(1) AMAZED BY GRACE
What sets Christianity apart from all other religions and philosophies? In Jesus Christ, God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. By giving us his Son and Spirit, God makes us his children. How? Not because we are worthy or strong or have made good choices. Not because we come from the ‘right’ background or have a good spiritual CV. Only by grace.
Grace is God’s gift of Jesus Christ given freely to the undeserving. This cuts right through all human expectations of worth or any basis for pride. But what would it feel like to be part of a family of believers who live and breathe this way? Who are truly amazed by grace? This session gives us a chance to consider our need for grace, the gospel of grace and the deep impact of grace across the board in a healthy Christian community.
- If helpful, please use (or adapt) the introduction above to set the scene for your group.
- Don’t worry about covering all the content if time is tight. Far better to have an honest discussion than a hurried superficial one (even if superficially ‘correct’).
- If using the reflection song to transition from bible study to implications, prepare in advance a suitable device to play music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLPf9SA_Ptk
- You may wish to suggest people pray or reflect personally during the song as they may be uncertain or awkward if listening to music together is not part of your usual pattern. E.g. “Let’s have a few minutes while we listen to this to reflect and pray by ourselves. This will help prepare us for the next discussion.”
- When looking at ‘the impact’ of God’s amazing grace, you may wish to split into pairs or smaller groups to look at one or other of the areas listed. Feel free to pick and choose which topics might be most relevant for the people in your group.
- Aim to reach some concrete take-aways for the final section for how we would like to put this into practice. It might be wise to write down some of these to send around to the group and revisit in future months to evaluate the impact. Pray for these! (try to leave good time)
Covering the material
- (10 mins) THE NEED: Since grace is never the ‘default setting’ of the human heart without the supernatural work of God — we should expect lots of situations where we find pride/judgmentalism/cancel culture etc . Not just in the world, but even in church. We can so easily look down on others, be harsh, unforgiving, forgetful of how kind God has been to us, even becoming proud about how ‘right’ our theology of grace is! Take time to hear stories
and examples — not to encourage a grumble-fest but to illustrate how deeply our hearts ache to experience grace and how painful life is without it.
- (10 mins) THE GOSPEL. Ephesians 2:1-10 blows the doors off human pride or self-congratulation. We see starkly what we were by nature (dead: v1-3), what God did (made us alive with Christ v4-7) and how (by grace: v8-9). As such, our ‘good works’ are the result and not the cause of God’s kindness to us v10. This is revolutionary and the ripple effects should touch every corner of our Christian life and community!
- (20 mins) THE IMPACT: Clearly we could look at any number of facets of community life. Worship is primary because God is supreme. Grace creates an atmosphere of praise and glad generosity. How we value people is unavoidable evidence of grace (or lack thereof). How we speak reveals our hearts. How can we cultivate a genuine culture of grace-shaped conversation, encouragement and challenge to live godly lives in response to God’s grace?