Using Bible Studies for Small Groups Can Change Hearts

Bible Studies in a Small Group

Bible studies for small groups can be transformational.  This is a certain phenomena that can happen in small groups committed to studying the Bible.

In small groups, people feel freedom to interact and share, to listen and contribute, to ask for counsel from others and offer encouragement to the group. In so doing there comes a sense of community, a feeling of belonging.

And yet the above description of a small group Bible study shows the group lacking in transformative power, real and radical heart change, and lifestyle transformation. This type of real heart and life change only comes as the focus of the study is consistently toward the cross of Jesus Christ. The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16) as well as to us who are being saved, it is also “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The word used above for “power” is the original word “dunamis” from where we get our word “dynamite.” The gospel is designed by God to bring explosive power to a person’s heart and life. This power is to be transformative and impacting to all areas of life. It is supernatural power. Holy Spirit power. 

Bible Studies for Small Groups Using The Power of the Holy Spirit

We want to see Bible studies for small groups using this transformative power, this spiritual dynamite in their groups. For example, look at what Colleen says about her small group:

Colleen writes, "My Setting Captives Free Weight Loss class at church has seven members and each one has a unique perspective, but they all agree that this is the best Bible study they have ever taken. All have stated that it is life-changing. Many have said that they think it should be named something other than Weight Loss because the profundity goes way beyond that title. We will be offering the class on a regular basis now."

The statement, “all have stated that it is life-changing” is because of the focus on the main subject of the Bible, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then the application of that subject to the specific issue they are studying. If the gospel truly is “the power of God,” if it has the equivalent of spiritual dynamite within the very message, then we would expect that transforming power to evidence itself in changed lives. 

Notice from the following passage how we are instructed to focus on this message:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) 

Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us where all the power is, where all the transformation of heart and life can be experienced. It is in “fixing our eyes on Jesus,” and specifically how He “endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Running a race is an important metaphor for living the Christian life. Running well requires 1) fitness to run, 2) lightness (throwing off everything that hinders), and 3) perseverance to finish. All of these come by fixing our eyes on Jesus and His finished work on the cross and His victory and ascension to the right hand of God.

What does it mean to “fix our eyes” on Jesus? It means to look steadfastly or intently, to stare, to become purposefully preoccupied. It simply means to view the cross/resurrection event continuously, and as we do so, we will be cut in our hearts by what we see and will experience resurrection power and Holy Spirit power in believing. 

Bible Studies for Small Groups Focused on the Gospel

What effects are there when Bible studies for small groups change their focus to become purposefully preoccupied with the powerful message of the gospel? When they fix their eyes on Jesus, his perseverance to the cross and resurrection from the dead? Notice the powerful effects that are stated:

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).

The Christian life can easily cause us to become weary in running our race and to lose heart in our daily lives. What with our own sin struggles, the culture’s radical opposition to our message, the devil’s hatred of God’s people, there is plenty to discourage.

But here is where the message of the cross really shines! If we learn how to “consider him who endured such opposition from sinners”, if we see Him persevering all the way to the cross, to the grave and back, and we see His victory through it all, it encourages and strengthens our own hearts. We begin to see the way to victory in our own lives, through dying to sin and living for righteousness, for this is where we find true healing. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). 

Christians all around the world love to meet in Bible studies for small groups. If you are one of them, it is worth considering the need to have a small group that experiences supernatural power for transforming lives. For the church is not merely after a sense of community and a feeling of belonging, but rather to see people become “new creations in Christ” where “the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and to see believers grow and mature into the image of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13-16). Both of these things happen simultaneously as the Bible studies for small groups take to heart the Bible’s very clear instruction:

“...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) 

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