Community Group Discussion Guide: Introduction to Spiritual Gifts
Digging Deeper: The average modern automobile has some 30,000 parts. Most of the parts are essential to the whole. Everything from the engine parts to the lug nuts are important. All the auto parts come together to form a vehicle that carries a person or persons from place to place. The Body of Christ is also composed of many different parts which come together to form the whole. Every member is unique and important.
We are going to explore 1 Corinthians Chapter 12. This is an important chapter where the Apostle Paul teaches the Corinthian Church about spiritual gifts.
Read verses 1-3:  Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.  You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.  Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
Read verses 4-11:  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.  There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.  But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;  to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,  and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
Read verses 12-31:  For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.  And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.  If they were all one member, where would the body be?  But now there are many members, but one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;  and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable,  whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,  so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.  And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.  All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?  All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?  But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.
Wrap-up: One of the challenges that spiritual gifts "can" pose to the Body of Christ, is that they can lead to expressions of spiritual pride or posturing. This is one of the reasons that Paul wrote the Book of 1 Corinthians. Paul started the letter to the Corinthian Church by pointing out that "not many" of us are noble, wise or mighty. That is our weakness, God is made strong. Finally, if we are to boast, may we boast in the Lord!
Community Group Discussion Guide: Be Filled with the Spirit
Digging Deeper: Jesus talked about spiritual hunger in the Be-Attitudes. Matthew 5:6 KJV
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." It is healthy for Believers in Christ to "hunger and thirst" for a deeper relationship with Him. How do you cultivate your personal relationship with other people? What are some "things" that we can do to cultivate our relationship with God?
Ephesians 5:18 “And do not get drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Community Group Discussion Guide: Baptism of Power
Digging Deeper: Let's look at three instances where the followers of Jesus were "filled" with the Holy Spirit.
John 20:21,22. Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Community Group Discussion Guide: Jesus and the Holy Spirit
Digging Deeper: Let's look at the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The connection between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is significant.
Read: 1 Peter 1:10-12a As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,  seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.
Read: Matthew 1:20 Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."
Some miscellaneous questions concerning Jesus and the Holy Spirit:
Peter spoke the following words to Cornelius and his household: Acts 10:37-39 "You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.  You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.  We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem."
Wrap-up: The Holy Spirit was working in and through the life of Jesus in three highly significant accomplishments.
Community Group Discussion Guide: Walking in the Spirit - The Fullness of Christ
Read: Ephesians 4:1-15 NASB95
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,  being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”  (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)  And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;  but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.
Digging Deeper: Although Ephesians, Chapter 4, is not generally associated with 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12, there are some interesting parallels. In Ephesians 4, Apostle Paul starts out by calling the Church to walk in a way that is "worthy" of our calling. In context, Paul is calling on the Ephesians to walk in unity.
Read verse 7: But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Read verse 13: ...until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Wrap-up: Read verse 15. ...but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.
Community Group Discussion Guide: Walking in the Spirit - 10 Works of the Holy Spirit
10 Works of the Holy Spirit:
#1 The Holy Spirit is our Teacher.
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
#2 The Holy Spirit Convicts the World of Sin.
John 16:8 And He (The Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.
John 16:13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Romans 8:10-11 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Community Group Discussion Guide: Walking in the Spirit - The Helper
Read John 14:16-18 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Acts 1:4-8 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;  but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Big Idea: Jesus had created a panic among His disciples. Firstly, He told them that He was leaving them and that where He was going they could not follow. (John 14:1-6) Secondly, in the analogy of the Vine and the Branches, Jesus made it clear: "Apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) This is a real dilemma for the disciples. Jesus is leaving, and they can nothing apart from Him. What was the answer? Jesus promised "another Helper." The coming of the Holy Spirit was the answer.
Digging Deeper: Much of what Jesus said concerning the role of the Holy Spirit is located in the "Last Discourse." This is the Gospel of John's account of Jesus' teachings starting in John Chapter 13 and running through Chapter 17. (This covers the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane)
Read John 14:16-18: I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Read Acts 1:4-8: Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;  but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Wrap-up: According to the Apostle Paul, the Church is currently fighting an ongoing spiritual battle with powers of darkness. This is not a mundane battle that can effectively be fought with carnal weapons. To engage the Enemy, we must put on the full armor of God. We can also fight with the confidence of knowing that, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world."
Community Group Discussion Guide: Hope
Read Romans 8:14-31 NASB95
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.  And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.  For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.  In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;  and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Big Idea: The Hymn, The Solid Rock makes this bold declaration: "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name! On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand." It is so easy in an affluent society to "trust the sweetest frame." We get a sense of security from our material wealth and relatively peaceful life. We are untouched by poverty and hunger and are surrounded by creature comforts. So, the question needs to be asked: "Is my hope build on the Solid Rock or other things?" Without exception, every one of us will face situations in life that cannot be solved or even faced with a hope built on temporal substance. At some point in time, we will all walk through the valley of the shadow of death. At that moment the creature comforts and the fleeting security of wealth will be of no use. For those whose trust is in the Lord, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. There is always the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. There is always hope for a victorious outcome. There is always a Champion standing with us.
Digging Deeper: The 8th Chapter of Romans is perhaps the most hopeful chapter in the Bible. It bursts with hope. It does not paint a Pollyanna view of the world. It speaks of the suffering of the world and of the saints, but it looks beyond the troubles of this world to the Blessed Hope that is found in God.
Verses 14-18:  For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Community Group Discussion Guide: Word of Your Testimony
Read: Revelation 12:7-11. NASB95
And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,  and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “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 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.
Digging Deeper: John starts the narrative of Revelation, chapter 12, with a vision of a war in the heavens. It is a clash between the powers of darkness and Michael and the angels against Satan (Dragon) and his allies.
Read verses 7-9:  And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,  and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Wrap-up: Think of the “Word of your Testimony,” as the legal record of your life. If you were standing in a court before a judge, what evidence is there in your life that verifies what you living what you profess to believe? "The Word of their Testimony" is referring to Believers who are living for Christ and willing to die for Him.
Community Group Discussion Guide: Grace
Read: Luke 6:27-38 NASB95 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.  Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.  Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.  Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
Big Idea: God is good and full of grace. When it comes to "us," we are not so good and not known as creatures that are full of grace. In most New Testament texts, grace is mentioned as an attribute of God. Grace (Geek: Charis) is generally defined as the spontaneous, unilateral, unmerited gift of God’s favor that ultimately leads to salvation. The concept of God's grace is encapsulated in Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Digging Deeper: Jesus gives his audience a definitive teaching on grace. His teaching is challenging from the first sentence, where Jesus challenges His listeners with these words: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you."
Read verses 27,28:  “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
BC Teaching Elders