Study Guide: How Beautiful

Sunday November 9, 2003 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Greg's sermon this week was a reflection on several texts with a guiding theme of “overcoming duplicity.” To work toward overcoming duplicity we need to ask the following set of questions: What is duplicity? How can it be overcome? What replaces it?

Extended Summary:

Greg’s sermon this week was basically a reflection on several texts with a guiding theme that ties it all together: Overcoming duplicity. To work toward overcoming duplicity we will need to ask the following set of questions: What is duplicity? How can it be overcome? What replaces it? Greg used three biblical passages to guide us through these three questions. Please have someone in your group read the passage aloud and then work through the paragraph below that relates to that passage.

1. James 1:6-7

James teaches us that to be “double-minded” is to “doubt” and this is what Greg means by “duplicity.” The opposite of duplicity and double-minded has been expressed in this way: “the purity of heart is to will one thing.” Or, as Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.” To be double-minded is to attempt to place your heart, your passion and your energy into more than one ultimate goal. It cannot be done. Faith requires a single object. No one can serve two masters. Neither “master” will have your full allegiance. Neither master would truly be your master, would they? You would have to be the one to delegate yourself out to these two masters rather than giving yourself entirely to just one of them. James adds an important and very practical comment about what to expect. The double-minded (the “duplicitous”) must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. This is a hard teaching! Greg reminded us that it is according to our faith that it will be done to us. What then is the “one thing” that our heart should will? Greg turned to 2 Cor. 3:18 to find out. It is the “Glory of the Lord!” After all, the glory of God is the reason we exist! It is our destiny, our purpose, our highest fulfillment as human beings “made in the image of God.” This passage of 2 Cor. shows how we are to be transformed more and more toward the Glory of God. We need to develop a vision of this so that according to our faith it may be unto us!

2. Ephesians 1:4-6

God chose us in Christ. This is an AMAZING reality! In Christ, God chose for us holiness, blamelessness, adoption, blessing, the ultimate invitation to the ultimate banquet with the only Worthy King and Master. God wants you to come to the banquet. What is the banquet about? Why would you or I come? The banquet is hosted by the Father, the Son is getting married! And YOU are the guest of honor! You are chosen to be the Bride! It is this scenario that the New Testament returns to time and again. But God knows that we do not understand, that we do not have a pure heart and a singleness of mind toward this goal. So God pursues us! God hounds us to no end. There is literally no boundary that God will not cross to gain our allegiance! The cross proves this beyond a shadow of doubt. God even goes so far as to say, give me your rags, your sin, your filth and I will trade you these things for my righteousness, my holiness, my purity, my glory! How could we refuse?

3. Rev. 19:1-10

Either we go to the banquet or we do not. Duplicity has no place. We cannot be the Bride of Christ and that of the world as well. We must get the message as concretely as possible so that we can fight double-mindedness with clarity about our real destiny that God has chosen for us in Christ. To do this we must envision heaven! WE are the bride of Christ! We are the guests of honor! ALL the heavenly hosts will be there to honor…US! The Bride that is united with the Holy God! It is completely outlandish! Who could have thought such a thing? If any person had come up with such an idea, it would be the most offensive thing possible to God, but this was GOD’S idea! The fact that GOD is doing this transforms it into the most beautiful story ever told! The Bible reveals to us that the whole goal of creation is found in the story we are describing. We must make it our story, the single desire of our heart!

Reflection Questions:

  1. Discuss what it means to be “double-minded” in the way James described in 1:6-7. What things might cause us to be double-minded in our lives? Discuss the phrase describing what can be expected if we live in duplicity about our faith.
  2. Review what it means that God chose us in Christ from the foundation of the world. The summary above does not contain “the answer,” but Greg spent a significant amount of time and energy on it in the sermon.
  3. Greg spent some time painting a picture of what heaven might be like. He used imagery from Rev. 19. What sorts of feelings arise in you as you imagine this? What would need to change in you to fully long for this? How do you feel about being a part of the Bride of Christ?