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Gospel-Centered

Open with prayer: Ask God to help everyone be open with one another, and for Him to work powerfully through His word during the small group time.

Introduction: The church’s job is to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) But we can never do this without the power of the gospel message! Most agree that the gospel is the power to save sinners; what many miss is that it is also the power for ongoing growth and transformation of Christians. Mustard Seed Network churches; therefore, value keeping the gospel at the center of all church life. This is the only way to fill our churches with strong and healthy worshipers, both new and old!

Part 1: Only the gospel has the power to save sinners.

Please read Romans 1:16-17. This passage explicitly tells us that the power of God for salvation is in the gospel. There are many good approaches to answer that question. And as we strive to be “gospel-centered,” it is important for us to see the gospel from many angles. Let’s look at two:  

A.   The Bible’s big picture, which tells the story of our world. It is helpful to break it into 4 parts:

CREATION

FALL

REDEMPTION

CONSUMMATION

God created the heavens and the earth from nothing.

The first two humans, Adam & Eve, rebelled against God by eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, thus leading to the entrance of sin and death into the world.

God set into action His plan of redemption especially through Israel, His chosen nation. This plan culminated in the arrival of the Savior, Jesus Christ who accomplished redemption through his sinless life and substitutionary death on a cross.

One day God will restore creation as he brings His plan of history to a close. All humanity will be judged, and those who have faith in Jesus will dwell with God forever in the new heavens and new earth.


 

B.     Another way of defining the gospel is to focus on Jesus’ saving power for saving individuals:

The gospel is the message that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ

who lived a sinless life, died for sinners, and rose again.

Please read Acts 4:10-12. This passage is packed full of reasons why the power for salvation is ONLY in the gospel: The title, “Jesus of Nazareth,” reminds us that the gospel happened in real time and space: it is based on historical fact. “Crucified” reminds us that only Jesus died in place of sinners. Next, that Jesus was “raised from the dead” verifies his truthfulness, authority, power over death, and more. Notice that the biblical author also quotes the Old Testament, showing God’s stamp on Jesus’ life and death since He fulfilled what had been written centuries before He was even born. Finally, we are explicitly told that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
 

DISCUSSION

1.     Sometimes churches and Christians emphasize something other than the gospel. This can happen through teaching that is not gospel-centered, and through the way we relate to one another. Outsiders then may sense that we are offering something other than the gospel for salvation. What are some other things that churches might tend to emphasize besides the gospel?

2.     Salvation is only in the gospel. Therefore, if we truly care about people we should do everything in our power to help them hear the gospel. Name 1 or 2 people in your life who need to hear the gospel. What is your plan for how you will help make that happen? Briefly pray that God would use you in that way for those people.  

Part 2: Only the gospel has the power to transform believers. 

Please read 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Clearly, Paul is recounting the simple gospel message here, saying things like, “Christ died for our sins,” and “was raised on the third day.” What is surprising for many is that he is not doing this to introduce the gospel to non-Christians, but to “remind” (verse 1) Christians!

· What verbs do you see in verses 1 and 2 that show why Christians need to continue being constantly reminded of the gospel?  

· There are so many things that threaten our faith as Christians, like falling into a serious sin, not praying enough, not growing in our understanding of Scripture. But in verse 2, Paul shows us something even more dangerous that will make our faith totally “in vain.” What is it?

Please read Matthew 24:27 and John 5:39. Given the context of these passages, we know that Jesus was talking specifically about the Old Testament. And who is Jesus saying the Old Testament is about? Answer: JESUS! And hardly anyone would argue against the statement that the New Testament focuses on Jesus. Therefore, it has been said that the Bible “Looks forward to Jesus, looks back to Jesus, and looks forward to Jesus again.” That is, the Old Testament looks forward to Him, the New Testament looks back to Him, and the whole Bible looks again to his return. This, in a nutshell, is a gospel-centered view of Scripture.  
 

DISCUSSION

1.     One implication of the gospel is that we should be able to humbly acknowledge and confess our struggles with sin. If we cannot, we need to trust more in the gospel! What is one sin struggle that you continue to have?

2.     James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Clearly, vulnerability and confession of sin is a great way to allow the gospel’s light into the still dark places of our heart. Is there a mature Christian of the same sex to whom you are able to confess your sins to and receive prayer whenever needed? If not, who might be that person for you?

3.     Challenge: As you continue to read through both Testaments of the Bible in your daily life, do so with a gospel-centered lens. This means learning to answer the question, “What does this have to do with Jesus and the gospel” in every passage you read.

Close with prayer


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