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BIBLE STUDY: Real change for real sinners

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NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.

Bible Passages: Matthew 11:29, Ephesians 3:8

Discussion Questions:

— When did you have your biggest physical growth spurt? Have you ever had a spiritual growth spurt? If so, when? What brought it on?

— How might believers “have a domesticated view of Jesus that has downsized His glory in our hearts”? What would it take to free ourselves from this domesticated view and upsize His glory in our hearts?

— The author identified seven essential facets of the Person Jesus. Which of the seven would you identify as the one where you most need to go deeper at this point? Explain.

Food for thought with Dane Ortlund*:

During Christmas break of first grade, my parents moved our family to a place in the country. In the yard lived a small, sickly-looking peach tree. In the 20-plus years my parents lived there, the tree produced peaches only one year, and just a handful at that. Even as a boy, I knew that tree needed to grow if it had any desire to fulfill the role of a peach tree.

Pastor Dane Ortlund acknowledges that we Christians recognize a need to grow, not only from what we see in the Bible but also from what we experience in our hearts.

As he states in “Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners,” “The question, then, isn’t whether we need to grow but how. For everyone who has been born again, somewhere amid these diverse reactions there will always be a seed of sincere desire for growth.”

Ortlund contends, then, that Christian growth — real change for real sinners — happens when believers deepen their experience with Jesus Christ. Ortlund opens this first session with the words: “This study is about growing in Christ. The first thing to get clear, then, is what Jesus Christ Himself is like.” To that end, Day One addresses the Person of Jesus.

The apostle Paul said his task was “to preach … the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8, ESV). In Romans 11:33, Paul declared, “How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!” (ESV).

While these passages can teach us many things, one thing should be clear: No matter how much we think we know about Jesus, He is more than we understand. That means we have the opportunity to grow deeper in our grasp of Him and fellowship with Him.

The remainder of the session briefly explores seven facets of Jesus, each of which offers us the chance to know Him more deeply. He is ruling, saving, befriending, persevering, interceding, returning and tender.

“Make your growth a journey into Christ Himself,” Ortlund encourages. “Resist the tendency to whittle Him down to preconceived expectations of what He must be like. Let Him surprise you.”

*Dane Ortlund is senior pastor of Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, Ill.


MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by Lifeway can be found at Lifeway.com/SundaySchool.

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