Faith Against All Odss

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(2 Timothy 3, 2 Peter 1, 2 Corinthians 4, Ephesians 2)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 5

Faith Against All Odds

(2 Timothy 3, 2 Peter 1, 2 Corinthians 4, Ephesians 2)

Copr. 2024, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: How do you understand the title, “Faith against all odds?” Is faith a gamble? When a person considers whether to believe in God, is belief unlikely? If you understand the title of our lesson that way, that is not our study for this week. Instead I believe what Paul wrote in Romans 1, if you do not believe in God you are not thinking clearly. Unfortunately, clear thinkers have historically faced difficulty when living and sharing in a secular society. Last week we discussed how to share the gospel with others. This week we turn more fully to the topic of what we should believe and share. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible!

  1. The Blessings of Bible Study
    1. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. How was the Bible created? (It was “breathed out by God.”)
      1. If you had no Christian background, that is certainly an odd statement. What do you think it means? (Read Jeremiah 1:9. This tells us that God put His words in the mouth of the Bible writer.)
      2. Still looking at 2 Timothy 3:16-17, what good is it to read and study the Bible? (It equips us for every good work. It makes us complete.)
        1. Do you worry about your competence? Does this promise us that Bible study will improve our competence?
    2. Read 2 Peter 1:20-21. We learned that God’s words in the mouth of the Bible writer are connected to God’s breathing. How does this further explain the process? (The Holy Spirit inspires humans to give God’s words. The Holy Spirit is likened to the wind in John 3:8 and Acts 2:1-4.)
      1. Do you think God dictates the words of the Bible to the Bible writer? (The phrase “carried along” suggests this is not voice dictation. When you read the gospels and see the writers describe the same scene in different ways, when you observe their unique style of writing, that contradicts the voice dictation idea.)
    3. Read 2 Peter 1:3-4. We discussed how Bible study makes us more competent. What else does it do for us? (We become more like Jesus. Reading the Bible allows us to “become partakers of the divine nature.” This is a promise from God.)
    4. Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-7. Would you like to own a real treasure map? Is the Bible like a treasure map? (Yes! It gives us the “secret and hidden wisdom of God.”)
    5. Read 1 Corinthians 2:8-10. Not only does reading the Bible make us wiser than the leaders of the world, what else does it reveal through the Holy Spirit? (Our destination: heaven!)
    6. Read 1 Corinthians 2:11-12. Will the Holy Spirit reveal to us the thinking of God? (This says, “yes,” but it also refers to understanding the things God “freely” gave us. That suggests our understanding is limited.)
      1. Does what we have learned explain why the Bible is the best-selling book of all time?
  2. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
    1. Read Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19. You may recall that we recently looked at these texts. How do you understand these two texts with regard to “Scripture Alone?”
      1. Read Joel 2:28-29. These prophets have the Holy Spirit, the same source as the writers of the Bible. Should they be limited by Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19?


        1. Do the written commandments of God and the text of the Bible have primacy over the words of prophets?(I vote, “yes.” Extra-Biblical prophets are restrained by the Bible and are not to be considered additions to the Bible.)
    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21. Why are we told to test a prophecy? (The Bible did not fall out of heaven as a complete book. Instead, God’s leaders determined what writings should be included in the Bible. This is the process of testing, and that process (to a more limited degree) should also apply to those who claim to have a word from God.)
      1. How would you test the statements of a prophet? (One secure test is to compare it to the Bible. That makes the Bible the test of the prophet, and not the other way around.)
  1. Sharing the Gospel with Integrity
    1. Read 2 Corinthians 4:1. What ministry is this text talking about? (Read 2 Corinthians 3:18. Paul has been explaining the difficulty for “old covenant” people to understand the gospel - their hearts are veiled. Our hearts are not veiled and we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit.)
      1. What, then, is our ministry? (To teach others to become more like Jesus.)
    2. Read 2 Corinthians 4:2. How should we share the gospel? (First, we act in a completely honest way. Second, we make an “open statement” of the truth.)
      1. What do you think it means to “tamper” with the Bible? (This reflects Deuteronomy 4:2 - don’t nullify anything in the Bible and do not add your own “good ideas” to what the Bible requires.)
      2. Have you met people who say that their gospel witness is how they live? How do you react to that? (I thought that was a weak witness. Somewhat like expecting someone to read your mind. Verse two commends a life properly lived, but it adds an actual statement of the truth.)
    3. Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. How successful will we be in sharing the gospel? (We face the problem of Satan “blinding the minds” of people.)
      1. Have you ever wondered why, after you laid out the gospel in a plain and logical way, those reading or listening did not accept Jesus?
    4. Let’s go back and re-read 2 Corinthians 3:18. Who is the power behind the change in a person? (The Holy Spirit. This helps prove that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to change hearts. Our work is to live proper lives and share what we believe.)
    5. Read John 14:26. Is the Holy Spirit only important for the heart of the person you are trying to convert? (No. The Holy Spirit helps us who are sharing the gospel to understand and remember the teachings of Jesus.)
    6. Read John 16:13-14. We have been hammering on the topic of not adding to the Bible. What does this say about the Holy Spirit adding?
      1. Why would this be a problem for God? (The point seems to be a little different. When we hear from the Holy Spirit we know it is God’s word. That is a way to distinguish what our spirit urges us to do from the urging of the Holy Spirit.)
    7. Read John 7:18. What would motivate someone to add to what the Bible requires? (Pride.)
      1. Recall earlier we discussed in the context of 2 Corinthians 4:2 the need for complete honesty? Is someone who adds “good ideas” and passes them off as God’s requirement dishonest? (My original reaction to those adding good ideas was that they were trying to do the right thing. This suggests dishonesty due to the pride factor.)
  2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone) and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
    1. You might wonder why I include Latin phrases in this study when my normal goal is to write in an understandable way. What separates the teachings of the reformers from historic Catholic teaching is five “solas” which mean “only.” They are Scripture alone, Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, and glory to God alone. At least three of them fit our study this week.
    2. Read Ephesians 2:1-3. What is the natural condition of humans? (We are lost - “children of wrath.”)
    3. Read Ephesians 2:4-6. What saved us? (God’s great mercy and love as demonstrated in what Jesus did for us.)
      1. What was our condition when Jesus saved us? (Dead in our trespasses. This shows that our works cannot save us. Jesus saved sinners.)
    4. Read Ephesians 2:7. What is in store for us in coming ages? (Heaven. What joy!)
    5. Friend, will you believe and share this message? Why not commit to that right now?
  3. Next week: The Two Witnesses.