Friday, September 26, 2014

Touching Base, Part 250

Core Strength, Part 2

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Big Idea: Faith in God is a Response to Reality.

Question: If you were asked to explain what it means to have faith in God, what would you say?

Text: Matthew 16:13-17

For many of the New Atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, faith in God is blind trust, it is crazy and, at its worst, it is dangerous.

We might not share the same type of emotion that someone like Richard Dawkins carries, but there is a sense in which many of us do think that faith is a bit silly. So, what is the Christian understanding of faith?

The Christian understanding of faith could be understood in three themes:

- Believing (i.e. believing certain things to be true; I believe there is a God.)

- Trusting (i.e. God is trustworthy)

- Receiving (i.e. receiving God’s invitation into a personal relationship.)

A big point to understand here is that faith in God is NOT ‘the ability to believe in things even when you have no idea whether they are true or not’. (See Beyond Opinion, “Conversational Apologetics”, p.138.)

In Matthew 16:13-17, we see that Peter makes a bold declaration of who he believes Jesus is: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”(v.16b) One of the interesting things to glean from this story is why Peter makes such a statement. Given that Peter and his friends have been with Christ for quite sometime now, they have witnessed miracles, have shared meals with Christ, listened to his teachings, Peter utters this statement—a statement of faith—because of the evidence he has seen; not in spite of it. It is in this way that faith in God is evidence-based belief. Faith in God is not antithetical to evidence. It is rooted in knowing who God is.

A hugely important question we need to ask ourselves when we talk about faith is, do we know this God? Do we really know Him?

But there are challenges to our faith. What do we do when our beliefs seem to collide with what we experience or feel? What does Christianity have to say to all the wrong we observe and the wrong we experience?

a) Christianity says that evil is real and that it is wrong. These two points, the reality of evil and the wrongness of it are important to note, especially since many faiths and systems of belief do not share this view. Many streams of Eastern thought teach that suffering or pain is illusory. Pain is an illusion, many will say. Hard atheism tells us that evil may be real, but it is not necessarily wrong; it just is.

b) Christianity tells us that God looks at evil and sees that it is real and wrong, but that He has also done something about it. He got involved in the problem! Jesus Christ dying on a cross tells us that God is not one who is distant from pain. He knows the problem intimately.

c) Christ’s resurrection tells us that the world that is—a world full of pain and evil—is not the world that will be.


What does it mean to have faith in God?

Faith in God centres on the fact that God is there! He is trustworthy and we can have a personal relationship with Him. This relationship is one that brings us hope; a hope that sustains us day to day.

Helpful resources:

Os Guinness, God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt (Crossway, 1996).

Ravi Zacharias, Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend, Reprint (Thomas Nelson, 2010).


Nathan Betts
Apologist, RZIM Canada
Twitter: @nathanbetts09

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Friday, September 19, 2014

Touching Base, Part 249

TB 249
Part 1 - The Word and the Core

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Big Idea: God’s Word Does God’s Work in the Heart of God’s People.

Question: How does God’s Word help build “core strength”?

Text: 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Today we kick off our “Core Strength” series with a topic that is crucial to your growth as a Christ follower.

Discuss the following:

“About one in seven Canadian Christians, or 14%, read the Bible at least once per week. The majority of Canadians, including those who identify themselves as Christians, read the Bible either seldom or never.” Hiemstra, Rick, Confidence, Conversation and Community: Bible Engagement in Canada, 2013

How do you stack up against the stats?
What do you think is the foundational issue for why so many Christ followers are not in the word?
What are the dangers?

The dilemma we find ourselves in is that the Word of God is the main way believers grow. It is the number one catalyst for spiritual growth. So where does that leave the believer if they are not in the Word?

Today we want to look how the Bible develops core strength in the believer.


Note the context of our key text. In 3:1-10 and chapter 4 Paul is talking about godlessness in the last days. So the instruction to be in the word is one way to remain godly when so many are simply listening to what their “itching ears” (4:3) want to hear. Also notice another set of book-ends that describe the function of the word:

- Function #1 3:15 Salvation- Timothy had a sound knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, which he had received from his grandmother and his mother, and he believed those Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God (2 Tim 1:5) Note this is a great commentary on the OT. That is all Timothy would have been exposed to until the NT Scriptures arose. This text can tell you how to get right with God.

- Function #2 3:17 Thoroughly equipped - Thoroughly – “artios”—“complete, capable, proficient in the sense of being able to meet all demands” and Equipped - To drive home his point still more emphatically Paul added equipped (exērtismenos, “furnished” or fitted out-) for every good work.
Note: The intention of the Word is not just to make us right with God(salvation) but to grow us up in that salvation (thoroughly equipped). You don’t read the word to stay where you are but to grow where God wants you to grow.

How does the Bible develop core strength in the believer?


Didaskalia- instruction, doctrines. There is an instructional aspect to the word. It can be like reading an instructional manual to put a new purchase together. The Bible instructs on how to put life together.

As a group brainstorm on all the issues that the word of God teaches on?
What particular teaching has been especially helpful to you in a certain chapter of life?


Here is where the heat is turned up.

Rebuke- An act of criticism and censure, to expose. The process of teaching reveals knowledge that I did not have, but also habits , attitudes, values and beliefs that I possess that are incorrect.

What do these first two functions of the word of God reveal about the nature of man? The nature of the word reflects on the nature and need of man. We are broken and one of the functions of the word is to expose and critique issues in our lives that are inconsistent with our liberation/salvation.

Talk about a time in your life where you argued with God over what it was saying and how it was challenging a particular issue in your life.
Do you believe people see the word as a book of liberation or oppression? Justify your answer.


This is a great word. The idea behind it is IMPROVEMENT. The act of offering an improvement (according to a standard) to replace a mistake. It is the idea of setting something right- which is so much the heart of God

In the NT “ὀρθός” is used in the healing of the lame man at Ac. 14:10 in the sense of “standing up straight.”
Paul sees the faith of the sick man and orders him: “Stand up straight on your feet.” Heb 12:12,13 quotes Prov.

4:26-How has God’s word introduced you to a better way when it comes to attitudes, values, relational patterns, marriage, sexuality, etc.?

Train in Righteousness

Training- The words “paideía” and “paideúō” relate to the upbringing of children, who need direction, teaching, instruction, and discipline

Righteousness- A life or lifestyle in conformity to justice, law, or morality as given by God. Jesus is the
ultimate example of righteousness.

Training implies repeated action- coming to the word, time and time again and training. Training includes not just my personal time in the word but my community time in the word.

“Our study found that reflection on the meaning of the Bible for people's lives is an important kind of Bible engagement, but that conversation with others about the meaning of the Bible is the key factor in deepening Bible engagement. “ Hiemstra, Rick Confidence, Conversation and Community: Bible Engagement in Canada, 2013

Talk about your group (assuming you are in a group) and its effectiveness in helping you get into the Word.

What could your group do better in helping the group be Biblically-centered?
What kind of help do you need to be in the Word daily?
Ask your friends, those in your group about what they do, tools they use to daily read and reflect on
God’s Word.

Check out the app I use-
Start today if you haven’t already to develop your core by being in the word.

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact