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Lu Daoming welcomes you on a journey of friendship and hope. Together, let's learn new ideas: how to live with real meaning and joy.

Finding 神: Learning How to Believe: Homework

Thanks for reading the study material in “Finding 神: Learning How to Believe.” Welcome to our Homework Pages.

If you don’t have a copy of The Library in e-format, you can click here for online access to a free complete Library.

This page has two sections: Getting Straight Information and Getting Straight Answers.

 
1. In the first section, we will ask you clarifying questions and help you begin to work out the information you’ve read in “Finding 神: Learning How to Believe.”

Exploring the Issues” will help you to identify what you already believe, based on what you already know or don’t know about the Bible’s presentation of 神.

Getting the Straight Story” will help you to make sure you understand the Bible study material.

Working It Into Your Life” will help you figure out what all this means for your daily life.

 

2. The second section of this document works like an “answer key” for the Getting Straight Information and Working It Through to Life sections of this lesson.

We have not included suggested answers for “Exploring the Issues” section because these questions are intended to help you think about your own ideas. It’s important to write down what you already think, so that you have a reference point, a marker. Then you can better understand how this information is working for you: you can compare what you are learning here with what you already believe.

You will find our suggested answers to the True/False sections, and also some of the reasons why we believe these answers. We hope that providing this will help you understand and evaluate the content of Good News.

The “Working It Into Your Life” questions can help you sort out what Good News means in real life.

We’ve included some of our own thoughts as a general guide to the direction we believe Good News takes us. We’d like to hear your impressions and views on these questions, too. You can write your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of this page.

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EXPLORING THE ISSUES

The purpose of this section is to help you examine what you presently believe about God and how it affects your life.

What do I think about 神? (Check as many as apply.)

_____ I never thought much about Him.

_____ I am not at all sure that He exists.

_____ I am sure that some Supreme Being exists, but I don’t know if it’s the Christian idea of 神.

_____ I really don’t believe that anything greater than human beings exists.

_____ I’ve always believed in 神, but I’ve never been “religious.”

_____ I’ve always believed in 神, and it’s come to me through ties with organized religion.

What is 神 like?

What “picture” do you have in mind of Him? Where did your impression come from?

If 神 does exist, what effect do you think believing in Him would have on your life?

If 神 exists, what do you most hope is true about Him?

If 神 exists, what is your greatest fear about Him?

What would He think of you? Why would He think that way?

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GETTING THE STRAIGHT STORY

This part of the course will help you gain a clearer understanding of what the Bible has to say about 神. All these questions and answers come from Genesis 1 – 11.

To believe that 神 exists, and that His existence means something important to your life, is the first step in moving the Good News About 神 into your life.

Developing a correct, Biblically accurate picture of 神 is the next step. Knowing the real 神 is the heart of living that is “on-target.”

A. True or False: All are answerable either “T” or “F.” There are no “middle ground” questions in this section.

1._____ There is no pattern to what 神 does. He is unpredictable. He does whatever He wants.

2._____ 神 sets up guidelines for people to follow in order to live their lives to the fullest.

3._____ 神 forces people to do what He wants regardless of what they want.

4._____ Obeying or disobeying 神 has no real consequences. It’s all a matter of differing values and opinions.

5._____ After they disobeyed, Adam and Eve were afraid of 神, couldn’t trust Him, tried to hide from Him.

6._____ “Sin” is easily overcome because people are basically good. They only need to be educated – then they will know the right course of action, and they will do it.

7._____ 神 gave Cain less punishment than he deserved after Cain had murdered his brother Abel.

8._____ After Adam and Eve sinned, 神 separated Himself from them and had no more contact with them.

9._____ 神 destroyed the ancient world in a flood only because there was no hope for the people to change. He didn’t want to do it.

10._____ 神 punishes people mainly because He is offended and angry with them when they break His laws and sin.

11._____ Cain’s descendants were progressive and made great moral and technological improvements without 神 and His interference.

12._____ 神 confused people’s languages to prevent them from repeating the moral disaster which led to the Flood.

 

B. Correcting the True/False Write a brief correct answer for any “False” statements in Part “A” above. Where you can, refer directly to the Bible story in question. Scroll down the page to “Getting Straight Answers” to see our suggested answers.

 

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C. Working It Into Your Life These questions will help you to bring the information about 神 closer to your everyday life. Scroll down the page to “C. Working It Through to Your Life” to see what we would suggest.

 

Does human sin change something in 神’s attitude toward people, or does it change something in people’s attitude toward 神? What are the changes it introduces?

 

How does a sense of guilt affect human relationships? (See Genesis 3, 4.) How does it affect our ability to see truth?

 

Why did 神 allow people to continue living in a flawed world, in flawed relationships, to face certain death? What kind of response was He hoping to get from them?

 

From our studies so far, what would you say is 神’s ultimate goal in His dealings with people?

 

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GETTING THE STRAIGHT STORY

To correctly answer the True/False section be sure to read Genesis 1-11 in The Library, along with the course material in “Finding 神: Learning to Believe.”

 

B. Correcting the True/False

1. False Although 神 can do anything He wants, He doesn’t. He shows an understandable, predictable personality and character. Even though different situations called for different actions (e.g. Adam’s punishment, the Flood), 神’s basic motives and intentions with people have always been the same.
 
2. True See Genesis 2.16-17; 4.6-7; 9.4-7. 神 does give people guidelines to follow. People are not left on their own without help to sort out what’s good and what’s detrimental. 神’s purposes in giving directives are to help people live to their full human potential and to protect them from anything that would damage them. Since He created people, it makes sense to believe that He knows what’s best for us, to trust His instructions, and to obey Him.
 
3. False Although 神 does have an overall purpose in the world, He generally allows people to do whatever they want, good or evil, within that purpose. He will not force them to do right. However, by choosing their actions they also choose their consequences. Consequences may limit their future choices.
 
4. False Genesis 3.16-24; 4.8-12; 6.5-13. Obeying or disobeying 神 has dramatic natural consequences for people’s lives now: in ourselves, our relationships, and in the environment. 神 may intervene directly, beyond natural consequences. Obeying or disobeying 神 determines the kind of person one becomes. The fact that many people have other values and ideas about life makes no difference. It does not neutralize the truth of 神’s directives and the fact of consequences. Sin gains a further grip on people by changing both the one who sins and one’s circumstances – this limits future choices. Sin is not freedom: sin takes away freedom.
 
5. True Genesis 3.7-10. Note that before this event, 神 had never done anything to make Adam and Eve afraid of Him. Their reaction to 神 came directly from the changes sin had created within them. These verses vividly illustrate what has happened inside everyone who has disobeyed 神. See also Colossians 1.21 in the New Testament.
 
6. False Genesis 3.1-6; 4.6-7. People are not naturally inclined to do good. Even when they know exactly what 神 wants them to do for their own good, there is no guarantee that they will do right. Sin introduces many other factors beyond simply seeing what is right and doing it, e.g. personal dissatisfaction, craving for approval, the drive of unmet emotional needs, peer pressure, and other negative spiritual influences.
 
People can be misled by trickery or by self-deceit into doing almost anything. We have latent potential to be very good – or very bad. Our chief characteristic is that we are vulnerable. The more we submit to 神, the more we can be good. The more we yield to other forces, the easier it is to become evil. The process of becoming evil usually occurs over time, without one realizing that it’s happening.
 
7. True Genesis 4.10-15. Cain deserved to die for having killed his brother in cold blood. However, 神 was merciful to Cain and gave him a punishment designed to help him to recognize the seriousness of what he had done and to regret it. The “mark” on Cain was specifically put there to protect Cain from anyone trying to mete out “justice” to him.

Even though Cain had allowed his sinful attitude to lead to the horrible murder of his brother, 神 still hoped to win Cain back to Himself. This explains the apparent lack of “justice,” and it shows that 神’s top priority is helping people come back to Him – no matter what they’ve done.

Justice is important to 神. On the Day of Victory over evil, all wrongs will be eventually righted – and many situations may be righted in our time. But until the Great Day, there is no guarantee that justice will be found in this world, and not necessarily on our timetable.
 
8. False Genesis 3.21; 4.1, 25-26. 神 provided much better coverings for Adam and Eve than they could make for themselves. He helped them have children. Note: they recognized it. Sin makes it very difficult for people to reach out to 神. It does not prevent Him from loving people and helping them. See also Isaiah 59.1-2; Luke 6.35-36.
 
9. True Genesis 6.3-12. Although humans thought that their leaders were accomplishing great things, it became obvious that they were destroying each other in a world at war. The situation had become so desperate that 神 set a 120-year deadline for improvement. When this failed, there was no longer any hope. “神’s heart was filled with pain,” and He sent a flood to destroy evil and start everything over.

神 showed mercy to humans by saving one man’s household, even though that family also had problems. (See 9.20-24.)
 
10. False Genesis 3.14-24; 4.10-15; 6.5-7; 11.5-7. Like everything else that 神 does, His punishments are ultimately in people’s best interest. 神 wants to help people realize the futility of living independently of Him, so that they can turn to Him again. In every case consequences were directed at healing the human heart and stopping the destructive power unleashed when people sin.

Anger at human disobedience is not mentioned as a motivating factor for 神 in any of the Genesis stories. Any anger 神does feel toward people does not prevent Him from doing what is ultimately best for them.

 
11. False Genesis 4.18-24. Cain and his descendants were very progressive, introducing many important technological advances such as metalwork and agriculture, and cultural advances such as cities and music. They did this without directly relying on 神 for help.

However, technical advances did not lead to moral advances – that is, “better things did not make better people”! Among other things, Cain’s descendants mistreated women by starting the misery of polygamy. They also introduced revenge murder. Sin got a firmer grip on the human race through this family line, despite their positive technological and cultural accomplishments.

 
12. True Genesis 11.1-9. Sin had already reappeared among people and was causing trouble in chapter 9, a very serious family conflict. By the time of chapter 11 people had again become largely independent of 神. Their chief aim was their own self-protection and rule over the earth, without 神. It is not good for people to be able to do anything they want, as the plight of people in the pre-Flood (Genesis 6 – 9) world illustrates.

In order to prevent people from getting themselves into the same condition they were in before the Flood, 神 intervened and put a stop to it.

Though it was very difficult for people, it was by far a more merciful alternative to allowing another miserable pre-Flood kind of world, and another catastrophic destruction.

 
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C. Working It Through to Life

These notes will give you a general idea of the direction Good News is designed to lead you. You’ve probably also written down many other considerably valuable insights which aren’t referred to in the following paragraphs. We hope that these are helpful for you.

 

1. Sin clearly changes people. It profoundly affects their attitude toward 神. Sin introduces guilt and fear of punishment (even though there’s no evidence that 神 would vindictively hurt anyone), undermines confidence in 神’s kindness, causes people to be uncomfortable in 神’s presence (hence the desire to hide), makes people deny the truth about their lives. It is a progressive condition which leads to a rejection of one’s own responsibility, fearful self-protection, defiant independence.

Sin makes people think that 神 will keep them from good things and make them live miserably. This lie is what drives the independent, rebellious spirit. There is no evidence that 神 loves people less because they sin. He mercifully channels the destructive consequences of sin into pain and failure which will lead a truly “repentant” heart back to Him, instead of letting unhindered sin immediately, totally destroy us. (John 3.16-20.)

神’s anger with ancient people (see Jeremiah, Ezekiel) did not prevent Him from loving them and doing what was best for them in terms of helping them find Him. To be properly understood, other Bible references should be taken in the light of Genesis, not as exceptions to its perspective.

 

2. Unresolved guilt destroys relationships. Adam’s friendship with Eve reached a new low when Adam blamed her for his own disobedience to 神. The tendency to “cover up” oneself and the fearful aversion to truth (regardless of consequences) disrupt genuine communication.

Guilt also introduces the tendency to project responsibility for one’s own problems onto someone else, and to act destructively in one’s own perceived interest, e.g. Cain and Abel, Noah and Ham.

Unresolved guilt hinders truth-seeking. The key to finding the truth about life starts with facing the truth about oneself. Coping strategies like projecting and shifting blame, hiding, etc. prevent people from finding the truth they need most. Identifying these processes within ourselves is a key to re-establishing meaningful contact with 神.

 
3. 神 allowed it all to continue because it’s the only way people will come to terms with their need for Him. People must see that every effort at self-satisfaction, self-salvation, etc. is futile.

The corrupting changes that sin introduces are so powerful that a drastic cure is required. It is painful for everyone. 神 sees to it that He Himself faces the very worst of it (see Good News about Jesus Christ).

神 is hoping that people will stop and ask Him for help. He hopes that people will trust and obey Him for direction, hope, and meaning.
 

4. Ultimately, as far as Genesis 1 – 11 is concerned, 神 is aiming for the kind of relationship He had with people in the Garden. He wants people to live in close contact with Him, experiencing His love and care. He wants people to have an joyful, unhindered, unreserved love for Him — the kind of love He has for them.

Everything He does is designed to produce people who so respond to Him. Only under these circumstances can people grow to become everything He had in mind.

神 wants to separate people from sin and its destructive power. He does this by giving good instructions for living and by providing a way to neutralize the most devastating effects of sin. He is doing His best to bring as many people as possible into the Great Day of victory over evil. Stay tuned!
 

Be sure to Leave a Reply with your questions and comments!

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