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A PRAYING LIFE

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William Lane Craig and Chad Meister, eds. God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible (IVP, 2009).
In response to biologist Richard Dawkins’s case for atheism in his book The God Delusion, this book offers a wide array of accessible arguments by Christian philosophers and scientists critiquing atheism and offering reasons to believe in God from the origin and design of the universe, the uniqueness of human beings, and the person and resurrection of Jesus.  Also provides rebuttals to Dawkins’s objections from evil and suffering, the interpretation of Old Testament laws, the social impact of religion, and the doctrine of hell.

 

Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God, 4th ed. (RTB Press, 2018).
This book by a Christian astrophysicist argues for a Creator based on evidence for the origin and design of the universe found in Big Bang cosmology and discoveries about the finely-tuned features of the universe that are necessary for the universe, solar system, and earth to permit the existence of human life.  Offers interesting summarizes of the history of various scientific theories about the origin of the universe, including rebuttals to the atheism of Stephen Hawking.

 

David Baggett and Marybeth Baggett, The Morals of the Story: Good News about a Good God (IVP, 2018).
A moral argument showing that God is the best explanation of various moral truths and experiences such as moral goodness, moral knowledge, moral obligations, and moral transformation.

 

Edward Feser, Five Proofs of the Existence of God (Ignatius Press, 2017).
A Christian philosopher offers five philosophical arguments for an uncaused First Cause of the universe from the existence of change and the contingency or dependence of all finite beings, which implies the existence of an uncaused Creator as their source. These arguments require no specialized knowledge of natural science and are presented in both formal premises and informal explanations.  Also shows that God implied by these proofs is the God of classical theism affirmed by Christian tradition and offers extensive rebuttals to objections.

Introduction to the Bible


Importance of knowing the Bible Spiritual growth requires the renewal of our mind so that we can know the true God and discern his will (Romans 12:2). Therefore, the Bible is an essential foundation of Christian spiritual growth. The Bible (or Holy Scripture) is the written word of God and provides God’s inspired account of his identity, his purposes, and his work in creating and redeeming the world through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Through the Bible, God also shows us what it means to be a human being and how we can know him and fulfill our purpose in loving him and participating in his mission in the world. Since we are inclined to see ourselves and the world in distorted ways due to the curse of sin, the theologian John Calvin rightly describes the Bible as a set of “glasses” that correct our vision and enable us to see God and ourselves more clearly. Therefore, knowing the Scriptures is vital “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” in order that we may be “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Challenge of knowing the Bible One major challenge in knowing the Bible is its size and its diversity. It is not just a single book; rather, it is a library of books of many types of literature composed by many different authors over the course of many centuries. Yet, these many books of the Bible combine in a coherent way to tells a single, unified story. This single, grand narrative is a story about God the Father working to create, save, and glorify the world through his Son Jesus by his Holy Spirit. In other words, the Bible is one big story composed of many smaller stories, and thus we need to know the Bible at both levels. We need to know the details of the smaller stories, because this is part of the glory of God’s work: he works through very particular people in particular times, places, and cultures. But the details will not make sense unless we see how they fit together in a unified pattern to form the one, big story that integrates all of the smaller ones.




Resources for Study: Overview of the Bible


Where to begin? The best starting point for knowing the Bible is seeing the big picture of the big story. The following resources provide an overview of the grand narrative of the Bible as a whole. The Bible Project What Is the Bible? (5 min.) The Story of the Bible (5 min.) Overview of the Old Testament (12 min.) Overview of the New Testament (8 min.) Vaughn Roberts, "God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible" Nine short videos (about 10 min. each) from his book by the same title. You can download an outline of each talk, if that would help you. You don’t need to read the book in order to benefit from the videos. Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story, 2nd ed. (Baker, 2014). This is one of the very best introductions to the content of the Bible. A shorter version of this book for study groups has been published as The True Story of the Whole World. Each major section concludes with points of contemporary application and discussion questions.




Action Steps


1. Check your understanding.

  • Why is praying from the Bible a wise method of prayer?
  • What are the four major categories of prayer?
  • How can we turn any biblical text into a way to pray the four categories of prayer?
2. Practice these methods together with your growth group or other group of Christians. 3. Practice by choosing one text to pray every day for a week. Practice all four categories with just one text. For example, try using just the Lord’s Prayer or Psalm 23. Discover how approaching the same text on different days with different challenges makes praying the exact same text a different experience. 4. Write down the questions that prompt the four categories of prayer and use them regularly until you can do it by heart.