Dr. E. Dale Locke and Rev. Trevor Johnston
Sermon series: Grace: the Never-ending, Overwhelming, Reckless Love of God
Week 4: Grace To
PDF file for printing: 01-27-18
1. How are you doing at memorizing our theme verse, Ephesians 2:8-9? “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” Practice it again with your group now.
2. There are two major misunderstandings of grace. 1) Some people view grace as if it were “Cheap Grace.” Since God is loving, these people assume that they can just live however they want, and ask for God’s forgiveness afterward. They don’t invest in their relationship with God, but then they wonder why they don’t feel His presence. 2) Others view their faith as if there were “No Grace.” They think they have to earn their way to God by making sure their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds. We call this mistaken idea “Works Righteousness.” These people often get tired and give up.
In contrast to these two false views of grace, genuine grace enables us to see God and ourselves in a whole new way. Talk about some of the ways a person will see God and their self differently, if they understand grace correctly.
Grace has Four Movements:
Movement One: Grace Before.
This is God going after us before we even have an interest in Him. God takes the first step to start a relationship with us.
3. Read Luke 15:20, where Jesus tells the parable of the Prodigal Son: “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
How does this verse and this story of the Prodigal Son reflect the idea of “Grace Before”?
Movement Two: Grace Enough.
When we respond to God’s grace, we can receive His forgiveness and be saved. Just knowing about God and His love doesn’t mean you have a relationship with Him. You establish a relationship with God as you respond and accept his grace. Then grace can become active in your life.
Movement Three: Grace to Grow in Christ
4. Read Colossians 2:6-7: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
What is the Apostle Paul seeking to communicate here? What thoughts or questions come to your mind when you read these verses?
5. George Barna of the Barna Institute (a research company that studies faith) names 10 transformational steps of a walk with God.
89% had been through the first five steps – which represent Movements 1 & 2 of Grace. Only 11% of the 15,000 Christians they interviewed were in the final five phases of faith – which represents Movement 3 of Grace that we’re talking about today. Why do you think that is the case?
6. The cartoon character Popeye the Sailorman used to say, “I am what I am.” This was his general explanation of his shortcomings, but he offered no hope that he would ever change. What happens when a Christian adopts this attitude about his or her own spiritual life? What is the danger of having a Popeye attitude about your spiritual life?
7. Read Colossians 2:6-7: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
Notice the underlined words. What do these words communicate to you about God’s intent for your faith walk?
8. Sometimes Christians think the way to grow spiritually is to TRY hard to be better than we are. What’s the problem with this idea?
9. A better way to live our faith is to TRAIN rather than just TRYING hard.
Read 1 Timothy 4:7-8: “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
What do we mean by this idea of “training ourselves to be godly”? How do we do that? How is this idea different from “works righteousness”?
10. Read 2 Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for Christ.”
What does this verse add to your understanding of how we grow spiritually?
3 Practices that Can Help us Grow Spiritually
1) Pursue Spiritual Friendships
11. Read Romans 1:12 (NLT): “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”
How have spiritual friendships helped you in your faith journey?
2) Read God’s Word
12. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
What is your current practice with regard to reading God’s Word? How has Bible reading impacted your faith journey?
3) Live a life of gratitude before God
13. Read Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God– this is your true and proper worship.”
Name several things you can be thankful to God for right now.
It’s great to take 10 minutes at the end of each day to reflect on your day and look for things you could be grateful to God for. Try doing this today!