The BIG IDEA
As we grow in understanding of God’s holiness and our sinfulness, we see more of the grace of Jesus in our lives.
We may think we aren’t that sinful and don’t understand how holy God is, so we may take his grace for granted.
Invite God to show us more of his holiness, our sin, and his grace.
Why THIS MATTERS
Having a growing appreciation of God’s holiness and our sinfulness is key for living in the grace of Jesus Christ.
I want my students to…
- KNOW: That a growing awareness of God’s holiness and our sinfulness is key to living in the grace of Jesus.
- EXPERIENCE: An understanding of God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and Jesus’ grace.
- DO: Celebrate his grace and invite him to show more of his holiness and our sinfulness.
The idea box is a place where you can find some creative ideas for leading this study. You might find videos, activities, or great illustrations that really bring the main point home. The ideas come from small group leader like you, so if you have an idea that isn’t in there, click below to share it with the community!
*WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Think of a time when you messed up really badly and someone showed you grace (i.e., didn’t come down on you like you deserved). How did that person’s grace make you feel toward him or her and about what you did?
Allow the group to discuss. Help the group see that when a person extends grace to you, it typically helps you appreciate that grace and also see that it was a big deal that you messed up. Explain that this is similar to what we can experience with God through faith in Jesus Christ when we realize how holy God is, how sinful we are, and how Jesus’ undeserved goodness to us closes that gap.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THIS?
*1. Read Isaiah 6:1–4. Isaiah was a prophet (a person who hears messages from God and gives them to the people) He lived several hundred years before the time of Jesus. In this story, he is given a vision of heaven. Describe in your own words what Isaiah sees.
Allow the group to discuss. Isaiah sees the Lord sitting gloriously on a throne in his temple. Standing above him are seraphim (angelic beings) with wings that cover their faces and feet as they fly. They declare the Lord’s holiness as the foundations of the smoke-filled temple shake at the sound of their voices.
2. How do the seraphim describe the Lord in verse 3?
The seraphim describe the Lord as holy and say the whole earth is full of his glory.
*3. What do you think it means that the Lord is holy and that the whole earth is full of his glory?
Allow the group to discuss. “Holy” means the Lord is pure and without fault. It means he is in a class of his own, completely separate from his creation. “The whole earth is full of his glory” means there are displays of who God is and what he is like everywhere around us.
- How does Isaiah respond to this vision of the LORD in verse 5?
- Why do you think he responds this way?
He says he’s doomed because a sinful person like him has seen the Lord.
- What’s that about?
- What is the difference between Isaiah’s attitude between verse 5 and verse 8?
- What changes for Isaiah between those verses?
A seraphim flies to Isaiah and touches a burning coal to Isaiah’s lips, bringing about the forgiveness of his sin. Experiencing God’s forgiveness is what happens and makes the difference for Isaiah.
HOW DO WE APPLY THIS TO OUR LIVES?
6. Read Luke 5:4–10. How is Isaiah’s experience with the Lord like what we experience when we meet Jesus Christ?
Allow the group to discuss. When we see how holy and amazing Jesus is and how sinful we are, we realize how unworthy we are. But Jesus in his grace (undeserved favor) accepts us and makes it possible for us to be his special messengers too.
7. Why do we need to see God’s holiness and our sinfulness to appreciate the grace that comes to us through Jesus Christ?
Allow the group to discuss. Just as Isaiah and Peter appreciated God’s grace when they experienced God’s holiness and their own sinfulness, the same is true for us. Seeing God’s holiness and our sinfulness shows us how hopeless we are unless God steps in to help us. This is exactly what he does through Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Trusting in Jesus brings us forgiveness of our sin and lets us live in the presence of a holy God. The more we grow in seeing God’s holiness and our sinfulness, the more we appreciate the grace of Jesus’ cross. The cross “looms large” in our lives.
*8. When we lose sight of God’s holiness and our own sinfulness, we “shrink Christ’s cross,” failing to see how big God’s grace (undeserved favor) is in our lives. Below are some of the ways we can do this.
- Take turns reading these out loud to the group.
- What is one of the ways on this list that you can relate to?
Defending – Instead of receiving feedback, I justify, explain things away, or talk about my successes. As I appreciate Jesus’ grace, I realize Jesus is my Defender, freeing me from justifying and defending myself.
Faking – I try to be someone I’m not because I’m too concerned with others’ opinions of me. As I appreciate Jesus’ grace, I realize that God sees everything about me and still accepts me because of Jesus. This frees me to be myself.
Hiding – Driven by shame, I conceal my real self because I’m afraid God or others won’t accept me if they see me for who I really am. Appreciating Jesus’ grace frees me from needing to hide from God and others since he sees, loves, and accepts me.
Exaggerating – Out of a desire for attention, I make both good and bad things more of a big deal than they are. Appreciating Jesus’ grace frees me from feeling like I need to exaggerate. I have all the positive attention I could dream of because I’m an object of God’s love.
Blaming – Instead of taking responsibility for my shortcomings and faults, I point the finger at others or at circumstances. When I appreciate Jesus’ grace, I don’t need to blame others or circumstances for my shortcomings and faults. I can accept my shortcomings and faults, knowing that God forgives me for all my sins through faith in Christ.
Downplaying – I say things aren’t as bad as they really are. Appreciating Jesus’ grace means I can say things are as bad as they really are because Jesus’ grace is big enough to deal with any bad thing in my life.
From The Gospel-Centered Life (15–16) by Robert H. Thune and Will Walker, Serge 2016.
*9. How can a growing appreciation of Jesus’ grace keep you from “shrinking Jesus’ cross” in the way you mentioned?
Allow the group to discuss. Help your group make connections between the ways they said they “shrink Jesus’ cross” and how appreciating Jesus’ grace helps them not to do that. For instance, if I realize that Jesus’ grace makes me acceptable before a holy God, I don’t need to defend myself to others or fake and pretend to be someone I’m not.
10. When Isaiah and Peter experienced God’s grace, they told someone about it. Who is someone you’d like to tell about the grace of Jesus we’ve learned about in this study?
Allow the group to discuss. Lead your group in thinking about a friend, family member, co-worker, teacher, or coach to talk about this with.
Our review cards are an excellent way to review your past lessons with your students before each study. Not every lesson has one yet but if we have them, you can find them on the PRINT page. Check them out and use them each week to help your students grab hold of the truths in these studies.
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.