Key Thought: The truth will set you free.
· Council at Jerusalem-Paul confronts Peter for wanting to please the Judaizers and corrupting the truth of the Gospel by excluding Gentiles
Doubt: A claim to absolute truth is arrogant, religion is oppressive when not kept a private matter, and even then it restricts the religious individual.
1. v. 14 Everyone believes something to the exclusion of other beliefs. Example: Is there anything you believe is wrong no matter what anybody thinks? Even if they are tolerant of others having different beliefs, that doesn't translate into a loving society (the Greco-Roman world). To doubt a belief is to exclude it and put faith in something else-to doubt 'all' beliefs is a self-contradictory belief. To doubt love is the point is to exclude it and faithfully believe there is no point. That will be the compass upon which you base all your decisions, not just private ones-religion (faith) cannot just be kept private. Do you examine the beliefs driving you & your doubts? Do you know the Bible never calls us to have blind faith?--In a few weeks.
2. v. 15 So, given everyone puts faith in something and it is illogical to accept all beliefs if they contradict eachother, the question becomes "Which beliefs will empower us to be agents of reconciliation and peace in the world?" Granted, those beliefs must correspond to reality, we can't just make up a new religion and call it truth, which is why in a few weeks we will discuss evidence that supports Christianity. But when we're talking about empowerment and reconciliation, Christianity is distinct from all religions because a) most other religions want to escape this world but Christ redeems and restores it, b) the meaning of life is to live God's grace, not earn it (karma), and c) God became our example of reconciliation in Christ (religion based in ultimate reality), whereas all other religious founders are only human. Do the beliefs driving your doubts empower and lead to reconciliation? The church has a bad track record, talk about more next week.
3. v. 10 Christ, our example, gave up divine power and became human and died for us, He gave up everything to show us the absolute truth about His love-the only thing that sets us free, like staying in water liberates the fish, the only thing that truly satisfies and answers the inner "WHY?" All other truth-substitutes lead to slavery, addiction. Christians included everybody from the beginning (Gal 3:28), in a culture when exclusion was the norm (although they were religiously inclusive). Jesus on the cross loved people who didn't love Him-died for His enemies-that's ultimate reality, and the early church lived it. Religious moralists feel superior to secularists, who feel superior to all the stupid religious people. But, if you accept the Gospel, you know you didn't deserve it, you want others to enjoy in it, and you confidently know your life is built on ultimate reality-you become part of what the world needs. Does your "Hope" drive you to become what this world needs?
Used these sources:
Exclusivity: How can there be just one true religion? 1 John 4:1-10
This is probably covered in RFG ch. 1: There can't be just one true religion.
Absolutism: Don't we all have to find truth for ourselves? Galatians 2:4-16
This is probably covered in RFG ch. 3: Christianity is a Straightjacket.
ch. 11-religion and the gospel
Group Discussion Questions:
1. Do you have any doubts or barriers to your faith? If you doubt a certain belief-what alternative belief does it imply? Do you equally examine that alternative belief?
2. If you doubt the existence of God, do you fully examine the alternative belief that there is no real 'good'? "Is there anyone in the world right now doing things you believe they should stop doing no matter what they personally believe about the correctness of their behavior?" (Keller). If morality is objectively real, if social justice is never relative, what is its unchanging foundation?
3. Does your worldview promote humble, peace-loving behavior, and, if so, how? Does yours base a man's worth on his good deeds ('religion'), or on God's unearned love demonstrated on the cross? ('Gospel') - or does man have no worth in yours ('irreligion')? Is the 'irreligious' worldview 'implicitly' religious-an unprovable faith assumption?
The Truth...I'm Skeptical / Paul VK