Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What We Believe - Why Doesn’t God Do Something about It? (The Doctrine of Providence & the Problem of Evil)

Image result for evilBelow are notes from our fifth discussion in a series entitled "What We Believe." This 14-session series considers the fundamental doctrines of Christians. This week we discussed what we believe about the doctrine of providence and the nature of evil. You may listen to a podcast of this session on the Cove Presbyterian PodBean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.

If you found this study meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Focus of this Session
  • We’re in a series dealing with some of the great questions of faith/doctrines of the church.
  • During this session we’ll focus on the question: Why doesn’t god do something about it? To answer this, we’ll consider the Doctrine of Providence & the Problem of Evil. 
Natural Adversities
  • Human Limitation (Isaiah 40:6-7: A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass.)
  • Natural Law (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.)
  • Human consequences
Moral evil 
  • Moral evil is different from natural adversities
  • It involves the direct pain we inflict on one another
  • It might help us understand why we neglect and are indifferent

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What We Believe - What Are We Doing Here? (The Doctrine of Creation)

Below are notes from our second discussion in a series entitled "What We Believe." This 14-session series considers the fundamental doctrines of Christians. This week we discussed what we believe about the doctrine of creation. You may listen to a podcast of this session on the Cove Presbyterian PodBean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.

If you found this study meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Focus of this Session
  • We’re in a series dealing with some of the great questions of faith/doctrines of the church.
  • During this session we’ll focus on the question: What are we doing here? To answer this, we’ll consider the doctrine of creation. 
  • During the session, we’ll work to reduce the tension between a scientific and biblical understanding of the world.

We looked at a scientific and religious perspective on creation by considering the following:
  • The Questions Each Seeks to Answer
  • The Approach Each Takes to Find Their Answers
  • The Conclusions Each Reaches 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What We Believe - What Does God Want with Us? (The Doctrine of Predestination)

Below are notes from our second discussion in a series entitled "What We Believe." This 14-session series considers the fundamental doctrines of Christians. This week we discussed what we believe about the doctrine of predestination. You may listen to a podcast of this session on the Cove Presbyterian PodBean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.

If you found this study meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Focus of this Session
  • We’re in a series dealing with some of the great questions of faith/doctrines of the church.
  • During this session we’ll focus on the question: What does God want with us? To answer this, we’ll consider the doctrine of predestination. 
  • During the session, we’ll consider the different ways predestination have been defined and implications of rejecting and accepting the concept.

Predestination Defined
  • Predestination deals with the ultimate future.
  • Predestination is not the same as predeterminism. 
  • Predestination is consistent with the attributes/nature of God.
  • Predestination tries to address the tension between the sovereignty of God and human free will.
Nature and Intention of Predestination
  • Romans 9:6-13 - It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. For this is what the promise said, “About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, not by works but by his call) she was told, “The elder shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.” 
  • Romans 9:14-18 - What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses. 
  • Romans 11:28-36 - As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

What We Believe - How can we know about God? (The Doctrine of Revelation)

Below are notes from our second discussion in a series entitled "What We Believe." This 14-session series considers the fundamental doctrines of Christians. This week we discussed what we believe about how God reveals himself to humanity. You may listen to a podcast of this session on the Cove Presbyterian PodBean page.

If you found this study meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

General Revelation
  • Psalm 19:1-6 - The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,  and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.
  • Acts 17:22-31 - Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
  • Romans 1:18-23; 2:12-16 - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.

Special Revelation
  • Isaiah 55:6-9 - Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 - It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.
  • Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:1-4 - Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will.