Guests: and

Key Passages:

Matt. 7:15-20 — Beware of false prophets; check the fruit.
Matt. 7:24-27 — Obedience means building on rock, not sand.
Matt. 24:11-13 — False prophets, lawlessness, loss of love.
1 Tim. 4:1-5 — A religion that is too restrictive.
Rom. 8:31-39 — Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Rom. 13:11-14 — Honorable living: no reveling, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling, or jealousy.
Luke 18:9-14 — The satisfied Pharisee, the hungry Publican.
Eph. 3:14-21 — Rooted and grounded in love through Christ.
Rev. 3:15-21 — The lukewarm Laodicean church.

Discussion Questions:

1. How and how often should our “spiritual” temperature be taken? Are regular check-ups necessary? Or can we be too preoccupied with our spiritual progress?
2. Matthew records several of Jesus’ warnings against false prophets. What is the nature of the attraction and the nature of the danger involved with prophets? Would it not be healthier to be secure in our faith so that we would not be tempted to listen to alluring prophetic voices?
3. Is behavior the ultimate test of our relationship with God? Is it possible to be correct in our behavior but wrong in our inner life? The parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 seems to put behavior on the top of the list, while the Pharisee’s prayer in Luke 18 shows that good behavior can be deceptive and misleading. How should we relate to the good atheist and the nasty Christian? Do we have an obligation to both? If so, what would be the best way to fulfill that obligation?
4. The inappropriate restrictions listed in 1 Tim. 4:1-5 (prohibitions against marriage and against certain foods) suggest that it is possible to distort the Christian life with an overly-burdensome asceticism. What principles and practices could help preserve the ideal of a balanced life? Can the church afford to have some committed ascetics and some joyful hedonists within the community?
5. C. S. Lewis once complained about a “wearisomely explicit pietism” which forces a visible religiosity into places where it does not seem to belong. Is that a legitimate concern in the church today?

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