For groups meeting in-person, it would be helpful if the leader has access to a whiteboard. Virtual groups should use the Chat feature for this activity.
Leaders will explain that the group will take each letter from the word “Grace” and make a list of words that begin with that letter to describe God’s Grace. (Example: G – generous, God, giver, gracious, gift, guarantee, granted)
Each time the group finishes a letter, have them choose their “top pick” from the list created. Save the “top pick” for each letter and, at the end of the exercise, discover what acronym your group has created for the word “Grace.”
Discussion: “But God made us alive!”
Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” These verses say that we have been saved and raised to new life with Christ. God is in the business of creating “new life” in us every day as we submit to Him and grow in Him. Take time to share with one another how the Lord has brought “new life” to you in your walk with Him.
Group members may want to share their salvation experience and the “new life” that happened immediately at salvation. Others might share ways that God is bringing “new life” to them currently in their walk with the Lord.
Rejoice and give thanks for the work that God has done in your group member’s lives!
1. Share one thing that you found particularly impactful from this week’s scripture passage (Ephesians 2:1-10) and our Pastor’s message. How should you adjust your life as a result?
2. Read Ephesians 2:1-3. Before receiving Christ, what was our nature, and the nature of all non-Christians?
(Intent: We were slaves to sin, bent toward selfishness, Rom. 6:6. Whether we knew it or not, we were following Satan and deserving of God’s wrath. We were living for ourselves, doing what we wanted to do, which is the way that leads to spiritual death.)
3. Before putting your faith in Jesus, how were you a “child of wrath”?
(Intent: For some, it is easy to remember the stark contrast between life before and after Jesus. For others, especially those who grew up in the church or had believing parents, it may be difficult to see, or we may deceive ourselves by thinking we were “not that bad.” Yet Paul applies the same “deadly” description to all of us. Paul’s reflection on the depths of our sin is a sober reminder to us of the chasm that Christ has bridged and the glory due Him for it.)
4. A. Who is the “prince of the power of the air”? B. How does knowing that non-Christians follow him, often unwittingly, affect your view of them?
(Intent: A. Satan. Also, refer to Eph. 6:12. B. Some possibilities — This may cause us to have more compassion, recognizing that our enemy is Satan, not any individual or group. It may also help us realize we are dealing with truly evil ideas and actions exhibited by non-Christians; these ideas and actions find their source in our common enemy—Satan.)
5. Verse 4 in ESV begins with the words “But God...”, showing us that short of God’s intervention, we would have continued in our sorrowful state. We can see a foreshadowing of this in Joseph's life. Read Genesis 50:20, where Joseph is speaking to his brothers. What do you learn about God’s sovereignty and intervention in our lives as Christians through this story?
(Intent: God desires for His people to be “kept alive” spiritually and sovereignly orchestrates our circumstances to bring us to that life. He inserts himself into our story and brings about our salvation, even though we were intent against Him in our sinful natures. God foreshadowed what He would do for His church in Jesus when He saved His people of Israel through Joseph.)
6. Since we’re not perfect even after receiving Christ, what’s the difference between a Christian and non-Christian regarding sin?
(Intent: As a non-Christian, it was inevitable that we would sin. Christians have been freed from this compulsion, as the Holy Spirit enables them to please God, despite not always making the right decision to do so. Further, as part of the ongoing sanctification process, the Lord shifts the Christian’s desires to match God’s. Their nature becomes increasingly Christ-like. The pattern of their life is no longer characterized by sin. See I Jn. 3:4-10, noting the terms “practice sinning” and “practice righteousness” in ESV.)
7. A. In vv. 4-6, what does Paul say are God’s reasons for making us “alive together with Christ”? B. According to vv. 8-9, what could we do to qualify us for this?
(Intent: A. It was God’s mercy alone, motivated by his great and overflowing love for us. B. Nothing; He did not seek us out because of something good in us, i.e., a dead man has nothing to give. The transaction is entirely one-sided...that is what grace is. Therefore, we have nothing to boast about, nothing to be proud of over our brothers and sisters. We were in no way better than those who have not believed in Christ. Our only appropriate response is humble, grateful, and worshipful hearts that desire all people to be saved.)
8. In v. 6, what does God do after He saves us? According to v. 7, what is His purpose in doing so?
(Intent: He seats us with Jesus in the heavenly places, fully redeeming us to fulfill His purpose of showing His greatness, kindness, and grace. In some ways, we who are saved are a “trophy shelf” so that the world will see how awesome He truly is. The Lord is worthy of all honor, worship, and praise.)
9. In v. 6, what does it mean that God “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”? Take a look at Colossians 2:12-13 and Colossians 3:1-4.
(Intent: Some thoughts: This took place by faith when we believed in Jesus and were baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ, as symbolized by our water baptism. As a result, we are to set our minds on heaven. For we are now aliens on earth, but our allegiance is to heaven, Philip. 3:20.)
Verse 10 tells us that the credit for our salvation and redemption belongs to God alone as we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that He prepared. Our response should be to humbly seek and carry out the good works he has prepared for us in our relationships in the church, our families, at work, and in our neighborhoods and the world.
What good works is the Lord calling you to right now? How should you respond?
The sermon passage reminds us that it is only through God’s mercy, grace, and kindness that we are saved from our sins. Spend time together in thanksgiving. Thank the Lord for specific ways He has demonstrated his grace to you.