CG Guide (Ephesians 1:1-2)

“Transforming Grace” (Series: From the Mountain Peak)

Scripture: Ephesians 1:1-2

Sermon Summary 

The gospel is not just good news that anybody can be saved but that anybody can be changed. Which means the grace of God is not just for salvation but transformation. When you receive God’s grace, far more than just your eternity is changed but your present identity is transformed. This is evident both in the life of Apostle Paul as well as the saints in Ephesus as we see in Ephesians 1:1-2. 

When Paul identifies himself as the author of this letter, he reminds you of his transformed identity. Just a few years before, Paul would never have penned this letter. In his life before he met Christ, Paul went by his Jewish name Saul and he lived a very zealous life as a Pharisee. In particular, his life’s mission and purpose was to persecute Christians and the church of Christ. But coming face to face with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was not only saved but he was transformed. He began to go only by his Roman name, Paul, because his life’s mission and purpose were changed. Jesus commissioned him to be an apostle to the Gentiles and so everything in his life became about serving this new mission and living out his new identity. 

Reading “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus” rather than “Saul, a persecutor of the Church of Christ” is a testament to the power of God’s grace to transform anybody. We all have people in our lives who make us hesitant to believe the power of God’s grace to change a person. You may believe the power of his grace to save them but you won’t hold your breath to see them change. But what would happen if you believed they could actually be transformed? What if you no longer dismissed, ignored or avoided people because you labeled them “hopeless cases”? Imagine the resurgence of new love, new hope and new prayers for them. If you approached such people holding on to the hope of God’s transforming grace, your relationships with them would improve, your love for them would increase and your prayers for them would deepen. 

Paul then addresses his recipients who he calls “saints.” This is Paul’s preferred designation for Christians and believers. He uses this term nearly forty times in his letters. What did Paul hope to accomplish by addressing them in this way? The answer is to highlight the transforming grace of God in their own lives. The Ephesian Christians weren’t mere “saved sinners” but radically changed “saints.” This status had nothing to do with what they did but with who they were because of what Christ did for them. An identity that is achieved can be lost or improved upon but an identity received by God’s grace is perfect already. Therefore your saint status has nothing to do with how you feel about yourself but with how God views you because of his Son. 

There is incredible freedom in knowing your identity as a saint is not earned by your effort but given by God’s grace. If it becomes your primary, fundamental identity then you rest in knowing God’s view of you doesn’t change nor does your own view of yourself change depending on your performance. Christ has secured it for you by taking on the fullness of your sins and giving you his perfect righteousness. When you receive this new identity then there’s no going back to who you were. You are not a sinner. You are a saint. You’re not a fraud when you do something for God even though you still feel like a sinner. You’re actually a fraud when you sin against God because you are actually a saint! This is who you really are. And in order to sustain you, God supplies continuous grace and peace for you through Jesus. 

Suggested Group Discussion Questions 

  1. In what ways do you impoverish the gospel when you only talk about what it does for your future and for eternity? What do you miss out when you only talk about what the gospel does in the present, here and now? Do you tend to think about the gospel more in a more future-oriented way or present-oriented way? 
  2. Have you ever been surprised by the evidence of God’s grace in a person’s transformation? Would you mind sharing a little bit about that? In what ways did that encourage you? On the other side, are you discouraged by anybody who seems to lack evidence of transforming grace in their lives? How have you been responding to that person? What hope does Pauls’ testimony give you? 
  3. If you are a Christian, do you tend to identify more with a sinner identity or a saint identity? Why do you think that is/what factors bring that about? What kind of practical fruit can you envision would be borne if you embraced more of your unchangeable saint status in Christ? 
  4. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  5. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.

CG Guide (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

“He Will Surely Do It” (20th Anniversary Service)

https://cornerstone-pc.com/sermons

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Sermon Summary 

Churches are imperfect because they’re full of imperfect people. It’s really no surprise that churches have so many problems then! Many people have been burned, betrayed and hurt by the church and others have been apart of doing those exact things. It’s easy in these circumstances and with these experiences to give up on the church. But there’s a reason we shouldn’t. It’s because God doesn’t. The Bible likens the church to Christ’s bride and Jesus does not believe in divorce. He will never leave his bride nor forsake his people. God remains committed to his church not because of something in the church but because of something in him: his faithfulness. 

The church in Thessalonica was a church that Apostle Paul planted. He wrote some of his most generous and gracious word to these Christians. We read in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” And yet Paul is not writing naively. He knew the church had its fair share of problems and issues. The rest of the letter unpacks and addresses those things. But still as he closes his letter he writes, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He prays for God to sanctify them because they are far from being a perfect church. They were under repair and still in draft form.

Learning about the Thessalonian church is encouraging because if a church this praiseworthy still has so many problems, it’s likely that every other church will have them too. Every church is a work in progress, with God still needing to sanctify it. But this is a work that won’t be done until Christ returns. Knowing this promise helps us be confident that what turns us off, disgusts us and frustrates us about the church now, will one day be taken care of. Until then, we can be realistic and humble with all the warts and wrinkles we see in the church. So we hopefully wait until God does what he promises and lest we doubt it Paul writes, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 

A church like Cornerstone is able to celebrate twenty years only because of God’s faithfulness. And when we look back at what God has already done, it helps us look forward in expectation to see what God will continually do. But our ultimate hope requires us to look further back than twenty years. When we look back two thousand years we see God’s faithfulness displayed in the sending of Jesus into the world to die for unfaithful sinners like us. But rather than break faith with us, he doubled down on his promise and sealed it anew with his blood. What Christ suffered on his fateful day for his church is what guarantees what Christ will do on the final day to his church. He took on Golgotha so that he can take us into glory. This is how the gospel gives us the hope that God is not yet done with the church and will one day sanctify her completely. 

*Another passage to consider: Ephesians 5:25-27

Suggested Group Discussion Questions 

  1. If you had experience growing up in the church, what was it like? Did you tend to see more unity/peace or division/hostility? What impressions about the church did you develop? If you didn’t grow up in the church, what were the impressions that were formed from what you saw and heard about the church? 
  2. Was/is there ever a moment you didn’t want to associate with the Church in general or one particular church? Would you mind sharing the reasons? Were you able to get over it and if so, how? If not, what are some enduring questions or points of conflict? 
  3. How does it make you feel that Paul acknowledges both the need for the church’s continuing sanctification but also the hope that God will complete what he started in the church? Please elaborate. 
  4. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  5. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.

Cornerstone Adult Sunday School Fall 2021 Schedule

Cornerstone Adult Sunday School

September 19-December 19, 2021 – 10:30am

“How to Love Your Family” (Nancy Yang; September 19, 26 and October 3)

A healthy family leads to a healthy community life. Utilizing a biblical framework of Family Systems Theory, we will explore our past family dynamics to understand the way we interact with our family members today. We will learn practical skills to communicate our feelings, forgive much, and love our families to better love our community. 

“The Image of God: the Crown of Creation” (Paul Yu; October 10, 17, 24)

This class seeks to answer one of life’s ultimate questions, “What does it mean to be human?” It is only through a biblical-theological lens that we are able to understand our core identity as an image bearer of the triune God. This class will provide an introduction to the fascinating topic of the image of God by unpacking how the image is first constituted at creation, ruined by the Fall, and redeemed in Christ. We will also broadly demonstrate how the image of God is central and fundamental in navigating key contemporary conversations like race, abortion, gender issues, etc. 

“Ears to Hear: Sound, Silence, and the Christian Life” (Eddie Pyun; October 31, November 7, 14)

He who has an ear, let him hear! The Bible is full of commands to hear and to listen—but how often do we think about how we can use our hearing to the glory of God? In this class, we’ll think biblically and practically as we reflect together on the topics of sound and silence. We’ll aim to become better and more intentional listeners to our God, to one another, and to God’s world around us—whether in the commotion of life or in the still and quiet.

“Secrets Thoughts of the Unlikely Person” (Jenny Picard; November 21, 28)

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it is the most “unlikely person” who turns out to suffer a great deal? Suffering looks very different for everyone but sadly within the church, too many people walk through it alone while putting on smiles for others to see. We often feel it’s inappropriate or unacceptable as Christians to feel this way. Yet Scripture points us to the spiritual warfare and the encouragement from Christ that is at work in his people. In this class we will dive into the truths of God’s Word concerning the “unlikely person” and the brothers and sisters in Christ who desire to help. 

“Foundations for Defending Your Faith” (Ben Picard; December 5, 12, 19)

It is often believed that defending the Christian faith is reserved only for trained theologians. And we’ve certainly felt that “untrained” feeling when sharing the truths of the gospel. Yet Scripture teaches us that all Christians should be ready to give a defense for their hope in Christ. This class will equip us with the knowledge and tools required to defend our faith with humility, love, and confidence squarely centered on the triune God and his Word.

1 Kings 17:8-16 Discussion Guide

“Behind Enemy Lines” (Guest Preacher – Rev. Chris McNerney)

Scripture: 1 Kings 17:8-16

Group Discussion Questions

  1. What immediately comes to mind when you think about missions? (including places, people, work to be done) Share your thoughts. 
  2. What do we learn from this passage about God’s activity and involvement in missions work?
  3. Why does it matter that God sends Elijah to Zarephath? What does that mean about where God wants us, His people, to be?
  4. How have you experienced God’s grace through your relationships with people who deny Him?
  5. How does God use Elijah during his time in Zarephath?
  6. Who are some people you consider to be enemies? How can you serve/pray/care for them better in the days ahead?
  7. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  8. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.

CG Discussion Questions (“The Second Chance”)

“The Second Chance” (Mercy Upon Mercy)

Scripture: Jonah 3:1-3

Sermon Summary 

What do you call it when somebody gives a person a second chance who doesn’t deserve it? Foolish? Absurd? Illogical? God has another name for it. Merciful. When we mess up, often in the same things, God does not grimace and scowl at us but he is ready and poised to show us mercy. Jonah messed up when he disobeyed God and tried to flee his presence. And yet in chapter 3, we see Jonah being recommissioned by God for the same task. Using almost the exact same words as chapter 1, the word of the Lord comes to Jonah. But the key difference? It was “the second time.” Why did God give Jonah a second chance when Jonah had proved himself so unfaithful? Was God in short supply of messengers and prophets? Not at all. This recommission reveals something about God and his heart. He is a God of second chances and infinite chances. 

There are many instances in the Bible where God did not give somebody a second chance. Lot’s wife, Moses, King Saul, Ananias and Sapphira, and the list goes on. The point is that nobody deserves a second chance from God. Let alone a third, fourth or fifth one. When God calls Jonah to serve him again, this is not just good news for Jonah but for us as well. It reveals something tremendous about God, not something impressive about Jonah. God gives Jonah a second chance not because Jonah had merit but because he is full of mercy. In the same way, God gives us infinite chances because of his mercy, not our merit. After all, we’re the only part of God’s whole creation that dares to hear his voice and disobey. The skies, the waters, the sun never needed a second chance from God because they never disobeyed. And yet we, the pinnacle of God’s creation, need God’s mercy again and again. 

God does not show us mercy upon mercy because he is giving us chance after chance to prove ourselves and earn our own salvation. God does not given second chances for redemption but for relationship. For our redemption God gave us Jesus. Jesus came as one greater than Jonah and he did everything right the first time. He came to this earth and lived in perfect obedience. Because he got it right the first time, even when we get it wrong, God stills counts his Son’s obedience as ours. So Jesus redeems us, not our second chances. So then why does God give second chances? For relationship. Because we know God is the Father of mercies and a God of infinite chances, we can keep coming to him again and again. We never need to fear that we will bankrupt him of his mercies. And so we can keep coming to him again and again, unafraid that he will ever turn us away. He will meet our mistakes with mercy, our failure with forgiveness, and our sins with his Son. 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever had a transformational experience of receiving a second chance from another person? Have you ever had to give another person a second chance that was costly for you? 
  2. What are some of the reasons you feel hesitant to come to God after you’ve sinned? Is it different if they are reoccurring/habitual sins? How do you imagine God views you and thinks about you in those moments? 
  3. If the spectrum ranges (1-10) from viewing yourself as deserving God’s mercy (the error of entitlement) to viewing yourself as unworthy of God’s mercy (the error of disbelief), where would you place yourself? Has it changed over the years? What contributes? How does where you are on the spectrum affect your relationship with God? 
  4. Have you come to truly believe that God is “the Father of mercies” (2 Cor. 1:3) and “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2:4) or is there a suspicion of it? How can you believe more that God doesn’t simply possess mercy but that God is merciful? What difference would this make?
  5. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  6. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.

CG Discussion Questions (“The Fish”)

“The Prayer” (Mercy Upon Mercy)

Scripture: Jonah 1:17-2:10

Sermon Summary: 

Many people know that they should pray but the problem is that they don’t know how to pray. This is especially true during times of suffering and difficulty. We know we should pray but we simply can’t find the words to articulate. When Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, he was in a very dark and depressing place. And yet he managed to pray. How? A close examination of Jonah’s prayers reveal that none of his prayers were original. They were all adaptions and modifications of various psalms. Every verse of Jonah’s prayer can be traced back to prayer in a psalm. 

God gave us the psalms so that his words could become our words, especially when otherwise all we would have are groans. God gives us the psalms as a provision, as an act of grace, so that we can express our heart back to him in an intelligible way. The psalms help us express our frustrations and our fears, our doubts and our distress in God-approved ways. In order to grow in prayer, it will be incredibly helpful to grow in your familiarity, understanding, meditation, and memorization of the psalms. This will give you better access to the language of God that you can use to pray back to God. 

Our comfort as Christians though does not come simply from the command – pray the psalms like Jonah. Our hope comes from the gospel. When Jesus likened his death and resurrection to Jonah’s experience in the fish, Jesus was identifying himself as the greater Jonah. But as the fulfillment of a greater Jonah, Jesus also prayed the psalms in his own suffering and despair. As he hung on the cross for our sins, Jesus was reduced to borrowing the words of the psalms. By doing this, Jesus was experiencing in himself the fullest sting and greatest agony of the the psalms. Jesus took on every experience and emotion that the psalmist articulates so that it would have no more power over us. This means when we experience these things in our lives, they can not ultimately drown us. We have new hope and new strength. 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. As a group, summarize the sermon together into a few sentences. 
  2. Share an experience where you wanted to pray but couldn’t find the words to pray. Were you eventually able to pray through it? What helped? 
  3. What is your general view and attitude of the psalms? Is it a book that you love to read or do you have a hard time enjoying it? Why? 
  4. Do you have a favorite psalm? Share it and tells others why. What about it resonates with you? How has it ministered to you and helped you pray? (Or take a favorite psalm of yours and try to turn it into a prayer to borrow)
  5. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  6. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.

CG Discussion Questions (Colossians 3:1-2)

“Hope in Heavenly Things”

Scripture: Colossians 3:1-2

Group Discussion Questions

  1. The gospel rests on the pillars of the death and resurrection of Jesus. List some of the benefits that Christ’s resurrection hope provides for the Christian. Which of these do you look forward to most? Share how it would impact your life. 
  2. Has hope found on the horizon/things below on earth ever disappointed you? In what was have you experienced the frailty, fragility, futility and finitude of earthly hope? How would heavenly, resurrection hope be any different?
  3. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  4. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with. 

CG Discussion (Matthew 23:23-24)

“The Weightier Matters”

Scripture: Matthew 23:23-24

Group Discussion Questions

  1. As a group, summarize the sermon together into a few sentences. 
  2. Why do you think the Pharisees and scribes gave so much attention to tithing their spices but neglected the weightier matters? What are some matters of the law you pay more attention to than the weightier ones (justice, mercy and faithfulness)?
  3. How should Christian/gospel-centered mercy and justice differ from the agenda of mercy and justice set and pushed by the world? How can you make mercy and justice a “big rock” in your life?
  4. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  5. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with. 

CG Discussion (Jonah 1:7-9 “The Contradiction”)

“The Contradiction”

Scripture: Jonah 1:7-9

Group Discussion Questions

  1. As a group, summarize the sermon together into a few sentences. 
  2. In what areas has the Lord revealed or is revealing contradictions in your life between your profession and your practice? 
  3. What are some ways you can personally come to embrace more of the value of global missions in your own life? What has helped in the past? 
  4. List as many prayer topics about global missions that you can. Consider what kinds of things churches and Christians should be praying for. 
  5. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  6. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with. 

CG Discussion (Jonah 1:3 – “The Runaway”)

“The Runaway”

Scripture: Jonah 1:3

Group Discussion Questions

  1. As a group, summarize the sermon together into a few sentences. 
  2. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.  
  3. How did you tend to think of/view sin before this sermon? What difference does it make when sin is understood as running away from God? How does it change the way you view sin in yourself and sin in others? How does it change the way you preach the gospel to yourself and share it with others? 
  4. Can you share a personal example of a time you chased after a god-substitute and found that it left you empty, unsatisfied and discontent? What was that experience like? How were you awakened from your disillusionment? 
  5. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  6. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.