Lesson 1: New Life
Lesson Workbook Click here
1. To help the students understand that they have another chance.
2. To encourage the students to repent to God.
3. To encourage the students to forgive others as God forgave us.
OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)
GROUP BUILDING (15 minutes)
Around this time of year, lots of people make New Year’s Resolutions.
The most common resolutions are related to losing weight, saving money, or completing something important. Unfortunately, about 22% of resolutions fail after about a week, 40% after a month, 50% after 3 months, and 60% after 6 months.
The Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s Resolutions, around 4,000 years ago, though their resolutions were made when crops were planted in mid-March, rather than the beginning of the year.
• Why do you think the Babylonians made resolutions? (Allow students to share…maybe it was because the planting season was their “new” year.)
• Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? What is it? (Allow everyone to share about their resolution, or one they’ve had in the past.)
• Do you think that you will be able to complete your resolution over the course of the year? What will it take? (Allow students to share their plan for success.)
GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)
The Bible talks a lot about things being made new. We’re going to talk about that in just a few minutes. Before we do, let’s play a quick game.
Try and identify which of these two things is newer than the other. (The right answer is in italics)
1. Legos or Barbie Dolls
2. Snapchat or Instagram
3. Coke or Pepsi
4. Netflix or Amazon
5. General Motors or Ford
Those may have surprised you. What won’t shock you is that once things are new, they’re never new again — they get old. Except, that is, when Jesus gets involved — because He makes all things new.
DIGGING IN (30 minutes)
Read John 3:1-15
1. What do you think about this passage? (It’s a familiar story, but maybe something new sticks out to your students.)
2. Why do you think Nicodemus was so confused? Would you have been? (For sure! It’s wild to think about something that is already born being born again, for something that’s already old to become new.)
Jesus tells Nicodemus and the Pharisees that we have to be “born again” in order to enter heaven and be with God. Nicodemus considers this with an earthly mindset, questioning how someone can pursue a second existence. Jesus explains that this pursuit is heavenly, that Nicodemus would not understand.
Read John 3:19-21
1. What does Jesus mean by “the light and the darkness”? Is He comparing good and evil? Life and death? (Both of these, and more…there are two forces in life, and Jesus is contrasting those.)
2. “What you have done has been done in the sight of God.” According to this passage what you have done is acceptable if you have repented and been forgiven. Do you agree with this? (It’s hard to agree with because it seems too good to be true, but it is!)
Light has come into the world, but people favor darkness so that their bad deeds can remain hidden. But remember, God makes everything new.
Read Romans 6:1-7
1. This passage talks about the balance of sin and grace. Should we sin more just so we can receive more grace? (Paul is clear — of course not!)
2. Why would we need grace if we didn’t sin at all? (Grace is more than mere forgiveness, it is the power that God gives us to do any good at all.)
3. Verse 7 says that anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Do you agree with this? (This is the exact idea Jesus is talking about with Nicodemus, that we can be made new.)
Paul says that when we are baptized, we are buried with Jesus, and as we emerge from the water, we are resurrected like Jesus was.
Starting a new life with yourself during the new year has just as much importance.
Those who have “died” through baptism, now have the right to an eternal life with God. “Our old self was crucified so the body ruled by sin might be done away with.” We renewed our soul, established our beliefs, so that we could discard our mistakes, our lies, and our transgressions.
Read Romans 6:8-14
1. Since Christ has died, He cannot die again. Does this mean that once we repent, once we are baptized, we will never have to be forgiven again? (Of course, not…we will fail and sin and need of forgiveness.)
When we are dead to sin, we are made more alive in the Lord. We live our lives for Him, and only Him, after we have repented. We should offer ourselves; our talents, uses, and abilities to good, rather than evil; the light, rather than the dark; and righteousness, rather than sin. We are not instruments of sin. Not under the law, but under grace.
MAKING IT REAL (10 minutes)
The new year provides many opportunities to renew yourself and everything you are. You can consider changes, implement decisions, and create new experiences. John writes about Jesus presenting the idea of “being born again” and starting a “new life”, and Paul writes about it in Romans 6.
I wanted to set some time aside, so we can all come up with ways we can allow Christ to be “born in us” in a new way.
First, let’s take some time and pray. Let’s ask God to speak to us — to help us be made new this year.
(Give students 2-3 minutes to pray on their own)
Next, let’s meditate on this verse:
Have everyone read Revelation 21:5 to themselves.
Read Revelation 21:5 to your group.
Finally, read Revelation 21:5 but leave some words out, asking your students to fill in the blanks out loud:
“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything __________.” Then he said “Write this down, for these words are ______________ and _________. “
(Repeat the last one again, cementing the truth in students’ minds)
Then, try it one more time:
“He who was seated on the _______ said, “I am making __________ ________.” Then he said, “Write this down, for these _____________ are ______________ and _________.”
(Repeat it again, cementing the truth for your group.)
Last, take some quiet moments to think of a New Year’s Resolution that you want to commit to. This resolution should serve God: may it be through one of your talents, by telling others about Him, or simply working on growing closer to the Lord and familiarizing yourself with His Word.
1. Do you think that you will be able to commit to this resolution? (Encourage students to be honest.)
2. What may be some ways that this could be difficult? (It will be hard, embarrassing, risky, etc.)
3. How can we help each other? (Check in, pray, and work together, etc.)
Every time you work on your New Year’s Resolution, thinking of why you’re doing it: because Jesus died on the cross, only to be born again in a life lived for the Lord. This will remind you that you can repent and be forgiven of your sins and be born again.
CLOSING PRAYER (2 minutes)
Gather any prayer requests and pray for the group.