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Spring 2024  Examining Our Faith   Unit 2: The Measure of  Faith

The Greek word for faith appears over two hundred times in the New Testament. Its usage can refer to at least two different but related concepts. This quarter will explore the significance of faith and how the people of God live with faith.

During Jesus’ ministry, he interacted with Jews and Gentiles. One shocking thing in the Gospels is how many stories highlight people outside of Jewish ancestry exercising faith in Christ. Jesus even told a centurion that his faith was greater than any faith Jesus found in Israel (Matthew 8:10)!  Jews and Gentiles came from very different cultural and religious backgrounds. However, the first-century church evolved from a world under Roman rule and included people shaped by Roman, Greek, and Jewish thinking. Thus, it is beneficial for us to look at how these people groups understood faith with respect to their religious and cultural heritage.

Individual Faith

Scripture’s second use of the word faith consists of belief in Christ and trust in God. One way a person’s faith is revealed is through their decisions and behavior. The Gospels provide numerous examples of people who demonstrate faith through their actions. The faith of several men led them to seek healing for their friend (Luke 5:17–26, lesson 6). The faith of a centurion led him to ask Jesus for the long-distance healing of his servant (7:1–10, lesson 7). The faith of a certain woman demonstrated that she believed that Jesus could forgive sins (7:36–39, 44–50; lesson 8). Even a Gentile woman showed faith that Jesus could heal her daughter (Matthew 15:21–28, lesson 9).

Lesson 6   Faith of the Persistent   Luke 5:17–26
Today’s lesson locates Jesus in Galilee, early in his three-and-a-half-year ministry. His popularity was rising, and he was drawing crowds. The news of Jesus’ teaching and miracles was spreading rapidly (Luke 4:37), and attempts to keep things under control in that regard didn’t work (5:14–15). As a result, Jesus had to make a conscious effort to carve out some “alone time” for prayer with his heavenly Father (4:42; 5:16).
Luke 5:12 states that the healing miracle just prior to the one in today’s text occurred “in one of the towns” of Galilee. Mark 2:1 is more specific in indicating that the events of today’s lesson took place in Capernaum. This town, located on the northwestern bank of the Sea of Galilee, became something of a headquarters for Jesus during his tours of Galilee (Matthew 4:13).

Lesson 7    Faith of a Centurion Luke 7:1–10
The physical context of today’s lesson is the village of Capernaum (see also the parallel account in Matthew 8:5–13). It was located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Bible students are accustomed to thinking of Jesus as being from Bethlehem (John 7:42; etc.) or from Nazareth (Matthew 2:23; etc.). But a case can also be made for the claim that he was from Capernaum because the village became something of a headquarters or base of operations for his preaching and teaching tours of Galilee (4:13; Mark 2:1); notice that Matthew 9:1 refers to Capernaum as Jesus’ “own town.”
The importance of Capernaum is seen in the fact that it is mentioned 16 times in the New Testament.  Five of Jesus’ twelve disciples were residents of Capernaum when Jesus called them to follow him: four fishermen (James, John, Peter, and Andrew; see Matthew 4:18–22) and one tax collector (Matthew, also known as Levi; see Mark 2:14).
Although Capernaum probably did not have more than a few hundred residents, it was a thriving regional hub for at least three reasons. First, the fishing industry provided steady income for many families.  Second, Capernaum was situated on the main road from Damascus into the region. This location made it a good place for the Romans to set up points for tax collectors to assess tolls on goods passing into the area. Third, Capernaum was important enough to have had some Roman soldiers stationed there, as today’s lesson reveals (compare Acts 10:1).

Lesson 8   Faith of an Anointer  Luke 7:36–50   
Just prior to the events of today’s lesson, Luke summarized two viewpoints toward Jesus that had emerged. Those viewpoints are revealed by reactions to John the Baptist. On the one hand, “All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John” (Luke 7:29). On the other hand, “the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John” (7:30). Rejection of John the Baptist, the Christ’s forerunner (1:15–17; 3:1–20; 7:33–35), meant rejecting the Christ as well (Matthew 17:12). This set the stage for a contrast between those who held these polar-opposite viewpoints. 

Today’s lesson takes us to an early point in Jesus’ ministry when things had gotten serious enough for Pharisees to come from “every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem” to investigate him (Luke 5:17). The nearest example up to the point of today’s lesson is Jesus’ having been in the village of Nain, about 25 miles southwest of Capernaum (7:11). Combining that fact with information in Luke 8:1, 22, and 26, we conclude that a village in Galilee was the location of today’s lesson.

Lesson 9    Faith of a Canaanite   Matthew 15:21–28
As a tax collector, Matthew worked with the foreign occupiers of Palestine: the Romans. During the first century AD, tax collectors were despised by their fellow countrymen (example: Luke 18:11). They were seen as traitors to the Jewish people because they assisted the Romans in taking tax money. They were also held in low regard because they frequently enriched themselves at the expense of others (example: 19:2, 8). 

The events leading to today’s Scripture reveal the intended expansion of the gospel message. As Jesus’ ministry in Galilee drew to a close, it became evident that his people would reject him and his mission (see Matthew 13:53–58). His disciples displayed little faith regarding his identity (see 14:22–32). They also failed to understand his teaching (15:12–20). Even the religious leaders were offended by Jesus’ message (15:1–9). The people most expected to accept Jesus and his mission failed to understand. Mark 7:24–30 is a parallel account of Matthew 15:21–28.

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April 3, 2024 – June 26, 2024

 

After you’ve met Jesus, you are never the same again. His teaching challenges your thinking. His compassion softens your heart. His love turns your life around.

This thirteen session study, from the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) will open your eyes anew — or for the first time — to Jesus Christ.

 

Lesson 1: The Real Jesus (Mark 1:9-45)        Lesson 1 Replay

 

Lesson 2: The Surprising Jesus (Luke 5:17-32)         Lesson 2 Replay

 

Lesson 3: Jesus the Storytelling Teacher (Mark 4:1-25)

 

Lesson 4: Jesus the Master over Fear (Luke 8:22-39)

 

Lesson 5: Jesus the Challenging Savior (Mark 8:22-38)

 

Lesson 6: Jesus the Source of Power (Mark 9:2-32)

 

Lesson 7: Jesus a Rich Man (Luke 18:15-30)

 

Lesson 8: Jesus the Servant Leader (Mark 10:32-45)

 

Lesson 9: Jesus the Puzzling King (Mark 11)

 

Lesson 10: Jesus the Prophet (Matthew 24:1-31)

 

Lesson 11: Jesus the Sacrifice (Matthew 26:1-30)

 

Lesson 12: Jesus the Dying King (John 19:16-42)

 

Lesson 13: Jesus the Risen Lord (John 20)

 

January 3rd – March 13th, 2024

 

Broken marriages, shattered friendships, racial divisions, war between nations — we live in a fractured world. How can the pieces be put back together?

In this eleven-session Bible Study on Ephesians, Paul lifts the veil from the future to allow us to see God’s plan to unite everyone and everything in Christ. Studying this book will renew your hope.

 

1. The Purpose of God (Ephesians 1:1-14)    Lesson 1 Replay

2. I Keep Asking (Ephesians 1:15-23)    Lesson 2 Replay

 

3. Amazing Grace (Ephesians 2:1-10)    Lesson 3 Replay

 

4. We Are One (Ephesians 2:11-22)       Lesson 4 Replay

 

5. Prisoner & Preacher (Ephesians )        Lesson 5 Replay

 

6. Unity & Uniqueness (Ephesians 4:1-16)        Lesson 6 Replay

 

7. Something Old, Something New (Ephesians 4:17-32)

8. I Live in Love, Live in Light (Ephesians 5:1-20)        Lesson 8 Replay

9. Love & Respect (Ephesians 5:21-33)       Lesson 9 Replay

 

10. Honor & Obey (Ephesians 6:1-9)

11. Prayer Wars (Ephesians 6:10-24)

        Lesson 11 Replay