Essentials #3 – Study Questions
Essentials – What We Believe – Week #3
The Human Condition (Genesis chapters 1-3)
One of the most important questions in the Western world is, “Who am I?” Why is this question so important? Well, the West has been deeply influenced philosophically by the enlightenment thinkers. If you ever took Philosophy 101 in college, you would have had to read some of those thinkers. And even if you haven’t taken an introductory course on philosophy, you are like familiar with the statement, “I think, therefore I am.” This was made by Reneé Descartes, the famous French philosopher. And in his statement, we hear the centrality and the importance of answering the question of identity. Simply, it matters. Why? Because who we are matters.
Now, this isn’t a question that only those in Western contexts have to answer. It is a question that all people have to answer. The reality of asking it in our Western context means that we have a particular set of views that will inform our answer. As Western people, we tend to be very individualistic in our perspectives. That is, we look to define what is right or true about us by what we as individuals have come to see as good, right, or true. As we know, this isn’t necessarily bad, but it can lead to very unhealthy things. So, how are we to answer the question of identity? Namely, through the lens of Scripture.
The Bible takes seriously the question of identity. But it doesn’t answer it from humanity’s perspective, it answers it from God’s perspective. Simply, the creator gets to define the creation. That is one of the chief aims of Genesis chapters 1-3. Often, we read these chapters and ask scientific questions of creation or try to discern how long Adam and Eve were in the garden before the fall, etc. But, the text aims to answer two questions. First, “Who is God?” Second, “Who is man?” The biblical story of creation finds its climax in these words from Genesis 1: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them…. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Gen. 1:26-27, 31). Here is the source of all human dignity and significance and the place where the sanctity of human life is rooted. Of all the creatures on the earth, only human beings are created in the image of God. Man is a creature of great majesty, but it is a derived dignity, a God-given greatness. According to the Bible, human beings must be defined in terms of their relation to God—as the image of God.
Article #3 – “We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan. In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God, and under His wrath. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed.”
GETTING STARTED – As you begin your group time, share about a time in your life when you felt fully alive? It could have been the first time you rode a rollercoaster, an important moment or achievement, or a season when everything seemed to just click. What was it about that moment that made you feel alive?
IN THE WORD – Let’s dig back into the passage. It is important to strengthen our muscles in reading God’s Word. On Sunday, we walked through the passage in the sermon. Hopefully, that helped you to see the landmarks of the passage with fresh eyes. Now, with your group, go back through it and see what God is saying to you specifically.
First, before you read the passage, take a moment to ask God’s Spirit to quiet your mind and heart and to illuminate the text to you. Second, read the passage aloud to the group. Then, follow the simple method below. (O.P.A)
Observe: Make 8-10 observations from the passage. Pay close attention to observe and note repeated words and phrases, names, places, and themes.
Principles: From your list of observations, what patterns or big ideas do you see emerging? Can you distill it down into 2-4 big idea truths?
Apply: Moving from your list of principles, it is time to apply God’s Word. Remember, we believe that God’s Word is living and active and that it can change the way we live Monday- Friday. What is one tangible way to apply a truth from your list above?
Note: Another way to approach your time together is to talk through the following questions about the article of faith we are studying that week.
- How would you answer the question, “What does it mean to be human?”
- What is core to this article of faith? That is, what is something that, if you took it away or changed it, it would significantly alter the article of faith about God?
- What is clarified for you in this article of faith about humanity and yourself personally?
- What is confusing for you in this article of faith? Take time as a group to chat through and offer perspectives on the things that are confusing. The beauty of a group is that often when we study together, we help sharpen and clarify what is confusing for one another.
- How does this article on humanity apply to my everyday life? That is, how does it change my outlook and approach to my Monday-Saturday life?
 EFCA. Evangelical Convictions, 2nd Edition (p. 88). Free Church Publications. Kindle Edition.