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Explore God

Week 4 - Explore God: Who Is Jesus?

Week 4 - Explore God: Who Is Jesus?

SERIES INTRODUCTION

In a world where so many people have such different views, how could it be possible that one view is greater than any other? What happened "in the beginning"? How great is God really? Was Jesus truly God or just a good man? Join us as we answer these questions and Explore God together in this new series

  •  We are embarking on the final 90 days of 2018. Share one thing you hope to do or accomplish by the end of the year.


SERMON GUIDE

Today I want to wrap up our Explore God series with the single most important question you may ever have to answer in your life: Who is Jesus?

Maybe you are in the seeking phase and want to know if there is any evidence to prove who Jesus is. Maybe you believe but have difficulty explaining to others why you believe in Him. Perhaps you’re going through a season of doubt, or you know someone who is, or you’re in circumstances that have you wondering or a college class that has you confused, and you wonder if what you say you believe about Jesus is really true.

  •  Take a moment to think over the above and share if any of the three situations describe where you are at today and why.

Jesus is probably the single most controversial figure who has ever walked this planet. Why is that?

The controversy is not:

  • Over the question of whether or not Jesus existed in history. That issue is settled. Just take a look at the calendar and you will see the year 2018. Whenever you see the year, remember that whatever else you may believe about Jesus, He is so important that He split all of history into two parts: everything that happened on this planet before Jesus Christ, and everything after Jesus Christ

  • The controversy about Jesus is not over His existence, and it’s not even over His teaching and basic ideology. Each of our religious experts—Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, and Christian—believed that Jesus was a good moral teacher.

The controversy that swirls around Jesus is all about the seemingly fantastic claims to be God in human form, to be God in the flesh.

Take turns reading the following verses: John 10:36, John 14:9, John 4:25-26 and Mark 14:61-62.

  • Who did Jesus say He was? Discuss what holds you or people in your life back from fully believing it?

Jesus made statements like, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the father but by me.” Gene shared his conclusion, that Jesus was not making a statement of great arrogance, but rather of tremendous compassion and love. You see, if those words are true, then that is the single most important piece of information you will ever get in life.

The question we face is that if Jesus wasn’t God, then we have to ask, who was this historical person? Either Jesus is something much greater than a good moral teacher or He is something much less than a good moral teacher.

Years ago, the late C.S. Lewis, an Oxford professor who was an atheist and later became a follower of Jesus, referred to this as "the great trilemma." You really only have three options when it comes to the claims Jesus made about His own identity.

  1. He is a liar. The problem with this theory is this: Would a man known for his great moral teaching knowingly spread premeditated lies about his identity? How could you say Jesus was a great moral teacher if He was lying when He said, "Anyone who has seen Me has seen the father."?

  2. He is a lunatic. The problem with the lunatic theory is that experts in psychology who have studied the historical records of His life have determined that Jesus was a picture of emotional, relational, and psychological health.

  3. He really is the Lord.

If Jesus was who He claimed to be, the son of God, God in the flesh, there must be some substantiating evidence to back up this claim. Let's explore some of the evidence.

First, His sinless life. Jesus didn’t just make wild claims to be God, but He proved it by living a perfect life. Even Pilate said, “I find no fault in Him.”

Have someone read Luke 23:13-17.

A second piece of evidence to consider is what could be called the fingerprint evidence. Hundreds of years before Jesus walked on the planet, there were over 300 prophecies made in the Old Testament making it abundantly clear what the fingerprint of the life of the Savior of the world would look like. One of the most persuasive pieces of proof about the true identity of Jesus is that He alone fully fits the fingerprint evidence of prophecy in the Bible. If Jesus didn’t fulfill every single one of those prophecies to the letter, He couldn’t be God’s Son, the Savior of the world because the fingerprint evidence wouldn’t match.

Have someone read Isaiah 53:5 Micah 5:2, and Isaiah 7:14.

There is no religion in the world that has one viable, verifiable, believable prophecy except Christianity.

How can anyone genuinely account for these prophecies being fulfilled apart from the God who authored them?

I propose to you that the fingerprint evidence of prophecy is no less than the imprint of God and a powerful piece of evidence that points to Jesus being the son of God and Savior of the world.

There is one more realm of compelling evidence for us to look at proving that Jesus is not a Liar or Lunatic, but truly the Lord, and that is the resurrection evidence. First is the empty tomb itself.

Have someone read I Corinthians 15:3-11.

 The second piece of compelling evidence for the resurrection is the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. The reliable historians of the New Testament claim that over 500 witnesses saw, heard, and even touched His resurrected body.

The last piece of evidence is the Transformed Lives of His followers. The disciples were so convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead, that they gave their lives and died proclaiming His resurrection.

  • Our own story of transformation is a powerful entry into sharing about Jesus with others. What is evidence in your life of knowing Jesus that has transformed you?

History reveals that Peter, Andrew, Philip, Simon the Zealot, James the son of Alphaus, and Bartholomew were all crucified for their faith. Matthew and James the brother of John were put to death by the sword. Thaddeus was shot through with arrows. It’s believed that Paul was beheaded. Why? Because they had seen the risen Jesus and were willing to die for what they had seen and knew to be true. You see, friends, people don’t give their lives for a lie.

There were four major wounds Jesus endured before His death: He was nearly whipped to death, He was crowned with a crown of thorns, His hands and feet were nailed, and a spear pierced his heart. You can think of them as the four wounds of the cross.

Because of this we can say, Lord, thank you for being pierced with nails in your hands and feet and making the payment you did for all the things my hands and feet have done.

We can say, God thank you for being crushed and taking pain in your heart so all the stuff in my heart—the evil, the pride, the lust, the greed, the hate that’s not supposed to be there—could get out of me.

We can say Lord, thank you for the crown of thorns pressed into your head where you took all the fear, the worry, stress and anxiety. Thank you for the stripes on your back that bring healing to my life, relationships, marriage, kids, hurts.

  • Most of us struggle to initiate conversations or answer our friends’ questions. Knowing what we have learned today, share how you would answer the question "Who is Jesus?"


PRAYER

Break into smaller groups and spend time praying for each other to have courage to initiate conversations with people in your lives. Pray for those people and for opportunities to love them and share Christ with them.

Week 3 - Explore God: How Great Is God?

Week 3 - Explore God: How Great Is God?

SERIES INTRODUCTION

In a world where so many people have such different views, how could it be possible that one view is greater than any other? What happened "in the beginning"? How great is God really? Was Jesus truly God or just a good man? Join us as we answer these questions and Explore God together in this new series

  •    Fall is officially here! What is your favorite fall food?


SERMON GUIDE

In our current series we are exploring God and this week we are looking at How Great Is God? People talk about God all the time.

  •   If someone asked you to describe God, what would you say?

Have someone read Genesis 1:26.

Gene shared three things he doesn’t fully understand about God:

  1. The Eternal Nature of God – Last weekend we unpacked the concept that science can try to explain the origins and existence of the world with a big bang. Gene shared that his question is, “Where did the gases, and matter, and energy come from for the bang? What’s the explanation for the ‘original cause?’” Ultimately, the only explanation that satisfies the problem of original cause is that there is an eternal being who has always existed.

  2. The Mystery of the Trinity – He is one God, but He is 3 persons. The Bible teaches very clearly that the Heavenly Father is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, yet there is only one God.

  3. Why This Amazing God Is So Interested in Me – Many of us are in circumstances that are so big, so overwhelming we wonder if the God of the universe is greater than our circumstances, fears, hurts; or your past; you wonder if He could make a way in your universe.

Do you wonder if God is aware of the current circumstances of your life? Do you think He really knows and understands?

As a group read Psalm 147:5 out loud.

Gene shared three things he has learned about how great God really is.

He knows my circumstances. His understanding is beyond comprehension.

The first is sometimes referred to as the omniscience of God. He has perfect knowledge of all things.

Have someone read Isaiah 55:9.

How much higher are God’s thoughts than yours?  What is the distance between His wisdom and yours? It’s why His understanding is beyond comprehension. The omniscient God of the universe knows your physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, relational needs, and financial needs. He knows your self-destructive habits, your hang ups, your hurts before you even tell Him, before you even choke out the words.

We don’t realize that Someone is listening, Someone is watching, and the omniscient God knows what we’re going through.

Psalm 56:8 (NLT) says “You (God) keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.” The image there is that God is so moved by our brokenness and our circumstances that He numbers and collects our tears in a bottle.

You say, “O.K., God knows my circumstances, but where is He when I’m in a tough spot?” 

God is present in my circumstances.

Have someone read Psalm 139:7.

God is omnipresent. He is everywhere in heaven and on earth all at the same time. The reality is that God’s complete essence if fully present in all places at all times.

We can rest in familiar phrase in Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the shadow of death I will fear no evil because you are with me.”

Sometimes, as adults we play hide and seek with God. We pretend he can’t see us or shut down and stop turning to Him, embarrassed by our choices and decisions. We turn to other things to find a way out of a situation, to numb the pain or find relief.

  • What are some things you’ve turned to in order to cope with difficult situations, and what was the result?

God is our constant companion. You can go to bed tonight with peace, knowing God is there and He will never leave or and will never forsake you.

God is more powerful than my circumstances

God is omnipotent. He is greater and more powerful than my circumstances. Nothing is too hard for the all-powerful, omnipotent God of the universe. What’s hard is coming to the point in our lives where we admit we’re not God and finally say, “God, I’m powerless and I need You in my life.”

We would all prefer that God would empower us in advance of our circumstances. We’d like to have His power before the crisis. But God’s way is to give us power along the way.

  • Share a time you took a leap of faith, trusting God, and saw Him meet you and your need.

We can implement the power along the way principle by saying to ourselves “I found out I have a God who is greater than my circumstances. A God who not only knew my situation; and was present in my situation; but a God who is more powerful than my situation.”

We can walk toward that thing, take a step toward that situation we fear or are uncertain about and experience God’s power along the way.

For some us, we need to walk in the direction of a friend, be honest and say, “Here what’s really going on in the secret places of my life and I just have to start talking about it.”  You need to trust for power along the way.

We can hold onto what the apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:13, “For God is at work within you giving you the will and the power to achieve His purpose.”

  • Which of the three truths Gene shared about God – Omniscience, Omnipresent and Omnipotence is the hardest for you to wrap your head around? What is the easiest for you to believe?


PRAYER

Take a few minutes to quietly consider places in your life that you sense God is calling you to take your next step.

OR

If your group is comfortable enough with one another, break up into groups of 3 share and spend time in prayer for each other.