Guests: Bruce Toews and Brant Berglin
Read for This Week’s Study: Gal. 3:26, 29; Ps. 50:10–12; 1 Chron. 29:13, 14; Phil. 4:19; 1 John 5:3; Matt. 6:19–21.
The official lesson this week begins with some reflection on the idea that those who believe in Jesus Christ, who have come to believe his teachings and claims, and who have developed an on-going deferential relationship with him, constitute the family of God on this earth. The foundational text is the well-known one, I John 3:1
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1, NKJV).
This idea that those who believe constitute the family of God is attested to in many ways in the Bible:
- The familial language where we are told to call God “Our heavenly Father.”
- The familial language of seeing Jesus as our elder brother.
- The fact that Jesus called Israel “My people.”
- The fact that early Christians called each other “brother” and “sister.”
The clear implication of this is that, in whatever way we go about living our lives as believers, it should be with a family context in mind.
- What implications might accrue to guide our living if we see ourselves as part of a family that exists not only on earth, but also in heaven?
Another significant observation, or assertion, made in the official lesson is that since God created all things in the beginning, He should be regarded as the rightful owner of everything. This basic assertion needs some careful thinking as to what implications it has for humans:
- What implications accrue to humans if in fact, God is to be seen as being the owner of all things?
- What might a listing of “all things” look like?
- The gift of life itself?
- The many things that humans use as resources and assets by way of which the business of living is carried on?
- The strength and ability to gain wealth?
- The gift of Jesus and the salvation he offers?
- What does it mean to give something back to God when he is the rightful owner of all things?
- What does it mean not to give back to God what is already His?
An interesting little reflection that can be had in light of the two items discussed above has to do with the whole matter of living life in harmony with the requests and requirements that God has laid down in various places. In this light, the text in 1 John 5:3 becomes very interesting where it says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (NKJV). A slightly expanded quotation would include v. 2, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” This text seems to have two possible ways to be read. First, it could mean that we keep the commandments out of love for God. But it could also be consequential, that those who love God will be inclined toward keeping the commandments, that the work of the Spirit in their lives will grow in their lives actions that are in harmony with the commandments.
We could add to this the little parable Jesus told of the wise and foolish men, the wise one building on a solid foundation, the foolish one building on sand (Matt. 7:21-27). The results of their actions made a huge difference in the outcomes they experienced.
- Do you think the “Commandments” are imperatives that we must strive to obey and “keep,” or are they more like descriptors of what the condition of the lives of believers will be after they come to faith?
- Do you think there is a difference between restraint and constraint?
- What is life like where we are driven by restraint vs. life lived under constraint?
The Psalmist, in Psa. 116:12, has a very thought-provoking reflection: “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?”