7 Characteristics of Mature Christians: Matthew 3: 1-17 (Week 5)

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Small Group Guide:

Open with prayer.

Go around and give everyone a chance to share about how the past week has been. What’s one highlight? What’s one lowlight?

If your small group has talked about it before, feel free to use this time to hold people accountable to what they’ve asked to be held accountable for previously, and go through the “missional” part of this discussion guide.

  1. John the Baptist Prepares the Way

    In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”[a] For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

    “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
    ‘Prepare[b] the way of the Lord;
        make his paths straight.’”

    Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

    But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

    11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

    The Baptism of Jesus

    13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[c] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[d] with whom I am well pleased.”


    Did you know that Jesus had a cousin that prepared the way for Jesus’ earthly ministry? Today we are talking about John the baptist, in Matthew chapter 3. He lived his life radically for the Lord. By taking a look at his message and how he lived his life, we can learn what it really looks like to live like a mature, godly, Christian. 

    Message Outline:

    Characteristics of Mature Christians


    1. You’ve come to Jesus and repented of your sin

    (Matt. 3:1-3, Acts 2:38, 1 Cor. 2:14, 2 Cor. 7:10, 1 John 3:4)


    1. You’re being led by the Holy Spirit, and in the process of being transformed by Him

    (Matt. 3:4-6, Luke 1:17, Rom. 12:1-2, John 16:13, 1 John 3:24, 1 Pet. 1:16)


    1. You’re not easily swayed from the truth

    (Matt. 3:7, Prov. 4:25-27, 1 Tim. 1:18-20, 6:20-21, 2 Tim. 4:3, 7, Matt. 7:13-14)


    1. You’re bearing fruit

    (Matt. 3:8-12, Gal. 5:22-23, Matt. 7:15-20, John 15:1-2, Col. 1:10)


    1. You can submit to God’s will over your own

    (Matt. 3:13-17, Prov. 3:5-6, James 4:7, 1 Pet. 5:5, Luke 22:42)


    1. You’re sharing your faith

    (Matt. 3:1-17, Matt. 28:19-20, Rom. 10:14-15, 1 Pet. 3:15-16, 1 Cor. 9:22)


    1. You live your life radically for Christ

    (Matt. 3:1-17, Phil. 1:21, Gal. 2:20, 2 Cor. 5:1, 8 )

    Reflecting on God’s Word

    Getting Started

    – Have you ever read or heard about John the Baptist before?

    – What stood out to you as we were talking about his life? What do you think John the Baptist’s life was like growing up? 

    – What do you think it was like for John the Baptist, to have large crowds coming out to the desert to hear the message that God had given to him? What temptations do you think he would have faced?

    – Of the 7 characteristics of mature, godly Christians that we discussed in the message, which one do you need to work on most? 


    Diving In

    Read Matthew 3:4-6. If any person, not knowing John’s situation, were to look at a strategy of going to the desert, where there are very few people, and wearing strange clothing, and having a harsh message of repentance, they would probably guess that that evangelism strategy wouldn’t work. However, for John, because he is being led by the Holy Spirit, it does work. 

    – What can you implement into your life in order to be better led be the Holy Spirit, instead of earthly wisdom? 

    – Read Romans 12:1-2. How can you better be transformed by God? 


    Read Matthew 3:7. Undoubtedly, the religious leaders of that day were there to confront John. Yet he never swerved from the truth that God gave him to preach. How easily are you swayed from God’s truth? 

    – A major way we can stay strong on God’s truth, is to spend time daily in His Word, the Bible. How well do you spend time in God’s Word daily?

    – How can you grow in your understanding of God’s truth? 


    Read Matthew 3:8-12 and Galatians 5:22-23. What fruit is your life bearing?

    –  Read Galatians 5:22-23 again. Go through each of the fruit of the Spirit, and rate yourself on how well you implement each one into your life. Which ones need the most work? 

    – Read John 15:1-17. How can you better abide in Christ in order to continually bear good fruit? 


    Read Matthew 3:13-17. Even though it is not John’s preference to do so, he baptizes Jesus because Jesus instructs him to. How well do you submit to God’s will over your own preferences? 

    – What’s something that you’re holding onto, that you haven’t yet submitted to God?

    – Why do you think it’s so difficult to submit to God’s will over our own preferences?


    Throughout this entire chapter, John is in the process of sharing his faith. How well do you share your faith with others? 

    – What stops you from sharing your faith with others? 

    – Spend some time in prayer about who God would have you share your faith with, and write their name(s) down. 

    – Spend some time in prayer for the person God has put on your heart for you to share your faith with. Ask God to soften their heart to what he has for them. 


    Applying the Scripture

    What are your biggest takeaways from this passage of God’s Word? 

    – What practical step(s) do you need to implement in your life to apply what God has taught you in this passage of Scripture? 

    – How would applying this affect your life and your relationship with the Lord? 

    – Who can you ask to keep you accountable to applying this to your life?

Prayer Time:

Pray for each other in your small group to be faithful take the step(s) that you shared above. Pray for each other and the interactions that they have with those who don’t know Jesus. Pray that God would soften the people’s hearts to what He has for them. Pray that God would give everyone opportunities to share the Gospel.

Staying Missional:

Share spiritual/missional conversations you’ve had where you live, work, and play:

Who did you have a conversation with that took a spiritual/missional turn this week?
What questions did you ask to discover where God is at work in their life, even if they are not aware?
How were you able to share your story of life change or how you have experienced Jesus?
How can you be intentional this week with people where you live, work, and play to have spiritual/missional conversations if the opportunity arises?
Who in your life do you think could be discipleable or open to spiritual/missional conversations?

What’s next?

Discuss the next step for your small group. When will we gather again and what purpose will it fulfill?