IDENTITY: MY LIFE OF FAITH

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1 IDENTITY: MY LIFE OF FAITH 98

2 Who am I? You will more than likely struggle with your identity at some point in life. Not knowing who you are can really mess up where you are. I know. When I was in my early twenties, I was a passenger in life traveling without a destination. I had grown up in a great environment, but I had made a total mess of my life. Jesus changed all that. He changed me, and now my identity is wrapped up in Christ. In these six sessions you will see what God says about who you are and who you can be in Christ. Your identity in Christ shapes your identity at church, in your home, at your place of work, and well, everywhere. You never lose your uniqueness in your various roles, but those roles are transformed by your life of faith your true, defining identity. Let this study help you be sure of who you are in Christ and how you can live out that identity. MATT BROWN Matt Brown is the lead pastor of Sandals Church in Southern California. It is Matt s passion to see people become real and honest with themselves, God, and others. Matt has been married to his college sweetheart for over 20 years and they have three amazing kids. Follow Matt on BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 99

3 Identity: My Life of Faith Session 1 Life in Christ Luke 9:18-26 Session 2 Life in the Church 1 Peter 4:7-11 Session 3 Life at Home Ephesians 5:22-28; 6:1-3 Session 4 Life at Work Colossians 3:22 4:1 Session 5 Life in the Community Matthew 25:34-40 Session 6 Life on Mission 1 Corinthians 9:

4 SESSION 1 LIFE IN CHRIST The Point Jesus identity is foundational to who I am. The Passage Luke 9:18-26 The Bible Meets Life People find different ways to define their lives. Family gives my life meaning; work gives my life purpose; life is whatever I make it to be. The truth is that we only have real meaning and lasting purpose when our lives are grounded in Christ. All things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17). All of life is wrapped up in Jesus. The Setting Luke 9 records Jesus commissioning of the Twelve disciples (vv. 1-6); afterward, the disciples traveled from village to village ministering in Jesus name. Jesus then miraculously fed more than 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish (vv ). These events were bringing more and more attention to Jesus as He carried out His public ministry. About midway through His earthly ministry, Jesus gathered His disciples to discuss His identity and its implications for their lives. BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 101

5 What does the Bible say? Luke 9:18-26 (CSB) God s Messiah (v. 20) The Hebrew word Messiah (Greek Christos) means anointed one. Kings, priests, and prophets all experienced God s anointing. Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of this term. Son of Man (v. 22) Jesus used this expression to describe Himself. Deny himself (v. 23) Jesus challenged His followers to lives of self-denial in which they laid aside their personal agendas to submit to His. 18 While he was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, Who do the crowds say that I am? 19 They answered, John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back. 20 But you, he asked them, who do you say that I am? Peter answered, God s Messiah. 21 But he strictly warned and instructed them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. 23 Then he said to them all, If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. 25 For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. 102 Session 1

6 THE POINT Jesus identity is foundational to who I am. GET INTO THE STUDY 10 minutes ACTIVITY (OPTIONAL): In advance, gather name tags and markers. Divide your group members into subgroups of five or six people each. Direct group members to write a word or phrase that describes them on the name tag and place it facedown in a pile with others from their group. Instruct group members to take turns guessing who wrote each name tag. Notes Want to know about biblical culture, people, archaeology, and history? Biblical Illustrator has articles that tie to each session in this study at lifeway.com/bi. DISCUSS: Invite your group members to discuss Question #1 on page 81 of the PSG (Personal Study Guide): What s a word or phrase that often comes up when people describe you? (Note: You may want to emphasize that this question focuses on how others describe you while the name tag activity focused on how you see yourself.) SUMMARIZE THE PSG (PAGE 82): Who am I? That s not always an easy question to answer. I am a husband, a father, and a friend, among other things. All of these relationships help to define me. How I define and see myself my identity affects my thoughts and actions. What truly affects our identity is how we see Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus asked His disciples, Who do you say that I am? How these men saw Jesus changed their lives because it changed how they saw themselves. It s true for us too. How we see Jesus shapes how we define ourselves. LEADER PACK: Bring your group s attention to Pack Item #8, Identity poster, to introduce the topic of this six-week study. GUIDE: Call attention to The Point on page 82 of the PSG: Jesus identity is foundational to who I am. PRAY: Transition into the discussion with prayer. Thank God for sending His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins so that we can be who He created us to be. Post Pack Item #8 to highlight the focus of this six-week study. Also display Pack Item #9 to use with your discussion of Luke 9:18-20 on page 104. PLAYLIST PICK: From the Day By I Am They BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 103

7 10 minutes STUDY THE BIBLE Notes Luke 9:18-20 (CSB) 18 While he was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, Who do the crowds say that I am? 19 They answered, John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back. 20 But you, he asked them, who do you say that I am? Peter answered, God s Messiah. READ: Ask a group member to read aloud Luke 9: SUMMARIZE THE PSG (PAGES 83-84): During the short period in which the disciples were with Jesus, He did amazing things. The disciples saw Jesus feed the hungry; raise the dead; and heal the lame, blind, and diseased. Jesus had become the most famous person in and around Palestine. He had gone from an unknown carpenter in a small town in Galilee to the biggest celebrity in all of Palestine. This conversation happened in the region of Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13) located at the most northern part of Palestine at the base of Mount Hermon. Caesarea Philippi was a place of deep moral and spiritual confusion. Jesus asked His disciples, Who do the crowds say that I am? (v. 18). They responded with the various opinions people had about Jesus identity: some thought He was John the Baptist. Many considered Him to be Elijah, or an ancient prophet. ALTERNATE QUESTION: How would you respond to Jesus question in verse 20? LEADER PACK: Use Pack Item #9, Caesarea Philippi poster, to give additional information about this region as well as its geographical location. DISCUSS: Question #2 on page 83 of the PSG: What words or phrases do people use to describe Jesus today? SUMMARIZE THE PSG (PAGE 84): In verse 20, Peter identified Jesus as the long-awaited Christ, the Messiah. This recognition would transform Peter s understanding of himself, ultimately altering his future. Only when Peter rightly understood who Jesus is could he get his own life and identity aligned correctly. TRANSITION: In the next verses, Jesus revealed to His disciples more about who He was by explaining to them His purpose on earth. 104 Session 1

8 THE POINT Jesus identity is foundational to who I am. Luke 9:18-20 Commentary Jesus is God s Son, the Messiah. Verse 18: Jesus was praying in private as often was His custom (Luke 5:16). The statement that Jesus disciples were with him may mean He rejoined them after His time of prayer and solitude. Verse 19: The disciples answered Jesus. Some considered Jesus might be a reappearance of John the Baptist. This apparently was the view of Herod Antipas (4 B.C. A.D. 39) about Jesus at least at one point (Matthew 14:1-2). By this time, Herod had put John to death (vv. 6-12). The disciples offered the name Elijah as another opinion they had heard. Elijah was a mighty prophet who served God faithfully in the days of wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 17 19). The prophet Malachi predicted that Elijah would appear before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5-6). Perhaps some assumed Jesus played the role of Elijah in announcing the day of God s judgment. The disciples also provided a more vague answer; perhaps Jesus was one of the ancient prophets. Matthew also includes the fact that the disciples suggested Jeremiah (Matthew 16:14). We should understand Luke s commentary as more of a summary. The disciples had heard well, and were able to report to Jesus a wide range of opinion regarding His identity. Verse 20: The words but you turned Jesus question in the direction of the disciples. The Lord asked them who do you say that I am? It was the most important question Jesus would ever ask His disciples, and it is the most important question we can ever answer as well. The text does not reveal whether the other disciples said anything to Jesus more personal question. Peter answered clearly and unmistakably; Jesus was God s Messiah. By his answer, Peter affirmed that Jesus was the fulfillment of God s redemptive purpose. The Hebrew word mashiach from which we get our word Messiah literally means anointed one. Kings of Israel sometimes had this title ( anointed, 1 Samuel 24:6,10; Anointed One, Psalm 2:2). The high priest also carried this title ( anointed, Leviticus 4:3). Prophets also received God s anointing (1 Kings 19:16). Jesus stands as God s ultimate Messiah in that He provides the fulfillment of all three of these important offices. He fulfilled a prophetic ministry while on earth as He brought God s message to His people (Matthew 21:10-11). He fulfilled the priestly office by offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:10-14). He intercedes for us now as our great High Priest in heaven (7:25). He fulfills the kingly role in that He hails from the line of David (Luke 1:32) and one day will return as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16). BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 105

9 10 minutes STUDY THE BIBLE Notes Luke 9:21-22 (CSB) 21 But he strictly warned and instructed them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. READ: Ask a group member to read aloud Luke 9: ALTERNATE QUESTION: When have you felt confused about something God wanted you to do? SUMMARIZE THE PSG (PAGES 84-85): Peter correctly identified Jesus. Yet, it is surprising what Jesus told Peter and the other disciples to do with that information. He told them not to tell anyone. At this particular moment in time, Jesus didn t need the full truth about Himself announced. It wasn t yet time to publicly proclaim Jesus as the Christ. It was important for the disciples to know the truth there and then. Speaking about Himself, Jesus told them, It is necessary that the Son of Man suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day (v. 22). The disciples probably believed, as most Jews did, that the Messiah would be a political leader who would free them from the oppressive rule of Rome in some type of military victory. So, they likely were crushed to hear that Jesus would not lead to them to military victory, but instead He would suffer and die. Any political leader might expect opposition and death, but Jesus did not expect just to die; He told the disciples He would be raised again. DISCUSS: Question #3 on page 85 of the PSG: What does Jesus death and resurrection teach us about His identity and purpose? DO: Divide group members into subgroups of three or four people. Instruct subgroups to complete the activity on page 86 of the PSG together. WHO AM I?: Our identities are grounded in Christ. Make a list of Jesus qualities followed by a list of your own. Because Jesus is, I am. Sample: Because Jesus is without sin, I am forgiven of my sin. 106 Session 1

10 THE POINT Jesus identity is foundational to who I am. Luke 9:21-22 Commentary Jesus took up His cross for us. Verse 21: Peter correctly assessed Jesus identity. One might think once the disciples knew Jesus identity, He would have sent them forth to proclaim it. Surprisingly, He warned and instructed them to tell this to no one. Why would Jesus instruct His followers to withhold the truth from people to whom they ministered? The answer was one of context and timing. In the Old Testament, prophecies about the Messiah were many. Some of the prophecies predicted the Messiah would establish an earthly kingdom (Isaiah 11:1-10; Jeremiah 23:5-6). The Jewish people felt the pain of Roman oppression and longed for their freedom. Consequently, they held dear those sacred passages that spoke of a political Messiah who would one day reign over all the earth and establish Israel as a prominent nation. However, other passages depicted the Messiah as a suffering Servant. The prophet Isaiah also spoke of a Messiah who quietly accomplished God s purpose (Isaiah 42:1-4). This Messiah would suffer greatly and even die at the hands of wicked people (53:7-9). He would suffer in place of God s people and for their sins (vv. 4-6). Unfortunately, in a day of Roman oppression, many Israelites probably preferred to cling to the hope of a coming reigning king who would overthrow Rome. Therefore, it is likely Jesus wanted His disciples to withhold the information about His true identity as Messiah until the appropriate day came to proclaim it. Verse 22: Jesus then began to rehearse for His disciples what events would take place in the coming days. Coming in the wake of Peter s confession, these words probably seemed out of place and certainly undesirable. Nonetheless, Jesus knew His disciples needed to hear them. Jesus described Himself as the Son of Man, an expression that essentially denoted a member of the human race, and He also told them that He must suffer many things. Again, the prophet Isaiah described the Messiah as one who would suffer much (Isaiah 53:4-12). Jesus described how He would be rejected by the Jewish leadership. The term elders here denotes a group of leaders. The term chief priests designates especially influential members of the priesthood who served in the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus also mentioned rejection by the scribes. These were the keepers of the sacred tradition and some comprised part of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leadership council. Jesus would do more than suffer; He would be killed. Jesus later would clarify He would die by crucifixion (20:19) and be raised the third day. He repeated the concept of His resurrection to His disciples on other occasions as well (v. 19; Luke 24:6-7). BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 107

11 10 minutes STUDY THE BIBLE Notes Luke 9:23-26 (CSB) 23 Then he said to them all, If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. 25 For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. READ: Ask a group member to read aloud Luke 9: SUMMARIZE THE COMMENTARY (VERSE 23): Jesus asked anyone who wanted to follow Him to do three things. First, let him deny himself. Jesus called His followers to a life of self-denial, laying aside personal agendas and priorities so they may fully obey Him. Second, Jesus instructed His would-be followers to take up his cross daily. Third, Jesus instructed His would-be disciples to follow Him. He provided no destination and no further details; He only instructed that they follow Him. ALTERNATE QUESTION: How can Luke 9:23 and John 10:10 both be true? DISCUSS: Question #4 on page 86 of the PSG: What does it look like on a practical level to deny ourselves and take up Jesus cross daily? SUMMARIZE THE PSG (PAGE 87): Jesus said, Whoever loses his life because of me will save it (v. 24). Jesus came so that we could experience life to the fullest (John 10:10). We can choose to be full of ourselves and die, or we can choose to die to ourselves and be full of Him and live the life He provides the full, abundant life! DISCUSS: Question #5 on page 87 of the PSG: How does losing your life for Christ result in saving your life? (Note: Help your group to identify what all we re given in Christ when we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.) ACTIVITY (OPTIONAL): Bring your group s attention to the name tags created at the beginning of the session. Discuss how our identity is fully grounded in Christ. As Christ-followers, we are forgiven of our sins, declared part of the body of Christ, and called to follow Him. 108 Session 1

12 THE POINT Jesus identity is foundational to who I am. Luke 9:23-26 Commentary Following Jesus means taking up our cross daily. Verse 23: Jesus had just given His disciples what certainly sounded like terrible news. He was going to die! However, Jesus wasn t finished. Next, He described the life to which He called His followers. Jesus called anyone who wanted to come with Him to radical obedience. Jesus seeks people who will follow Him wherever He leads. Jesus asked anyone who wanted to follow Him to do three things. First, let him deny himself. Jesus called His followers to a life of self-denial, laying aside personal agendas and priorities so they may fully obey Him. Second, Jesus instructed His would-be followers to take up his cross daily. In other words, following Jesus means a willingness to die. We should be ready to die with respect to our own priorities and agendas. Church history, even to the present day, is full of people who have willingly paid the ultimate price to follow Jesus. Third, Jesus instructed His would-be disciples to follow Him. He provided no destination and no further details; He only instructed that they follow Him. Verse 24: The world then, as the world now, offered values conflicting with God s. Many sought wealth, power, and prestige to find meaning in life, but all of these ultimately would prove dead ends. Jesus said one who sought to save his life through doing such things would lose it. At the end of life, such people would see all their aspirations and things in which they had placed value crumble to dust. Jesus contrasted such people with the individual who loses his life for the sake of following Jesus. Such a person would save it because he or she had aligned with God s purpose through Jesus. Verse 25: Jesus then clarified what He had just said. Even if someone gains the whole world, Jesus indicated the person had no real gain, because the one who does so loses or forfeits himself. Jesus was describing someone who failed to gain eternal life because he had placed too great a value in the wrong things. Verse 26: Jesus recognized that no one could be completely sold out to Him and yet embrace all the world had to offer. Whoever found themselves ashamed of Jesus and His words would be in such a state because they woefully underestimated the value of following Jesus. Instead, they placed confidence in things the world offered them. Jesus described the sad outcome that lay ahead. The Son of Man will be ashamed of all who were ashamed of Him and His words! The expression when he comes in his glory describes Jesus second coming, when He returns to gather His people and be with them forever (Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The majesty of that day will be shared by the Father and the holy angels. In the day of Jesus appearing, only what we have done for Jesus will matter. BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE 109

13 5 minutes LIVE IT OUT Notes SAY: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. What will you do with that truth? GUIDE: Lead group members to consider the responses to the Bible study listed on page 88 of the PSG. Identify what you believe about Jesus. Have you come to the place where you can say Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? If not, what questions do you have that would help you more fully understand who Jesus is? Share these with your group leader or a mature Christian friend. Pray boldly. Ask God to show you areas in which you need to pick up your cross daily in order to be more effective for the gospel. Ask Him to help you surrender yourself to His desires. Learn more about Jesus identity. Over the next two weeks, read through the Gospel of Luke to gain an understanding of Christ s life and what He said about Himself. Wrap It Up SAY: Your personal identity can be shaped by your family, hobbies, friends, and your job. Ultimately, your identity is rooted in Jesus. When you understand who He is, you get a clear perspective on who God made you to be in Christ. Additional ideas for your group are available at BibleStudiesforLife.com/AdultExtra 110 Session 1

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