A WOMAN OF EXCELLENCE
STUDY ONE: SHE KNOWS WHO GOD IS
© Rosemary Bardsley 2015
By what criteria do we judge excellence?
How do we assess whether or not a woman is a woman of excellence?
The world’s criteria
The world judges us in terms of
Our beauty, our brains, our body, our babies, our bank balance or our biography.
Our fame, our face, our fortune or our friends.
Our race, our relatives, our relationships or our real estate.
Discussion point #1:
[a] To what extent do you assess yourself by any of the above criteria?
[b] Which of the above criteria are used by the people in your life to assess you?
[c] Which of the above criteria do you use to assess other women?
The above criteria might count with humans, but none of them count with God
God’s Word says:
‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised’ [Proverbs 31:30]
God’s Word gives us significance on two levels:
The level of creation: he created us to be the bearers of his image.
The level of salvation: he calls us to believe in him.
How can we fear the Lord unless we know who he is?
How can we bear his image if we do not know him?
How can we believe in him if we do not know which God he actually is?
A. WHO OR WHAT IS GOD?
From Genesis 3 onwards when God was rejected, humans have created their own god concepts – either physical idols created by their hands, or philosophical idols created by their minds – and we are left with the question ‘which god is God’?
Here are a few answers that our world gives to this important question:
Atheistic evolution assumes there is no god.
Secular humanism actively teaches that there is no god.
New Age ideology seeks for a ‘god’ is within.
Pantheism believes all is god.
Polytheism worships many gods.
Animism fears spirit gods inhabiting nature.
Fatalism believes some kind of God is there, but he is arbitrary and uncaring.
Deism believes in a ‘hands off’ God.
Popular theology teaches that God is there, but limited by our sin or faith or prayers.
In all of these we have an expression of idolatry – creating for ourselves our own god concept.
Discussion Point #2: Discuss which of the ‘god’ concepts listed above are impacting your society today, and identify which ones you can recognize as openly or subtly affecting your own heart and mind.
B. THE REJECTION OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD – Romans 1:18-32
The Bible teaches that humans have rejected and corrupted the truth about God that he has revealed in creation, in his written word and in his Son, Jesus Christ.
Discussion Point #3: Read the references below and discuss and define the way we as human beings reject and corrupt the truth about God that he reveals to us.
C. THE DARKNESS AND BLINDNESS OF OUR IGNORANCE OF GOD
God tells us that we are blind and in the dark, and that it requires an action of God to rescue us from this dark blindness:
2Corinthians 4:4-6: ‘The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God… for God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.’
Colossians 1:13: ‘he rescued us from the dominion of darkness’
John 3:19: ‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.’
Jesus Christ said: ‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ [John 8:12]
In our society today we have post-modernism, a mindset that denies the existence of all absolutes, stating that there is no such thing as truth to be found so you don’t even look for it – and that therefore any god concept is as good as any other god concept, for they are all just human ideas coming out of human cultures.
The result of this is that people do not know what the term ‘god’ means, if there actually is something or someone who is ‘god’, or who ‘God’ is.
But in the Bible we find women who actually knew God. For example, we find Ruth, forsaking her tribal gods and saying to Naomi ‘Your God will be my God’ [Ruth 1:16]. We find Rahab, rejecting the impotent gods of her people and acknowledging the Lord:
‘I know that the Lord … [Joshua 2:9]
‘We have heard how the Lord … [Joshua 2:10]
‘By faith Rahab the prostitute … [Hebrews 11:31]
Here are two women approved by God, two women of excellence.
Two women who cast aside the concepts of ‘god’ they had inherited from their culture and embraced as their God the One who claims to be the one and only God.
D. A WOMAN OF EXCELLENCE IS A WOMAN OF SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT:
From the biblical perspective, a woman of excellence is, first of all, a woman of spiritual discernment: she knows who God is and she acknowledges him as God:
She is a woman who has cast aside her own human concept of ‘god’.
She is a woman who has believes in the one true God.
How can we do this?
How can we know which god is the one true God?
How can we identify him among all the god concepts of men?
E. JESUS CHRIST IDENTIFIES THE ONE TRUE GOD
The New Testament teaches that we know God by knowing Jesus Christ:
John 10:30: ‘I and the Father are one.’
John 12:44-46: ‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.’
John 14:7,9: ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father?”’
1John 5:20,21: ‘He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.’
Thus the woman of excellence is the woman who
Has cast aside her own ideas about God and taken on board the God revealed by Jesus Christ.
Knows that in knowing Jesus Christ she knows the one true God.
This casting aside of all other god concepts and embracing Jesus Christ as God, is the central issue of Biblical faith, and the central issue in Biblical repentance.
Without this faith, without this repentance, all that we humans might call ‘excellence’ is of no significance.
Thus, the ‘woman of excellence’ is a woman who knows who God is – she has found him and acknowledged him in Jesus Christ.
Discussion Point #4: Discuss what these references teach us about the darkness and ignorance of God in which we live apart from Jesus Christ, and the light and knowledge of God that is ours when we know Jesus Christ.