28 Apr Discussion Guide: The Gospel Is For Everyone Week 1
Community Groups Vision
If you have time and feel this would help the new people in your community group better understand what you are trying to accomplish as a group then take 2 minutes to show this video.
This week we kick off a new series The Gospel is for Everyone. There are many things in our world that look and feel like they are only for the select few, the wealthy, the powerful, the privileged. In a world that seems so unfair at times, we are going to take a look at something that knows no prejudice and shows no favoritism, and yet it is the most powerful thing the world has ever seen. We are going to take a look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news that is for everyone who believes.
Has there ever been a moment in your life where you have felt like a failure, or like you didn’t live up to expectations?
If so, what would you say you most wanted/needed in that moment?
What does the word “salvation” mean to you?
“When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshiping. When such a thing is threatened, your anger is absolute. Your anger is actually the way the idol keeps you in its service, in its chains.”
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
We all have our own personal fears, our ‘functional hell’ if you will, the place we don’t want our lives to go to. For some it’s poverty. For some it’s loneliness. For some it’s insignificance. In response to that fear our hearts grasp for a ‘functional savior’ that can deliver us from that ‘hell,’ something that can enable us to gain control over our circumstances; money, relationships, reputations, etc. That is how salvation works, and if the thing we fear most is anything other than separation from God and His purposes for our lives then the savior we will pursue will be anything or anyone other than Jesus.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
What is the Gospel? How is it the “Power of God to bring salvation?”
How is Jesus different from the ‘functional saviors’ we chase after?
What would you say Jesus has saved you from?
What would you say Jesus has saved you for?
The Gospel is more than you might think it is. For many who have grown up going to church, or even for those who have just grown up in the South around church culture, the Gospel has been greatly reduced to simply meaning, “Jesus died for my sins so I can go to Heaven.” Though that is part of what the Gospel is all about, it is far from touching the fullness of what the Gospel is. The Gospel isn’t just a quaint truth about us getting to go the place we want to go and avoiding the place we don’t want to go, it is an all-encompassing Truth that transforms not just what happens to us when we die, but also reconciles and restores us to how we were meant to live in the first place, and it starts all the way back at the beginning.
In Genesis, Adam is made to be God’s ‘Image-Bearer.’ Meaning, Adam, and therefore humanity, was designed to reflect who God is out into the rest of creation. It was God’s desire to rule over His good creation through the image-bearing humans He had made. Adam was meant to walk with God and his fellow humans in perfectly loving relationships that reflected God’s goodness, justice, loving-kindness, and more out into the world. Of course, Adam failed in this vocation when he bought into the accusing lies of the serpent and in fear decided he would prefer to usurp God’s authority rather than reflect God’s goodness. As a result, Adam was exiled from the Garden.
At that moment love was lost, the mirror was broken, and creation broke with it. From that point on God called a people to come out from living a self-serving, idolatrous life like the rest of humanity and be different. He called Noah, Abraham, and then Israel to return to His original design of knowing Him and making Him known to the nations by reflecting who He is through their lovingly obedient relationship with the One True God. Of course, they all failed as well as the poison of Adam’s sin also coursed their veins and corrupted their hearts. Sin, evil and wickedness ensued as the people God called to carry His promise were carriers of the problem as well. Mankind continued to stumble in the darkness of our idolatry and selfishness and experience the same kind of exile from God’s presence that Adam experienced in the Garden.
However, at just the right time (Romans 5), God the Son, stepped off His throne and into His Creation to recapture what Adam had lost. Jesus put on our skin, spoke our language, ate our food, experienced joy and suffering, love and betrayal, and did what Adam could not by becoming the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), the perfect Image-Bearer. In so doing, Jesus was the only human being not deserving of exile, not deserving of death and judgment and wrath. But, Jesus made the choice to do for us what we could not do for ourselves and became our substitute (2 Cor. 5:21). When Jesus went to the cross He gathered the entirety of evil, sin, and wickedness upon Himself as He suffered in our place for our sins and through the shedding of His blood and the giving of His life Jesus swallowed the wrath of God in its entirety and dealt the final death blow to death itself. Three days later, when God raised Jesus from the dead, He not only left death in the tomb, but He also launched His project of New Creation, of reconciling all things back to Himself and therefore back to His original design.
Now, through the unconditional love of Christ, a love that was given when it was most difficult and least deserved, our hearts can be reunited not only to the God in whose image we are made but to the image-bearing vocation to which we are called. Because you see, the only way we can reflect the image of the God who is Love is to be unconditionally loving ourselves. And, the only way we can truly be unconditionally loving is to live from a source of unconditional love and that is precisely what the Gospel brings us into. “For God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
So, yes, when we die we get to be with Jesus in the place where He rules and reigns (what we call Heaven), but we also get to see Heaven come back to Earth in all sorts of ways today, while we are still alive. We get to live as New Creation beings partnering with God to reconcile all things back to His original design. We get to once again reflect His goodness, justice, loving-kindness, mercy, and grace out into the broken and dark places of our world. We get to be a new kind of “living temple” through which the world encounters and experiences the presence of the One True God.
The Gospel is that through Jesus, God puts us back together, so that through us He might put the world back together as well.