Small Group Curriculum

There’s Only One Way to Spiritual Life

04.21.19 | Sermon Series: Here’s the Deal

College Group Guide

PREPARATION

STUDY | Spend the week studying Luke 15 and Romans 10:9-10. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

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 | Through Jesus I can find a place to call home where I am loved, valued and accepted by God.

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.

WHEN LIFE GETS STICKY

Life can feel like a mystery, full of sticky choices and circumstances. But here’s the deal. The Bible gives you guidance when life gets sticky. It’s full of promises, principles and propositions that help take the guesswork out of life. Your group will discuss these in this series and discover truths that can shape your life for good.

God doesn’t leave you to fight in this spiritual war alone. As you take up the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) He protects you. He gives you eyes to see, frees you from fear, and gives you faith to stand against your enemy.

Q: Share a sticky choice or circumstance you are facing currently.

SEARCHING FOR HOME

We all have a physical home, whether it’s a house, an apartment or a dorm room. Our physical home is made up of people, too—a spouse, children or roommates. Within your physical home, life can be messy. People fight. There’s pain, hurt feelings and disappointment. Our home life is anything but perfect.

We’re all searching for a place to call home, somewhere beyond the walls we live in. Home is something more than a physical space or the people in it. Home is a place where you are loved, valued and accepted. This week your group will look at three stories in Luke 15 where Jesus explains that a home like this does exist. There is a path that leads to spiritual life and salvation. There is a path that leads home.

Q: Describe what it feels like to be loved, valued and accepted by someone.


LEARN

Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.

JESUS WELCOMES SINNERS

Luke 15 begins with a crowd surrounding Jesus, listening to Him teach. In this crowd are tax collectors and sinners. In that day, tax collectors had a bad reputation for being corrupt. The religious leaders, the Pharisees, were also in the crowd. They were the rule followers and didn’t associate with “sinners.”

Jesus was different. Instead of rejecting sinners, He welcomed them. When the Pharisees see Jesus doing this, they start to grumble. Jesus notices, which causes Him to stop and tell three stories that show how God sees sinners very differently than them.

READ: Luke 15:1–2. In what ways can some Christians act like Pharisees towards sinners today?

THREE STORIES

The first story is about a lost sheep and the shepherd who leaves his other sheep to find it. When he finds the lost sheep, he rejoices and brings the sheep home to celebrate with his friends and neighbors. The second story is about a lost coin and a woman who searches all through her house to find it. When she finds the coin, she rejoices and throws a party to celebrate.

READ: Luke 15:8–10. What do these two stories say about how God sees you?

The third story is about two lost sons and their father. The younger son wants independence. He asks for his share of the inheritance in order to go to a far-off country. The younger son leaves home and squanders everything he has on wild living. He’s at rock bottom.

Then he comes to his senses and says, “What am I doing here? I need to go back home and apologize to my father. Maybe he’ll at least hire me as one of his servants.” While the younger son is still a long way off, his father sees him and is overwhelmed with joy. His son has returned! He runs to his son, kisses him and tells his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best clothes and put them on my son. Let’s eat and celebrate because the son I thought was dead is alive! He was lost but has been found!”

Out in the field, the older son hears the noise of partying back home. When he discovers the reason for the celebration, he isn’t happy. In fact, he’s furious. He throws his own pity party and refuses to join the celebration. His father comes to him and asks, “What’s wrong, my son?” The son is indignant. “What’s wrong? All these years I’ve worked for you and I’ve never disobeyed you. Not once did you ever reward me with a celebration like this. But you give this son of yours, who wasted everything, a party?” Instead of rebuking the older son, the father speaks tenderly to him. “My son, you’ve always been with me and all I have is yours. We had to celebrate because your brother has come back from the dead. He was lost and has been found.”

READ: Luke 15:11–32. What similar pattern do you see in each of Jesus’s stories?

Q: Both sons in the story are lost. How is each of them lost?


LIVE

Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.

TWO PATHS

Jesus shocked the Pharisees because no one talked about God the way He did. In each of these stories Jesus gives us a glimpse into the heart of God. God is the Good Shepherd who searches high and low for the lost sheep He loves. He is like the woman who searched for her valuable coin that was lost and rejoiced when it was found. He is the Good Father who welcomes the lost back home with open arms, forgiveness and a party.

Jesus’s third story isn’t just about a father and his two sons. It’s about us. Each of us is on a quest in life to find joy and fulfillment. Through the two sons, Jesus gives us two paths in life: (1) the path of self-discovery (younger son) and (2) the path of playing by the rules (older son). Jesus divided the entire human race into two groups. Each of us is seeking joy and fulfillment through one of these two paths. The bad news is that each of these paths is a dead end. But Jesus doesn’t leave us hopeless. He has good news.

Q: Which of the two paths do you tend to follow: self-discovery or playing by the rules? Explain.

Q: Why are both paths a dead end?

A THIRD WAY

Through these stories Jesus was telling another story—the gospel. Every character and event in these three stories point to what Jesus actually did and accomplished for us. God the Father sent Jesus his Son on a rescue mission to search after us, find us, and bring us back to our true home in a relationship with God.

The gospel tells that, in our sin, we don’t seek after God. We’re lost, in the dark, and our relationship with Him his broken by sin. We need to be found. We need our eyes to be opened to the truth. We need to be rescued. The gospel is the story of how Jesus overcame the obstacle of sin for us and made a third way to joy, fulfillment, and spiritual life through Himself.

You can find a place to call home where you are loved, valued and accepted. God loves you, even if you’ve been running from Him for years or don’t care anything about him. You are valuable to Him, even when you look at yourself and think, I’m worthless. The best news you could hear is that God accepts you with full forgiveness and joyful celebration when you come to him.

 

Q: How does believing that you are loved, valued and accepted by God change the way you see yourself?

Q: Name someone you want to share the good news of Jesus Christ with this week.


LEAD

Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.

HOW YOU CAN KNOW

Maybe you’re thinking, How can I know for sure that I’m saved? or What does it mean to be saved? Paul tells us in Romans 10:9 when he writes, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that Godraised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Paul doesn’t complicate things. He says, “There’s only one way to spiritual life. If you want to be saved, you need to (1) make Jesus the Lord of your life, and (2) believe what the Bible says about who Jesus is and what He did for you.”To be saved means to make Jesus the master of your life and believe the gospel. That’s it.

Q: What’s the difference between intellectual belief and believing in your heart?

Q: What’s one change you need to make to further establish Jesus as Lord of your life?


PRAY

Praise God that you have found a place to call home in a relationship with Him. Celebrate the truth that He loves, values and accepts you through the work of His Son, Jesus.


FOLLOW UP

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

  • Read Romans 1–3 and reflect on how Paul shows that everyone is need of salvation.
  • Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.

COMMENTARY

Outsiders and Insiders

“The targets of this story are not ‘wayward sinners’ but religious people who do everything the Bible requires. Jesus is pleading not so much with immoral outsiders as with moral insiders. He wants to show them their blindness, narrowness, and self-righteousness, and how these things are destroying both their own souls and the lives of the people around them.”1

Jesus as Lord

“When Paul speaks of Jesus being ‘Lord,’ he is speaking of Jesus’s absolute authority. To confess that Jesus is Lord means to place yourself completely under His authority and allow Him to reign in your heart and do whatever He asks you to do.”2

Faith from the Heart

“The word for ‘believe’ [in Rom. 10:9] is pistauo, which means ‘to put your personal trust and confidence in.’ This is why justification is by faith. Now where is that faith? In the heart. Paul is not using the heart as a term to describe merely the seat of emotions. When he speaks about the heart, he is speaking about the core of one’s being. It includes the mind but it involves more than the mind. From the depths of my being, I trust that God raised Jesus from the dead.”3


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ENDNOTES:
1. Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (New York: Dutton, 2008), Kindle Edition.
2. Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 209.
3. R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 179.