Connection Group Leader Guide

For the week of July 22, 2018

• Have drinks ready
• Pray as a group for those who were baptized that they may be encouraged by Christians to continue to grow in their faith

Looking back over your notes from this week’s sermon, what did you find most
challenging, helpful or interesting? Did you find yourself taking notes about any of the
points to help you remember?

Encourage group members to bring their notes from church or to open the Bible app to help
jog their memory for future studies.

1. Baptism is one of the two great symbols of our faith that Jesus gave us. The other
symbol is Communion. Faith unites us to Christ; baptism symbolizes this union. Can
you think of any symbols we use/have in our daily life? What is the significance of that
symbol to you?

Examples may include Greek letters from fraternities, sports teams/identifying colors/mascots,
wedding, school, or club rings, the Christian fish, the American flag, military emblems.

2. Character growth and change are often best seen when looking at our lives in the
rearview mirror. Can you think of a time in your life when God grew your character in
ways you didn’t expect? If so, explain.

Remind group members that 2 Corinthians 5:17 promises all believers that as a new creation in
Christ the old is gone and the new is here! There are definite changes in a new believer as well
as in the seasoned believer. This is a great opportunity to encourage your group members of
how you have personally seen the work of the Holy Spirit in them.

1. This weekend, we learned that baptism symbolizes our new life and identity in Christ
by faith. Baptism is an outward expression of the faith of what Christ has already done for
us on the inside. Once you become a Christian, you are a new person and are no
longer the same as you used to be. Titus 3:3-7 puts into perspective who we are
without Jesus and who we are with Jesus. As you read this passage, what parts of it do
you relate to in your spiritual journey and understanding? Are there any that seem
difficult to identify with?

The goal of this question is to help us approach the gift of salvation understanding that a Christian life isn’t a checklist of do’s and don’ts but a continual working of the Holy Spirit
changing us from the inside out.

Titus 3:3-7
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions
and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. [4] But when
the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, [5] he saved us, not because of righteous
things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and
renewal by the Holy Spirit, [6] whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our
Savior, [7] so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of
eternal life. [NIV]

2. Baptism is a visible response to reminding us that our identity is in Christ. When we
enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, he changes who we are. John the Baptist
made it very clear that we need to take some steps to grow our character. What insights
do you see about strong character and how it’s developed in the following passages?

This question is to prompt group members to further their understanding that the Holy Spirit
does the work inside us as we choose to be obedient to His convictions of behaviors, thoughts,
and attitudes.

2 Peter 1:3-9
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our
knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. [4] Through these he has given
us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine
nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
[5] For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness,
knowledge; [6] and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to
perseverance, godliness; [7] and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness,
love. [8] For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being
ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] But if anyone does
not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from
his past sins. [NIV]

Philippians 2:12-13
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence but now
much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, [13] for
it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. [NIV]

3. Philip was an effective leader in the early church and he pointed many people toward
a relationship with Jesus. (Acts, chapters 6 & 8) Perhaps his most famous encounter
was with an Ethiopian official riding in a chariot. Read Acts 8:26-40 and jot down any of
the principles from this week’s sermon that show up in this encounter and then answer
the questions below.

These principles include the visible response of showing his faith, saying his faith, and then
having the desire to express that publicly, recognizing that he has been brought from death to
life through the water grave of baptism to a new life in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Acts 8:26-40
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road–the desert road–that
goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” [27] So he started out, and on his way, he met an
Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen
of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, [28] and on his way
home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. [29] The Spirit
told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
[30] Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do
you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
[31] “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to
come up and sit with him.
[32] The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
[33] In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”
[34] The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself
or someone else?” [35] Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told
him the good news about Jesus.
[36] As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said,
“Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” [37] [38] And he gave orders to stop
the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip
baptized him. [39] When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly
took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
[40] Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all
the towns until he reached Caesarea. [NIV]

What “open doors” do you think Philip found by simply “staying near” the
Ethiopian’s chariot?

As Believers we all have the responsibility commanded to us by Jesus in Matthew 28:19 to go
and make disciples and baptize them, no one is excluded from this. We are called to be near
the unbelievers and be ready to answer their questions. This question prepares members for
this truth.

How would you describe the “good news about Jesus” to someone who asked? What Scriptures might you take them to?

This is a great time to have the “Romans Road” or other such conversation with group
members available after the lesson to aid in sharing the gospel. Encourage group members
that in the coming weeks, we will be discussing further how to share our faith.


Let the group know that you will be reading this final question as a group but when you go to
prayer time, it is encouraged that you break up into men and women separately. Allow up to
ten minutes of sharing and then pray for those requests.

This Sunday, we heard Carolyn from the video say in her declaration of faith that the
reason she and her husband want to be fully immersed in baptism, rather than
accepting the sprinkling they each had in their earlier years, was because “We want to
be pleasing to God.” How might being fully immersed in your obedience to God make a
difference in your life? Is there anything that you need to change in your thoughts,
behavior, or attitude from going to having a sprinkling of obedience of Christ-like
behavior to having a fully immersed Christ-like character? If you are willing, will you
share what needs to change with the group? If not, we encourage you to find one
person that you do trust to share this with so that you may be prayed for and