IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE ALIVE

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

If you are a Christ-follower, you have been given a new identity in Him: you are adopted, chosen, marked, and alive! Many do not live in the reality of this identity. Instead, our attitudes, speech, and actions give off the stench of death. Christ didn’t come so that we would continue to live in our old pattern of life. Instead, Jesus said that He came so “that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). What is keeping you from your true identity and “life…to the full”?

SCRIPTURE

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:1-5

GROUP QUESTIONS

Do you like to watch zombie movies? If so, what is your favorite one?

Read Ephesians 2:1-5. List all of the words or phrases that describe your life apart from Jesus. Which of these stand out the most to you, and why?

The tone of the passage changes in verse 4. What is your new identity?

What reasons does Paul give for God giving you this new identity?

On Sunday, Aaron shared the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Read John 11:1-44 aloud in your group. What impacts you most from this story?

In John 11:44, Jesus commanded that the grave clothes Lazarus was buried in be removed. Aaron mentioned that as believers, we sometimes walk around with our grave clothes on, looking, smelling, and acting like death. What are some things that you do that fit this description?

Since God has made you alive, how can you shed your grave clothes and live in your new identity?

APPLICATION

The Greek work for “alive” (also translated “quickened”) means “to make one alive together” (Strong’s Concordance). Though you (singular) are alive, YOU (the church) are alive together. List ways that your small group can be life-giving to those in your community. Pick a few of the ways from the list and put them into practice this week together.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Colossians 2:6-15. How can you be “rooted and built up in Him”?

What type of ‘hollow and deceptive philosophy’ typically leads people away from Christ in today’s culture? What can you do to protect yourself from being taken captive to it?

In verses 10-11, what are the “in/with Christ/Him” statements? What do these statement mean to you?

What does Paul reveal about God in verses 13-15? What all has He done for you?

Read the following passages. What traits/attitudes/actions characterize a believer who lives out their identity in Christ?

  • Romans 12:10-16a
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • Ephesians 4:29-32
  • Philippians 2:14-15
  • Colossians 3:12-17

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE MARKED

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

I love the song “Flawless” by MercyMe: “No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars, still the truth is the cross has made, the cross has made you flawless. No matter the hurt, or how deep the wound is, no matter the pain, still the truth is the cross has made, the cross has made you flawless.” In Christ, you were adopted, chosen, and marked…but your human nature reminds you of how flawed you are. Ephesians 1:13-14 reveals that in Christ, you can have confidence and security in the fact that you are marked by the Spirit…to the praise of His glory!

SCRIPTURE

13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

GROUP QUESTIONS

If you have a tattoo, share with your group what it is and what the significance of it is.

Read Ephesians 1:13-14. What two things do you learn about the Spirit in these verses?

What do you think it means to be “sealed…with the Holy Spirit”?

The Greek word for “listening” (or “heard” in some versions), akouō, has the connotation of listening AND understanding. Read Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23. What are the four types of “hearers” in this parable? Which of these “hearers” do you believe is “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit”?

The word for sealed is sphragizō (to stamp with a private mark for security or preservation) and the word for pledge is arrabōn (earnest or down-payment). In Christ, you are marked with the Spirit as an indication that you have already received part of an inheritance that is to come. What is this inheritance?

We live in a world where it is common for people break their promises, but this inheritance is guaranteed by God. Does this knowledge give you assurance that you are secure in His love and power?

This is the third instance in Ephesians 1 that Paul used a form of the phrase “to the praise of His glory” (verses 6 and 12). What does this tell you about why God created, saves, and blesses us?

APPLICATION

Are there hurts, habits, or hang-ups that create doubt and keep you from living with confidence that you are adopted, chosen, and marked? Brainstorm with your group practical things you can do when doubt arises.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The Holy Spirit does not just seal those in Christ; He has many roles. Read the passages below, and list His work in each.

  • John 3:5-8
  • John 6:62-63
  • John 14:26-27
  • John 16:8
  • John 16:13
  • Acts 1:8
  • Romans 8:26-27
  • 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
  • Galatians 5:16-26
  • Ephesians 4:1-6
  • Ephesians 5:18
  • Titus 3:5

Which of the above most impact you, and why?

What is the “fruit of the Spirit”?

What does it mean to be “filled with the Spirit”?

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE CHOSEN

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Last week Aaron DeLoach defined identity as “the truest thing about you”. This week, Aaron Tredway shared that identity is also whatever you think is the truest thing about you. Whatever you think is the truest thing about you (whether it is or isn’t true) has the power to define your identity. The Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 1 that if you are a Christ-follower, the truest thing about you is that you are “in Christ”. Since Christ has made you new, is this what most defines you?

SCRIPTURE

11In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, 12in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:11-12

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group what you wrote on your name tag last week in church, and why you wrote it. (If you weren’t there, share what you would write if you were at a party and had to fill out a “HELLO, I AM…” name tag with something to identify you other than your name.)

Read Ephesians 1:11-12. The Greek word for “chosen” is klēroō and means “to obtain an inheritance”. What do you learn about your inheritance from the following verses?

  • Romans 8:17
  • Romans 8:22-23
  • Ephesians 1:13-14
  • Hebrews 9:15
  • 1 Peter 1:3-4
  • Revelation 21:1-5

The Greek word for predestined is proorizō and means “to determine before”. What do you think it means to be “predestined”? How comfortable are you with this doctrine that states that “that those who freely come to God are those whom God has freely chosen” (The Gospel Coalition)? Discuss why this doctrine is controversial to some believers.

What does it mean that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:11)?

Why were you chosen by God (Ephesians 1:12)? How can you live this out in your daily life?

APPLICATION

Aaron stated that “We live like our identity is achieved; not received”. Has this idea that you are what you have accomplished influenced what you think is most true about you? If so, prayerfully brainstorm with your group ways you can correct this thinking.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Read through the passages below and write what now identifies you in Christ:

  • John 15:15-16
  • Romans 6:18
  • Romans 8:1-2
  • Romans 8:37
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • 2 Corinthians 2:15
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20
  • Galatians 4:7
  • Ephesians 1:5
  • Ephesians 1:11
  • Ephesians 2:10
  • Philippians 3:20
  • Colossians 1:22
  • 1 Peter 2:9-10

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE ADOPTED

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Henri Nouwen said there are three ways people identify themselves: 1) I am what I do (business man, secretary, mother); 2) I am what I have (money, power, friends); and 3) I am what others say about me (beautiful, ambitious, bossy). We all have the tendency to find our identity in these things. As we spend the next four weeks looking at our identity in Christ, we’ll be asking this question: “If Christ has made you new, what should most define you?”

SCRIPTURE

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—6to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:1-10

GROUP QUESTIONS

If you could pick a new name, what would it be?

Read Ephesians 1:1-10. What does the word “blessed” mean?

In the Greek, verses 3-10 are one paragraph with the theme of what it means to be “in Christ”. How many times in these verses does Paul use the phrase “in Christ” (or “in Him”)? What does it mean to be “in Christ”?

List the spiritual blessings that define your identity “in Christ” because of your adoption (verses 4-7):

  1. ______________________________________ 4.      ______________________________________
  2. ______________________________________ 5.      ______________________________________
  3. ______________________________________ 6.      ______________________________________

Paul writes that even before the foundation of the world God had already chosen those who would be adopted through Christ. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, how does it make you feel that you have always been a part of God’s plan?

Aaron explained that at the time Paul wrote Ephesians, Roman adoption meant that the adoptee had the rights of a fully legitimate child in the new family, an inheritance from the new family, and a complete break/erasure from the old family. How does this compare with what God offers you as His adopted child?

Read Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6. According to Dictionary.com, “Abba” is “an Aramaic word for father, used by Jesus and Paul to address God in a relation of personal intimacy”. Do you feel this way about God? Have you experienced Him as a loving Father?

APPLICATION

Spend time this week meditating on your spiritual blessings in Christ. If you are having difficulty believing or accepting any of them, prayerfully ask God to open the eyes of your heart to feel His love for you. Look for ways to share your blessings with others as a way to glorify your Abba, Father.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The doctrine of “predestination” can be difficult and controversial. Read through the following Scriptures and questions to help you gain a better understanding of this concept.

What does it mean to be “predestined”?

Read John 6:44, Romans 1:6, Romans 8:29-30, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, and 1 Peter 1:1-2. What do these passages say about being chosen or predestined?

Read Ephesians 1:5 and 9. On what basis does God predestine people?

What do the following passages say about God’s heart toward all people? Isaiah 55:7, Ezekiel 33:11, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:13, I Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9

Read Isaiah 55:8-9 and Romans 11:33, and write your thoughts on predestination below,

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