Even though all of our gatherings are on pause here in Southern California, I will continue to post the discussion questions that I would be using with my small group if we could meet. You can find Chapters 1-6 here and Chapters 7-12 here, or you can find the whole discussion guide for the whole book in a downloadable format here.
Chapter 13: Why the Spirit?
Key Verse: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper.” John 14:16
What do you know about the Holy Spirit? In what ways has your church emphasized or downplayed the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
Look at the list of descriptions of the role of the Holy Spirit starting on page 121. Which role had you not previously considered?
The Spirit’s role, in summary, is to turn our postcard apprehensions of Christ’s great heart of longing affection for us into an experience of sitting on the beach, in a lawn chair, drink in hand, enjoying the actual experience.p 126.
Take a few moments to thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to cause us to know more clearly the love of Christ. This hymn by the Getty’s may be of assistance to you as you meditate on His work.
Chapter 14: Father of Mercies
Key Verse: “. . . the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3
How do you think about God the Father? If you had to pick one vignette from the Bible to describe your understanding of who He is, which would you choose?
Notice the way Goodwin helps us to see that the label “Father of mercies” is the Bible’s way of taking us into the deepest recesses of who God the Father is. A correct understanding of the triune God is not that of a Father whose central disposition is judgement and a Son whose central disposition is love. The heart of both is one and the same; this is, after all, one God, not two. Theirs is a heart of redeeming love, not compromising justice and wrath but beautifully satisfying justice and wrath.p. 131
What are some ways you have suspected that God the Father has withheld His tenderness from you? How has this chapter made you reconsider this?
Chapter 15: His “Natural” Work and His “Strange” Work
Key Verse: “He does not afflict from his heart.” Lamentations 3:33
(For small groups: Read the book of Lamentations before gathering.)
How does Jesus “provide new sharpness to who God is”?
The book of Lamentations explores God as “the one who rules and ordains all things” and who “brings affliction into our lives with a certain divine reluctance.” Read the book of Lamentations. How is God’s governance and mercy on display throughout the book?
Why does Goodwin use the term “strange work” to describe God’s justice?
If you catch God off guard, what leaps out most freely is blessing. The impulse to do good. The desire to swallow us up in joy. This is why Goodwin can say of God that “all his attributes seem but to set out his love.”p. 141
For more exploration of the topic of the doctrine of God, listen to The Mission Podcast with James Dolezal here.
Chapter 16: The Lord, the Lord
Key Verse: “A God merciful and gracious, slow to anger. . .” Exodus 34:6
Read Exodus 24:6-7 slowly and out loud.
Moses asked God to see His glory. If you had been in Moses’ shoes, what would you have expected to see? How does God define his glory? How does that self-description surprise you?
His highest priority and deepest delight and first reaction–his heart–is merciful and gracious. He gently accommodates himself to our terms rather than overwhelming us with his.p. 148
Read Matthew 17:1-13. How does Jesus fulfill Moses’ request during his time on earth? The musical artist and serious Bible student Michael Card reflected on the Transfiguration with these words: “Moses finally saw the face that before he’d hidden from.”
How have these passages shown you ways that you have misunderstood what you have previously seen of God’s character?
Chapter 17: His Ways are Not Our Ways
Key Verse: “My thoughts are not your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8
As we continue to explore the question of our expectations of who God is and how He might act, what are some ways this chapter has brought to light our faulty understanding of God?
God’s ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts in that his are thoughts of loves and ways of compassion that stretch to a degree beyond our mental horizon.p. 158
Begin to list the ways that God is not like you.
In what ways are you astounded by God’s heart of compassion?
Chapter 18: Yearning Bowels
Key Verse: My heart yearns for him. Jeremiah 31:20
The Bible takes us by the hand and leads us out from under the feeling that his heart for us wavers according to our loveliness. God’s heart confounds our intuitions of who he is.p. 167
What are some ways that you have seen the intensity of God’s love flow to you?
How is the world “starving for a yearning love”?
Spend some time in prayer confessing your small thoughts of God. Ask God for greater understanding, faith and wisdom. Rejoice that He has promised these for those He loves.