Sermon Reflection/Discussion Guide (Philippians 4:10-20)

“Fruitful Partnership”

Scripture: Philippians 4:10-20

1. Warm-up question: What are some questions you ask before investing your money? What are some of the red flags you look out for? Can we apply this same method or the same set of questions as we invest in the gospel? 

2. The Philippian church was the ONLY church that invested in the gospel. How can we gauge how we’re doing regarding our investment in the gospel? Is there a measuring stick we can use? 

What about on a personal level? Is there room in your budget to support missionaries? Are you currently supporting missionaries/organizations? Do you feel like it’s a partnership? What is the relationship like?

3. Today’s message emphasized the benefit of investing for heavenly rewards, but what are some of the rewards we can reap now when we invest in the gospel?

4. Paul says he didn’t seek the gift, but he seeks the fruit that increases to your credit. It’s highly doubtful that the Philippian church was proving for Paul because of the rewards waiting for them. The parable in Matthew 25 (the king rewarding his servants) comes to mind when we picture the generosity of the Philippian church. Are rewards necessarily a bad motivator to invest in the gospel? 


“Wisdom Under the Sun”

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

Sermon Summary

The main point of our passage is summed up in this verse, “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow” (1:18). This is an interesting sentiment the Preacher introduces because it stands so opposed to what the book of Proverbs tells us. There we are told, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding” (3:13). How are we supposed to reconcile this seeming contradiction in the Bible?

Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are both books belonging to the genre of wisdom. Together they offer a balanced view of life. Proverbs tells us how the world is supposed to be and how God designed it to be good. Ecclesiastes tells us what the world is actually like now that it’s under the curse of sin. If Proverbs tells us all the rules of the world, Ecclesiastes tells us all the exceptions to the rules and the exceptions to the exceptions. Both perspectives together remind us that we live in a time between the world as it presently is and the world as God is making it. This is life under the sun. 

When it comes to pursuing wisdom and gaining understanding, we should not reject it but recognize its limitations. There are so many things to be informed about and new things to learn and it seems so unending. But will wisdom and understanding really make our lives better? Does it give meaning to our suffering? Does it fix the problem of sin in our hearts? Despite all the wisdom, learning and discoveries of man, we cannot reverse the curse of sin in the world. Wisdom derived from under the sun can never adequately address the problems of life under the sun. Earthly wisdom must give way to eternal wisdom, wisdom that comes from beyond the sun. And this is where the gospel holds forth the good news for us.

1 Corinthians 1:24 tells us that Christ is the wisdom of God. Jesus does not just have wisdom but he is wisdom itself. Therefore the wisdom that can fix the world is not a possession to have but a person to trust in. God’s wisdom came from beyond the sun to us in the Son. And he looked like foolishness to the world when he died on the cross. But his death was how Jesus broke the power of sin over the world. He endured the weight of sin’s curse in order to lift the curse off the world and begin to fix it. Since only Jesus can heal the world, we should not strive after the earthly wisdom but pursue eternal wisdom in Christ. We must look to the wisdom of the Son and not to wisdom under the sun. 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.  
  2. Are you drawn more to the message of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes? How does the message of both wisdom books give you the most balanced, honest view of the world?
  3. About what kind of things do you feel the pressure to be up to date and informed about? Have you ever pursued wisdom, knowledge and understanding  only to conclude that it led to vexation and sorrow? 
  4. What are some things about which people hope the wisdom under the sun is the answer for? Share some examples where the eternal wisdom of Christ is the answer and the earthly wisdom of man is not.  


“Rest and Faith’s Expression”

Scripture: Mark 4:35-41

Sermon Summary

Sometimes it’s difficult to enjoy and experience the God-given gift of sleep and the rest God intends to give us in it. When the Bible speaks to this issue, it does not offer us sleep techniques but it seeks to get to our hearts. What we learn is that sleep is ultimately an expression of faith. Sleep is a defiance on the one hand and a submission on the other. It’s a defiance against our own self-sufficient, autonomous nature and it’s an act of submission to the sovereign hand of God. 

When Jesus calmed the storm in Mark 4 it was in the evening, a time when everybody should have been asleep. However because of the storm, sleep eluded the disciples and they were kept from resting that night. Fear filled their hearts as water filled the boat. Jesus rebukes the storm and turns to ask them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” He wasn’t downplaying the terror of the storm but questioning why they didn’t trust in him after all they had seen him do and heard him teach. Their sleeplessness was due to struggling faith. 

Often we are kept up in our anxieties and worries because like a balance scale, the reasons we have to fear outweigh the reasons to trust God. When we begin to follow the trail of “what if’s” in our heads, we go down a dangerous path. We add speculation upon speculation. In the end what’s really going in our hearts is that we are doubting the goodness, the wisdom and the power of God. Like the disciples, we wonder if God cares about us at all. But something begins to happen when you replace the “what if’s” with the definitive truth of “what happened.”

So what happened? Mark 4 is contrasted against Mark 14. In Mark 4 the disciples rebuke Jesus for sleeping in the boat but in Mark 14 Jesus rebukes the disciples for sleeping in Gethsemane. In Mark 4 Jesus slept as the disciples faced the storm and cried out but in Mark 14 the disciples slept as Jesus faced the cross and cried out. Jesus slept in the storm but trembled at the cross because he knew weather and water were not to be feared. It was God’s wrath against our sin that was truly dreadful. But Jesus took that for us. He died in our place on the cross and removes greatest reason to be afraid. Now through his sacrificial death he also gives us the greatest reason to trust him. He mercifully and unconditionally loves us.

When we preach the gospel to ourselves, we remember that because of Christ’s sacrifice on Golgotha’s cross we can experience sleep in Galilee’s seas. So our displays of faith in God are not just through extraordinary acts of obedience but can be evidenced in the everyday ordinary act of going to bed. We sleep trusting that God is working all things for our eternal good and his endless glory. 

Although sleeplessness can be a sign of lack of faith in God, so can loving and cherishing sleep too much. Sometimes faith in God can be replaced with faith in sleep where we look to sleep to escape our worries and our fears. Sleep then turns into an idol. When we long for our beds in order to give us rest from the hassles and hardships of life, we are looking to sleep to give us something only God can give us. Faith needs to be shifted again to God. 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.  
  2. Which tends to be your greater struggle: experiencing sleeplessness/restlessness or loving/enjoying sleep too much? What kinds of things give you anxiety and keep you up at night? What kinds of things do you want to escape from in sleep? 
  3. What other beliefs do you have in your heart when you feel afraid, anxious and worried? In those moments, what are you believing about yourself and what are you not believing about God? 
  4. Share what you learned from this series on “The Best Rest” or any testimony of your experience of rest as a result of this series. Have you developed any new insights or perspectives? 

Sermon Reflection/Discussion Guide (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

“Rest and Gospel Freedom”

Scripture: Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Sermon Summary

According to the Bible, God established a pattern involving six days of labor and a seventh day of rest. This pattern of a “week” forms the rhythm for the rest of our lives. This means the Sabbath never just ends a week but the Sabbath also always starts a new week. So then the Sabbath gives you rest after a completed week of work but it also recharges you for an upcoming week of work. When God established a Sabbath year for the land, his purpose was to give the land rest to ensure future years of fruitfulness. In the same way, the weekly Sabbath for us also recharges us for the start of another fruitful week of labor. The Sabbath gets us ready for every new work week. 

In Romans 1 Apostle Paul tells us that one aspect of fallen humanity is that we turn things into idols. One of the biggest idols of our age is work and career. Work becomes so much more tiring than it should be because we look to our work to give us something it cannot. We often look to work for security, worth, identity and affirmation. As a result, we are constantly tired, anxious and stressed during the work week. Work is never just work. We try to find significance from it. As a result, rest escapes us. But keeping the Sabbath can help combat this temptation. 

The Ten Commandments are recorded twice in the Bible. First in Exodus 20 and again in Deuteronomy 5. Whereas Exodus 20 says we should keep the Sabbath because God rested on the seventh day, Deuteronomy 5 says we should keep the Sabbath because God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. The grounds for keeping the Sabbath in Exodus is creation but in Deuteronomy it’s redemption. As Israel got ready to enter the Promised Land,Moses didn’t want the Israelites to forget God’s great redemption and so he attached it to the Sabbath. Remembering the exodus event on every Sabbath, the Israelites would have a weekly reminder that they were no longer slaves but redeemed by God. The Sabbath was a weekly declaration of freedom from their once enslaved identities. 

As Christians we’ve experienced a greater redemption than the Israelites. We were once enslaved to sin but Christ set us free from it. He broke the power and grip of our idolatries over us so that we no longer need to work for our identity, worth and significance but we receive it freely in Christ. This is what gospel freedom looks like. It means resting in Christ’s work for us. When we remember the gospel every Sabbath, it helps us begin our weeks freed from the pressure to prove or earn anything. Instead we begin the work week already confident in God’s acceptance of us in Christ. This means that work becomes just work. We don’t need to work for our identity but instead we can work out our identity. The freedom of the gospel helps the work week become so much more restful as a result. 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.  
  2. Do you tend to treat Sunday as the first day of the week or the last day of the week? What affect do you think that’s made in your life? On your perspective of the week?    
  3. What does your current practice of Sabbath look like? How do you usually spend the day? What is beneficial about it and what is not? 
  4. In what ways do you look to your work to give you something it can’t or wasn’t meant to give you? What are you hoping to get from your work? What does freedom in the gospel look like for you? 

Sermon Reflection/Discussion Guide (Genesis 1:26-2:3)

“Rest and God’s Purpose”

Scripture: Genesis 1:26-2:3

Sermon Summary

Everybody deep down inside experiences restlessness on some level. This is true because God made us for rest but we live in a fallen world where rest constantly eludes us. One of the reasons we can’t find rest is that we often misuse it. We think rest is simply doing nothing. But God rested and established the pattern for us so that we could rest by delighting in his creation. 

When God created mankind, he created us in his image. This means we are created to mimic God and reflect his likeness. In creation God formed the world and then he filled the world. He exercised dominion over creation and then he populated it. Now made in his image, we are called to do the same. In the cultural mandate God calls us to exercise dominion over the earth and then to be fruitful and multiply in order to fill the earth. This means we also image God when we follow his pattern of resting. To work and to rest are equally godly and neither is a curse. This means when we don’t rest properly, we are violating the image of God!

Some people refuse to rest when they overwork whether in jobs or in studies. Others refuse to rest socially or relationally when they overextend themselves by filling their schedules. But just because we have a lot of time to ourselves doesn’t mean we are resting either. We may be doing restful things but missing the purpose of God’s rest which is to rejoice and delight in God’s “very good” creation. God institutes the seventh day to enjoy his creation and he calls us to do the same when we rest. 

For Christians, the gospel gives us a better reason to rest and rejoice. We have the assurance of 2 Corinthians 5:17 that tells us “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Because of the sin that we’re born with, everybody single person is kept from experiencing God and his rest. But God introduced the solution. He sent Jesus to die for our sins so that we could be made a new creation through faith in Jesus. Christians should approach the Christian Sabbath with more resolve to rest by rejoicing in God and his new creation in our lives. 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.  
  2. What kind of rest do you think you most need in this season? Physical? Spiritual? Emotional? What kinds of things do feel you need rest from? What are the causes of your restlessness? 
  3. In your experience has Sunday typically been a restful day for you? What contributes to that or takes away from it? 
  4. What are some things you are doing or can do in the future to make sure you are properly resting by rejoicing in God’s new creation work in your life? What new rhythms or traditions can you consider implementing? 

Sermon Discussion Guide (7/19/20)

“The Shepherd” (Summer Series: Psalm 23)

Scripture: Psalm 23:1-3

Sermon Summary

The author of Psalm 23 was David who was both a king and a shepherd. Although he was familiar with the roles and responsibilities of both, he chose to call God his Shepherd and not his King. This meant he, the greatest king in Israel’s history, identified himself as a weak and helpless sheep and not a strong and mighty lion. As Christians, we also need to identify ourselves with sheep in order to identify Jesus as our good Shepherd. This sheep and Shepherd image is one of the dominant metaphors by which we understand how we are supposed to live as Christians. Psalm 23:1-3 teaches us that Jesus is the good Shepherd who provides and protects his sheep.

Until you confess that you are sheep, God cannot be your shepherd. But the admission of being sheep is not easy because these creatures were incredibly vulnerable, blind and dumb. To admit this about yourself is ego-brushing and pride-killing. The Bible however likens us to sheep over and over again (Ps. 119:176; Is. 53:6; Mt. 9:36; 18:12; 1 Pt. 2:25) and the chief characteristic is that we stray away from God. We are by nature weak and wandering but we do not want to admit this. We want to be strong and self-sufficient like the world tells us to. However Psalm 23 is a song of the weak. It’s a song that boasts not in the sheep’s strength but in the Shepherd’s. That’s why this psalm was known as a psalm of confidence. Our confidence doesn’t derive from ourselves but the Shepherd who condescends to covenant with us.

David declares that the Lord is his Shepherd. This is God’s personal name. And yet what David declares is highly relational, personal and intimate. He says, “The Lord is my shepherd” and not just “a shepherd” or “the shepherd.” Although it is humbling and humiliating to admit you are a sheep, if you are the Lord’s sheep then it is an honor to confess it. This is covenant language – “I am his sheep and he is my Shepherd.” To belong to Shepherd means we will never lack anything. Not because God provides everything we want and desire nor because he gives us everything we think you need. Rather we will never lack with God as our Shepherd because having God himself is all that we need. To have him is to lack nothing because he is more than enough for us.

As our Shepherd God makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside still waters. Sheep by nature are nervous and anxious and they will only lie down if they feel safe from predators and satisfied in their thirst and hunger. This means God does two things as our Shepherd. He provides the satisfaction that we need and he protects us in ensuring our safety. Ultimately God does these two things for us in Jesus Christ. Jesus came in the line of David and declared, “I am the good shepherd” in John 10. When he declared, “I lay down my life for the sheep” he did it to provide himself as our perfect sacrifice and protect us from sin’s curse and God’s wrath by taking it upon himself. As the good Shepherd he did this for us and now Jesus becomes our green pastures and still waters. We can lay down and rest in him because he has laid down his life for us. Jesus is the good Shepherd that we need and he does everything to provide and protect us. He is our safety and he is our satisfaction.

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.  
  2. In what ways have you been shaped by the message of the world that says you must be strong and not weak? How do you tend to view and respond to weakness? Give a few examples.
  3. What’s the hardest reason to believe that God is enough for you as your shepherd? Are you learning anything about what it means to say “The Lord is my shepherd and that’s all I need to know”? Share those lessons and the circumstances of those lessons.
  4. How can you get to know the good Shepherd better? How can you experience in deeper, fuller ways the protection and provision of Jesus? How can he become your safety and your satisfaction?

Sermon Discussion Guide (Acts 3:1-10)

“Moving Beyond Beautiful”

Scripture: Acts 3:1-10

Sermon Summary

The apostolic miracles in the New Testament were signs that pointed to realities beyond themselves. When we read about these miracles, we should discern what they reveal and teach us. Peter and John’s miracle at the Beautiful Gate show us this truth: Jesus restores our deepest need for fellowship with God.

The lame beggar sat at the Beautiful Gate in order to ask alms of those entering the temple. He did this in the hopes of receiving either a coin for his wallet or bread for his stomach. But he didn’t know his deepest need. He was more severely crippled than any physical disability could render him. He was spiritually blind and in need of saving. This is why he only asked for and expected silver and gold. We can see ourselves in the crippled man when we look at the content of our prayers and what we’re asking God for. What we pray for most often and most fervently reveals what we believe we need most in our lives. The reformer Martin Luther stated in the first of his ninety-five theses that all of life is repentance. He recognized that the grace and mercy of God were the things he needed most in his life and therefore he centered his prayers around repentance. We should learn this lesson too. All the other things we ask God for are important to him because he is a father who cares for us. But they are always secondary to our utter and deepest need for Jesus.

When Peter tells the beggar that he does not have silver or gold to give him, he is not lowering the man’s expectations because what Peter gives him is far better. He gives him Jesus. In the gospel we have the gift of Christ. Giving and receiving the comforts of Christ and the peace of the cross is not the second best thing to give and receive, they are the sole best thing. In this particular miracle, the physical healing is a good gift but the better gift is spiritual restoration in Jesus’ name. As a result of the healing, the lame man can now enter the temple. Before he only sat at its gate, excluded from worship, prayer and the presence of God. But with healed legs, the first thing he does is enter the temple and praise God. This gift proved far better than any material thing Peter could have given him. Those who receive Christ can enter the temple and go into the Most Holy Place because Christ has torn the veil through the cross. As a result, we have restored fellowship with God which we get to enjoy. Spiritually restored lives should be characterized by thanksgiving and praise to God.

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon. 
  2. What would you say are the things you pray most about? What are the things you most expect from God? And what do these things reveal you believe are most important in your life?
  3. On a scale of one to ten (one = only sharing Jesus when you have nothing else to say and ten = responding with Jesus to anything and everything) how do counsel and dialogue with others who are seeking out your help? Can you describe a time when somebody shared Christ with you as the solution, the comfort, and the encouragement you needed? How did they do it?
  4. Right now in your life are you sitting at the Beautiful Gate or have you moved beyond Beautiful? Are you truly enjoying fellowship with God? Share some of the best ways/practices that you enjoy fellowship with God.

Sermon Discussion Guide (Matthew 21:12-13)

“The Godliness of Righteous Anger”

Scripture: Matthew 21:12-13

Sermon Summary

Justice is not a liberal, social or political word. It is a biblical word because justice is an attribute of God that his image bearers are responsible to practice. The murder of George Floyd comes on the heels of many other incidents of injustice such as Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Now more than ever, the Church of Jesus Christ as well as followers of Christ must respond. The easiest way is to simply ignore the issues, mind our own business and continue to work hard. But the way of the cross requires dying to ourselves. It requires being righteously angry at the injustices taking place in God’s world. This kind of anger is cruciform because anger that faces injustice is draining, frustrating and wearies the soul. But it is the kind of anger God himself adorns. This means righteous anger at injustice is good and godly for the Christian.

Jesus displayed this kind of anger when he entered the temple and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and drove out those selling animals for sacrifice. But it was righteous anger because he was responding to the injustices committed in the temple. This business commerce was taking place in the court of the Gentiles giving them no room to properly worship and pray. God’s vision was that the temple would be a house of prayer for all peoples but the Gentiles were being denied the right to do that. Also the money changers and the sellers were exploiting those who traveled to worship at the temple by raising prices. Thus Jesus calls them robbers. They particularly targeted the poor who purchased pigeons to sacrifice, an Old Testament provision made specifically for those who could not afford sheep or oxen. Jesus’ anger was directed at these injustices.

As Christians we are called to imitate Christ and follow his ways. This means our desire for justice and our disgust over injustice is not a social issue but a sanctification issue. To look more like Christ means we get righteously angry at the injustices around us, particularly the racial injustice in our country. What will transform us to be these kinds of people? The gospel. Jesus’ confrontation in the temple foreshadowed his work on the cross. Whereas in the temple Jesus upheld the justice of God while condemning the injustice of sinful men, on the cross Jesus upheld the justice of God while being condemned for the injustice of sinful men. More specifically Jesus was condemned in our place by the justice of God so that we could receive forgiveness and mercy.

This gospel changes us in two ways. First, it’ll give us a desire to condemn injustice. The death of Christ shows us how much God hates injustice and the lengths he went to eradicate it. So we begin to condemn injustice in all of its shapes and forms. Second, it’ll give us a desire to contend for justice. The death of Christ shows us how much God loves justice and the lengths he’ll went to uphold it. So we begin to contend for justice wherever and however it is called for. Gospel-centered Christians then become the strongest and most courageous advocates for justice in society. We realize that being righteously angry at injustice is not something to suppress or smother as it leads us to right actions that conform to God’s desire for justice. We must believe that when it comes to injustice, an apathetic response is a pathetic response.

Here are eight things justice loving Christians can do. 1) Repent of what you see in yourself. 2) Lament over what you see around you. 3) Listen and learn from the voices and experiences of others. 4) Speak up for justice and speak out against injustice because everybody is made in God’s image. 5) Model for the world what it means to follow Jesus because we are made in the image of a justice loving God. 6) Teach our children it is heroic and strong to stand up for justice and cowardly and weak to dismiss injustice 7) pray for God’s reconciling work through Christ to bring peace to the world. 8) Long for the day when God will right every wrong and justice rolls down like waters (Amos 5:24).

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share with one another how all of this makes you feel (the recent events, the history of events, the responses of people). How do you tend to respond? Be honest.
  2. What have you learned through conversations or other mediums that has helped you process the issue of racism and racial injustice, particularly in America? What has been eye-opening? What are some of the questions you are still wrestling with?
  3. How does a bible-believing, Jesus-following, gospel-centered Christian understand, interpret, react and respond differently than any other person who is also aware and concerned about racism and racial injustice? Or is there not/should there not be a difference?
  4. Which of the eight suggested things do you need to work on most? Can you unpack and elaborate on it?
  5. Make a list of things the community group should pray for and lament over. Then pray and lament over those things.

CG Discussion Guide (Acts 2:42-47)

“Grace Marked Generosity” Acts: To the End of the Earth

Scripture: Acts 2:42-47

Sermon Summary

The Christian faith is not just about knowledge and intellectual assent but about practice and intentional action. We live out what we believe. Some of the most difficult things about Christian discipleship are the things that address very concrete, tangible things in our lives. Acts 2:42-47 gives a picture of the early believers who were transformed by the gospel. This passage teaches us that the mark of God’s grace in our lives translates into generosity displayed in our lives.

The disciples who formed the first community of believers were genuinely transformed Christians. When they repented and believed the gospel of grace, Luke tells us that their souls were saved indicating that they were more than nominal Christians. They had truly repented of their sin and exercised saving faith in Christ. If we have been truly touched by God’s grace we will be transformed by that grace to do tangible acts of grace to one another. One of the clearest evidence of this is generosity. 

The practice of the believers was to sell what they had and give generously to those who had need. But it’s hard to be radically and sacrificially generous when we feel we have a right to what is ours. The gospel frees us to view our rights in a new perspective. When we are united to Jesus by faith, our lives become patterned after his. And we see in Christ’s life that he gave up his rights for us in order that he could generously share those things with us. And when this grips our hearts and it sinks in, Acts 2 comes to life for us in a whole new way. We can actually become generous in a truly Christlike way. Eugene Peterson says that the gospel transforms our pronouns from “I” to “we” and “mine” to “ours.”

When God’s grace marks our generosity, he invites us to participate in his work of generosity in the world. He turns us from a stagnant pool that collects and hoards blessings to be a mighty river from which his generosity flows to others. And one of the most tangible ways, although certainly not the only way, is to be generous with our money. The Bible reminds us that money itself is not bad. It makes for a wonderful servant but an awful master. Generosity is a constant practice of reminding ourselves of this truth. This is why wealth is not antithetical to the kingdom of God. It is only antithetical when it rivals God for the throne of our hearts.

God calls us to generosity out of sacrifice, not out of abundance. This is the pattern of God’s own giving in John 3:16. He gave his one and only Son for us. This is not just a verse about God’s love but his generosity. He gave to the point where it hurt him even when we didn’t deserve it. In the same way we can then give in a way that hurts a little. The grace that the early believers experienced is the same grace at work in our own lives. We can begin to be generous in four ways:

1. Giving tithes and offerings to the local church to support its work of kingdom advancement according to our core values.

2. Volunteering locally in acts and areas of mercy and justice that is generous in all forms of currency (money, time and energy).

3. Personally supporting and giving to various missionaries, church plants, organizations and institutions according to God-given convictions.

4. Meeting the personal needs of our community through intentional acts that seek to serve others.

As difficult as grace marked generosity is, God doesn’t call us to do anything that he doesn’t also empower us to do. We must remember that his grace will be our fuel to give when we don’t want to and it’ll be our comfort to give when we are scared to.

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon. 
  2. What are some of the enemies of radical, sacrificial generosity? Which do you struggle with most? Jonathan Edwards said the difficulty with generosity is not that you can’t do it but that you can’t do what God says while keeping what you want. Can you identify an instance of this?
  3. What is your general attitude toward money? Have you ever experienced how money makes for a good servant in your life? What about an experience of money as an awful master?
  4. God calls us to be rivers that channel his generosity to others, not a pool that collects it for ourselves. Can you recount an experience of receiving somebody else’s generosity? Are there ways you can begin to cultivate practices of generosity in your own life?

CG Discussion Guide (Acts 2:22-41)

“Jesus is the Good News”  Acts: To the End of the Earth

Scripture: Acts 2:22-41

Sermon Summary

What was most characteristic about Peter’s sermon at Pentecost were two things. First his sermon was radically Christ-centered. This means the sermon found its focal point on Christ, rather than simply mentioning Jesus a few times. Second his sermon was radically Bible-grounded. The sermon was not just inspired thoughts by the preacher but preaching that came from the inspired Word. The unique content of Peter’s sermon was the gospel: God’s saving message of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and exaltation. The gospel message is the good news of Jesus. Or put another way, Jesus is the good news. Jesus himself, not the benefits we derive from him, is the primary blessing of the gospel. This is important to affirm because it keeps Jesus front and center in the Christian faith. Jesus never falls into the background hidden behind the benefits that we receive from him. This keeps our focus on loving, honoring and worshiping Jesus.

#1: Jesus’ Life (2:22)

Peter’s sermon begins with Jesus who came to us in full humanity and full humility. As a man from Nazareth, Jesus identified himself as one of us. But his life was full of mighty works and signs that pointed to the work he came to do. He would restore the brokenness of the world and fix every wrong. His miracles were all glimpses of his power and his promise to one day do exactly that. Jesus’ life is good news.

#2: Jesus’ Death (2:23)

Jesus died in order to fully pay for man’s sins and take the punishment that we deserved. There’s a mystery involved in his death. How do we balance the mystery of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? Although this is a question for us, it neither bothered nor mattered to the original audience. They were so cut to the heart about Jesus that their concerns were how they should respond. Peter tells them that repentance and faith in Christ will lead to the forgiveness of sins. Trusting in Christ is the only way their sins will be dealt with. The same is true of us today. Christ’s death as our substitute was sufficient for us that we don’t need to any anything else to his death. Jesus’ death is good news.

#3: Jesus’ Resurrection (2:24-32)

Death did not have the final say over the Author of Life. He was raised from the dead three days later, fulfilling Old Testament prophecies. As the holy, innocent and righteous One, God could not leave him for dead. He was raised in a glorious resurrection as a vindication and verification of all that he claimed. His resurrection was the seal that all who trust in him will also share in his eternal life and bodily resurrection. Without the resurrection, the Christian faith would all be in vain. Jesus’ resurrection is good news.

#4: Jesus’ Exaltation (2:33-35)

Now Jesus is exalted in heaven as the reigning King. His enemies are made his footstool as he rules and protects his people. Jesus does not leave his people unprotected and defenseless. He continually subjects evil to himself until he will vanquish evil forever when he returns in his final judgment. Jesus saved his people as a compassionate and loving lamb but he protects his people as a strong and mighty lion. Jesus’ exaltation is good news.

Jesus is the good news that we celebrate. The Giver is always better than the gifts, the Benefactor better than the benefits, the Person better than the prizes. When we thank God for the gospel, we don’t thank him for the things he gives us. We thank him for Jesus – his life, death, resurrection and exaltation.

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon. 
  2. How do you define the gospel? Everybody should share their working definition.
  3. If you ask ten different people to define the gospel, you will most likely get ten different answers. Do you think Christians should have a uniform answer so that our answers aren’t contradictory? What are the pros/cons of having a uniform answer? What are the pros/cons of having a diversity of answers? How do you think an unbeliever would interpret the fact that he/she would hear as many different answers as people that he/she asked?
  4. No one part of the gospel is more important than the other (life, death, resurrection, ascension/exaltation). Why do you think Christians focus and emphasize on one more than the others? Which do you tend to neglect the most? In what ways does this imbalance affect your Christian life? How would your faith be improved if you paid more attention to the other emphases?