Before using this discussion guide, the reader should be aware of several assumptions made by the author. First, I assume this study guide will be used in close connection with the Adult Sabbath School Study Guide prepared by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. This quarter, the adult Sabbath School lessons were written by John M. Fowler. Sabbath School teachers should take note of what he has written and use his material to provide background information and to flesh out what is missing in this “Good Word” guide. I have borrowed freely from Fowler’s material, and readers of this discussion guide will notice those parallels. At the same time, I will not merely reformat and rehash what is available in Fowler’s source. Careful readers will note these distinct differences as well.
Finally, I assume that those using this guide will carefully read the applicable Biblical material. Questions posed in this study guide may not make sense unless one has already grappled with the Biblical passages. Hopefully, readers will also have access to one or two Bible commentaries dealing with the relevant Biblical material.
In writing a study guide such as this, I will attempt to emulate the Jesus of Mark 8. In this crucial passage in Mark, Jesus does very little explaining. Instead, he asks questions. In fact, in Mark 8:17-29 (NIV), Jesus asks nine consecutive questions. So, readers will quickly see that this study guide is primarily a collection of questions. Some may seem simplistic, some tangential, and some even dangerous. As best you can, however, look carefully at the Biblical material and reflect on the questions provided. Then, ask your own questions. Be wary of pat answers that come too easily and seem too obvious. At the same time, avoid thinking that nothing is certain. Ultimately, I hope that honest, prayerful questions will lead us to insight, to truth, and to a renewed commitment to Jesus and to our mission to share the good news with every kindred, nation, tongue and people. May God guide us in this sacred task.