Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Rescue: John 3:16-21 // Feb. 11, 2018

Rescue (John 3:16-21): Discussion Questions

1. Do you remember watching the Baby Jessica rescue on TV? If you need a refresher, here's a grainy video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKfz3jFVLME. Why was that such an emotional moment for so many? What does it teach us about the power of rescue? 

2. Commenting on John 3:16, theologian B.B. Warfield wrote, "[It’s not so much] that the world is so big that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it all, but that the world is so bad that it takes a great kind of love to love it at all." How does this help you see God as the great rescuer? 

3. Why are we often so ignorant of the grave danger we are in without Jesus? What does this passage say about our dire situation? 

4. How does Jesus' promise to give you 'eternal life' encourage you today? 

5. In verse 21, Jesus says that those who live in line with the truth of the Gospel enter the light. Why are they able to do so, when others hide in the darkness? What is it about our identity in Christ that liberates us to 'live in the light,' as it were? 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Happy Birthday to You :: John 3:1-8 :: 2/4/18

1. Re-read John 3:1-8. What stands out to you in this passage? What challenges you? What questions does it raise?

2. Why don't we celebrate our spiritual birthdays as extravagantly and joyfully as our natural birthdays? What difference would it make if we did? 

3. Jesus' response to Nicodemus in verse 3 reminds us that every other major religion will tell you that salvation depends on something you do for God. Like following the rules. Or obeying the Law. Or fulfilling your duty. But Jesus insists salvation depends entirely on something God for you AND to you, specifically giving you a new birth, through Jesus. Why is this such a revolutionary idea for Nicodemus? For you? 

4. The late R.C. Sproul once wrote: “To be regenerated does not mean that we are changed from a human being into a divine being. It does mean that we are changed from spiritually dead human beings into spiritually alive human beings.” Is this a new idea for you? If so, how does it challenge your idea about salvation? If not, how does it increase your gratitude to God for your salvation? 

5. In your own words, what is Jesus saying about God the Holy Spirit in verse 8 and following? How does this metaphor explain spiritual birth? 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Will the Real Temple Please Stand Up? John 2:13-22 1/28/18

1. When Jesus clears out the Temple, He removes the things that were distracting God's people from real worship of God. What were those things, according to John (verses 14 and 15)? Why were those activities distracting? Share your personal "worship-distracters" with each other. What is one practical step you can take to remove that distraction from your worship life.

2. Jesus is also removing the divisions that exist because of the supermarket in the Temple. In Mark's Gospel account of Jesus' second temple cleansing, Mark tells us that Jesus quoted Isaiah 56 to those selling the marketplace. Read Isaiah 56:1-8. What does this passage tell us about God's purpose for the Temple? Who was meant to be included? How were these people excluded by the selling and exchanging the Outer Court (or Court of the Gentiles)? Are there ways that we, as individuals or as a church, exclude certain kinds of people, either intentionally or unintentionally?

3. Is there someone you know who you believe would not feel welcome at Covenant? Why? Is that a valid barrier or one that needs to be removed? How can you help remove it?

4. John tells us that Jesus is zealous to see His Father's house honored by His people, namely by giving their unhindered devotion and worship to the Lord. Therefore, He is clearing out the Temple to wipe out any rival suitors for their affections. Why would Jesus do that? Read Exodus 34:11-16. What does that say about God's commitment to having your complete allegiance, devotion, and worship?

5. How have you experienced Jesus wiping out rivals in your own heart? How has He topple your idols?

6. Jesus ultimately does more than clear the Temple; He replaces it. Re-read John 2:18-22 and brainstorm together how Jesus, as your Savior, fulfills everything that Temple provided God's people. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Follow Jesus: John 1:35-51 (Jan. 14 2018)

Follow Jesus: John 1:35-51 (Jan. 14 2018)
Discussion Questions

1) What do you think it means to follow Jesus?

2) Take some time to discuss the various titles that are bestowed on Jesus in this passage: What does it mean? What about it makes you grateful?

  • Verse 36: Lamb of God
  • Verse 41 & 45: Messiah
  • Verse 49: Son of God
3) Why is Jesus' question in verse 38 significant? 

4) Compare John 1:42 with Revelation 2:17 and 3:5. What do these passage tell us about Jesus' authority over us and His affection for us? 

5) Have you ever asked the question Nathanael asks in verse 47, "Lord, how do you know me?" Does the answer to that question move your heart to worship Jesus? What about Jesus' response in v. 48? 

6) Ryan suggested two practical applications of this passage: Seek Jesus! and Share Jesus! Both occur in this passage. Which is a greater challenge for you? Why? What is one step you can take to either seek or share Jesus? 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Who Are You? John 1:19-28//January 7, 2018

Who Are You?
John 1:19-28
Discussion Questions
January 7, 2018

1. Ryan said that Jesus came not only to introduce us to God but to introduce us to ourselves. In what ways has your relationship with Jesus shaped your identity?

2. Look at 1:20. There, John the Baptist refuses to conform to the expectations of the Levites and priests (as Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet). Whose expectations are most influential in your life? How do you resist allowing these expectations to rule your life? What alternative does Jesus give us?

3. We live in a culture that insists that we are defined by our productivity, achievement, and legacy. In contrast, John is content to live as God's voice in the wilderness (1:23), preparing the way for Jesus. How does his example challenge you? Encourage you? Are there ways your life can point people to the Jesus and His Kingdom?

4. Ryan argued that John's attitude in verse 29 does not reflect his self-loathing or self-hatred. If that's true, how could John arrive at such a radically humble view of himself? Is his view healthy?

Friday, January 5, 2018

Knowing God (John 1:15-18)

The prologue to John's gospel (1:1-18), though familiar to many, expands our understanding of who Jesus is. One preacher says, "The serious student of John will find that each time he returns to the Gospel, Christ will be a little bigger--something like Lucy's experience with the lion Aslan (the Christ symbol in C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia) as she again, gazed into his large, wise face.

"Welcome, child," he said.
"Aslan," said Lucy, "you're bigger."
"That is because you are older, little one," answered he.
"Not because you are?"
"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."

John's prologue tells us right up front who Jesus is, which demonstrates to us that God is not hiding from us, but rather has revealed himself, made himself known in the clearest possible way. In verses 15-18

God has provided an abundant witness (1:15 & 1:17) through John the baptist and the law of Moses.
God has given us an experience of his overflowing grace (1:16)
God has shown himself to be a Self-Disclosing God. (1:18)

1. How does John the baptist provide an abundant witness to who Jesus is? Compare 1:15 with 1:1-2

2. How does the law of Moses provide an abundant witness to who Jesus is?

3. Verse 16 says that "we have all received grace upon grace", how have you experienced God's grace in your life and what has that shown you about who God is.

4. According to John 1:18 if we want to know what God is like, where should we look? As you see Jesus interacting with people in the gospels do you find your view of God challenged, expanded, corrected?

5. What do you find encouraging when you consider that Jesus has "made God known"?

6. It is often the case that when someone is interested in the Christian faith, we often point that person to the gospels as a good place to start. Given what John says in John 1:18 is that a good idea? Why?

7. For the believer it's a good idea to return to the gospels again and again. Why would John 1:18 suggest that's a good idea?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Soli Deo Gloria (Romans 11:33-36)

Summary: In recognition of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, our Sola preaching series has considered the heart of the Gospel, as it was summarized by the Reformers: that we believe that Scripture alone announces the living God saves us by His grace alone, on the basis of Christ's finished work alone, which is received by faith alone, to the glory of God alone.

1> Ryan used the post-game interview as an example of de-mystifying and de-spiritualizing the idea of glorifying God in all of life. What is your reaction when you hear an athlete give glory to God after a game? Why do you respond that way?

2> Paul affirms that because all things are from, through, and to God, all things are potential doxological triggers. What are your doxological triggers (Ryan defined doxological triggers as those experiences in life that move us to give glory to another)? Share a story when some experience 'triggered' your worship of God.

3> The context of this passage suggests that nothing should trigger our worship of God like the wonders of our redemption through Christ Jesus. Do you find this to be true in your life? What are some practical steps you can take to meditate more deeply on your redemption by Jesus?

4> Fredrick Blechner defined vocation as the 'place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.' How does that definition help us understand our vocation as doxology? How might that shape your attitude toward your stations in life (in a family, in a neighborhood, in a profession)?

5> In your own words, what questions does Paul ask in verses 34 and 35? Why are these helpful questions to stoke our doxology? Has there been a time in your life when your questions -- or maybe even your disappointment -- fueled your worship? Share it with the group.