Explore The Bible Study: Influencing Others

10:30 AM

What do Billy Graham and Stephen Hawking have in common? They were both influencers. 
Influence can be used in so many ways as contrasted by these two individuals. What they believed influenced the thinking of many individuals and even their views of God and life after death. Each day we encounter people who are trying to influence us, and every person we encounter may be influenced by us as well. No one is exempt from being influential. This is why Paul’s statements in this week's Explore the Bible study is so important. As believers, we need to realize that it should be our goal to use our influence to bring others to Christ.

The following information in the teaching ideas could help you begin the conversation regarding influence.

Stephen Hawking
·       Cambridge professor and theoretical physicist who survived more than six decades with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease; doctors believed it would kill him in his early 20s.
·       Despite his condition – confined to a wheelchair, and in later years speaking via a voice synthesizer – he was able to pursue his studies of quantum mechanics, gravity, black holes, and a Unified Theory of Cosmology (the study of the universe’s origin and evolution).
·       Hawking says flat-out that he doesn’t believe in God, but he does believe that space travel offers the best hope for our species’ immortality.
·       In “A Brief History of Time,” Hawking writes that the discovery of a unifying set of scientific principles known as the theory of everything would enable scientists to “know the mind of God.”
·       “A Brief History of Time” made the Guinness Book of Records after it stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an unprecedented 237 weeks.
·       In a follow-up book about the quest for the theory of everything, titled “The Grand Design,” Hawking said the mechanism behind the origin of the universe was becoming so well known that God was no longer necessary.
·       Hawking states that “In my opinion, there is no aspect of reality beyond the reach of the human mind.”
·       Hawking was a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

Billy Graham
·       Dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel when he was 16 and ordained as a Baptist minister in 1939.
·       Graham preached the gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories.
·       Nearly 3 million have responded to his invitation: "Accept Jesus into your heart."
·       Graham was known as "America's Pastor," participating in presidential inaugurations and speaking during national crises such as the memorial services following the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks.
·       He had the opportunity to encourage, pray, counsel, and share the gospel with popes and presidents, queens and even dictators.
·       In 1946 he became the first full-time staff member of Youth for Christ and launched his evangelistic campaigns.
·       In 1947, at age 30, he was hired as president of Northwestern Bible College in Minneapolis, Minnesota—at the time, the youngest person to serve as a sitting president of any U.S. college or university.
·       In 1955, Graham invited Martin Luther King Jr. to join him in the pulpit at his 16-week revival in New York City, where 2.3 million gathered at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, and Times Square to hear them.
·       Between 1950 and 1990 Graham won a spot on the Gallup Organization's "Most Admired" list more often than any other American.
·       Graham received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, an Honorary Knighthood in Order of the British Empire, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was also the first non-musician to be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
The information was derived from the following resources: Notable Deaths in 2018 - CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 9 Things You Should Know About Billy Graham (1918–2018), Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition. “I’m and Atheist”: Stephen Hawking on God and Space Travel, by Alan Boyle, NBCNews.com. Evangelist Billy Graham Has Died, by Marshall Shelley, Christianity Today

The following link takes you to an excellent overview of the passages to be studied this week - 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, 1 Corinthians 10:31-33, and 1 Corinthians 11:1.

The study helps provide additional information regarding the lives of Steven Hawking and Billy Graham.  Consider using this with the accompanying questions to challenge your group.

After the death of Steven Hawking and Billy Graham, a pastor posted these thoughts regarding the influence of these two individuals:

“In the past month we have witnessed the death of two very prominent but vastly different people - Steven Hawking and Billy Graham. 
  • Hawking was a brilliant and distinguished physicist who made much of creation. Graham was a brilliant and distinguished preacher who made much of Christ.
  • While one devoted his life seeking to help others understand the present life he knew was passing away, the other devoted his life to help others understand the next life he knew was to come.
  • As is true of us all, both faced death. Yet, the way they approached the inevitability of death was as different as their approaches to life.
  • “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” (Stephen Hawking)
  • “Each of us is given the exact same number of seconds, minutes and hours per day as anyone else. The difference is how we redeem [them]. … You cannot count your days, but you can make your days count ... The future is as bright as the promises of God.” (Billy Graham)
You see one anticipated the end and the other one the end of the beginning. The truth is that the one who claimed fairy tales of people afraid of the dark, actually entered into eternal darkness. While the one who claimed the promises of God entered into glorious light. One made a temporal contribution that dies with the earth and the other an eternal contribution that lives in heaven.

Two men, two lives, two contributions, two deaths, and two eternities. The one who was born once - dies twice. The one who was born twice - died once. Life is too precious to spend investing for limited return and too short to gamble with eternity. Come to Jesus and live!
-- Shane Russell, Pastor

Response Options: 
  • Would you feel comfortable asking someone to imitate you? Why or why not? What needs to change so that you can confidently challenge others to ‘imitate you as you imitate Christ?
  • How can you live during the next week so that someone might look at you and say, “You are an example of what it means to follow Christ”? What changes might you need to make in your actions or words in order for this to become a reality?
Pursue living your life in such a manner that your influence can be used to win others to Christ.


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