Small Group Curriculum

The Mystery of the Gospel

09.14.19 | Sermon Series: Colossians

College Group Guide

PREPARATION

STUDY | Spend the week studying Colossians 1:24–2:5. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

DETERMINE | Determine which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.

PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.

LANDING POINT | Christ's presence in me empowers me.

Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion

  1. Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
  2. No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
  3. No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
  4. Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group. 

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

A MYSTERY REVEALED

Don’t you love a good storyteller? Whether it’s around the campfire or the watercooler, we appreciate someone who can tell a story that grabs our attention and holds it. Chances are, you can think of a few good storytellers in your life. Maybe it’s your grandfather or a former roommate from college. Whoever it is, their stories keep you on the edge of your seat. They include intriguing characters, elements of mystery, unexpected twists and turns and plenty of drama, tension or comedy.

Paul tells us that God Himself had been telling a mystery story for thousands of years through His people, the nation of Israel. Through patriarchs, kings, and prophets, He told of a coming Messiah that would deliver people from their sins, give them new life and bring them back into a relationship with Him. For generations, this deliverer remained hidden, until He was finally revealed in God’s own Son—Jesus.

Jesus is the mystery of God’s story revealed to us. The gospel is a story with divine power to change you. This week your group will discuss how this revelation from God brings power into your life.

Q: Describe someone you know who is a good storyteller. What makes them a good storyteller?

Q: What elements of a good story do you see in the gospel story?


LEARN

Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.

THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL

Having just praised Jesus for who He is and what He has done to reconcile us to God, Paul now turns his attention to his work in ministry. He tells the Colossians that he takes joy in his suffering for their sake and the sake of all believers. How can he rejoice in his suffering? Because it’s part of the mission he received from God to make the gospel known, a mystery that was formerly hidden but now has been revealed in Jesus.

After Christ’s resurrection, we see more clearly what God was up to in His plan of redemption. God Himself, in the person of Jesus, lives in believers, and His presence empowers believers just as it empowers Paul in his work for the gospel. This is the glorious hope of the gospel, that God dwells not in a temple, but in the hearts of believers. This hope motivates Paul in his ministry to proclaim the gospel and lead others to spiritual maturity.

READ: Colossians 1:24–2:5. Share about a time when God helped you through a time of suffering. What did you learn about God? Yourself?

Q: How does hope motivate you? How is that different than living without hope?

PURPOSE IN THE STRUGGLE

Paul then shows his heart for the believers in Colossae. He wants them to know that he struggles for them even though they’ve never met him. The hardship he has endured is for a purpose: for believers to be encouraged, to be bound together in love and to understand all the riches they have in Christ, our ultimate treasure. In Jesus, we find all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to live a worthy and God-centered life. To see the Colossians receive allthree—encouragement, love, and understanding—makes the apostle rejoice.

Q: What are some ways you give and receive encouragement?

Q: What does it look like for a community to be bound in love? Describe it.

 
 

LIVE

Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.

Christ’s presence in you empowers you. His presence makes you see and react to your life and relationships in a ifferent way. Let’s highlight four ways you are empowered in Christ.

EMPOWERED TO HANDLE HARDSHIP

We know from the book of Acts and Paul’s letters that he suffered much for the gospel. Many believers, past and present, have shown incredible endurance and faithfulness in the face of difficulty. How is this possible? Because you have God’s strength working in you and for you. The same Spirit that empowered Jesus to endure the cross lives in you, and that should give you hope in any circumstance.

Q: What current hardships are you facing? How do you see God working during your hardship(s)?

EMPOWERED TO SHARE AND CARE

Paul understood that He was called by God to carry out a mission. This man who was a former persecutor of the church became its biggest advocate. He was an evangelist and a disciple-maker. That is, he shared his faith(evangelism) and cared for believers (disciple-making). Like Paul, God calls you to share and care for others. Jesus empowers you to help others go from unbelief to spiritual maturity.

Q: What are some specific ways you can share your faith and/or care for someone this week?

EMPOWERED TO DISCERN

Some form of false teaching had made its way into the Colossian church. Paul saw the dangers of this false teaching because it was trying to add something to the gospel. The gospel is not Christ plus good works, or Christ plus keeping religious rules, or Christ plus having some spiritual experience. True faith is a belief that Christ alone is enough for salvation. Jesus empowers you with the ability to discern God’s truth from error, which is necessary in a world where false teachers and false gospels still exist.

Q: Name some of the false gospels you see in our culture today. What is their message?

EMPOWERED TO STAND FIRM

Paul was concerned about the faith of the Colossian believers over the long haul. He knew that, with Jesus’s empowerment, they could remain faithful and stand firm in their faith through the peaks and valleys of life. The same is true of you. Christ is at work in you to encourage and discipline you towards a stronger, more robust faith in Him. His love for you is constant and doesn’t rise or fall because of anything you do. Jesus promises to be present with you whether your faith in Him is thriving or weak.

Q: Where in your life do you need stronger faith?


LEAD

Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.

TREASURING CHRIST

Jesus empowers you to live your life as God intended- in reverent awe of God, whoo is mort worthy of our honor and worship. Throughout this passage, Paul speaks of riches and treasure. He wants the Colossians to see that the are rich beyond belief in Jesus. The more you get to know Jesus, the more you see that He is your ultimate treasure. You also see that He has given you access to all the wonderful blessings God can provide for those that belong to Him. 

Q: What does it mean to live in reverent awe of God?
Q: What are some ways you can treasure Christ in your day-to-day life?

 

Pray

Spend time praising God as your ultimate treasure. Thank Him for the riches you have in Him. Ask God to empower you to live the life He intends for you in the areas mentioned in the Live section.


FOLLOW UP

Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:

Read Hebrews 11 and consider what former believers suffered for Christ’s sake and how that can encourage you to be faithful in the face of suffering.

• Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.


COMMENTARY

 

Boasting in Weakness: In 2 Corinthians 11:16–12:10, Paul gives an account of his sufferings for Christ. While the list of what he endured is impressive, Paul chooses not to boast in his sufferings. Rather, he chooses to boast in his weaknesses, so that Christ’s power might rest on him (12:9).

Paul as Steward: “Paul views himself as a divinely commissioned ‘steward’ or ‘administrator’ (Gk.oikonomos), a word used widely in the Roman world for the administrator of a large household or estate. Paul’sresponsibility was to make the word of God fully known. The ‘filling up’ (Gk. antanaplēroō, v. 24) of Christ’safflictions takes place as the proclamation of the word is made “fully known” (Gk. plēroō, v. 25). Paul suffers as he proclaims the gospel, and he declares that the basis of forgiveness of sins is Christ’s once-for-all suffering and sacrifice."

Available to All: Paul’s mission was to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. He understood that part of the mystery now revealed in Christ is that the gospel is available to all, regardless of one’s wealth, status, abilities or intellect.elsewhere, the local gathering of believers. It is a worldwide entity, embracing all who acknowledge Christ as Lord.”

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ENDNOTES:

1. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2295.
2. D. A. Carson, “Colossians,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand