SMALL GROUP CURRICULUM (Download PDF)
Spend the week studying Genesis 1-3. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
Determine which discussion points and questions will work best with your group.
Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their receptivity to God’s Word.
Focus on the Main Point. The fall in Eden has separated us from God, but God has provided redemption.
What is your favorite story? What elements are present in every good story?
How well do you know the story of the Bible? Which parts are you most familiar with? Which parts are you least familiar with?
This week we begin a series looking at the big story in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Like all good stories, the Bible has a great beginning that leaves us wanting more. God created the world and everything in it, and it was good. He gave man a purpose and identity in perfect fellowship with God. However, the majestic story of creation gives way to a heart wrenching fall. Adam and Eve sinned, damaging their (and our) relationships with God. Since the time of our earliest ancestors, all people have lived with a hole at the core of who they are that can only be filled by God. The story of Adam and Eve points us to our need for God and God’s plan to rescue His lost children.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ GENESIS 1:1–2:25.
What do you learn about God through the creation account? What do these verses say about all that God made?
Where do you see the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit in chapter 1?
“In the beginning God created...”These five words begin the story of God. In them, we see that God always was and always will be. God is uncreated, matchless, and completely unique from the created world. We also see God’s first action: He created. He made everything out of nothing—light, heaven, land, the sun, moon, and planets, birds, animals, and more. Scripture begins with a wonderful and powerful account of a great big God creating a great big world full of good things. But Adam and Eve were the pinnacle of God’s creative work.
Read Genesis 1:26-27 and 2:7. What makes man distinct from all other created beings?
What does it mean to be made in the image of God? How does this give inherent value and worth to all human beings?
God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (2:15). What was Eden like? How does the Bible describe it?
Every human is made in the image of God. People have the privilege of being like God in ways that other parts of creation are not. People are moral agents. We have souls, and most importantly, we are able to have a relationship with God. These traits, among others, separate us from other creatures and reveal the character of our Creator. God gave the first humans a value to claim and a place to live. The Garden of Eden was a perfect, sinless, paradise that God gave to His chief creatures to live and thrive in.
God gave Adam two distinct mandates in these verses. What were they?
God also gave Adam a commandment to obey. What was it? Why is it so important to realize that God gave commands before the fall?
What kinds of relationships did man have in the garden? How did these relationships bring God glory?
The creation mandate was the charge to be fruitful and multiply, and to exercise dominion over the rest of creation. When God commanded Adam to multiply, He was really telling Adam to fill the world with image bearers like himself. Doing so would bring glory to God. Taking dominion is work. Although sin has disordered how we think about work, it was originally intended for our good and was not burdensome. God’s design for the garden before the fall was for man to work it and faithfully keep His commands in it. Notice in Genesis 2:16-17, God gives Adam the command to not eat from the tree. In the same way, God still gives us commandments for our own good. God also gave Adam perfect relationships to enjoy with Himself, other people, and the rest of creation in Eden. Without the barrier of sin, all our relationships bring God glory.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ GENESIS 3:1-24.
In the previous chapters, we saw Adam in perfect relationship with God, other people, and nature. Sin has broken every relationship that God intended for good. These relationships remained disrupted in the present day, but there is coming a day when God will permanently repair each of these relationships forever.
How has sin damaged our relationships with God, other people, and nature? Compare and contrast these relationships before and after the fall.
Genesis 3:1 contains the first question in the Bible. How does all sin start by questioning whether God truly knows best?
Re-read verses 21-24. How do these verses show God’s kindness to those who have turned against Him?
To whom does Genesis 3:15 refer? In what way is He the answer to our problem with sin?
Although sin has corrupted our relationships with God, other people, and nature, God is ultimately guiding history to the day in which all that is broken will be made right. God will make all things new (Rev. 21:5). Immediately after the fall, God began to exercise lovingkindness to His fallen creatures by covering their nakedness and shame (3:21), keeping them from the thing that tempted them (22-24), and promising a day in which the seed of a woman would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15).
In what ways are you tempted to question God? What is the difference between questioning God and asking God questions?
Though the fall has corrupted all of our relationships, how can we, as those redeemed in Christ, seek to honor God in our relationships with Him, others, and all of creation? How can we look to Genesis chapters 1 and 2 for guidance in doing so?
How might we encourage each other in a world that has been corrupted by sin?
How can we help one another express confidence in the God who is redeeming people to Himself—both by our words and our actions?
Knowing that all people have been affected by the fall, how can we be intentional about sharing the life we have found in Christ with a dying world?
Praise God for being a creative God who gives us the privilege of being His image bearers. Express your grief that we live in a world plagued by sin and death, along with a desire to serve in spurring it toward the freedom and life found in Christ. Ask God to help us long for the day when He will return in glory and restore the world sin has corrupted to perfection. Thank God for the gift of Jesus, through Whom, all people may become restored children of God.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- What does the beginning of God’s story teach you about Him? About yourself?
- Do you long for the day where Jesus will make all things new? How can you live today in a way that foreshadows that future?
God’s Creation Goal (1:1–2:25)
Primeval history describes the accounts of the creation, the fall, the flood, the tower of Babel, and the distribution of the human race. It embraces all those facets of human experience that led up to and necessitated the call of Abraham to covenant service to the Lord.
The two accounts of creation (1:1–2:3 and 2:4–25) are designed respectively to demonstrate the all-wise and all-powerful sovereignty of God (first account) and His special creation of humanity to rule for Him over all other created things (second account). Though the creation stories are fundamentally theological and not scientific, nothing in them is contradicted by modern scientific understanding. Genesis insists that all the forms of life were created “after their kind” (1:11–12, 21, 24–25); that is, they did not evolve across species lines. Most importantly, the man and the woman were created as “the image of God” (1:26). In other words, humanity was created to represent God on the earth and to rule over all things in His name (1:26–28). God’s desire was to bless humanity and to enjoy relationship with them.
Sin’s Consequences/God’s Grace (3:1–11:32)
The privilege of dominion also carried responsibility and limitation. Being placed in the garden to “work it and watch over it” represented human responsibility (2:15). The tree in the midst of the garden from which humans were not to eat represented those areas of dominion reserved to Yahweh alone. The man and woman, however, disobeyed God and ate of the tree. They “died” with respect to their covenant privileges (2:17) and suffered the indictment and judgment of their Sovereign. This entailed suffering and sorrow and eventual physical death. God had created man and woman to enjoy fellowship with Himself and with each other, but their disobedience alienated them from God and one another.
The pattern of sin and its consequences set in the garden is replayed throughout Genesis in the accounts of Cain, the generation of the flood, and the men of Sodom. The fall means that we humans are predisposed to sin. Though God punishes sin, sin does not thwart God’s ultimate, gracious purpose for His human creation. Embedded in the curse was the gleam of a promise that the offspring of the woman would someday lead the human race to triumph.
The consequences of sin became clear in the second generation when Cain, the oldest son, killed Abel, his brother. Just as his parents had been expelled from the presence of God in the Garden, so now Cain was expelled from human society to undertake a nomadic life in the east. Embedded in the curse was the gleam of grace, the “mark on Cain,” symbolizing God’s protection.