Updated on January 6, 2014
plain & simple: Introduction…
Welcome to our new online Bible study. If you are re-joining us after finishing “The Great and Difficult Sayings of Christ,” welcome back. We will approach this study in much the same way as the last.
If you are new to groundswell Bible studies, welcome! Each week there will be homework posted on this page. You will need a notebook or journal to record your responses to the study questions and write out prayers and commitments. Please share any thoughts, understandings, or words of encouragement in the comments section. You will find this a very open and caring community eager to get to know you.
With that, here is our next study: “Christianity: Plain & Simple”
Strip it all away. Take away everything you have ever heard someone else say about the Word of God. Remove the seeds, planted by another, about what “true” faith “really” looks like. Take a squeegee to the image of Christ built up in your mind.
Chip away everything that man built. What do you have?
Some may have very little. We Christians can get so bagged down, so loyal to what a man says about God, that we forget to actually find out from God Himself—after all, that preacher uses the bible, so what he says must be right, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Now is the time to find out.
Start from scratch. How did God first call you?
What have you seen of Him since then?
What have you read about Him in the Bible?
What have you heard from Him since then?
This, and this alone, is the foundation of your faith. It isn’t the story of the guy with the thing that he overcame—that is that guy’s story, not yours. Strip away all those other things that God did for others; yes, they testify to His greatness, mercy, and love. What they don’t do is shore up your faith. When the winds blow and the rains of life drench you to the very core, what God did for someone else, said to someone else, built in someone else will do absolutely nothing to sturdy your rocking house. For without your own foundation of what you have learned from God, your house will come tumbling down.
Note: it is what you have learned from God, not about God. I have read, heard, spoken many a lesson on the faithfulness of God, using examples from others’ lives. But the examples that built the foundation of my faith are those from my own life—where God showed Himself to me. Not because I was relying on another to do the research for me, but because He knew I needed to see Him, feel Him, hear from Him myself.
You see, God isn’t about being distant. Though He may appreciate your thirst for knowledge, He craves a deep, intimate, internal connection with you—a connection that cannot be found in books about Him, sermons about Him, or someone else’s testimony. Yes, we can see Him working there, and there are times those things touch our souls—but the true experience of faith is individual.
The true experience of faith is individual.
If faith is individual, how will I know if someone else’s faith is true? How will I know if I can trust what someone is saying if I cannot measure their faith? If faith is individual, does that open the door for all sorts of foolish interpretations? Where are the boundaries? Where are the standards? What of these limitations I have trusted my entire life?
That is a very good question: what of those expectations? Are they from scripture?
“Well, I’m sure it’s in there somewhere….isn’t it?”
That is the point of this study—to strip away everything and build a foundation based on Scripture. It can be difficult to strip away all you have thought to be true and start from scratch. It can be scary to question your faith, the foundation of your faith, and even the God you have believed. Rest assured—the Word of God is solid. Search it out, and the work of stripping away and rebuilding will be worth the final product.
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword”, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. –Isaiah 1:16-20 (NKJV)
Do the things of God, and His reward will be yours. Strip away the excess we, as mere men, add to faith and believe in the One in whom you have placed your faith. More of Him—less of us.