Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I Am a Church Member, by Thom Ranier

Chapter Three

1. Show from key Bible verses the difference between church membership and country club membership from the perspective of personal preferences and desires. Of course, the Bible doesn’t speak of country club membership, so you will need to assume the benefits of belonging to one.

2. Find and explain key passages in the Bible that talk about Christians being like servants. How would you describe a servant as it applies to being a member of a church?

3. Why do many churches have worship wars? What does that have to do with the right or wrong attitude about church membership?

4. Describe someone in your church that best fits the description of having the mind of Christ and a servant attitude. Find key New Testament passages that would fit him or her. 

5. Go, verse by verse, through Philippians 2:5–11. Explain how the attitude of Christ in each verse becomes a pattern for us as church members.

   Chapter Four 

1. Using scriptural backing, explain why the pastor’s family is such an important factor in his ministry.

2. What is meant by above reproach in 1 Timothy 3:2? Is that standard even possible for the pastor?

3. Explain the implications of the devil’s trap in
1 Timothy 3:7.

4. What is the meaning of outsiders in 1 Timothy 3:7? Why should they be a concern to church members or pastors?

5. Find some key passages in the Bible where intercessory prayer takes place (someone praying for someone else). Relate those passages to praying for your pastor.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I Am a Church Member, by Thom Rainer

Chapter One

1. Explain how country club membership and church membership are so different. Give scriptural references to support the differences in church membership.

2. Explain why church membership is a biblical concept, using 1 Corinthians 12 as your biblical foundation.

3. How is the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, related to church membership? Explain, using all 13 verses of the chapter.

4. How are the different parts of the body (ear, nose, mouth, hand, foot, eyes, etc.) related to church membership? How do the parts play out in your church?

5. In relation to church membership, why is it important for members to know and use their spiritual gifts? Relate your answer to 1 Corinthians 12.

   Chapter Two

1. What did Paul mean when he said in Colossians 3:14 that love is the perfect bond of unity? What does that mean for the local church today?

2. What is the best path to take if someone brings gossip to you in your church? What does the Bible say about gossip?

3. How is forgiveness related to unity in the local church? What does the Bible say about forgiving one another?

4. Look at Matthew 6:14-15. Relate those words to being a church member. What does it mean if one church member does not forgive another?

5. Read all of 1 Corinthians 13. Paul wrote the “love chapter” to the church at Corinth where problems with unity were pervasive. What does this chapter mean for church members today? Explain as you go through each verse.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Testing Scripture, by John Polkinghorne

Chapter Ten

1.  What John has to say concerns eternal truth, which is embedded and expressed in historical events. The Prologue (John 1) speaks of the union of the eternal with the temporal. For John, the incarnate Word is the true form of the divine presence with humanity.

- How do you imagine this union of the eternal with the temporal?
- What are the consequences of this union for believers?

2.  To the modern reader, John’s use of ‘Word’ (in Greek, Logos) may, at first sight, seem strange and puzzling. Its aptness for John’s purpose lies in the double reference that it makes to both Greek and Hebrew thinking.
The fusion of the ideas of enabling order and unfolding dynamic process, suggested by the double linguistic reference of John’s use of Word, is highly consonant with science’s understanding of cosmic history.

- How do you respond to Polkinghorne’s scientific explanation and integration of the Greek & Hebrew interpretations of “Word?”

3.  This extraordinary passage (Colossians 1:15-20) is claiming a cosmic significance for Jesus Christ, an assertion that is being made about a person who had been crucified perhaps thirty years before the epistle was written. As in the Prologue to John, it is stated that Christ truly makes known the divine nature as ‘the image of the invisible God’.
What interests me especially in this passage is the last verse, which says that Christ reconciles all things by ‘making peace through the blood of his cross’. Notice that it is ‘all things’, not simply all people. Redemption is proclaimed to be cosmic in scope.”

- What are the many ramifications of such cosmic redemption?

4.  Polkinghorne’s third biblical reference is Romans 8:19–23. Why should God have subjected the creation to futility? There is a resonance here, not only with modern scientific predictions of eventual cosmic futility, but also with the inescapable cost of evolutionary natural process. There has to be enough genetic mutation to produce new forms of life, but not so much mutation that these new forms do not get established as species on which the sifting effects of natural selection can act. Creative processes of this kind will necessarily generate ragged edges and blind alleys as well as extraordinary fruitfulness. In this insight there is some help for theology as it wrestles with the problems of disease and disaster in the divine creation. They are not something gratuitous, that a God who was a bit more competent or a bit less callous could easily have eliminated. They are the inescapable cost of the good of a world in which creatures are allowed to make themselves.

- In light of this explanation, what is God’s will for creation?

5.  The costliness of evolutionary process means that the creation has indeed been ‘groaning in labour pains until now’. However, the last word does not lie with death and futility, but with God. It is the Christian hope and belief that the divine faithfulness will not allow anything of good eventually to be lost, but God will give to all creatures an appropriate destiny beyond their deaths, as the old creation is ultimately transformed in Christ into the new creation.

Christians believe that this process has, in fact, already begun in the seed event of the resurrection of Jesus. Paul sets before us the hope and promise ‘that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God’. Ultimate cosmic destiny and ultimate human destiny lie together in the One who redeems all things by the blood of his cross.

Romans 8 is one of the most profound and hopeful chapters in the New Testament and reading it in the light of modern scientific understanding helps us to find new levels of profundity in it. 

- How has Romans 8 given you insight to and appreciation of the grand scope of redemption and renewal in Christ for the cosmos?

- What does this divine agenda, already active since the resurrection of Jesus, give you hope beyond this life?