The world seeks to escape the temporal consequences of the fall, while believers have escaped the eternal consequences of the fall.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR SHEPHERD GROUPS
- What was something you found encouraging or challenging about this message?
- What does it mean to have a temporal values system versus an eternal values system?
- Why does the Bible never record Jesus giving the good news of the Gospel twice in the same way?
- Read John 4:1-30. What is the “good news” that Jesus gives to this “bad woman”? How does the Lord engage her in spiritual conversation and lead her to the Gospel?
- Why might it be “traumatic” for a someone steeped in religion to discover that the Gospel is a free gift? Have any of you had that experience yourself?
- Pastor Mike talked about how Disney movies often reflect portions of the Gospel (minus the true Savior). What other examples do you find in society and popular culture where the world tries to present a gospel that parallels the real one? Why does the world crave a redemptive theme, even while rejecting the Redeemer?
- What can we learn from Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well than can help us engage our friends, families, and neighbors in spiritual conversation?
“NO GREATER LOVE” FOCUS: ENGAGING IN SPIRITUAL CONVERSATION
Start out by asking the members of your group what ways they have found to engage in spiritual conversations with people in their daily lives.
Some ideas for engaging others around you in spiritual conversations:
- When someone asks “How are you?” you can reply, “Better than I deserve – God has been so good to me.” As simple as this is, it can open many doors.
- When dining out say to the wait staff member, “We are about to say a prayer before we eat – is there anything we can pray for you about?”
- When in a conversation, you could ask, “If any, what was the spiritual tradition in which you were raised?” Or a follow-up: “Do you still consider yourself to be one who embraces that tradition?” If they say, “No,” ask, “What do you believe now?”
- “What do you believe about Jesus?”
- “What is the concept of salvation in your faith?”
- If they talk about good works or religious activity as requirements for access into heaven, you could ask, “How good would one need to be?” Or, “Where the line would be drawn?”
- “What do you believe happens to a person when you die?”
- If they say, “They go to heaven,” then a follow-up could be: “Based on what criteria?” In other words, how is one granted access to heaven?
- To a person who claims to believe in heaven, ask, “If you died and stood before God and God said, ‘Why should I let you in?’ what are you going to say?”
- If a person is connected to Catholicism or many Protestant denominations, there will often be a list of obligations that they will list, like going to church, other religious activity, and generally being a good person. A follow up is: “If you can get to heaven related to the good works you have been able to perform, then why did Jesus have to die?” (They may articulate that Jesus died for our sins but without clarity about how that fits with their own belief that their good works contribute to their salvation in some way.) You could refer them to Ephesians 2:8-9 or Galatians 2:20-21. It is generally unhelpful to ask someone who is connected to Catholicism if they believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. They will often say yes but will still be unclear on the true Gospel.
- It is generally more helpful to use the phrase “Catholicism teaches” rather than “Catholics believe.”
- Ask, “What has been your experience with Christians and Christianity?”
- If they have had some negative experiences, you can validate that those things are inconsistent with the things of Christ.
- Help them understand that no Christian can live to the high standards of even their own claims.
- Encourage them to not judge Jesus on the basis of the fallenness of someone who claims to follow him. Get to understand Him on His own.
- Brainstorm other scenarios and possible interactions with people that could open up a Gospel-centered conversation.