Acts Life Group Study 5/8 | Obeying God
Sarah was a geography student in her first year of university and enjoyed sharing a flat with seven other students. Sarah was the only Christian in the flat, but made a conscious effort to build relationships with her flat mates. In particular, she struck up a close friendship with Keisha, who was on the same course and in the bedroom adjacent to Sarah’s.
Sarah and Keisha spent a lot of time with one another and had many discussions about Sarah’s faith. During this time, Sarah had opportunities to explain how she became a Christian and the difference this had made to her life. Sarah also listened to some of Keisha’s questions about suffering, other religions, sexual ethics and Hell, and did her best to answer these or point Keisha to materials that could help. Over time, Keisha’s skepticism softened as she was impacted by all she had heard and seen. Keisha had not yet become a Christian but openly acknowledged that she could not dodge the issue for much longer and needed to make her own mind up. It seemed like only a matter of time.
Sarah and Keisha also shared with a chemistry student called Daniel. Daniel was funny, kind and, like Sarah, very sporty. Sarah and Daniel would often walk back together from the gym and they became good friends. Daniel was not a Christian, but he was not hostile to hearing about Sarah’s faith and she enjoyed spending time with him. One night the two of them walked back from the student union and shared a kiss. Daniel was the perfect gentleman and didn’t tell anyone about it, but told Sarah that he liked her and that he would like to go out with her.
Sarah spoke to some friends in her Christian Union, who counselled her that she should not do this because he wasn’t a Christian and the Bible cautions about entering into romantic relationships with unbelievers. Sarah listened to this advice and understood why she shouldn’t start seeing Daniel. However, she felt that her friends didn’t understand how much she liked Daniel and how perfect he was for her in every other way. She reasoned that if she continued praying for Daniel he would probably become a Christian anyway and there wouldn’t be a problem. Sarah and Daniel started seeing each other secretly. The two grew closer and closer and Sarah started to attend CU and church less frequently. Sometimes Sarah would also spend the night in Daniel’s room.
One morning Sarah heard Keisha sobbing in her room, so Sarah went in to see her. Keisha had found out about Sarah and Daniel, and was unhappy and angry. She told Sarah that over the course of the year Sarah had answered so many of her questions and challenged her to give her life to Jesus, in spite of tension this might cause Keisha to encounter from her family and friends. She said “You lied to me. You told me it was worth giving up everything to follow Jesus. I listened to you, I believed you and I got so close to doing that. But it is all a lie. You were willing to give it all up and go against what you stand for because of a boy. If being a Christian means so little that it can’t withstand a fear of being single, it has nothing to offer me.”
Sarah and Daniel eventually broke up and Sarah would later come back to Jesus. Sarah and Keisha moved into separate flats at the end of the first year but remained friends; however, Keisha has been unwilling to discuss spiritual matters with Sarah ever since.
1. How did you get on acting out your faith in the last week following the study we had?
2. Obeying God is not always easy. When have you found it hardest to obey God and why was this? What did you do in the end? What were the consequences of your actions? How would you do things differently if you were faced with the same circumstances?
BIBLE STUDY TIP: Context / Filling in the gaps
The Bible is a library of books. Each book was written to a particular audience and for a specific purpose. In order to understand this purpose, it’s important to read each book from start to finish to see how it all fits together. Ideally this should be done in one go, but when this is not possible (like tonight) it’s important to see how the passage relates to the one immediately before it – especially when you have not studied it recently.
3. Chapter 4 opens while Peter is delivering a sermon prompted out of the events of Chapter 3. What just happened in chapter 3?
Split your Life Group into 2 groups and ask each group to focus on one of the questions below:
3.1 What events preceded Peter’s sermon? What did Peter and John see? How did they react? How did others react? (Acts 3:1-10)
3.2 What key truths did Peter’s sermon focus on? About God? About Jesus? About the gospel? About Peter’s hearers? (Acts 3:11-24)
4. Which people approached Peter and John and how did these people react? Why do you think they reacted in this way? What parts of Peter’s sermon do you think caused controversy? Do people today react in a similar way? Why do you think this is?
5. What were the positive and negative ways people reacted to Peter’s sermon? How does this encourage you? Share any examples of how your own obedience to God has provoked both kinds of reactions.
6. Peter and John were called before the Jewish Ruling Council, the Sanhedrin. Which named members were present? What do we know about these individuals? Were they impartial? Are those we witness to today always impartial (see John 11:45-53, John 12:9-11 and Matthew 26: 57-68)?
7. What verbal and visible evidence did Peter offer in defence of his actions? What additional support did Peter have (verse 6)? What do you find most compelling about Peter’s response? What ways have you found helpful in justifying/describing your faith to doubters?
8. In verse 11, Peter quotes from Psalm 118:22 to describe how Jesus was rejected. In what ways was Jesus rejected for obeying God (in life AND death)? Why does it matter so much that Jesus was always obedient? How does this reassure us when we make mistakes but also motivate us (as it motivated Peter and John) to obey God in difficult circumstances?
9. The Sanhedrin was made up of educated and respected leaders; Peter and John were fishermen apparently out of their depth but nonetheless were released. What were the secrets of their success? Share examples when you felt out of your depth but God came to your aid.
10. In what way(s) have you been challenged to act out your faith this week?
BIBLE STUDY TIP: Memory Verse
The Bible is inspired by God and is given so that believers can be thoroughly equipped to follow Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Memorising Bible verses does not earn God’s favour or salvation (which is by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9)), but it is a sensible thing to do to help us obey God. In Psalm 119, the Psalmist speaks of hiding God’s word in his heart so that he would not sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Memorising verses is useful because it enables us to recall God’s word when we are tempted by fear, opposition or sin to disobey God.
11. Before the next meeting make a conscious effort to memorise Acts 4:12 (below) and test one another at the start of session 6:
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
MISSIONARY STORIES to inspire you from our church
A member of our church is known for being the only Christian in his office. Stuart has a good working relationship with his colleagues, but he is not that popular because he never gets drunk on team nights out and is willing to give a Christian perspective when hot topic issues are like abortion or same sex marriage are raised by colleagues. He is aware that the team sometimes organise socials without him and are patronising about his Christian faith behind his back.
One evening Stuart and a colleague (Ahmed) were working late. Over a takeaway dinner, Ahmed explained that his wife had recently left him and he was devastated. Ahmed had not told anyone else in the office, but knew that he could trust Stuart. Ahmed knew that Stuart was a Christian and began asking him about his faith. Stuart was able to share the gospel and offer hope to Ahmed, and also offer to pray for him.
Stuart’s consistent obedience to God at the expense of his popularity had established a credibility that he could be trusted and opened up a door for God to speak in to.
- Thank God for Jesus’ perfect obedience unto death and his all sufficient sacrifice that allows us to be forgiven in spite of our failures and disobedience.
- Ask God to bring to mind any areas of your life where you have disobeyed Him and use this time to confess and repent of sin and receive His empowering forgiveness.
- Thank God that the gospel is powerful and while it often leads to negative reactions, it also leads to positive reactions.
- Ask for God’s help to strengthen you to obey Him when you face trials and temptations to disobey God.
- Ask God to give you an opportunity to be a witness this week and to give you the words and courage to do so faithfully.
OTHER THINGS to plug and pray for
- Alpha Course | 19 Oct – 21 Dec, 7pm
- Ravi Zacharias (rzim.org) | 15 Nov, 11am service
- Terry Virgo | 6 Dec, 11am and 530pm service
- Carol Service | 13 Dec, 530pm service
- Christmas Celebration Service (families) | 20 Dec, 11am service