Series Introduction

Last Easter we began circulating a survey asking if you could ask God anything, what would you ask? If we were to teach some topics out of the Bible, what would you want to hear about?

After thousands of responses, Eastside has compiled a list of the top ten questions asked by those in our community that we will cover over the next five weeks.

This is often how Jesus taught.  People would approach him with a question, and He would answer.


How would Jesus vote?

This may be the most contentious presidential election in our lifetime.

And sincere Christians attempting to follow God’s can have sincere disagreements over how their faith convictions best get expressed at the ballot box and in public policy.

  • Are you someone who hates political chatter or are you someone who likes to stir the pot?

Have a volunteer read Matthew 22:15-22

Two political parties tried to back Jesus into a corner.  If He sided with the Jews, He would be arrested for treason against the Roman Empire.  On the other hand, if Jesus took the side of the Romans, the Jews would question His loyalties.

Instead, Jesus cleverly responded that we are citizens of two kingdoms, and He called his followers to fulfill their responsibilities to both.

  • What do you think are your key civic duties as an American citizen or resident?

  • What do you think are your key spiritual responsibilities as a citizen of heaven?

Faith Over Politics

Often people get so caught up in politics that they elevate it above their faith.  Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, liberal, or conservative; whether “you’re with her” or you want to “make America great again,” we all need to remember that our allegiance to God supersedes our allegiance to a particular party or person.
And the simple reason for that is that our faith has eternal implications.  When people die, they don’t end up in Washington DC. Their political stance and persuasion becomes extremely irrelevant.  We must follow Jesus first and a political party, agenda, or perspective second.

  • What do you think about the idea that followers of Jesus with different political or policy perspectives than your own may be equally motivated by their faith to hold those perspectives?  Is that something that makes sense to you or something that you find difficult to believe?

  • What are some practical ways you can trust God over government?

People Over Politics

Jesus stated that the greatest commandment of all is to love God and secondly to love others.  If we all did this, politics would become almost irrelevant.

But instead in this election cycle, believers in Jesus Christ who share sincere different points of view are attacking each other and becoming so adversarial and militant in the support of a particular candidate that they are willing to endanger a relationship with someone who disagrees with them.

Have someone read Ephesians 4:2-3

In less than 60 days the election is going to be over.  Let’s avoid saying or posting things now in the heat of the moment that will damage relationships going forward.

  • How can you prioritize relationships over politics this election season?


Where are dinosaurs in the Bible?

Children and adults are fascinated by these mysterious creatures we call dinosaurs.  These “terrible lizards” (as the word dinosaur translates) have become a staple for the entertainment industry and aspiring paleontologists around the world.

When people often ask about dinosaurs in the Bible, they’re really asking much broader questions about the age of the earth, the creation of the earth, the cataclysmic flood we read about in Genesis 6, carbon dating, and a variety of other things.

The question of creation really does matter.  It’s addressed in the first verse of the Bible.  It has been said that if someone can believe the first ten words of the Bible, they can believe everything that comes after.  If God can create the universe, why not part the Red Sea or raise Jesus from the dead?

  • Without debating how God may have done it, what are your thoughts on God’s role as creator of the universe?

Two differing points of view tend to arise when addressing dinosaurs in the Bible, and it stems from the age of the earth.  For many years, young earth and old earth creationists have debated on the age of the planet.

The young earth camp believes that God created the earth in six literal 24-hour days.  Then, when you count the number of years that have passed using the genealogies in the book of Genesis, you come to the conclusion that it has likely been anywhere between 6 and 10 thousand years since God created the world.

Young earthers believe that God created the dinosaurs like He created all other living beings on the planet and that they co-existed with humans.  Many would hold that it was the flood that we read about in Genesis 6 that kills them off.

Some people who hold the young earth view also think that the leviathan and the behemoth mentioned in the Bible in the book of Job really refer to a type of dinosaur.

The old earth camp believes that the earth was created around 4.5 billion years ago.

The creation account in Genesis says that God created the world in six days, but the Hebrew word for day (yom), has multiple definitions, one of which is “a long but finite period of time.”

Those followers of Jesus who hold this old earth view believe the days of creation referred to in Genesis 1 aren’t 24 hour periods, but finite periods of millions of years.  To this camp, dinosaurs lived hundreds of millions of years ago and became extinct 65 million years ago, before the dawn of man.

  • Which creation view would you lean more towards and why?

  • If you’re an old earth proponent, what do you do with the seemingly clear and simple statements in the Bible about how God made the world?  Likewise, if you support young earth creationism, what do you do with the scientific evidence that indicates the world is much older?


How is it God the Father + God the Son + God the Holy Spirit = 1 God?

The doctrine of the Trinity is the belief that God is one God but three persons.  God is a single being with three persons: the Father, Jesus (the Son), and the Holy Spirit.  Each of the three members of the trinity is distinct and has distinct roles and responsibilities, but they are one being, one essence, one God.

There is not one specific passage in the Bible that spells out exactly what the Trinity is.  However, we clear indications of the Trinity throughout the Bible, starting in the very first chapter, and we often see

Have volunteers read:

  • Genesis 1:26, 3:22 – Notice here that the reference to God changes from singular (“God,” a singular noun)  to plural (“Let us… our likeness.”)

  • John 1:1-18 – Here, Jesus is called “the Word,” and John writes that “the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

  • John 14:15-18 – Jesus says here that the Holy Spirit, our helper and advocate will come to be with us.

  • Luke 3:21-22 – When Jesus is baptized, we hear God the Father speaking and see God the Holy Spirit descending from heaven.

The truth is that we are finite, and God is infinite.  We cannot fully grasp the concept of the Trinity.  If our limited, finite minds could fully understand God, then He wouldn’t really be an unlimited, infinite being.

That doesn’t mean we don’t try or we don’t wrestle or we don’t question. We most certainly should!  But it does mean that much as a child has to trust a parent without fully understanding a decision that was made, we must trust God without fully understanding Him.

  • What do you think about this concept that God is one God but three persons?

The Trinity is not a purely academic belief.  It has real implications for our faith and for the world.

As three persons, God has always existed as a God in relationship.  When God said, “Let us make mankind in our image,” part of that image is a relational image.  Understanding God as Trinity teaches that being in relationships is how we were designed to live.

Have a volunteer read 1 John 4:8.

Here we learn that God is love.  Love must always have an object, and as three persons, God’s original object of his love was himself.  As three persons he was both the giver and receiver of love.

This may sound a bit strange, but again, it teaches us something.  It teaches us of the importance of love.  It shows us why the two greatest commandments are to “love God” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”  It’s because love is at the very core of who God is.


Application

Find one tangible way to love a neighbor this week.

This could be the neighbor who lives next door.  It could be the neighbor in the cubicle or checkout counter next to yours.  It could be the neighbor the next locker over at the gym.

This might be a big thing, but it doesn’t have to be.  You could bring them some homemade cookies or a bottle of wine.  Maybe you share the credit for a project at work.

Discuss what you did with your group next week.