Bible Study Opportunities
By Jon W. Quinn
I am a pretty competitive person. Though I enjoy a good challenge win or lose, I much prefer winning. But I try to be a good sport and enjoy the game regardless of the outcome.
I hear some people say, “It is just a game.” and that it makes absolutely no difference to them whether they win or lose. Maybe there are some people like that, but I do not know if I have ever really met one. A certain person near and dear to me claims to be that way, but I know better. Her real self came through one day when, in exasperation after a string of extremely bad luck she picked up the dice to a board game we were playing and threw them at me, careening them off my forehead with the accuracy of David and his sling. What happened to “Its only a game?” I asked as she apologized.
She was embarrassed, and this was over twenty years ago, so it is ancient history being brought up at this time for illustrative purposes only, but it serves to illustrate the point that everybody wants to win. And the most important “contest” out there to win is life itself. Life is illustrated in the Scripture as a race to be won, but in this case, it is not “only a game” and it does matter whether you “win or lose” as well as “how you play the game.”
“I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10). There are many, many Scriptures that insist that a life of faith is an abundant life of joy and victory. Isaiah describes it as a life “with wings.” (Isaiah 40:31). Paul said that through every difficulty imaginable, including death itself, that those who are in Christ “overwhelmingly conquer” through Him (Romans 8:35-39). While the battle lasts only for a short time, the victory is eternal. We can do “all things through Christ who strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13).
Victory Over Doubt
Doubt pervades everything today. People are so lost and without direction. Does God really exist? Is Jesus really His Son? Why are we here? There are answers to these questions, and the right answers are also pleasing ones.
Thomas, one of the apostles, at first doubted the Lord's resurrection when informed by the others that they had seen Him. But, soon the evidence became overwhelming as Jesus Himself stood before Thomas. Thomas was honest enough to reverse his decision and allow his doubt to be destroyed by the evidence that Jesus lives again. One point about all this that you may not have thought about: Thomas was far happier as a believer than he had been as a doubter. You will be too (John 20:22, 24-29).
We also have convincing evidence today that Jesus is the Son of God, and if that is so, then God does exist and the Bible's stated purpose for man's existence is absolutely correct. We have human testimony of the most trustworthy kind. We have fulfilled prophecy. We can examine these and allow our faith to grow, and our peace with it.
Victory Over Self
There is a constant battle within each human soul. There may be lulls in the fighting as one side retreats from the other, but the war is not won or lost until life is through. Paul writes about this in Galatians 5:17-23. He says, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” and then proceeds to describe the deeds of the flesh and contrast them with the fruit of the Spirit. He also tells us how to win the battle.
We must live in harmony with God. To do this, we must be walking by the Spirit. As Paul describes the struggle, he tells us that the way to win is to “crucify the flesh.” Sadly, many are crucifying the Spirit today in order to satisfy the flesh.
We must bring self into harmony with God. The spirit of one who has conquered self knows the peace of God that passes understanding.
Victory Over Sin
“...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). The first thing that must be done to win this victory is to admit that sin is a problem. When this happens, then the door is opened to fixing the problem. If it is left unfixed, the wages earned is “death” (Romans 6:23).
One of the most difficult things to do is to get people, most of whom do not think they have done anything bad enough to merit eternal condemnation, to see that without the gospel they are lost because any sin merits eternal condemnation.Sin separates from God (Isaiah 59:1,2). The human perspective may suggest that not all sin is serious, but from God's perfectly pure and righteous perspective, every sin is a disgracefully vile and wicked act. Who's perspective on sin is right, do you suppose?
The passing of time will not remove sin. Neither will the accumulation of good deeds. Ignoring it will not make it vanish. Denying it will not bring victory. Victory only comes through the gospel of Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 1:16; 6:17,18).
Victory Over Distress
It is inevitable that unpleasant circumstances arise as we live out our days in a fallen world. There will be disappointments, sickness, loss and regret. We cannot choose what happens to us (though we can take steps to make some distress less likely to occur) but we can choose how it effects us.
The first thing we need to realize is that God is not the cause of distress, but the Giver of good things (James 1:17). Second, that nothing we suffer here is worthy to compare to the wonderful things we will gain (Romans 8:18; Corinthians 4:17). Third, that there is always reasons for the people of God to rejoice, even if locked away unjustly in a dungeon, beaten and in stocks (Acts 16:25).
There is power in Christ to win the victory of the ages. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-- our faith.” (1 John 5:4).
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois October 31, 1999