Engage Groups April 2-6
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
Leaders: Be sure to review the Faith in Action you set as a group last week, then continue to the icebreaker question for this weeks study.
Opening Question: If you had to describe your day as a traffic sign, what would it be? Discuss the value you would bring, and any of the drawbacks to being one.
"For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord." Proverbs 8:35
Salvation. We need it. We should want it. But what does it mean? You may have heard such phrases as, "You need to get saved,” "You need to experience salvation,” "You need to be born again,” "You need to ask Jesus into your heart,” "You need to accept Jesus as your personal Savior.” Can we bring meaning to these phrases when we hear them or explain them? When we use the word “saved”, it brings to mind some kind of danger that a person needs to be rescued from. The gospel, which means "good news", teaches that God is a holy God who will judge the world in the future. And everyone who has not been saved is going to face God in judgment. We need to understand that the gospel teaches us we are all in sin, simply meaning we have “missed the mark”. That mark is His righteousness. And every one of us has missed it. So the "good news" teaches us about being saved from the coming judgment of our "missing the mark" to experience eternal life in heaven with God. This eternal life is only through Jesus' loving work at the cross. We simply have to accept Him and His work, Then believe it, trust it, and live it.
THE REAL 'HACKSAW RIDGE’ SOLDIER SAVED 75 SOULS WITHOUT EVER CARRYING A GUN
By Elizabeth Blair, NPR (National Public Radio), November 4th, 2016
Desmond Doss joined the Army as a combat medic because he believed in the cause of World War II. But because of his strong religious faith, he had also vowed not to kill.
Desmond Doss is credited with saving 75 soldiers during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II in the Pacific — and he did it without ever carrying a weapon. The battle at Hacksaw Ridge, on the island of Okinawa, was a close combat fight with heavy weaponry. Thousands of American and Japanese soldiers were killed, and the fact that Doss survived the battle and saved so many lives has confounded and awed those who know his story. Now, he's the subject of a new film directed by Mel Gibson called Hacksaw Ridge.
A quiet, skinny kid from Lynchburg, Va., Doss was a Seventh-day Adventist who wouldn't touch a weapon or work on the Sabbath. He enlisted in the Army as a combat medic because he believed in the cause, but had vowed not to kill. The Army wanted nothing to do with him. "He just didn't fit into the Army's model of what a good soldier would be," says Terry Benedict, who made a documentary about Doss called The Conscientious Objector. The Army made Doss' life hell during training. "It started out as harassment and then it became abusive," Benedict says. He interviewed several World War II veterans who were in Doss' battalion. They considered him a pest, questioned his sincerity and threw shoes at him while he prayed. "They just saw him as a slacker," the filmmaker says, "someone who shouldn't have been allowed in the Army, and somebody who was their weakest link in the chain." Doss' commanding officer, Capt. Jack Glover, tried to get him transferred. In the documentary, Glover says Doss told him, " 'Don't ever doubt my courage because I will be right by your side saving life while you take life.' " Glover's response: " 'You're not going to be by my damn side if you don't have a gun.' "
During the battle, Doss dragged severely injured men to the edge of the ridge and lowered them down to other medics below. But hard as they tried, the Army couldn't force Doss to use a weapon. A 1940 law allowed conscientious objectors to serve the war effort in "noncombatant" positions, so Doss went with his company as a medic to the Pacific theater. And at Okinawa in the spring of 1945, Doss' company faced a grueling task: Climb a steep, jagged cliff — sometimes called Hacksaw Ridge — to a plateau where thousands of heavily armed Japanese soldiers were waiting for them. The terrain was treacherous. "It was full of caves and holes and the Japanese were dug in underground," says Mel Gibson, who re-created the battle in Hacksaw Ridge. "...The Japanese called it 'the rain of steel' because there was so much iron flying around." Under a barrage of gunfire and explosions, Doss crawled on the ground from wounded soldier to wounded soldier. He dragged severely injured men to the edge of the ridge, tied a rope around their bodies and lowered them down to other medics below. In Benedict's documentary, Doss says: "I was praying the whole time. I just kept praying, 'Lord, please help me get one more.' " Veteran Carl Bentley, who was also at Hacksaw Ridge, says in the documentary, "It's as if God had his hand on [Doss'] shoulder. It's the only explanation I can give."
Doss saved 75 men — including his captain, Jack Glover — over a 12-hour period. The same soldiers who had shamed him now praised him. "He was one of the bravest persons alive," Glover says in the documentary. "And then to have him end up saving my life was the irony of the whole thing."
President Harry Truman awarded Doss the Medal of Honor in 1945. He died in 2006.
What a great story about courage, love, and sacrifice for those you know, barely know, or don't even know! You see, Desmond Doss knew one thing... that it's right to save a life and that it's wrong to take one. His strong faith lead him to do the unthinkable for the betterment of others regardless of their background or treatment of him. This story has parallels with that of Jesus. Jesus came to save, came to serve, and unlike Doss, though he was willing, came to sacrifice His life even unto death on a cross. Jesus loves us all, regardless of any background trouble, behavior, or attitudes. No sin is to big, no situation is impossible. Once we encounter Him and respond in faith, we receive the ultimately gift of eternal life. We overcome. We get life, life eternal! But even more than that, we are transformed to seeing His purpose for our lives while still in this world. A new heart. A new character. A new mission. A new start.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11
Read Acts 22:1-15. What a testimony Paul gives in this passage! He talks about how he was before his encounter with Christ, what happened, and the message that gave him eternal life as well as changed his life's focus forever. Talk about power! Discuss how one encounter with Jesus can save anyone and everyone from sin, gives us eternal life as well as totally changes the direction of anyone's life regardless of how “bad” their lifestyle is before this encounter. Use following questions as a guide:
- In verse 3, Paul begins his defense by establishing his credentials as a Jew of Jews. What are his credentials?
- What was the significance that Paul was brought up in Jerusalem?
- What does Paul mean when he says that he was thoroughly trained in the law of their fathers?
- What is the significance of Paul telling them that he was zealous for God?
- Next Paul testifies. How similar is his testimony of getting saved and receiving eternal life to yours?
- In verse 9, what are similarities of the crowd to those that don't get saved by gospel message?
- What do you think is the importance of Ananias' role?
- Which parts of this conversion story relate you? How so?
PERSONAL: Faith in Action
Leaders take time to discuss what we need to do to receive eternal life or to share our message this week. Be specific.
Take a moment as a group or in silence as individuals and determine whether you saved or not. Accept Jesus now as Lord and Savior. Pray that you will surrender your heart to Him, whether for the first time or in an area you've been struggling in. Pray that God give you an open door and the strength to share your testimony this week with someone.