Guests: Darold Bigger and Larry Veverka
Key texts: Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 7:1-11; Luke 17:11-16; John 1:3; Acts 10:1-28; I Corinthians 9:22.
Key Issues: There is an interesting progression in the Gospels and in Acts that leads away from Jerusalem and the jews, to the places like Athens and Rome and the gentiles. Everyone knows that this progression was problematic to many of those in Israel who were heavily invested in the status quo that did not allow for salvation for non-Jews. The progression in this matter can be very informative.
1. How do you think the Jews came to be so exclusivistic? Do you think it was deliberate, or inadvertent? How do you think they dealt with the words of John the Baptist when he said, “Now is the axe laid to the root of this tree.”?
2. Perhaps you have noticed how many churches/denominations there are that declare themselves to be the“True Church.” They can’t all be right. Do you think there is danger that groups today could fall into the same circumstance as the Jews of long ago. Why do so many people and organizations feel it so necessary to declare themselves exclusively the true church?
3. It seems very clear from the Gospels that Jesus did not follow the status quo rules of his day when dealing with women and gentiles. He routinely talked with and ministered to women, and he was known to go out of Israel into gentile territories like Phoenicia. What might we learn from such actions?
4. The story of the Centurion found in Luke 7 is quite interesting. His expression of faith was noteworthy enough that Jesus used this foreigner as an example of a person of great faith. How do you think this man came to be a man of faith?
5. In Acts 10, there is the well-known experience of Peter being send to Cornelius. This went very much against Peter’s grain, but he went and learned a great lesson. Do you think the lesson can be extended to include all those who are perceived to be outside the pale of salvation?
6. The church at Antioch as recorded in Acts 11:19-30 is a fascinating one. Word came to Jerusalem that there was a thriving church in Antioch, so they sent Barnabas over to check things out. To the surprise of everyone in Jerusalem, word came back that there were many gentiles who had come believers. What does this say about God’s ability to work outside the strictures we place on Him? What does it say to those who want to limit God to working in “approved” venues only? Would you have gladly stayed in the new place to work as did Barnabas?
7. Notice the progression that begins with Jews only. There is movement to be more open because Jesus cared for and ministered to non-Jews. Then, there are deliberate forays out to gentile territory. Finally, gentiles are converted, and become active and able disciples of Jesus, bringing many to faith.
8. How do you think the Jews ministered to the early gentile converts in such as way as to nurture and disciple them?