Family Bible Study lesson for May 2: Trusting God : Friday, April 16, 2004
April 16 2004 by Vic Ramsey

Family Bible Study lesson for May 2: Trusting God : Friday, April 16, 2004
Friday, April 16, 2004

Family Bible Study lesson for May 2: Trusting God

By Vic Ramsey
Focal passages: Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 John 2:1-11

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of contemporary Christianity is the prevalence of nominal Christians. These are the people who populate our inactive and non-resident membership lists. They profess a faith, but lack a lifestyle that sets them apart from non-believers. They were "raised in church," but do not participate today. They live next door to us. We work with them, shop with them, and do business with them.

And, sometimes, they are staring back at us when we look in the mirror.

Trust in the Lord

Proverbs 3:5-6

The proverb asserts that a relationship with God is fundamental. The "heart" is not just the seat of emotional life; it is the source of thought, judgment and will. It is the center of one's personality and character, the essence of who a person really is.

The writer of Proverbs contrasts a trust in God with a self-reliant dependence solely on our own intelligence and reason. This does not mean that faith requires stupidity. Quite the opposite: true wisdom accounts for the fact that God is the ultimate reality with which we must deal. Failure to account for God's presence is as foolish as failing to account for gravity.

Verse 6 promises that, if we consider God in all our dealings, God will "make his paths straight" (NIV). The point is not that everything will turn out rosy, but that God will lead us to do the right thing.

Depend on Jesus' Work

1 John 2:1-2

Christian life is lived in tension. We are commanded not to sin, but in fact, we do sin. Denying our sin is self-delusion (1 John 1:8,10). Surrendering to it is apostasy.

Jesus enables us to live in this tension. John describes Jesus as our "advocate" (HCSB) which the NIV paraphrases as "one who speaks to the Father in our defense." In the metaphor of a courtroom, Jesus serves as our defense counsel.

The Greek word translated here is paracletos, which means "one who comes alongside." It is the word used by Jesus in the gospel of John to describe the Holy Spirit.

John also describes Jesus as an hilasmos, translated "propitiation" (HCSB) or "atoning sacrifice" (NIV). The word appears to have two related meanings: "to appease or satisfy" and "to wash away or cover." Through our relationship with Jesus, our guilt and sin are removed, and God's anger regarding our sin is abated.

Keep God's Commands

1 John 2:3-6

Saving faith is more than just a change in our status before God. On the contrary, transformation of character is the evidence that a genuine relationship with God exists.

He who claims a relationship with God, but does not order his life by God's commands is a liar. A follower of Jesus must live as Jesus lived.

Another tension of the Christian life is evident here. We do not earn our salvation by obeying God's commands. That is by grace, not of our own doing.

But grace transforms us. If we cannot show evidence of change, then perhaps we have not really been touched by grace.

Love Other Christians

1 John 2:7-11

John focuses obedience narrowly, on the singular obligation to love our fellow believers. The "new command" of verse 7 is a reference to Jesus' instruction given in the upper room for His disciples to "love one another."

Here the social dimension of our faith rubs up against the personal. Our relationship with God brings us into community with others related to God.

That community is to be marked by love. John calls the failure to love "blindness," and claims, boldly, that he who hates his brother is still "in the darkness," that is, outside the light of Christ, i.e. lost.

Nothing is quite so sad as Christians who can't stand one another. Evidently, it was a problem among the earliest Christians. Sadly, it remains an issue today.

4/16/2004 12:00:00 AM by Vic Ramsey | with 0 comments

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