7 Questions for Finding God’s Will

“Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,

Pilgrim through this barren land;

I am weak, but Thou art mighty,

Hold me with Thy powerful hand”

– William Williams


Decision making is incredibly hard. People often look for some emotional response to find God’s will for their life, and often feel uncertain because of the subjectivity of it all. Is it the Holy Spirit, or your baked potato? How can you really know what God would have you to do? Here are seven questions to ask before making a decision.


  1. Is it sinful? (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

God is not leading you to cheat on your taxes, move in with your girlfriend, lie to your boss or gossip. Things that God plainly condemns in the Bible in black and white are never the will of God, no matter the emotions you drum up in yourself.  On the flip side, if something is commanded (pray, read your Bible, share the gospel), you must do it no matter how you feel. God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105), so read the Bible deeply and widely. Get a feel for the big theological themes, and read with particular fervency when making a decision.

2. Have I prayed? (Philippians 1:9-10)

James 1:5-6 says that if we lack wisdom, ask God for it in faith and He will give it to us. Pray, not for a sign or a feeling, but for God to make you wise to understand the right choice. Biblical prayer is almost always based on identifying what God is doing, and asking to be a part of His promises. In the Old Testament, this was often asking for the protection of the patriarchs or for a child to be born to continue the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Today, that means that our desire (prayer in the name of Jesus) should be for God to accomplish what He is doing in history now, which is making disciples of all nations. Have you cried out to God in an echo of that big picture.

3. Is my motivation sinful? (Romans 14:23)

It is possible to do the right thing with the wrong heart. A sinful heart contaminates everything it touches. It may be the right thing, but if it done in the wrong way, it is sin (2 Corinthians 9:7). If you got no credit, would it change your decision? If it hurt you personally, but advanced God’s Kingdom, would you still do it? Carefully examine your heart and try to understand what is drawing you to this course of action. A temptation does not mean a decision is wrong, but it does mean we should be cautious if we want our decision to please God (1 Corinthians 4:5).

4. How is my relationship with God?

Psalm 37:4-5 says that if your delight is in the Lord and your life is committed to Him, He will give you the desire of your heart. This is not a blank check, or a works-based relationship with God. It is the truth that loving someone changes us, remolding our priorities and desires. When God is my delight, the desires of my heart will be right, and He will delight in giving them to me. Is there any known sin in your life you of which you need to repent? Anything you already know you should be doing which you are not? Sin has a clouding effect.  Draw close to Him, and it is easier to listen.

5. What do other godly people think? (Proverbs 24:6)

God did not make you to be alone, but to be in community. We are all imperfect and need other people’s strengths to balance our weaknesses. Go to wise, godly people and explain the situation to them. Then take this under serious consideration – especially if it is not what you want to hear (cf 1 Kings 12).

6. What seems wise?

Strange to us, over and over again in the Bible, we find people making decisions based on what they thought, rather than talking about being “led.”  1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 and Philippians 2:25-26 are good examples. God expects that, when you have used the Bible’s direct teaching and prayed, when you are walking with Him and careful to evaluate yourself, your thinking has been shaped by His Word. Then do what seems right.

7. What would you do if you trusted God completely? (Proverbs 3:5-6)

In Spencer Johnson’s classic little book Who Moved My Cheese?, Haw writes on the wall: “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” For Christians, we might ask a better question: “What would I do if I trusted God?” I would not sin and make excuses for it, because I know that God would bless me in His will. I would not “do evil that good may come,” because I trust that what God says is best. I would not be afraid, because I would know that I am never alone where God sends me. If you believe He is the King of the World, make your decision like it is true.


Within these boundaries, God has given us great freedom. Like Adam and Eve were free to eat of every tree but one, we may have a number of good options. If you feel a particular peace with one, take it, knowing that even if your emotions are deceived, the choice was still an acceptable one. I believe that as we walk with God more, our sensitivity to these minor course corrections grows. If, like Paul, God shuts some doors you want to take, move in a different direction, since He is sovereign. Above all, trust that, since it is God’s will, He both wants you to do it and know it. He loves you, and will use all things to make you more like His Son who died for you and lives for you.

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“Just as a sick man does not ask the doctor for things which will restore him to health but rather for things which his disease longs for, so likewise we, as long as we are languishing in the weakness of this life, will from time to time ask God for things which are not good for us. This is why the Spirit has to help us.” – Origen[1]


This Sunday, we looked at Romans 8:26-30 and learned that everything which happens to us is part of God’s master plan for molding us into the image of Christ. The journey from the gutter to glory often requires the painful setting of bones or the ache of new muscles, but new life is inevitably bursting from our rot.

Hope and responsibility kiss in this text. Hope – because the text is clear that all of those who are justified will be glorified. God does not lose anyone. Responsibility, because no part of the promise says it is now. Like many things in the Bible, this promise is unconditional, but the timing is not.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” If you are a Christian, you are forgiven of your sins, and will one day stand before God and see Him as He is. Yet, if you are entangled in sin today, the filth on your heart will cloud your eyes (to mix three metaphors). Likewise, all things work together for God for those who love God, for the called according to His purpose. Ultimately, all those who are really His children will love God. Yet, if you do not love God now, the experiences He sends to shape you will only embitter you.

Practically, what does that look like for you today? Paul introduces the solution in the first two verses of our text: Romans 8:26-27. Prayer! The battle for our lives is won or lost in our hears; the battle for our heart is won or lost on our knees. In prayer, we learn to love God. In loving God, we learn how to live. So why are our prayer lives so weak? Why are we so good at being busy and so bad at being still and knowing that He is God? Why can my mind stay focused on a TV show, a book or a conversation with my wife (no comments from the peanut gallery), but not on intertwining my heart with my Maker? Really, it should not come as any surprise that the enemy comes at us where we have the potential for our greatest victory. Let’s take three baby steps from our passage to strengthen our prayer life, develop a love for God and let all things make us like Jesus.

Recognize our Weakness

There is a remarkable humility in recognizing that my heart is broken, in the deepest sense. The things I am prone to love are not the things I need. I desire wrongly, think wrongly and therefore pray wrongly. I am not a self-made man, and I cannot get myself out of the messes I am in. I am fragile, I am dependent and, when I refuse to accept help, I am stupid and proud. Can you fall on your knees, literally and figuratively, in complete dependence on God? Pride is the enemy of love, whether for God or other people.

Pray Despite our Weakness

On your knees now, you must pray imperfectly. God knows that your prayers are dull, self-serving instruments, and now you do too. The response to that is not to give up on praying, but to pour out your heart as it is. When it is in God’s hands, His Spirit comes alongside your Spirit, and groans deeper than your words. Pray until you sense that groaning beneath your words, and the birth pangs of the new person God is bringing out within you find their satisfaction in Him.

Trust God with our weakness

Now, child of God, as you pray you simply trust God. He  knows your heart, and He knows the Spirit’s prayer. That prayer is for his will for you, which you must trust is what will make you into glory. It may hurt you in the present, but you have to trust Him. If He gave His Son for you, He has proven His love. How can you doubt that He has your best interests at heart? As you trust Him, in light of His love, you will love Him in return.

As you realize your need of Him, you will love Him like a child loves his mother. When you love Him, your heart receives the things He sends differently. When you become malleable, you become like Him. All things work together for that good.



[1] Gerald Bray, ed., Romans (Revised), Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 221.

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Proposed Doctrinal Statement

Proposed Doctrinal Statement

To Be Voted on 8/10/16


I.           Of the Scriptures

We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter, that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.

II Tim. 3:16-17; II Tim. 3:15; Proverbs 30:5-6; Romans 2:12; Phil. 3:16; I John 4:1

II.          Of the True God

We believe that there is one, and only one living and true God, an infinite intelligent Spirit, whose name is YAHWEH, the Maker and supreme Ruler of heaven and earth; inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love; that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.

John 4:24; Ps. 83:18; Heb.3:4; Rom. 1:20; Jer.10:10; Ex.15:11; Ps.147:5; Isa.6:3; I Pet.1:15-16; Rev.4:6-8; Mark 12:30; Rev.4:11; Matt.10:37; Jer.2:12-13; Matt.28:19; John 15:26; I Cor.12:4-6; I John 5:7; John 10:30; John 5:17; John 14:23; John 17:5&10; Acts 5:3-4; I Cor.2:10-11; Phil. 2:5-6; Eph. 2:18; II Cor.13:14; Rev. 1:4-5.

III.     Of Creation

We believe that the universe and all that are in it were formed by the decree of God and is rightfully his own possession; that God created as a sovereign act of love, not to fulfill any deficiency in himself; that the act of creating was a triune act, decreed by the Father, executed by the Son and superintended by the Spirit; that the Son continually upholds the created world by His power; that the original creation was very good, without any shadow of evil; that this creation testifies of the eternal glory of God and convicts all men for their failure to worship; that the formation of things which are seen from the things which are unseen is the declaration of faith; that the days in Genesis 1 are literal days ; that on the sixth day, God created mankind in His image as the apple of his eye and the crowning glory of the created order; and that physical bodies and the material world are not inherently evil, but have been placed under the bondage of vanity in positive expectation that they will be entirely restored on the last day.


Gen. 1:1; Ps. 24:1-2;Ecc. 11:5; Is. 66:1-2;Jer. 10:16; Acts 17:24;Ex. 3:14; John 5:26; Acts 17:25; Rom. 11:36; Rom. 4:11; Gen. 1:2; Psalm 104:30; John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Psalm 36:6; Mat. 10:29-30; Acts 17:28; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; Gen. 1:31; Ecc. 7:29; Isa. 45:18; Heb. 4:3; Neh. 9:6; Job 12:7-10; Psalm 148:13; Is. 40:25-28; Rom. 1:18-20; Hebrews 11:3; Gen 1:5;  Ex. 20:11; Gen. 1:26-27; Ps. 100:3; Gen. 3:17-19; Rom. 8:20-22; Heb. 6:8; 2 Pet. 3:10-12


IV. Of Sexuality

We believe that gender is a good gift of God’s creation, whereby from the beginning He created them male and female, so they may manifest unique attributes of God by distinct roles, both being from the moment of conception wholly in His image; that marriage is designed to be a lifelong, covenant union of man and woman as one flesh; that marriage serves as a picture of Christ’s relationship with His church; and that the marriage bed is to be held in honor among all, with sexual intimacy and cohabitation reserved for the married as a unique manifestation of the oneness we experience with the Lord and our eternal home with Him.

Gen. 1:27; Gen. 2:20-24; Gen. 5:2; Ex. 15:3; Is. 66:12-13; I Cor. 7:1-7; I Cor. 11:3-16; Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 5:22-23; I Tim. 2:11-15; Titus 2:1-5; I Peter 3:1-7; Prov. 31:10-23; Gen. 2:23-24; Mal. 2:14; Matt. 19:6; Rom. 7:2; I Cor. 7:32; Prov. 5:15-19; John 14:2; John 17:23-26 Acts 15:20; Rom. 1:24-27; I Cor. 6:19-20; I Cor. 7:3-5; II Cor. 5:1; Heb. 13:4; I Thess. 4:3-8; Rev. 19:7-9.


V.                Of the Fall of Man

We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker, but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.

Gen.1:27; Gen.1:31; Ecc.7:29; Acts 17:26-29; Gen.2:16-17; Gen.3:6-24; Rom. 5:12; Rom.5:15-19; Ps.51:5; Rom.8:7; Isa.53:6; Gen.6:12; Rom.3:9-18; Eph.2:1-3; Rom.1:18,32; Rom.2:1-16; Gal.3:10; Matt. 20:15; Ezek. 18:19-20; Rom.1:20; Rom.3:19; Gal. 3:22.

VI.             Of the Way of Salvation

We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace; through the Mediatorial offices of the Son of God; who by the appointment of the Father freely took upon him our nature, yet without sin; honored the divine law by his personal obedience, and by his death made a full atonement for our sins; that having risen from the dead, he is now enthroned in heaven; and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfections, he is every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all-sufficient Saviour.

Eph.2:3, Matt. 18:11, I John 4:10, I Cor.3:5-7, Acts 15:11, John 3:16, John 1:1-14, Heb. 4:14, Heb. 12-24, Phil. 2:9&14, II Cor. 5:21, Isa. 42:21, Phil. 2:8, Gal. 4:4-5, Rom. 3:21, Isa. 53:4-5, Matt. 20:28, Rom.4:25, Rom. 3:21-26, I John 2:3, I Cor. 15:1-3, Heb.9:13-15, Heb.1:8, Heb. 1:3, Col. 3:1-4, Heb. 7:25, Col. 2:18, Heb. 7:26, Ps. 89:19, Ps.34

VII.          Of Justification

We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in him is justification; that justification includes the pardon of sin, and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood; by virtue of which faith his perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God; that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity.

John 1:16, Eph.3:8, Acts 13:39, Isa. 53:11-12, Rom5:1-2, Rom. 5:9, Zech. 13;1, Matt. 9:6, Acts 10:43, Rom. 5:17, Titus 3:5-7, I Peter 3:7, I John 2:25, Rom. 5:21, Rom. 4:4-5,

Rom. 6:23, Phil. 3:7-9, Rom. 5:19, Rom. 3:24-26, Rom.4:23-25, I John 2:12, Rom. 5:3, Rom. 5:11, I Cor. 1:30-31, Matt. 6:33, I Tim. 4:8

VIII.     Of the Freeness of Salvation

We believe that the blessings of salvation in the new birth are made free to all by the gospel; that this salvation secures newness of life now and eternal life in the age to come; that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial penitent, and obedient faith; and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth, but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the gospel; which rejection involves him in an aggravated condemnation.

Isa. 55:1, Rev. 22:17, Rom. 16:25-26, Mark 1:15, Rom. 1:15-17, John 5:40, Matt.23:37, Rom.9:32, Pro. 1:24, Acts 13:46, John 3:19, Matt. 11:20, Luke 10:27, II Thess. 1:8; John 3:3, John 3:6-7, I Cor.3:14, Rev.14:3, Rev. 21:27, II Cor. 5;17, Ezek. 36:26, Deu. 30-6, Rom. 2:28-29, Rom.5:5, I John 4:7, John 3:8, John 1:13, James 1:16-18, I Cor. 1:30, Phil. 2:13, I Peter 1:22-25, I John 5:1, Eph. 4:20-24, Col. 3:9-11, Eph. 5:9, Rom. 8:90, Gal. 5:16-23, Eph. 3:14-21, Matt. 3:8-10, Matt.7:20, I John 5:4, 18

IX.                Of Repentance and Faith

We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties and also inseparable graces without which no man may be saved, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Savior.

Mark 1:15, Acts 11:18, Eph. 2:8, I John 5:1, John 16:8, Acts 2:37-38, Acts 16:30-31 Luke 18:13, Luke 15:18-21, James 4:7-10, II Cor. 7:11, Tim. 10:12-13, Ps.51, Rom. 10:9-11, Acts 3:22-23, Heb. 4:14, Ps.2:6, Heb. 1:8, Heb. 7:25, II Tim. 1:12


X.              Of Sanctification

We believe that sanctification is the process by which according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness; that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration; and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means, especially the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer.


I Thess. 4:3; I Thess. 5:23; II Cor. 7:1; II Cor. 13:10; Phil. 3:12-16; I John 2:29; Rom. 8:5; Eph. 1:4; Pro. 4:18; II Cor. 3:18; Heb. 6:1; II Peter 1:5-8; John 3:6; Phil. 1:9-11; Eph. 1:13-14; Phil. 2:12-13; Eph. 4:11-12; I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18; II Cor. 13:5; Luke 11:35; Luke 9:23; Matt. 26:41; Eph.6:18; Eph.4:30

XI.            Of Perseverance of the Saints

We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end: that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special providence watches over their welfare, and that although they may stumble and wrestle with sin, grieving the Spirit and depriving themselves of temporal blessings, they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

John 8:31; I John 2:27-28; I John 3:9; I John 5:18; I John 2:19; John 13:18; Matt. 13:2021; John 6:66-69; Job 17:9; Rom. 8:28; Matt. 6:30-33; Jer. 32:40; Ps.121:3; Ps. 91:11-12;

Phil. 1:6; Phil. 2:13; Jude 24:25; Heb.1:14; II Kings 6:16; Heb. 13:5; I John 4:4

XII.           Of a Gospel Church

We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by his laws; and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his word; that its only scriptural officers are bishops or pastors and deacons whose qualifications, claims and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus; that God has restricted exercising church authority and teaching to men; that the church has no King but Christ, yet he administers His reign through the Holy Spirit in the membership and that no corporate or denominational body has any authority to bind them.

I Cor. 1:1-3; Matt. 18:17; Acts 5:11; Acts 8:1; Acts 11:21-23; I Cor. 4:17; I Cor. 14:23; III John 9; I Tim. 3:5; Acts 2:41-42; II Cor. 8:5; Acts 2:47; I Cor. 5:12-13; I Cor. 11:2; II Thess. 3:6; Rom. 16:17-20; I Cor.11:23-24; Matt. 18:15-20; I Cor. 5:6; II Cor. 2:17; I Cor. 4:17; Matt. 28:20; John 14:15; John 15:12; I John 14:21; I Thess. 4:2; II John 6; Gal. 6:2; Eph. 4:7; I Cor. 14:12; Phil. 1:1; Acts 14:23; Acts 15:22; I Tim. 3; Titus 1; I Cor. 14:34;  I Tim. 2:1; Eph. 4:15;

XIII.        Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

We believe that the Christian baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost; to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried and risen Savior, with its effect, in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life; that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation, and to the Lord’s Supper; in which the members of the church by the sacred use of bread and the fruit of the vine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination.

Acts 8:36-39; Matt. 3:5-6; John 3:22-23; John 4:12; Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12; Acts 16:32-34; Acts 18:8; Acts 10:47-48; Gal.3:26-28; Rom.6:4; Col. 2:12; I Peter 3:20-21; Acts 22:16; Acts 2:41-42; I Cor. 11:26; Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; I Cor.11:28; I Cor. 5:1-8; I Cor. 10:3-32; I Cor. 11:17-32; John 6:26

XIV.      Of the Lord’s Day

We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, commemorating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead; and it is to be kept sacred to worship by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private and public; and by preparation for the rest that remains for the people of God.

Acts 20:7; Gen. 2:3; Col. 2:16-17; Mark 2:27; John 20:19; I Cor. 16:1-2; Ex. 20:8; Rev. 1:10; Ps. 118:15, 24; Isa. 58:13-14; Isa. 56:2-8; Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 11:26; Acts 13:44; Lev. 19:30; Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2-3; Ps. 26:8; Ps. 87:3; Heb. 4:3-11

XV. Of the Civil Government

We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society; that it ought to always respect the freedom of the conscience, not interfering with or accomplishing the spiritual work of the church, but rendering unto God what is God’s and unto Caesar what is Caesar’s; that its power is necessarily limited, being weak through the flesh, such that it can never accomplish the work of the gospel in affecting true righteousness; and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed; except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.

Rom. 13:1-7; Deu. 16:18; II Sam. 23:3; Ex. 18:23; Jer. 30:21; Matt. 22:21; Titus 3:1; I Peter 2:13; I Tim. 2:1-4; Acts 5:29; Matt.28; Dan. 3:15-18; Dan. 6:7-10; Acts 4:18-20; Matt. 23:10; Rom. 14:4; Rev. 19:16; Ps.72:11; Ps.2; Rom. 14:9-13


XVI.        Of the Righteous and the Wicked

We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in his esteem; while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked, and under the curse; and this distinction holds among men both in and after death.

Mal. 3:18; Pro. 12:26; Isa. 5:20; Gen. 18:23; Jer. 15:19; Acts 10:34-35; Rom. 6:16; Rom. 1:17; Rom. 7:6; I John 2:29; I John 3:7; Rom. 6:18,22; I Cor. 11:32; Pro. 11:31; I Peter 4:17-18; I John 5:19; Gal. 3:10; John 3:36; Isa. 57:21; Ps. 10:4; Isa. 55:6-7; Pro. 14:32;

Luke 16:25; John 8:21-24; Pro. 10:24; Luke 12:4-5; Luke 9:23-26; Ecc. 3:17; Matt. 7:13-14


XVII.           Of the World to Come

We believe that the end of the world is approaching; that at the Last Day Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place; that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.

I Peter 4:7; I Cor. 7:29-31; Heb. 1:10-12; Matt. 24:35; I John 2:17; Matt. 28:20; Matt. 13:39-40; II Peter 3:3-13; Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7; Heb. 9:28; Acts 3:21; I Thess 4:13-18; I Thess. 5:1-11; Acts 24:15; I Cor. 15:12-58; Luke 14:14; Dan. 12:2 John 5:28-29; John 6:40; John 11:25-26; II Tim. 1:10; Acts 10:42; Matt. 13:49; Matt. 13:37-43; Matt. 24:3031; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 22:11; I Cor. 6:9-10; Mark 9:43-48; II Peter 2:9; Jude 7; Phil. 3:19; Rom. 6:23; II Cor. 5:10-11; John 4:36; II Cor. 4:18; Rom. 3:5-6; II Thess. 1:6-12: Heb. 6:1-2; I Cor. 4:5; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:2-16; Rev.20:11-12; I John 2:28; I John 4:17; II Peter 3:11-12


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Genesis 5, Matthew 5

Matthew 5, the opening of the Sermon on the Mount is some of the most important ethical teaching in the Bible, as Jesus sums up the moral code of the Kingdom. The sermon is beyond counter-cultural, it is subversive of the world order itself. In other revolutions, the same basic structure is always retained; the only difference is in who holds the power. Not so with the Kingdom of God! It subversively begins with a baby, treats service as the aim of leadership (not a means to acquire it) and . While other revolutions are really reformations of who holds power, the coming of the Kingdom changes the very definition of power.

The sermon begins with the so-called “Beatitudes,” the blesséds. Each one of these says that the common definitions of good and bad circumstances are completely reversed: the mourner, the meek, the merciful, the poor in spirit, the persecuted and the peacemaker are praised over the partying, the bold, the fair, the proud, the powerful and the victor. Jesus intends for His people to be radically different in their values and their behavior.

From there, Jesus explains that He “fulfills” the Law. What does this mean? The Law is not a prophecy (any more than “Out of Egypt I will call my Son” was a prophecy in Matthew 2:15), so it cannot be fulfilled in the sense of “occurred as predicted.” In 2:15, Hosea 10:1 was fulfilled in that Jesus brought the words to their fullest sense by being everything Israel ought to have been. In the same sense, Jesus fulfilled the Law by becoming everything it was ever intended to do. He did not just carry out the commands, but kept even His heart pure (He expounds on the Law in this way in the rest of the chapter). He did not just carry out the rituals, but every ritual ultimately pointed to His sacrifice. Both commands and rituals were made “full” in Him – passing away when all was accomplished (Matthew 5:18).

Ultimately, the Law is an edifice built on the foundation of faith (Romans 3:31), so Christians, freed from the law, follow the ethical injunctions from the rest of the chapter – fulfilling the Law. The sermon on the mount is a call to the highest level of living.


Acts 5, Ezra 5

In Acts 5, we come to the account of Ananias and Sapphire. At this stage, the church exists as a commune, where all resources are shared. Once Christians were excommunicated from the Jewish society, this became the most practical way to live. This entire system was threatened by the dishonesty of a couple who hoped to live on the benefits of the society, while holding back for themselves. These two are then struck dead by God for their dishonesty. It is interesting to see that God often uses extreme measures at the beginning of a new period of dealing with people (sometimes called a “dispensation,” if we define the term carefully). The apostles are then forbidden to preach in the name of Jesus, to which they respond with a rousing sermon. The high point is Acts 5:29-32.

Ezra 5 tells the story of continuing opposition to the work of rebuilding the temple. Providentially, the people are not stopped until a letter can be taken to King Darius and returned, because the eye of their God was upon them, a beautiful, intimate picture of God’s attentive love for us (Ezra 5:5).

Things to Talk About

1.) In Acts 5:29, Peter says that we should obey God instead of men. What are some ways where you can fail to do this and let people’s opinions come before God’s?

2.) The enemies of the Israelites sent a letter to verify if permission had really been granted to rebuild the temple. Can you discuss a time when you were protected by your own upright character?

3.) Ananias and Sapphira are killed for lying at the beginning of the church age, but there is no record of anything even remotely like this in the rest of the Bible. How can disciplines at the beginning of a time, like the year, set the tone for things to come? f you are lazy with your Bible reading or prayer when you first resolve to do it, why do you think that makes it easier to slack later?

4.) Gamaliel, a Jewish rabbi in the Sanhedrin, gives several examples of rebellions and then says that if God is in something it will succeed, and if not, it will not last long. Is he right?







































































































































Things to Talk About

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Genesis 3, Matthew 3

Most people will admit that there is something wrong with the world. Some will argue it is because of the imperfections of blind chance, some will point to the actions of a malevolent deity, and some to wars between competing powers. The Bible gives a different perspective. All things were created good and perfect by a Good and Perfect God. It was only with the events of our reading today in Genesis 3 that the vice-regents in God’s Kingdom used their delegated authority to destroy. Most stories exist in four movements: (1) The exposition, which sets the story up. (2) The crisis, which creates the conflict. (3) The climax, where the crisis is solved. (4) The resolution, were the solution of the climax is worked out. The Bible’s story can be described, roughly,  in the same way: Creation (perfectly by God), Fall (completely by man), Reconciliation (completely by Jesus) and Consummation/Restoration (perfectly by God).

Because of this, Genesis 3 is the essential crisis around which the rest of the Bible’s plot line revolves and it is (imperfectly) the entire story of the Bible in miniature. Things begin perfectly, as God intended. Human beings choose to sin and squander what God has given them. God seeks humanity out and offers deliverance through the Seed of the Woman, who will crush the serpent. God clothes rescued humanity for a new life. Of course, it is incomplete: Genesis 3:15 only promises the Coming One and the new life they are sent into is one of exile (although still covered by the grace of God).

However, the main ideas are all present here in the opening pages of the Bible. God knew this moment would come, just as He knew every moment after. He allowed it to happen, because He was determined to rescue (Matthew 18:12). He covered them now, because in the distance, He saw a cross where the One who fulfilled all righteousness (Matthew 3:15) would cleanse those who profaned it. Despite the sin of man, this miniature portrait of the plan of God shows that He is the eternal King.


Ezra 3, Acts 3

In Ezra 3, Zerubbabel leads the unified people to rebuild the altar and then begin to rebuild the temple with joyful shouts of praise and song (but also weeping). Acts 3 shows Peter and John healing a man who had been lame by the power of Jesus. Since healing the lame was one of the miracles Jesus performed, this shows that the same Jesus is still working through His church in Jerusalem. Peter then preaches a sermon where he outlines the basic gospel: Jesus came, you killed Him, God raised Him, He’s coming again so repent and believe in Him!

Things to Talk About

(1) Why do you think it is important that Ezra 3:1 points out the people were united? (We can’t do much for God when we are bickering with each other. In the New Testament, Jesus even says that it is by our love that people will know we are His disciples – John 13:35).

(2) Why do some of the older men weep when they see the foundations in verse 12? (It reminded them of the great temple they had seen before. Haggai 2:3. God had forgiven them and allowed them to build a temple, but it still wasn’t like it was before. When we sin, even when we are forgiven, trust and relationships still take time to rebuild.)

(3) Several titles of Jesus are mentioned in Acts 3. God’s Servant (v 13, 26), the Holy and Righteous One (v 14), the Author of life (v 15), God’s Christ (v 18) and the Prophet like Moses (v 22). How do the titles used help us understand Jesus?

(4) Acts 4:26 says that it is a blessing to be turned from sin (iniquities/wickedness). Do you think about being made a better person as a good thing, or a punishment?

(5) Can you summarize the message of what Jesus did and how to be saved from Peter’s sermon?

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