Chapter Two: The Problem of God’s Existence

My Problem With God Is…

Sunday, September 15

Clark begins by stating “If we are going to believe in God, then we must ask what the evidence is for his existence. What proofs and clues are there that an all-powerful, eternal, infinite being actually exists?” His arguments are then categorized into two primary areas, the morality of people, and the order of the universe. In short, why do we have an innate desire to do what’s right, to lay down our life for people we love instead of doing whatever necessary to advance ourselves. “The very fact that something within us is repelled by racism, sexism, and unequal treatment of the poor and disabled begs the question that such convictions would have to come from somewhere, for they are not natural.” The chapter goes on to provide evidence against the Big Bang Theory, as well as evolution, and supports evidence of an intelligent design.

Getting Started:

  1. Take a few minutes as a group and share what portions of the book or the Sunday morning message where interesting to you. What was most “eye opening” as you heard and read about an intelligent designer.
  2. On pg.58, Clark writes “The laws that govern physical matter would need to exist prior to the big bang. They could not come into existence at the same moment as the big bang itself or else they would not do their work.” Based on your faith and beliefs, what existed first? When did the laws of physics exist? Heaven? Hell? Angels? Jesus? Holy Spirit? Devil?
  3. Theories and opinions regarding creation are readily available today. How do you lead your kids, grandkids or young people through the discovery process to determine what they believe is truth vs theory? How do they do this while honoring God and loving people along the way?
  4. Based on the information you’ve read in this book, and the discussion that took place, do you feel your confidence in God has increased? Do you feel you have more questions than when you started? What is your next step with this new position? This may be intentional conversations with your kids, other family, friends, co-workers?

Going Deeper:

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  1. Prior to reading this chapter or listening to the message, how would you explain our society’s desire to live by a moral code or a desire to “do the right thing”? In your own words, how do you explain the fact that we as a whole are against murder, or racism, or other “wrong things”?
  2. Many people believe that the creation of the universe was simply a “lucky”, single occurrence (Big Bang Theory). Clark shares a poker analogy where the odds of the universe being created consistent with the Big Bang is equivalent to being dealt a perfect royal flush in poker every hand, forever. Why do you believe so many people feel it is easy to believe in the Big Bang, when they would never believe in the poker analogy?
  3. If someone came to you and argued that the Grand Canyon was created millions of years ago, how would you began to use your faith in God to defend the creation story? What are other examples of theories people share and we accept as facts when it relates to creation and the universe?

Chapter Three: The Problem of the Bible

My Problem With God Is…

Sunday, September 22

Is the Bible historically legitimate or is it filled with folklore? Has the Bible changed over time? Does it contradict itself? How do we know we have something even close to the original text? Why have some writings been left out of the Bible? Do you really expect me to take every word as truth and not merely as a general guide to help me live a better life? Clark provides evidence that “the Bible is actually one of the most, if not the most, reliable and credible documents from antiquity.” He systematically tackles many of the toughest questions, including issues related to slavery, women and even polygamy in the Bible. Not only is it accurate, complete and true, the scriptures have power to speak. “And if we listen, and heed them and let them take us over, they will transform us, forever.”

Getting Started:

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  1. What are the hurdles or questions you have had to confront in relation to the Bible, and why? Do you relate to any of the questions raised on pg 65? What issues do you hear most often from people regarding their hurdles with the Bible?
  2. How literal do you believe the Bible is? For instance, was the universe created in 6 days? Was the entire Earth under water in the flood? Was Jonah in the mouth of a fish? Are there parts of the Bible that are difficult to accept?
  3. Take a few minutes as a group and share what portions of the book or the Sunday morning message helped build your trust in the Bible? 
  4. Do you give the same weight or reliability to the Old Testament as you do the New Testament? Are there areas of the Bible you hold tighter to than others? Why is that so?

Going Deeper:

  1. In developing your trust, or mistrust of the Bible, how much have you considered the historical scrutiny it has been placed under? Does this level of scrutiny render it more valid that other historical documents?
  2. On pg. 80, Clark shares his personal experience and states, “I began to realize that there’s a world of difference between the Bible explaining what is happening and God affirming and encouraging what is happening.” Does this distinction help you with issues related to slavery, polygamy, the treatment of women and children, etc.?
  3. Why do you believe it is easy for others to dispute the accuracy of the Bible, yet they accept other ancient texts with far less legitimacy? Is it simply a lack of knowledge, or an intentional decision to refute scripture as it would require life change to live out the Christian faith?

Chapter One: The Problem of Science

My Problem With God Is…

Sunday, September 8

In the first chapter, Clark tackles the widely held view that both the discoveries of science and the positions of the Christian faith cannot coexist. Someone must choose to either believe in science or commit intellectual suicide and hold onto a blind faith. Clark explains the dichotomy of the myth: “science is about thinking, evidence, and rational justification, while Christianity and faith in general are about evading evidence and clinging to nonrationality.” He not only works to dispel the myth that the church, faith and Christianity are NOT universally opposed to science, but that science was actually birthed from Christian beliefs. He leads us to believe that the continued advances of science will bring confidence to the Christian faith.

Getting Started:

  1. Take a few minutes as a group and share what portions of the book or the Sunday morning message where interesting to you. Have you changed your mind about something related to science or faith because of what you’ve heard?
  2. Based on what you’ve been taught in the past, do you feel you have a larger knowledge base about scientific arguments FOR or AGAINST the Christian faith? Why is that?
  3. Was there something specific in the reading or from the Sunday message that grew your confidence that God is real and the creator of the universe?
  4. Hearing Christians provide scientific evidence to support the Christian faith may be new for you. What is most encouraging about being equipped with new knowledge?
  5. What do you need to keep in mind as you share this new information with skeptics? What do you what them to think? What do you want them to feel? What is the role of the Holy Spirit?

Going Deeper:

  1. Have you ever experienced a conversation with a friend or family member who scientifically opposed the Christian faith? How did you feel, and is there something more you wish you would have known?
  2. Clark shares an analogy, that believing in the Big Bang Theory is comparable to accepting that someone could have been dealt a perfect royal flush in poker, on every hand, forever. Why do you think our culture accepts something as unlikely as this, before they would accept the idea that there is an ultimate designer (God)?
  3. As scientists learn more, do you believe more people will turn to the Christian faith or fewer? Why?
  4. What scientific questions do you still have regarding faith (creation, evolution, dinosaurs, etc.)? What do you feel can’t be explained by the Bible? 
  5. Read Romans 1: 19-23. How do you believe our culture today has become “futile in their thinking”? What have we decided to believe instead of the truth of scripture? As you continue to read Romans 1, what other cultural issues do you see as an effect of our “futile thinking”?

Intro: The Problem of God

My Problem With God Is…

Sunday, September 8, 2019

StoneWater Church has created the following questions for groups as a guide for discussion. They have been based on the book The Problem of God by Mark Clark, as well as a sermon series at StoneWater Church in the fall of 2019. These questions are simply a guide to help you grow in your faith and gain confidence in the teachings of the Bible. 

INTRODUCTION

During your first meeting, we would encourage you as a group leader to spend some time getting to know everyone in the group. Below are a few questions that can help initiate conversation. You can also take a moment at the beginning of each subsequent session and allow someone different to share how they heard about Jesus and the Christian faith for the first time. 

  1. What were some key conversations, truths or experiences that led you to take the next step and commit your life to following Jesus? 
  2. What doubts or hurdles did you have to overcome or what questions are still waiting to be answered in order for you to make that decision to commit your life to Jesus? 
  3. If you had to complete this sentence, “My problem with God is ….?”, how would you complete it?

April 21- Breakthrough with Jesus

The Resurrection/The Exchange

John 20:1-21:15

Jesus had been buried for three days and the disciples were in mourning. What were they to do now? Their hopes of a king had all but diminished. Then Sunday morning came, and the great exchange had taken place. Jesus had risen from the grave! He was alive and darkness, evil, and death had been defeated. Jesus revealed himself as the resurrected King. He explained that he must go back to the Father so the Holy Spirit could come, to empower his followers to share the gospel with the world. Today, the message of the resurrection has been told all across the world. The question that each of us have to answer is: do you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and have you put Him first in your life?

  1. Who is the first to find Jesus had risen from the grave? John 20:1, Luke 24:1, Mark 16:1, Matthew 28:1 Discuss the different accounts.
  2. John tells us that Peter ran to the tomb to see where Jesus was. Why is this important and how does this challenge you to be more bold for Jesus? John 20:3-9
  3. What was the first reaction the disciples had after finding out about the resurrection of Jesus? John 20:19 What changed their direction and how does this encourage you? John 20:20-23
  4. Thomas did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, so Jesus allowed him to touch his side. Then Thomas believed. What did Jesus say about future believers and how does this pertain to us today? John 20:26-29
  5. John tells us what the most important reason was for writing the gospel. What does John say about this and what stands out as to why? John 20:30-31

April 14- Breakthrough with Jesus

The Cross

John 18:1-20

The time came for Jesus to complete what he started, moving toward the climax of the hour that had been anticipated throughout the gospel. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, taken into custody by the Roman guards, interrogated, beaten, and found guilty and condemned to die on a roman cross. Throughout this dark hour, Jesus never lost focus of what was coming. The characters that were involved in this event had no loyalty to Jesus, even one of his own, Peter. Jesus knew his death would cause many to question his power but Jesus knew his death would cause the greatest miracle of all, when darkness became light!

  1. After the upper room, Jesus led his disciples to the Olive Grove. What took place there? John 18: 1-11
  2. Peter’s denial of Jesus wasn’t a surprise, since Jesus told him he would deny him. John 13:38, John 18:15-18, 18:25-27 How have you obeyed or denied Jesus lately?
  3. The Jews along with the Romans participated in Jesus’s crucifixion. John 19:1-16 How did their participation differ and what role do you play in the crucifixion of Jesus? Romans 3:22-26 and Romans 6:23
  4. How would you explain why Jesus Christ had to die for the sins of the world? John 3:16
  5. Before Jesus died on the cross he said, “It is finished.” What did he mean by that and how do these words encourage you today?
  6. Jesus’s death on the cross seems to be a dark tragedy. Why does the crucifixion of Jesus mean so much today and what does it mean to you?

April 7- Breakthrough with Jesus

The Prayer

John 17

Twenty-four hours before Jesus was to be crucified, Jesus prayed for himself to be a faithful and obedient son. Then he prayed for his disciples, that they would be untied, empowered, and joyful in the midst of what was coming. Jesus then prayed for the church; both the present, and for all believers that were to come to believe in his message. Everything Jesus did and will do is because the Father instructed him to. Jesus wants his followers to know that to know the Father, one must know him.

  1. What does Jesus mean when he asked to be glorified? John 17:1-5 Describe how you bring glory to God.
  2. Jesus knew the cross was coming; how did he pray for his disciples? John 17:9-19 What does this mean for us today as believers?
  3. Jesus said his disciples were “not of this world.” John 17:16-19 What does that mean for us today as believers in the world?
  4. Jesus stated that his relationship with the Father is one. John 17:20-21 What does that mean and how does that affect us today?
  5. Jesus asked the Father to give all believers unity in order to let the world know that he was from God. John 17:22-23 How as believers in Jesus are we to carry out this mission?
  6. Jesus prayed this entire prayer out loud so his disciples could hear him. In what ways does this prayer encourage you today?

March 31- Breakthrough with Jesus

The Helper- Part 2

John 15:25- 16:33

Once Jesus has revealed the coming of the Holy Spirit, he began to explain how the Holy Spirit would operate. Jesus reminded his disciples that following him would become difficult in the days to come and there would be those who would persecute them. But in the midst of this, Jesus reminded them of the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives and the comfort he would bring. Then Jesus ended this dialogue with a promise: the promise that there will be trouble, but he has overcome the world!

  1. Jesus tells his disciples that he is going away. Who does Jesus tell them is coming to take his place? What is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit? -John 16:5-11
  2. Jesus gives his disciples the promise that his departure will bring a direct benefit, what is that benefit? – John 16:13 How does that affect us today as believers?
  3. What does Jesus tell about the Holy Spirit’s job when he comes? -John 16:8-11 What are some ways that you see the Holy Spirit working today in the world?
  4. Jesus makes two promises to those who have a relationship with him: 1) the joy of understanding (16:22); 2) the power of prayer (16:24). What does Jesus say are the results of these two promises? How does that encourage you today?
  5. Ask God to show you the power and work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your life?
  6. How do you see the Holy Spirit at work in the world around you?

March 24- Breakthrough with Jesus

The Helper- Part 1

John 14:15- 15:25

In this late evening discourse, Jesus reminded his disciples that love demands obedience. He then told his disciples that he was not leaving them alone in the world. He would ask the Father for the Counselor- the Spirit of Truth- to come and comfort them and lead them in all truth. In John 15, Jesus spoke about the importance of remaining in him. The victory of remaining in him is that we will bear much fruit- fruit that will last! Jesus continued to speak about the Holy Spirit and explain even more in Part 2 of The Helper.

  1. In John 14:15-24, Jesus said that love is what holds together the relationship between Jesus and the Father. What does it mean to love God?
  2. Jesus makes a promise to His disciples that will empower them to fulfill their callings. John 14:25-27- Who is that promise and how do people receive that promise today?
  3. How does the Holy Spirit operate today in our lives as disciples of Christ? -See Romans 5:1-5
  4. What does remain in Him mean to you and how does that play out today in your life? -John 15:1-15
  5. In John 15:18-25, Jesus tells his disciples that the world will hate them because the world hated him. As believers, how can we continue to love Jesus and live in the world around us?

March 10-Breakthrough

John 13

Jesus Washes the Disciple’s Feet

In John 13, Jesus sat down with his disciples to observe the Passover meal. Jesus recognized that his hour had come to depart out of the world, and he focused his attention on his own- his disciples whom he loved. Jesus knew what was coming and he knew he needed to encourage them. The events of the next twenty-four hours were difficult for them to understand, but before Jesus began with words of encouragement, he performed and act of humility by washing their feet, sending them a message that the greatest servant is one who is willing to serve.

  1. What was Jesus modeling when he washed the disciples’ feet? How can we model our lives the same way? (John 13:1)
  2. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet to show his commitment to selfless service that would be exemplified at the cross. (John 13:2-5) How do you serve your family, your church, and your city?
  3. Why did Peter get so upset about Jesus washing his feet? (John 13:6-10) What stands in your way of coming to Jesus?
  4. Jesus said “whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” (John 13:20) Explain that statement in the context of your relationship with God.
  5. The ultimate command Jesus gives us is to “love one another.” (John 13:34) Do you love people the way Jesus commands us to? If so, how?