Modern Bible readers see Jesus as an extension of the Jewish Scriptures, our Old Testament. Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day didn’t see Him as an extension or fulfillment of anything… From their vantage point, Jesus was introducing something new. On this, they were correct. ~ Andy Stanley
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
A quick reading reminder before you dive in:
Session 1 covers material from the Introduction to Section 1 and the first five chapters in Irresistible:
- Introduction to Section 1: Simply Resistible
- Chapter 1 :: The New Standard American Version
- Chapter 2 :: Going Global
- Chapter 3 :: Temple Tantrum
- Chapter 4 :: Splittin’ Up
- Chapter 5 :: Recentering the Universe
Before playing this session’s video, have a group member read the following:
The decline of Christianity in America, the popularity of the New Atheists, and the meteoric rise of the nones underscore something that’s been true for generations but didn’t matter much until now. Modern, mainstream Christianity is fatally flawed. These flaws make it fragile and indefensible in the public square… The way forward is not complicated, though some will find it controversial. It’s not original with me. It’s hidden in plain sight in the Gospels and the epistles of Paul. We know it works because it already worked. Once upon a time, members of a Jewish cult called The Way, against all odds, captured the attention and, ultimately, the dedication of the pagan world, both inside and outside the Roman Empire. So perhaps we need to hit pause on much of what we’re doing today — which isn’t working all that well anyway — and take notes from the men and women credited with turning the world upside down.
Watch Session One:
As you watch Session 1 of the video, feel free to take notes.
Why doesn’t everyone in America go to church?
What first-century Christians knew that we don’t
Jesus as greater than the temple
“But all the cool kids have kings…”
Purpose of the prophets
Silence, and then the Messiah
Cover as many of the following questions as time and group interest permit.
- What comment of Andy’s stood out to you most? What emotion did it provoke? Share your thoughts with your group.
- If the young woman in the story Andy told asked you why everyone in America doesn’t go to church, what would you have said?
- The young woman’s question bothered Andy. Would such a question (and the implications of that question) bother you? Why or why not?
- Andy made the assertion that the church is indeed “so resistible” today. What do you think he means? Do you see evidence to back up such a claim?
- Have you or someone you know struggled with some of the issues cited in the video segment (noted below) regarding why people have abandoned the faith?
- Disparity between the seemingly violent and capricious God of the Old Testament and the gentle, grace-filled Jesus, who is presented in the New Testament
- Contradictions regarding biblical “facts”
- The prevalence of suffering in the world
- Confusion regarding the age of the earth, the veracity of the great flood, etc.
- Scientific hang-ups such as climate change, natural selection, and so forth
This study’s subtitle refers to reclaiming something we as believers once had. What do you think that thing was that kept the early church from being derailed by issues such as these?
- In the video segment, Andy reviewed ten key events during God’s covenantal commitment to Abraham. Have members look up the verse(s) and note the key points in the spaces below.
1 Samuel 9:15–10:1
1 Samuel 16:1–13
2 Samuel 7:1–29
1 Kings 10:26–11:6
2 Kings 17:7–17
- What do you take away from this sweep through ancient history?
- What misunderstandings could unfold for someone who might be interested in following Jesus but who is stymied by these Old Testament events?
The distinguishing characteristic of the Jewish temple was not something it included that the competition lacked. Quite the opposite. The differentiating characteristic of the Jewish temple was something it lacked that everybody else had.
The holy of holies was like a beautiful, ornately designed frame without a picture. This was why Israel didn’t need a temple to begin with. The distinguishing characteristic of Judaism was not the design of their temple. It was the lack of an image representing their God. Images were strictly forbidden in Judaism. As we discovered earlier, this particular prohibition was one of the Big Ten.
The notion of worshiping an image or idol is so foreign to us that an empty idol chamber doesn’t strike us as odd. But in ancient times, the very opposite was true.
WRAP IT UP
Remind the group of the “Between Sessions” material that follows, offer a closing thought or prayer based on the quote below, and then dismiss Session 1.
While it could be argued God was silent in the years of Israel’s occupation and oppression, He certainly wasn’t still. ~Andy Stanley
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