SMALL GROUP CURRICULUM (Download PDF)
Spend the week studying Matthew 28:16-20, James 5:13-16. 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. Christ has given us His authority to accomplish His mission in the world.
What positions of authority do you hold? To what authorities do you willingly submit?
Why should authority be respected? How can authority be abused?
Authority is a good gift established for our benefit. Officers of the law and military personnel have authority to enforce the law. Parents have authority in the home. Employers have authority over employees. All true authority points to the ultimate authority. God is the creator of the world and through salvation in Jesus Christ and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, He has given the church authority to accomplish His mission in the world. Believers have authority to make disciples (Mt 28:18-20), to heal the sick (Jas. 5:14-15), over demons (Acts 13:6-12), and to have power in prayer (Mk. 11:24). Our authority in Christ is never to be used for selfish gain, but to further the cause of Christ in the world and help more people come to saving knowledge of God.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ MATTHEW 28:16-20.
According to these verses, what has God given Christians have authority to do? What responsibility has God given us? What is the relationship between the authority God has given us and the responsibilities He has laid upon us?
How might we take advantage of these responsibilities at Pinelake?
What does Christ possess authority over? As Christians, how are we united with Christ’s authority?
Do you think most Christians actively use this authority? Why or why not?
Making disciples often makes Christians feel uneasy and discouraged, why should making disciples with Christ’s authority make Christians feel confident and encouraged?
How does knowing we make disciples under Christ authority relieve the pressure to “win” people?
Christ has given us authority to go, to make disciples, to baptize, and to teach obedience to the faith. Making disciples in Christ’s authority should be a constant source of comfort and encouragement to believers. We know we cannot make someone come to Christ. We can only articulate the gospel message and call others to repentance. God does the saving. If someone does not respond, we can take comfort because God is in control. He is with us, and will powerfully call people to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ JAMES 5:13-16.
Under what circumstances should we be compelled to pray (vv. 13-14)? In what way are such prayers an exercise of authority?
Read Acts 16:25-26. What did God use Paul’s and Silas’ prayers to accomplish? Do you have this much confidence in prayer? Why or why not?
What did James mean when he wrote the prayer of a righteous person is effective?
What is a prayer of yours God has answered in a way that amazed you? What is a major prayer concern of yours right now?
James listed a huge variety of experiences in life we should feel the authority to take up in prayer. God loves to hear our prayers and loves to answer our prayers (Mk 11:14). All believers have been made righteous in God’s eyes through Christ. Our authority in Christ make our prayers effective. God uses our prayers to heal the sick, and to enact His will on Earth and for all of eternity.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ EPHESIANS 5:10-17.
Are we equipped to fight spiritual battles without God’s authority? Why or why not?
Read Ephesians 2:2. Who is our enemy in spiritual battles and what power does he have? Why should we ultimately not fear this enemy?
How did Paul use the imagery of light in these verses? How do we use light in this way?
Relying on our authority from God, how do we make the best use of our days, knowing they are evil (v. 16)?
Each and every day we face a very real spiritual battle with the prince of the power of the air. Though the Devil is a powerful and cunning adversary, he exists under the authority and control of God. We have power to chase darkness with the light of the gospel under the authority of Jesus Christ. Spiritual warfare rages all around us, but we have the power to resist the Devil and press on in mission (Jas 4:7).
How does knowing anytime you present the gospel as one under the authority of Jesus change the way share the gospel?
Have you ever used the power of prayer and the authority of healing to pray over someone who was desperately sick? What was that experience like? Who do you know who is sick that you could pray and request healing for?
How are we using our authority as believers to make disciples collectively and individually in this small group?
Jesus has given us authority to pray for things going on in our lives and in our world. What is one thing you can pray for in the following areas: family, work, a non-believer, and another Christian?
Pray and thank God for giving you His authority. Pray that you would use His authority to make His Son known in the areas you live, work, and play. Ask how you can better use His authority to better serve in the kingdom. Commit yourself to make disciples who make disciples as you learn about God, live for God, and lead others into relationship with God.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
How will you use your God given authority to build His kingdom this week?
Memorize Matthew 28:19-20.
28:17 On the significance of the disciples’ worship, see note at verse 9. The lingering confusion among them about Jesus’ resurrection undermines the skeptical theory that the disciples shared a hallucination of Jesus’ resurrection because they all expected Him to arise.
28:18 Before the resurrection, Jesus had authority (7:29; 9:6,8; 11:27; 21:23). However, through the resurrection, the Father granted Him all authority over heaven and... Earth, an authority far greater than that which Satan had vainly promised Him (see note at 4:8-9).
28:19 The command to extend their mission worldwide brings to a climax Matthew’s repeated theme of Gentile participation in God’s salvation. The inclusion of four Gentile women in Jesus’ genealogy and the summons of the magi to worship the infant Christ foreshadowed the disciples’ mission of making disciples of all nations. Baptism marked a person’s entrance into the faith community. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is a reference to the Trinity.
28:20 The Great Commission (vv. 19-20) is preceded by a reference to Jesus’ authority and followed by the promise of Jesus’ spiritual presence among us. Both are necessary if we are to fulfill our God-given mission.
5:13-14 James used a series of questions followed by commands as an effective way of exhorting the congregation to prayer and worship. Suffering in verse 13 is not a reference to physical illness; it is instead a spiritual burden caused by misfortune or poor choices. Elders, who functioned in various capacities in the early church, should anoint any sick person with olive oil and pray over him. Olive oil was considered a cure- all ointment in the ancient world, but for James the real healing power is in prayer.
5:15 The prayer of faith echoes 1:5-8. Save refers to physical healing (as in Mk 5:23,28,34; 10:52; Jn 11:12). The Lord will restore him to health does not indicate that death is at hand (v. 14), but that once healed by the power of God the sick person could get up and walk (Mt 9:5-7; Mk 1:31; 2:9-12; 9:27; Ac 3:7). He will be forgiven indicates that perhaps the illness was connected with sin, and the prayers of the elders could bring spiritual healing as well.
5:16 Pray for one another echoes the prayers of the elders, and these should lead to both physical and spiritual healing (i.e., forgiveness). Prayer is not a magical incantation or a guarantee of healing, but when offered fervently by a righteous person, God will respond in a way that best fits His good purposes.
5:10 Discerning what is pleasing to the Lord makes duty and Christian living a delight, investing service with joy.
5:11-14 Faithful believers do more than abstain from evil; they denounce the deeds of darkness as unfruitful, shameful, and not worthwhile.
5:15-16 These words provide a solemn warning that Christians should be wise and careful in all things, including their use of time. Our use of time is not neutral; it can be evil if it is not invested for good (Ps 90).
5:17 Understand what the Lord’s will is summarizes the two philosophies of life described in verses 1-17. The world’s lifestyle is characterized by moral and spiritual darkness. The philosophy for godly living is characterized by moral and spiritual light, and its goal is to imitate God and His love.