23 May Discussion Guide: The Best Is Yet To Come Week 5
Take the first few minutes of your time together to listen to what God is doing in one another’s lives and pray for any specific needs people in your group may have.
This week we continue our new series titled “The Best Is Yet To Come.” We will be walking through the book of Acts and looking at who Jesus has called us to be and what Jesus has called us to do in light of all that He has already done. As we study the descriptive history of the early church our hope is that these truths will move in our hearts to become a prescriptive call to go into all the world and be witnesses for Christ.
Have you ever had an experience that changed your perspective on life? If so what was it, and how did it change your perspective?
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed. Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
How do you think the Christian life should differ from others in the area of:
Why is it difficult at times to submit to, and follow Jesus in those areas?
There are many reasons it can be difficult to submit to, and follow, Jesus in these areas. One reason is our own selfish desires. The human heart wants to be safe and secure and to have our circumstances be predictable, therefore we like to be, or at least feel like we are, in control of our situations. To submit to Jesus in the above areas means we have to give up control over how much we think is enough when it comes to serving others, suffering for Jesus, giving to those in need or forgiving those who have wronged us. In each of these areas, because most of us would consider ourselves to be good moral people, we are willing to give of ourselves and our comforts to a certain extent for the sake of maintaining the appearance of morality, but we all have a limit as to how far our selfish desires are willing to give way. Once we hit that limit we begin to justify and excuse ourselves as to why people are just asking too much of us. But, if Jesus is King, and if we are submitted to Him fully in those areas, then there is no limit to what we will be willing to give up if it means His name being magnified, and that is a difficult pill to swallow at times. Another reason it is tough to follow Him in these areas is because of cultural pressures. We live in a culture that has different definitions of success and failure from Jesus’ definitions. It is easy to get caught up in the current of these cultural definitions and feel like if we are not going with the flow then somehow we are missing out on something good, something better than what Jesus and His Kingdom promise us. Our culture breeds discontentment and tells us we ought to constantly be chasing after the next best thing in order to scratch that itch of feeling significant. And once you get swept up in that stream the undertow is strong and it can be very difficult to climb out of that water and onto the stable shore of Christ and His Kingdom.
How does knowing God’s Word enable us to live differently in those areas?
Knowing God’s Word doesn’t just mean you have memorized what the verses say, though that is definitely a good place to start. It means holding those verses as Ultimate Truth and trusting your life and your circumstances to the God they represent. When you know what God’s Word says, and you trust His Word to be the ultimate Truth and Authority in your life, then all other voices grow silent. His Word takes priority and precedence over the opinions of others that keep you chasing after that feeling of significance, and it takes priority and precedence over your own thoughts and desires that keep you cowering in self-preservation. You can hold up the promises of God’s Word in the face of those other voices and move forward with courage knowing that your circumstances don’t define who God is in your life, who God is defines how you view life’s circumstances.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”
What does that kind of Christian life proclaim about who Jesus is to the world?
When we submit to Jesus in those areas it communicates to the world that someone other than ourselves, other than cultural expectations and fame and pleasure and sex and money and reputation are seated on the throne of your life, and thereby seated on the throne of the Universe. While everybody else is chasing around the myths of cultural success you are standing firm on the Truth of success as defined by Jesus and His Kingdom. When we live this way it forces people to question why we don’t chase after the things that others chase after. This question then presents the opportunity for us to proclaim that Jesus is the everlasting King who never fails us.
Why doesn’t the world like that proclamation?
What intellectually coherent options do people have when it comes to belief in Jesus?
The only intellectually coherent options one can claim about Jesus are, as C.S. Lewis put it, Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or He was and is the Lord of all Creation. You cannot, with any kind intellectual integrity, make the claim that Jesus was just a good man, a wise teacher, or a prophet of God. The claims Jesus made do not leave room for you to make those kinds of statements. If He was a liar or a lunatic then we ought to warn people about Him and urge them not to follow Him. But, if He was and is King of kings and Lord of lords, then we ought to bow our knees is humble submission and seek to get to know Him as best we can.
Acts 2:28-32, 41-42
The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
How does submitting your life to Jesus as King give you the courage necessary to follow Him in the face of adversity or cultural pressure?
In what area would you say you could use a little more courage when it comes to following Jesus?
If we’re honest, we could all use a little more courage in our pursuit to follow Jesus, so Let’s take the next few moments to pray for one another in those areas.