She’s an instructor at Curves.
One of three.
I’ve asked leading questions of all of them
while I was working the machines.
But it was “Sandi” in whom I sensed a little spark.
So it seemed time to have a real conversation about what matters most.
I asked her to lunch.
And so we went — last Wednesday.
Before we were even out of the Curves parking lot, she initiated things, telling me she had really been thinking about one of my questions — and so I asked her if I could tell her my story. She said, “Yes.” And so, before we even arrived at the restaurant, I told her how I had come to believe Jesus was God, and what He meant to me.
When we sat down I told her I sensed a hunger in her. That I wondered if God was wooing her.
She said, “I don’t mean to make you feel badly — but I don’t think you can fix the emptiness in me over lunch.”
I nodded. We ordered our salads. She was quiet, and I waited, wanting to hear whatever it was that was keeping her from Christ.
She had some of the usual objections. I had them once too. I don’t think you can live in this world and not have these questions because you hear them all the time. She said:
- I don’t like it when people think they know the way to heaven or imply that the other religions are wrong.
- What about the people who never hear about Jesus?
I listened. I shared some of the things that Keller says in the wonderful message you will hear this week. Good truths I’ve heard before but expressed in fresh ways. Things we need to have in our hearts so we will be ready, as Peter says, to explain the hope that is within us. Oh — we’ll feel awkward — and we’ll stumble — especially if we care deeply about the person to whom we are speaking. When I’m with my sister Bonnie I get as quivery as jello — it’s just so important to me that she hear and understand — even though I know that is not up to me ultimately.
One of my all time favorite CD’s is Sara Grove’s Conversations, and the leading song describes exactly how tongue-tied I can get when I talk about what matters most. This is a good You-tube version:
This is the chorus of “Conversations:”
I would like to share with you what makes me complete.
I don’t claim to have found the Truth, but I know it has found me. . .
the only thing that isn’t meaningless to me is Jesus Christ and and way he set me free.
This is all that I have. This is all that I am
I love the line: “I don’t claim to have found the Truth, but I know it has found me…”
That’s how it is. I didn’t know if Jesus was wooing Sandi or not, but I thought He might be.
I do know that without Him we are SO blind. One of her objections shocked me, and I knew she had it because the blindfold was still in place. She said:
It doesn’t seem right to me that, at the end of my life,
if I have refused to be forgiven by Jesus, that I go to hell.
But wouldn’t you be so thankful that there is a way to be forgiven?
When I dropped her off, back at Curves, she said “I’m sorry to have this time end.” I thought You are not shutting down. He must be wooing you. And Saturday, when I went in, she had a gift for me.
Somehow I think I’m not the only one sowing seeds — somehow I think that beneath the dark soil, a little seed might be germinating. Life might be coming…
I hope you’ll take copious notes on the Keller message to prepare you for “conversations.” A few of the things I remember are:
NO OTHER FOUNDER OF ANY RELIGION
MAKES THE CLAIMS JESUS MADE
WHO DOES HE SAY THAT HE IS?
THE GREAT I AM
HE DIDN’T HAVE A BEGINNING
HE WAS WITH GOD, CREATING THE WORLD
HE MADE THE SEAS
AND ALL THAT SWIM WITHIN
HE SAYS OUTLANDISH THINGS SUCH AS
I KEEP SENDING PROPHETS AND WISE MEN TO YOU
AND YOU KEEP KILLING THEM
HIS CLAIMS ARE ASTOUNDING
AS R. C. SPROUL THUNDERS:
HE COMES AS THE DOOR
He comes as the Resurrection.
He comes as the Light.
He comes as the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.
He comes as the Good Shepherd.
He comes as the Vine.
He is the One who before Abraham was, is.
The passage we are studying this week is one of the richest in all of Scripture. It’s so rich that I long for you to take extra time. One reason people fast a meal during Lent is to give themselves extra time with the Lord. Consider that if you are pressed for time.
Not only does it explore the fascinating question, “Who does Jesus say He is?” but the frightening but important truth that so many who think they have found the way may, indeed, not have found the way.
I’ll share more about this in the Bible study lesson — a thought that is swirling and swirling around in me — and which I long to have a conversation with you, my dear sisters who are seeking the truth.
1. What stands out to you from the above, and why?
2. Can you think of a moment in your life when you began to realize that Jesus might be God — not just a prophet — but God? If so, what do you remember?
3. Report on your Lenten discipline. I am going to suggest that this week your discipline be doing all of this lesson! But walk in His Spirit.
Bible Study: Monday – Wednesday
This is the fierce argument the Pharisees have with Jesus and it is dense truth — so go slowly during this holy Lenten week. I’m suggesting two Keller sermons: one for 2.50 and one free sermon. Hopefully you can listen to both, for I would hate to have you miss the one that is entitled I Am The I Am. The second one supplements, but goes into a bit more detail about the question swirling about in my mind, and which I had when I talked to Sandi. The Pharisees were in bondage, but they couldn’t see it. They thought they were saved, but they weren’t. How many people who think they are Christians, are even in Bible teaching churches, are deceived, and are not really saved? Here are the big questions: If you are religious to feel good about yourself — if you are doing Bible study, giving to the poor, and going to church — all to feel good about yourself, but not loving God — is it possible you are not saved, even if you can explain the gospel? That question has been swirling about in me, and continues as I read this passage and listen to these sermons. And here’s another one. Is there a danger in issuing an invitation that is more on the basis of what you will get from God than on who He is? Keller has said that we should confront idols right off the bat. These are the questions swirling in my mind.We’ll take them up at the end — so please get to the end!
I am so thankful for this group. The very fact that you are doing the lessons and listening to the sermons without getting a lot of praise for doing so is evidence to me that we have true seekers of God here. How you bless me!
Let’s do the lesson — and then contemplate these hard questions. Ask God to help us all!
It’s the Festival of Lights. Jesus is in the Temple surrounded by candles, and He astounds them all as He claims:
I AM the Light of the World.
Background for sermon passage
1. Read the dynamite of John 8:12-20.
A. Describe the debate.
B. Who does Jesus think He is? Find several astounding statements and comment on them. (Go slowly.)
2. Read John 8:21-30
A. Find evidence for blindfolds on the Pharisees.
B. What does He tell them they have to do to be saved and how do they respond? (vs. 24-25)
C. What do you think He means by verse 28? (I’m asking because I am puzzled. Does He mean some of them will believe?)
3. Read John 8:31-38
They are trusting in the fact that they are “offspring” of Abraham. Yet what evidence does Jesus give that they are not saved?
4. Read John 8:39-47
A. Our father is either Satan or God. Find characteristics of each family.
B. Why does Jesus say they do not believe? (vs. 43) What does this mean?
C. Keller says the real hesitancy to Christ is moral rather than intellectual. People don’t want to give up what they think is freedom. Do you agree with Keller?
D. Give an example of how a surrender to God in any area of your life led to real freedom. Several of you last week: Chris, Rebecca, Anne, Elizabeth, Pollyanna — more — commented on your increasing awareness of God’s goodness. This, I believe, is what helps us surrender. Eager for testimonies!
5. Read John 8:48-59
A. Trace the debate — the accusations of the Pharisees and the responses of Jesus.
B. What are the implications of “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
C. How did the Pharisees respond? Why, do you think?
Thursday/Friday (The sermon, or if possible sermons)
The main sermon is 2.50 (I think I promised no more than 10 this Lent, so may have reached my promise limit. But this one is so key I’d hate to have you miss it. However, if you really can’t afford it, the supplemental one covers some of the same issues, but is on a different passage. )
The first link is to the 2.50 sermon entitled I AM the I AM.
6. Give us your notes, and as you write them, think of how you might make these statements when you have “conversations” with unbelievers.
7. He also addresses how it is so easy to trust in religion instead of God. What notes do you have?
Supplemental Sermon: How To Find The Way http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/how-find-way
8. If you listened to this, write down key points.
9. Would love your input on the questions swirling in my head:
A. If you are religious to feel good about yourself — if you are doing Bible study, giving to the poor, and going to church — all to feel good about yourself, but not loving God — is it possible you are not saved, even if you can explain the gospel?
B. Is there a danger in issuing an invitation that is more on the basis of what you will get from God than on who He is? If so, how would that impact your evangelistic conversations?
10. What’s your take-a-way for the week and why?