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Bible Study 3, foundations of the faith
July 11, 2019
Foundations of the Faith
I apologize for the delay in sending out this email. First, the editing of Rome's Audacious Claim turned out to be a bigger job than I expected. It consumed my time. Second, I have been debating with myself about a Bible study format. The editing for Rome's Audacious Claim is now done, and I have decided not to worry about the format, so I am ready to proceed.
I love science. I love the way scientists build theories. They are like models. The parts of the model are known facts. You start putting the facts together, and you test how well the model stands.
For example, it is a fact that apples fall down to the ground when their stem breaks. They do not float away. It is a fact that feathers fall down, but more slowly. It is a fact that helium balloons don't fall down; they float away.
As scientists put these facts together, they learned that air affects how things fall. Take away the air and all three of those things fall to the ground, and at the same rate! Wow!
As these facts accumulate, they stimulate us to want to know more. We run tests, like putting those things in a vacuum, and we get more facts and our model gets better and better.
I propose that we can approach the Bible this way. The verses of the Bible are like the facts of a scientific model. We can put those verses together and form models. Theologians do this, and they call those models "doctrines." There are two tests for those models:
1. Other verses: if we combine verses into doctrine, and we find a verse that contradicts our model, then we have to change our model/doctrine.
2. Real life: If our doctrine does not help us know or serve God better, or causes us to know him less or serve him worse, then we have assembled that doctrine (model) incorrectly. Jesus calls this judging by fruit (Matt. 7:15-20).
My early experiences as a Christian bothered me. Christians disagreed on the Bible a lot, and then they argued, and then they split. That is certainly not what God gave us the Bible for!
To me, the problem is that Christians build models (doctrines), but they refuse to test them. They hold on to them even if one, ten, or even dozens of verses contradict them. They keep teaching favorite doctrines even if the result is that their hearers do not serve God very well.
Throughout these Bible studies we will try to build a model that has no contradictory verses and helps us know and please God.
There is no better place to start a model than at the foundations. Here are some verses on foundations of the Christian faith. I will be using the WEB version because it is not copyrighted. You can use any translation you want.
Matthew 7:24-27: "Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall."
Matthew 16:15-18: "Jesus said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. I also tell you that you are Peter [which mean rock], and on this rock I will build my assembly [i.e, church], and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.'"
1 Corinthians 3:11: "For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 2:20: "So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone."
2 Timothy 2:19: "God’s firm foundation stands, having this seal, 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and, 'Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.'"
Try making a list of the things covered in these verses. Keep the list simple. For example, Matthew 7:24-27 should provide "hear Jesus words and do them." Leave out the house, the rain, the winds, and the rock.
Think about that list this week, and I will address a couple complications next week. If you have questions, you can reply to this email.
Also, if you know of other verses that talk about foundation or building on the rock, let me know. It is always possible I missed something.
Thanks for sticking with me during this long wait.
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