Read: Thomas Paine (Author, The Age of Reason, 1794)
“Churches are set up to terrify and enslave mankind; my mind is my church.”
Richard Dawkins (Atheist Author, current)
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.”
Q1: Why do you think they said (believed) this? (Be generous with them.)
Q2: What is wrong with their thinking? What are they missing?
Discussion: Many have denied Christ’s deity but have admired his morality. CS Lewis argued that Jesus is a liar, lunatic, or Lord. He did not leave the option of him being just a good man. Read the following:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now, it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend, and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. (Mere Christianity, 55-56)
Q3: Why is it appropriate for non-believers to “judge” Jesus based on the choices of Christians?
Why is it not appropriate?
Q4: What are some areas of life where you long for certainty?
Q5: What are some things that Scripture says we can be certain of?
Read: 1 John 2:3-27, look for these three “tests”
- The moral test: Obedience: verses 3-6
- The social test: Love: verses 7-11
- The doctrinal test: Truth of Christ: verses 18-27
Q6: How do you feel about “tests? How can tests be used to motivate faithfulness and growth? How can they be used in negative ways?
Read: 1 John 5:13
“I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Q7: Why do you think it is important to John (God) that we have certainty of eternal life?
Q8: What are some barriers to the certainty of eternal life?
Read: 1 John 2:19,20
“19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.”
Q9: What is the difference between “they” and “you”?
(“They” being the ones who left the church, “you” the ones who remained)
Q10: How do these three tests help make sense of people who claim to be Christian but either don’t live in line with the Scriptures or who walk away from the faith?
Q11: How do these tests challenge you personally to train for confidence?
Q12: Who do you need to love but find it hard to do so? (This is where you most need to lean into the “test” of love.)
Q13: How can you grow in your understanding of who Jesus is? How will this understanding of who he is help you trust him more and love him more “accurately?”
(Think of how you have come to trust and love another person more as you have better understood who they actually are versus who you thought they were.)