Our first “What We Believe and Why it Matters” case study was on inerrancy. Bryan presented the following, that we discussed in small groups.
You feel a strong leading from the Lord to start a seeker Bible study with colleagues from work. You have been praying for a co-leader and you decide to ask Pat if he/she is interested in joining you lead. Pat is interested but wants to find out more, so you plan to grab coffee later in the week to discuss.
Pat has worked in your office for many years. He/she professes to be a believer, attends a mainline Protestant church, and frequently makes passing references to his/her faith, such as, "my church did a big clothing drive this weekend," or "I have a church committee meeting tonight." Pat, on occasion is known to say, "I will pray for you," and "God bless you," when the situation warrants.
You meet for coffee at the end of the week and share your vision of the seeker Bible study. You tell Pat that you have a burden for some of the lost co-workers in the office, especially those who are from different religious/ethnic backgrounds. You explain that you really want to help folks come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and also teach them how to study God's Word for themselves. Pat listens well, nods his/her head on occasion, and allows you to share uninterrupted. After sharing your heart for ten minutes or so, you ask, "So what do you think?"
Pat: "Wow. Thank you so much for asking me to co-lead this group. I'm honored that you would think of me. Really. You have a great heart and it's evident that you live out your faith in this office. Your burden to start this group is further evidence that you try to live what you believe. However, I'm afraid that I'm going to have to decline your invitation. Thank you so much though. I am touched."
You are stunned by Pat's response. Expecting him/her to say more, you respond, "Thank you for listening and for your kind words. May I ask why?"
Pat: "You know, there is a lot I could say. Bottom line is I think we are not on the same page about God, Jesus, and the Bible. I just don't share some of the convictions you have about..." Pat pauses to choose the right phrase..."well, about a lot of things."
You reply, "like what, for instance?"
Pat, "For starters, I don't believe that our colleagues from other faiths will go to hell if they don't believe in Jesus."
You: "But how do you get around passages where Jesus claims to be the only way to God, like John 14:6?"
Pat: "Well, I just don't think those verses are true for the world today in the twenty-first century."
You: "I see. So in your opinion, the Bible is not the Word of God?"
Pat: "Sort of. The Bible, as my pastor says, contains the Word of God."
You: "I don't see the difference."
Pat: "Big difference. Not all of the Bible contains God's Word. But God's Word is found within the text. For example, during Sunday services, the pastor always reads from the Bible, usually in one of the four gospels. But before she reads, she will say, "Listen for the Word of God." What she means is that while she is reading a particular story, we, the congregation, are supposed to discover for ourselves what part of the story is God's Word for us that day."
You're stunned. "Wow. I had no idea that some churches held that view. Where does that come from?"
"It's quite common today in churches like ours. Research in the modern era has made it abundantly clear that the Bible is full of errors. So how can it be God's Word?"
You pray silently in that moment, asking the Lord to give you the words to speak…
What do you say next?
The first response could be to ask “What errors?” or “Was it true when it was written?” or “what do you believe? ”Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Satan is continuously trying to cast doubt in our faith, and in our belief that the Word of God is true.
Luke 1:1-3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you.
I John 1:1-4 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you
I Timothy 3:16: Jesus was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
Sermon notes: How can a Loving God allow so much Evil and Suffering?
John 9:1-5 Not sin, but that the works of God could be displayed. Our new friends had this response when their baby girl was born last month without hand.
Night is coming…we all have a limited amount of time. Jesus does not answer the question why. We do not know why. Just so the works of God can be displayed.
Exodus 34:7 God will not leave iniquity unpunished.
John 5:14 Sin no more.
Psalm 37:1-11 do not fret because of evil. Delight yourself in the Lord, Do not delight in suffering or evil. Praise God in the midst of catastrophic events. God is bigger, we often forget. Then God will give you the desires of your heart. God gives justice.
Romans 12 – evildoers will be cut off. Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.
We are called to trust God even when there are no benefits to do so. People can choose to trust in God, or choose to harden their heart toward God.
(1) Don’t try to answer why. This comes across as cold and heartless. Better to respond I don’t know. (2) practice the ministry of presence (3) offer to pray. Don’t preach through prayer (5) God understands their pain. He lost a child at the hands of unjust men (6) Jesus also understands. He felt forsaken by God as well.
Romans 8:28 all things work together for those who love the Lord, who are called according to His purpose.
Rick Warren: “God never wastes a hurt.” William Shakespeare: “Sweet are the overseerers of adversity.” God can use our hurts down the road to minister to others with similar hurts.
ME: is not the earth a broken place, where Satan is allowed to work? As we see above, God never said His followers would be spared adversity, disease, and heartache. So many people miss this, instead incorrectly blaming God when bad things happen. How closely had they been following God before the bad things happened? Only Heaven is the place without all these bad things.
Disclaimer: I am far from a theologian. I take the best notes I can, and copy and organize them here in an effort to better understand.