Week of 2/14/2016 Text: Luke 13: 22-30 Big Idea: Urgency to pray for people who are far from God; Prayer for lost at Life Group Icebreaker



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BLESS 1.5 -- The Urgency of Prayer for the Lost

(week of 2/14/2016)

Text: Luke 13:22-30
Big Idea: Urgency to pray for people who are far from God; Prayer for lost at Life Group
Icebreaker: Who did you bless this week?
At Point Church, we talk a lot about pointing people to Jesus. But many Christians think that all that means is, “invite people to go to church with you.” Far fewer have any idea of how they can point people to Jesus themselves. This series is meant to change that -- to give you a strategy that is biblical and effective in helping YOU accomplish the mission that God has given each of us, both separately and together. It’s a strategy of blessing!
Begin with prayer. Listen. Eat. Serve. Story. B.L.E.S.S.
Whenever you recommend a movie, a book, a restaurant -- or anything else, really -- to a friend, you do so because you believe they’ll have a great time at the film, they’ll be moved by the book, they’ll love the baby back ribs. You’ve pointed them to something that you think will benefit them in some big or small way.
That’s all evangelism is, but on a much larger “benefit” scale. You point a friend to Jesus because you believe that their eternity is at stake, and you love them enough to want them to be in God when it comes.
In this series, we’ll learn and partly practice a strategy that will put us in a position to point just about anyone to Jesus. This week’s step: PRAYER.
(1) PRAY, because the door is narrow and exclusive, not wide and all-inclusive.

Luke 13:22-24 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. (23) Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, (24) "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.
“Most of us have wondered about that question as we look at the billions of pagans compared with the few committed Christians. It would have made for an interesting theological discussion. But Jesus did not answer the question directly. Instead, He directed the question away from abstract theological speculation and toward specific application for each person in the crowd. The man had asked, “Will the saved be few?” Jesus turned it around to ask, “Will the saved be you?”

“Remember, Jesus was speaking to a crowd of mostly religious Jews. Almost to a person they believed in the one true God. They were not agnostics or polytheists. They believed in the Hebrew Scriptures and lived in basic accordance with them. Jesus was not addressing a pagan audience. He was talking to the “church” crowd, most of whom assumed that they would go to heaven because they were good Jews.” [Steven Cole]


Q: Did Jesus actually answer the question he was asked in verse 23? If he did, what was his answer?
Q: What Jesus says about “the narrow door” gives a picture of people crowding around a small opening, pushing and shoving to make their way through. In your opinion, just who ARE these people who will be fighting to get into the door? [LEADER -- look to verses 26-27 for hints.]
Q: The first three words in verse 24 (“make every effort”) are one way to translate the first word in the original sentence -- “a-gon-ID-zo-mai”. (It give us the word “agonize”.) It means to strive, to work hard, to fight for, to go after with all effort and intensity. If God’s grace is a gift to us from him, why does Jesus seem to keep telling people to work so hard for it? [LEADER -- This question is one that is asked repeatedly in these studies, in several different ways. It keeps being asked because it keeps coming up as we go through the New Testament.]
Q: Why isn’t membership in a particular church enough to ensure salvation without all the striving?
Q: Thinking about the questions in this section all together, WHO should we be praying for, and WHAT should our prayer be?

(2) PRAY, because there’s a huge difference between casual acquaintance and personal relationship.

Luke 13:25-27 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.' (26) "Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' (27) "But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'
Several times, Jesus used the idea of a wedding feast or a special dinner to talk about people being admitted to the Kingdom of God. Here’s another example (we see that in verse 29.) Only the ones who belong there, who have been invited or who are of the household, can be allowed in, and of those, only the ones who are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there actually WILL be allowed in.

We ate and drank with you” -- “Seeing Jesus or sitting with Jesus at a dinner table never saved anyone. Sharing a meal normally speaks of intimacy in the ancient world, but that would not be sufficient to bring about salvation. The speakers may perhaps be alluding to the time when Jesus fed the five thousand, but when they were faced with His "hard teaching", refused to become His true followers, even departing from Him in that moment of crisis. Judas Iscariot had an even closer relationship to Jesus, masquerading as a disciple, and yet his subsequent departure proved that Judas was not a genuine disciple. External appearances, no matter how convincing to other men, mean nothing unless there has been an internal change, a "circumcision" of one's heart.” [Precept Austin]


Q: It seems like these outside people were intensely interested in getting into the great feast. Why wouldn’t the master of the house keep letting people in?
Q: These people seem to have had a good relationship with the master of the house -- up until this moment. What does that suggest to you about the seriousness with which we approach our relationship with the Master?
Q: Suggest some reasons why a person who has tasted God’s goodness and blessing would stop “mak[ing] every effort” to move through that narrow door?
Q: “the owner of the house gets up and closes the door” -- Answer this question with a Yes or a No, and share the implications for mankind that you see in it: Does this verse show that God’s grace is an offer that is limited in both time and opportunity?
Q: Thinking about the questions in this section all together, WHO should we be praying for, and WHAT should our prayer be?


(3) PRAY, because hell is real.

Luke 13:28-30 "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. (29) People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. (30) Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."
“While one might attempt to interpret this repeated description of torment in hell in a figurative sense, there is no justification for interpreting it other than in the plain literal sense - hell will be a place of endless tears and continual gnashing of teeth, a manifestation of inconsolable grief and unremitting torment! We do a grave injustice to our listeners if we attempt to "soften the blow" regarding Jesus' description of Hell in an attempt to not offend their conscience. Weeping and gnashing of teeth is an offensive and awful description because hell is an awful place for an unrepentant sinner to be confined for eternity!”
Penn Jillette is half of the magic-and-comedy duo, Penn & Teller. He is also famously an atheist. You’d think that he’d never want to be approached with the gospel. But in a video on YouTube, Jillette tells of one man who spoke with him after a show, and did just that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6md638smQd8. In the video, reacting to the conversation and complimenting the man for his attempt, Jillette says this: “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
Q: Jesus is warning his listeners that some of them will be shocked to discover they are not entering God’s kingdom, while many whom they expect not to enter God’s kingdom, will be welcomed in. Why you think he gives this warning -- what does he hope to stir up in them (and in us)?
Q: Why will many religious people be surprised at who is actually saved?
Q: Discuss this statement (from Steven Cole): We are too casual about salvation because we have disregarded the biblical doctrine of hell.
Q: In verse 30, who are the “last” who will become first, and the “first” who will become last? [LEADER -- see Further Study Notes #3]
Q: Thinking about the questions in this section all together, WHO should we be praying for, and WHAT should our prayer be?

NEXT STEPS: In your group prayer time, have everyone who will to pray aloud for one person who needs to be pointed to Jesus, that the person praying will be the one to do the pointing for them. And then keep praying for that person as we go through this series, and until he or she comes to faith in Jesus.
FURTHER STUDY NOTES
#1 -- “In a recent Pew survey of religious attitudes in America, most people said they believe there are many paths to heaven. This is a gracious attitude. A professor of religion explains that in our society, we meet so many good people of different faiths that it's hard for us to imagine God letting them go to hell.”

“One very plausible explanation is that Americans just want good things to come to good people, regardless of their religion. Alan Segal, a professor of religion at Barnard College, says: "We are a multicultural society, and people expect this American life to continue the same way in heaven." He explains that in our society, we meet so many good people of different faiths that it's hard for us to imagine God letting them go to hell.

“In fact, in the most recent survey, Pew asked people what they thought determined whether a person would achieve eternal life. Nearly as many Christians said you could achieve eternal life by just being a good person as said that you had to believe in Jesus. As a matter of fact, half of those who said they were Christians believed that atheists could go to heaven.” [David Holwick]

#2 -- “While one might attempt to interpret this repeated description of torment in hell in a figurative sense, there is no justification for interpreting it other than in the plain literal sense - hell will be a place of endless tears and continual gnashing of teeth, a manifestation of inconsolable grief and unremitting torment! We do a grave injustice to our listeners if we attempt to "soften the blow" regarding Jesus' description of Hell in an attempt to not offend their conscience. Weeping and gnashing of teeth is an offensive and awful description because hell is an awful place for an unrepentant sinner to be confined for eternity!” [Precept Austin]


#3 -- “Two classes of persons come in for consideration. One class thought to be first in God’s favor ends up last or left out altogether, and the class thought last or left out comes into the foremost position of favor. The self-exalted religious leaders in Israel were not only materially well supplied but also rich in spiritual privileges and opportunities, first in line for divine blessing, so they thought. In their sight the poor, common people were contemptible and called ‘am haarets or “people of the earth”, as being beneath their feet, the last ones to be worthy of notice by God. Yet Jesus told the exalted ones that the time was coming when they would be shut out of God’s kingdom arrangement, pictured by Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and the Prophets, and in their stead would come the despised ones to recline at the table in the kingdom of God. By speaking of these incoming ones as being from east, west, north and south Jesus showed they would be not only the common people from among the Jewish nation but also poor persons from all nations. Such downtrodden Jews and despised Gentiles were the last ones so far as a chance for God’s kingdom was concerned; or at least so reasoned the conceited religious ones who put themselves first in line for divine blessing. So it was with these classes and relationships in mind that Jesus concluded with the words: “There are those last who will be first, and there are those first who will be last.” ” [alt.christian.religion]


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