GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of June 26, 2016
Noble Believers Search Scripture First - Mike Malony
00:00 / 00:00
Key Text: Acts 17:1-15 (ESV)

THE SET-UP

Paul presents Christ as the key to understanding Scripture. And that changes everything.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

What can we learn from the Berean believers?

How do we use Scripture to learn what’s true?

 

What’s so threatening about the Gospel?

 

GRACE IN 3D

Apprentices of Jesus are united in the Church as a family, a faith community. Powered by the Holy Spirit, we can help each other evaluate truth and understand how Scripture should shape our worldview. That on-going conversation is vitally important, but it can get tricky. The only place where everyone agrees all the time about everything is at the First Imaginary Church of I-Don’t-Exist.


So as a family of believers, how can we best love one another in ways that honor Christ as we search out the truth of Scripture? What about as a Grace Group? Seems like we might benefit from some ground rules, or guidelines. Imagine that you’ve been asked to come up with a “playbook” for navigating conversations about Scripture. What would you include? In your opinion, what should always be done to ensure a fruitful, respectful conversation? What should be avoided? When your Grace Group meets, be prepared to compare lists. Are there things everyone agrees on? Things everyone feels differently about?

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Paul says the Jews in Berea were “more noble” or “noble-minded” than the Thessalonican Jews. For sure, that bunch didn’t set a very high bar. But those in Berea distinguished themselves by any standard in the way they responded to the Gospel message. So what can we learn from their example? Paul tells us a lot about their character: that they had “a better and more generous spirit” than those in Thessalonica, and their investigation of Scripture “parallels the best in human jurisprudence, unbiased investigation to get at the truth.” What do you think it means to approach Scripture with a generous spirit? When examining Scripture in the context of community, do you think it’s easy or hard to maintain enthusiasm and generosity of spirit? Why? Do you think it’s important to spend time with Scripture every day? Why or why not?

 

  • Jewish audiences would have been well-versed in the law of the Torah; probably would have held tightly to it, lived strictly according to its teaching. To help them understand that Jesus is the Messiah they’re waiting for, Paul takes them back through the Scripture they know so well and connects the dots that point to and reveal Jesus’ identity. (His teaching might have gone something like this.) Considered in the context of this truth, everything about the law would have changed for the Jews. In light of the Gospel, do you imagine it was easy or hard for them to let go of what they’d believed? When you study Scripture to determine the truth of a teaching, idea or circumstance, do you read it in light of the person of Jesus Christ? What does that mean? Do you think it’s possible to know truth without the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Without working and walking it out in community with other believers? Why or why not?

 

  • Because he preached the Gospel so boldly, Paul spent a lot of time being beaten up, thrown in jail and chased out of towns all over first-century Asia Minor and Europe. Fear seems to have been a common and excellent motivator for those attacks; we see it here, for example, in verses 8 and 13. What’s so scary about the Gospel? Why do you think Jewish and political leaders found it threatening? Do you think we’re less afraid of it today? Why or why not? When you read it carefully and commit to live according to Jesus’ teachings, are there things about it that you’re afraid of? If so, what are they?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

If the Bereans’ example means to be open, tolerant and generous, and to accept the Gospel with great eagerness, what are some specific things you’ll do this week to follow it? Will you filter Scripture through a Christ-focused lens? Would you be willing to get rid of sources you might lean on — books, websites, TV, social media — that don’t reflect Christ? If so, do you think your worldview or your understanding of Scripture might change? Why or why not?

DEEP CUTS 

If you’d like to explore some background on Paul’s time in Berea, you could start here.

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org:  Lessons from a father, and the Father. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

Paul sure made the most of his time in a prison cell, which was a great thing for the church at Philippi. And us, too. For next week, get a look ahead at his prison letter that gave us Philippians.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of June 19, 2016
Faith - John Ray
00:00 / 00:00
Key Text: Romans 1:16-17 (NET)

THE SET-UP
 

Apprentices of Jesus are called to live with faith while navigating a world of rules and obligations that seem to dictate how our lives turn out. What does the Gospel mean to us in that context?

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

What does it mean to live our lives according to the Gospel?

What is a true “faith response” to the Gospel message?

 

How does living faithfully help us understand and express faith?

 

GRACE IN 3D

How many times have you found yourself in a situation that was painful, or confusing, or seemed entirely out of your control? In those times, how often have you been told by a well-meaning someone to “just have faith”? And in those times, how often have you wanted, in all Christian love and fellowship, to punch that well-meaning someone in the neck? Being told to “have faith” when we’re hurting or in need can make us feel frustrated and dismissed. Why is that? Based on your own experiences, what are some of our most common misconceptions about faith? On the other hand, think about specific times in your life when truly having faith in God’s love and provision was a game-changer: What do you know about faith that you would not have known otherwise?

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • In verse 16, Paul uses the word dunamis to name God’s power — same root as our word “dynamite.” When he talks about this power, he knows from very personal, compelling, life-altering experience what it is. (Read up on his come-to-Jesus conversion in Acts 9.) Despite having pushed through unfathomable hardship, he can honestly say that he’s proud of the Gospel. It’s clear to see how his understanding of faith is shaped by his closeness with Jesus Christ. How do your understanding of the Gospel message and your relationship with Jesus impact the way you live? The way you understand faith? Can you relate to Paul’s boldness in sharing the Gospel? Why or why not?

 

  • Some try to figure out the Gospel by reducing it to a philosophy, abstract idea or code of conduct. In reality, we have to interact with it — submit to it, fully embrace it, trust it — in order to comprehend it. The submitting, embracing and trusting is what we call “faith.” Faith requires an object; in the case of Christianity, it’s a person, Jesus. So how do you personally interact with the Gospel? With Jesus Christ? Is it easy? Why or why not? What makes it easy? And what are the obstacles?

 

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

Writing in Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, the British theologian Dr. William Sanday says, “‘Faith,’ as understood by St. Paul, is not merely head-belief, a purely intellectual process such as that of which St. James spoke when he said ‘the devils also believe and tremble’; neither is it merely ‘trust,’ a passive dependence upon an Unseen Power; but it is a further stage of feeling developed out of these, a current of emotion setting strongly in the direction of its object, an ardent and vital apprehension of that object, and a firm and loyal attachment to it.”


Does this describe your faith in Jesus Christ? What are some practical ways you can walk out your firm and loyal attachment to Him this week?

DEEP CUTS 

 

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Talk about a deafening silence. In the midst of horrific evil, why does God sometimes seem to have absolutely nothing to say? And how should we respond? John Ray shares thoughts on The Silence, a book that offers profound insights. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

LOOKING AHEAD

Paul found an eager, discerning and receptive audience for the Gospel when he arrived in Berea. Next week, Mike Malony takes a look at Paul’s ministry to the church that was established there. For a preview, read Acts 17:1-15.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of June 12, 2016
You Call Yourself a Christian? - John Ray
00:00 / 00:00
Key Text: Acts 11:1-26 (NET)

THE SET-UP
 

The name of “Christian” is full of meaning — and some might say that not all if it is good. What does it really say about us, the Church, and the Christ we’re named for?

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

What does it mean to call yourself a Christian?

What are the alternatives?

 

How should we let this identification form us?

 

GRACE IN 3D

When you think about it, the early communities of Jesus-followers had to be called something. They weren’t really Jews any more, although many were Jewish. And since all the followers were being called to be unified, they needed a name that would reflect this. Although we have no way of knowing if the term “Christian” was something they chose or a name others started calling them that “stuck,” it quickly became the accepted designation. And now it has a claim on us. Do we “own” it or reject it? Take some time in your group to discuss what this means to individuals and to us as a Church, a Christian Church. How does this affect the way we deal with ourselves and each other? How does it affect the way we deal with people who are adamantly not Christian?

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • What does it mean to you, personally, to be identified as a Christian? How comfortable are you with the name? In what settings are you more comfortable with it? It what situations are you less comfortable? Why?

 

  • If you couldn’t use the term “Christian,” what term would you use? Why?

 

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

How different would our interactions be if we carried our identity as “Christian” in the forefront of our minds as we went throughout the day? What if we walked into the store as a “Christian”? Did our job as a “Christian”? Spoke to our friends as a “Christian”? Find time this week to practice this. Note how it feels, how it affects your perspective, mood and behaviors.

DEEP CUTS 

 

For thoughts on Christianity in our culture, start here.

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Next week, we’ll hear how Paul explains God’s plan for salvation to the first Christ-followers in Rome. Read about it in Romans.

Grace Church Teaching Guide / Week of June 5, 2016
Breaking It All Down - Ron Harris
00:00 / 00:00
Key Text: Galatians 3:27-29 (NET)

THE SET-UP
 

In a letter to Jesus’ followers in Galatia, Paul explains that believers aren’t unified by works or customs. Only by faith are we made one in Christ.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

 

How do we “clothe” ourselves with Christ?

What does it mean to be one in Him?

 

How do we walk in unity when our world

is irreparably fractured?

 

GRACE IN 3D

The Galatian Christians — mostly Gentile — had to figure out what to do with customs that were deeply ingrained in Jewish law and tradition. Remember, the first churches were working out their faith in real time. It’s easy to see how they might have been conflicted about the relationship between works and faith when the law of the Torah had set the standard for religious practice for about 2000 years. Maybe we can relate, in a way. Have you ever wondered why we observe particular traditions in worship? Why, even among Christian churches, we observe the same traditions so differently? Would you be willing to talk about it with your Grace Group? Have you ever been confused about the purpose of a particular practice in the church? If you have, spend a few minutes researching it, and be ready to share with your group what you find out.

THE HEAD AND THE HEART

 

  • Do you think there’s a difference between being baptized in Jesus’ name and being baptized into Jesus? In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says that anyone who is in Christ has been made a new creation; how do you think this is connected with being baptized into Jesus, and clothing ourselves in Christ? Paul seems to be a little bit in love with the “putting on” metaphor; he uses it fourteen times in seven books. We can’t earn salvation — it’s God’s gift to us — but does it sound like we have to choose to walk in our new identity, to “put it on”? When we put on Christ, how do we resist the temptation to also take Him off from time to time?

 

  • Think about what we’ve read in Paul’s letters during the past few weeks. Based only on the text, what does the phrase “all of you are one in Christ Jesus” mean to you? Look at the specific groups Paul names in verse 28: How do you think that went over in a patriarchal, slave-owning society where Gentile believers may have been pressured to supplement the Gospel by adopting Jewish traditions that were in line with Old Testament law?ed to be?

 

  • The Amplified Bible draws the meaning of verse 28 out a little further: “... for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority].” Ouch. How easy is it to fall into that trap when we live in a world of “religious” proliferation? When even among believers there are so many different ideas about what’s right and wrong? Do you think it’s even possible for the Church to be united today? Why or why not? What are some practical ways we can or do encourage unity among believers in Fayetteville? In our country? Around the world?

 

 

THE OPPORTUNITY

 

As you meditate on our text for this week, ask the Holy Spirit to show you, our church and the Church worldwide how we can grow in our unity in Christ. Commit to do three practical things this week to encourage “oneness” among believers in our church or community, or the Church at large.

 

You could start with this: John and Lesley Green are flying to Ukraine at the end of June to visit Gypsy camps where they’ve developed connections and friendships. They want to serve these folks by helping make education more accessible and by creating job opportunities. There are three easy ways you can invest in their work: Pray for them. Pick up a “Gypsy Jar” in the Missions Hub at 2828 and fill it with change. And order a tshirt here; proceeds will help offset the cost of their trip.


Or this: The Lesters need a van to drive while they’re in Fayetteville this summer. If you have one they can use or know someone who does, shoot Trajan or Hannah an email.

DEEP CUTS

 

 

THE MASH-UP

 

 

 

GRACE IN THE MOMENT

 

In this week’s blog post on gracechurchnwa.org: Church. Whew! Not easy, but totally worth giving our best. Read more from John Ray. Leave comments! Share it! Tweet it! Pin it! Post it!

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Are we called “Christians” because of how we worship, or who we worship? Next week, we’ll take a look at what it means to be identified this way, and whether, after 2000 years, it’s still a good thing. Read Acts 11:1-26 to get a jump on our study.​