Gifted - Week 5 - Group Discussion Questions

DEBRIEF & FOLLOW UP

• What is the Holy Spirit showing you from this last week?
• How does God desire for you to grow as a disciple or disciple maker?
• How can this group help you in your Christian journey?

discussion questions

• In what ways do you desire to grow in maturity?
• How is God wanting you to help build up the body and how can we support you in that effort?

Gifted - Day 5 - Off with the Old, On with the New

Listen

Ephesians 4:20-24 - 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Learn

My boys love to dress up as superheroes. As soon as they put on their costumes, a kind of transformation takes place as they go from being regular boys to Batman and Robin. At once, they run through the house fighting crime and battling evil. As superheroes they are invincible. It seems the costume change empowers an identity change. In the above verses Paul uses a similar idea to help us understand our identity in Jesus.

As Christians, we have been transformed into a new creation in Christ. We have a new mind with new ways to think, we have a new heart with new desires to feel, and we have a new identity to live as a new person. Paul instructs us to embrace our new life by doing two things.

First, we are told to “put off your old self” (v.22). This means we need to turn away from our old life of sin. Practically, this means turning away from futile thinking that dishonors God, deceitful desires that dishonor God, and rebellious lifestyle choices that dishonor God. Second, we are told to “put on the new self” (v.24). This means turning towards our new life of faith. Practically, this means “being renewed in the spirit of your mind” (v.23), following the desires of the Holy Spirit in your heart (Gal. 5:16) and living for Jesus as a child of God (Eph. 5:1).

Put off the old and put on the new is imagery of taking off and putting on clothing. It’s Paul’s way of saying to daily take off your old self, which is like an old dirty coat covered in sin, and put on your new self, which is like a new coat covered in the righteousness of Jesus. Why should we do this? Because it is the Christian way.

Since we have been transformed, we are called to live a transformed life by taking off the old self and putting on the new self. This is identity language. The point is simple: who we are determines what we do and how we live. Because you are a new person in Jesus, live like it.

Live

• What are the aspects of your old self that you are struggling to take off?

• What’s one thing you can do this week to put on the new self?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for a new identity and a new life in Jesus.

Gifted - Day 4 - Walking With God

Listen

Ephesians 4:17-19 - 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Learn

Have you ever sprained your ankle? If you step on it in ways it wasn’t meant to be, you can tear a ligament that normally connects bone and joint. What’s the result? Well, crutches are often needed, and you definitely don’t walk the way you used to. If you did, the ankle would never heal. Conversely, if your ankle were damaged but now healed, you would once again be able to walk normally and wouldn’t need to limp.

Life is a lot like walking. We go where our hearts lead us and our minds control the direction of our steps. The challenge for Christians is the same as for someone who once had a sprained ankle: though we are healed, crooked walking can be so familiar that we revert to it.

The key to avoiding a fall is to know how this crooked pattern works. To mix metaphors, the pattern driving our steps is a lot like a plant: it has a root, a stem, and fruit.

Paul says the root of the Gentiles’ (in this case, he means non-Christians) crooked steps is a hard, or callous heart (v.18,19). Non-Christians are not soft to God’s leadership and guidance. They don’t want him to direct their steps because they see themselves as the boss. The root of a hard heart leads to the stem of a futile mind and darkened understanding (v.17, 18). Broken thinking produces the fruit of action: walking in total surrender - not to God, but to sensuality (v.19).

As we embrace this warning from Paul, we live (walk) differently than non-Christians. We find life in God (v.18), and by the power of the Holy Spirit, choose to walk with him (Gal. 5:16-26).

Live

• Honestly allow God to search your heart (root). Are there sensual sins you find yourself daydreaming about? Are there actions (fruit) you have surrendered yourself to and need to walk away from?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for life in Jesus and the presence of his Spirit to guide our steps.

Gifted - Day 3 - Grow Into The Head

Listen

Ephesians 4:15-16 - 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Learn

Stephen Hawking is fascinating. Not only because he’s a genius but also because despite his incredible cognitive abilities he also suffers from major physical disabilities - including being confined to a motorized wheelchair. His mind is great, and his body is weak. In a similar way, Christ is great and the church is weak.

Paul continues with his analogy of the church as a body (v.15) and shows us in a fuller way what we are aiming for: we want the body to grow to the point of “catching up” with its head, Christ. He (Christ) is loving and truthful and he has no need for growth, because he is perfect. If only we as his body were as excellent as our head! The goal of the church then is that “by this process of maturity we shall become truly what we already are in principle: members of the Messiah’s [Christ’s] body” (v.15–16)1.

But how do we grow into our head? By living interdependently with the community of believers we are a part of, through loving and speaking truth to one another. As we do, we are built up to his stature (v.13) and living in sync with him.

Live

• What areas of immaturity do you recognize in your own life and in our church? 
• What are some ways for you to love and build it up?
• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for a community of love in Jesus.

1 N.T. Wright, ‘Paul For Everyone: The Prison Letters’

Gifted - Day 2 - Getting There

Listen

Ephesians 4:11-14 - 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

 

Learn

We all know the classic statement kids have uttered from the back seat as long as the automobile has been around: “Are we there yet?” You’ve probably heard it said, said it yourself as a child, and thought it often as an adult while stuck in traffic. As impatient as we might get, the benefit of driving to a specific place is that at least we know when we’ve arrived. The challenge of this journey of faith in the life of the church is that our destination is not as easy to discern.

Instead of giving us point by point trip navigation a la Google maps, the Bible (in this case, through Paul) shows us where we are headed and some key ways of getting there.

Getting to our destination involves the unity of faith spoken of in devotional #19. Unity within the church isn’t uniformity (remember, the body of Christ is diverse) but is part of the pavement that provides us the road we need to grow in our knowledge of the son of God (v.13). The greater the church’s unity of faith, the greater it knows Jesus. This is more than math equation knowledge (1+1=2), it’s relational knowledge. Sure I can’t know a person unless I learn facts about them, but facts alone are not sufficient - we need to spend time with those whom we’re in relationship with in order to know them deeply and personally. Our relationship with Christ is no different.

As the church grows in unity and knowledge, we get closer and closer to our destination: mature manhood, and attainment of the full measure and stature of Christ (v.13). This results in strength and stability that can weather the storms which would otherwise divide or destroy us (v.14).

Live

• How is your relationship with Jesus going?

• Are you growing in knowledge of him, not only in your head, but also in your heart?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for growing us to maturity in Jesus.

Gifted - Day 1 - Unity and Diversity in the Body of Christ

Listen

Ephesians 4:11-12 - 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

Learn

If I were dying of liver disease and given the opportunity for a heart transplant, I would definitely decline (though the sentiment would be appreciated). Why? Because while a healthy heart is a good thing, members of our bodies have a diverse set of needs and functions, and put simply, a heart isn’t a liver. In these verses, Paul helps us see how diversity is also necessary in the body of Christ.

First he lists some of the gifts available (v.11), and then explains what the ultimate purpose of the diversity is (v.12). Paul doesn’t intend this to be exhaustive (nor are his other spiritual gift lists in 1 Cor. 12 & 14 and Rom. 12) but rather a list of the sorts of leaders needed in a healthy church - apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. This kind of diversity of gifts is working properly when it contributes to the ultimate purpose of preparing others (“saints” v.12) to participate in ministry.

In order for a diverse body to function, it is essential that everyone participate. For this to happen, leaders must be aware of who is a part of the body (along with what gifts they have) and saints must be aware of where needs and opportunities are available. After all, we have been graciously given gifts to share them (Eph. 4:7).

Live

• Are you currently contributing to a church ministry? If not, why not?

• How can you pray for and encourage someone responsible for equipping the saints for ministry?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for the beautiful diversity in the body of Christ.