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Monday, July 23, 2012

LIFEGroup Week of January 7, 2007

The Message & The Movement
Jesus' Sermon on the Mount


1. What motivated you to sign up for a LIFEGroup?

The principle reason for joining a life group is to learn and grow.

2. What are you hoping to gain from being in a group?

I'm hoping to meet some other Christians who I can start to develop new friendships with.

The Message and the Movement .. Introduction

This week, Pastor Mike made four key points about the Sermon on the Mount. First, Jesus was speaking to his disciples. A disciple is one who doesn't just learn from his teacher, but seeks to become like the teacher, living his life and thinking as the teacher would. Second, Jesus made clear that he expected his message to be obeyed. Third, Jesus' message was to be taken seriously. In fact, it is a matter of life and death. And finally, obedience to Jesus' message is the only path to living a truly fulfilling life.

1. Read 2 Corinthians 3:18. This verse says that each believer can reflect the Lord's glory, and that we are transformed into the image of Christ through a process. How does that process work? What is involved? See also Romans 12:2.

2 Corinthians 3:18 - And we all, with unveiled face, reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Romans 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The question of how we are transformed in the image of Christ is not a small or trivial question. Nor is it a small and simple question. It is a question that i have often though much about. The 2 verses above can help to frame the question but in reality the answer is much larger and more complex than anything I can present here in a few words.

Let me lay out just a few key things to keep in mind. This process of transformation starts with the Lord himself. It is not something that comes from us. We do not transform ourselves. We are not the source of change. God uses appointed means and ways to change us, but it is a process that he has started and he will finish.

It is a process that is brought about by reflecting. A mirror reflects. A mirror has no glory of its own. It has nothing of beauty in itself. It reflects. It sees the glory and beauty of the object it is beholding. That is how we are. We are made to see and reflect the very glory of God. We are here to reflect the glory of God back to God himself.

This transformation is not all at once. Paul says "we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." This transformation is in degrees.

This transformation happens by seeing. We need to see Christ if we are to be like him. We need to know him if we are to be transformed into his image. We need the eyes of our heart opened if we are to see. And without this seeing we will never be transformed.

But how do we connect this transformation with Romans 12:2? How do we connect reflecting (or seeing) with the mind? What's the link? And what's the deal with this unveiled face? Why do we need our faces unveiled to see God?

2 Cor 3:12-14 helps us to understand this and make the connection. Moses had see the glory of God after being given the law on Mt. Sinai. After seeing the glory of God, Moses put a veil over his face so that Israel would not see the glory of God fade away. Here Paul makes a connection between Moses covering his face and the peoples minds being hardened. This links this to Romans. This is why it becomes important to renew our minds.

There is but one way I know how to renew the mind. It is by being in the pages of scripture. We must know the words of our savior if we are to change. We must be his disciples if we are to follow the master.

While there is much, much more that can be said about the purpose of this transformation, the means of this transformation, the ways, and the hows, and the why, and veil, and the seeing...I don't know how much justice I can do this topic.

I guess that the though I would leave you with is that the way we become like God is because he became like us. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh so that we might get the very glory of God himself and reflect back for all eternity his own glory.

2. Read 1 John 2:3-6. How do we demonstrate our love for Christ? What does this passage say about one who does not obey Christ's commands?

1 John 2:3-6 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

There is but one way to show our love for Christ. It is by doing what he he ask us to do. If we love someone we serve them. The person who does not obey the commands of Christ does not love him.

This question is part of the larger issues of Law and Gospel. We cannot obey Christ. All of our actions, no matter how pure or right they are, have been tainted by sin. Even our best attempts to obey Christ are failures. So what does that say for our love of Christ? It would show that we are not lovers of Christ. It would also show that we are liars. The law always crushes us and drives us back to Christ.

Once we get to Christ we can rest in him knowing that the Law can no longer destroy us. We are free from the death blow that the law has delivered. We are, for the first time free, to go after the one thing that will satisfy our souls. We can now do what Christ commands, not out of fear of punishment, but out of love for what he has done.

3. Mike showed us that obeying Jesus' message is a matter of life and death, and it is a choice that each of us must make. What choices can you make today that will lead you to more complete obedience to Jesus?

If there was one choice that I could make that would lead me to obey Christ more fully it would be the choice to seek, above all else, pleasure. If I spent more time looking to fulfill my longing for joy and happiness and pleasure I would obey more fully.

Now...Let me explain. God has given his Law for two reasons. One is to drive us to Christ. The other is to show us how to live. To live is to flourish. That is why God has given us rules. He tells us how to live. Not to be mean and withhold pleasure, but to give us real and true pleasure and joy.

4. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) How does Jesus provide a fulfilling and abundant life? In what areas of your life do you feel unfulfilled? How would a closer walk with the Lord result in a more fulfilling life?

I think that this question needs some qualifications put on it. I think that there is a danger in reading this and placing us at the center of all things. It seems to make Jesus look like a giant genie that gives us what we want and for our ends.

Yes, Christ came so that we might have life and have it abundantly. But what is this life? Is this my personal fulfillment? No...This abundant life is to know Christ. (John 17:3) Abundant life is to have the veil lifted, our minds renewed, and to know Christ. This is what we need. We must know the supremacy of Christ. We must know his goodness and kindness. We must know the Christ that is shown in scripture. Unpacking knowledge and what it means to know would be 100's of pages long.

So where do I feel unfulfilled? I would have to stick not with my subjective feeling but with the objective text of scripture. I don't know Christ how I should. Sure I know the facts and doctrine, but I don't know ontologically.

My purpose is not to find my life and my selfish desires. The way of having true life is to lose my life. And the life that God offers is to enter into true and lasting joy. The joy that he offers is to know him. It's to see and savor Christ for all eternity.

With knowing Christ comes the true way to live life. It tells me how to deal with those who hate me. It tells me how to gain wisdom. It tells me what I must do to live. It tells me how to have peace with God. Knowing Christ will lead into the fulness of God himself.

LIFEGroup Week of January 7, 2007

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