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Our Discontented Adversary

Satan was not content to fulfill God’s purpose. Are you?
Lesson 14 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Before Adam breathed his first breath, God had created a multitude of spirit beings called angels. These creatures were given great strength and intelligence to serve God, on earth and in a holy place called Heaven. One angel was given more power than the others. Known today as Satan, this angel was not content to fulfill the purpose for which he was created. He wanted to take God’s place. So Satan became God’s enemy, leading a great number of angels to rebel against God. And so it was that Satan was cast down from his position of privilege before God.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

The Bible and The HOPE tell us that we have an adversary, a foe, an opponent in this life. He is known today as Satan. Not much Biblical narrative is given to the story of Satan’s creation and fall. However, enough passages do exist to piece together what God wants us to know about this fallen angel who challenged God.

Many Bible scholars draw upon Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18 to learn of Satan’s fall. While these two passages are commonly understood as references to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, many believe they have a double meaning, referring also to Satan, the spiritual power behind those kings.1

These passages show that Satan was given much by God, yet he was not content to fulfill the purpose for which he was created. In his discontent, he rebelled – and when he did, he lost everything. In fact, Satan has become the most despised being in all of creation, and his end, as we shall soon see, is tragic and certain. He chose against God!

ASK & REFLECT

Do you understand the purpose for which you have been created? If so, are you content to fulfill it? Many people are not. Consider the following verses about your purposeful creation:

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:13-17).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). Continue reading


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Created to Love God and Be Loved by God

Where does your picture of God come from?
Lesson 13 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

For man was created to love God and to be loved by God.

– The HOPE, Chapter 2

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

How we perceive a person inevitably influences the way we respond to that person. For instance, if you learned from a co-worker that your supervisor was very angry with you, how do you suppose you would feel to see him (or her) suddenly appear at the doorway of your office?

Or, if you were driving down the street and listening to some of your favorite music and you saw a police car approaching from behind with lights flashing, would you immediately look at your speedometer to make sure you were not breaking the law? If you’re like most people, you would.

In the same way, your perception of God will most likely determine your immediate response to Him. We saw the line above from The HOPE in an earlier lesson, but didn’t dwell on it then. But because this simple statement is so significant, let’s look at it again and delve more deeply into what it means to us. If this statement is true, then it becomes a foundation for every other truth we’ll consider in our study of God’s story through the HOPE. If it is not true, then you could hardly be blamed for abandoning this endeavor here and now. Continue reading


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Creation of Adam & Eve – Part 2

Our purpose – to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.
Lesson 10 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

He did not create them to be gods. But as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Adam and Eve were created to reflect the light of God.

– The HOPE, Chapter 1

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

– Westminster Catechism, Shorter Version, Written in the 1640’s

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

In the previous lesson we considered the truth that man was created in the image of God. In this lesson we will consider God’s purpose for creating man. There are many verses in the Bible that, if studied in total, would help us understand God’s purpose for creating man. However, there is not just a verse that singularly sums up this subject, at least not in a manner that would satisfy most Bible scholars.

There is, however, a document containing a statement that attempts to sum up what the Bible says about God’s purpose for creating man. This document is known as the Westminster Catechism, and the statement to which we are referring appears above. This statement is widely accepted among Bible scholars as accurate, and it provides a point of reference as we consider what The HOPE says about God’s purpose for creating man.

Without a doubt, the brightest visible object in our world is the sun. It is so bright that gazing directly at it can cause irreparable damage to our eyes. Yet God’s brilliance is immeasurably greater than even that of the sun. In 1 John 1:5 we learn that God is pure, undiluted light. And in Exodus 33:20 we are told that His glory is so great no man can look directly at God and live! So how can people behold the glory of God if He is so intensely brilliant that no man can look directly at Him and live? Continue reading


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The Greatest Story Ever Told

The Grand Story that explains every other story.
Lesson 5 from The HOPE Study Guide

Observe & Consider

At heart, we are storytellers. Most of us have been in situations where a story is told, and then someone else responds by telling a related story of their own, which evokes a similar response from yet another person. And on it goes. We are all drawn to the power of a great story, and even more, we desire to identify with and enter into a story greater than our own.

In fact, some sociologists say that the essential quest of humankind can be understood as a search for “metanarrative” or “metanarra.”1 This term refers to a grand story or archetypal account or ideology in which other stories find their meaning. Regardless of culture or rank or station or occupation, man quite naturally searches for some story in which all other stories find their meaning…a story in which we ourselves find our meaning.

Throughout time, people have derived meaning and purpose from stories (metanarra) handed down to them through culture or religion. But in the late 19th century a worldview called modernism2 emerged, claiming that those kinds of traditional metanarra are no longer relevant to our modern world. Modernism sought to replace the “old” stories and religious values with the arguments of reason and the findings of science. These, the modernists said, would define for us the meaning and purpose of our lives, thus creating the new metanarra. Continue reading


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The Universal Question

Is there a purpose…for the world and for me?

Note: The following is from Lesson 1 of The HOPE video Study Guide – At the end of this lesson, please join in the conversation by sharing your comments.

Introduction

The HOPE video begins with these words…

Throughout time people have considered the world in which we live; the complexity and beauty of nature, the mystery of life and death, the depth of human joy and pain …and they have wondered, ‘How did it all come to be? Is this world the result of chance…or design? Is there something, or someone, behind it all? And if there is such a being, then what is He like? Does He have a purpose for this world? Does He have a purpose for me in this world? Does He have a purpose for me beyond this world?

– The HOPE video, Introduction

Observe & Consider

These questions from the beginning of The HOPE are not new. People have long pondered the meaning and purpose of their lives, and they have questioned the existence of a divine creator. For many, questions about purpose and the existence of God are inseparable. Even the prominent 20th century atheist Bertrand Russell once said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” 1

Why would an avowed atheist make such a statement? Because purpose implies intent, and intent implies design. And if there is a design to this world, then there must be a designer. Perhaps then, there are questions even more basic than that of life’s purpose.

Is there a Designer…and is this Designer knowable? Please understand that it is not the intent of The HOPE to prove God…but rather to reveal Him. As the narrator says at the outset of the video, “for those who seek answers, for those who are listening, there is a voice.”

What about you? Are you listening? Maybe you’ve already made up your mind that God does not exist, or maybe you believe there is a God, but you’re unsure about what He is like. For the purpose of our study, perhaps you should ask yourself before you go further, “Am I really listening? Is it possible that there is something about God I’ve not yet heard or understood?” Continue reading