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Small Group Studies

Stages of the Cross: Week 4 Study


When Jesus was crucified, He was nailed on a cross between two criminals. One of these criminals, observing what was happening, expressed faith in Jesus as the Son of God. As Jesus was dying, this criminal said to Him, "remember me" (Luke 23:42). Jesus responded by saying, "Today you will be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). His statement was an answer to this request from the criminal. It was a reminder that God's power can change anyone. Today, we are going to talk about this powerful statement from Jesus and the hope we have in Him.


What person in the public eye surprised you by expressing faith in Christ?


1. Why do you think we are surprised and doubtful when certain people in the public eye express faith in Christ?

2. Read Luke 23:39-43. What does Jesus' response to the thief in verse 43 tell us about salvation?

Luke 23:39-43

One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


3. Why is it good news for us that salvation cannot be earned?

4. What is at stake when we treat salvation as if it is something we can earn (Ephesians 2:8-9)?

Ephesians 2:8-9

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. According to these verses, what happens to a person when they die?

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.


6. How does the promise of heaven give you hope?


7. What is one thing in your current life that needs to change so that you can be more like Christ?


As a group, take turns reading Revelation 21:1-7 out loud. After reading these verses, spend some time talking about them. What promises are you most looking forward to in these verses? After reading, pray for each other to cling to these promises, especially during difficult times.


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Romans 5:8

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.