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Lesson 7: Through a Glass, Darkly *

Introduction: I'm currently reading the book Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. Except in the area of physics, Taleb thinks that tinkerers, rather than scientists, are responsible for most of our "scientific" advances. A poster child for Taleb's theory is Steve Jobs, a college drop-out who helped to create Apple computers in his garage. When it comes to the clash between science and the Bible, I'm not too sure it is helpful to say to pagans, as Taleb would say, "You're not too smart and you lie about your accomplishments!" However, there is substance to the claim that we are a lot less smart than we think - especially when humans challenge God. Our lesson this week is about the reasons for our limited knowledge, so let's jump into our lesson and learn more!

  1. Like God

    1. Read Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 3:4-5. Notice the "be like God" language. Do God and Satan have a mutual goal with regard to humans? (They both declared that humans should be like God.)

      1. We often say that Eve sinned because of pride and covetousness because she wanted to be "like God." How can this be sin when God declared that He was making humans "in our likeness?"

      2. How do the goals of Satan and God differ? (God made humans like Him by making them rulers and giving them the power to create life. Satan made them "like God" by opening the knowledge of evil.)

    2. The title of our lesson is "Through a Glass Darkly." Read 1 Corinthians 13:9-12. The Greek which the KJV translates "through a glass darkly" the NIV translates "a poor reflection as in a mirror." Why does God's vision of us being "like God" include a limitation on our knowledge?

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 13:13. Does this statement have anything to do with the answer to the prior question?

  2. Low Vision

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-12. What is the nature of the problem? (Christians who identify with a person instead of identifying with Jesus.)

      1. Why would people have the tendency to identify with a person, rather than God?

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 1:17. I like smart preaching. What is Paul talking about here? (We don't want to substitute the human for the divine.)

      1. Paul uses a very interesting phrase, "lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." What is the power of the cross?

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-20. We are back on the topic of knowledge. When I consider Moses and Paul, I think of two very smart fellows. Why would God be against the wise and the intelligent?

      1. This quote comes from Isaiah 29. Let's read Isaiah 29:11-12. God gave a vision to Isaiah. Isaiah recorded it on a scroll. What do you think about the reaction of the people to the vision? (They raise technical issues. It is sealed. I cannot read.)

        1. What should they have said? (Let's unseal it. Let's find someone who can read. Or, Isaiah, tell us what it says.)

      2. Read Isaiah 29:13. What is the problem with the people? (They are not serious about having a relationship with God.)

    4. Let's jump back to 1 Corinthians for just a bit. Read 1 Corinthians 1:21. We need to tie up some loose ends here. In Genesis we learned that God withheld some knowledge from humans. This text tells us that this lack of knowledge is part of God's plan ("the wisdom of God") that human wisdom is limited.

      1. Why? Is God anti-intellectual?

      2. What kind of "wisdom" did the people in Isaiah 29 display? (They were focusing on the details. The small issues. The human deficiencies.)

    5. Read Isaiah 29:14. What is God's solution to this kind of small human thinking? (He will dazzle them with wonders!)

    6. Consider what we just read in 1 Corinthians 1 and Isaiah 29. How does this warning apply to us today? Do we see this very thing now?

      1. Years ago a new car was being introduced at an auto show. As it sat on the turntable, I noticed scratches below the door sill. Something about the sill was not right, and it allowed the shoes of the driver to mar the surface. What do you think the sales staff thought about my comment? (The so-called intellectuals are pointing out the scientific view of the age of things, details that call into question the creation account. God is pointing out the majesty of everything!)

  3. The Low Vision Advantage

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 1:22-24. Wait a minute! Didn't Jesus do many miracles? Aren't Jesus' statements wise? (Yes, Jesus performed miracles and shared wisdom. But, that was not the main point. The main point was that He died for us.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 1:25. The "foolishness of God" refers back to the previous verses. God's wisdom was sending His Son, Greek wisdom was logic, and Jewish wisdom was miraculous proof. How is God's wisdom superior? (We don't need to approach things from a complicated point of view. God died for us. We don't need to be able to mathematically explain it. We don't need to physically prove it.)

      1. Let's run our thinking back to Eden and Eve's choice in Genesis 3:3-5. What if Eve focused on everything that God had done for her, all the wonderful gifts He had given, as opposed to what God might have withheld?

      2. Apply this to the creation/evolution debate. What is the argument in favor of creation? (Everything we see - the extraordinary power and intelligence behind the operation of the heavens, the earth and our own bodies.)

      3. What is the argument behind evolution? (Detailed theory based mostly on things we do not see.)

    3. Let's revisit 1 Corinthians 1:17. How does creation inform how we should preach the gospel? (We should not make it complex. We should not encrust it with "human wisdom." Rather, we should preach it as God's gift to humans.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. Thanks, Paul! Not many of you are smart, not many have influence, not many are sophisticated, not many of you are strong. You are a bunch of weak-minded, weak muscled nobodies. Is this the natural result of preaching a anti-intellectual gospel? Is this the goal, to bring in the least of human society?

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 1:29. What is the reason for God's anti-intellectual, anti-cultural, anti-power approach? (So that humans will not boast.)

      1. Why does God care whether we boast? (It turns the focus away from Him.)

    6. Read Isaiah 29:16. What unmasks our pretensions? Our boasting?

  4. Grand Unified Theory of Low-Vision

    1. Let's contemplate some applications of what we have been discussing. What kind of thinking made Eve vulnerable to Satan? (Thinking that she needed to know more. Thinking that the focus should be on her knowledge, not God's knowledge.)

    2. What kind of thinking made Jesus's work with the Jewish establishment so difficult? (They were focused on themselves, what strategy they needed to follow to survive and thrive. See John 11:49-50.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 1:30-31. What would have saved Eve and the Jewish establishment? (Turning the focus away from themselves and towards God. If Eve had started boasting about what God had done, as opposed to focusing on what she might need, Satan would have been defeated.)

    4. As we saw, many of Paul's converts were from the lower strata of society. Is that good? (Another benefit of the simple message that God gave up Himself for us, is that anyone can understand it.)

      1. Why would intellectuals, the rich and the powerful be less likely to accept the simple message of the gospel? (Because they are more likely to be focused on self. They are used to others being focused on them. They want a message that focuses on them, not a simple message that can be understood by anyone and has a God focus.)

    5. Friend, God's message is that He has given us plenty of proof to believe He exists. He has shown us His love by dying to give us eternal life. Will you be willing to trust God and not insist that everything be explained to you? Will you accept that you are the clay and not the potter?

  5. Next week: Jesus, Provider and Sustainer.
* Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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