Tell Me, Are You Free?

Icebreakers

Use one of the following questions to open up discussion.  (If you have first-time guests, be sure to have people give their names as they answer the icebreaker question.)

  1. What did you think of the sermon on Sunday?  What did you agree with?  What did you disagree with?
  2. What is freedom?  What are you free from?  What are you free to do?

Our Study:  Tell Me, Are You Free?

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'”

John 8:34-36

“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 5:15, 15:15, 16:12, 24:22

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love”

Galatians 5:13

“‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. ”

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Objectives

Small group members and guests will:

  1. Know the provision that God has provided for our freedom
  2. Commit to follow the example of Christ who came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)
  3. Experience being free from sin and slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:14-19)

Study – Read Acts 8:4-8

Why is Philip in Samaria? Immediately preceding this passage Stephen is martyred (Acts 7) and “a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem” and as a result all but the Apostles are scattered throughout Judea and Samaria (v.1).  Furthermore, Jesus promised earlier that they would be witnesses in “Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (1:8)  The book of Acts geographically progresses from Jerusalem (Acts 1 – 7), Judea and Samaria (8-12) and then ultimately ending in Rome (13-28).

Why is Philip successful? First, we must remember that Christ had previously evangelized this area with great success in John 4:1-42.  Secondly, Christ promised that the sign that the Kingdom is at hand is that demons are driven out (Luke 11:20) and the sick are healed.  These signs point to the authenticity of Philip’s message (v. 6) and are not ends in themselves.

What is the result of Philip’s preaching? First, we are told that there is great joy in the city (v. 8).  Every time the Holy Spirit comes in the book of Acts, there is joy and people speak with boldness.  Second, and implicit in the story, is repentance:  the proper response to the coming of the Kingdom is “Repent!” (Mark 1:14).  This is “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God” (Mark 1:1).  The story that follows (Acts 8:9-25) displays that the Samaritan believers had repented of their sins and accepted Jesus Christ.

Application

God can use terrible and even sinful circumstances to further His purposes.  Throughout Scripture, God uses evil people (like Balaam), evil nations (Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon) and even evil events to further his plans.  Evil cannot frustrate God’s plans; the crucifixion, the greatest evil in history, resulted in the defeat of all evil.  The question, then, is not “God, how can I escape evil?” but “God, how can I honor you through this?” – if Christ was not saved out of His pain but through it there is no reason to expect that luxury for ourselves.

The miraculous signs and healings point to the greatness of Christ, not of the miracle worker.  The spectacular signs and wonders that our worked through a Christian’s hand should glorify Christ.  The best metaphor I can find for this is that of electricity and a conduit – all we can do is provide minimal resistance God’s work.

Repentance and joy are proper responses to God working through the advancement of His Kingdom.  Repentance and faith in Christ are the necessary and sufficient conditions for incorporation into the Kingdom of God.  Joy should be the natural response.  Remember the words of Christ – “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)

Individual testimonies provide an invisible but necessary and absolutely vital component to evangelism. Beneath the surface of this entire story are the individual testimonies of believers – the woman at the well in John 4 brought many to Christ through her simple testimony “He told me everything I ever did.” (John 4:39).  Philip’s testimony no doubt played an integral part in the conversion of the Samaritans.  Our testimonies should provide the space and context for further proclamation of Christ.

Prayer

  1. Confess that we have not loved God with all of our minds, all of our hearts, all of our souls, and all of our strength.  Ask God to forgive us these failures.
  2. Thank God for Christ who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
  3. Remember and ask God to bring to mind all of the ways in which He has already healed you and thank Him for those.
  4. Thank God for His patience and long-suffering in showing us mercy with our present abiding sin.
  5. Thank God for the future glory, when all things will be made anew (Rev 21:1-5)
  6. Ask God to empower us for witness, not out of our strengths, but out of our own weakness and failures and the grace that God has given us there.
  7. Ask God for the grace to remain steadfast in the face of the enemy.  Close with Revelation 12:10-11:

    “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him [Satan] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

Further reading – John 9: a man who is healed by Jesus later must give his testimony in front of the Jewish council.  This testimony results in his expulsion from the temple (and, as a result, Jewish fellowship) but ends with a revelation of Jesus as the Messiah.

Posted in Bible, Christianity, lifeline | Comments Off on Tell Me, Are You Free?

Comments are closed.