Author Warren Mueller has read the Bible daily since 1979. He has served as a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, and a member of the Gideons International. With Truth Seeker: Bible Topics, he hopes to provide clarity regarding what the Bible says about many popular subjects in a succinct and objective format.
Truth Seeker: Bible Topics offers a concise summary of what the Bible says about over thirty practical living and theological topics and includes many Bible quotes to provide additional information on each topic. There are questions at the end of each chapter that can help to facilitate Sunday school class or small group discussions. This helpful guide covers a wide variety of topics, including angels, abortion, eating and drinking, gambling, heaven, money, spiritual gifts, swearing, and worry.
Much of the controversy that surrounds the interpretations of what the Bible says stem from a lack of systematic study, the use of verses out of context, or attempts to extrapolate truth beyond what is clearly stated. In order to avoid these pitfalls and determine a fair interpretation, Warren Mueller attempts to explain some of the truths of the Bible that are relevant to our human nature, thoughts, and purposes today.
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Truth Seeker: BIBLE TOPICS
By Warren M. Mueller
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Warren M. Mueller
All rights reserved.
A Full and Meaningful Life
Life is full of routines like sleeping, eating, and working, with occasional milestones such as marriage, birth, and death. Seasons and years come and go. Even special events like vacations and holidays can become repetitious, less exciting, and less meaningful as we grow older. So how can we live a full and meaningful life?
There are three common approaches that consume most of our time, talents, and energy. One approach is the pursuit of material things. Americans are in love with having a modern home, late model cars, lots of clothes, a wide variety of food, and as many new electronic gadgets as possible. The desire for more and better things has resulted in a throwaway society where new is better, savings are low, and debt is high. The cost and quantity of things that are accumulated measure success.
There are two problems with the pursuit of material things. First, possessions tend to possess the possessor. The more you have, the more there is to take care of and worry about. I think about this whenever I cut and fertilize the lawn, wash the cars, and clean the house. Things break down and this is a continuing source of headaches and frustration.
Second, things and wealth that are accumulated are left behind when death occurs. Therefore, others benefit from your hard work to accumulate things. This can be good or bad depending on whether the inheritors are appreciative and wise in using the wealth passed on to them. The bottom line is that man enters this world with nothing and takes nothing out of it, so it is not true that the one who dies with the most things, wins.
The second popular philosophy of life is the pursuit of pleasures to experience life to the fullest. This results in a lifestyle that seeks self-gratification through traveling, multiple sexual partners, drugs, new restaurants, new electronic gadgets and entertainment forms seeking excitement and pleasures that are fleeting. There is no lasting satisfaction in this approach and it leads to frustration. Most people do not have enough time or money to experience all the possible places, people, food and things that life has to offer. Indeed, even if it were possible to have unlimited wealth, there would always be places and things beyond our experience due to the limits of the human life span.
A full life cannot be measured by the quantity, but rather by the quality of one's relationships with others and with God. The Apostle Paul, after having been beaten, ship-wrecked and thrown into prison, wrote that he had lived a full life and was content in whatever situation he found himself. Paul said that as long as he had Jesus, he could do anything through the strength of God's presence and power.
A third popular pursuit is to leave a legacy. Living for family, fame, or fortune may be noble, but it is ultimately futile. Family members and human relationships seldom turn out the way we like.
Fame and fortune dwindle over time, and facts are frequently altered to meet political, cultural, or religious objectives. King Solomon was among the most powerful and wealthy rulers of his day. During his rule, the kingdom of Israel reached its largest expanse and many surrounding kings paid tribute to him. His reputation for wisdom spread far and wide and prompted the Queen of Sheba to travel to see him. He had vast wealth and wisdom. He tried all of life's pursuits but, in the end, found them all to be meaningless vanity like he was chasing after the wind. He concluded that the best that man could hope for was to find satisfaction in labor, do good works, and fear God. This is the best that man can hope for without a saving relationship with Jesus, who said that abundant and meaningful life comes from knowing him as one's personal savior.
1. What would your first impulse be if you had unlimited money?
2. After careful thought and prayer, what should you do if you had unlimited money?
3. What is the difference between your first impulse (i.e. would) and your second choice (i.e. should)?
4. Have you ever thought or prayed something like "Dear God, if you would somehow make it possible for me to have a lot of money, I promise to give $$$$ to the poor." Do you think this is trying to bribe God?
5. Do you think that winning the lottery or inheriting millions of dollars would tend to make you closer or further from God? Why?
6. What is your idea of a full life?
7. What is your idea of a meaningful life?
8. What is God's idea of a full and meaningful life? (Jn 10:9-10; Jn 5:30; Dt 6:5)
9. Americans from lower-income families tend to give a higher percentage of their income to charity than middle- or high-income families. What are some of the reasons for this?
10. How would your life be different if you started to make changes based on the following priorities listed below?
a) Develop a mission statement that summarizes what is most important to you.
b) Give of your talents, time or money to causes that align with your mission statement.
c) People are more important than a schedule so you must be giving and flexible to show that completing tasks is secondary to building relationships.
d) Discover and set priorities around family activities that are meaningful and important rather than duties or traditions.
e) Be willing to make changes in life rather than trusting in fate.
f) Find value in the daily routines of life rather than take them for granted or think of them as something to be endured so that you can get to a better routine.
There are no words in the Bible that translate to the equivalent of abortion. However, the murder of humans is prohibited by the Ten Commandments. There are many different Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible that are translated to mean kill, slay, or murder. In Numbers 31:17, God commands the Israelites to kill some of the conquered Midianites. Obviously, there must be a difference in these commands, since, by his very nature, God cannot contradict himself.
This can be resolved by viewing the prohibition on killing as murder in which the act is premeditated and is for personal (usually selfish) reasons. The killing referred to in Numbers 31:17 and elsewhere, commanded by God to the Israelites, refers to the execution of evil people by a government or nation. God bestowed upon governments the right to kill as a penalty for crimes and to maintain social order.
The preceding discussion is relevant to abortion since it is clearly a premeditated act on the part of the mother that ends the life of her offspring. Common reasons for having an abortion are generally selfish such as: "It's my body," or "I can't afford or don't want the baby." Therefore, abortion qualifies as murder except in circumstances beyond the control of the mother, such as medical complications that threaten the life of the mother. Some argue that a fetus is not human and so abortion is not murder, but merely the surgical removal of unwanted foreign tissue growing inside the mother. Very few would argue that life does not begin at conception. What is argued is whether or when the fetus is human.
The Bible says that only God gives life, and he therefore has the right to take it. In Isaiah 45:9-10, God likens himself to a potter and humans to clay worked into pots. God says that man (the clay) has no right to question what God (the potter) has created and is developing in the womb. God knows and forms each of us while we are still in the womb. He not only knows and forms us in the womb, but he also has plans for us. God desires for us to fulfill some unique purpose of his, which may or may not be clearly known to us in this life.
Children are a blessing from God. It is clear from the Bible that God gives life, knows us, and has plans for each of us even before we are born. To end God's plans and purposes through abortion is to use the free will that God has given us to usurp his sovereignty. This is rebellion, which is the root of all sins.
1. What are some of the reasons why abortion remains legal in America?
2. Why do women in America have abortions?
3. Do you think that testing the amniotic fluid or other such tests for birth defects affects abortion decisions? Should it?
4. Do you think that sexual themes in movies and television and abortions are related?
5. Do you think there is a relationship between abortions and rising concerns over human population growth, rising expectations in living standards and global environmentalism?
6. Is there any comfort or hope for those who have had an abortion?
7. Do you think that rape or incest is a valid reason for having an abortion?
8. What are some of the possible emotions felt by women who have had abortions? Do you think there are similarities in feelings with women who have had miscarriages? Why or why not?
9. What are some reasons why abortion rates tend to be higher in developing countries?
10. What are some reasons that explain why, in the United States, most of the women who have abortions are in their twenties and have never been married?
11. How do you view birth control as a means of reducing abortions?
12. Some forms of birth control such as the pill, RU-486 (morning after pill) and intra-uterine devices are designed to keep the embryo from implanting in the uterus. Does your view of these methods differ from your view of more natural methods such as rhythm or conception barriers?
Am I A Christian?
Over thirty years ago I prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord. Soon afterwards, I heard a nagging voice in my head tell me "It isn't that easy to get to heaven" and "You are fooling yourself if you think God can readily and easily forgive you for all the wrongs you have done." I have also seen those who struggle with this question and go forward many times in church to accept Christ or try to prove by their good works that there has been a genuine change. So how can a person know for sure that a spiritual birth has occurred, that sins have been forgiven and that they are a new creation indwelt by the Holy Spirit?
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13:5 "examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you unless, of course, you fail the test?" From this we see that each person must examine themselves about whether they have been transformed into a child of God by faith in Jesus. Nobody can do this for you or assure you that it has happened within you. Only you can answer this question. What are the questions we should be asking to evaluate this important change? I recently taught a Sunday School Class on this subject and we compiled a list of questions to do this self-examination. These questions are not listed in any order of importance.
Do I have a hunger or spiritual craving for the Word of God?
The words of the Bible are inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus are God's words. Therefore, this is a way to be connected with God and results in spiritual growth in knowledge, transformation and equipping for doing good works. There should be a need or hunger to read, meditate and memorize the Bible. This is more than a regular discipline of reading. It is a driving desire that should result in reading the Bible very often. How often do you eat? Reading the Bible should be nourishment to the soul as food is to the body.
Do you pray regularly?
Prayer is conversation with God. For those who are born again, this happens both consciously and unconsciously. The latter occurs continuously because born again believers have been transformed into temples where the presence Holy Spirit dwells. The Holy Spirit constantly prays for us. On the conscious level, prayers may be private or communal but should be more than a routine or discipline. Prayer for the genuine believer is conversation, worship and praise directed to the most precious being in life. Therefore, do you pray only when you need something or as part of a routine such as meals, church or bedtime? There is nothing wrong with these types of prayers but even those of other religions do these things. For the child of God, prayer can include these things but is much more. Prayer is an ever increasing preoccupation with God that transforms the mind resulting in a heightened awareness of His presence, purpose and power.
Do you desire to spend time with other believers and love them?
"Birds of a feather flock together" is a good analogy. If you are born again, you will desire to associate with those of like mind and spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit in others is a powerful attracting force that draws believers together and unifies them despite personality, cultural, racial, ethnic or any other differences. The person of the Holy Spirit is the life of God in us and is a foundation upon which believers are transformed. Above all else, it is the love of God in us and the love we have for other believers that is a characteristic of born again believers.
Do you have spiritual fruit and is it increasing in your life?
The indwelling Holy Spirit transforms our minds resulting in character and life-style changes. The presence of the Holy Spirit causes permanent, irreversible and progressive changes in each believer making the following qualities grow: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self- control.
Do you desire to share your faith in Jesus with others?
If you have been born again, you will be filled with the love, joy and peace resulting from the presence of the Holy Spirit within. This experience is so wonderful that you will desire to share it with others. You will want to tell others about how this change happened to you both to see if others have also been born again and in the hope that others may also experience this birth. Jesus commands his disciples to go and bear witness to who he is and his teachings. The light and life of God within his children will shine forth if there has been a genuine birth.
Are you becoming more dependent upon God?
As time passes the presence of the Holy Spirit within transforms the mind so that priorities, thoughts and actions are increasingly centered on Jesus. This results in a growing dependency upon God and the realization that he is the essence of life. Everything else seems secondary to his love (sensing the closeness of his presence), his purpose (pleasing him) and his power (sovereignty) and the revelation of truth (knowledge).
Are you pursuing holiness?
As children of God, we are commanded to be holy as God is holy. This does not mean that holiness can be achieved through human effort but rather that holiness grows inside true believers and manifests itself in good works as the mind is transformed. Are you doing good works to show you are a Christian (do to be) or do your good works flow from who you are (be to do)?
Is God disciplining you? Do you feel the unrest of sin in your life?
There should be a growing awareness of sin within and around the true believer. This results in a sense of the greatness of our sinful condition and a desire to be rid of sinful habits. Paul describes the tension of true believers who experience conflict between the desires of the Holy Spirit and human nature. This unrest is part of the conviction of the Holy Spirit who is working to overcome the evil nature. True believers are more miserable than others after sinning because choosing sin breaks fellowship with God and results in his displeasure and discipline.
These are some of the questions that each person should use to see if there has been a spiritual birth into the kingdom of God. Jesus said that no man can enter the kingdom of God unless the Holy Spirit causes him to be born in a spiritual sense as a new creation. Do you pass these tests?
Excerpted from Truth Seeker: BIBLE TOPICS by Warren M. Mueller. Copyright © 2013 by Warren M. Mueller. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Cited Abbreviations.................... 11
A Full and Meaningful Life.................... 13
Am I A Christian?.................... 25
Anxiety (Worry).................... 41
Eating and Drinking.................... 63
Faith That Works.................... 71
Fortune Telling.................... 85
Good Works.................... 97
Hell (What and Where).................... 109
How the World Was Created.................... 115
Is God Fair?.................... 121
Killing versus Murder.................... 131
Marriage and Divorce.................... 137
Money, Wealth, and Tithing.................... 149
Repentance Is More than Being Sorry.................... 157
Sabbath or Sunday Worship.................... 163
Saints—Who Are They?.................... 171
Salvation or How Do I Get to Heaven?.................... 177
Sexual Perversion.................... 183
Spiritual Gifts.................... 189
Subjection to Government.................... 195
The Church—Who and What Is It?.................... 205
The Feminine Side of God.................... 211
The Gift of Joy.................... 215
The Passion of Christ.................... 219
Trinity or Triune God.................... 225
When Prayers Seem To Fail.................... 229
Why Go to Church?.................... 233
Why Not Look at Pornography?.................... 241
Author's Note.................... 247