In these episodes we take a long look at what it means to reform our lives according to God’s revealed will and why that is so important. As you explore further the issues we address you can use some questions provided to help delve into the meaning and application of key Bible passages. Further reading material drawn from a rich past heritage of spiritual wisdom will also help you to continue to think about the points raised.
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Bible Study Questions
1. Verse 1 gives a description of what faith is. Use your own words to name the following three things about faith. (a) Instead of things in the here-and-now, what does faith deal with? (b) Instead of things we see, what does faith deal with? (c) Instead of being airy-fairy, insubstantial, or doubtful, what is faith like?
2. According to verse 2, God’s people since long ago have been commended. Who gave them their good report, or commendation? What are they commended for? What does this mean for us, if we want God to be pleased with us and give us a good report?
3. Verse 3 tells us a bit about what God has done. (a) What do God’s works reveal about what God is like? (b) There is plenty of evidence and revelation about what God is like, both generally in
creation and specially in the Bible. Can people interpret the available evidence just using their own powers of reason, or do we need something else?
4. Verse 4 gives a historical example of faith in action. (a) What did Abel do by faith? (b) God accepted Abel’s offering and testified that he was pleased with it. Would Abel’s offering have been acceptable to God if Abel himself was not a person who God accepted? (c) What made Abel, and therefore the things he did, pleasing to God?
5. (a) Let’s assume that Cain wanted to please God, brought him the best he could lay his hands on, and sincerely thought his idea for an offering was a good one. Why was God nevertheless not pleased with Cain’s offering? (b) Unbelievers can sometimes do very impressive things as offerings to God, whether charitable work, using their gifts for music, etc. What does Cain show us about God’s view of the performance of the work compared to the principle that motivates what we do?
6. Verse 5 gives another example of faith in action. One of the very few things we know about Enoch is that ‘he walked with God’ for many years in his long life (see Genesis 5:21-24). What does it say about your relationship with someone when you are happy to keep walking a long distance with them? From this description of Enoch’s relationship with God, what can we conclude about (a) how pleasing Enoch was to God and (b) how pleasing God was to Enoch?
7. Faith characterised not only Enoch’s life but also the way he departed from this life to go to heaven. (a) What was unique about Enoch at the end of his life? (b) How does the same faith also characterise the experience of death for believers who die in the ordinary way? Think of verses such as Psalm 48:14, Psalm 56:13, etc. (c) Whatever way the end of our life comes, what testimony or commendation do we need to have beforehand?
8. Looking at verse 6, what makes it impossible to please God? If someone spends their life failing to please God, what are the consequences (a) for their life? (b) for after their death?
9. Still looking at verse 6, there are two things that we must believe if we are going to please God. (a) Believing that God is, doesn’t just mean believing that a God exists. It means believing in the one God who truly does exist. Who is this God? (b) What kind of reward(s) does he give? (c) Seeking him doesn’t just mean finding out facts about him. It means seeking himself personally until we find him. In what ways is the reward a good match with the seeking