The Organic Witness of the Gospel
Peyton Jones stopped by this week so we took a short break from our study of Luke's Gospel to look at Luke's 2nd book, the book of Acts and learn about being witnesses. Peyton is a trainer of church planters and author currently living with us in Southern California. His latest book is called "Reaching the Unreached - Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art" takes a deep look at Acts 1:8, the passage he came to preach about this week. Before we get to that though let's check in a bit.
If you wrote a book about your summer so far, what would the title be?
Let's read through the passage and back up for some context, starting in verse 6:
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand
-- Act 1:6-11
Let's jump right into it
Was there anything about that passage
Jesus here spends His last moments with his disciples preparing them for the Holy Spirit who will come to continue His work. Peyton mentioned that in the past when he's begun to discuss the spirit, he's noticed people can get a little weird.
What are some words that come to mind when thinking about the Holy Spirit? Do you think we as a church discuss him too often? too little?
Jesus disciples know that He's asking them to go and tell His story and
Have you ever been so excited about something that you can't wait to tell others about it? What was it?
Why do you think Jesus asked the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit instead of just giving them the Spirit immediately or letting them go out on their own?
3 years Jesus had been living, eating, walking, and working with these guys. Pouring His life and knowledge into them, getting them ready for this day.
What do you think it's like to have been
Have you ever been
Peyton shared from His own experience working in churches around the country, how frustrated he was that the more he seemed to be involved with
How have you noticed that being really involved with a church can be a hindrance to spreading the gospel? Why do you think that is? What do you think could be missing?
Spreading the Gospel story is a core value of the Resolved Church family, and
How do you feel about sharing the gospel with friends and neighbors? Is it easy? hard?
One of the ideas that Peyton kept coming back to in this passage is that we have to depend on God for everything. Jesus tells his disciples to wait for the Spirit
Does that change how you feel about sharing the Gospel? How can you remind yourself to be dependent on God when opportunities to share the Gospel come up
Finally, even though most people would say this passage is calling us all to get out there and become evangelists, Peyton made a fine distinction and pointed out that it's actually telling us to go out and be witnesses
What could be some differences between an evangelist and a witness?
Witnessing could look a little different for different people. All the disciples ended up having diverse yet fruitful ministries
How do you think your witnessing might be different? Who has God sent you out to?
Pray as a group that you'd allow yourself to be dependent on God, and clearly see who and where you're being sent to.
The Mall & Our Religious Need
This week Pastor Duane talked about how we all have a "universal need" that is ultimately met by Jesus. Here is an excerpt from James K.A. Smith’s Desiring The Kingdom where he paints a beautiful picture of our need as humans and how it plays out in our everyday lives.
I would like to invite you for a tour of one of the most important religious sites in our metropolitan area. As you approach…you notice the sheer popularity of the site as indicated by the colorful sea of parking that surrounds the building. The site is throbbing with pilgrims every day of the week as thousands and thousands make the pilgrimage.`
As you make your way toward the building — a dazzling array of glass and concretes, the architecture of the building has a recognizable code that makes us feel at home. The large glass atriums at the entrances are framed by banners and flags; familiar texts and symbols on the exterior walls help
As we enter the space, we are ushered into a narthex of sorts intended for receiving, orienting, and channeling new seekers as well as providing a bit of a decompression space for the regular faithful to “enter in” to the spirit of the space. For the seeker, there is a large map— a kind of worship aid— to give the novice an orientation to the location of various spiritual offerings and provide direction into the labyrinth that organizes and channels the ritual observance of the pilgrims.
The pilgrim is also invited to escape from mundane ticking and counting of clock time and to inhabit a space governed by a different time, one almost timeless. However, while daily clock time is suspended, the worship space is very much governed by a kind of liturgical, festal calendar, variously draped in the colors, symbols, and images of an unending litany of holidays and festivals— to which new ones are regularly added, since the establishment of each new festival translates into greater numbers of pilgrims joining the processions to the sanctuary and engaging in worship.
Unlike the flattened depictions of saints one might find in stained-glass windows, here is an array embodied pictures of the redeemed that invite us to imagine ourselves in their shoes— to imagine ourselves otherwise, (to look like and become like them).
As we pause to reflect on some of the icons on the outside of one of the chapels, we are thereby invited to consider what’s happening within the chapel— invited to enter into the act of worship more properly, invited to taste and see. We are greeted by a welcoming acolyte who offers to shepherd us through the experience, but also has the wisdom to allow us to explore on our own terms.
Having a sense of our need, we come looking, not sure what for, but expectant, knowing that what we need must be here. After time spent focused and searching in what the faithful call “the racks,” with our newfound holy object in hand, we proceed to the altar, which is the consummation of worship. While acolytes and other worship assistants have helped us navigate our experience, behind the altar is the priest who presides over the consummating transaction.
And this is a religion of transaction, of exchange and communion. When invited to worship here, we are not only invited to give; we are also invited to take. We don’t leave this transformative experience with just good feelings or pious generalities, but rather with something concrete and tangible, with newly minted relics, as it were, that are themselves the means to the good life. And so we make our sacrifice, leave our donation, but in return receive something with
Stories of Thanksgiving
We took a break this week from out study of Luke to check out Psalm 107. Pastor Ryan led us through a beautiful passage of poetry, shedding light on the power of God's love to redeem and our thanks that
One of the things Ryan said he loves about the Psalms is that they give us a vocabulary to talk about God and models on how to talk to God. The right words can be key to understanding complex ideas in our lives
What is your favorite "impressive" word to try and use in conversation, that possibly obscure word you learned and love that expresses a complex idea perfectly?
Let's read the passage and discuss some of the Psalmists ideas and words.
THE WANDERERS (v 4-9)
What does it mean to have your soul faint within you? have you ever experienced that? How were you wandering?
Ryan went on to point out that in the Bible God often brought the people He loved out to the wilderness to wander. Abraham, Moses, the Israelites, and even King David wandered lost without a city for a time.
Why do you think God caused these people to wander? What can God accomplish by having us wander? How can we be lead by God and wandering at the same time?
The Psalmist also gives us a promise here in verse 6 "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress." If we cry to the Lord, He will come and rescue us.
What does it mean to "cry to the Lord?" Does this mean if we cry to the Lord He will give us whatever we want?
THE PRISONERS (v 10-16)
The Psalmist then describes someone who is darkness, sitting in the shadow of death. A rebel, not in the cool "rebel without a cause",
Ryan described the prisoners as people chained to sin, it's a habit they can't quit.
Have you ever been able to stop a bad habit? Why did you stop it? How did you do it?
The prisoners have rejected God's law, which is rejecting God. Ryan pointed out that the law is not an objective cosmic agreement that God is tasked with policing, it actually describes God and His attributes, and when we don't follow it we separate ourselves from God.
Has someone ever rebelled against you? a coworker, friend, roommate, family member? How did you respond? How does God respond?
When we reject someone we put ourselves in
Have you ever had a conflict where you went out of your way to avoid that person, or they went out of their way to avoid you? how would you describe your feeling during that time? How was the conflict resolved?
THE SICK (v 17-22)
The third group the Psalmist describes are the sick. An illness that is the consequence of sin. Ryan pointed out that at times in history and in the Bible it was common for people to try and assign all illness to a correlating sin. in John 9 Jesus disciple upon encountering a blind man ask Jesus if it was the man or his parents who sinned and caused this malady. It's a lie for us to believe that sickness and affliction
What is the difference between a punishment and a consequence?
The psalmist goes on saying that often the afflicted are so sick they hate the sight or even the idea of the cure.
Have you even been afflicted and hated the remedy?
We all have sinned and all are sick meaning we the remedy of Jesus.
What does it look like for us to despise the cure of Jesus in our lives?
That same promise again appears in the Psalm, that we can cry to God and He will heal us. Not just make us more comfortable, or treat the symptoms, but truly heal us. A work that can only be replied to with thanks.
Has God healed you of a sickness or consequence lately? Is there a consequence or sickness we can all take to God with you, and cry out to Him that we might see His work and rejoice?
THE FEARFUL (v 23-32)
The last group is described as sailors who find themselves in the midst of a storm, fearing for their lives. It's unique among the stories as the people in this scene did not sin, rebel, or wander. They were going about normal business and yet now find their lives in danger.
Why would God allow us to be put in positions of danger leading to this fear?
The Psalmist says they were at their "wit's end" and Ryan went on to describe this as "their wisdom was swallowed up". Their lives were out of control and there was no idea, plan, scheme, or strategy that would save them.
Where do you turn to for wisdom in your life? How can you ensure it's a wisdom that will not be swallowed up?
Again the Psalmist shares the promise that we can cry to God and be saved from our distress. In the
We often feel out of control and panic, we feel in danger. Yet the answer does not seem to
Why do you think that is? How can you go about giving over control in your life to God? How would that help you with your fear?
Pray with your group that He would make us quick to cry to our Lord that we might be guided, freed, healed and encouraged. Thank God for His work in our lives that has been shared in the discussion tonight.
THE ILLUSION THAT WE ARE IN CONTROL
What we learn here is that theology matters, that much of our addiction to power and control is due to false conceptions of God. Gods of our own making may allow us to be “masters of our fate” Sociologist Christian Smith gave the name “moralistic, therapeutic deism” to the dominant understanding of God he discovered among younger Americans. In his book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, he describes this set of beliefs. God blesses and takes to heaven those who try to live good and decent lives (the “moralistic” belief) The central goal of life is not to sacrifice, or to deny oneself, but to be happy and feel good about yourself ( the “therapeutic” belief). Though God exists and created the world, he does not need to be particularly involved in our lives except when there is a problem (that is “deism”).
This view of God literally makes you master of your fate and captain of your soul. Salvation and happiness are up to you. Some have pointed out that “moralistic therapeutic deism” could only develop in a comfortable, prosperous society among privileged people. People “at the top” are eager to attribute their position to their own intellect, savvy, and hard work. The reality is much more complicated. Personal connections, family environment, and what appears to be plain luck determine how successful a person is. We are the product of three things – genetics, environment, and our personal choices. – but two of these three factors we have no power over. We are not nearly as responsible for our success as our popular view of God and reality lead us to think.
Popular culture often tells young people, “you can be anything you set your mind to.” But it is cruel to say that to a five-foot-four-inch eighteen-year-old boy who yearns, more than anything else, to be an NFL linebacker. To use an extreme example, if you had been born in a yurt in Outer Mongolia, instead of where you were, it wouldn’t have mattered how hard you worked or used your talents – you would have ended up poor and powerless. To come closer to home, think of the impact of your family background on you. You may spend your younger years telling yourself that you will not be like your parents, you will be your own person. However, somewhere in the middle of your life, it will become clearer how indelibly your family has shaped you.
This was an excerpt from Timothy Keller's book Counterfeit Gods
A Jesus for the
"We are weak, but He is strong". What does this phrase stir in you? How do you respond when you hear this phrase?
I. Weak Disciples: Jesus' Power Over Disaster
The sudden storm on the lake is very much like how we often experience disaster: all of a sudden. The storm reminds us how little we control things in our life; that we are really pretty powerless in most things in life.
What are the different ways that we respond to
What are some emotions that you are tempted to feel in the midst of disaster? What do we see about Jesus in this scene that brings you comfort?
What do we see about Jesus in this scene that brings you comfort? How do you determine the difference between weakness and foolishness? How does Jesus meet us in that place?
How do you determine the difference between weakness and foolishness? How does Jesus meet us in that place?
II. Weak Spirits: Jesus' Power Over Darkness
The next scene reminds us that we are spiritual beings as well as physical beings. In this scene, we see the power that Jesus has over the spiritual, along with the physical. ur minds are susceptible to dark forces and dark ideas. How have your seen this in our culture?
Our minds are susceptible to dark forces and dark ideas. How have your seen this in our culture? We can be so easily swayed by false ideas of God and the world that He made. What are some false ideas that our culture believes about Jesus and who He is, and what He has done?
We can be so easily swayed by false ideas of God and the world that He made. What are some false ideas that our culture believes about Jesus and who He is, and what He has done?
Jesus fully restores the demoniac man to a place with Him and with society. What a beautiful picture of Jesus' redemption in this man's life; Jesus restores him to being a human. Where might you need the restoration of Jesus in your mind?
What might be some things that you are confused about when it comes to God and the world that He created?
III. Weak Bodies: Jesus Power Over Disease
What are some of the things that the woman would have felt and experienced with this disease in terms of psychological, societal, spiritual terms?
What does Jesus do for her heart? What does He do for her body? For her place in society?
There are lots of times when we can feel unclean because of the sins we have done, or the sins that are done to us. We can feel like
Where might you need Jesus to heal and restore you today?
IV. Weak Lives: Jesus' Power Over Death
In this scene we see Jesus exhibiting power over even death itself!
Jesus ultimate mission in coming to earth was to die for all of the wrong stuff that has gone on in the world, then rise to new life, bringing a newness of life and light and power! He died to put death to death.
What do you feel in your life is dead and lifeless? What has led to that? How can Jesus bring new life to that place/area of your life?
V. Pray for One Another!
This year we are taking a tour through
Our prayer is that God would use our study of Jesus in The Gospel According to Luke to form and shape the people of our church to be like Jesus who engages all people.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE
Engaging All People
The Story’s Beginning
A Story that Happens to be True (1:1-4)
A Story that Seems Too Good to be True (1:5-56)
A Story that Intersects with Real Life (1:57-2:40)
A Story of a Child Prodigy (2:41-2:52)
A Story Worth Talking About (3:1-22)
A Story for All Mankind (3:23-38)
A Story About Conquering Evil (4:1-15)
The Story of a Savior for All
A Jesus for the (un)Churched (4:16-44)
A Jesus for the Broken (5:1-32)
A Jesus for People Today (5:33-39)
A Jesus for Haters (6:1-49)
A Jesus for Lords & the Lowly (7:1-35)
A Jesus for Women (7:36-8:3)
A Jesus for Family (8:4-21)
A Jesus for the Weak (8:22-56)
A Jesus for Everywhere (9:1-9)
A Jesus for Many (9:10-17)
A Jesus for One (9:18-27)
The Story of a Savior Who is Over All
A Jesus Who is More (9:28-43a)
A Jesus Who Many Don't Get (9:43b-62)
A Jesus Who Reaches Out (10:1-24)
A Jesus Who Has Love for All Races (10:25-37)
A Jesus Who is Worth Listening To (10:38-42)
A Jesus Who Listens to Us (11:1-13)
A Jesus Who is Strong (11:14-28)
A Jesus Who is The Greatest (11:29-32)
A Jesus Who is The Light (11:33-12:3)
A Jesus Who is Worth Believing In (12:4-21)
A Jesus Who Calms Our Fears (12:22-34)
A Jesus Who Gives Warning (12:35-13:9)
A Jesus Who Points the Way (13:10-13:35)
A Jesus Who Welcomes Outcasts (14:1-35)
A Jesus Who Seeks the Lost (15:1-32)
A Jesus Who is Better than Money (16:1-31)
A Jesus Who Forgives (17:1-19)
A Jesus Who Will Come Again (17:20-37)
A Jesus Who is Worth Pursuing (18:1-14)
A Jesus Who Requires Little (18:15-43)
A Jesus Who is Worth Investing In (19:1-27)
The Story of a Savior Who Dies for His People
Jesus the Lord of the City (19:28-48)
Jesus the Lord of Lords (20:1-44)
Jesus the Lord of the Poor (20:45-21:4)
Jesus the Lord of History (21:5-38)
Jesus the Lord of Sinners (22:1-62)
Jesus the Lord of Justice (22:63-23:25)
Jesus the Lord of the Cross (23:26-56)
The Story of a Savior Who Lives for His People
The Story of Death Defeated (24:1-12)
The Story of All Stories (24:13-35)
The Story We Tell (24:36-53)
Pastor Duane Smets
God sacrificially gives away his son Jesus to come to earth where he lives and dies in order to save God's wayward human children. God then allows these wayward children to be adopted into the holy family through belief in the person and work of his son.
For those who have experienced the pain of broken or lost relationships in their family, knowing God's so big on
Not surprisingly, the Bible also has a lot of practical instruction on
Disciplines of a Godly Family by Kent & Barbara Hughes
Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick
God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding The Biblical Foundation by Andreas J. Kostenberger
Parenting By God's Promises by Joel Beeke
Shepherding A Child's Heart by Paul David Tripp
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones
How I Pastor My Family by Justin Hyde
Fathers Who Father Their Family by Duane Smets
Six Ways Fathers Pursue Christ In Their Fatherhood by Scott Thomas
On Being A Wife and A Mother by Tracy Martin
The Gospel, Grace & Our Kids by Amy Smets
Parents Require Obedience by John Piper
How Spanking Can Be Both Biblical and Unbiblical with Paul David Tripp
Key Bible Verses
• Genesis 1:28 - "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth."
• Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - "The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be
• Joshua 24:15 - "Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served...But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
• Psalm 96:7 - "Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!"
• Proverbs 1:8 - "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching."
• Proverbs 15:20 - "A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother."
• Proverbs 29:15 - "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother."
• Malachi 4:6 - "And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers."
• Ephesians 6:4 - "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
• Romans 8:14-17 - "All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."
• Hebrews 12:5-11 - "Have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.' It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
• 1 John 2:9-14 - "Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in
A Jesus for Family
This Sunday was Father's Day, and it just so happens the passage we came to on our journey through look focuses on God as a Father inviting us into His family.
What do you think makes a family? What are some things culture believes creates family?
Luke has been reporting on all the different kind of people that Jesus reached out towards. Duane has shown us "Jesus reaching out to people who hate church, to people who are tired of the old and need change, to people who are judgmental, to people who are rich, to people who are poor, to marginalized and oppressed women." And now he reaches out to people who need a good family. Let's read the passage:
And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold." As he said these things, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
16 "No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away."
19 Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. 20 And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you." 21 But he answered them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." – Luke 8:4-21
I. A Listening Family
In the parable there are four possible soils for the seed to land on.
It can land on the path where it's immediately eaten or trampled. Duane described this as "in one ear and out the other." Possibly the hearer considers the news and ideas for a minute but immediately moves onto the next idea.
How often do you allow things to go in one ear and out the other? Why do you allow that to happen? Are there times when you tune out to God's word? Why do people quickly move on from hearing the Gospel without being impacted?
It can land on the rocks where it springs up and shortly thereafter dies from lack of water. Duane pointed out that plants need nurturing, watering and care. For humans, that comes in the form of rich community.
What are some ingredients that create a rich community? What is the richest community in your life?
It can land in the thorns where it is choked out by the things of this world. Riches and pleasures of this life are too much, and even though the plant grows, it ultimately dies early and is unfruitful.
Worldly pleasures seem harmless and fun, but Jesus describes them as choking. Why do you think that is?
San Diego, in particular, seems to have more people who struggle with making God and church a priority, why do you think that is?
It can land on good soil where it will grow and be fruitful. Pastor Duane pointed out for a seed is not easy, it's a lot of work. It needs care, water, and many seasons (teaching, community, and time). Psalm 1 describes the blessed man who plants themselves by water and yields its fruit in season. Jesus invites us to enjoy the good soil He's given us to grow in. He's let us in on the secrets, as a part of His family.
Which of the three – teaching, community, and time – do you most feel you need to continue growing? Why do you think Jesus allows and invites some people into His family?
II. A Legitimate Family
Jesus moves on from the parable to another word picture, a lamp which has light that's purpose is to reveal all. the light doesn't exist to be hidden away, it exists to expose reality, and can't be stopped from revealing those things. For believers it's not just about going through the actions, saying the words, singing the songs. It's about genuine change, stemming from God being the center of your identity.
What does it mean to have your core identity stem from being in God's family? What are some things you can do to remind yourself of that identity?
III. A Laboring Family
A true family doesn't just exist for the sake of existing, it exists to love and care for each other. We see this in the God's modeling of family for us. In Luke Jesus also says that "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” It's an active participation in His work.
What are some things you've been considering to show your love for God's family, in San Diego? and at the Resolved?
Pray for One Another
Pray with your group, to God the Father, thanking Him for being a loving Dad, inviting us into his family and that we would be guided to where we would be most fruitful and useful.
1 John 2:1-6
Before we discuss the sermon, take some time to discuss people’s reactions to the financial mission report from May (over $91k was given!). How did you respond when you heard the news of the increased giving? Has this last month or so had any effect on how you view your finances or the way you give?
How can we encourage and maintain generous hearts in our church?
This week we departed from the regular sermon series in Luke to learn from the companion series in 1 John by Pastor Ryan.
Ryan highlighted two key relational words used in 1 John frequently: “fellowship” and “know”.
What comes to mind when you think of having fellowship with someone? How is it different than other relationships?
How would you define knowing someone? At what point in time in any given relationship could you say you truly know that person?
Ryan focused on three names or titles used to describe God in the Scriptures, and each name or title refers to one of the three Persons of the Trinity.
I. Abba (God the Father)
Christians are called “little children” by John in this passage, and it is meant as a term of endearment. Why is it important for us as Christians to identify ourselves as children of God?
When you think of God as your Father how does that affect the way you relate to him? Think about him? Talk with him?
The parent-child relationship in life is one filled with profound influence and transformative power. What are some ways your relationship with your parents has influenced the person you’ve become? How has it influenced the way you relate to others?
God’s design, through the gospel, is that we would come to realize and embrace that He delights in us and smiles over us! Have you ever thought of God smiling at you and about you? Is it easy or hard for you think about this? Why?
How might the thought of God’s perpetual smile over you affect the way you relate to Him and others?
A basic relational truth is that we begin to look and act like the ones we spend the most time with. How have you seen your relationship with God transform the way you think or act?
II. Advocate (Jesus Christ)
Though fellowship, God transforms us to resemble Him more and more, we still stumble and fall in sin. John wants his readers to be very clear in their understanding that when we stumble in sin it does not affect our status as God’s children because Jesus Christ, our brother, is our Advocate. An advocate is a defender and comforter, one who stands beside you.
When you think of Jesus defending you, what comes to mind? How does it make you feel to be defended?
What are some things we need to be defended against?
Satan stands as our accuser before God reminding Him of our shame, guilt, sin, and fear. Jesus’ blood and righteousness intercede on our behalf.
When we feel the accusations of the Enemy and even the accusations we have against ourselves, how can we use the truth of Jesus our Advocate to confront the accusations? What are some real life examples of how you’ve done this in your own life?
Ryan reminded us that God is for us! He sent His Son for you. He sent His Spirit
How might the truth that God is always FOR you change the way your perceive your life?
III. Agape (Holy Spirit)
Love is often an ambiguous concept. How do you think our culture would define love?
Later in the epistle of 1 John, John declares that “God is love (agape)” (4:8). This is often a very misinterpreted and misrepresented concept and can lead to a very sentimentalized idea of who God truly is. John is communicating that perfect love is the essential nature and character of God. It is who He is, and there is no love that exists that does not come from Him as the Source of love.
Because God is love, we can love. How can we apply the truth of God’s perfect love to the way we think and interpret things?
God did not want us to be confused as to what His love truly means, nor to doubt that His love is real for us. Read 1 John 4:9-11. According to this passage, what does love look like? How can we be sure God really loves us?
When we have fellowship with God through Jesus, our lives will begin to reflect His life more and more, and this will give us a confidence and certainty of faith.
The fruit of the Spirit (the character of Jesus Christ) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Have you seen increased measures of these in your life? How so?
Have you seen the fruit demonstrated by others in your group? How so?
Pray for a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Fatherhood of God.
Pray for the joy that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as your Defender.
Pray for eyes to see how unsearchable and limitless is the love of God in Jesus Christ.
If You Love Jesus You'll Love His Church
Pastor Duane Smets
Mark Dever, a well-known pastor not too long ago began his sermon with this phrase,
"If you call yourself a Christian but you are not a member of a church you regularly attend, I worry that you might be going to hell."
Indeed numerous recent studies have shown that more and more Christians are now trying to get more spiritual by getting less church. There's even whole books written to promote this idea. Consider these titles, Life After Church, Quitting Church, So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore, and They Like Jesus But Not The Church.
The story is told that Charles Spurgeon once found himself in a conversation with
"Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to the church."
To which Spurgeon replied, "Why not?"
The man said, "Well, because I can be a Christian without it."
Spurgeon was taken aback and replied,
"Are you quite clear about that? You think you can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord's commands as by being obedient? What is a brick made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you it is just as good of a brick laying on the ground in the dirt as it would be as part of a house. It is a good for nothing brick. Sir, are living contrary to your purpose, to the life which Christ would have you live and there will be much blame and injury to you for doing so."
Hebrews 10:23-27 says,
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries."
First, the call here is to "hold fast" to our confession "without wavering." So we know we are going to be prone to let go and
It doesn't take much here to recognize it's talking about church worship service. This isn't a call to keep making sure you're hanging out...eating meals and drinking beers in the basement or whatever. No this is a special kind of meeting together, one that has its sights set on "the Day" that's "drawing near" which is a reference to the return of Jesus. This is a meeting together for worship.
We’ve got this strong call and command for us as Christians to make sure we're regularly gathering together and meeting as the church with this consequence for us if we don’t.
The Bible uses five main metaphors to describe what the church is.
One is a bride. In Ephesians 5, parallels between Jesus and the church are made based on the relationship and roles of husband and wife. It says Jesus “loved the church and gave himself up for her...so that he might present the church to himself in splendor (Ephesians 5:25,27).” The book of Revelation straight out calls the church Jesus' bride. The church is Jesus beautiful wife, whom he came into the world to specifically pursue and die for on a cross so that she might be redeemed.
Jesus loves the church. For you married men, can you imagine if you had a friend who every time he came over he would crack jokes about your wife, talk about how ugly she was and how he couldn't stand her and didn't want to have anything to do with your wife? If whenever she came in the room he rolled his asked and then asked you if you could make here leave. In effect, this is what we do is we say we're Christians but we're not into Jesus' church.
John Stott, a great theologian who recently passed away, says of the church,
"On earth, she is often in filthy rags and tatters, stained and ugly, despised and persecuted. But one day she will be seen for what she is, nothing less than the bride of Christ, free from spots, wrinkles or any other disfigurement, holy and without blemish, beautiful and glorious."
You know it’s easy to criticize the church. There's no way around it. Every church has its problems. That's because churches are made of people. One time a guy came up to a pastor who had had a bad church experience at his previous church and said he was looking for a new one but was somewhat tentative because he didn't want to get mixed up with a "Judas" again. The pastor replied, "Then my church is not the one you're looking for and if you should happen to find such a church I beg you not to join it, for you will spoil the whole thing."
The church is Jesus' bride he came to die for. If we truly love Jesus we'll love, cherish, appreciate and honor his bride.
A second thing used to describe the church is that of a building. 1 Peter 2:4-8 says the church, though they are people rejected by men are like "chosen and precious" stones God picked out and is taking them and using them together to build a spiritual house on top of Jesus the cornerstone or foundation. In 1 Corinthians 3, the building of the church is called the temple and built on Jesus.
Do you know what would happen if you just started building a house on dirt without laying down any kind of cement or stone foundation first? After
God is a phenomenal architect and is building the most glorious church building ever seen because it's built with people who lives get changed by the power of the gospel. The result is more magnificent than the largest and most ornate cathedrals of the world. The church is the most incredible building project ever taken on and Jesus is at its base.
A third way God describes the church that it is his body
"The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe (is) according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all."
This passage ties past, present, future and all things to the church. Are you starting to get a feel for the scope and significance and importance of the church in how God sees and feels about it? The church is Jesus' body and he is its head! Kevin DeYoung and a friend of his wrote a book titled, Why We Love The Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion and says this idea of liking Jesus but not liking his church is like decapitation. When you're not into the Church you cut the head off Jesus because you're not part of his body. You're not meant to just carry around a head. That's weird! The church is Jesus' body and he loves and cares for it and nourishes it with his word.
A fourth picture of the church in the Bible is that it is a flock of sheep and Jesus is the shepherd of it. In John 10 Jesus says the church is a group of sheep who listen to his voice and follow him. In fact, the word "church" itself simply means "called out ones." It was a common word used for all kinds of stuff. If you were going to have a meeting of some kind you would call some people up and ask them to come. Jesus took that common word and turned it into this deep, powerful picture for those who followed him.
He calls himself the "good shepherd" and then later Peter calls him the "chief shepherd." What makes him so good is he protects the sheep from wolves and then he pays the ultimate price lays down his life for the sheep when he dies on the cross in order to save them.
You know what happen to sheep without a shepherd? They get lost and they die either from a lack of food or from predators. Have you ever noticed there is no difference between the singular word for sheep and the plural word for sheep? They're both sheep. Sheep cannot exist by themselves and sheep are never meant to be alone apart from the flock. The church is Jesus' flock of sheep and he ferociously loves and cares for them.
Lastly, Jesus describes his church as a tree in which he is the vine, stalk or the trunk and the church
What would happen to a bunch of branches that were not connected to a vine or a trunk? They would break apart and dry up and die. God sees the church as meant to be a beautiful big strong tree planted by streams of water that yields much fruit through which to feed the hungry world with. The church is the true and better tree which replaces the one from the ancient garden of old.
Nearly every single place you turn in the Bible, you see the Church. It is the central focal point of God's purpose and
Simply put, the Church is glorious.