Home group notes - By Jo Levasier
The Church God’s hope for the world No. 1
May 20th The church is the core of God’s plan (and not an optional extra)
Discuss in pairs
· What have been your best and worst experiences of being part of a church?
Spend some time both praising God for all the good things that come from being part of a church, and repenting for any part we may have played in making church a negative experience for someone.
You may find to helpful to read out these introductory statements and some of the explanatory paragraphs later on.
You can be committed to Church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church. – Joel Osteen
Church can be seen a bit as a club where people can go to help them be Christians and meet with others who also love Jesus, a bit like a tennis club. The Bible however has a different view: God’s plan ever since beginning of time has been to call a people to himself; a people that we join when we respond to Christ.
Read the first passage Genesis 12:1-7 (NIV 1984)
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
After the creation and fall and subsequent deterioration of society as seen in the Flood and the Tower of Babel, the Bible narrative changes at this point in Genesis. We now turn our attention away from the big picture and follow the fortunes of one man and his family. God’s plan to redeem and rescue his world is to be accomplished through this man Abram (later called Abraham) and his offspring.
· What are the big promises made to Abram by God in this passage (v2, v3, v7)
· From any knowledge that you may have of the Old Testament, how did God fulfil any / all of these promises?
These promises have often been summarised as People, Place, Blessing and are three themes that we see throughout the whole Bible.
Read the second passage 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV 1984)
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
As we turn to the New Testament, we discover that God’s purposes are ultimately fulfilled in the man Jesus, the true offspring of Abraham. But we also discover that God’s promises of People, Place, Blessing are still very much being fulfilled in the world, but no longer through membership of Abraham’s physical family, but now through incorporation into the body of Christ himself, the church.
· How does Peter describe the church here in this passage?
· How do you feel about the idea of being chosen?
· What do think we have been chosen for?
· In v10 Peter says that although we were once not a people, not we are a people. How does the idea that you are part of “a people” feel?
· What do you think the implications of together being the people described in v9 might be?
· How do you feel that we are doing as a local expression of the people of God?
· Why do you think that some people reject the church whilst wanting to hold onto a belief in God?
· What do you think Peter would say to someone like this, who said that they had a faith in God but felt no need to be involved in a church in any way?
· How might this view conflict with the bigger picture of what God is doing across the whole of history?
· What can we do to help those who struggle with church for whatever reason?