The primary idea you need to keep revisiting during this Following Jesus Pathway is that we are following and being formed by Jesus. This pathway can be learned simply or in great depth. We trust that you as a leader know your people and the dynamics of your group well enough to adapt and impart this topic with grace and wisdom.
This guide is designed to help you and others follow and be formed by Jesus. Remember to keep it Jesus-Centered: Help people see Jesus as the model, motivation and goal of our discipleship. If people get stuck or struggle in the process, instead of giving quick answers or opinions, go to Jesus and the scriptures together.
We pray that you will be Spirit-Led and Spirit- Empowered as you lead and learn together. Believing for encounters with the living God and life transformation for your Home Church as you follow the Spirit's leading.
Brief Commentary and Context
(Answer this question here: What did this mean in the original context and how is it set in the larger story of the Bible?)
The Gospel- The gospel means ‘good news’- the good news of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. It is the message that Jesus is Lord and the Kingdom of God is now accessible on earth as it is in heaven through him unto a whole new creation. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation and transformation of all who put their trust in Jesus.
Brief Commentary for Acts 7:1-53- A few years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the gospel was spreading and the church was growing in Jerusalem. At this time, a new servant leader was raised up named Stephen. Just as Jesus had faced false accusations before the Sanhedrin, Stephen was accused of violating the Jewish order and the religion of its people. In the jewish mind, this message of faith in the resurrected Jesus was destroying Israel’s foundations given by God, through Moses. Surely, this Jesus, who actually died, could not be the way of life. They believed the way of life was Torah, God’s law already given, and must be protected at all cost. It was this very argument that brought Stephen before the rulers of Israel, in Acts 7, accused of speaking against God and His ways. Stephen, a gentle servant, yet full of the Holy Spirit, steps into this very moment with confidence. He does not waste any time defending himself, but takes every moment to rehearse the story of God’s faithfulness to Israel, the prophetic word from Moses concerning the new Prophet, and ultimately God’s plan to deliver and dwell with His people always. Stephen simply shares the God story. The rulers know this story well. But when Stephen asserts that they have missed its fulfillment in the person of Jesus, it is more than they can bear. Stephen’s confidence in Jesus will cost him his life. After finishing his testimony, he looks up to see the desire of his heart fulfilled. He sees the climax of the God story with his own eyes - the resurrected Jesus, next to the Father, in all of His glory. After this declaration to those standing by, he is chased from the city and stoned to death. As we all seek to know God more deeply, and are shaped by His story through the ages, may our rehearsing of the Gospel always lead us to a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The story Stephen tells is not just Israel’s story, but God’s story of rescue and restoration for the whole world. It helps us see that “God has always loved us and gave us his Son Jesus” as the fullest expression of His eternal love.
Core Truths from the Topic
Summary Scripture: 1 John 4:8b-10 “…God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
The Bible unfolds one true unified story of God’s unfailing love and redemption most fully revealed to us in Jesus. Jesus is the perfect embodiment of God’s self-giving love. (Col. 1:15-20)
“There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all these stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them through Jesus.” (Jesus StoryBook Bible)
God is love, eternally one God who is three Persons, who is love. (1 John 4:8)
God always loved us and chose us before the foundation of the world. (Eph. 1:3-5)
We were created by God’s love and for God’s love. (Col. 1:16)
God loves all people. Love means God has the best for us. (John 3:16)
God loved us while we were dead in our sin and living for ourselves. (Eph. 2:4)
Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:35-39)
Learn the Tool: The Gospel and the Gift
Extra Resources to help you Prepare
The Bible Project: Old Testament Overview and Plot Overview: TaNaK / Old Testament