Living on the front line

Study 9 - Faith in a confused climate

Living as God intends isn’t paying lip service to a cause: it is committing who we are and everything we do to Christ.
confusionNothing is beyond God’s reach and no element of our life is to be excluded from His rule. How, though, do we know what God wants? Given the many possibilities on offer, what is the correct decision to make and the right thing to do?

It’s even more confusing when, side by side with the competing challenges of a materialistic (secular) culture, the church does not always seem to be speaking with one voice. That should make us think really hard about what we believe and consider how we could behave even on issues which are of secondary importance.

Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible. (Corrie Ten Boom)

The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are at opposite sides of the same coin. (A. W. Tozer) 

God is the one who satisfies the passion for justice, the longing for spirituality, the hunger for relationship, the yearning for beauty. And God … is the God we see in Jesus of Nazareth, Israel's Messiah, the world's true Lord. (N T Wright)

Please read 2 Timothy 3. What immediately strikes you about these verses? (What phrases or words stand out?)

Pause for thought

  1. Where is Christianity likely to be misrepresented?
  2. What do you consider to be the non-negotiables of the Christian faith?
  3. How do we respond when others challenge us on these points?
  4. What does Romans 12 verse 2 teach us about discovering and following God’s will?
  5. Why might we find it difficult to be obedient?

Our passage comes from what many commentators consider to be the last of Paul’s letters. It’s a very personal document written to Timothy who is an elder in the church at Ephesus. He’s not very old (probably in his early 20’s) and is young in the faith – but that doesn’t stop God trusting him with significant responsibilities. How will he (Timothy) ensure that he keeps in step with what God wants?

Which way are we going? (2 Timothy 3 verses 1 to 9)

  1. Please reread verse 5. Where might this be true today?
  2. How do we avoid being taken in by those who live like this?
  3. What do verses 1 to 6 tell us about the root and fruit of materialism?
  4. Which of these forms of behaviour do you consider to be the most destructive? Why is this?
  5. How do we keep our faith alive in the face of rejection and division?

 We have been given a commission to make disciples of all nations, and we need to keep this mission at the forefront of our minds.  It would have been easy for Timothy to begin worrying about his own safety at a time like this - his father in the faith, Paul, was about to be executed for preaching the gospel.  In spite of this, Paul commands him to continue preaching the gospel, and to keep preaching the gospel, regardless of the cost.  This is not always popular, even in the church.

 What should we be doing? (2 Timothy 3 verses 10 to 16)

  1. Imagine that you are at the end of your life. You have one opportunity to leave a final bit of wisdom to the people who are important to you. What would you say to them?  What do you think they would most need to hear?
  2. Why does Paul remind Timothy about His sufferings as well as the joys of preaching the gospel?
  3. How might we put persecution into perspective?
  4. Why is scripture such an essential part of being a living “church?”
  5. How do we train one another such that we are thoroughly equipped for every good work (see verse 16)? What training do you think we need and where might we find it?

 Please pray

  • wait on God: what is He saying to you through Lent?
  • consider your own approach to scripture. Allow your readings to guide your daily living
  • look beyond our needs. Pray for the witness of the church in this Easter season
  • with thanksgiving: praising God for life and all its fullness through Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us