We want to advance the gospel in distance and in depth. And that means we go “level-three” in how we talk to one another. Sermon discussion questions are the primary tool for this deeper level of conversation within our Life Groups.
How to Use These Questions
We’ve tried to make them as adaptable as possible. They are more like clusters of questions than stand-alone questions. You don’t have to get through them all, but the idea is that they’ll get discussion started that then leads into a good time of prayer together. Community Group leaders will be getting these to the Life Group point-persons at the start of each week of Life Group meetings. Going forward, you should have two sermons to choose from for discussion. Below are the questions for my sermon on Acts 15, and then Pastor David’s sermon on Acts 16.
Questions for Acts 15
Read or listen to “No Small Debate.”
The turning point of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 was when Peter spoke up about the grace of God. He ended his speech, “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:11). The grace of God was argued as the great equalizer for Jew and Gentile. Why does grace bring this kind of equalizing perspective? How does grace impact the way we view our unbelieving neighbors, as opposed to the judgmentalism we so easily slip into? How might a robust understanding of grace change the way we envision our relationships with those far from God?
We don’t have to “become” anything in order for God to save us. This is one remarkable difference between the gospel and every religion of the world. Every other religion is about man getting to God — performing X, Y, and Z, whether than means some routine ritual or a fabricated notion of “submission.” Religion is man trying to get to God at all cost. The gospel, however, is that God has come to man at the cost of himself. Do you find this truth more convicting or assuring? Does this truth incite you to rest in the gospel or feel bad about how you tend not rest in the gospel? Who are some people in your life that you want to know this good news?
Peter said that those who taught keeping the Mosaic law was a requirement for salvation were “putting God to the test” (Acts 15:10). They were going beyond God’s grace, which was to criticize God’s grace as insufficient. We extrapolated that anytime we think we need to go beyond God’s grace for him to act on our behalf, we, too, insult his grace. In other words, when we think that the determining factor of God’s kindness to us is what we do, we belittle his love. We can often do this unintentionally. What are some examples in your own life? What are areas in which you feel the most pressure to “go beyond” God’s grace? What is the difference between our work as a means to God’s grace and our work as the determining factor of God’s grace? How do we make the different explicit in our hearts and prayers?
Questions for Acts 16
Read or listen to “Jesus in the City.”
In Acts 16:14, we read that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to “pay attention to what was said by Paul.” Pastor David noted that the apostles still speak, and must speak, but that it is Jesus who opens the listener’s heart to hear his word. How does this reality challenge and encourage our approach to making Jesus known in the Cities? Do we tend to steamroll listener’s for a response, attempting to take their listening into our own hands? Or do we tend toward silence, lacking confidence that anything we say will get through? How should the sovereign grace of Jesus impact our evangelism?
Pastor David shows us three examples in Acts 16 of Christians who forfeit their personal freedoms in order to bring freedom to others. David said, “Foregoing our rights to win someone else is a way to show the gospel, and give a picture to accompany our message.” Chances are, at least in our day, this won’t include circumcision or public beatings, but what might fit into this category? What “freedoms” might you forfeit as a means of displaying the self-sacrificial love of Jesus? What are ways that you can move toward others in love at a cost to yourself and/or reputation?
Pastor David noted the diversity of people impacted by Jesus in Acts 16: Lydia, a wealthy religious women; the slave girl, a social outcast and religious antagonist; and the jailer, a religiously indifferent Gentile. David said, “Jesus builds his church in the city, and uses a diversity of ways to make diverse people into one body in him.” How does this reality intersect with your personal story? Consider the unlikeliness of your own conversion. What are the ways, humanly speaking, that you should not believe in Jesus? Now, what does it mean that you do, and how does that encourage you on mission this week?