Session 1 Questions
- In what sense is it true that we are what we believe?
- How do we decide on which beliefs to stake our lives as believers?
- What is the nature of the Christian faith?
- What does my faith have to do with the church?
- What is doctrine?
- How does it function?
- What does doctrine have to do with life?
- How might thinking of doctrine as the language of faith guide our study of doctrine?
- What do we learn about believing from this passage?
- What clues do we get from Scripture about the purpose or result of believing?
- Where do we see evidence of doubt?
- Where do we see reassurance?
- What threatens believing and faith?
- What is the nature of believing?
- What is believing?
- What does believing include?
- What is the purpose or reason for believing?
- What connections can you make between the ideas in the Scriptures you read for the week and the ideas in the readings?
- Review the words of “Open My Eyes, That I May See.” Where do you see connections?
- What is the message in the symbols and these words?
- What insights do you draw from this language of faith for your participation in this study?
- “Beliefs become the set-of-sails that determine the direction of our lives and destination.”
“To say ‘I believe in nothing’ will determine where life will go.” “We are what we believe.”
In what sense are these statements true? How do these statements play out in life?
- How do these statements play out in life?
- How do creeds function?
- What place do creeds have in our believing?
- Why do we give attention to creeds?
- What would Christian faith and the Christian church miss if we had no historical creeds?
- How do creeds set direction for the Christian community?
- What difference will my believing make in me and in my work?
Session 2 Questions
- In what sense does the hiddenness of God expressed here speak for you?
- What are the characteristics of general revelation?
- How does special revelation differ from general revelation?
- What beliefs do Christians have as a result of special revelation?
- What does the doctrine of revelation say about who the God is who is revealed in Israel, Jesus, the Bible?
- What do Christians mean when we say Jesus is Lord of the whole world?
- How would you describe the mystery still remaining in God’s self-revelation?
- What do we learn about the self-revealing God from this Scripture?
- What ideas here contribute to the church’s doctrine of revelation?
- What makes revelation a difficult doctrine?
- Why is the doctrine of revelation crucial to all other doctrines?
- How does God’s self-revelation take place?
- What is Christian faith saying in the teaching that all other revelations are seen in light of Christ?
- The church’s answer is revelation; what is the question?
- In its doctrine of revelation, what does the church believe, and what does it refuse to believe?
- What is at stake in accepting or rejecting belief in God’s self-revelation?
- What difference does belief in God’s self-disclosure make in the life of the faith community and in the life of the believer?
- What would be lost if the church had no doctrine of revelation?
- What is confronting about God’s revelation?
Session 3 Questions
- How does the church view the Old Testament and the New Testament?
- Identify four convictions of the church about the Bible and the understandings and attitudes that characterize those convictions.
- How did God choose to be made known through the Bible?
- What does the Christian community expect to find in the Bible that it can find nowhere else?
- How has the church used the Bible to develop the church’s teachings or doctrines?
- Why do we say the Bible is a revelation of God?
- What gives the Bible its authority for the Christian community and for believers?
- How is our understanding of the Christian faith affected by the way we view the church’s convictions of revelation, inspiration, authority, and doctrine?
- What about this book gives it its extraordinary power?
- What connections did the New Testament writers see betweent heir experiences of Jesus and their Scriptures?
- What beliefs about Scripture has the church historically affirmed and taught?
- What beliefs about Scripture has the church considered outside the bounds of Christian teaching?
- What is at stake in accepting or rejecting the church’s teaching that the Bible is a revelation of God? that the Scriptures are inspired by God? that the Bible has authority for the church and in the lives of believers?
- What is the implication for the Christian community that doctrine is rooted in Scripture?
- What has the church said in answer to the question, Does the Bible have an authority that is superior to the sacred documents of other faiths?
- What claim does the Bible have on my life and time?
Session 4 Questions
- How do Christians understand Jesus Christ in relation to Creation?
- What are the main ideas in the view that God created once in the past a long time ago?
- What are the main ideas in the view that God creates from the future, not the past?
- How is human freedom understood and affected in each view?
- How are we to understand time in Creation?
- How does what physics tells us about time relate to the idea that God’s future is drawing the universe toward completion of God’s purpose?
- How does Peter’s idea of the Genesis account of Creation and the eternal Word of God fit with the teaching that God continues to create?
- How is God presented?
- What do God’s various actions tell us about God?
- How can we describe the God we see here?
- How does the God pictured here differ from the one in the Genesis 1 account of Creation?
- What new or different pictures or concepts of God come across in this account?
- What picture of the Creator do you see in Genesis 3?
- Who is the Creator God in these passages?
- What new dimensions of God are seen here?
- What understanding of God the Creator does John 1:1-18 contribute to the doctrine of Creation?
- What does Romans 8:1-27 say about how human sin has affected nature?
- What is the connection between the redemption of human beings and the restoration of nature?
- Who is the Creator?
- What description of God the Creator do you see in the reading?
- What does the reading say about the character of God?
- What distinction is made between Creator and creation?
- What particular perspective on life do the words provide?
- In confessing God as Creator, what beliefs is the church including and what beliefs is it excluding?
- What is at stake for the Christian community in accepting or rejecting the teaching that God is Creator of heaven and earth?
Session 5 Questions
- What issues about God have concerned people in various time periods?
- Where did the concept of Trinity come from?
- What cultural situation caused Christianity to state its beliefs rising out of its experience of Jesus?
- What was the key question to be resolved about Jesus? about the Holy Spirit?
- What is meant by unity and diversity in the Trinity?
- How is Jesus’ divine/human nature to be understood?
- How do you experience God as personal?
- What does each name convey about God?
- How will God’s name be active in the lives of the Israelites?
- What is the relationship between God’s name and God’s actions?
- What is the relationship between a God who has a name and a God who is personal?
- How is your day-to-day living influenced by your belief in a personal God?
- Think about two moral attributes of God—holiness and love. How is each attribute characterized?
- Why are the two referred to as “moral attributes”?
- When you think of relating to a holy God, how are you defining holy?
- When you think of relating to a God of love, how are you defining love?
- How is your relating to God affected by thinking of God as both holiness and love at the same time?
- What does God’s name have to do with how we understand God and how we relate to God?
- How does the nature of God as a personal God come across in the symbols?
- What is the function of name in establishing relationship with God?
- What understandings of God are included in the church’s teaching that God is a personal God, a God who relates?
- What beliefs about God does the teaching deny?
- What would the Christian faith lose if it had no doctrine of a personal God?
Session 6 Questions
- When we pray faithfully for these requests, how is our belief in providence informing our praying?
- What does the doctrine of providence teach?
- How are providence and Creation interrelated?
- What questions does the teaching of providence raise?
- Describe the two views of God’s relationship to time. How is providence understood in each view?
- How do human beings understand themselves and their relationship to God in each of the views?
- What are the strengths of each view?
- Which view comes closer to your understanding of providence?
- What new insights do you now have about providence?
- How do you determine whether you call a situation or happening coincidence or providence?
- When might we interpret our individual experiences of providence in terms of the larger goal of God’s purpose?
- What is the nature of the interaction between God and people?
- Where do you see the persistence of God’s goal or purpose?
- What beliefs does the doctrine of providence include? What beliefs does it exclude?
- How would you describe the mystery that accompanies the teaching of providence?
- What questions or difficulties must the church acknowledge about the concept of providence?
- What is at stake in accepting or rejecting the doctrine of providence?
- How would the Christian understanding of life and of the world be different if the church had no doctrine of providence?
- What part do we humans play in the activities of providence?
- If God is involved in human affairs, does what we do really matter, or is God always in control?
Session 7 Questions
- Why is it important to see Jesus in the context of God’s covenant with Israel?
- What is the significance of the fact that the Bible emphasizes God’s role as one who makes and keeps covenants?
- What makes God’s covenant different from ordinary covenants?
- What is the ripple effect of the mutuality required in covenant?
- What conditions regulate life in the covenant?
- What does the new covenant mean? What does it not mean?
- What reminder does Paul offer regarding God’s covenant with Israel?
- Which of the character qualities of the covenant God are expressed in this passage?
- Which aspects of covenant are made clear or emphasized in this passage?
- What is this new covenant spoken of in these Scripture passages?
- How does this new covenant relate to the covenant theme throughout the Old Testament?
- In what sense is God the covenant-maker here?
- How are we to understand this new covenant talked about in the New Testament?
- How does it fit into God’s single covenant of grace?
- Why is it important that the covenant-making God is a remembering God?
- How does the Christian faith answer the question, Is our covenant-making God trustworthy?
- What understandings are included in the teaching that God makes and keeps covenants?
- What understandings are excluded?
- What is at stake in accepting or rejecting the teaching that God is a covenant-making God?
- How must I live if God makes covenant with us?
- What obligation does it place upon me?
Session 8 Questions
- How has the teaching that humans are made in the image of God been understood by Jews and Christians?
- What is implied for daily relationships in the idea that being in the image of God gives each person intrinsic value?
- What misunderstandings of the teaching that humans are made in the image of God might lead to devaluing of the physical world, including the body?
- What misunderstandings might lead to human arrogance?
- How does the sickness of human nature lead to disorder in all of creation?
- How is God at work renewing the image of God in us?
- What constitutes the image of God in humans?
- What self-understanding comes by relating?
- What pattern and purpose do you see in the creation of humans in God’s image?
- According to this Romans 1:16–2:16, what has happened to the original pattern and purpose in the creation of humans in God’s image?
- How is God’s righteousness revealed here?
- What is the basis of God’s impartiality in judgment?
- What visual message does the spade carry about relationships?
- What is included in the church’s teaching that humankind is created in God’s image?
- What understandings of humankind are excluded in the teaching?
- What is at stake in affirming or rejecting the doctrine of the image of God in humankind?
- How would the teaching of the Christian faith be diminished without the doctrine of the image of God?
Session 9 Questions
- What is the biblical explanation of why we sin?
- From our own experience and observation, why do we sin?
- How did Jesus challenge the sinful structures of society?
- What forms does our sin take in relation to others in society?
- What evidence do you see that we sin because we inherit society’s sinful values and structures?
- What are the social dimensions of holy living?
- What characterizes the reign of God by which we are to judge our societies?
- Am I responsible for my own sins?
- How responsible are we as individuals and as a Christian community for the sins of our parents, our business, our community, our country?
- What makes the thistle an appropriate image of sin?
- How does the thistle suggest consequences?
- What other images can you think of that might carry the idea of sin and its consequences?
- What particular message about sin do those images convey?
- How does the image of the serpent and the world convey the idea that sin is a God issue?
- What are the rules of life according to the doctrine of sin?
- If it is true for everyone, how do people generally describe what is wrong?
Session 10 Questions
- What does the word grace tell us about God?
- How do we experience God’s meeting us, affirming us, loving us?
- How does Jesus communicate God’s grace?
- How does knowing Jesus help us experience grace?
- What two things does God want to achieve through grace?
- In what sense does God take risks to overcome our estrangement from God?
- What are some means by which you experience God’s grace?
- Why does God choose to extend grace to us?
- Where is grace present and operating in this passage?
- What do we learn about God from this passage?
- What do you understand Bonhoeffer to be saying in his terms cheap grace and costly grace?
- How do these terms fit with other descriptions of grace in other readings?
- What particular message do you see in Bonhoeffer’s word for the church in our day?
- What are the arguments related to the doctrine of grace?
- What questions do we have about grace for which we have no answers?
- How is the church’s teaching on grace as unmerited favor at odds with society’s emphasis on individual rights?
- What correcting influence does the doctrine of grace bring to the attitude that we are entitled to certain things?
- How would the teaching of the church be changed if we had no doctrine of grace?
- On the basis of your study so far, how does the church answer the question, Is God’s grace available regardless of what I do?
Session 11 Questions
- What is the story?
- Why do we need salvation?
- At what points did understanding of sin and salvation take new directions?
- Who or what has most influenced our understanding of salvation?
- How is your own understanding of salvation reflected in this history?
- What is the need for salvation in this passage?
- What is the nature of the salvation offered?
- Who offers or brings salvation?
- What can you tell about the relationship between those needing salvation and the One who offers salvation?
- How would you describe the God of this salvation history?
- How is that message freeing for you?
- Or how does it create anxiety in you?
- How, if at all, have your understandings of these words changed as a result of your study?
- What is distinctive about the way of life these words help shape?
- How do the language of faith words on study manual page 106 clarify or give new meaning to the lesson title, “God So Loved the World”?
- What beliefs does the church’s doctrine of salvation include, and what beliefs does it exclude?
- What is at stake for the church in accepting or rejecting this teaching?
- What would the church lose if it had no doctrine of salvation?
- How do you understand salvation?
- What are we rescued from?
- What are we saved to?
- In what sense is Jesus the issue in salvation?
- What difference does salvation make to a person’s life?
Session 12 Questions
- What does the doctrine of the Incarnation say about Jesus?
- What issues did early Christians have to resolve about Jesus’ humanity and his divinity?
- Why did some early Christians have difficulty believing Jesus was truly human?
- What was the main issue underlying the question of whether or not Christ was God?
- How do you understand the relationship of the eternal Son of God or Word of God and Jesus of Nazareth?
- What light does the story of the virgin birth shed on your understanding of Jesus’ humanity? of his divinity?
- Where in these passages might the New Testament writers have seen indications of Jeus' humanity and divinity?
- Who is Jesus according to this passage?
- Who is witnessing about Jesus?
- What indications do you see here of Jesus’ humanity or divinity?
- What is your own understanding of who Jesus was?
- What does the doctrine that Jesus was both human and divine have to do with our relationship to Jesus as our Lord and Savior?
- What does Jesus’ nature have to do with how we know God?
- How do these symbols carry the message that Jesus was human and divine?
- What difference does believing that Jesus was human and divine make in the way we live?
- What are the implications for the human race in the church’s teaching that Jesus was human and divine?
- What does the doctrine of the Incarnation affirm about Jesus?
- What does it deny?
- What questions do we still have?
- How would you describe the mystery of the Incarnation?
- What is at stake for the Christian community in accepting the teaching that Jesus was both human and divine?
- What is at stake in rejecting the teaching?
Session 13 Questions
- What do we mean when we say Jesus is the Savior of the world?
- If we Christians believe Jesus is the Savior of the world, how should our lives be different from the secular public?
- What convincing evidence can we offer of our salvation?
- What do we see in Jesus that tells us God wills our redemption?
- How is our view of life and the world changed when we look at them in light of Jesus Christ the Savior?
- How are we to demonstrate our salvation in Jesus Christ?
- Why do you think Jesus quoted this particular Psalm?
- Where do you see movement through despair to hope in the passages?
- What vindication did Jesus have in mind in recalling this Psalm?
- What vindication did Job anticipate?
- What do you see and hear in this Scripture when you relate it to Jesus as Savior?
- What, out of their experience, would have convinced them this passage was talking about Jesus as Savior?
- How is Jesus portrayed as Savior in these readings?
- What made Jesus uniquely equipped to save humankind?
- What is the nature of the love that brought about the saving act?
- What is the link between Jesus as Savior and the doctrine of the Incarnation?
- What is the relationship of Jesus’ death to our salvation?
- What points would you include in a definition of the doctrine of Jesus as Savior?
- What does the doctrine of Jesus Christ as Savior include?
- What does it deny?
- What is at stake in accepting or rejecting this doctrine of the church?
- What difference does accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior make in the way we live?
Session 14 Questions
- What was the purpose of the ritual of atonement?
- What was the importance of the blood of the sacrificed animal?
- What connections did the first Christians make between atonement and Jesus’ death?
- What is the point of the doctrine of the Atonement?
- Why does the church teach the Atonement?
- How have you come to understand the meaning of Jesus’ death for your life?
- What is expressed or implied about the relationship between God and human beings in each passage?
- According to each passage, what steps does God take to restore the relationship?
- How is the Hebrews account a new and daring understanding of the Atonement?
- What familiar ideas about atonement do you find?
- What new images or explanations of the Atonement are expressed in the readings?
- What language or images do you recognize from Scripture?
- What is the significance of the Atonement for our daily lives?
- How do these symbols pick up on the images and descriptions of atonement in the Scriptures?
- How do they express the message that through Jesus Christ we are restored to right relationship with God?
- What ideas are central to all of the theories of the Atonement?
- What is the Atonement way of understanding Jesus’ death?
- Why has the church considered a doctrine of the Atonement necessary even though the church has not required one particular interpretation of the Atonement?
- What mysteries of the Atonement does the Christian community continue to live with?
- How do we respond to those mysteries?
Session 15 Questions
- What exactly are we confessing when we confess “Jesus Christ is Lord”?
- What does the name Yahweh mean?
- In what ways did Jesus indicate he was different from his Father God?
- When John called Jesus the “Word of God,” what was he saying about Jesus?
- When Jesus used the words I am, what was he saying about himself?
- What is the importance of Jesus’ divinity to the Christian faith?
- What does it mean to say Jesus is Lord of our lives?
- What does faith have to do with confessing “Jesus is Lord”?
- What clues do you get from these passages about who the Lord is and how to relate to the Lord?
- What contributed to the readiness of the person to confess belief in Jesus?
- What are the main points Paul is making about confession in this passage?
- What is the message in this passage to the church then and now?
- How does this passage make the claim Jesus is Lord?
- Is confession a one-time thing or a process that is repeated?
- How would you describe the Lordship of Christ?
- On what basis is Jesus given the title Lord?
- What does Jesus’ Lordship require of us?
- What claim does each of these descriptions of Christ have on the church? the believer? the world?
- What claim does the church’s teaching that Jesus is Lord make on the church itself—on its life and mission?
- How does the church recognize and make confession of its sins?
- How might we as a church examine whether our actions bear out our confession of loyalty to Jesus as Lord?
- What is the gospel—the good news— in the church’s teaching that Jesus is Lord?
- How would the Christian faith be diminished if it had no teaching that Jesus is Lord?
Session 16 Questions
- How do you understand the idea of “falling in faith”?
- What makes faith in God particular for Christians?
- What is scandalous about the God revealed in Jesus?
- What role does love play in faith in God?
- How would you describe the act of faith?
- What is the content of faith?
- How are act of faith and content of faith related?
- How do you understand mystery, fear, or doubt as part of faith?
- What is the result of faith nurtured in the community?
- How does faith relate to salvation?
- How is faith expressed in this passage?
- What are the results of faith?
- Where do you see these expressions?
- What is remarkable about the people and the faith expressed here?
- What do you see when you compare the day’s two passages?
- What points does he make?
- What is his underlying concern?
- What new insights do you get about what faith is and how faith operates?
- How is faith defined, described, or explained?
- How does faith operate?
- How do we come to faith and exercise faith?
- What powers or forces does the shield of faith protect against?
- While faith in God does not protect against life’s problems, dangers, or hardships, what does faith provide in those situations?
- What has the Christian church said faith includes for Christians?
- What has the Christian church said faith excludes for Christians?
- How do I know I can trust God?
Session 17 Questions
- How are the three persons of the Trinity active in salvation?
- How does the Bible teach that the Spirit is fully God and fully personal?
- How do you understand the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ?
- What Old Testament promises helped early Christian believers understand their experience of the Holy Spirit?
- Why was Israel known as a people of the Presence?
- What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church and in the believer?
- Old Testament: Where is the Spirit mentioned?
- What is the purpose of the Spirit’s action?
- What are the different ways the Spirit is present and at work in these passages?
- Where is Spirit presence and action implied rather than explicitly described?
- What different words are used to describe the coming of the Spirit on persons, and what images do those words suggest?
- What is the effect or result of the Spirit’s coming?
- What connection do you see between the Spirit and anointing?
- How is the Holy Spirit present?
- What evidence do you see that the Holy Spirit has begun a broader, more inclusive work?
- What do you learn from these passages about the relationship of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit?
- What will the Spirit do?
- How do the differences in wording expand understanding of the accounts?
- What does the church teach about the Holy Spirit as the presence of God?
- Why does the church sometimes express ambivalence about the Holy Spirit while acknowledging that what we know and experience of God comes to us through the Holy Spirit?
- How do we experience mystery in relation to the Holy Spirit?
- Why is the Christian teaching on the Holy Spirit important to the church? to believers? to the world?
- What difference does the Holy Spirit make to me or to anyone else?
Session 18 Questions
- How would you anticipate the power of the Holy Spirit?
- How was the power of the Spirit at work in Jesus’ life?
- Why is the day of Pentecost still crucial to the life and work of the church?
- How has the church marginalized the Spirit?
- What is the relationship between the power of the Spirit and ethical living?
- What new understandings do the reading and the Ezekiel passage bring to Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus?
- Why did Jesus say his going away was to the advantage of the disciples?
- How did that promise prove true in their later experience?
- In Acts 1:1-11, what are Jesus’ instructions?
- What is to be the disciples’ mission?
- What is the significance of each (wind and tongues of fire) for the mission Jesus had given the disciples?
- What do the prophecy and reading suggest about the possible ministry of all ages in and through the church?
- Why do you think Peter referred to David repeatedly in his sermon?
- Why was it important to Paul to emphasize that while the gifts were many and varied, the Spirit was the same?
- What is the message in the analogy of the body?
- What do the readings say about the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the church, about the work of the Spirit, and about the function of the gifts of the Spirit in the church?
- What counsel does the reading add to the teaching in 1 Corinthians 14?
- How is your church doing in relation to verse 13?
- How does verse 14 address your present involvement in this study of doctrine?
- Reading 199: What are the implications of the church receiving its own baptism of the Spirit?
- 1 John 4:1-6: When might an individual or a church need the guidance given in this passage?
- Where do you see the power of the Holy Spirit at work for the sake of the gospel in the world?
- What would the Christian community miss if it did not have the teaching on the power of the Holy Spirit?
- Why isn’t the church in general and individual Christians in particular more surely possessed of the power of the Holy Spirit?
Session 19 Questions
- What experiences of the early church gave rise to the doctrine of the Trinity?
- What is the relationship between God and Jesus Christ as illustrated by the Trinity?
- Why did the life and language of Jesus require the church to state its understanding of God?
- What does the church mean by the unity and the distinction in the Trinity?
- How does the Trinity help us understand the God we read about in the Bible?
- How are we to understand the trinitarian names— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
- What are the various ways God refers to self or is referred to in this passage?
- Why do we include this passage in a study of the Trinity?
- Deuteronomy 6:1-9: How is God described in this passage?
- How did the early Christians come to understand this God?
- Isaiah 63:1-14: What are the ways God is mentioned, present, and active here?
- Mark 1:1-14: Who is Jesus according to this passage?
- Why would the early church have seen this event as evidence of God in three Persons?
- John 14: From what Jesus is saying, what is your understanding of the relationship of the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit?
- What is the role of the Holy Spirit?
- John 15:26–16:15: From these words of Jesus, what do you conclude about who God is and how God acts?
- Where do you see the Trinity in this passage?
- Acts 2:22-39: How has God been made known to these listeners to Peter’s sermon?
- What insights into the Trinity do you get from this Scripture?
- Romans 1:1-7: What witness or declaration is Paul making in these verses?
- What is Paul’s understanding of the relationship between God and Jesus Christ?
- What do these words suggest about the roles of the Godhead?
- 1 John 5:1-12: Where do you see the Trinity in this passage?
- What are the roles and relationships of the Persons of the Trinity?
- What is the purpose of the work of the Trinity?
- Revelation 22:8-21: From the perspective of the Trinity, what is the significance of Jesus’ referring to himself as “the Alpha and the Omega”?
- Isaiah 44:6: How is the Trinity present in this passage?
- What are the mysteries in the Trinity?
- What is the message of the Trinity?
- What difference does the doctrine of the Trinity make?
- What other teachings relate to or depend on the doctrine of the Trinity?
- What does the Trinity have to do with my relationship to God?
- What difference does the Trinity make to my daily living?
Session 20 Questions
- How is the church like the Jewish synagogue?
- Why is such a gathering of believers beneficial?
- What is the importance of recognizing that we have been called by God to be the church?
- What does God call us out from?
- What does God call us out for?
- What are we, as a holy nation of priests, supposed to be doing?
- How can we as the church be “in the world” but not “of the world”?
- What is the mission of the church?
- Which passages speak of holiness as a requirement of the faithful community?
- What elements of worship are represented?
- What does Matthew mean by reporting that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built?
- How did the early church come to welcome Gentiles?
- What images of the church are used by the writer of the book of Revelation?
- What points in the readings go beyond what was said in the video?
- What did the early Christian community and Judaism have in common?
- What do the Christian church and Judaism have in common today?
- What are some passages from the book of Revelation that help us understand the relationship between the two faith communities?
- What definition of the purpose of the church speaks most clearly to you? Why?
- What connections do you see between these language of faith words and the title of the lesson, “God’s Called-Out People”?
- What meanings does the symbol of wheat convey that the metaphor of the human body does not?
- What meanings does the metaphor of the human body carry that go beyond what the symbol of wheat suggests?
- What characteristics of the church does the ship suggest?
- Why does the church teach that I can’t be a Christian all by myself?
- How does belonging to a group of believers help my own believing?
- How does belonging to the church help me be a better Christian?
- What obligations does a church have to those who belong to it?
- What responsibilities do members of a church have to the church to which they belong?
- What actions spring from Christian identity that are in contrast to the surrounding culture?
- What actions prevalent in the surrounding culture does our Christian identity rule out for us?
- What evidence shows that the church is a blessing to those outside the church?
Session 21 Questions
- In what two senses is the church the body of Christ?
- What would it mean to believe in the church, to trust in it, to have faith in it?
- What is the Orthodox understanding of the dual nature of the church?
- What ideas are included in the conviction that there is only one church—on earth and in heaven?
- What does the church do when it looks inward? when it looks outward?
- What does that view imply about our relationship with Christ?
- What does it imply about our relationship with other Christians?
- How should we be representing Christ in the world?
- What activities of the church as a human institution seem necessary and productive?
- What activities of the church as a human institution damage its witness to the surrounding community or society?
- Why would or would not the church’s claim to be created and sustained by God make sense to outside observers?
- What is the basis of that unity?
- How can we hold on to our common identity as Christian believers in the face of actual divisions between and within denominations and congregations?
- What purpose or purposes is the church set apart to accomplish?
- What would be the likely dangers if we had no such marks as part of the doctrine of the church?
- What problems might emerge?
- Which terms and meanings were new to you?
- Which terms and meanings best express your own understanding of the doctrine of the church?
- How does the symbol of the beehive compare to the metaphor of the human body?
- What evidence do we have that the church is a divine institution?
- What evidence do we have that the church is a human institution?
- What difference does it make if we believe that the church has a divine source?
- Which of the New Testament metaphors for the church (body of Christ; bride of Christ, holy and without blemish; new creation; household of God; God’s temple) appeals to you? Why?
- What comfort and what challenge is there in understanding the church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic?
- What are the implications that follow from the conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord of the church?
- How do we establish standards for faithful church membership without claiming those standards to be what distinguishes the invisible church from the visible church?
Session 22 Questions
- What gives the sacraments their authority in the life of faith?
- What made the taking of food and drink holy occasions for Jews?
- What new understandings did Jesus point to in his use of food and drink at his last Passover meal?
- What similar purposes do you see in the Jewish meal and bath and the Christian meal and bath?
- How did the church finally define sacrament?
- What are the issues underlying the controversy of infant baptism versus believers’ baptism?
- What is a sacrament (identify several definitions or descriptions)?
- What three elements are necessary for a sacrament?
- What is baptism?
- What are the biblical roots of baptism?
- What happens at baptism?
- What is the meaning of baptism beyond the act itself?
- What are the issues related to different understandings of baptism?
- What is Holy Communion?
- What are the biblical roots of Holy Communion?
- What happens in Holy Communion?
- What are some different understandings of how Christ is present in Holy Communion?
- What physical expressions were used to make the presence of God more real?
- What spiritual truths were represented by the physical elements?
- What rituals used could be returned to repeat the experience?
- What actions represented a binding to God in covenant?
- How were the physical expressions both a means to and a celebration of a new sense of divine grace?
- Matthew 3: How does this passage shape and inform our understanding of baptism?
- Matthew 28:16-20: How is understanding of baptism broadened by this passage?
- Mark 14:12-26: What ideas in Jewish religion lie behind the words and actions here?
- John 6:25-59: What images and teachings here are reflected in our sacrament of Holy Communion?
- Acts 8:26-40: What does the eunuch’s request to be baptized contribute to understanding of baptism?
- 1 Corinthians 10:1-22: What point is Paul making in his references to baptism and Holy Communion in this passage?
- 1 Corinthians 11:17-34: What roots does Holy Communion have in this passage?
- Why does the church still consider the ancient rituals important today?
- What questions growing out of life and Christian experience find answers in the sacraments of the church?
- What mysteries related to the sacraments does the church continue to live with?
- What affirmations is the church making in its teaching on the sacraments?
- What is it denying?
Session 23 Questions
- Why do we worship?
- What is the primary point of worship?
- What makes worship distinctively Christian?
- How is Christ present in the liturgy?
- What are the essential elements and essential structures in worship?
- Why are they essential?
- How might that understanding be carried over into daily living?
- In what ways are we formed by true worship?
- How are doctrine and worship related?
- How do we prepare to come into the Lord’s presence?
- How are we to approach holiness and mystery?
- What characterizes worship that recognizes and honors God?
- How do we know what God wants in worship?
- In God’s presence, what do we recognize about God?
- What attitudes and motivations underlie true worship of God?
- What is the essence of true worship?
- What matters in worship?
- What human tendencies may get in the way of acknowledging and experiencing God’s presence in worship?
- What contributes to a sense of awe in worship?
- Psalm 148: What might be the language of praise for different parts of creation?
- How might we become sensitive to it?
- What difference might it make in our attitude toward all parts of creation if we sensed they too were praising their maker?
- How might the Psalm foster a healthy humility in and among us?
- What is the essence of true worship?
- What is the focus of all true worship?
- How do these words offer access into the mystery present in worship?
- How might common knowledge of the words become an opening for the Christian message?
- What do the raised hands symbolize?
- What does the ringing of the bell symbolize for you?
- What does the church’s teaching on worship include and what does it exclude?
- What does the Christian faith teach about corporate worship?
- In what ways would Christian faith be diminished if we had no doctrine of worship?
- To what extent is worship the source of all that happens in the congregation?
Session 24 Questions
- What help do you seek from the Holy Spirit in living the Christian life?
- What support for Christian living do you draw from being part of the church?
- What values, goals, and lifestyles distinguish Christian life from secular life?
- What habits of nurture and devotion enable you to follow Jesus?
- In what situations are you most tempted to be or act like the society around you?
- What is the effect of the Law?
- According to this Psalm, how do we maintain a relationship to God that will sustain true discipleship?
- Micah 6:1-8: When we ask the questions asked by verses 6 and 7, what offerings do we want to substitute for what the Lord requires of us?
- What is required of our relationship to others if we understand justice in legal terms, kindness in ethical terms, and walking humbly with God in covenant terms?
- What is to motivate our religious practices?
- How does trust in God relate to our motives and priorities in Christian living?
- What counsel does it offer for Christian living?
- What teachings here indicate that living according to Jesus’ teaching is demanding?
- What does the chapter say about judgment?
- What connections do you see between the readings and Matthew 7?
- What do the readings and the Scripture say about what we say we believe and how we actually live?
- How does this definition of cross-bearing differ from the usual way we think of it?
- What would it mean if we took this definition of cross-bearing seriously?
- How does a Christian come to this kind of willing commitment?
- How does love operate in the Christian community?
- How is our conduct to be affected by our doctrines?
- Do you see yourself as an alien in the surrounding culture because you are a Christian?
- How does the Christian strike a balance between not being captured by life on earth and caring for this life?
- What difference would it make in the routines of a job, whether at home or outside the home, to approach each day’s work with the spirit of this hymn?
- Which symbol best expresses your understanding of the Christian life?
- Review Reading 262. If the reading adequately expresses what Christian teaching on the Christian life includes, what does the reading rule out as appropriate to Christian living?
- How ought a person to live who has received the name Christian?
- What standards is a Christian expected to meet, and who sets them?
- What is expected of us as a Christian community?
Session 25 Questions
- What is your understanding of the maturity or perfection that is the goal of holiness or sanctification?
- What happens in justification?
- What happens in sanctification?
- How would you describe the Christlike character?
- What are the means of maintaining our relationship with God?
- What does love of neighbor demand of us?
- In what ways is the holy life a set-apart life?
- What does holiness call us to separate ourselves from?
- What is the role of love in the sanctified life?
- How are we sanctified?
- Romans 6: How is the new life that results from baptism expressed in righteous living?
- 1 Corinthians 3: How is life to be lived in the community that is God’s temple?
- Philippians 3:7-21: What guidance does this passage offer us as we strive to live a life of righteousness?
- 2 Peter 1:1-11: What is needed for a life of godliness?
- 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12: What is the relationship between purity of life and being filled with the Holy Spirit?
- Ephesians 1:3-23: What has God done so that we might live lives of holiness and love?
- Ephesians 4:1–5:2: What characterizes the community striving for true righteousness and holiness?
- From your experience and observation, what understanding do most believers have of holiness and what importance do they give to it?
- How do the various symbols related to sanctification and holiness illustrate the cooperative action between humans and God in holiness?
- How does the community of faith understand itself as the people of God?
- What does the church teach in response to God’s call to be holy because God is holy?
- What does the doctrine of sanctification say about how we as a community of faith relate to the world?
- How would Christian teaching be diminished if it had no doctrine of sanctification or holiness?
- What differences does holiness make in our everyday world of jobs, taxes, mortgages, and success?
Session 26 Questions
- How is eschatology understood as both an end and a beginning?
- What was the purpose and message of the book of Daniel?
- What was the purpose and message of the book of Revelation?
- What was the meaning and message of hope in God’s title “Ancient of Days”?
- What did the titles given to Jesus say about Christian hope?
- What new beginning is anticipated in Jesus’ promised return?
- What are God’s intentions for creation, especially for the human creature?
- What do you imagine God was thinking about as each day and its creation unfolded?
- What do you think God was anticipating and preparing for?
- What end, that is, purpose, did God have in mind?
- What conclusions can we draw about the character of God by watching God at work in this Creation story?
- How does this story of the beginning of time contribute to and shape the Christian hope about the end of time?
- Why would these words have been heard by Israel and Judah as a message of hope?
- What would early Christians have seen in this passage that offered hope?
- How would you describe the character of the God you see in this passage?
- What guidance or instruction does this passage offer the Christian?
- What hope do you draw from this passage?
- What elements of the Christian hope have some basis in this passage?
- What teachings here are part of our doctrine of the Christian hope?
- What teachings does the doctrine of the Christian hope include?
- What guidance do Scripture and the church offer in determining the real from the extreme?
- What questions or situations in life call for the answer found in the Christian hope?
- What are some questions about the Christian hope for which we have no answers?
- From the perspective of the Christian community, why is the doctrine of the Christian hope important?
Session 27 Questions
- What do these creeds say about judgment?
- What beliefs about judgment are most familiar to you?
- How are popular beliefs about judgment still influenced by nonbiblical ideas?
- What do Christian teachings not claim to know about judgment?
- What truths about judgment has Christianity consistently taught?
- Where is judgment in these passages?
- What clues do you get about how judgment works?
- What relationship do you see between command and judgment in these stories and in life in general?
- What was the nature of death that entered life even though Adam and Eve continued to live?
- Who is this Lord who will come to judge?
- By what standards will the Lord judge?
- In what sense is judgment always built into our own actions?
- What is included in the idea that God is just?
- Amos 5:18–6:14: What are the parallel situations and requirements?
- What principles about judgment can you draw from these passages?
- What is the word in these passages for today?
- Matthew 11:20-24; 12:35-42; 25:14-46: How is repentance an issue in judgment?
- In what sense is Jesus himself a judgment in this passage?
- On what basis is judgment made?
- Romans 2:1-16; 2 Corinthians 5; 2 Peter 2:4–3:13: How is repentance an issue in judgment?
- On what basis will God judge?
- What is the significance in Christ’s being our judge?
- What attitudes ought we take toward the coming judgment?
- How does this idea relate to the biblical understanding of God?
- What constitutes just judgment?
- What do we expect to happen “at the sound of the trumpet”?
- How does this phrase (or word) contribute or belong to the doctrine of judgment?
- How has the Christian church answered the question, If God is a forgiving God, why does God judge us?
- What parts of Christian teaching would be lost if the church rejected the teaching on judgment?
- What does the doctrine of judgment contribute to the integrity of the Christian gospel?
- What connection do you see between our understanding of judgment and our attitude toward God, our fellow creatures, and life in general?
Session 28 Questions
- What questions did you have or what were you wondering about as you began study of the resurrection of the body?
- Why was resurrection of the body central to the belief and preaching of early Christians?
- What is the difference between resurrection of the body and immortality of the soul?
- Why has Christianity insisted on the teaching of the resurrection of the body?
- Why does the teaching of the resurrection of the body focus on Jesus’ resurrection?
- When will resurrection of the body take place?
- What issues are at stake in the doctrine of the resurrection of the body?
- How does resurrection from the dead complete the divine triumph?
- What are the ethical implications of the biblical teaching on the worth of the human body?
- What does the reading say about resurrection of the body?
- What new insights did the reading offer you?
- What familiar questions about resurrection of the body did the reading address?
- What truths do these symbols convey to you about the resurrection of the dead?
- What life experiences or faith experiences give rise to questions about life after death?
- What are some of those questions?
- What answers does the Christian faith give to those questions?
- What is at stake in the doctrine of the resurrection of the body?
- What makes the body so important that it should be raised from the dead?
- Why does the church teach resurrection of the body rather than immortality of the soul?
Session 29 Questions
- What did you find yourself thinking about this past week as you did your study on eternal life?
- What does belief in eternal life imply about how we live life now?
- What can we know about life beyond death because of the God we trust?
- How does belief in eternal life influence the way we view life in the present?
- What does eternal life have to do with justice and kindness in this life?
- What does Jesus teach us about the relationship of past, present, and future time?
- What clue do you get about eternal life in God’s creating humankind in God’s image?
- What parts of the Creation story point to the significance or worth of the human being?
- How is hope expressed in the assigned Psalms?
- What observations about life in Ecclesiastes ring true in your experience?
- What, if anything, does Ecclesiastes say about purpose in life?
- Where, if at all, do you detect hope or expectation?
- What similarities do you see between the mention of resurrection in Daniel and later New Testament references to resurrection?
- How would you describe the way that leads to eternal life according to this passage?
- What guidance do you get from the passage?
- Romans 6: What is the death described here?
- What is the life described here?
- What is the connection to eternal life now and in the future?
- Revelation 21: How is renewal of creation evident here?
- What is the relationship of the presence of God to life beyond death?
- What hope do you draw from this Scripture?
- What can we know about heaven from Scripture?
- John 11:1-44: How is Jesus the issue in this passage?
- What message about eternal life do you get from this passage?
- Second Corinthians 4:7–5:10: How is eternity driving the message in this passage?
- What does this passage emphasize about life now and life in the future?
- Revelation 22: What is the promise to those who worship God?
- What truths about eternal life do you draw from this Scripture?
- What does the final victory of God, eternal life to the full, include?
- What is the end of it all— for the individual, the church, and the human story?
- What other aspects of eternal life might be expressed in symbols?
- What would the church lose if the Christian faith had no teaching on eternal life?
Session 30 Questions
- What are some ways we confess our beliefs every day, not necessarily in words?
- How can we tell whether our conduct is shaped by what we believe or by what we think we believe?
- What is the message in this symbol that shapes us?
- What is the message in the symbol that informs our conduct?
- How does this word or phrase shape us?
- How does it inform our conduct?
- What shall we do with this legacy of beliefs we have received?
- What importance do these doctrines have for today’s church?
- Why do any of these teachings matter?
- What difference do they or might they make in daily living?
- In what sense do these doctrines provide a way of looking at the world?
- What importance does your congregation place on teaching Christian doctrine to each new generation?
- In what specific ways does that teaching go on?
- Would you say such teaching is the result of conscious intention or of an assumption doctrine absorbed through participation in the church?
- Which doctrines are emphasized and in what situations does the congregation ask itself, How shall we pass on this legacy of beliefs we have received?
- What next?