Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Basic Christianity by John Stott: Chapter 1 Study Questions


Basic Christianity by John Stott
Chapter 1 Study Questions

  1. In what ways are the first four words of the Bible ‘the key which opens our understanding to the Bible as a whole’?

“In the Beginning, God. . .”  These first words of the book of Genesis indicate God’s initiative in all creation and in reaching out to mankind. We are not the ones who initiate anything beyond our choice to respond to God’s invitation.  All things are from God’s grace and His freely given love for us.  God has taken the initiative in all things: creation of the world and man, revelation of his love through the patriarchs and prophets, and our salvation in Christ. In Philippians 2:12-13, St. Paul says that we must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in [us], enabling [us] both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” It is God who takes the initiative in us, and it is by His grace that we can love our neighbor as ourselves.

  1. How would you go about putting together ‘a summary of the religion of the Bible’?

God has created.  God has spoken. God has acted. The first is the creative act of God in the universe, world, and man. God speaking refers to the Bible, the traditions of the church, and the examples of extraordinary faith and love of the saints.  God speaks and acts through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. Jesus humbly took on flesh and the cross to redeem mankind to God.  

  1. What differences are there between God’s ‘general’ or ‘natural’ revelation and his ‘special’ revelation?

    God’s “general” and “natural” revelation is for all people through His creation in nature, which give hints of His divine power and creative glory in all that we see and perceive with our senses.
    God’s “special” revelation, however, is something more.  It is coming to know God personally through Jesus Christ to have our sins forgiven, to enter into relationship, and to know his holiness, love, and power. This revelation was originally given to His people, Israel, through the prophets and later manifested to all in Jesus Christ.

  1. Why are these distinctions so important? ‘...it isn’t enough for God simply to reveal himself to us in order to dispel our ignorance.’ Why not? What more does he need to do?

We need to experience God’s holiness, love, mercy, and inspiration in order to enter into relationship with Him. Natural and general revelation only give us a look at God’s creative world, but His special revelation gives us a personal invitation to grace, forgiveness, and faith in Him. We cannot enter into adopted sonship with creativity; we need to know God personally through Jesus Christ.

  1. What did Jesus come to do? In what ways does this make Christianity unique?

Christ came to deliver us from the bondage and alienation of sin. Christianity is a religion of salvation where God, through Christ, sought, loved, died for, and delivered a sinful world.

  1. Why is it so important for us to ‘seek’ God? What does this mean in practice? How do we do it?

Although God is waiting and initiating our finding him, we must make the choice to put aside our intellectual pride and moral self will and actively seek him.  We need to seek God humbly, knowing that God wants us to use the intellect and rationality he gave us but also to seek him with the humility of a child. We need to seek God honestly with an open mind and without pride or prejudice toward our own preconceived will. We need to seek God obediently by revising our ideas and reforming our lives to Christ.  We have to believe and obey God in aligning ourselves with His will. We must set aside all prejudices, sins, apathy, and pride and seek (and love) God with all our heart, mind, spirit , and strength no matter the cost. Our lives will radically change, and the worldly attachments we lose, we will gain a hundred-fold in Christ. We have to give God our full consent of the mind and will, and He will reveal Himself to us. Reading the Bible, especially the Gospels, and prayer are two primary ways to seek God.