The Bible did not create Christianity. Christianity is the result of an event (the resurrection) that created a movement (the church) that produced sacred and reliable texts that were collected and bound into a book (the Bible). But how do we approach not being at peace with everything we read in the Bible? Paul—the apostle, Pharisee, author, preacher, and church planter—offers us clarity and confidence to move forward.
- What do you know about the Paul of the Bible?
- What story in the Old Testament is hardest for you to believe?
Think About It
- Discuss the following descriptions of Paul. What about him do you identify with? What’s hard to relate to? Why is it important to understand that Paul was ALL of these things?
- Scholar: Paul studied under the most esteemed Jewish teachers. He was an expert in the law.
- Skeptic: Paul initially spent all of his energy attempting to discredit, undermine, and hurt the followers of Jesus.
- Convert: Paul went from being a law-abiding Pharisee to a Jesus-follower in a single day.
- Leader: Paul taught, wrote to, prayed for, chastised, and financially and emotionally invested in the people he led.
- Writer: The letters to the churches Paul planted help explain in practical terms what it looks like to follow Jesus.
His writing has shaped the thought of Western civilization.
- Thinker: Paul thought deeply about life and its most difficult questions. He cared deeply about leading people to think about the new way Jesus came to introduce.
- Sufferer: Paul experienced extraordinary loss and pain. At times he struggled financially, physically, and emotionally.
- If there was room for Paul, who as Saul killed Christians, in the Kingdom of God- how does this encourage you?
- Paul wrote much of what we call the New Testament in his 13 letters. What about Paul’s life gives him the credibility to discuss faith in Jesus?
- Andy explained that Paul’s letters are a bridge between the Hebrew Bible and Jesus’ new covenant. How did you feel about the examples Andy gave? Did anything grab your attention?
- Paul authenticates (as in he was alive during this time- and knew people who had seen Jesus alive) the most important event recorded in the Bible—the resurrection. Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-7.
- Why is the resurrection the “most important event recorded in The Bible”?
- What important details are recorded here about the events immediately following the resurrection?
- What is the most comforting or encouraging image in this passage for you?
- Much of the New Testament authenticates the life, death, and burial of Jesus as well. However, it is not most important what was written, but WHO wrote it, men who knew and walked with Jesus. Pick one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and read the resurrection story. Talk about the author of this book. What do you know about him and his relationship to Jesus? How does this understanding impact the way you read this story?
- In his writing, Paul explains the relationship we should see between the parts of the Bible. And if he could have been there the day we got our first Bibles (as children or adults), he would have given us two pieces of advice:
- Read the Old Testament for inspiration (1 Corinthians 10:6-11) and motivation but not application.
- Take your application cues (how to actually live your life) from Jesus’ new covenant command (John 13:34-35).
- So, what Old Testament applications are you stuck on?
- What old expectations and standards can you let go of because of Jesus’ new covenant?
- Read Ephesians 5:21 and Ephesians 4:32. Because of Jesus’ new covenant command, what should be your primary focus as you live your life? How are you doing on this currently?
- The story of the Bible reminds us that the question of utmost importance is not, Are you at peace with everything in the Bible? The most important question is, Have you found peace with God whose Son died for your sin and was seen? How does this line of thinking settle with you?
- What would change for you if you began your faith with the event of the resurrection like the early followers did? They didn’t have a Bible. They had: Christ died for our sin and was buried; He rose from the dead and was seen. Can you revisit or begin your faith here too?
Something to Consider
The story of the Bible is extraordinary. It’s a story with personal implications for all of us because of what Jesus did for all of us. We can have clarity regarding our relationship with the Hebrew Bible and we can have confidence regarding the event of the resurrection. This week, think about what old ways of thinking you can let go of in order to make room for a better way—the way that was established before the Bible existed; the way that relies on Jesus rising from the dead and being seen by men and women who believed and followed.
The Lost Letters of Pergamum by Bruce Longenecker (Book)
The Seven Days That Divide the World by John C. Lennox (Book)