I’m Glad You Asked

Sermon Audio

October 29

Sermon Resources

Sermon Scripture:  Acts 2:36-47

Additional Scripture:  

Reflection/Discussion Questions

To be posted the Thursday before the sermon.

October 22

Sermon Scripture:  1 Samuel 15:1-11

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. If you can recall, what were your thoughts and feelings during the days immediately following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001?
  2. Mark tells the story of Eric, who was upset after the September 11 attack, and blamed religion for most of the violence and hatred in the world. Do you agree or disagree with Eric?  Why or why not?
  3. Why do you think religion can sometimes influence people to become violent and even go to war?
  4. Pastor Mark points out that more lives have been lost in violence created by secular atheist ideologies than religious wars involving Christianity. What could be the underlying cause of violence and war beyond just religious differences?
  5. Read 1 Samuel 15:1-11. What troubles you about this passage? Under what circumstances could you imagine God instructing the Hebrew Army to totally destroy an entire village or city during ancient times?
  6. What is the difference between Bible passages that are descriptive and those that are prescriptive. Can you think of an example of a descriptive passage?  Can you think of an example of a prescriptive passage? Can you think of some Bible passages that are consider descriptive by some Christians but prescriptive by other Christians?
  7. What would you say to someone who says, “You can’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible you obey. It’s all God’s Word, so we should obey it all.”?
  8. Why might some Christians consider it acceptable to serve in the military?
  9. Under what conditions might some kind of military action be considered “just” in today’s world?
  10. How do we follow Jesus’ command to love our enemies and turn the other cheek, in a world where there are people threatening to kill us?
  11. Pastor Mark quotes Ian McLaren, who once said, “be especially kind today, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” How is kindness different from weakness or timidity?

Sermon Scripture:  Matthew 13:40-51

Additional Scripture:  Matthew 7:13-14

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. What images come to your mind when you think of hell? Where did those images come from?
  2. Can you recall a time when you were punished unfairly? How did you feel?
  3. Why do you think many modern Americans reject the idea of hell, when 100 years ago, the idea of hell was embraced by American culture?
  4. Why do you think most mainline churches tend to avoid preaching and teaching on the Christian doctrine of divine judgment, hell, and the wrath of God?
  5. Pastor Mark cites examples of true evil present in our modern world (MS 13 gang members, rapists and murderers, etc). Why might there be a hell for people like this?
  6. Why is it difficult to believe in a God who is both merciful and just?
  7. Read Matthew 13:40-43 and 47-51. What truths do you think Jesus is communicating through these stories?
  8. Read Matthew 7:13-14. What implications does this passage have for a day of Judgment?
  9. Why do you think people embrace the Jesus who talks of mercy and forgiveness, but do not take much notice of the Jesus who warns about Judgment and hell?
  10. Pastor Mark suggests that perhaps God doesn’t so much send someone to hell, but rather respects a person’s decision to spend eternity under self-rule rather than spend eternity under submission to the loving rule of God?
  11. Dallas Willard once said “Hell is just the best God can do for some people.” What do you think he means by that?
  12. Pastor Mark suggests that maybe hell is not about God rejecting people, but about people rejecting God. Do you agree or disagree?
  13. Pastor Mark also cautions people from deciding what they believe to be true based on whether they like it or not. Can you think of some truths that you do not like?  Name a few.   Is it possible that the reality of judgment and hell is a truth we do not like, but a truth nonetheless?
  14. Perhaps the biggest objection to the idea of hell, is the thought that some people end up in hell because they are not specifically Christian. They follow some other religion or no religion at all.  Pastor Mark mentions “Uncle Ernie” the nice guy who has no religious interest or background, but is a good person.  What do you think happens to the Uncle Ernies of this world when they die?
  15. Regardless of what we do not know and cannot understand, the Bible offers us assurance that we can be confident of our eternal destiny with a loving God. Do you have this confidence?  Why or why not?

Sermon Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 16-18

Additional Scripture:   Romans 8:18-23, 28

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. Share a time when you or someone you know went through a period of suffering or tragedy. What did you think about God’s presence or purpose while going through that experience?
  2. Why do some people point to suffering and tragedy as proof that God does not exist? How would you answer their claims that suffering and tragedy is a powerful argument against the existence of God?
  3. When you see a horrific news story about a terrorist attack, mass shooting, devastating earthquake or some other tragedy, what do you usually say to yourself?
  4. Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 16-18. How do these verses help us put suffering and tragedy into an eternal perspective?
  5. Pastor Mark suggests that to help us understand suffering and tragedy, and still trust in His goodness and power, God has offered us a Gift, a Warning and a Promise. The Gift is human free will.  How does human free will contribute to the pain and suffering of life?
  6. How does free will enable love to exist? What do you think of the idea that God has allowed for the inevitable suffering caused by free will in order to allow for the incredible beauty of love to exist?
  7. Read Romans 8:18-23. God warns us that this is earth, not heaven, and that creation is somehow broken and awaiting redemption. What is the best Christian response to the suffering and tragedy that comes from a broken world?  How has the Church helped to be an instrument of God’s compassion and healing in the midst of suffering and tragedy?
  8. God gives us the promise that there will come a day when all that is wrong will be made right, and all that we don’t understand will make perfect sense. God is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28).  How is this different from saying that all things are good?
  9. Pastor Mark explains that some things are currently beyond our ability to fully understand, but that doesn’t mean there are no good answers. Sometimes our capacity to fully understand is limited in this life.  In what ways does this comfort you?  In what ways does this frustrate you?
  10. Can you recall a time when God used suffering or tragedy to do some good in your life? How does understanding the gift, the warning and the promise help you make sense of suffering and tragedy as you move forward in your life?

Sermon Scripture:  Acts 4:8-13

Additional Scripture:  I Peter 3:15

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. If you could be guaranteed a complete and satisfying answer, what question would you ask?

 

  1. Share an experience you have had with someone of another faith or another religion.

 

  1. Read 1 Peter 3:15. This entire sermon series is based on the idea that Christians need to think well about the questions and issues raised by modern people. Why do you think it is important to give an answer to those who ask about the hope you have within you?  Why must these answers be offered with gentleness and respect?

 

  1. Pastor Mark suggests that those who ask “Aren’t all religions basically the same” clearly haven’t studied the 5 major religions of the world (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism). Do you agree or disagree, why or why not?

 

  1. Pastor Mark also suggests that behind this idea that “all religions are basically the same” is a deeper assumption, that all religions are equally true and equally valid. Why is that an illogical assumption?

 

  1. Some people claim that it is intolerant, bigoted and disrespectful to suggest that one religion is more true than others. How might this be a fair criticism of Christianity, which claims that Jesus is the way?  How might this be an unfair criticism of Christianity?

 

  1. Pastor Mark tells the story that he heard during a lecture while a freshman in college. It is the story of the three blind men and the elephant. Have someone in the group re-tell the story, and then talk about why this story contains a logical fallacy.

 

  1. Using the analogy of a car (Ford Pinto vs. BMW 750 Li) and music (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star vs. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony), Pastor Mark suggests that when it comes to religion, the differences make all the difference. In what ways do you think Christianity might differ from other religions in the world?

 

  1. Pastor Mark suggests that it is not inherently arrogant to believe that your particular religion is more true than others. Is it possible to believe that Christianity is more true than other religions, but still be respectful and gracious toward those who follow other religions?

 

  1. Why would it be helpful to do a basic study that compares the basic beliefs of all 5 major religions of the world? Think of at least 3-5 good reasons why such a study would be helpful and beneficial today?

 

  1. Pastor Mark cautions against assuming or suggesting that sincere believers of other faiths will end up in eternal damnation because they are not Christian. We should trust that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, but still leave room for God’s grace to work in ways we don’t understand.  Do you agree or disagree?

 

  1. Read Acts 4:8-13. CS Lewis stated his belief that it might be possible for sincere believers of other religions to end up in Heaven, but if they end up there, it is because of Jesus.  How do you feel about this statement?

 

  1. In our increasingly divided and uncivil culture, where disagreements often turn into ugly arguments, how can modern day Christians maintain a strong conviction about their Christian Faith without coming across as self-righteous or judgmental?