Lesson 3

The Word: The Foundation of Revival

(Hebrews 4, John 5, 1 Peter 1, 1 John 2)
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Introduction: Our study is about the Bible being the "foundation" of revival. That seems a bit odd at first glance. If the lesson claimed that the Bible was the foundation for reformation, that would make perfect sense. Who reads the Bible to become converted? It seems that you hear the gospel, give your heart to God, and then read the Bible to better understand. Well, maybe not. Consider how our series started. We learned that we are living during the "lukewarm" age of the church. Those already in the church have heard the gospel. Thus, if we want to revive those (like us) who are already in the church, we need something more than the initial excitement of being converted. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible to discover its role in revival!

  1. Word For Life


    1. Read Hebrews 4:1-2. We have two groups of people who have heard the same gospel message. What makes the difference between the two? (One group accepted it by faith and the other did not.)


      1. What is the practical result of accepting the gospel by faith? (Those with faith enter into God's rest and the others do not.)


      2. What is this rest?


    2. Read Hebrews 4:3-5. How does the Sabbath help us understand what it means to enter into God's rest?


      1. What rest does the Sabbath reflect? (God's finished work of creation.)


      2. What rest does accepting the gospel by faith reflect? (God's finished work of salvation for those who accept it.)


      3. There exists a group of Christians who think the Sabbath is no longer important because we have entered the era of righteousness by faith. Considering these verses, what is your opinion on this issue ? (The logical conclusion is the precise opposite. Just as the Sabbath has always stood as a memorial to creation, it now also stands as a memorial to righteousness by faith. God created a time of rest for us to reflect upon His power and authority as Creator and His love and kindness as our Redeemer.)


    3. Read Hebrews 4:6-7. What gets in the way of entering into the Sabbath rest? (Disobedience. Disobedience that flows from a hardened heart.)


    4. Read Hebrews 4:8-11. How does Joshua fit into this discussion? (Joshua led God's people into the "rest" of the promised land - Canaan. Our true promise land is not Canaan, it is heaven and the earth made new.)


      1. What do we recall about disobedience and entering into Canaan? (Numbers chapters 13 & 14 record the refusal of the people to enter into Canaan.)


      2. How is this failure like the failure to accept Jesus' righteousness by faith? (In both cases God promised to do the heavy lifting. He does what we cannot do. All we have to do is enter into that rest by believing and trusting God.)


    5. Read Hebrews 4:12. Suddenly we are talking about God's word. Has the topic changed? If not, how does this follow the logic of what we have just been reading? (The topic has not changed. The problem is disobedience. What the Bible records as the people's failure of faith at the border of Canaan, convicts us of our failure of faith when it comes to trusting God to provide our salvation.)


      1. Why is "penetrates" "soul and spirit" a good description of the impact of studying the Bible? (It pierces our pride by convicting us of our sins. It makes clear God's will.)


      2. Have you experienced the Bible judging your "thoughts and attitudes?" (I have! Bible study cuts through to the truth about your life.)


      3. What does the counsel against hardening our hearts and the sword-like nature of the Bible suggest about the attitude with which we should approach Bible study? (We should consider it a tool to change us, not a weapon to inflict change on others.)


    6. Read Hebrews 4:13. Why is it so important to be students of the Bible? (We cannot enter the promised land without faith in God. Bible study helps to give us that faith. Equally important is understanding our sinful nature. The Bible makes that plain to us. The Bible helps us to understand what God so easily sees about us.)


    7. Consider the role of the Bible in your Christian walk. What reveals God's will to you? What provides the stories of faith and failure of faith? What gives us insight into the love and patience of God? (The Bible is central to knowing and trusting God.)


  2. Word for Light


    1. Read John 5:39-40. Do you agree that diligent Bible study aids us in possessing eternal life?


      1. Jesus says that these diligent Bible students do not have eternal life. What is the problem? (They do not accept what the Bible says.)


        1. Why would someone turn to the Bible for truth and then not accept it?


    2. Read Psalms 119:105. What does this text suggest about the reasons why a person would not accept the truth of the Bible? (The Bible shows us where to go and what to do. But, it is only a light. It does not make the decision for us about where to walk.)


    3. Let's go back to Hebrews 4:2 and re-read it. They heard the message. We read the message in the Bible. The Bible lights the way to go. We just discussed that we have to decide to follow the path illuminated by the Bible. What does it mean to have faith in this context? (To believe that what the Bible says is superior to our own opinion of things. Recall that I just asked why would someone turn to the Bible and then not accept it? The answer is that we think we judge the Bible as opposed to the Bible judging us.)


    4. Read 1 Peter 1:24-25. What logical argument is there for judging our opinions by the Bible, rather than judging the Bible by our opinions? (Human life is fleeting. While we may think that we are smart and capable, God and His word are forever. God is the inventor of life. Why would we consider our opinions to be superior?)


  3. Word for Change


    1. Read 1 Peter 1:13-16. We previously "lived in ignorance." What changed that? (The Bible.)


    2. Read 1 Peter 1:17-21. On what is our faith and hope now based? (On the life and death of Jesus on our behalf.)


    3. Read 1 Peter 1:22-23. What is the truth? (The one we just read - that Jesus redeemed us from death.)


      1. Notice the very odd progression of things. Verse 22 says that obedience "purified" us and then gave us the emotion of love. That is not the normal human experience - that obeying makes us love. Normally, love makes us obey. How do you explain what is being said in 1 Peter 1:22? (The "obedience" is accepting that Jesus is God and that He died to save us. This is the problem discussed in John 5:39-40, the people who studied the Bible diligently did not accept Jesus. This is the problem in Hebrews 4, that the people did not believe in the power of God to save them. Accepting and obeying the truth of Jesus' offer of salvation gives us an attitude of love.)


    4. Read 1 John 2:1-3. How can John accept righteousness by faith and write, "we have come to know Him if we obey His commands?"


      1. Read Romans 7:7-9. Paul says that when the law came sin "sprang to life and I died." That hardly seems a warm endorsement of the law!


    5. Read 1 John 2:4-6. What does it mean that "God's love is truly made complete" in those who obey God's commandments? (You can only think John's comments about the law are wrong if you believe that the law is our enemy and not our friend. While it is true that the law would be the reason for our death if not for grace, the law reflects God's love for us and our love for each other ( Matthew 22:37-40). We reflect God's love when we obey God's law.)


    6. How can we understand God's commands so that God's love will be "truly made complete" in us? (This is the central role of the Bible. To reveal the nature of God and to reveal His will for our lives. This shows us where change is needed. This shows us how God wants us to demonstrate His love.)


    7. Friend, how much time do you spend with your Bible each week? How much time do you spend with television? Why not determine today to give God as least equal time? It will change your life!


  4. Next week: Witness and Service: The Fruit of Revival.

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