Bible study recordings: October 2020 - January 2021
During lockdown we held regular Bible studies via Zoom. See below for recordings of our studies on 'The foundational principles of church' and Romans 14, which were held from October 2020 - January 2021, here for details and recordings of our studies on prayer and 'What really happened at the Fall in the Garden?' held from February - April 2021 and here for recordings of our studies from April - July 2020 .
Wednesday 27th January 2021 - Topic: Romans chapter 14
Read Romans 14 and 15 Points to ponder: 1. When you read those passages through, what encouraged you in them? 2. What challenged you in them? 3. We might have thought that Paul would consider the person who has a strong faith to be the one who would refuse to eat meat but, for him, it is the other way round. Why do you think that is? 4. What difference do think it would make if we remembered that each one of us is ‘someone else’s servant’? What was Paul driving at when he said that? 5. What did Paul mean when he said, ‘if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord‘? (14:8). 6. What do you think Paul meant when he said in 14:23 ‘and everything that does not come from faith is sin’?
It will be worth reading the Bible Insight on a ‘weak conscience’ in order to give some background to what’s going on here.
Following on from the Bible study John has written an article entitled 'Judging - how to know when it is wrong or right'. Click here to read John's article.
Bible studies - The foundational principles of church
Wednesday 13th January 2021 - Topic: 'Giftings'
Read: Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 2:20, 3:5, 4:11-12. Points to Ponder 1. Why do you think Paul found it necessary to warn the Christians in Rome against thinking of themselves more highly than they ought? 2. Why does Paul use ‘the faith that God has distributed to each of you’ as the measuring stick of how we ought to think about ourselves? 3. What are your thoughts on the statement that ‘each member belongs to all the others’? 4. As you read through this list of gifts (and include the other lists in the passages mentioned above), do you have a sense of the way in which God has called you to serve him amongst his people? Remember, you can have more than one gift!
Wednesday 9th December 2020 - Topic: 'Openness and honesty'
Read: Proverbs 11:3; Matthew 5:8; Luke 6:31; 19:1-10; John 2:23-25; Ephesians 4:22-25. Points to ponder: 1. We usually know when a child is not being open because they don’t look at you. If, as a child, we were not taught to look, we develop sophisticated ways of not looking as adults. Can you recognise any of these in yourself or someone close to you? 2. Give 3 reasons why you think it is important to be open and honest with each other 3. How open should we be? Should we always wear our hearts on our sleeves? Is there a time to not be open? If so, in what kind of situations? 4. In what areas do you think you should be more open and honest – or less?
Read: John 1:35-42; Luke 22: 31-34; Matthew 26:69-75; John 21. Points to Ponder 1. Why do you think Jesus gave ‘Simon son of John’ the new name of Peter? 2. Why is there an emphasis on ‘Jesus looked at him…’. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that he did if he was speaking to Peter? 3. The word translated ‘looked at’ means to look past the surface to what is inside. We would say, ‘to look with x-ray eyes’. If Jesus looks with ‘x-ray eyes’ at us – what would he see? 4. What did Jesus see when he looked at Peter? 5. Describe something of the process that Peter had to go through in order to justify the name that Jesus gave him. 6. What difference would it make to the way we love one another if we looked at each other with ‘x-ray eyes’ in the way that Jesus did?
Wednesday 28th October 2020 - Topics: 'Commitment' and 'Loyalty' - part 1
Read 1 Corinthians 13 in the context of the life of the church and the way in which we treat one another. Points to Ponder: 1. If you look at the list of essential ingredients that make good relationships possible - trust, commitment, loyalty, openness, honesty, vision and giftings - which one is missing? (If you are really clever you might be able to work out why it is missing). 2. What comes to your mind when you hear the word, ‘commitment’? Is it positive or negative? 3. If you think of committing yourself to a church, what do you think you are committing to? 4. When Jesus asked people to commit themselves, what was always at the heart of his invitation? 5. If you described someone as a ‘loyal person’ what would you mean by that? 6. Is there such a thing as ‘misplaced loyalty’ and what could that look like? 7. Is there a single concept in the Bible that encapsulates God’s commitment and loyalty towards us?
Wednesday 14th October 2020 - Topics: 'A biblical view of church' and 'Trust'
Read Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:7-13; Hebrews 11:6 Points to Ponder: a. A biblical view of church 1. Which metaphor for the church is the most meaningful for you – and why - (e.g. temple, family)? 2. Why do you think the church is important? 3. Based on Ephesians 3:10, the scholar F.F. Bruce comments, ‘This new, comprehensive community is to serve throughout the universe as an object-lesson of the wisdom of God’. In what ways should the church be an object lesson of wisdom to a watching universe? b. Trust 1. What ideas do you associate with the word, ‘trust’? 2. Why do you think trust is so important to relationships? 3. In your experience, does trust come easily to you? If not, what have been the greatest obstacles to trust?
God’s church is amazing. That vast number of people, found across the globe, often in the most unlikely of places, was God’s great idea. As F.F. Bruce puts it when commenting on Ephesians 3:10 - ‘This new, comprehensive community is to serve throughout the universe as an object-lesson of the wisdom of God’.
It is right at the heart of God’s eternal purposes. When Paul writes of the power that raised Christ from the dead, and that put him above all other powers, he says that ‘God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church’ (Ephesians 1:22). Church is absolutely central to all that God is doing and will do with his creation. Even while describing this elevated position of glory to which Christ has been raised, Paul adds that the church, ‘is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way’ (Ephesians 1:23). We can’t be any closer than that to the action.
The church is the place where God’s Spirit lives when we allow ourselves, as living stones to be ‘built into a spiritual house’ (1 Peter 2:5). We are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21-22), occupied by the Spirit of God who brings into our relationships the very presence of the Father and the Son.
When the church is functioning as it should, it has the ability, because Christ is at the centre, to meet the deepest needs of every human heart. The world craves for what the church has – but doesn’t know it. There are three reasons for this:
some people have never heard the message in all its si icity.
some hear and don’t want it because they are not prepared to have Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.
the church can obscure and contradict the message it is trying to communicate.
We can do something about the first and third. We must keep communicating the wonderful salvation that God has made available through Christ - and we need to ask ourselves if we are living lives that are consistent with the message.
The Bible doesn’t recognise the ‘lone Christian.’ It is full of phrases that speak of relationships – e.g. ‘each other’, ‘one another. It contains images that demonstrate the connections we have with each other – the body, the living temple, God’s family. It is only in the context of our love for one another that God’s ‘love is made complete in us’ (1 John 4:12). When we are ‘born again’, we are born into a family – God’s family.
Church is an opportunity to work out together, led by the Spirit, what those relationships look like in practice. We never arrive, this side of heaven, but we are journeying together.
Over the next few months, there will be fortnightly Bible studies to look at key principles that can make our relationships work and that can demonstrate to a watching world that there is wisdom in the church for what matters most – our relationship with God and with each other (Deuteronomy 4:6)