23 May 2018

Always the Same

Theme: God is Unchanging

  1. Numbers 23:18-20
  2. Numbers 23 25-27
  3. Jeremiah 18:5-11
  4. 2 Timothy 2:8-13
  5. James 1:16-18
  6. Hebrews 6:13-20
  7. Genesis 12:1-3
  8. Exodus 3:13-15
  9. Lamentations 3:21-26

Objectives: (From the D6 Fusion Sunday School Lesson book)
Know: God never changes and His consistency extends to His whole person.
Think: View God’s unchanging character as encouragement for present and future growth.
Do: Respect God’s unchanging nature and exercise faith through obedience.

A1 Beginning questions
B1 If God never changes and His ways never change, what about technological changes? Are they good or bad?
B2 What about God’s plan for the church (the people)?
B3 What about God’s plan for salvation?
B4 What about God’s plan for anything?
B5 When is change good?
B6 When is change not good?
B7 What do you think about the changes happening in Christianity today?
A2 Numbers 23
B1 Summary: Balak, king of Moab, sees Israel. He knows they have won some important battles. He knows what God did to the Egyptians. He now faces them and thinking, “We will be destroyed, too.” He hires Balaam to curse Israel, but the message given to Balaam was blessing Israel. So Balaam gets another message to give to Balak: Numbers 23:19-20 (NKJV) God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.
C1 Name some characteristics of God from Numbers 23:19-20.
C2 Is God going to change His mind concerning Israel?
C3 How can we apply this to our lives?
B2 Numbers 23:27-30 (NKJV) Then Balak said to Balaam, “Please come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.” So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, that overlooks the wasteland. Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on every altar. Why does Balak keep trying to get God to change His mind?
B3 What is God’s plan for Christians?
C1 Some verses:
D1 Titus 2:11-14 (NKJV) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
D2 Matthew 6:25-27 (NKJV) Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
C2 Why does God care about us?
C3 Does God’s standard of Christian living change through the centuries?
C4 What about using new technology?
A3 James 1:16-18 (NKJV) Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
B1 What characteristic of God is taught here?
B2 Does God’s character change or stay the same?
A4 Truth
B1 Theories (overly simplified)
C1 Correspondence theory: something is true if it corresponds to reality
C2 Coherence: something is true because it agrees with what I believe is true
C3 Constructivist: truth is what society has struggled with and come to a conclusion
C4 Consensus: truth is what a group says is truth
C5 Pragmatic
D1 Positive: a belief works, so true
D2 Negative: a belief does not work, so false
C6 Nihilism: truth cannot be known
B2 The correspondence theory agrees with Scripture:
C1 By example: Samson: Judges 16:17-18 CSB - he told her the whole truth and said to her, "My hair has never been cut, because I am a Nazirite to God from birth. If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I will become weak and be like any other man." When Delilah realized that he had told her the whole truth, she sent this message to the Philistine leaders: "Come one more time, for he has told me the whole truth." The Philistine leaders came to her and brought the silver with them.
C2 By testimony: Proverbs 12:17 NLT - An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies.
C3 By departing from what is true: 2 Timothy 2:18 CSB - They have departed from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and are ruining the faith of some. There were over 500 people who saw Jesus alive after He had been crucified, buried, and resurrected. The group mentioned in this passage knew that but chose to ignore reality and believe something else.
B3 Are these verses of Scripture true?
C1 Luke 4:18 (WPNT) The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He has anointed me to evangelize poor people. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to captives and recovery of sight to blind people, to send those who are oppressed out in freedom. (If you notice most translations leave out the words He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted. Pickering writes: Perhaps 1.5% of the Greek manuscripts, of objectively inferior quality, omit “to heal the brokenhearted” (as in NIV, NASB, LB, TEV, etc.). So 98.5% of Greek manuscripts include these words).
C2 John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
C3 James 1:5 CSB - Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God —who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.
B4 Does God lie?
A5 Promises
B1 The main Greek word for promise is ἐπαγγελία epangelía which has the idea of what is said will be done.
B2 What good are God’s promises, if God changes?
B3 Why are promises serious?
B4 2 Peter 3:13 (NKJV) Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
C1 Can we (the church) bring righteousness to the earth?
C2 When will there be righteousness on the earth?
B5 Romans 8:37-39 (WEB) No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
C1 What if we feel that God has abandoned us?
C2 How can we use these verses to help someone who feels abandoned by God?
C3 How important is God’s love?
C4 How should we love?
B6 1 Corinthians 1:25 NLT - This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
C1 Does God ever fail?
C2 How can God have a foolish plan?
C3 Why is God’s plan always the best?
C4 How does God’s strength encourage you?
A6 Next week
B1 According to the Scope of Sequence, we will be studying in 2 Corinthians
B2 The believer’s role as a steward of the gospel.
B3 Theme: The believer’s quest
B4 Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:1-18

16 May 2018

In Control

Theme: God is sovereign

  • Deuteronomy 10:17-22
  • 1 Timothy 6:13-16
  • Isaiah 46:5-13
  • Acts 4:23-31
  • Psalm 97:1-12
  • Jeremiah 23:23-24
  • Jonah 1:1-10

Objectives: (From the D6 Fusion Sunday School Lesson book)
Know: God sovereignly reigns through the expression of His natural attributes.
Think: Have the mindset that total obedience to God is best due to His worthiness to rule.
Do: Trust and obey God with the confidence that your loyalty is properly placed.

Song: Trust and Obey
A1 God’s sovereignty
B1 Views (3 broadly defined ways. There are variations in each group).
C1 Calvinist
D1 (From the TERCENTENARY EDITION of the Westminster Confession of Faith)
Of God’s Eternal Decree.
God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.
The doctrine that God eternally and unconditionally decreed all future things necessarily follows from the fact that God is independent, all knowing, and unchangeable, which is what chapter 2 of the confession teaches. Since God is independent, it follows that His decree cannot depend upon anything in the future or anything outside of Himself. Since God knows all things, it follows that God must have first decreed all things. And since God is unchangeable, it follows that God must have an unchangeable decree at the foundation of all that He does.
D3 Questions
E1 How can God escape being the author of sin?
F1 First general Calvinist answer: God decrees the highest desire and the individual in their free will chooses that desire. This is compatibilism.
F2 Second general Calvinist answer: Everything God does is holy, because He is holy.
E2 How can a person be judged and sentenced for doing God’s will?
C2 Classical Arminian (and Wesleyan Arminian, too):
Here is my view: God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, “What doest thou?” Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.
The sovereignty of God is a vitally important truth Wesleyans badly need to recover. This is not only because it is crucial for understanding the biblical drama, but also because many Wesleyans have tended to neglect it because Calvinists often give the impression that it is one of their distinctive doctrines. But the sovereignty of God is not a Calvinist doctrine, it is a biblical doctrine, and no one who wants to be faithful to Scripture can afford to ignore or downplay this great truth.
So what is the sovereignty of God? Simply put, it is the truth that God is in control, that he has supreme power. It is the truth that he is the Lord of the Universe and of everyone and everything it contains. The sovereignty of God is not always appealing because it is sharply at odds with the popular illusion that we are in control. It is a common human conceit to think that our lives are our own, that human beings are running the show and answer to no one higher than themselves.
D3 Questions:
F1 Is God really sovereign if He allows (or decrees) a limited, libertarian free will?
F2 How do you explain free will?
C3 Open Theism: I had a difficult time finding Open Theists who could define Open Theism, and I don’t have the money to buy their books and find a correct quote from them. So, I am turning to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a reliable definition: Open Theism is the thesis that, because God loves us and desires that we freely choose to reciprocate His love, He has made His knowledge of, and plans for, the future conditional upon our actions. Though omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future. Though omnipotent, He has chosen to invite us to freely collaborate with Him in governing and developing His creation, thereby also allowing us the freedom to thwart His hopes for us. God desires that each of us freely enter into a loving and dynamic personal relationship with Him, and He has therefore left it open to us to choose for or against His will. While Open Theists affirm that God knows all the truths that can be known, they claim that there simply are not yet truths about what will occur in the “open,” undetermined future. Alternatively, there are such contingent truths, but these truths cannot be known by anyone, including God. Another article that may help.
D1 First question: How can God be omniscient if He does not know clearly everything in the future?
D2 Second question: How can God not know every truth?
C4 Personally, I choose the Reformed Arminian view as correct because of the plain, normal reading and study of Scriptures. The other views use systems of interpretation and/or prior presumptions as their world view or theological standards. Please! Always interpret the Bible in its plain, normal sense.
B2 Main points
C1 God can do what He wants and no one can alter His decision.
C2 God truly gives a limited, libertarian free will.
C3 Love is a choice, not a coercion.
C4 Some verses:
D1 Daniel 4:35 (HCSB) All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing, and He does what He wants with the army of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can hold back His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?
D2 Matthew 19:25-26 (HCSB) When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, “Then who can be saved? ” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
D3 2 Chronicles 20:5-6 (NKJV) Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said: “O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?
D4 Acts 7:51 (NKJV) You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
D5 Matthew 23:37 (NKJV) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
D6 In view of the above verses, if God is sovereign, how can people resist?
A2 Isaiah 46:8-13 (NKJV)
Remember this, and show yourselves men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors. Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. “Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, Who are far from righteousness: I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, For Israel My glory.
B1 How does memory help us in our spiritual life/walk?
B2 How can we know there are no other gods?
B3 How does He know the future?
B4 When God makes His mind up and makes a decision can it be changed? By whom?
B5 Why is God making an appeal to this group of transgressors? Does it suggest there might be some form of free will?
B6 What is foreknowledge?
B7 What is the condition of those described as stubborn hearted? Why are they stubborn? How does this kind of stubborness hurt people?
B8 Where does righteousness come from?
C1 Romans 10:3 (NKJV) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
C2 Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
A3 A few more questions:
B1 How do you realize God’s sovereignty in your life?
B2 Does God’s sovereignty give you a sense of peace or restlessness?
B3 How does God’s love demonstrate His sovereignty?
B4 How can we explain the occurrence of evil, calamity, and trouble in this world and our lives?
B5 Do you want to resist God?
A4 Next week:
B1 Always the same
B2 Theme: God is Unchanging
B3 Scriptures:
  1. Numbers 23:18-20
  2. Numbers 23 25-27
  3. Jeremiah 18:5-11
  4. 2 Timothy 2:8-13
  5. James 1:16-18
  6. Hebrews 6:13-20
  7. Genesis 12:1-3
  8. Exodus 3:13-15
  9. Lamentations 3:21-26