Q&A with Nancy Guthrie
General Questions and Answers about the Series
That is almost right. The content on the video is nearly the same as the teaching chapter. The only real difference is that the video presentation does not include the “How Genesis Points to What is Yet to Come” or “Looking Forward” section you will find at the end of each teaching chapter.
So if you are using the video series, those participating in the study will use the book for completing the Personal Bible Study and will then have the option to:
1. Read the chapter in advance as a preview of what will be presented on the video.
2. Just listen to Nancy teach the content of the chapter on the video and read only the “How Genesis Points to What is Yet to Come” as part of the group discussion time or on their own.
3. Go back and read the chapter after watching the video if needed to seal in or clarify what was presented in the video.
Everyone learns differently. Some are better able to make sense of things when they see it in writing and organized in an outline, and others are more auditory learners. I’ve been surprised at how many participants wanted to look through a printed version afterward. So hearing it and being able to read it will hopefully help all of the different kinds of learners in your group grasp and own this material.
FYI—The above information is included in the downloadable leader’s guide, so be sure to take advantage of that if you are preparing to lead a group through this study.
Yes, the audio downloads are the soundtrack from the videos. The audio version may be most beneficial for those people who are doing the book study without the DVD and would rather listen (while exercising or driving) rather than read, or for those who simply want to hear the material presented by Nancy in addition to or instead of reading it.
If you have a two-hour time for your study incorporating the teaching video, you could schedule your time like this:
9:00 Welcome, get settled, announcements, maybe singing
9:10 Watch video teaching session
9:50 Respond to video with various women praying as they feel led in response to what they’ve heard
10:00 Break to go to small groups
10:05 Welcome to small group, connecting and checking in with each other time
10:10 Start discussion using the discussion guide and bringing in personal Bible study questions group members want to discuss as well as points made in the teaching video/teaching chapter
10:50 Take prayer requests and pray (be sure that the prayer time is not only about personal needs but also praying through the truths presented in the passage you’re studying. This will likely need to be modeled by the leader and/or assigned to one of the people praying).
Here is how I would structure a 60-minute time using the book only:
9:00 Welcome, get settled, announcements, maybe singing
9:10 Open discussion using the “Getting Started” question found in the discussion guide (the goal is to get people talking). Ask participants to share what was meaningful or significant in the personal Bible study or the teaching chapter they read, and discuss. Work your way through the discussion guide questions.
9: 50 Take prayer requests and pray (be sure that the prayer time is not only about personal needs but also praying through the truths presented in the passage you’re studying. This will likely need to be modeled by the leader and/or assigned to one of the people praying).
It will be wise for you to affirm at the start why we are doing any of this—because we want to know God through his Word. This is not like the schoolwork we did for a grade that we skipped if it wasn’t necessary. This is pursuit of relationship with God and that comes primarily as we open up his Word to hear him speak to us as we read it, think it through for ourselves, chew on it, discuss it.
The content of the teaching chapter and the video presentation is based on the assumption that those who are reading or viewing have done the personal Bible study. I do not take the time to read all of the text and review key elements of the story, so it will be hard to follow without the foundation of having done the personal Bible study, certainly far less clear. Secondly, it is both elements—the personal Bible study and the teaching that prepare participants to take part in the group discussion.
I suggest that on your first week, you ask the participants to mark one or two of the personal Bible study questions that they found interesting or challenging and going forward, whether or not the discussion guide includes a question about the personal Bible study, ask some questions about the personal Bible study. You might look through the discussion guide and determine where you want to bring in insights or questions from the personal Bible study during your group time as well.
I have been encouraged to know that some who have worked their way through this study—because they were seeing things that they had not seen before—found the personal Bible study a real delight to complete. As you and other participants in your group express delight and discovery in the personal Bible study, hopefully that will motivate the others.
If you have someone in your group who repeatedly does not do the personal Bible study, you might see if she would be interested in meeting for lunch, coffee, or a study session to work through it together. Perhaps there is an intimidation or frustration factor that you can help with.
I grew up in church and have spent most of my life in the evangelical culture with lots of sound Bible teaching for which I am so grateful. But for most of my life I have also been unfamiliar with thinking about heaven and eternity this way. And that is one reason I’ve emphasized it here because I assume there are a lot of people who have had a similar experience.
I have always thought of heaven as primarily being a place our spirits go to be with God forever after we die. Honestly, I think I never really thought through what the difference would be in that existence when what we repeatedly read about in the New Testament in terms of the resurrection of the body (1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4) comes about at the return of Christ. Where is this resurrected body going to live? How is this going to be different from being “away from the body and at home with the Lord”? I always thought of God’s purposes of redemption being really only about people. I did not have an understanding of God’s intentions to redeem all of creation including this earth, making it the place where we will live forever in our resurrected bodies with him. But this is clearly the future hope that all of the Bible is directed toward. The Christian life is not merely about going to heaven when we die, but about the restoration of all things, about heaven coming down to earth in its perfection and beauty, and living forever with God.
So why have I made this such a big part of this study? First, because it is important for us to see the original creation, before sin, as a picture of what is to come when God redeems all things. We need this to understand the big picture purposes of God, which helps us to make sense of some of the smaller parts within the whole of the Bible. Secondly, I have included this in every chapter to help to re-orient the way we think about eternity. If you’re like me, to re-orient how we’ve understood heaven and eternity, we’ve got to see it not just in a handful of passages that we think of as telling us about the return of Christ and “end times,” but rather throughout the whole of Scripture and in fact every part of Scripture. When we see it from all of the various angles as we work our way through Scripture, it completes the picture and solidifies our grasp on what is revealed about what is yet to come.
If this understanding of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation as the story of Scripture is new to you like it was to me only a few years ago, or if you feel you need a firmer grasp on it, you’ll find a number of suggested resources in the downloadable leader’s guide to help you grow in your understanding.
The “best” way is going to be whatever works best for your group. You may do it differently on different weeks. And it may be a time issue more than anything else. If you have and hour and a half to two hours for your study, that gives you 45 minutes for watching the video and then at least 45 minutes for the discussion. You may want to include reading the “How Genesis Points to What is Yet to Come” section aloud and talk about it briefly during your discussion time, perhaps working it in with the final question in the discussion guide each week that is always about how the particular passage being studied fits in with the larger story of the Bible.
Or, since every person attending the DVD study should also have a copy of the book, you might simply suggest that participants read that section of the chapter on their own sometime after watching the video before they go on to the next lesson. In this way they can really think it through and take it in, bringing together all that they learned in that week’s lesson.
This is a very important question, and one that I always struggle with a bit as I teach. Certainly there is much we can learn as we observe people in the Bible and how God interacts with them, just as there is a lot we can learn from people around us now as we observe their lives and their walk with God. I suppose the issue is one of primary purpose. We want to ask, why is this story/person in the Bible? Is it so that I will pick up pointers on living the life of faith from his or her example? Or is there something more significant God intends for me to see?
Our natural bent is to look at biblical characters and mine their stories for lessons on how to or how not to live the life of faith. And the shift I think we have to make is to ask instead, what am I supposed to see in this person and this story about what God is doing to work out his plan to redeem all things through Christ? It is not that we can’t learn some things from their examples, or that as teachers we never bring out observations about their lives that provide us with important teaching points, but rather that we must ask if this is the primary purpose of the passage and make sure we don’t settle for less. In trying to evaluate this, it has helped me to ask, how might Jesus have taught this passage during that walk to Emmaus or in the forty days he spent teaching about the kingdom of God when he “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45)?
Perhaps where this becomes challenging to us as teachers is that we are often most comfortable calling people to DO something. We are less comfortable, perhaps, calling people to see and adore Someone for what he has already done. A resource that has helped me with this is the Reformed Theological Seminary course “Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World” taught by Dr. Edmund P. Clowney and Dr. Timothy J. Keller, which you can download for free from iTunes. It is eighteen sessions long and directed to preachers, but the teaching on preaching that causes people to adore Christ has been pivotal for me.
When the term, “replacement theology” is used, it can be a label that implies a host of beliefs and attitudes. I do not think Israel has been replaced as the recipient of God’s promises by any means, but that the promises originally given to Abraham and his descendants have been expanded to include those outside of Israel, and that this was always God’s plan. I am grateful that I, as a Gentile, am no longer a stranger to the covenants of promise or an alien when it comes to the commonwealth of Israel, but am a fellow citizen with them and fellow heirs of all the blessings of the covenant (Ephesians 2:11-19, 3:6). I am grateful that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28-29).
It seems to me that no ethnic Jew who has put his or her faith in Jesus Christ, the Promised One, which is the only way anyone receives the promises of God, has replaced or lost any part of his or her inheritance in the blessings of the covenant. The fact that Gentiles are grafted into the one olive tree does not indicate replacement, but expansion, which the Old Testament, by its inclusion of non-Jewish people in the line of Christ and in many other ways, indicates has always been God’s plan.
Similarly, some may have trouble with the way this study makes it clear that as Paul wrote, “all of God’s promises are yes in Jesus Christ” —that Jesus, in fact fulfills all of the promises made to Abraham and his descendants. Many believers are still looking for God to give modern day Jews all of the land of Israel based on their understanding of the promises and the way in which God will fulfill them. But the nature of God’s fulfillment of these promises becomes especially clear in Hebrew 11—that the physical land given to Abraham and his descendants in physical, partial, and temporary ways was always a pointer to what God intends to give to all of Abraham’s spiritual descendants in spiritual, complete and eternal ways.
Here’s another way to look at it: If I promise you that I’m going to get you a hamburger when we get to where we’re going, and instead I buy you a steak dinner, would you say that I have not fulfilled my promise to you? It seems to me that those who insist on God fulfilling his promise to the Jewish people to give them the physical land of Israel in the here and now fail to realize that through Christ we have become heirs of the whole world. To demand that God fulfill that promise in smaller and earthly way denies the grander and eternal way in which God has and will fulfill all of his promises to his people.
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