This quarter, our discussion guide explores two related elements of the Christian life: doctrine and experience. Each week, we will focus on one theme and, as Bruinsma suggests, we will “attempt to maintain a careful balance between a correct biblical understanding of these various elements of our faith and how they impact our daily experience.”
1. (Gen 1-3) Sometimes, it is difficult for us to see God’s consistent love in the Old Testament. At the very start of the Bible, however, we find evidences of God’s loving concern. What are some of the specific details of the creation account that demonstrate that the Creator is in fact a God of great love?
2. Most Christians would agree that Jesus demonstrated the fullness of God’s love for humanity. In his life, however, he was not always as “tender” as we perhaps assume. Jesus regularly scolded and rebuked people, and even called one of his own disciples “Satan.” What does this suggest about Jesus’ love?
3. (Mat 22:39) Jesus, quoting the Old Testament, said that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. From this, we might conclude that we must love ourselves before we can love others. Is this true?
4. (Mat 22:34-40, Rom 13:8-10) Clearly, the New Testament teaches that the one who loves “fulfills” the law. If this is so, of what value is correct doctrine? Finally, based on these passages, why is love the fulfillment of the law?
5. Which is most difficult for you to do – love God, love others, or love yourself? Can we have any of these types of love without the others, or must all three go together?
6. (1 Cor 13) The apostle Paul tells us of the enduring quality of faith, hope, and love, and then concludes that love is the greatest of these three. Why? If we are saved “by faith,” how can love be greater than faith? In what ways is love greater than faith and hope?
7. (1 Cor 13) The “love chapter” presents an incredibly high view of what love is. Can any human attain that kind of love? Is this chapter focused on personal relationships, or can this call to love be extended to include relationships between organizations and even governments?
8. Is the love spoken of by Jesus (Mat 22:39) and Paul (Rom 13:8-10) primarily an action or an attitude? Is there an important difference between the two?