Reconciled - Group Discussion Question

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

• What barriers cause you to see yourself as separate rather than reconciled to Jesus or others in His church?
• How can we help each other or others live as reconciled people?

Reconciled - Day 5 - Us Versus Them

Listen

Ephesians 3:1-6 - For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Learn

The old adage goes, “There are two kinds of people in this world…” then one fills in those blanks. Biblically speaking, there are “Two kinds of people in this world: Jews and Gentiles.” One is either a member of God’s covenant people or not. This thinking was ingrained in the Jewish people from early on. It was “us” versus “them.” But what happens when God decides to expand His covenant people to include “them?” What if God’s mercy is extended beyond our particular group, toward those who aren’t like “us?”

This is the crux of the above passage. It was called a “mystery.” But this mystery, somewhat concealed in the Old Testament, is now being fully revealed in the New Testament; the covenant people would now be made up of both Jews and Gentiles. Jews did not associate with non-Jews. For Jesus to even speak with the Samaritan woman in John 4 was scandalous. Peter was a bit hesitant to even go into a Gentile home without a prompting by the Holy Spirit in Acts 10. But now, a new work of God has come. Jews and Gentiles alike are now part of God’s covenant people.

 

In our own time, we have similar situations. We have divisions along racial lines, socio-economic lines, national lines, etc. What has been separated by those things is no longer to separate us because of the conciliatory work of Jesus on the cross. We are to be one people in Jesus, and what was once a mystery is now being revealed in us. God is reconciling to Himself all kinds of different folks … even people like us.

Live

• Do you ever have an “us” versus “them” attitude? When?

• Do you ever wonder why God would bless “those people?”

• Gentiles were often seen as enemies. How would you feel if God saved people you don’t really like?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for making those of us who were outsiders one of His people (in Jesus).

Reconciled - Day 4 - When Jesus is Your Home

Listen

Ephesians 2:19-22 - 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Learn

This year our family built a house. It has been an incredible experience filled with all kinds of challenges and lessons. As we watched the house be built, we learned that the foundation is critical. Without a strong foundation a house will not stand; however, when you have a strong foundation, you can build walls and a roof. Before you know it, you have a house. But there is a significant difference between a house and a home. In the verses above, Paul uses the illustration of a house to teach us several important truths about the church.

First, he wants us to know that through faith in Jesus we are the church. Paul says we are “fellow citizens” of God’s kingdom and “members of the household of God” (v.19). No longer are we “strangers and aliens,” meaning no longer are we a people without a home. Now, in Jesus we belong to God and have a home with God as his people.

Second, he wants us to know that the future of the church is safe and secure. Paul says the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” meaning it’s built on the teachings of Jesus (v.20). More than that, the foundation of the church rests solely and securely on Jesus, who himself is “the cornerstone,” which is the most important part of the foundation. The cornerstone is the first stone put in place to create a strong, stable, lasting foundation. The integrity of the entire structure depends on the cornerstone. If the cornerstone isn’t level, then the entire foundation won’t be level, which means in time the house will fall. But Jesus is the cornerstone of the church, and therefore, “the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (v.21).

Third, he wants us to know that God is with us. Paul says “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (v.22). Paul is saying that not only are we home with God but also God has made his home with us through the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Live

• In what ways is your life built on the foundation of Jesus?

• How does having God as your home make a difference in your life?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for giving you a place and a part in his family.

Reconciled - Day 3 - Access to God

Listen

Ephesians 2:17-18 - 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Learn

There was a time in history when God’s people did not have direct access to God. The reason for this was that the people were sinful and could not be in the presence of God without God’s wrath burning against them (Ex. 33:5). Because God loved his people and was faithful to his covenant, God made a way for them to have some kind of access to him. God did this by establishing Moses as a mediator, meaning Moses interceded on behalf of the people to God and represented God to the people; however, there were problems because Moses was an imperfect mediator.

As time went on God established the priesthood. From that point on, the priests acted as a kind of mediator between God and his people. This meant that the priests had the right to go directly to God to intercede on behalf of the people and make sacrifices to atone for sin. The priests also had the responsibly to represent God to the people. Although, if you were not a priest, you didn’t have direct access to God; instead, you had to go through a priest to confess and receive forgiveness. As you can imagine, there were many problems because, like Moses, the priests were imperfect. How did God the Father address these problems?

In verse 18 Paul said, “For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” This is profound. Paul is saying that through faith in Jesus we now have direct access to God the Father. Jesus is our perfect mediator who perfectly intercedes on our behalf to the Father and perfectly represents the Father to us. Even more, on the cross Jesus fully and completely atones for all our sins and gives us his righteousness. Therefore, through Jesus we can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb. 4:16).

The good news is that Jesus makes it possible through his sinless life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection for us to have unlimited, direct access to the Father. No longer do we need to go through a priest to get to God. Now, through Jesus we can get to God anytime we want. This means by the power of the Holy Spirit we can pray directly to God, confess directly to God, and we fellowship directly with God. With unlimited, direct access we can be connected to God anytime, anywhere.

Live

• How does having direct access to God through Jesus make a difference in your life?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising Jesus for giving you direct access to the Father.

Reconciled - Day 2 - When the Wall Comes Crumbling Down

Listen

Ephesians 2:14-16 - 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Learn

In ancient Jerusalem in the Jewish temple, there was a wall that seperated the “Court of Gentiles” from the rest of the structure and functioned as a warning that any Gentile (non-Jewish person) who passed beyond the wall would be killed. The wall physically separated Jew and Gentile. The wall also represented the spiritual reality that Gentiles were separated from God.

In verse 14 Paul tells us that Jesus “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility,” which means that when Jesus died on the cross, his death made the spiritual wall crumble down. Let me explain. Verse 15 says Jesus abolished the “law of commandments.” The real barrier that prevented Gentiles from having fellowship with God wasn’t a wall in the temple but rather the law of God. The law demanded perfection, but no mere human could meet the expectation of the law; therefore, the law acted like a blockade preventing people from entering into God’s presence.

The good news is that through his sinless life, Jesus fulfilled the expectations of the law on our behalf. By dying in our place for our sin, Jesus took the punishment we deserved for breaking the law. This satisfied God’s righteous wrath, and justice prevailed. What was the outcome? Peace. Because of Jesus, we can be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God. This is why Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. He makes it possible for enemies of God to have peace with God and become friends of God, but Jesus did more than that.

Jesus not only destroyed the hostility between God and Gentiles, but he also destroyed the hostility between Jews and Gentiles. Notice in verse 15 that Paul says, “he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,” which means there is no longer ethnic division between Christians. In Christ, we are all one people. This truth applies to all ethnic groups. In Christ, we are no longer divided. Now, we are all one people - God’s people.

 

Live

• How does the peace of Jesus impact your relationship with God?

• How does the peace of Jesus impact your relationships with people who are ethnically different than you?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for making peace (in Jesus) possible.

Reconciled - Day 1 - Being Brought Near to God

Listen

Ephesians 2:11-13 - 11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Learn

We live in a world of symbols. Whether it be the American flag, the golden arches of McDonald’s, the peace sign or a yellow smiley face, these symbols all represent something.

In the Old Testament, God gave a symbol. Do you know what it was? Circumcision. In Genesis 17:1-14, God established a covenant with Abraham: that God would establish a people through Abraham. God told Abraham to circumcise himself and every male who was part of his tribe (Gen. 17:10). Circumcision signified that Israel belonged to God. Those who were not Jewish by ethnicity were considered “the uncircumcision.”

In Ephesians 2:11, Paul is asking the non-Jewish Christians to remember that they were once part of “the uncircumcision,” which means they were once outside of God’s covenant. Being outside of God’s covenant had several horrible implications. They were “separated from Christ,” meaning they did not have a relationship with Jesus. They were “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel,” meaning they were not considered part of God’s people. They were “strangers to the covenants of promise,” meaning they did not know or understand God’s truth and promises. As you can imagine, this left them in a terrible predicament because it meant they had “no hope” and were living “without God.” If the story ended there it would be depressing.

Thankfully verse 13 says, “But now.” With these two little words, Paul reminded the Christians that things had changed dramatically. Why? Paul said, “in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” The good news is that God makes it possible for those who were (or are) far off from God to be brought near. This is covenantal language. To be brought near to God is to be brought into covenant with God.

Now, we have a new symbol: the cross. Because Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood to atone for our sins, we (who were once far off from God) can be brought near to God through faith in Jesus. Now, we are part of God’s people. Now, we are recipients of the covenantal promises. Now, we have hope because we have God.

 

Live

• How does being near to God make a difference in your life?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for bringing you near to him.

Reconciled - Week 3 - Memory Verse

Ephesians 2:14-16

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.