We read this statement together before every group discussion! It helps transition the group to discussion time, it reaffirms our highest values, and sets a tone of trust, consistency, and safety for everyone in the group.
We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. These are some things we want to be true of our group:
- We create a safe and honest environment, staying transparent and authentic.
- We keep it inside the circle. Confidentiality is necessary for a healthy group.
- We look together to the Bible for help and guidance, and keep out our own politics, sales, or agendas.
- We do not try to fix each other, preach sermons, or give unsolicited advice. We instead encourage, listen to, and celebrate each other.
- We handle conflict between us quickly and honestly by going to the person, owning our part, and practicing forgiveness.
- We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
- We trust that it is God’s role to change people, not ours.
- We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
Everyone loves a good rescue story. In this series we've talked about a God who is Good and Trustworthy, Generous and Holy. This week Jodi talked about how that great and powerful God is self-sacrificing, which changes everything for us. She said that the central message of the Good News of Jesus is that "we were dead, but God made us alive by grace through faith to do good."
- What's your favorite rescue story in a movie, book, TV show, or from history?
The book of Ephesians is a letter written by Paul to the the church in the city of Ephesus and others in the area. He encouraged them to rekindle the vibrancy of their faith and love that they had when they first found Christ.
Read from Ephesians 2 together.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Rescue is the central theme of not only this passage, but the story of God throughout the whole Bible. Paul was writing to a group of Christians who already knew they were rescued... why do you think he spent so much time rehashing the story of their rescue?
Paul describes our lives before rescue in several different ways; which part of his description resonates with you and your own story the most? (i.e. dead in sins, ways of this world, disobedient, gratifying cravings... etc.)
"We were dead, but God made us alive by grace through faith to do good."
- Jodi said "no amount of goodness can fix deadness." But sometimes it's hard to really accept that we have to be rescued. How have you tried to fix deadness in your own life? What was the result?
- "BUT" is a pivotal word in the Bible and in our lives. What is your "but God" story? In what little or big ways has God intervened and given you "BUT GOD" hinge points in your life?
- Jodi talked about a lot of great rescue stories, and said about each of them, "who could forget a rescue like that?" Do you ever forget about your own rescue story, and where you have come from? What causes us to drift from remembering how God has rescued us from who we once were?
- God invites us into his rescue story to do good alongside him. Have you ever wondered why you were created, or why you're here? How does knowing you were created "to do good" alongside God change how you prioritize things in your life and how you want to live?
- Did anyone ring the bell in the service? What did ringing the bell symbolize for you? What was it like to make that kind of statement about what God is doing in your life?
EXPERIENCE (for the rest of the week)
- What can stand in the way of grace in your life? Is it a desire to earn your keep and please God? Is it disbelief that God could possibly make what's dead in you come alive? Take some time to process and uncover what stands in the way, and don't just keep it in... tell someone you trust! Share it so it doesn't have to stay hidden in your mind, and so that person can pray for and support you.
- God created each of us uniquely so that once rescued, we become a part of the mission with Him, helping more people find and follow Him. What part of your story, gift, or talent might God want to use in you "to do good" in other's people's lives? Figure out who God might be moving you toward this week, and how you could do good in their life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We were dead, but God made us alive by grace through faith to do good.
WE WERE DEAD
Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Ephesians 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy…
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, BUT under grace.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 9:16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, BUT on God’s mercy.
1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, BUT that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Colossians 1:22 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. BUT now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
MADE US ALIVE
Ephesians 2:5a …made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…
BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
TO DO GOOD
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Galatians 1:4 (MSG) Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we’re in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God’s plan is that we all experience that rescue. Glory to God forever!