INTRODUCTION

In the face of complexities, and the questions of our day, we are a people of hope because of Christ alone. Peter says we should have no fear, nor be troubled, honor Christ, and ready yourself to explain. It’s about time to talk about the elephant in the room.

Each week, we’re going to address what the Bible has to say about some difficult questions you may have, or that you may be asked by someone else. We’re praying that this series will provide a time of fruitful conversation as you wrestle with some of the questions we experience in our faith.

WEEKLY TOPICS

June 2: Has science disproved God?

June 9: If God is good, why is there evil and suffering?

June 16: Is God a moral monster?

June 23: Is Christianity a moral straight jacket?

June 30: If Christianity is true, why are there so many hypocrites?

Week 1

June 2, 2019

Individual/Group Study Guide

Conversation Starters

“The Christian believer is using reason and faith to get to her beliefs just as her secular neighbor is using reason and faith to get to hers. They are both looking at the same realities in nature and human life, and both are seeking a way to make the best sense of them through a process that is rational personal, intuitive, and social. Reason does not and cannot operate alone.” – Timothy Keller Making Sense of God, pg 41

Big Idea: Faith and Science are not in an irreconcilable tug of war.

Q1: Several scientists claim that discoveries and modern scientific advancements prove that God does not exist. Has the debate between faith and science challenged your faith, become an obstacle to faith, or become a catalyst to faith for you?

Q2: Why does science matter if faith saves?

Q3: Why is it important to remember that the Bible is not a science book? Hint: It doesn’t give us all the answers we want, but it gives us the ones we need. It’s not seeking to alleviate the tension we may feel but looking to increase our faith. Yet, we must remember what it asserts and affirms as truth is true.

Read & Discuss

Read Matthew 22:37-38 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

Q: Christian faith involves knowledge and trust. When we read Jesus’ instruction on the great commandment, we often emphasize the heart. While it is important, it’s not the only part of us that is to love God. How does our ability to love God with our mind enable us to connect with Him and interact with others?

Q: Have you actively taken steps in your life to increase your love of God with your mind? Why is this so hard?

Read Psalm 14:1 & Romans 1:19-22

  • Psalm 14:1 – The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
  • Romans 1:19-23 – For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Q: What picture do the Scriptures paint of the person who does not believe in the existence of God?

Q: What picture does culture paint of the person who does believe in God? Follow Up: Is there anything in your life that helps prove or disprove that stereotype?

Q8: How do we know that everyone in the world knows God? How many times does Paul reinforce that reality in the Romans passage listed above? (Answer: six times) Follow Up: How should this impact the way we interact with those who doubt in God’s existence?

Application

As we close, take turns reading through Psalm 104 as an act of worship and praise for God’s work in creation and His involvement in our day to day lives.

Resources

Heritage Park Campus

Hasn’t Science Disproved God?

June 2, 2019 • Michael Hearn

Westside Campus

Hasn’t Science Disproved God?

June 2, 2019 • David Libby

 

The Debrief: Episode 10

Science & Faith

June 3, 2019

 

Week 2

June 9, 2019

 

Individual/Group Study Guide

Conversation Starters

Ancient people did not assume that the human mind had enough wisdom to sit in judgment on how an infinite God was disposing of things. It is only in modern times that we get ‘the certainty that we have all the elements we need to carry out a trial of God. – Timothy Keller Making Sense of God, pg 37

It is one thing to believe in God; it is quite another to believe God. ― R.C. Sproul, Surprised By Suffering

Big Idea: Christianity is the only religion that gives a credible explanation and solution to the problem of evil and suffering.

Get the conversation started

Q: Do you think the problem of evil is the main reason people lose their faith or never begin to believe?

Q: What ‘easy’ explanations have you heard explaining why people suffer?

Q) Many of us go to great lengths to avoid suffering, yet if we’re honest, when reviewing our lives, we have experienced great growth in times of suffering. When have you grown the most? When life has been easy, or when there has been suffering? Why do you think that is?

Read & Discuss

Read Psalm 13:1-4; Psalm 22:1-2; Psalm 44:23-26.

Q. Does it surprise you to find passages like these where the authors address God in such a candid and raw manner?

  • Follow Up: Do you allow yourself to use similar language? Why or Why Not?

Q. What do these passages teach us about God’s ability to hear our cries/complaints?
Hint: He is not alarmed or surprised. These Psalms have been given to us to provide us language and permission to air our true thoughts and emotions.

Read Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20.

Q. When it comes to evil and suffering in this world, we quickly want to jump to these passages; do you find them to be helpful? Have you gone through an experience that proves this?

Read Isaiah 53:4-9.

Q. What does this passage us teach us about God’s solution to the problem of evil and suffering?

Q. Does the fact that God has experienced everything we have change your perspective?

Application

Famous pastor and preacher Charles Spurgeon once said: “God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.” Take time praying for those in our community who may be going through a trying time, that they may be able to trust God’s heart, even though they may not be able to see his hand in the midst of their circumstance.

Resources

Heritage Park Campus

If God Is Good, Why Is There Evil & Suffering?

June 9, 2019 • Michael Hearn

Westside Campus

If God Is Good, Why Is There Evil & Suffering?

June 9, 2019 • Roger Martin

 

The Debrief: Episode 11

Evil & Suffering

June 11, 2019

 

 

Week 3

June 16, 2019

Individual/Group Study Guide

Conversation Starters

People are often timid when it comes to approaching the Old Testament. For in it are several passages that tell us about something that makes us uncomfortable. Some of it seems so out of God’s character, some seem extremely harsh. How are we to reconcile two almost contradictory images of God as presented in the Bible?

Big Idea: God in the Old Testament is as patient, merciful, and loving as Jesus is pictured in the New Testament.

Watch Roundtable Discussion (8 mins) by Bryan Chapell, J. D. Greear, and Mike McKinley

Follow Up: Is there anything from this video that helped you develop a better understanding?

Follow Up: Does it bring frustration or encouragement that well-respected pastors and theologians still wrestle with these very questions?

Get the Conversation Started

Q. The difficulty we experience with questions like this one is the fact that intellectual reasoning often falls short in helping resolve the emotional tension. Because we don’t have all the answers to questions like this, does that cause frustration or encouragement for you?

Q. Often the critique made against God and his law is that it can seem immoral and unethical. Yet we fail to see how God’s law exhibits his character as compassionate and gracious.  Christopher Wright in The Old Testament Ethic writes:

[The Law provides] protection for the weak, especially those who lacked the natural protection of family and land (namely, widows, orphans, Levites, immigrants and resident aliens); justice for the poor; impartiality in the courts; generosity at harvest time and in general economic life; respect for persons and property, even of an enemy; sensitivity to the dignity even of the debtor; special care for strangers and immigrants; considerate treatment of the disabled; prompt payment of wages earned by hired labor; sensitivity over articles taken in pledge; consideration for people in early marriage, or in bereavement; even care for animals, domestic and wild, and for fruit trees…

Read & Discuss

Read:
Exodus 22:21-27; 23:4-9
Leviticus 19:9-10, 13-18, 33-34
Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 15:7-15; 20:5-7; 21:10-14; 22:1-4; 23:24-25; 24:5-6, 10-15, 17-22; 25:4; 27:18-19, 25

How does this help shape your perspective of God’s law and His character?

Q. Read Isaiah 26:9: My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

What is the prophet Isaiah communicating about what happens when God’s judgement takes place on earth? Is this something He wants? Do you share a similar perspective?

Q. When God instructs His people to drive out and wipe out a neighboring people group (Deut. 7, 1 Sam. 15:3), His concern is more about the evil of the people and their religious practices. He wants to create a good and safe neighborhood for His people, His kids, to dwell and experience blessing. In light of this perspective, how does your understanding of this call to action shift?

Q. Hebrews 13:8 states: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. How do the events discussed from the Old Testament impact your view of Jesus? How does looking to Jesus give us a better understanding of the events in the Old Testament?

Application

When it comes to difficult topics such as this, it requires two things of us: trust and humility. First, that we can trust God, His word, and character. Second, that we have humilty, acknowledging that we don’t (and can’t) know everything (Deut. 29:29). Spend some time praying, asking God to grow your ability to trust and remain humble.

Heritage Park Campus

Is God a Moral Monster?

June 16, 2019 • Michael Hearn

Westside Campus

Is God a Moral Monster?

June 16, 2019 • David Libby

 

The Debrief: Episode 12

Morality and Misconception

June 17, 2019

Week 4

June 23, 2019

 

Individual/Group Study Guide

Conversation Starters

What’s right for you may not necessarily be right for me. We should learn to embrace the differences and just let each other be happy, correct? Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist.” Solutions to this question get cloudier and cloudier every day. Whether you work in a cubicle, on a work site, or classroom, we are constantly barraged with culture telling us how we should set moral norms. Yet, what do the Scriptures actually teach us?

Big Idea: God, who has revealed Himself in His Word is both the standard and authority for morals.

GET THE CONVERSATION STARTED

Q. Who, or what has played the biggest influence in your life in helping you determine right from wrong?

Watch: The (Anti-Christian) Moral Absolutes of Our Culture (3 min) by Kevin DeYoung

Q. Any thoughts or response on how Pastor Kevin DeYoung presents the problem of moral relativism? Agree or Disagree?

Read & Discuss

Read 1 John 3:9-10 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Q. Why do the Scriptures regularly equate whom one loves with being a determining factor of how they behave? What should this teach us?

Q. What does the importance of being born again play into the ability to follow God’s will and Word for our lives?

Read Acts 5:29 Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Q. We often fear falling victim to the court of public opinion, so rather than doing what we know is right, we go along or endorse something we know that is the opposite of what God would want. How do the Apostles words challenge this way of thinking?

Follow Up: Is there any area in specific that comes to mind where you may have compromised?

Application

In the ministry of Jesus, we see a few things happen. First, He shows and gives a large amount of grace towards those who appear to be behaving immorally. Who do we need to approach in a loving, grace-filled manner? Who do we need to pray for to receive a new heart (Ezk. 36:26)? Secondly, in Jesus’ ministry, we see Him extremely critical toward and rebuking those who claim their superiority based upon their external moral performance. Who of us may need to repent of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, forgetting it is by grace we have been saved, not our religious performance?

Resources

Chapter 3 – The Reason for God – Timothy Keller

Chapter 3 – Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis

Video & artist rendition of chapterhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqsAzlFS91A

Chapter 9 & 10Making Sense of God – Timothy Keller

Heritage Park Campus

Is Christianity a Moral Straight Jacket?

June 23, 2019 • Kyle Wetzler

Westside Campus

Is Christianity a Moral Straight Jacket?

June 23, 2019 • Kenan Stolz

 

The Debrief: Episode 13

Is Christianity a Moral Straight Jacket?

June 24, 2019 

Week 5

June 30, 2019

Individual/Group Study Guide

Conversation Starters

“Growth in character and change in behavior occur in a gradual process after a person becomes a Christian. The mistaken belief that a person must ‘clean up’ his or her own life in order to merit God’s presence is not Christianity. This means, though, that the church will be filled with immature and broken people who still have a long way to go emotionally, morally, and spiritually. As the saying has it: ‘The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.‘” – Tim Keller A Reason for God, pg 53

I saw about a peck of counterfeit dollars once. Did I go to the window and throw away all my good dollars? No! Yet you reject Christianity because there are hypocrites, or counterfeit Christians. – W.E. Biederwolf

Consistency of character is important. We look to people to see if they practice what they preach. Unfortunately, it appears often that the church community fails to do just that. How should that impact our view of the Christian faith?

Big Idea: Christians’ inability to be perfect doesn’t discredit the faith; it reinforces the need for the Gospel.

Get the conversation started

Q. Has the poor behavior of Christians impacted your beliefs about Christianity? Was it ever a roadblock to faith for you? A nuisance? Something you haven’t given much thought to?

Q. Do you agree with the following statement: When evaluating Christianity, one needs to look to Jesus, His teaching and claims, and not His church.

Read & Discuss

Read James 1:22-25

Q. How might James’ exhortation here have an influence on whether we are seen as hypocrites or not?

Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-7

Q. What are some of the claims the Apostle Paul makes about our weaknesses?

Q. How do our weakness, failures, and faults let Christ shine?

Q. Jesus taught quite a bit about how we ought to live our lives. As disciples of Jesus, we are people who follow the way of Jesus. What does it look like to walk with integrity rather than hypocrisy?

Application

There is a fairly popular saying out there that states: “God can use crooked sticks to draw straight lines.” God uses broken people to do great things for the Kingdom of God. Spend time praying for one another that God would help apply all the truths we learned this series to become better evangelists towards our neighbors, co-workers, and families.

Resources

Heritage Park Campus

If Christianity Is True, Why Are There So Many Hypocrites?

June 30, 2019 • Jon Siebert

Westside Campus

If Christianity Is True, Why Are There So Many Hypocrites?

June 30, 2019 • David Libby

 

The Debrief: Episode 14

If Christianity Is True, Why Are There So Many Hypocrites?

July 1, 2019