

What technique does the author suggest that John used to meet his purpose?

pg 280 para 2 The synoptics emphasize Jesus’ ministry as it relates to ___________ and John’s Gospel emphasizes Jesus ministry as it relates to ________________ .

pg 280 para 4 What events of Easter morning show that the disciples did not understand Jesus’ purpose in the cross?

What Makes a Teacher ‘Great’?

pg 281 para 3 - pg 282 para 2  What are five observations that could be used to show that Jesus was not a great teacher?

pg 282 para 3 Why are these five observations not valid in evaluating Jesus as a teacher?

According to the author, what were the goals of Jesus?

pg 283 para 3 Why was Jesus the greatest teacher that ever lived?

What About Theology?

What is the most common impact that transitionalism has on theology?

How does transitionalism help overcome hypocrisy?

Three Areas of Practical Growth

1. Transparency

pg 285 para 1 What cautions are given about public confessions of sin?

pg 285 para 2 Why do pastors often keep a distance from their congregations?

pg 285 para 3 According to J. Grant Howard, what does sin make  us do?

2. Transparency Leads to Confidence

What is the counter intuitive nature of the gospel that allows us to see ourselves as sinners, yet have self esteem and confidence?

3. Confidence leads to peace

pg 287 para 3 The author suggests it is possible that we can be at peace with God yet not at peace with ourselves.  What do you think he means by that?

The author suggests three reasons why we may feel that we are not at peace with God.  What are those three reasons?

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