Sunday Morning
Adult Bible Studies
9:15-10:15 a.m.

9:15 a.m.   Lower Level

In-Person, or by Conference Call (618-942-0025)

Class Outline
  1. Word and Spirit (Sunday, May 1, 2022)
  2. Spirit of God (Sunday, May 8, 2022)
  3. Spirit of Life (Sunday, May 15, 2022)
  4. Fruit of the Spirit (Sunday, May 22, 2022)


Part One: The Word and Spirit

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Video Summary

1. In the Nicene Creed we confess that God created all things visible and invisible. The invisible part of God's creation includes what we often call spiritual. It is real, but it does not come in the form of atoms or molecules. What would this include?

One invisible thing that God created in each of us is our soul. Our soul is the seat of things like: love, beauty, morality, faith, evil, etc. We know these things transcend our molecules.  Remember by Parable of the Two Boxes:

You find two boxes in your attic that amazingly belonged to a long lost relative that fought in the Civl War. One box contains physical things like a uniform, boots, rifle, etc. The other box contains all the letters that your relative wrote during the war. These letters describe his experiences in the war and his feelings about it. If you could only keep one of these two boxes, which would you keep?  I would keep the letters because these words reveal to me the heart and soul of the man not just the body. 

2. As I fall asleep I often like to contemplate on the mystery of God. My first thought is that God is a "You" not an "it." What is the difference? Why is this important? What is the relationship between the spiritual and the personal?

     Genesis 1.27

     Ecclesiasties 11.5

     Psalm 103.1

     John 4.24

3. The amount of information in the works of Shakespeare or the Holy Bible is about five megabytes. The amount of information in one human cell is estimated to be fifty gigabytes. What is information? How is science pointing us toward the reality and the importance of the spiritual?

All of life boils down to words. We are what we are by the word of God that created this world. 

4. How does God, as a spirit, speak to our spirit?

     God has spoken to us in the words of the prophets and apostles. God chooses some people to receive direct revelation from Him. The rest of us receive that same revelation through their words. If you wonder, "How can I be sure they are really are speaking for God?", the only way to find out is to listen to what they are saying. Jesus said, "Let those who have ears to hear, hear" (Mark 4.9). By this He meant that some will listen and believe, while some will listen and not believe. He talked about this a lot. It is a great mystery why some believe and some don't. Nevertheless, when you consider all the writings and sayings of men who claim to speak for God, I believe that the prophets and apostles of Jesus completely ring the bell of truth. Most world religions do not have writings like this. Of those that do, there are a few things that ring true. But most of those writings are really pious ponderings compared to the Bible. If you disagree with me on this, all I can say is read and compare. 

     Acts 1.2

     1 Corinthians 2.12-13

     1 Corinthians 3.16

     2 Peter 1.21

5. Why do we have difficulty knowing God?

     Our sinful natures do not want to listen to the words of God. This is the biggest roadblock to believing the Bible. People don't reject the Christian faith because they find it hard to believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead. They reject the faith because they reject the truth that they are sinners who need to be saved. Sinful nature does not want to hear this.

     1 Corinthians 2.14

     1 Corinthians 3:15-16

     Nehemiah 9.30

6. How does God overcome this difficulty?

     God keeps coming to us with His words of life and salvation. God is incredibly patient with this world's rejected of His salvation. As the world relentlessly rejects, God relentlessly appeals. Only Judgment Day will bring this tension to an end. 

     John 16.7-8

     Titus 3.5-7

     John 20.22-23

     John 14.26

     John 16.13-14

7. How does evil respond to this?

     The sinful world constantly works to supress the words of God. The three enemies of faith: sinful nature, sinful world, and the devil; all work together to bury the word of God. They couldn't keep Jesus in the tomb, so the next best thing is to keep the Gospel in the tomb. They attempt to do this by silencing Christians or by subverting the Christian message. 

     Genesis 3.1-5

     1 John 4.1-3

     2 Peter 2.1

8. Why is this confirmation vow important? Do you hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired word of God?

     The battle between good and evil always comes down to the word of God. What do we do with it? 

     2 Timothy 3.16

     2 Timothy 2.15

     Galatians 6.16

Part Two: The Spirit and Conversion

Sunday, May 8, 2022

1. If you type the question, "Can words change your life?" into any computer search engine, you will see numerous ways people believe that words can change your life. In our last lesson we saw the connection between the Holy Spirit and God's word. In this lesson we will see how the words of God conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit indeed change our lives. 

2. In the first part we focused on the personal nature of God. The Trinity is the word we use to explain how God is tri-personal yet uni-divine. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three persons, one God (Apostles, Nicene, and especially the Athanasian Creeds). Despite not having a human-like title/name (as in father, son), how does the Bible show that the Holy Spirit is a person?

     Psalm 139.7-10

     1 Corinthians 2.10-11

     Ephesians 4.30 (Isaiah 63.10)

     John 16.13

     Acts 13.2

     1 Corinthians 12.11

     Acts 5.3-4

     The Athanasian Creed stressed "there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost." The Augsburg Confession states: "the term 'person' [should be used] as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself" (AC I). 

3. What work in this world is the Holy Spirit most closely associated? 

     Genesis 1.2

     Genesis 2.7

     Job 33.4

4. What has this world done to the Holy Spirit?

     Ephesians 2.1-2

     Acts 7.51 

     Romans 8.5-7

5. What does the Holy Spirit do to change that?

     John 3.5-8

     Romans 8.11

     1 Corinthians 12.3

6. Is this change something we have accomplished, or something God has accomplished in us? 

     Ephesians 2.8-9

     2 Corinthians 3.4-6

7. The Billy Graham crusades popularized the song "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." Today most associate this song with conversion. But this is not the original context of the song. The lyrics come from the last words of a martyr in India named Nokseng of the Garo tribe in Assam. Missionaries from Wales brought the Gospel to this region (northwest India). A tribal chief opposed the new faith and demanded Nokseng recant. First his two children were killed and then his wife. Finally Nokseng was killed. These martyrdoms triggered a great revival as many were amazed at the faith of this family. "I have decided to follow Jesus... No turning back, no turning back..." 

8.  Baptism is the miracle that seals our conversion and the renewal of the Holy Spirit in us. 

     Acts 2.38

     Mark 1.1-8

     9. See this as a work of God and not of ourselves will point us in the right direction for the other works of the Holy Spirit, especially our sanctification/holiness. 

Part Three: The Spirit and Holiness

Sunday, May 15, 2022

1. What we have covered so far:

A. The Spirit and the Word - Look for the work of the Spirit primarily in God's word, not in the flesh (emotions, good works, etc. These are not the "cause" spiritual life but the result).

B. The Spirit and Conversion - The Spirit gives life. Just as we did not give ourselves physical life, neither did we give ourselves spiritual life. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. 

2. I like to call holiness or sanctification the "second great work" of the Holy Spirit. Not that it is "secondary," but that it follows conversion. 

     Romans 8.12-17

     2 Corinthians 3.18

     1 Thessalonians 5.23-24

     Psalm 51.10-13

     Titus 2.14

     John 15.5  

3. Does holiness mean we have to be perfect?

     Matthew 5.48

     Hebrews 12.14

     1 John 1.8

     Romans 7.24

The answer is "yes." But the more important question is "how?" We can't be perfect on our own. The Bible also shows that we will never be perfect in this life. This is contrary to the perfectionism taught by John Wesley (see my Youtube Bible Study on that topic). The medieval scholastics (theologians/philosophers) taught that God's grace forgives the eternal debt of sin, but we all have to pay off our earthly debt of sin. This is the way things work in our earthly relationships. What if my father told me not to play baseball in the backyard, and I disobeyed him, and broke a window? He would forgive me, but he would also probably make we pay for the broken window. Does God also require this of us? This question is at the heart of the Lutheran Reformation. If we say "yes," then we have two troubling problems? How much restitution is required? Would it not be infinite? Second, if it can't be paid off in this life, then we have to come up with an idea like purgatory. It takes some real Scripture twisting to wring this out of the Bible. What we do see in the New Testament is that God's grace covers it all. Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be in paradise "today." Man's forgiveness may require restitution, but not God's. 

Nevertheless, we must not fall into an equally ugly error - the error that we don't have to strive for perfection. Paul rails against this twice in the letter to the Romans, "Shall we sin, that grace may abound? May it never be!" (6.1 & 15). Contentment with sinful imperfection is just as wrong as perfectionism. 

Francis Pieper: "Accordingly we must not say: 'If the doctrine of sinless perfection is a heresy, the doctrine of contentment with sinful imperfection is a greater heresy' (A.J. Gordon), but rather: 'Both are intolerable heresies, which render salvation impossible.'"

4. Is sanctification the same for everyone?

     1 Corinthians 3.11-15

     1 Corinthians 4.5

     Philippians 1.6; 4:12-14

     1 Thessalonians 4.1

5. Are there varying "rewards" for good works in heaven?

     A. These "rewards" might all be the same...

     Matthew 16.27

     Romans 2.6           

     Revelation 22.12

     B. These "rewards" might be different...

     Matthew 5.11-12

     Matthew 19.28-39

     C. Will we be envious?  The "Cups" and "Preschoolers" Analogies

Imagine in heaven each of us have a cup which God fills with His blessings. Could it be that some people may have a larger cup? Even if this were the case all our cups would be full. All will be satisfied and content. 

I've noticed this about preschool age children: When you involve them in something competitive, they tend to be less envious of each other than older children. When we have our "field days," and the children run races, the littlest children tend to cheer each other: "Yeah, Gavin ran the fastest. Sophie threw the farthest!...  When do we get to have ice cream?"  The overall joy of being part of the special event and getting a treat like ice cream supersedes the desire for individual glory.








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