Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Good and Beautiful Life: Introduction


NOTE:  As the Living Stones Women's Ministry studies The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ, by James Bryan Smith, I am going to be posting the questions and discussion points I use for our twice-monthly conversations about the book.  These posts will serve as reminders of our meetings for those who have attended, and will allow anyone who has not been able to attend to follow along with the things we have been talking about.  I hope that reading these discussion points will encourage you to spend time with this book in order to learn more about putting on the character of Christ!

How does Jim describe the good and beautiful life in these opening sections of his book? What makes for a good and beautiful life?

Virtue lies at the heart of the good and beautiful life. What are the connotations of that word today? What does Jim use it to mean?

In the introduction, Jim says his book contains "a method of growth toward a virtuous life" (10). But he reminds us a couple of times of the very important truth that we aren't living this virtuous life to get into heaven. Everything that needs to be done to bring us close to God has already been done by Jesus on the cross. It's important to remember as we read this book that we don't have to do anything to merit God's favor. We have God's favor already through Christ.

If that's the case, then what is the point of reading books like this one, with exercises for drawing close to God?  Some points to consider:
--knowing God now, not just in heaven
--learning to live as Jesus taught
--sanctification: God's goal for us, to be holy like Jesus is holy
--cooperating in God's work; allowing Him to work in us

Jim also reminds us that the Holy Spirit is the real agent of change within us. We need to engage with the Holy Spirit as we read this book, welcoming its leading.  "If not for the work of the Holy Spirit, transformation simply will not take place" (12).

Jim writes, "I encourage you to proceed with hope and certainty that you are engaged in something that can make a positive difference in your life. I am confident that God, who has begun a good work in you, will bring it to completion" (14).
I will post again next week with the discussion notes from chapter 1.

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