SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In this week’s sermon, Rich began by sharing how our society is becoming more and more litigious. Today, just about anything can lead to a lawsuit. Even in the church, there is often great conflict over the most frivolous things. And in such a fight-drenched society, we must pause and ask ourselves, “What is it that is truly worth fighting for?” According to Paul, the answer is the gospel – a gospel that is marked by God’s call, grace, and humility.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1. How was your break from the small group? How did you spend your holidays?
2. In your own words, define “gospel.”
3. In this week’s sermon, Rich talked about the “idols” that we have created in our society – idols of possessions, power, and relationships. And one way you can know if you have an idol in your life is that when that thing is removed you are devastated, you are absolutely destroyed. Take a few minutes to reflect upon your life. What are the idols in your life? What is there in your life that if that thing is removed, you are absolutely destroyed?
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
2. Read Ephesians 2:1-10:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
• Reread verses 1-3. What do you think Paul meant when he said, “you were dead in your transgressions and sins”?
• Paul goes on to say that all of us also lived among them at one time “gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.” Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not? Have you ever personally experienced this in your own life?
• According to verses 4-5, how does one experience freedom from the “death” described in verses 1-3?
• In your own words, define “love” (verse 4), “grace” (verse 5), and “mercy” (verses 4, 7, 8).
• What do you think are the “good works” that Paul refers to in verse 10?
• How might we misinterpret verses 8 and 9 if we didn’t also read verse 10?
• Notice how many times Paul writes either “in Christ” or “with Christ” in these 10 verses. Why do you think Paul is making such a big deal about the importance of being “in Christ” or “with Christ”?
3. If you have not yet done so as a group, this can be a great opportunity to share each other’s spiritual journey stories. Here are some questions that can help facilitate sharing:
• Did you grow up in a Christian home? What was that like?
• How did you start attending Vineyard Columbus?
• When did you first hear the gospel message? What was your reaction?
• As you examine the last year of your life, are you closer today to Jesus than you were a year ago or are you further away? Why might that be?
• Can you share about a significant moment(s) in your spiritual journey? Why was it significant? How did that impact you? What changed as a result of that significant moment?